The Best in Lake Como Cuisine

>The Best in Lake Como Cuisine

Pasta Primavera, Pizza Napoletana, Parmigiano Reggiano, cappuccino, tiramisu… Just saying them whets your appetite! Italian food is one of the world’s favorite cuisines and one of the main motivations for millions of travelers to Italy. What makes the popularity of Italian food so remarkable is its relative simplicity: you start with a few, high-quality ingredients, add centuries of tradition, a pinch of regional pride, a dash of motherly love – and ecco! – both body and soul get the nourishment they crave.

At Palazzo del Vice Re, we are surrounded by amazing cooks, people who have mastered that instinctive, effortless type of cooking we all aspire to – and we are thrilled to share some of their favorite recipes with you this week. There’s Giovanna, the heart and soul of the kitchens at Palazzo del Vice Re; her recipes are deceptively simple and simply delicious. Bruno, one of the Palazzo owners, stocks his famous minestrone with the freshest seasonal produce from his prolific garden. Barbara, a neighbor and one of our personal chefs, offers a lake fish-inspired appetizer and a creamy autumn risotto that are bound to become favorites. And finally, we have the traditional Lake Como cake Miascia as baked by Laura, who was born in the Palazzo when it was her family’s traditional Locanda and whose dream of once again welcoming guests to the Palazzo inspired its transformation.

Give these recipes a try and let us know how you like them.  Buon Appetito!!

Cestini di Parmigiano

Bring a little bite of Italy into your home with this recipe from our resident Mamma italiana, Giovanna. Something magical happens when you turn a chunk of creamy parmigiano reggiano cheese into these delicate, lacy baskets that taste as good as they look.

Giovanna: “My crispy cestini provide a fancy way to serve appetizers like cubes of cheese and olives – or an elegant ‘plate’ for a starter salad.”

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (about two cups) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
  • Spread 6 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into circle of about 6 in/15 cm in diameter across the baking paper.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and work quickly using a spatula to drape the lacy Parmesan rounds over a jar or bowl while still warm to form the desired bowl shape.
  • The rounds will start to crisp up as they cool. NB: If they are too hot, they may slide down the container and tear. If this happens, gently press the cheese together to seal any large gaps.

Leave the baskets to cool completely and then carefully remove. Repeat with remaining parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. (about two cups) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
  • Spread 6 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into circle of about 6 in/15 cm in diameter across the baking paper.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and work quickly using a spatula to drape the lacy Parmesan rounds over a jar or bowl while still warm to form the desired bowl shape.
  • The rounds will start to crisp up as they cool. NB: If they are too hot, they may slide down the container and tear. If this happens, gently press the cheese together to seal any large gaps.

Leave the baskets to cool completely and then carefully remove. Repeat with remaining parmesan.

Paté di Cavedano

Chef Barbara is a true Lake Como original – her risotto evenings in the Cantina and creative cooking classes are popular with our Palazzo guests, but it is the spread she puts on for our annual birthday bash that has everyone in Pescau singing her praises. Barbara makes this fish paté with cavedano straight from Lake Como, but you can use any freshwater fish with a firm white flesh.

Barbara: “Easy to make ahead, yet sophisticated and delicious, this paté is great for an appetizer buffet or a pot-luck celebration.”

Ingredients

  • Bread (ciabatta or baguette, toasted)
  • 2 lbs. of Cavedano (or similar freshwater fish, e.g. walleye)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 potato
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • Capers, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Parsley for garnish

Method

  • Peel and coarsely chop the vegetables; skin and debone the fish. Place the fish filets and all the vegetables into a pressure cooker with a half-and-half mixture of water and white wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and cook for about an hour.
  • Once the mixture has cooled, puree everything in a blender until smooth and mix in a mayonnaise made with one egg and the juice of one lemon.
  • Remove from the blender and gently mix in the capers. Check the seasoning, mindful of the fact that the capers are very salty, and only add more salt if needed. Let the mixture rest in the fridge a few hours.

Ingredients

  • Bread (ciabatta or baguette, toasted)
  • 2 lbs. of Cavedano (or similar freshwater fish, e.g. walleye)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 potato
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • Capers, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Parsley for garnish

Method

  • Peel and coarsely chop the vegetables; skin and debone the fish. Place the fish filets and all the vegetables into a pressure cooker with a half-and-half mixture of water and white wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and cook for about an hour.
  • Once the mixture has cooled, puree everything in a blender until smooth and mix in a mayonnaise made with one egg and the juice of one lemon.
  • Remove from the blender and gently mix in the capers. Check the seasoning, mindful of the fact that the capers are very salty, and only add more salt if needed. Let the mixture rest in the fridge a few hours.

Zuppa di Minestrone

The Pertusini’s family home has a veritable Eden of flowers, fruits and vegetables, which they use as their own private “food store”. Bruno knows that cultivating his own food makes more than just the garden thrive – the whole family provides living, breathing proof of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Bruno: “I make my minestrone with fresh, seasonal vegetables picked straight from our garden, but any seasonal vegetables will do!”

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • ½ lb. of pumpkin (about 2 cups), cubed
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1½ cup fresh peas
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 or 3 stalks of chard/bok choy
  • 1 medium-sized tomato
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1¼ cups of Borlotti beans (also called “cranberry beans”)
  • 4 cubes of prosciutto crudo (or other ham)
  • 4 cubes of parmesan cheese
  • A handful of grated parmesan (optional)

Method

  • Wash, peel and chop all vegetables into cubes.
  • Place a medium-sized pot of water onto boil.
  • When the water starts to boil, add all of the vegetables except chard and zucchini and salt to taste.
  • Add the prosciutto and cheese.
  • Simmer on a medium heat for 2½ to 3 hours.
  • 30 minutes before serving add the chard, zucchini and parsley.
  • Cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  • Season with another pinch of salt.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • ½ lb. of pumpkin (about 2 cups), cubed
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1½ cup fresh peas
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 or 3 stalks of chard/bok choy
  • 1 medium-sized tomato
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1¼ cups of Borlotti beans (also called “cranberry beans”)
  • 4 cubes of prosciutto crudo (or other ham)
  • 4 cubes of parmesan cheese
  • A handful of grated parmesan (optional)

Method

  • Wash, peel and chop all vegetables into cubes.
  • Place a medium-sized pot of water onto boil.
  • When the water starts to boil, add all of the vegetables except chard and zucchini and salt to taste.
  • Add the prosciutto and cheese.
  • Simmer on a medium heat for 2½ to 3 hours.
  • 30 minutes before serving add the chard, zucchini and parsley.
  • Cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  • Season with another pinch of salt.

Gnocchi alla Giovanna

Made with just three ingredients, Giovanna’s melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi is perfect for a mid-week meal or an elegant starter. Serve them with your favorite homemade tomato sauce for a family-friendly feast or do as the Italians do and add a drizzle of browned butter and a few leaves of fresh sage for an aromatic primo piatto.

Giovanna: “This is one of those meals that is as much fun to make as it is to eat. Kneading everything with your hands is a tactile treat – especially for the little ones!”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/250 g. of fresh ricotta
  • 1 cup/100 g. of white flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Knead all of the ingredients with your hands – add more flour if it the dough feels sticky.
  • Break off about a handful of dough and, working on a floured surface, roll it into a snake about a half-inch thick. Cut into half-inch pieces – with about one tablespoon of dough in each piece.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining dough, placing the finished gnocchi on parchment paper dusted with flour to avoid sticking.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and drop the gnocchi into the water in batches of about 8-10 to make sure you don’t overload the pot.
  • When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are ready to eat (about 2 minutes).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/250 g. of fresh ricotta
  • 1 cup/100 g. of white flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Knead all of the ingredients with your hands – add more flour if it the dough feels sticky.
  • Break off about a handful of dough and, working on a floured surface, roll it into a snake about a half-inch thick. Cut into half-inch pieces – with about one tablespoon of dough in each piece.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining dough, placing the finished gnocchi on parchment paper dusted with flour to avoid sticking.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and drop the gnocchi into the water in batches of about 8-10 to make sure you don’t overload the pot.
  • When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are ready to eat (about 2 minutes).

Risotto alla zucca

When rice first came to Italy with Arab traders in the Middle Ages, Lombardy’s unique microclimate proved perfect for cultivation, particularly the short to medium-grain Carnaroli and Arborio varieties ideal for risotto. Chef Barbara is our go-to risotto expert and frequent host of our popular Risotto evenings in the stone-clad Cantina.

Barbara: “The trick to making a fool-proof creamy risotto – and solid advice for life! – is to take it slow… Add the stock bit by bit, keep the flame down low and let it simmer into velvety deliciousness.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ C. Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 C. diced pumpkin (butternut squash or similar)
  • 3-4 C. hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ C. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ C. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Method

  • Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and bring the stock to a simmer in a separate pot.
  • Gently cook the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the rice and stir until all the rice is coated in the oil mix. Continue cooking for about a minute and then stir in the pumpkin and mushrooms.
  • Pour in about 1 cup of hot stock and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. The liquid should not be boiling at this point, just simmering softly.
  • Continue stirring and add the stock one cup at a time until all of the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender – this should take about 20 minutes. (If you use a non-stick pot, there is no need to stir constantly, but keep close and give it a good stir every few minutes.)
  • Stir in the freshly grated parmesan cheese and notice how the risotto goes lovely and sticky.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, add parsley.
  • Serve immediately in warm plates, with extra parmesan to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ C. Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 C. diced pumpkin (butternut squash or similar)
  • 3-4 C. hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ C. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ C. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Method

  • Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and bring the stock to a simmer in a separate pot.
  • Gently cook the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the rice and stir until all the rice is coated in the oil mix. Continue cooking for about a minute and then stir in the pumpkin and mushrooms.
  • Pour in about 1 cup of hot stock and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. The liquid should not be boiling at this point, just simmering softly.
  • Continue stirring and add the stock one cup at a time until all of the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender – this should take about 20 minutes. (If you use a non-stick pot, there is no need to stir constantly, but keep close and give it a good stir every few minutes.)
  • Stir in the freshly grated parmesan cheese and notice how the risotto goes lovely and sticky.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, add parsley.
  • Serve immediately in warm plates, with extra parmesan to taste.

Miascia

Italian comfort food is best enjoyed just like Mamma made it! The Palazzo’s very own matriarch Laura makes the traditional Lombard cake called Miascia just like her mother and grandmother before her. Eating this delicious dessert still warm from the oven feels just like a big bear hug from Mamma herself…

Laura: “For centuries, mothers around Lake Como have relied on this clever recipe to use up day-old bread sweetened with fresh and dried fruit for a fantastic – yet frugal – dessert.”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stale bread (about 12 slices)
  • 1 oz. (or 2 tbsp.) butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 oz. quality dark chocolate, shaved
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 amaretti cookies
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup brandy or cognac

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F, butter and flour a round 8-inch baking pan.
  • Soak the bread in the milk for two hours – the amount of milk may vary depending on how stale the bread is. Add more if needed.
  • Discard any excess milk and mix the soaked bread with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Pour the dough into the buttered/floured baking pan, sprinkle with extra sugar, garnish with chocolate shavings and flakes of butter.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 F and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy warm or at room temperature with your loved ones!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stale bread (about 12 slices)
  • 1 oz. (or 2 tbsp.) butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 oz. quality dark chocolate, shaved
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 amaretti cookies
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup brandy or cognac

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F, butter and flour a round 8-inch baking pan.
  • Soak the bread in the milk for two hours – the amount of milk may vary depending on how stale the bread is. Add more if needed.
  • Discard any excess milk and mix the soaked bread with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Pour the dough into the buttered/floured baking pan, sprinkle with extra sugar, garnish with chocolate shavings and flakes of butter.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 F and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy warm or at room temperature with your loved ones!
2018-07-14T17:52:24+00:00January 29th, 2018|Categories: Food|0 Comments

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