Famiglia – La Casa del Formaggio

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Disclaimer – I was sent a review copy of the book Famiglia: Recipes made with Love and Tradition

When we first returned to South Australia I saw lots of La Casa del Formaggio cheeses in the supermarkets but it took me a very long time to figure out that it was actually a South Australian company. I may be the last person in South Australia to realise this but it is – and there is even a factory shop that you can visit in Glynde. I haven’t yet done this but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Because – cheese.

So when I received an invitation to the book launch of the Casa del Formaggio cookbook I was disappointed not to be able to go, but happily I was sent a review copy! Review copies are an excellent way of getting around the supposed household ban on purchasing cookbooks and while we both love cheese, Andy can be a little bit hoo-hum when it comes to Italian food, so Italian cookbooks are especially good because they’re an excuse to cook Italian.

The book is divided into primi, secondi and dolce and while I haven’t cooked any of the dessert recipes yet – they look amazing. Obviously there are recipes for tiramisu and cannoli but how good does rhubarb semifreddo amaretti sandwiches sound? Or four layer chocolate mascarpone cake?

I ended up trying out the pizza recipe. We almost tried the potato, bocconcini and prosciutto cake – until I saw it contained 2kg of potatoes. Our family of three would have been eating it for a week! In fact, a lot of the recipes are geared for massive families. This makes them perfect for entertaining (or if you do indeed have a massive family) but if you have a small family be prepared to do some sums!

In the interest of thoroughness, I even followed the pizza dough recipe. The main difference between this recipe and our usual one is that it includes olive oil along with the water. The resultant dough was very soft and a bit tricky to handle but made a great pizza base. Andy thought that the dough would be really well suited to making a thicker crust pizza – you can see from the photo how much crust we had. I liked it – and thought it looked fab – but the fact that the dough was harder to handle means I’ll probably revert to using my usual recipe next time (after all – I don’t need to look anything up!).

The topping was Italian sausage, bocconcini, thyme and rocket. Proper Italian pizzas are a GREAT reminder NOT to load up on toppings. Keep it simple. The real revelation here was using bocconcini in lieu of your standard big ball of mozzarella. It was soooooo creamy and delicious. OK – you don’t get those big long stretchy strings of cheese but the creamy flavour and texture was something else. From now on, our pizzas will be topped with torn bocconcini.

Rather than tomato paste, the recipe calls for passata (we just happened to have some open). Although it’s a lot looser than tomato paste, I thought that because of the relatively simple topping it worked well. Tomato paste would have dominated the flavours and made everything taste too sweet.

We both really enjoyed the pizza (and – more importantly for a cookbook review – it worked!) and it was lovely to make the bocconcini discovery.

The is available from the factory shop for $15. Throughout June you might find your local independent supermarket offering it as a gift with purchase in-store promotion.

Italian Sausage, Bocconcini, Thyme and Rocket Pizza

Serving Size: 1 30cm thin crust pizza

Ingredients

    Dough
  • scant 200mL warm water
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 250g strong plain flour
  • salt
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • Topping
  • Bocconcini - at least 3
  • 2 Italian sausages - cooked and then crumbled
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • fresh thyme
  • rocket

Instructions

  1. Please water, yeast and a sprinkle of flour in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Allow the yeast to activate and add the remainder of the flour, the salt and the olive oil and form a soft dough. Allow to prove until double in size.
  2. Preheat oven to 250C (fan) - or as hot as your oven will go.
  3. Knock back the dough, give it a light knead and then line a 30cm lightly oiled pizza tray.
  4. Spread the passata over the base and scatter over the crumbled sausage and the torn bocconcini.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Scatter hot pizza with thyme leaves and then top with rocket.
http://eatingadelaide.com/famiglia-la-casa-del-formaggio/

Cheese Twists

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Party season is yet again upon us (in our household, it starts early, thanks to the toddler’s December birthday) and it’s time to start thinking of nibbly things to have with drinks.

This is a super easy cheese twist recipe that you can make ahead and have stored in the freezer (uncooked) ready to go in case of expected or unexpected guests. It’s also versatile – experiment with your favourite cheeses or add in herbs or spices. I made these for a children’s party, so just stuck with cheese, but if I were to make them again I’d definitely add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

My approach is a slight variation on an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe. I think that folding the pastry onto itself makes it a lot easier to handle when it comes to twisting.

For freezing – freeze the twists on baking paper lined baking trays initially. Once frozen you can bag them up and then just cook straight from the freezer.

Perfect!

Cheese Twists

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (frozen is fine, if you can find butter puff, that's great!)
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan
  • ½ cup of grated cheddar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • flour for the board

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (conventional, 200°C fan).
  2. Defrost the pastry. Lightly dust your worktop with flour and roll out the pastry a little, retaining the shape.
  3. Brush the entire sheet with the egg wash.
  4. Generously sprinkle half the sheet with the mixed cheeses. At this stage you could also sprinkle over some cayenne or paprika, or herbs.
  5. Fold the pastry over and press down.
  6. Slice width wise (that is, cut along the short edge).
  7. Take a piece and press down along its length and then twist, placing it on a baking paper lined baking tray.
  8. Repeat until all the pastry is used up.
  9. If freezing - freeze at this point. Otherwise, brush with egg wash and bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden.
  10. Serve immediately.
http://eatingadelaide.com/cheese-twists/

Cru, Cheese and Chocolate

The cheese and chocolate parts are self explanatory (I hope!) but Cru? That refers to the Vale Cru, a collective of small batch winemakers from McLaren Vale.

On Sunday 14 October you can join the Vale Cru winemakers, and a selection of regional producers, at the Victory Hotel, Sellicks Beach, for an afternoon of wine, cheese and chocolate.

Cheeses will be from Smelly Cheese and Kangarilla Creamery, with chocolates from Bracegirdle’s.

The event gives wine lovers a chance to talk to the winemakers, and taste (and buy) their wines.

For a fourth time, the event will be held on the lawns of the Victory Hotel, so you also get to enjoy the amazing views over the gulf.

Tickets are $40 a person and you can book online.

The Vale Cru producers are: Brash Higgins, Ulithorne, WayWood, Battle of Bosworth, Lazy Ballerina, Rudderless, Five Geese, Geddes, La Curio, Old Faithful, Vigna Bottin, Samuel’s Gorge, J&J Wines, Inkwell and Maximus.