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PUDDING FROM PIEMONTE

Amaretti Stuffed Peach served with single cream and a glass of Moscato

My recent trip to Turin for the 2017 Turin Epicurean Conference included an amazing evening at www.quibitorino.it which is a space in Turin under the guidance of the lovely Margherita Frari. The vision for this place is as a restaurant, meeting place and exhibition space, all to encourage the integration of the increasingly multicultural city of Turin. It also serves as a food collection point for customers of local producers rather in the way that www.foodassembly.com does.

During our evening there we were fortunate to be under the expert tuition of Margerita and also Marco Giachello, one of Piedmont’s most well known and charismatic chefs. He works to conserve Piedmont dishes, products and methods and actively seeks to promote those things beyond Piedmont, so that we non-Piedmontese can learn how to create their wonderful dishes in our own homes. Sometimes it’s difficult to do that as the Piedmontese have the advantage of fabulous ingredients, produced relatively locally and in some cases, very locally!

I will probably post about everything we created that evening but am starting (perversely) with the pudding, given that peaches are in season right now. Do please try to buy Italian peaches for this as it does make a difference to the flavour, although Spanish ones can be flavoursome too. It will make life much easier for you if you can get freestone peaches; I have to admit that the first time I made this when I came back to the UK, I had made the mistake of unwittingly buying clingstone peaches. It was only with the help of a very sharp, very narrow knife that this didn’t end up as peach purée, so do check.

This is an easy summer dessert that can be served warm or at room temperature but don’t serve it chilled; it will kill the flavours stone dead. Roero, by the way, is an area of Piedmont to the south of Turin and famous for fruit (especially peaches, pears and strawberries) not to mention some wonderful wine.

I’ve given the option of using either cocoa or coffee as I am not that keen on chocolate, but the original recipe uses cocoa. Ditto with the choice of rum or brandy; I dislike rum so tend to use brandy but again, the original, as I was taught, was with rum.

Amaretti Stuffed Peaches

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 - 8 depending on appetite! Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh freestone peaches (it is helpful if they are still quite firm but not unripe)
  • 200g amaretti biscuits (preferably not the soft ones but they will do if it’s all you have)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten well
  • 2 tsp caster sugar (optional - I tend not to use it as I find the biscuits sweet enough)
  • 3 tbsp rum or brandy
  • cocoa powder or very finely ground (espresso grind) coffee
  • icing sugar
  • butter
  • extra caster or Demerara sugar

Instructions

1

Set the oven to 180 deg C

2

Line a baking tray with baking parchment (not essential - just helps with the washing up!)

3

Slit the peaches through their “seams” with a sharp knife and twist to separate the two parts

4

(This is where you discover if you really have bought freestone peaches

5

If you haven’t, take a long, thin and very sharp knife - a fish filleting knife is ideal - and gradually work it around behind the pitt until the two parts of the peach come apart

6

This won’t be as elegant a dish as it could be but the flavour will still be wonderful)

7

Slightly enlarge the cavities using a teaspoon; ensure you leave plenty of peach intact ; reserve the extracted flesh

8

Put the peach halves on the baking tray and turn your attention to the filling

9

Bash up the amaretti biscuits until they are crumbs (I put them in a bowl and thump away with the end of my rolling pin)

10

I like a mixture of crumb size but nothing bigger than about 2 ml in diameter

11

Add the peach flesh and mix well

12

Add the caster sugar, if you want to use it and mix well

13

Add 2 - 3 tsp cocoa powder or coffee and again, mix well

14

Add a couple of tablespoons of your chosen spirit, adding a little more if the mixture is too dry

15

Add as much beaten egg as will achieve a firm mixture

16

Taste and add more of whatever you think is lacking but try to avoid the mixture becoming sloppy

17

Fill the peach cavities with the mixture, heaping it up well; I like to cover the entire peach

18

Add a few flecks of butter over the top and sprinkle with Demerara sugar; this will create a slightly crackly top to the finished dish

19

Bake for about 25 minutes until they are bubbling and smelling wonderful

20

Leave to become warm or room temperature (but please don’t serve them from the fridge)

21

I like to then sprinkle them with a mixture of cocoa or coffee and icing sugar

Notes

They are wonderful if served warm with a scoop of good ice cream to match either the cocoa or coffee, or vanilla Good also with creme frâiche but I tend to find double cream a bit too rich

 

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THE WATCHFUL COOK IN CONFERENCE

Turin Epicurean Capital 2017

Writing can be a lonely business, even if one is active on Twitter and Instagram; nothing replaces the person to person contact that can be elusive as we scribble away, wondering if anyone ever takes any notice. It was therefore particularly exciting for me to be invited by Lucia Hannau to the Turin Epicurean Capital Conference. A double hit for me as not only was I going to meet other like-minded food and wine bloggers but it was to be in Turin, my absolute favourite city in the world. When I got her message, I doubt if any message has ever been replied to more quickly in the history of the digital world.

I’ve been back a month now so am dilatory in writing for my own site but did get my act together enough to write for Lucia at www.turinepi.com/2017/07/the-watchful-cook-at-turinepi17.html
Please do look also at Patti Boner’s post on the same site which gives a super chronology of our time there, and while you’re rummaging, please take a look at Patti’s own site www.foodiesneakpeeks.com which is full of good ideas and reviews for the foodie traveller.

I’m not going to repeat here the reflections I’ve posted elsewhere, rather introduce to you my colleagues at the Conference, in the hope that you will explore their sites and gain as much pleasure from their writing and recipes as I now do.

The first day’s Round Table was chaired by Chicago resident Margaret Goldstein who can be followed on Twitter here @pizzabianca and if you do, you will be guided through making her fabulous looking pizzas which I am quite sure taste every bit as good as they look. Her lovely husband, Bill Goldstein, is a Piedmont wine enthusiast and expert and I learned so much from him during our time in Turin. His oenophile exploits can be followed on Twitter at @Sassodoro but I do wish he would write a blog – he has so much expertise and knowledge!

It was certainly an American day, that first day, as adding to the panel was the lovely Sanem Lamborn who writes about her Persian/Italian food heritage at www.MyPersianKitchen.com from LA – if you like authentic foods, full of flavour, do follow Sanem – and her recipes work! Making up the team that morning was Christina Conte, also from LA who writes about her Scottish/Southern Italian food heritage at www.ChrstinasCucina.com

Day Two saw your writer guided by Daniel McVicar (a Turin resident American actor who was Chair that day) through food memories. I was delighted to be joined on the platform by Patrizia Balbo who is an astrologer with a strong interest in food – do check out her website for an eclectic mix www.linguaggisimbolici.com Making up the team was Ilva Beretta, the well known Swedish photographer whose beautiful work can be seen at www.ilvaberetta.com and also in the newly published book “Orange Appeal” by Jamie Schler which I can strongly recommend as an addition to your cook book collection when it’s published in August.

The third day was great fun under the moderation of Carolina Stupino, a Piedmont exile living in London, teaching and blogging about food, health and nutrition at www.tastesofcarolina.com. Her team were Patti Boner as mentioned above, and Amanda Courtney, Boston born, Piedmont dwelling wine expert who will organise fabulous wine tours for you through www.AmandasWineAdventures.com

My memories of the time in Turin were entirely positive and it was a instructive on many levels to meet with bloggers with much more experience than I (not to mention more followers!) and of course, the food in Turin is sublime. Patti has made an excellent job of describing the restaurants we visited, although for me, the highlight was the cookery lesson at www.qubitorino.it Real Piedmont food with real Piedmont chefs – and of course, ingredients. As you will see from my post on www.turinepi.com, it was fascinating to see another method of making risotto, about which I shall write soon, when I’m happy I can make an edible risotto using this method!

So as a sign off from this non-recipe post, please do take a look at my fellow bloggers’ sites and above all, if you love food, go to Turin!