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Discover the cooking

Discover the cooking

Venice is a seaside city and our traditional dishes contain seafood. However there are also recipes with vegetables coming from the islands, e.g. artichokes from the island of Sant'Erasmo, pumpkin, asparagus, radicchio, beans and peas.

Starters

First Courses

Second Courses

Side dishes

Sweets

Starters

Creamy salted codfish with polentaBaccalà mantecato (Creamy salted codfish)

Ingredients
500g of salted codfish (dried cod)
2 cloves of garlic
1 glass of olive oil
milk, as needed
salt, as needed


 

Directions
Put the already soaked codfish in a saucepan, cover it with slightly salted cold water and bring to the boil. When it starts to boil, take it out, eliminate skin and spines. Pound the flesh with a fork until flaky. Peel, crush and add garlic to fish. Mix well.
Slowly add oil while mixing continuously and pounding well with a wooden spoon, until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add salt and pepper, and serve with bread croutons, tender white polenta or even grilled polenta slices.

Suggestions
According to tradition, this dish is always prepared by hand, without the help of a food processor. If you are in a hurry, please use a processor with a kneading blade.


Schie (prawns) with polentaSchie con la polenta (Schie and Polenta)
Schie are small, grey, lagoon prawns. They can be prepared in two ways – fried or marinated.

Ingredients (for 4)
500 grams of lagoon prawns or schie
1 packet of white precooked polenta, or, if you have time, make the traditional polenta by following the recipe:
a bunch of fresh parsley
salt and pepper as desired
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil, as necessary

Directions – fried schie
Wash and dry schie very well, toss in flour and fry in boiling oil.  Prepare a very soft, tender white polenta. Pour the hot polenta onto the plates and cover with hot, fried, crispy schie. Serve immediately.

Directions – marinated schie
This recipe is more time-consuming, because the prawns must be washed well, and boiled in salted water that has been flavoured with the bay leaf. (Place the schie into the boiling water, and take them out as soon as the water starts to boil again. Carefully peel each prawn. Prepare the dressing by mixing the crushed garlic, finely chopped parsley and oil together. Pour over the prawns, mix well and set aside for at least half an hour.
Prepare a tender white polenta, distribute it well on each plate and pour over the prepared prawn mixture. Add salt and pepper, and serve while still hot.


First Courses

Rice with peasRisi e bisi (a risotto with rice and peas)

Ingredients (for 4 people)
1 onion
4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil,
50grams of finely chopped bacon
200gr of Vialone rice
1 kg of spring peas
60gr of butter
finely chopped parsley (if desired)
 

Directions

Prepare a broth beforehand, by adding the pea shells to salted water. In a separate saucepan finely sauté chopped onion and bacon. When the onion is transparent, add the rice, then one ladle of broth at the time, making sure that the broth has been absorbed before adding the next.
Halfway during the cooking time added the peas and finish cooking the risotto.  Before serving add the butter and Parmesan cheese.
The doge used to eat this dish on 25th April – the feast day of Saint Mark – at the banquet he held for the political nobility.


 

Pot of pasta with beansPasta e fasiòi (bean soup)
This dish is perfect as a wholesome meal because it contains vegetable protein from the beans and carbohydrates from the pasta.

Ingredients (for 4)
250gr of dried Borlotti beans
200gr of pasta (preferably not fresh pasta, use broken pieces of spaghetti, small-sized macaroni e.g. ditalini or reginette)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1clove of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
1 ham bone or 100gr of pork rind
2.5 litres of water or broth
sale, pepper
150gr of grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil (extra)

Directions
Put the Borlotti beans to soak overnight.  Clean the pork rind and boil quickly, to remove excess fat. Heat  extra virgin olive oil, add finely chopped onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook over low heat. (Use earthen cookware if possible) Add beans, the cleaned pork rind or ham bone, 2.5litres of cold water and quickly bring to boil. Lower heat and cook for three hours.  Halfway through cooking time add salt to taste. Remove the pork rind. If you are using a ham bone, take care to remove any meat, and put the bone back into the soup. Finely cut the meat, keep warm and put aside for the adults. Put ¾ of the beans through a vegetable mill (or even all the soup, if the children do not like eating whole pieces of vegetables). Pour the bean mixture back into the soup. Salt to taste and add a sprig of rosemary for 20 minutes and cover. After 20 minutes take out the rosemary, and if the soup mixture is still liquid enough, add the pasta to cook “al dente”. Alternatively the pasta can be cooked separately in salted water and then added to the soup.

The soup must be thick enough for a spoon to stand up straight!
If you like, serve the bean soup with a trickle of extra virgin olive oil, or ground pepper.

Extra idea
Serve with slices of toasted bread, grated Grana cheese. Adults should taste it with the hot pork rind and drink red wine.  During summer, this soup can be eaten either lukewarm or even cold:  this is one of the recipes that Venetian mothers and housewives prepare for on-board eating during the feast of the Saviour!


 

Second Courses

Dish with sautéd musselsPeoci saltai (mussels)
Ingredients
2 kg of  mussels
2 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
white wine (preferably Prosecco)
pepper to taste
parsley if desired
Length of cooking time: approx. 10-15minutes

 

Directions
Clean the mussels well taking care to remove the beard (the strands needed for the mussels to stay attached to the rocks). Add oil to a large saucepan. When hot, add garlic cloves and mussels. Cover and cook until the shells have opened. Add white wine and simmer till reduced. Turn off heat and add finely chopped parsley if desired. Mix well. Add pepper for adults.  Serve with garlic-flavoured bread croutons.


 

Meat with sauceCarne in tecia (Braised beef)

Ingredients (for 4 people)
800gr of beef muscle
some strips of lard or bacon
30 gr of butter
1 onion
1carrot
1 celery stalk
1 leek
1 glass of red wine
200 gr of ripe tomatoes (peeled, chopped and drained)
2 dl of meat broth
white flour
salt, pepper
Cooking time: 3 hours

Directions
Lard the beef according to the meat grain, by inserting little strips of lard or bacon at regular intervals, with the use of a larding needle; otherwise finely chop the lard or the bacon and  add to the sautèed vegetables (see further). The larding process makes the meat more tender and tastier. Flour the meat. Melt butter and oil and sear the  meat briskly until browned all over for approx. 15 minutes.  The searing will help to seal in the juices. Add finely chopped vegetables and wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes, broth and a sprinkle of pepper. Cover tightly and cook slowly for at least 3 hours.
Check occasionally and add broth, to avoid drying out. When cooking time is up, add salt, cut the meat into slices, place on a serving dish and cover with its own gravy. If the gravy is too watery, add a thickening agent (flour).

Interesting fact
In Venice and in the Veneto region, this recipe is also known as “el lesso che non lessa” or “el manzo che se cusina da so'lo”, meaning “the boiled beef that doesn't boil” or “the beef that cooks itself”, because it cooks slowly in a tightly closed earthenware or stainless steel pan – without requiring continuous attention.


Side dishes

Artichoke bottomsFondi di carciofo (artichoke bottoms)
Ingredients (for 4 people)
12 artichoke bottoms
½ glass of extra virgin olive oil
20gr butter
some parsley
1 clove of garlic
salt, pepper
Cooking time: ½ hour


 

Directions
Choose nice artichoke bottoms and avoid blackening by soaking with lemon juice in water until ready to be cooked.
Finely chop parsley and garlic and lightly sautèe in oil. Add the artichoke bottoms, salt, pepper, and if necessary some water.


 

Cutting board with Polenta (cornmeal mush)Polenta
Ingredients
500gr of white or yellow polenta flour/cornmeal
3 litres of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Directions
Bring water to boil and add salt. Gradually sprinkle cornmeal over boiling water stirring constantly with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps. When the polenta starts to thicken, lower heat, and continue stirring always in the same direction with a wooden spoon, in order to avoid lumps forming. After 40 minutes the polenta is ready.

 

Suggestions

If you don't want a very thick polenta, keep a small saucepan of boiling water at hand, and add one ladle at the time until you've reached the desired consistency.


Bunch of artichokes
Castraure (spring artichoke buds)

These small, tender, delicately flavoured artichoke buds, once coming from the famous artichoke plantations at Malamocco, now from  the island of Sant'Erasmo, are sold at vegetable markets in spring – to be eaten raw with oil, salt and pepper.ù

 


 

 

 

Sweets

Mini pastry cake garnished with decorations“San Martino” Biscuit
This shortcrust pastry sweet  is prepared on the 11th November each year for the feast day of San Martino. Children look forward to the occasion, and receive it as a gift from their parents and grandparents.
The sweet has the shape of San Martino on horseback, flailing his sword. If you go to Venice during this period, pastry shop windows are full of this sweet created in many different versions - iced, covered with dark chocolate, or milk chocolate, decorated with sweets or chocolate candy
Oven paper shape
You need approx. 30cm x 40cm piece of oven paper. Draw the traditional shape of San Martino on horseback, cut it out and put it aside. You can download the drawing from the Internet.
During this festive period you are able to buy the appropriate cake tin in specialized kitchenware shops in Venice.

Ingredients for a 20cm x 30cm “San Martino”
For the shortcrust pastry:
250gr of flour
150gr of soft butter
100gr of sugar
1 egg yolk and 1 whole egg
½ sachet of vanilla powder
For icing and decoration:
250-300gr of icing sugar
1 egg white
5 drops of lemon juice
100gr smarties, sugar drops, sweets chocolate candy (as desired)
Oven time: 15/20 minutes at 180°C

Directions
Using your hands when possible: mix together egg yolk, whole egg, butter and sugar well. (Keep egg-white aside). Add flour and vanilla. Knead lightly and form a smooth ball. Flour a sheet of oven paper and roll out the pastry to approx. 30 x 40 cm rectangle, then cut the “San Martino” shape.  You can make biscuits from the leftover cuttings.
Bake in oven for approx. 15-20 minutes.
When baked, leave to cool and prepare the icing. Put the egg-white in a bowl and add 1 spoon of icing sugar at a time, taking care to mix well with a wooden spoon after every addition. When you have used up approx. half of the icing sugar, add 5 drops of lemon juice, mix well, and continue to add the remaining icing sugar using the same procedure.
At the end the mixture will be quite thick. Beat it vigorously until it becomes shiny.
Pour the mixture into a piping bag with a medium-sized star nozzle and start decorating. Place the sweets and candy as desired. Then leave to dry at room temperature for approx. 12 hours.

Extra idea
“San Martino” can be covered with melted chocolate or the icing can be coloured. You and your children can decide together about which sweets to use to decorate the shortcrust. You may even decide to change the shape and prepare biscuits (with a hole) to be decorated and hung on the Christmas tree.


Fritole (fritters) in a closeupFrìtołe venessiane (Venetian fritters)
Ingredients for 6 people
500gr of flour
2 glasses of milk
2 eggs
130g of sultanas or dried fruit
80 gr of caster sugar
40gr of yeast
2 small glasses of grappa
1 lemon
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt,
oil for frying
vanilla-flavoured caster sugar.
Cooking time: 1 hour (rising time – 5 hrs.)

Directions
Soak the dried fruit in the grappa. Mix half a glass of warm water with the yeast. Make batter by mixing together flour, eggs, milk, caster sugar, grated lemon rind, cinnamon, salt. Add dried fruit and grappa, to the flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon. Cover with a clean tea towel and put aside in a warm place for 5 hours. When well risen, mix again, and if necessary add a little milk or water until the mixture is liquidy.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add spoonfuls, leaving space around each one. Turn over when lightly browned, then remove with a perforated spoon, drain well and leave to cool on kitchen paper. Cover with vanilla-flavoured sugar.

Extra idea:
There are many versions of the original recipe. Pine nuts and candied peel can be added. The fritter can be filled with chantilly crème, chocolate or hazelnut spread. Some pastry shops do not add sultanas to the recipe, and the fritters are rolled in icing sugar instead of caster sugar. You can use this recipe (without adding fruit) to prepare the traditional “Madonna della Salute” ring cake.


Donut-shaped cakesBussolà buranelli  (Burano biscuits)
Ingredients
1 kg of flour
12 egg yolks
2 sachets of vanilla powder
300g  of butter (at room temperature)
600g of sugar
Oven time: 15-20minutes

 

 

Directions
Beat egg yolks and sugar well, add a pinch of salt, vanilla, soft butter, flour and mix well. Knead lightly. Make ring shapes with small amounts of pastry and place on a greased tray.
Bake in oven at 160°-180° for 15-20minutes to brown well. The baked product will last for many days.


 

Fried creamCreme frite (fried cream)
Ingredients for 5 people
200gr of flour
180gr of caster sugar
1 litre of fresh milk
5 egg yolks (keep egg whites for dipping)
grated lemon rind
finely grated bread crumbs
oil and butter for frying
vanilla-flavoured sugar for decorating
Time: 1 ½  hours

Directions
Mix egg yolks and sugar well. Add sifted flour, lemon rind and slowly add milk while stirring constantly.
Place over low heat and continue mixing, bring slowly to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Pour the cooked cream on a wetted surface/marble slab, level well to a finger thickness and leave to cool. Cut into squares/diamond shapes. Prepare oil and butter in a frying pan and heat for frying. Beat egg whites, and  dip shapes. Crumb well and fry until browned.  Dust with vanilla-flavoured sugar and serve.

 

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