- Great Taste - 20131016- Great Taste w/ Giselle Isadori


This episode of Great Taste is dedicated to Jerry Deprey.  Thanks for hanging out with us.  We're going to miss you.

Gisella Isidori and Kelli KuenzlerThe amazing Gisella Isidori returned to the Club Room last week.  As always, she brought with her the collective knowledge of Italian culture and cuisine, pouring it out during every encounter in a never-ending flow in exchanges always full of surprises. And she did surprise me several times. 

Gisella/Kelli/SavannahDuring the show Gisella was assisted by Indian Hills Culinary Arts students Savannah Strode and Kellie Kuenzler.  She had nothing but praise for their perfect rendering of her recipes into food reality-Halloween panini, pumpkin soup, grape mostarda, roasted chestnuts, and pollo schiachiatta.

(A few recipes are at the end of the post.) 

Also, Emily Rose Shaw, our health coach, gave us an inside look at the Blue Zone initiative, and Tom Allen provided the musical entertainment.

I wrote the original post last week pleasantly full after making-riso sconcho (dialect)- a dish Gisella recalled from her childhood  in Valtellina, about as far north as you can go in the Lombardia region of Italy before crossing into Switzerland.  

"My grandmother used to make this.  Maybe it's been 20 years or more since I've thought about it," mused Gisella. The risotto (cooked rice) is a good example of cucina povera or the everyday type of rustic food with generally rural roots.

Following Gisella's very simple instructions, I cut into small pieces four peeled potatoes and a head of cabbage.  To a pot of boiling salted water I added the vegetables plus two cups of carnaroli rice and cooked it until the rice was al dente, about 16 minutes (taste).  Prior to putting on the veggies and rice, I diced three medium onions and cooked them very slowly in butter and lots of fresh sage with some pepperoncini flakes until the onions were lightly caramelized.  Also, after all the moisture was drawn out of the onions, Gisella had me add two homemade vegetable broth ice cubes that I keep in my freezer for just such moments. 

After draining the water from the vegetable mixture, I put it into a nice casserole dish, added the onions, a couple of tablespoons of butter, 6-8 ounces of Fontina Val D'Aosta or a sharp cheddar ( we used Milton Creamery's Prairie Breeze) cut into small cubes, 1/2-3/4 cup of freshly-grated parmigiano, and mixed until the cheese turned the dish into a creamy delight.  

Serve topped with a few twists from your pepper mill and a sprinkling of minced sage.  As a main course, the dish will make five hungry people smile from deep inside.  You can substitute kale for the cabbage, green beans in the spring, and try farro instead of rice. 

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO PRESENTATIONS OF PAST GREAT TASTE SHOWS AT THE FOLLOWING LINK:  http://fairfieldmediacenter.com/great-taste The video link for Gisella's show is here:  http://fairfieldmediacenter.com/great-taste#/id/ev15695 Thanks to Fairfield Media Center for the video production.  

The KRUU archives of GREAT TASTE are here

Roasted Chestnuts
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife (very carefully on a stable surface), cut an X into one side of each chestnut (make sure your cut goes through the skin). (Some recipes suggest soaking the chestnuts, at this point, in cold water for five minutes to help maintain moistness during the roasting process.)
Arrange chestnuts on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Roast until the chestnuts are tender and easy to peel.  You will see the skin start to peel back where you made the X. (15-20 minutes)
Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before handling.  Peel the skin off and enjoy.   

Mostarda di Uva (A simple condiment good with meat, poultry, cheeses, and eggs)
1 pound seedless grapes
3 T of nuts (pecans are Gisella's favorite)
Some fresh herbs (oregano and mint are nice)
3 T of a decent balsamic vinegar 

Clean and wash the grapes In a skillet put all the grapes (don't overcrowd), nuts (chopped) and the herbs
Cook over medium heat until all the water from the grapes are absorbed.  The grapes will become wrinkled. 
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and let the mostarda sit for a few minutes until the vinegar is absorbed and the grapes have cooled. 

Pumpkin Soup (8-10 servings)
l large pumpkin 2 large spaghetti squash or butternut (if the pumpkin doesn't have enough pulp in it)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium potatoes
1 small sweet onion
1 T Italian parsley
5 fresh sage leaves
1 T fresh-grated ginger
Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes
1/2 pound of Fontina Val D'Aosta or a good sharp cheddar
1/2 cup parmigianno reggiano
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf of thick-sliced stale bread (a good Italian bread or baguette) 

Scoop out the pumpkin and cut the pulp into chunks.  You need 4-5 cups of pumpkin/squash to make the recipe so use other squashes if you don't have enough.  (Cut the top off the pumpkin so that you can place it back on the pumpkin when serving the soup.)
Peel and cut the potatoes into small pieces. 
Thinly slice the onion.
Cover the bottom of a heavy-bottomed large sauté pan with extra virgin olive oil-add the onion and pepper flakes and sauté until golden brown.
Add the pumpkin and some of the sage reserving enough sage to use when serving the soup. Cook until the squash is soft.
In another pot boil the potatoes with salt until they are cooked through
Puree the mixture in small batches in a food processor or blender slowly adding the broth to assist in the process. Place the pureed mixture into a large stock pot, add the remaining broth, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 20-30 minutes until the soup gets a nice smooth texture.
Before serving add the heavy cream, the chunked cheese and parmigianno and allow the cheese to melt. Check again for salt and pepper.  Pour the soup back into the pumpkin.
Bake the bread slices for a few minutes until they are slightly toasty.  Put one slice in each bowl.  Cover with soup and sprinkle some sage, parsley, and parmigianno over the top.