Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Dining with the Bloggers - November 2nd
In case you hadn't guessed, I am completely smitten with Italy. I'm not alone - it's a common affliction among Americans. Anyway, when I come across a food blog written in English by someone living in Italy, I stop and take notice. And when that food blog has gorgeous photos of the countryside and the food, I'm a happy camper. And when that food blog has delicious recipes, I am positively gleeful.
The blog of which I speak, Lucullian delights - an Italian experience, belongs to Ilva, a Swedish woman who lives in northern Tuscany with her Italian husband, three children, and Japanese dog. She started her English blog just a couple of months ago, but she also has a parallel Swedish blog that she started in June - Aglio e olio - en utflykt i det italienska köket.
I've bookmarked a number of Ilva's very tempting recipes, but this week finally got around to trying one of them - Schiacciata con l'uva. Schiacciata is the Tuscan version of focaccia, but this particular schiacciata is more of a dessert. Ilva didn't know what the grapes she uses for the schiacciata are called in English, but based on her description (small, blue, and very sweet), a commenter suggested they might be Concord grapes.
I don't see Concord grapes very often, but this past week I found them at both my regular grocery store and Trader Joe's. It was a sign - time to try Schiacciata con l'uva! The grapes were $5 a box, so I decided I would make do with a single box (about a pound), rather than the kilogram (2.2 pounds) called for by the recipe. Since I decided to seed them, I was glad to have the smaller amount of grapes. I also substituted a packet of dry yeast for the 25g of fresh yeast.
I had not cooked with Concord grapes before and I don't think I had ever tasted a Concord grape before. When I tasted one, I was a little worried about cooking with them. Though sweet with a pleasant taste, they have heavy skins, 1 - 4 big seeds in each, and jellyfish-like insides - quite different from the green and red seedless grapes I'm accustomed to eating. But after baking, they were transformed. The unpleasant texture was gone and they became deep purple and even sweeter - like the grape jelly we all grew up with.
The schiacciata was very good. Of course, I didn't heed Ilva's warning and tried some soon after it came out of the oven. Not only did I burn the roof of my mouth, I found it really does taste better once it has cooled down - the grape flavor is much more pronounced. Now let me give you another reason to let it cool before you cut into it - those grape juices stain! For a couple of panicky moments I thought I was going to have to live with a large grape stain on my counter. Fortunately, a little cleanser with bleach took it out.
I was perfectly happy with the ratio of bread to grapes and wouldn't have wanted to seed more grapes than I did, but I'm tempted to try this recipe with red seedless grapes, and I would use the full amount of grapes. Another time I would also cut back on the olive oil. The quarter cup used in the dough was fine, but the quarter cup drizzled over the grapes was too much - perhaps one or two tablespoons would be sufficient. All in all, though, this is a wonderful recipe and a nice introduction to Concord grapes!
Be sure to stop by Zarah's and see what she's prepared for you!