Milk Street Italian (Ep 107)

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Italian Flatbread (Piadina)

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes four 10-inch flatbreads

A COMBINATION OF LARD and yogurt gave this dough a supple texture. Though it was not as flavorful, vegetable shortening worked as a substitute for lard. If the dough doesn’t ball up in the processor, gather it together and briefly knead it by hand. Roll out the rounds as evenly as possible. Let the dough rest if it resists rolling or snaps back. And if the char on the first piadina is too light, heat the pan several minutes longer.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 311 grams (2 cups) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 63 grams (⅓ cup) lard, room temperature

INSTRUCTIONS

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together ¼ cup of the water and the yo- gurt. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Process 5 seconds. Add the lard and process until combined, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, add the yogurt mixture. With the processor still running, add the remaining water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 1 minute.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare toppings.

Roll each dough ball into a 10-inch round. Poke the surfaces all over with a fork. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium until a drop of water sizzles immediately, 4 to 6 minutes. One at a time, place a dough round in the skillet and cook until the bottom is charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.


PIADINA TOPPINGS

Prosciutto, Arugula and Ricotta

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Makes 4 piadine

In romagna, piadine are often served with cured meats, greens and fresh cheeses that soften in the warmth of the freshly cooked bread. If possible, purchase fresh-cut prosciutto, sliced as thinly as possible, and allow it to come to room temperature. The flavor and texture of ricotta cheese varies widely by brand; we like Calabro.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 slices prosciutto, room temperature
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and lemon zest. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over half of each piadina, then top with 2 slices of prosciutto. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Mound on top of the prosciutto. Drizzle with oil and fold.

Lahmajoun with Lamb

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Makes 4 piadine

Made with ground meat, tomatoes and spices, lahmajoun is a common topping for flatbread in Armenia. If you prefer, swap in 80 percent lean ground beef for lamb.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • ½ large yellow onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 14½-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons), divided
  • 2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 cups lightly packed mint leaves, torn

INSTRUCTIONS

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the lamb, stirring and breaking up the meat, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the to- matoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. In a medium bowl, combine the parsley, mint and remaining lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the lamb mixture evenly over half of each piadina. Drizzle with the yogurt mixture, top with herbs and fold in half.

Spicy Garlic-and-Herb Oil

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Makes about 1 cup

Brush this herb-rich oil onto warm piadine to serve alongside soups, stews or salads. Or serve it in a dish as a dip for pieces of torn flatbread. If you like, substitute fresh oregano, marjoram or mint for the dill. The oil works equally well drizzled over pasta, polenta and fried eggs, or as a base for vinaigrettes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth, about 20 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed.


Ricotta-Semolina Cheesecake

Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active), plus cooling and chilling

Servings: 10

A BLEND OF WHOLE-MILK ricotta and mascarpone provided plenty of flavor and a rich, creamy texture, while whipped egg whites lightened the cake. Semolina flour gave structure to the cheese mixture and created a “crust” on the exterior. While we loved the flavor of Marsala here, dry sherry was a decent substitute. A fruit compote or citrus curd is the perfect partner to this barely sweet cheesecake. Our favorite grocery-store brand of ricotta is Calabro.

INGREDIENTS

  • 149 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 16-ounce container (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta
  • 8-ounce container (1 cup) mascarpone
  • 43 grams (¼ cup) semolina flour, plus more for pan
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray, then dust evenly with semolina flour, tapping out the excess.

In a food processor, combine ½ cup of the sugar and the lemon zest. Process until moist and fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the ricotta and mascarpone and process until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the semolina, egg yolks, Marsala, lemon juice and salt, then process until com- bined, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medi- um-high until light and foamy. With the mixer running, slowly add the remain- ing ¼ cup of sugar and continue to whip until the whites hold soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Add a third of the egg whites to the cheese mixture and fold until com- bined. Add the remaining whites and fold until just incorporated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spreading into an even layer and tapping on the counter to release any large air bubbles.

Bake until the top is lightly browned and the cake is just set but still jiggles when shaken, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the pan sides before slicing.

Don’t be surprised if the cake cracks as it cools. The whipped egg whites give the cake an incredibly light, fluffy texture, but they also make it delicate enough that cracks are inevitable.


Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

WE LIKE TO SALT our pasta cooking water liberally, since it seasons not only the pasta but also the finished dish; 2 generous tablespoons of kosher salt for 4 quarts of water was best.

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ pound gemelli or casarecce pasta
  • 4 ounces chevre (fresh goat cheese)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the cheese, oil and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and red pepper flakes, stirring and mashing with a fork until smooth. Drain the pasta, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the pot.

Add the arugula, goat cheese mixture, and reserved pasta cooking water, then toss until the cheese mixture is evenly distributed and the arugula begins to wilt.

Stir in the walnuts and chives, reserving a tablespoon of each for garnish,
if desired, then season with salt and red pepper flakes. Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl, then garnish with the remaining walnuts and chives.

PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES & KRISTEN TEIG