My top 5 of things to explore in Napoli
I have been wanting to make the Neapolitan pastiera for years, but never got round to it until today, when I happened to have all the ingredients at hand. The traditional Easter cake requires a special effort, and some of the recipes operate with bizarre amounts of sweet wheat grains and ricotta, but apart from that the process is not that difficult. These amounts work and the result is delicious, if somewhat on the heavy side.
For the pastry
300 g flour
150 g sugar
150 g butter
4 egg yolks
For the filling
100 g whole wheat grains (grano) dry weight.
500 ml milk
1 cinnamon stick
½ lemon peel
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
500 g ricotta
4 eggs separated in whites and yolks
240 g sugar
3 tbsp orange blossom water
100 g candied cedar
50 g candied cherries
In Italy you can buy pre-boiled wheat that doesn’t need to get soaked for 24 hours before use. Therefore the first step is to boil the wheat grains with cinnamon stick and lemon peel in milk, until all the milk has been absorbed. (Take care it doesn’t burn)
Meanwhile prepare the pastry. Mix flour and sugar, add butter and make it crumble before you use the egg yolks to tie up the pasty.
Leave the pastry in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Whip 4 egg whites with sugar until it forms stiff white tops.
Whip ricotta with egg yolks, cinnamon, vanilla, orange blossom water and candied fruits (if you can’t get cedar other kinds of candied citrus fruit peel can be used).
Remove the cinnamon stick and large pieces of lemon peel from the wheat, when it has cooled.
Mix the wheat with the ricotta mixture.
Roll out ¾ of the pastry and use it to line a well greased springform pan. (The cake turned out a lot taller than I’d expected, so don’t use a porcelain pie pan)
Fold egg whites with the wheat-ricotta mixture and pour it in the pan.
Roll out the remaining ¼ of the pastry and cut it into strips to make a lattice top.
Bake the pastiera at 150 C (300 F) for 1 hour.
More ricotta based recipes
Where in Italy quiz: Test your knowledge of Italian towns and places. Post a comment, if you recognize the destination from the photo and the three hints.
For general entertainment and with inspiration from Sophie’s World and Budget Travel Adventures, I’m introducing a ‘Where in Italy’ quiz, where you can test your knowledge of Italian towns and places. All you have to do is post a comment, if you recognize the destination from the photo and the three hints.
- Though irresistibly charming and gifted with more historic sights than most other places in Europe, this city stands out as a black sheep in the Italian urban family.
- The city is credited for the invention of a number of red, white and green dishes like pizza and caprese salad.
- The city has the only cluster of modern skyscrapers in Italy (as can be seen if you look very closely at the photo taken during take off from the city’s central airport).
Comment view will be delayed for 24 hours and among the correct answers a ‘winner’ will be selected. The ‘prize’ is a short presentation of you, your blog and twitter profile on this page and on Italian Notes’ Facebook.
And the winner is….
All answers to this week’s quiz pointed to Naples, which was correct and goes to prove the great perceptiveness of the readers. Impressing:) The many correct answers make it hard to pick a winner, although the contribution from @angelsdemonstou might be considered to take the lead for observations of the L-shaped autostrada and the San Paolo stadium. Still, in all fairness, I’ve closed my eyes and moved the cursor around till it happened to land on Eugene Martinez known on twitter as @tgiflorence.
Eugene has a degree in art history and graphic design from New York University and thirty years of experience in Tuscany, He shares his passion for art, history and cooking by blogging on tgiFlorence and organizing itineraries and cooking classes around Florence.
Congratulations to Eugene and big thanks to everyone who took the time to join in the fun and post an answer. It’s been really interesting to explore your blogs and homepages and I can only encourage others to do the same.
Visiting the Blue Grotto on Capri is a challenge. But pure magic rewards those who make the strenuous adventure.
– No way am I going through that crack in the rock, I though, viewing the waves smash against the perpendicular cliffs and hanging on to the railing of the overdimensioned dinghy that had taken us around the island from Capri town.
At school we had read Hans Christian Andersen’s description of his travels south of Rome to Capri’s blue cave “where all gleamed like the ether” and “the water below us was like a blue burning fire”, but somehow I had skipped the part about a little opening, hardly large enough for a boat. And even if I had read about it, I would have thought a major tourist site would have experienced some infrastructural improvements over the last two centuries.
I was not prepared for climbing from one small boat to an even smaller boat at high sea, or for holding my breath and stretching out in the bottom of a boat, while the rower used his hands to guide our way through the narrow entrance. But having come this far, there was no turning back.
Inside it took me a moment to adjust to the light before I could see the outlines of the vault and the other rowing boats gliding around and hear rower sing a not untalented, personal interpretation “Torna a Surriento”. I also spotted the light that entered the cave through the small opening and created the magic blue colours, although I would have described it in a more prosaic way than the old master of fairy tales. Still, Hans Christian Andersen’s impressions from Capri published in The Improvisatore capture the wonder of the place. And if you read the text, you can almost see the Grotta Azurra before your mind’s eye – without a rocking boat climbing challenge:
“By this means the strong sunshine outside threw a light within upon the floor of the grotto, and streaming in now like a fire through the blue water, seemed to change it into burning spirit. Every thing gave back the reflection of this; the rocky arch – all seemed as it formed of consolidated air, and to dissolve away into it. The water drops which were thrown up by the motion of the oars, dropped red, as if they had been fresh rose-leaves. It was a fairy world, the strange realm of the mind.”
Other sights in Campania
Pliny the Elder was incurably curious by nature. When he saw the eruption of Vesuvius in August 79 AD, his first impulse was to rush nearer to study the phenomenon.