To cook like a Vene­tian

A Ta­ble in Venice is au­thor Skye Mcalpine’s love let­ter to the Float­ing City. Vic­to­ria Lim gets in­spired in the kitchen.

Epicure - - COOKBOOK CRITIC -

At a glance

There’s noth­ing quite like the im­age of won­der­ous ar­chi­tec­tural build­ings in Venice bathed in light to in­spired you to visit what some have called the most beau­ti­ful city in the world. Lucky for Skye Mcalpine who moved to the Veneto cap­i­tal when she was six and spent most of her life in the beau­ti­ful city. It was through her time dab­bling in her friend’s kitchen, help­ing to roll gnoc­chi that the Lon­don­born food writer dis­cov­ered the beauty of Vene­tian home cooked food.

The gor­geous look­ing book be­gins with an ex­tremely de­tailed and help­ful shop­ping guide on how to set up a proper pantry to sup­port Vene­tian cook­ing. Alpine ar­ranges her recipes in sec­tions like break­fast, veg­etable (check out the Ri­cotta and Mint-stuffed Zuc­chini Flow­ers), lunch, apéri­tif time (don’t miss the Deep-fried Risotto and Moz­zarella Balls), fish and game (the Lan­gous­tine and Fig Salad is ter­rific), and of course, desserts and sweet treats.

The road test

I had im­mense fun recre­at­ing three of the recipes for my ricelov­ing fam­ily (the pres­sure is high). I went for the fa­mil­iar Home­made Gnoc­chi with But­ter and Sage. The steps to per­fect the gnoc­chi are straight­for­ward, but it’s best to read through the recipe in de­tail for a cou­ple of times be­fore start­ing. It took me two failed at­tempts to achieve the cor­rect wa­ter to flour ra­tio for the gnoc­chi. And don’t get too car­ried away when knead­ing the dough – if you over­work it, your gnoc­chi will be too tough to chew.

The Spiced Meat­balls is one that will go down well with your fam­ily and friends. To save more time, I mar­i­nated the meat­balls the night be­fore which al­lows all the flavours from the herbs and spices like cumin and basil to set­tle into the minced beef. It turns out to be the right move. The meat­balls are tiny flavour bombs, which go well with the gnoc­chi. Bonus: if you are feel­ing lazy, you can half-cook the meat­balls and pop them into the freezer and save them for rainy days. Just re­mem­ber not to keep them for more than two weeks.

Next up: the Zabaione and Meringue Semifreddo. Even though the recipe calls for a hand held mixer, I couldn’t wait to use my new ma­jes­tic yel­low Kitchenaid mixer for the mak­ing of the meringue. I was re­warded with a lovely meringue within a mat­ter of min­utes. The light and not-too-cloy­ingly sweet flavour from the Marsala paired well with the meringue and this dish was a hit with the health­con­scious par­ents.

Ver­dict

The recipes are easy to fol­low, es­pe­cially when paired with the beau­ti­ful pic­tures of the dishes. Ex­per­i­ment­ing with most of them is a joy. And un­like other cook­books where you tend to flip ahead di­rectly to the recipes pages, A Ta­ble in Venice of­fers easy to read, in­ter­est­ing his­tory and anec­dotes on the dish. So you’re likely to spend as much time ac­tu­ally read­ing about Vene­tian cui­sine, as you are test­ing th­ese Ital­ian plates at home.

A Ta­ble in Venice: Recipes from my home re­tails for £26 (S$47.08) on blooms­bury.com

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