POST ON YOUR DREAMBOARD
Buying real estate in Italy. I’m always online looking for real estate. I happen to live in a very expensive part of Canada, so when I look at real estate in almost any area of Italy, it seems to me like they’re practically giving it away. Yes, you can buy an apartment in Italy for 20k. In some areas you can buy a villa with a few acres, an olive grove and a pool for under 200k. You might have heard about the 1 euro houses in Italy (we wrote about that and because it’s the #1 post we’ve ever had on the blog I know this is a hot topic). Like I explained in that post, they require extreme renovations. So unless that’s a project you’ve got the guts for, I suggest buying something turnkey or that just needs a bit of beautification. If you’ve got buying real estate in Italy on your mind, reply to this email with “house hunting” and I’ll make sure you hear about some special interviews we have coming up on this subject. I also dream about taking a small group of people with me one day so they can also buy their little place in the sun (or big, go you!). If you like this “house hunting” talk, reply back and I’ll get you added to a special list.
Last week we shared the beach club on the island of Ischia, and here at Italian Fix our hot and steamy love affair for Italian Islands will never die. The hotel Mezzatorre, also on Ischia, is built from 16th century watchtower and overlooks a private bay looking out into the Gulf of Naples. It’s very own thermal spa never hurt anyone, either. Thermal baths are a thing on Ischia and there are public ones and also private ones in many other hotels on the island. When I recommended a hotel in Ischia to a friend, she reported back that during their days bobbing around in thermal baths, her husband stated, “I didn’t know this level of relaxation was possible”. I wish we could all have a slice of that relaxation right about now.
Today I’m sharing a family recipe from my husband’s mother, Paola. She was from Tuscany, and this is a meal you’ll find at many Tuscan mama’s kitchens. She used to make this recipe for me when I was a lonely young girl from Canada, married to her son, but pretty homesick and often sitting in her kitchen with not much to do. She would make these for me anytime, and just sit and watch me eat, because she just liked to keep me company and she couldn’t stand the thought of me eating alone, even if our dining schedules didn’t match. She was the kindest soul that ever lived, but she’s gone now and we miss her.
Of the many good memories she left behind, here is one of her best recipes. I love it cause it’s a non-fussy thing to whip up. Malfatti are pasta-y and very satisfying — without the time of making real pasta from scratch. Let me know if you make them!
Paola’s Malfatti (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)
Serves: 4 | Cooking time: 30 mins | Preparation time: 45 mins
For the Malfatti (dumplings):
300g (9.5oz) spinach, previously boiled and drained
300g (9.5oz) fresh ricotta cheese, drain excess water
3 tbsp. parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnishing)
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
White flour (to coat the dumplings)
For the Sauce:
4 tbsp. butter
10 fresh sage leaves
1. Boil the spinach, drain it, and press out the excess liquid. Saute the spinach in a pan with some olive oil for a few minutes and let it cool. When it’s cool, chop it finely with a knife and drain off any remaining water.
2. Put the spinach in a bowl and add the ricotta (equal parts ricotta and spinach is a good rule). Add 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Beat one egg and add it into the mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine all the ingredients.
3. Sprinkle your work surface generously with flour. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls, and roll them lightly in flour. You want the flour to coat the entire outside of each dumpling, as this will protect them from opening in the boiling water. Do this until you’ve used all the mixture.
4. Add the malfatti, 5 at a time, to a pot of salted boiling water. Wait until they rise to the surface, about 1-3 minutes, and remove them with a slotted spoon.
5. To make the sauce, heat the butter and sage leaves in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Drizzle the sage butter over the malfatti and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6. Serve the dumplings on individual plates, sit down, smile, and chat about the day with the ones you love. Buon appetito!
(Photo Credit: Guilia Scarpelgia. I’ve been to her house to make pasta with clients, but no need to get on a plane cause her blog is full of Tuscan recipes.)
WISH WE WERE HERE
Venice. St. Mark’s Square. Fat Tuesday. In the before times, the two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday would see close to 3 million tourists descend upon Venice to dance around in ornate beads, extravagant feathers, and bejewelled masks. Ending just yesterday, this year’s celebration moved online, and the locals experienced a once in a lifetime Carnival without the masses. I think we all need to experience this revelry of life, art and music in Venice at least once. even if you’re not one for crowds. There’s plenty of celebration to be had, and even if we can’t be there this year, we know for sure that the next Carnival of Venice will be a party for the record books.
ITALIAN FIX FAMILY TABLE:
STORIES FROM OUR READERS
Carol from Connecticut writes:
How wonderful Sicily is. And visiting the Aeolian Islands! I had the opportunity to visit the Aeolian islands while on a hiking trip in Sicily, and I have wanted to return ever since. A hotel in Lipari was our “jumping off point” to visit Vulcano and Panarea. I remember watching Strombli’s volcano entertain us while sipping Sicilian wine at our hotel before dinner in the evening. Those of us who were less inclined to participate in a night-clubbing experience were satisfied watching Stromboli’s volcano from the beach. Going to the mud baths of Vulcano is an unforgettable experience, as was the hike up to its dormant volcano. If I remember correctly, Panarea is the most populated of the three islands and has a very active nightlife. Oh, to be young again!
The food, wine, desserts….. ahhhh to be there again! We stayed two nights in Taormina, and one day during our stay it happened to be the anniversary of Italy‘s celebration of the end of World War II. It seemed like everyone was out for the holiday and all the celebrations. No pushing, no shoving — just a lot of happy people! I can remember hiking on Mount Etna and marveling about how nature revives itself from an eruption. At times the heat beneath our feet reminded us of what nature can do. In the evening we would watch the rumbles and spewing of contents from Etna….. And on the return home, the mountain really erupted!
Have something you want to share with us? Click here — we’re looking for your best memories, photos, recipes, trials, and tribulations. We’ll feature the snazziest tips in upcoming editions.
I’m happy to share these ideas and ny mother-in-law’s recipe with you today.
It’s Pandemeruary (yes, I just invented the word) and we all need some Tuscan nonna recipes and looking forward to brighter days. Sending good vibes your way.
With love + dumplings,