I’ve been thinking a lot about Rome lately in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Italy. As J. says “Rome is like an onion. You just keep peeling back layers and there’s always more to discover.” Of course there are endless sights that I hope to some day see, but I can’t help myself from dreaming about the meals we will eat. As a traveler I am not one to plan every second of every day, but I do like to have some idea of where we should dine. There’s nothing worse than wandering around hungry (sometimes also clueless) and then being turned away for not having a reservation.
With that being said, I’ve done a fair amount of reading lately on Rome and its food. I follow three blogs-Elizabeth Minchilli In Rome, Katie Parla and An American in Rome– where each of the Rome based writers share their favorite spots for dining, among other tips about the city. I’ve made a mental list of places I’d love to try and find myself wondering just how many meals we can realistically fit into our time there.
Today I came to the decision that rather than just reading about the food of Rome it was time to do some cooking. I turned to Katie’s recently published cookbook-Tasting Rome. The book includes recipes for traditional Roman dishes in addition to contemporary interpretations. The photos are stunning, the recipes are tailored for the home kitchen and the narrative will make you want to jump on a plane to Rome.
Today I tried a starter and an entree. The cracker recipe is a twist on taralli- round crackers served with drinks around southern Italy. They are fairly easy to put together, especially if you have a pasta machine. The second dish was Torta Rustica, a savory vegetable pie that it very similar to the Erbazzone from Liguria which I love.
Leave me a comment here between now and April 2nd to be entered to win copy of Tasting Rome.
I Cracker (Italian for “crackers”)
1-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (5 grams)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (90 milliliters) warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (300 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon (5 grams) sea salt
Flavorings of your choice (optional): coarsely ground pepper, red pepper flakes, finely chopped fresh rosemary
In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and set aside until dissolved, about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl or on the countertop, sift together the flour and salt, then mix with the flavorings. Make a well in the center. Pout the olive oil into the well along with an additional 5 tablespoons water and then the yeast mixture. Mix with your hands to pull together a ball of dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is supple and smooth. Form into a ball, cover it with an inverted medium bowl, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the dough into eight equal pieces. Flatten one piece with your hands and lightly dust with flour, leaving the remaining dough under the bowl until you’re ready to use it. Feed the dough through a pasta machine, starting on the largest setting, gradually reaching the thickness of four stacked playing cards. If you’re using flavorings in your dough stop a setting or two before to prevent tearing (I went to setting 5 on my machine). Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
Prick the dough with a fork to make small holes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cracker has bubbled up and browned in places and is cooked through. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.