The Chinese year of the Rooster (2017) had a slightly simpler connection to a specific dish, I posted my favorite soup which coincided with the year of the rooster as it has chicken stock as a base. Chinese year of the Dog, 2018, is slightly more challenging.
As my personal Chinese sign is Dog, I feel a special connection, an obligation, to make sure the post welcoming this year in be special, especially as I recently understood that it is not actually good luck to be in one's own year. Surely I must counteract this potential omen of bad luck with some good food and extra loving friendship. Flash, this post, dedicated to 2018 Year of the Dog, is from a cook-in I had with my dear friend Angela Lanza. Perfect winter dishes, simple and tasty, from a biscuit worthy of the best bubbles, Franciacorta, through to desert.
Before we begin, a few words about how our cook-in came about. Angela is a severely humble and elegant person who happens to be an extraordinary cook. What comes to her as easy and basic to the uninitiated (me) can seem complicated and impossible. One evening in the summer we popped by for a glass of bubbles and the next thing we knew it was dinner time. As the Lanza's were departing early next morning for a trip, the cupboard of fresh foods was not prepared for guests. Ever gracious and generous, Angela took out the most divine biscuits, properly named parmesan shortbread, from the freezer and in 10 minutes we were feasting on them with our Franciacorta. In heaven, I casually mentioned that I would like to learn to make them. Of course! Angela exclaimed. We will have a cook-in she added. Next scene, we are enjoying together a meal in late summer at the Lanza's and the dessert is divine, we shall add it to our cook-in menu Angela chimes. Fast forward to a meal at our home about a month later where a regional dish is being discussed, Valdostana. Now we had our main dish and a date was set for the cook-in.
The day dawned bright and sunny, I arrived by train, fetched by Angela at the station. To start us off she had prepared a light lunch, and after this we took a short walk around the amazing environs of Morcote where they live.
Upon our return, Giorgio was immediately put to work grating the mountains of fresh parmesan cheese necessary for these yummy savory biscuits.
Meanwhile, Angela and I began the preparations for dessert, plum & almond tart, as it required the most lead time.
The main course we prepared last, a fairly straightforward dish, even with its fancy name Valdostana, a chicken dish oddly named after a breed of domestic goat in the Northwestern Italian region of Valle d'Aosta.
We ended the evening, with a giant torte and a small one which we took home for Claudio's breakfast. Italian breakfast of cappuccino with a sweet, my solution, at leat have the sweet be natural and homemade.
Click here for the recipes for all three dishes: Parmesan shortbread, Valdostana, and Plum & Almond Tart.
Researching how to celebrate the Chinese new year I came across an interesting site which gives day by days instructions. It was 13 February when I did this research and I had myself just had a burst of cleaning up/taking care of household loose ends, turns out that in this lunar cycle, the 13th is to be dedicated to cleaning, I must be aligned. The 15th is the day related to cooking for sure, the reunion dinner is the highlight of the holiday and by all counts is a culinary feast beyond my current capacities, one reason I have decided to go with the loved one, social aspect as opposed to prescribed dishes and complexity which seems to be the ease of the Chinese, my hat is off to them for sure. The 16th is the first day of the new year and this is to be spent visiting family, most specifically if you are married, the family of your husband. We will have dinner with Angela and Giorgio.
Let me know when you try these recipes, and meantime Woof wooof wooof - Happy "Chinese" New Year!