The Silver Spoon – ‘the bible of Italian cooking’
This is a monster of a book – reputedly given to Italian brides as a wedding gift, it covers just about every aspect of Italian cuisine imaginable. I have now been browsing through for a few days and started to experiment with a few of the recipes – of which there are thousands (just checked – ‘over 2000’ apparently).
Orqanised by ‘types of food’ the first section I tackled was Vegetables. Not a great fan of vegetarian recipes ordinarily, I was really pleased to find many (new) dishes that would easily work as a main course for my predominantly omnivorous family. With the ‘store cupboard basics to hand my first meal was Sunday lunch – roast leg of lamb with asparagus baked in a cheese and bechamel sauce.
The lamb was good and simple – spiked with rosemary and well seasoned. A couple of chopped garlic cloves plus a half glass of white wine and same again of vinegar (cider in this case) then slam in the lamb ona high heat for an hour (turn once half way through).
The asparagus dish was very well flavoured but the boiling then baking took the asparagus to a slightly too soggy state for my liking. The method requires enough asparagus for 4 (four bundles from the supermarket) and a 1/2 pint of bechamel sauce (spiked with a scrape of nutmeg). Once the bechamel is ready (make this ahead of the lamb going in) separate 2 eggs and grate a big handful of parmesan. Stir in parmesan to the bechamel. Meantime steam asparagus for 5 mins (book states to boil for 10 but this is too long ‘IMHO’). Butter a baking dish, scatter in asparagus then beat egg yolks into bechamel. (One omission here is the white wine suggested by the recipe – it adds flavour but the sauce separates and looks grainy – so it’s up to you whether you include it or not). Scatter more parmesan on top and bake alongside lamb for 10 – 15 mins until bubbling and browned.
A great success – so we’re off to a good start it seems? I get the feeling this book will be a constant refrence source for inspiration.