Italy: Sundried Tomato and Pine Nut Bread
There is a lot to look forward to this summer; the sprawling Berlin flea markets, the thermal mountain spas of Marienbad, sun-washed castles in Salzburg, and the historic steam trains through Germany’s Black Forest. Yet to add to the growing continental calendar of events, this year the World Fair is in Milan! And I would love more than anything to go. My excitement, I suppose, is so great that I have not purchased an entry ticket nor have meditated on any booking site for airfare or accommodation. “Great job, Adam,” . . . slow clap. But deep down I know I will make it happen.
My personal interest in going? Well, firstly I have never attended a World’s Fair and I have always desired to do so in my lifetime. I imagine it to be a lot like Disney’s Epcot, although more magnificent and grand. Pavilions oozing culture, inventions, and achievements that host tourists who shuffle from one country’s presentation to the next; 5 continents for visitors to access in just a day on foot, country borders only separated only by fairground squares blooming with color. The experience creates a space like one celluloid continent. A World’s Fair is like recreating the lost, singular continent “Pangea” — a super-continent from millions of years ago. Or at least this is how I picture The Fair to be.
2015 is a special one with the theme being Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life. The culinary aspect to the event will highlight sustainable agriculture for the world’s inhabitants (swelling to 9 billion in 2050), how culture impacts food and diet, and how we can globally move forward to prevent hunger through technology and international cooperation. Sounds like a tall order but a conversation definitely worth having. Not to be lost in translation, though, is the sharing of food (and devouring everything in sight with abandon as is proper etiquette at any fair!)
Food is intrinsically part of our culture, our identity. As an American living in Prague, I often manage (and diffuse) a popular statement from locals: “America does not have cuisine! All you have is hamburgers and hot dogs.” Ah, that one, I sigh. Again. I have learned that responding guarantees, if not locks you, into a minimum 10-minute debate on food history and American culture. I can positively say that Americans do have food identity and proudly will be showcasing our culinary contributions in Milan this year!
As we approach opening day in 9-days’ time, I wanted to bake something yesterday that not only would be a departure from my self-education on French recipes or my recent German Saturday, but would be a nod to the upcoming festival. I chose to bake a sundried tomato and pine nut bread with Parmesan cheese. I spent some time adjusting the original recipe in terms of portion in addition to calculating the European grams to cups or teaspoons for readers back in the U.S. I have included both, however, so we could all have a proper go at this bread!
The final product? I was very pleased. A full-flavored, boasting bread that is hearty, savory, and could undoubtedly represent a taste of Italy – one of the thousand tastes that Italian culture offers.
A few highlights from our trip to Milan, 2013!
Sundried Tomato and Pine Nut Bread
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- 1 cup AP flour (250g)
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 2/5 cup milk (100g) -- U.S. equivalent is just under 1/2 cup
- 2/5 cup EVOO (100g) -- U.S. equivalent is just under 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 2 tsp baking powder (15g)
- 1/3 cup Pine nuts (35g)
- 1 tbsp thyme (or sub. fresh)
- 1 tbsp basil (or sub. fresh)
- 2 dashes of salt
- Dash of freshly-cracked pepper
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C), center baking rack
- In a nonstick fry pan, begin to toast your pine nuts. Set aside
- Coarsely chop sun-dried tomatoes into smaller, 1/8" pieces. Set aside
- In a large bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, cheese, thyme, basil, baking powder, pepper, and salt. Combine thoroughly
- In another bowl combine wet ingredients, first whisking your eggs before adding the EVOO and milk
- Fold in wet ingredients to dry mix then add the sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Combine, but do not knead
- Roll dough into your desired baking pan lined with either parchment paper or into a greased and floured baking pan - bang dish on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles
- Sink in cherry tomatoes into the dough before cooking, sprinkle with pine nuts and a dash of parmigiano
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, set aside to cool
- To serve: Ideal to share at a cocktail party as an appetizer or enjoy at dinner and pair with a fresh green salad & balsamic vinaigrette
Adapted from Milano World's Fair 2015
Adapted from Milano World's Fair 2015
The Bell Kitchen http://thebellkitchen.com/