Good Reading : December January 2005
La Dolce Vita 28 goodreading Valentina Harris could possibly claim fame to being the authority on Italian food after having published over 30 books on the subject. The recipes in her latest book, Recipes from an Italian Terrace, reflect the Italians’ love of eating outside from the very beginning of the summer to the last few hours of the season. Harris writes: ‘Erroneously, people refer to it as eating al fresco, but, in fact, eating al fresco means eating in a cool place, in the shade, preferably under a shady pergola, but never in the full sunshine of the middle of the day . . . There are special tablecloths and tableware reserved for eating outside, and all Italians, even those with the tiniest outdoor space, know the joys of eating good food in the open air. And of course, there are special recipes for such occasions too.’ Recipes from an Italian Terrace by Valentina Harris. Photography by Sam Bailey.Text copyright © 2004 Valentina Harris. Published by Cassell Illustrated, rrp $49.95. As I am not very good at making pastry and don’t like fussy desserts, I like to make pies that are a little bit rough and ready like this one. Bought pastry makes it even quicker and easier, especially if it comes ready-rolled, but you can make your own sweet or shortcrust pastry if you prefer. Summer Fruit Pie Sfoglia di frutta estiva serves 6 1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust or sweet pastry 4 dry sweet biscuits (such as Marie or Morning Coffee), crumbled 4 nectarines, peaches or large apricots 6 apricots or plums 100g (31/2 oz) blueberries, cherries (stoned), strawberries, redcurrants or raspberries 1 egg white, beaten 1 tbsp granulated or demerara sugar 1 tbsp smooth apricot jam, mixed with 1 tbsp hot water METHOD Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Place the pastry on to a sheet of non-stick parchment or paper and carefully roll out. (Some ready-to-use sheets of pastry can be bought ready-rolled on a sheet of baking paper.) Scatter the crumbled biscuits down the middle of the sheet of pastry.Wash the fruit and remove the stones. Cut all the large fruit into segments, then pile all the fruit into the centre of the pastry and over the biscuits. Fold the pastry back on itself to make a thick crust all the way around the fruit and biscuits but leaving it uncovered. Do this quickly, so that the pastry does not soften too much in the warmth of your hands. Whisk the egg white with the sugar and brush this all over the pastry crust around the exposed fruit. Slide the pie into the freezer for 5 minutes to set the egg white and sugar glaze, or put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Take the pie out of the fridge or freezer and slide it straight into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the pastry crust with the diluted apricot jam for added shine. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream.