Experiment in Italian Americana [can you beat a Gaeta]


“I wish they had never invented fried cheese!” exclaimed Marge Simpson…

..but “they” did and then "they" made it better (Welsh Rarebit, Croque Monsieur (-bake!) and his fair lady the Croque Madame and ultimately what choice do we have but to (occasionally) embrace and be embraced. Watching Italy’s World Cup hopes collapse the afternoon after the night before when the Wallabies had us right over I sorely felt the need for comfort[able] food and found myself fridge-trawling following a couple of Sunday afternoon snifters.

Unearthing a pair of a bit out-of-date mozzarella balls in the “stupid” [translucent so I can’t see the contents] extra cold compartment I ran through the limited options of what can be deliciously and realistically cooked at half time on a lazy Sunday with a fuzzy head and a glass of red. Recalling the poetically titled Mozzarella in Carrozza I set about constructing the carriage and filling it with lovely companions. The Campanian version is supposedly made with buffalo mozzarella whilst the Roman version is cows milk mozzarella, anchovies & prosciutto. The sandwich can be dredged in flour, milk, egg. I choose egg and found some slightly curly opened Parma ham in the fridge, a few basil leaves and in a few short minutes the passengers of a delicious, butter fried carriage were alighting into my mouth [as was the carriage]. The first version was well prepared, well cooked and even accompanied by some mixed cherry tomatoes [the sort that only Jamie Oliver ever seems able to get his hands on].


The next attempt, prepared after the match and a couple more looseners, was rather more “murky” [I don’t enjoy the term ‘dirty food’ so easily used for fried Americana] with chilli flakes in the egg dredge, salted capers in the filling and accompanied by a slurry of extra hot Linghams. Serving only to whet my appetite I promptly produced a third effort, the least photogenic but best tasting courtesy of a thick smear of Gaeta olive tapenade across both insides of the last slices of long slice bread.

The final effort, made with a new seeded loaf and assorted shavings and offcuts of mozzarella along with a little grated parmesan was a puny imitation of those that preceded it. 

And thus my adventure was over, with tapenade (as so often) the outright victor, made thus;

2 huge slices of wholemeal bread [I sliced a tin loaf lengthways] crusts removed - anointed with;
2 thick smears of decent tapenade - filled with; 1 “weeping” mozzarella [i.e. made with lactic ferments (Italian) rather than citric acid (German)] - dredged through; 1 egg beaten with salt, pepper and generous chilli flakes [to keep the kids off] - fried crisp in; equal parts butter and EVO - decorated with; basil leaves if frippery is required - served with; a bit of chilli sauce [not sweet] - eaten with; a glass of rough sangiovese.  

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Italian, Olives, Recipes, Lifestyle, Wine