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Nibbles from Naples

by Maria Linardi last modified 2008-06-20 15:12

Treat your family and friends to a taste of Naples and discover there's more to making coffee than boiling water...

NaplesThere's more to Naples than pizza. Indeed Neapolitan cuisine distinguishes itself for creating magnificent dishes from the simplest ingredients. Here are three classics from the Neapolitan repertoire, with a twist - they're easy to pack up and bring with you so you can enjoy a feast on the slopes of Vesuvius . . . all courtesy of ItaliaPlease!

Neapolitan meatballs

500 g of minced meat
grated parmesan cheese
1 egg (beaten)
garlic (crushed)
parsley (finely chopped)
80 g of raisins
pine nuts
salt and pepper
500 g of tomatoes
olive oil
teaspoon of sugar

Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk then work in the meat, parsley and garlic. Add the egg, raisins and pine nuts, then season. Work the ingredients together with your hands until soft and leave aside for 20 minutes. Use the time to make a quick tomato sauce with the onion, salt, sugar, oil and skinned tomatoes (leave tomatoes in previously boiled water for approx. 1 minute then skin). Shape the meat into balls and fry in the oil. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a bottle of Ischia rosso, a red wine from Campania.

Cherry pie


1 kg of flour
250 g of softened butter
grated lemon rind
1/2 kg of sugar
5 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
Cream filling:
6 level dessertspoons of flour
6 spoons of sugar
6 egg yolks
300 g of dark chocolate
1 glass of milk
500 g of cherries/cherry jam
icing sugar
400 g of almond paste/soft, crushed almond biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift the flour and sugar together. Make a well in the centre and add the butter (cut into small pieces), lemon rind, yolks and salt. Rub the dough together quickly and shape into a ball. Cover with cling film and leave aside in a cool place for 30 minutes. Roll the pastry out and use it to line a 20 cm round cake tin. Cover with the almond paste. Now make the confectioner's cream. Beat the yolks and sugar together. When you've finished add the flour, one spoon at a time, then drizzle in the cooled boiled milk. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and add to the cream, heating the cream over a low heat to thicken, if necessary. Cool then pour over the almond paste. Finish off with a layer of pipped cherries, or cherry jam and top with the pastry. Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

And the perfect cup of coffee
For a real cup of Neapolitan coffee you need a "napoletana", no, not your very own Neapolitan mamma but a Neapolitan coffee machine. Traditional Neapolitan drip-pots are made from metal (although you can choose from a variety of - mainly ornamental -pottery, silver and even glass ones) and are made up of two parts which are separated by a coffee filter. You fill the bottom of the machine with water, place around 6 grams of fine to medium ground coffee in the filter and heat. As soon as the water boils, turn off the gas, turn the coffee machine upside-down and wait for the water to pass through the ground coffee.
While the coffee is filtering through a caffettiere worth his salt (you still see coffee-sellers wheeling their wares through the streets of Naples) will make a "coppetiello", which is little more than a sheet of dampened newspaper, rolled into a cone and then inserted into the spout as soon as the coffee is flipped over. Doing so he ensures that none of the coffee's distinctive aroma and flavour is lost and guarantees you one of your best cups of coffee ever.

If you're in Positano during August don't miss the traditional celebrations of the Saracen Landing, commemorating the events from June 13th, 1558. The festival is held in the town of Meta and the Landing is reproduced as authentically as possible, avoiding, as you may imagine, the bloody deaths of the local inhabitants. Narrators guide you through the event and musical interludes offer relaxation between battles.

Cherries for your heart
According to American researchers, the chemical compounds which give wild black cherries their dark red colour are also powerful painkillers (stronger than aspirin). They also are highly effective anti-oxidants comparable to many vitamin E supplements currently on the shelves of your health food shop. Regularly eating wild cherries could therefore reduce chronic heart problems. For more information read the report written by the American Chemical Society and published in the Journal of Natural Products.

Neapolitan cuisine - - history and recipes from Campania. - - recipes and ingredients. (English site coming soon).
Positano - - history, tourist information and much more on the jewel of the Amalfi Coast.

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