I spent the weekend in Rome, enjoying friendships like this one and relaxing as much as possible in a city and neighborhood that was my first “home” in Italy. I only wish I had discovered the grattachecca much much sooner.
Rome of course welcomed us back in its true fashion, that is, by nominating S to be the victim of an attempted pickpocket. I say attempted because I happened to see that man’s hand trying to go into his pocket and I grabbed his wrist! I couldn’t believe it, either. It seemed pretty ironic after my post on How to Avoid a Pickpocket, but I think it made me even more paranoid, like the pickpocket karma would be coming back to haunt me. Luckily, he didn’t get anything, and in true pickpocket fashion, failed to respond to S’ shouted comments and just tried to get away quickly without attracting attention.
Sadly, I had to return to work on Monday and took an overnight train back to Milan, to arrive in time to shower and make it to work. It was after I arrived home last night after work that I realized I had very little in the house to eat.
But I still had some robiola.
I have been using Robiola, a typical cheese from Piedmont (Piemonte) quite a bit in my cooking lately. Robiola di Roccaverano, the version of robiola that is d.o.p., is made from a mixture of cow, ewe and goat milk, but there are blends and cow milk-only robiola as well.
The kind that I was using didn’t have a rind as it was super fresh, as many robiola can be eaten just a few days after ripening. Its creamy, almost mousse-like texture makes it quite versatile as a table cheese or mixed into sauces, cakes and fondue. There is a slightly “aged” version that has a rind which should be available in the U.S. as the fresh, non-aged/pasteurized versions are “illegal.”
The first time I used robiola, I added it to a french toast “batter.”
Robiola French Toast
100g Robiola cheese
Milk, a splash
Cinnamon/nutmeg to taste
Mix eggs and cheese with a whisk in a bowl, adding some milk to thin out the mixture if neccessary. Add cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste. Heat up a frying pan and in the meantime, cut thick slices of Pugliese bread and dip into the mixture, liberally covering both sides of the bread. Place slices into frying pan, browning each side for a few minutes. Sprinkle chopped nuts and honey on top and serve.
The next time I used robiola, I made a savoury tart with some peas, some walnut-chive pesto I had made a few weeks ago, and some brisee dough. Unfortunately I didn’t have more robiola on hand – next time I would probably reduce or eliminate the greek yogurt and double the robiola so that the robiola could really shine through. You could also add spinach or other partially cooked vegetables like zucchini.
Savoury Herb Tart
200g frozen peas
125g mozzarella (ball)
3-4 T. walnut-chive pesto (see recipe below)
handful pine nuts
150g greek yogurt
Mix robiola, greek yogurt, pesto and eggs together with a whisk. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Line a baking dish or round with the brisee dough. Note: adding frozen peas to the filling will cause it to chunk up, which you can mix with a fork, or you can alternate adding the mixture and the peas directly to the baking pan. Cut up the mozzarella ball into small chunks and add them to the top of the torte, and finish with a sprinkle of pine nuts. Cook at 200C/400F for 30 minutes, rotating it to ensure even cooking if necessary.
Robiola is also excellent on its own – as it was in these robiola and walnut-chive pesto rounds.
Robiola and Walnut-Chive Pesto Rounds
To make the Walnut-Chive pesto:
1/2c. roughly chopped chives
100g. roughly chopped walnuts
3-4 T. honey
In a mini-food processor, pulse the chives, walnuts, honey and a little oil to get a uniform consistency. Add more oil gradually to get a spreadable consistency. Can be frozen and used when necessary.