Evviva La Nocciola!! Hooray For The Hazelnut! - A Texan in Italy Blog at Allrecipes.com - 327636

A Texan in Italy

Evviva la nocciola!! Hooray for the hazelnut! 
May 23, 2014 5:04 am 
Updated: May 26, 2014 7:36 am
As I drank my tea this morning I heard some nutcase outside singing "O' sole mio" at the top of his lungs.  He was pretty good actually.  I can't see out my windows since the spring has blossomed all the leaves in front of all my windows so I just sat there and listened.  

Yesterday around 4pm he sang "vesti la giubba" - the opera where Canio cries "ridi pagliaccio" when he is forced to perform even though he has just found out the his wife has been cheating on him.  Which I think quite ironic because the old guy downstairs sings these songs while walking down the street with his wife and when he stops to sing for the kids at the park in front of my house she leaves him there and keeps walking like she has no idea who he is.  Aha! Pavarotti il Falso is more like Canio than we think!

My neighbours are doing some work on their house and when my Pavarotti Falso ended his aria this morning all the construction workers started cheering and clapping for him.  

I like Italy on days like these. The sun is shining between scattered thunderstorms rain, very Italy, and the birds are chirping, etc. etc anyway. Everyone is smiling, I've had one or two of my kids home with various ailments but nothing too serious.  School is almost out...the European elections are coming up so I've stopped listening to the news completely.  Ahhh how nice Italy is. 

Last night when I was re-arranging my kitchen I found a 250g bag of hazelnut meal.  When and where I bought it I have no idea.  I don't even like hazelnuts.  They are big here.  My kids eat nutella in kilo jars.  I've begun limiting them to one jar a month.  They hide it in their rooms out of fear I'll confiscate it or their siblings will eat it.  I don't eat Nutella because I don't like the overpowering taste of hazelnuts (also I can't figure out why I need to eat hydrogenated oil, cocoa and nuts).  My kids eat hazelnut gelato when they go to get gelati with their friends.  But not me. Obviously, I saw the gluten free sign on the package and bought it thinking that I might use it somewhere along the way.

So, asking you wonderful people on the buzz I received lots of help of how to use it.  Fittingly, Hazelnut herself recommended a hazelnut cake.  Semigourmet suggested using it to "bread" chicken which I set aside a bit to do that tonight.  Then baking nana suggested this:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/aglio-e-olio-alla-fremont/detail.aspx  A few more of you helped out too and I thank you all.

The cake looked easy, so I opted for that sweet.  The chicken breading idea I liked immediately. Then there was the spaghetti.  Frankly, it scared me, it interested me and intrigued me.  I thought about how I make walnut pesto all the time (walnuts, parmigiano reggiano, oil).  I eat most all those ingredients separately, had them all in my fridge, so...but something made me diffident.  I'll sleep on it and see how it strikes me in the morning.

I had left the eggs out last night ready to make that Hungarian hazelnut cake this morning and in fact did.  I made a half portion seeing that I wanted to try one sweet and one savoury dish and only had 250 grams of the ground hazelnuts.  While letting it cool I ran to the grocery store the minute it opened to by some cream cheese and made cream cheese frosting for the cake and had that for my second breakfast. Delicious, I suggest each of you make that cake, especially those who claim to not like hazelnuts. It is scrumptious and will change your mind about hazelnuts.

I even told myself to make it because if anything hubby will be home tomorrow and he'll eat it as he loves sweets and torte and such.  Now I'm wondering if there will be any left when he gets home...;-)

I kept looking at the spaghetti recipe and couldn't figure out if I wanted it because it sounded good or if I felt sorry for it.  I opted for the latter.  It pulled at my heart strings, not my appetite. I'll be honest, the guy in the photo didn't help.  But the fact that he missed this dish at his local restaurant when his family "had" to leave Seattle hit me square in the heart.  I "had" to move from Seattle when I was a little girl.  Dad worked for Boeing then moved on to different horizons so back to Dallas it was.  I left my best friend, my school, the rain and cool, the big lush trees and weekend trips to Mt. Rainier.  I get this guy.  Comfort food equals memories and nostalgia.  No picture, no reviews, just this poor guy saying he loved this dish and missed it.  I even looked and he has a picture of it on his personal photos.  I felt weak.  So, I figure I'll make a half portion and give it a try.  

I read the instructions and they didn't read well to me.  I'm going at this all wrong.  I was being propelled by some other force.  When I cook I can't wait to see the result.  I was sure this would be horrible and wasn't putting positive energy into it.

The description says "in true Roman style..." and we all know how I feel about true Roman style, (eyes rolling) so it was yet another obstacle to overcome.  I asked around to friends and colleagues if anyone had heard of this dish.  Crickets.  Not one person has heard of these ingredients in one dish.  Hmmm...but each said "tell me how it goes, it sounds good.".  Hmmm. To Italians this sounds good.  I'm more intrigued.

I cooked it up and even the smell put me off.  I put it in the plate and my daughter (who is home today not feeling well) made the sign of the cross then said "good thing I'm sick, don't even try to ask me to eat that".  I'm surrounded by help here.  

I took the first bite.

What a strange flavour.  What a good flavour.  It's also the texture that gets you.  The sun dried tomatoes and the nuts are weirdly wonderful together.  It made me think that next fall when I serve cheese, nuts and honey I'm tossing in some sun dried tomatoes.  That is good stuff.  But I try not to get excited after the first anything, beginners luck right?  I don't even like writing reviews unless I've tried a dish at least twice.  

Keep calm and eat your spaghetti.

Next bite.  This time I got an olive in there.  Yum.  Ok, I think I can say this is good.  

My daughter who is the pickiest eater in the world started noticing my face.  She was eating Don's "Spanish Tortilla" - which to me is just a frittata but her favourite.  I said "you know it's not that bad".  Usually I try to make her taste it.  I knew there would be no way she would so I didn't bother.  She said "looks gross".  I said it had smelled gross when I was cooking it, but it tastes good.  

I finished it off and even my picky daughter said "if you make it again, I might try it".  I told he that if I make again, she'd better hope I make enough for her to taste it.

So, my courage paid off.  I wanted to try this faceless, review-less dish because it had been suggested by a nice person, shared by a nice guy it seems and seemed totally neglected.  I took that first step.  I hope all of you give it a try, it's worth it.  I still don't know where it comes from or if it is an original recipe or tweaked along the way, but it doesn't matter.  It's passed the test.

Maybe I'll offer some to Pavarotti Falso after his next performance!  Then his wife can sing "Figaro"!

I just wanted to say a big THANKS to all of you who helped me find out what to do with my hazelnut flour/meal.

Best to all and Buon appetito,  Melanie
May 23, 2014 5:29 am
Melanie, what a nice thing to do and you write about it with such description i can see it in my head. I think it is wonderful that you try new things like that. My dad always sang when he was cooking and he loved opera. Thank you for bringing back that memory for me.
May 23, 2014 6:18 am
Aww, how nice. I am glad you made that recipe. I have tried a couple of 'odd' recipes, much like this and LOVED them. My hubby, No Baking Papa had a similar reaction that your daughter had. Ha! His loss!
May 23, 2014 6:20 am
Very nice picture too! Thanks!
May 23, 2014 6:22 am
Thanks Baking nana. It worked out! Reluctant but you convinced me!
May 23, 2014 6:24 am
Thank you Manella. I figured it was easier posting a blog than taking up too much space on the buzz. When I was still deciding to cook that recipe I heard that nutcase outside. My kids said he's "simpaticissimo" I figured what the heck! That cake's to die for. :-)
May 23, 2014 1:25 pm
Just love your little glimpses of life in Italy. I'm always looking forward to your next blog.
May 24, 2014 12:57 am
Thanks Lace, I'm waiting for the elections on monday to get back to complaining about the EU and Italy. :-) Can't complain when the sun is shining and you get a free opera aria every day!
May 24, 2014 10:06 am
I love strange sounding recipes that are, in fact, gems. I'm not a fan of hazelnuts so that would have made me pass on this recipe, although the rest sounds pretty good.
May 24, 2014 5:39 pm
While reading your words, I felt like I was in your kitchen listening to you tell this story! Thanks for sharing!
May 26, 2014 7:36 am
Thanks both BSM and Bibi. I'd love to have had you here. I could've shared the cake. Hubby came home to find only one piece left. ;-).
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About Me
American living in Italy. I'm married to an Italian and I am a mom to three Italian/American girls - all teenagers with bottomless pits for stomachs. My real love for cooking came while living in Italy. I spent a lot of time with people from Sicily and even stayed there for a spell. I was introduced to a Mediterranean diet and still prefer it to any other. Over the last 18 years I have lived in and travelled through Italy for my non-food profession, but have always tried to learn the local cuisine that makes each region in Italy so unique. I'm also a celiac sufferer and allergic to seafood, which is a huge bummer. I don't know which I like more, airplanes or food, but can say I don't care for airplane food!
My favorite things to cook
I get in a rut, even in Italy. My family likes specific flavours and over the years I have stuck to them. I am trying to branch out but my favourites are still soups and pasta.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Burning bread. My mom started it. I am doing my best to continue the tradition. o_0 My dad used to make one of us stand in front of the oven to watch the bread, if you moved from your assigned position, he yelled at you to get back! :-) Dad runs a tight ship (ex-Navy) and doesn't like burnt bread!
My cooking triumphs
If I can keep my three teenagers full and still have enough money to pay the light bill, it's a triumph!!
My cooking tragedies
When I was about 15, I made a pumpkin pie using the recipe off the can of condensed milk. I forgot to add the milk in the can. :-( I got a puddle in a pie crust and have been ribbed by my siblings every Thanksgiving since.
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