During the Spring 2012 I taught one of many interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in the Experimental Study Group at MIT. Each class is based on the preparation of a simple delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.
Videography by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

Click here to watch the videos in full resolution.
Buon divertimento!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

La torta sbrisolona

For the complete video click here.
La torta sbrisolona is like a huge crumbly cookie. It is typical of the city of Mantova (Mantua, in Lombardia) and surroundings.

Torta = any sort of cake, pie, tart
Sbrisolona = Mantuan dialect for sbriciolona 
Briciola = crumb -> sbriciolare = to crumble, and as we saw last week, -ona is an augmentative suffix.
Therefore la torta sbrisolona can be translated as the big crumbling tart.

Questa è la ricetta di mia nonna Lidia.

Buon appetito... e buona Festa del lavoro!

Ingredienti per 6 persone: 

100 g = little less that 1/4 lb

- 100 g di farina bianca (white flour)
- 100 g di farina gialla (lit. yellow flour -> corn meal)
- 100 g di burro a temperatura ambiente (butter at room temperature)
- 100 g di zucchero (sugar)
- 100 g di mandorle (almonds), o un misto (a mix) di mandorle e nocciole (hazelnuts)
-  un uovo (one egg)
- la buccia grattuggiata di un limone (lit. the grated peel of one lemon)
- un pizzico di vaniglia (opzionale) (a pinch of vanilla) -- in powder or liquid
- un pizzico di sale (opzionale) (a pinch of salt, add it if you like some sweet/salty contrast)


- Preheat il forno (the oven) at 180 C, about 350 F
- Chop le mandorle (the almonds): you want some of the almonds to be chopped roughly and some to be finely ground. If you like them, you can keep some almonds as whole. In class we used a mixer (un robot da cucina). If you do not have one you can cover the almonds with paper towels and break them by beating them with a meat beater or something else heavy
- Mescola (mix, 2nd person sing) all the dry ingredients (tutti gli ingredienti secchi)
- Aggiungi (add) the grated lemon zest (grate only la parte gialla, perchè la parte bianca è amara, bitter) and the egg
- Add the butter in clumps: you do not want to over mix or  knead, simply try to join the ingredients
 and keep large (about 1/2 inch in diameter) crumbs
- Pour the briciole (crumbs) in a baking pan covered with parchment paper (or covered with a thin layer
 of butter and farina gialla). You want to spread them to a thickness of  1 cm to 2.5  cm (about half to 1 inch)
- Bake until golden (typically it takes 30 to 60 minutes, based on the thickness)
- Let it cool down. When you serve it, break it with your hands...it will form a lot of briciole. It is perfect  with a dessert wine, but for the next few years you should have it with milk or ice cream!