Divine food in the eternal city at Da Enzo

This was a true foodie experience. It was definitely worth waiting for about twenty minutes to be squeezed in to a table at Da Enzo in the Trastevere part of Rome. Went there on the basis of glowing reviews on a number of blogs, crossing the Tiber from where we staying near the Spanish Steps, queuing in the light rain on a nippy autumn day in Rome. We were absolutely rewarded for our efforts and I couldn’t recommend trying it out yourself when next in Rome.

The restaurant is tucked into a tiny “hole in the wall” down an atmospheric laneway, it was Friday lunchtime and the other restaurants around were pretty empty but Da Enzo was heaving with lots of locals and some savvy tourists. Its reputation for serving authentic, Roman cuisine (cucina Romano) in true Roman family style has grown and grown over the years.

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After being shown to our table with rickety chairs and paper tablecloths by a member of the family, we pondered the menu and daily specials. Our neighbours to our right spoke English and told us they were regulars and “everything is delicious”. It was also great to see a menu in Rome that had items that were different from every other Trattoria in town. Driven by seasonality and freshness, with an emphasis on “biologica” – organic produce, today’s menu featured autumnal goodies such as artichokes, chicory and freshly caught “Soleil” (fish)..

We chose to sample the Carciofi ala Romano (artichokes Roman style), Burrata (Soft string cheese), Trippa ala Romano(tripe in tomato sauce and the Tiramasu which was calling for us from the display cabinet across the small room!

The artichoke was steamed and dressed with a zingy, minty olive oil and lemon juice concoction that brilliantly complimented its artichokeness. Tucked away in the middle of the artichoke globe was a little bit of mint leaf stuffing which added to the taste sensation. Who knew artichokes and fresh mint were such firm friends? Da Enzo and many Romans obviously do.

The fresh Burrata salad was a mean in itself with a huge pile of it served on a plate with the freshest cherry tomatoes tag at tasted lime tomato and fresh basil leaves. I have tasted Burrata on a number of occasions before but nothing to compare with this salty, sweet, stringy medley which was presented by Da Enzo. Along with the freshest bread and olive oil with herbs, the Burrata was almost a meal in itself.

However, I could not resist the Trippa Ala Romano, cooked to melt in the mouth tenderness in a delicious tomato sauce with pecorino, I think this dish would convince many people that offal is far from awful!

And for the encore, the Tiramisu was a celebration of fresh cream and rich, real chocolate with the biscuits subtly flavoured with liquer ….an absolute sweet treat to end a sensational meal.

So great finding this little gem of slow food, home cooking in Rome.

Website: http://www.daenzoal29.com

Durban-style mince and pea Samosas with spring roll pastry

These crispy mince and pea pastry triangles are very different to the more commonly found “Indian” version which has a thick crusty pastry. I am not sure what the origin of this style of pastry is other than this is how they are made by the Indian community in Durban, South Africa and this is how I grew up eating them.

Back then in South Africa with larger households often with dedicated cooks,hours were spent making the crispy pastry from scratch and creating these delicious appetisers for special events or just afternoon tea. When we moved to Australia my mum, Tilly, found the ideal replacement pastry to be spring roll pastry initially found in Chinese and Asian specialty shops but now readily available in mainstream supermarkets.

Fillings can vary between fish, potato and peas, chicken mince curry…but my favouite remains the lamb mince and peas.

All my friends loved coming over to Tilly’s for her freshly made samosas and she has actually been called upon for lessons by some samosa addicts! Here’s the recipe with some hopefully helpful photos to help with the fiddliest part which is folding the triangles.

Prep Time: 1.5-2hours Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients

Filling:
400g lean lamb or beef mince
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion very finely diced
1.5 tsp ginger and garlic pounded into paste
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn garam masala
1/2 tspn cummin powder
3/4 tspn chilli powder
1/2 tomato finely diced
Handful of coriander very finely chopped
1 piece cinnamon bark
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1.5 tbspn vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Pastry
1 pack spring roll pastry in square sheets
Pastry “glue: 2 tspns flour mixed with 3tspns water to make a thick flour glue in a seperate bowl.

Method
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds and curry leaves and fry briefly until fragrant and curry leaves have spotte “spitting”
Add onions and fry until translucent
Add ginger and garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cummin powder, chilli powder and mix through onions and warm through
Add mince to brown and mix thoroughly with onions and spices, breaking up all lumps of mince using the back of a fork.
When mince is totally separated and browned, add tomato, salt and coriander.

Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.
Break up all lumps with the back of a fork as you mix through onion spice mixture, over medium heat.

Add water and Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly for 35 minutes until mince is cooked and has absorbed the flavour of the spices…you are aiming quite a dry mixture with no “sauce” so limit the amount of water you add.

Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.
Add tomato, coriander and water to mince mixture and simmer for 35 minutes.

Add frozen peas and allow to defrost and par-cook for 3-4 minutes
Remove from heat and allow to cool totally,for at least an hour before using
At the same time remove spring roll pastry from freezer and bring to room temperature leaving sealed in packet

Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool
Allow lamb and pea filling to totally cool

Making the pastry triangles

Make your pastry glue, remove the pastry from the packaging and place between slightly damp tea towels to the side of your board or preparation space
Take one sheet of pastry and cut into 3 equal strips

Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips
Cut spring roll pastry sheets into 3 equal strips

Place a teaspoon full of mixture within 4-5cm from the top edge, turn the top edge of the pastry turning the right corner over to the left edge, over the filling to create a triangular pocket where the newly created right corner is completely “closed so the filling can’t fall out.

Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed ...no hole for filling to escape from!
Turn the right hand edge to the left edge, over the top of 1 tspn of filling, enclosing filling, pushing it all in if needed and creating a triangular pocket. Make sure your right corner here is enclosed …no hole for filling to escape from!

This is the most important step to get right because you will then easily be able to turn the triangle over and over until you get to the end and can seal up the pastry with your glue.

Different stages of
Different stages of “turning” the pastry with filling to get to end of the strip, use glue along the way as required.

If you do find gaps or pastry overlaps along the way, use your glue to seal up the edges to craete a fully enclosed triangle. Spring roll pastry is quite “hardy” so don’t be afraid of it and as they say practice makes perfect so if might take a few attempts before you get the hang of it. Makes 24-36 small samosas.

Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving
Ready for fridge or freezer, fry before serving

You can freeze the samosas or Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow glue to seal before shallow frying in vegetable oil over medium heat until golden brown on each side. If frying directly from frozen, then you will want to lowe the heat slightly to allow the filling to defrost and heat through. One golden brown, place on kitchen paper towel to absorb oil. They really need to be served hot and crispy for best enjoyment. Delicious dipped in plain yoghurt or spicy chilli sauce for extra bite!

Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry
Durban-style mince and pea samosas with spring roll pastry

Zesty stuffed artichokes with orange mayonnaise sauce

Inspired by traditional Sicilian fare, these rustic stuffed artichokes have been a family favourite for many years. When the kids were young this dish fitted into the category of “interactive eating” – as it entails using your hands to pulling off the steamed and stuffed leaves, dipping them in the sauce and then inelegantly sucking the stuffing off them. Messy but definitely worth the effort as you make your way to the tender artichoke heart – the jewel in the crown. The zesty orange flavoured stuffing and unique artichoke flavour team with the semi-sweet Orange mayonnaise sauce to make a delicious entree that never fails to surprise and delight guests.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients

4 fresh artichokes
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic crushed into paste
Olive oil – 2/3 tablespoons to thinly cover base of small frying pan
Half a bunch parsley finely chopped
6 stale slices white bread torn into fresh breadcrumbs
Zest of one Orange
Juice of half an orange
Half a cup whole egg mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Large heavy, flat bottom pot with lid
4 cups water

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Method
Heat oil in small non-stick frying pan
Add onion and cook slowly until transparent
Add garlic paste and cook through with onions for 2-3 minutes
In a seperate bowl make breadcrumbs and then add onion mixture, parsley and orange zest and mix all ingredients well allowing breadcrumbs to absorb the oil and flavours of onion mixture
Cut off stems from artichokes to form a flat base for artichokes to sit in pot
Wash artichokes well, gently spreading leaves without breaking them off, to make room for stuffing mix
Stuff artichokes leaf by leaf working from inside out. The aim is to have a little bit of stuffing on each of the leaves.
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Place 2-3 cups water in a flat heavy bottomed pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
stand artichokes flat side down in pot. Water should just cover about 1/4 of the artichokes. You are aiming to steam leaves but have enough water to cook hearts at the bottom.
Cover with lid and allow water to boil on a gentle roll for 25-30 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the Orange juice with the mayonnaise and let stand in fridge agin to slightly thicken again. The consistency will be saucy.
Remove artichokes from water and allow to stand and drain for 2 minutes.
Serve with orange mayonnaise in seperate small bowls for each person. Have a seperate bowl at hand to discard the leaves in as you go!

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