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Potatoes and mozzarella casserole

This was my letter to Santa Claus more or less 20 years ago, when 9-year-old girls were still 9 year old girls.

Dear Santa, I’ve been a good girl this year, so would you mind bringing me some cute dishes and bowls to play in my small kitchen? Marta and I have so much fun pretending to cook in my granny’s shed, I would love some pretty dishes and a few small bowls with little cute flowers, or maybe a tray with lovely tea cups, so we can play the ladies! Thank you Santa Claus! Ah! If you have still room on your sleigh, can you bring me a Barbie doll as well? the one with long blond hair I keep looking at in Aunt Lella’s shop window! and, do not forget, bring also a little gift for Claudia, even though she is still a little tiny baby!

Nowadays, little girls write letters to Santa, asking for mobile phones, interactive games or mp3 players. I was an old style little woman, and, to be honest, I fear I’m still an old-fashioned girl! If I had to write my letter to Santa now, I believe it would have the same tone of voice and I would likely ask for pots and pans again! Ok, maybe now I would call them props, or cocottes, but in conclusion nothing has changed much. I still have so much fun cooking, and I still need cute flowery pots and dished to do that!

These small Staub stewpans are a little girl’s dream come true. Every time I really enjoy myself using them and this reminds me of little 9-year-old Giulia, who used to align all her pots and pans in her granny’s shed, making royal meals for princes and princesses! This time, my cast iron stew pans have been used to bake small portions of vegetable tian with potatoes and mozzarella. From the list of ingredients the white truffle stands, it is the same I used to cook pork sirloin with milk. I am not an expert on truffles, and I have no idea which are the perfect combinations or recipes to do with it, but when I was searching for a nice way to use it, this recipe from Sigrid’s blog came to my mind. I read it more than a year ago and bookmarked it into my to do list.

The original recipe called for anchovies and buffalo mozzarella: I have removed the anchovies and replaced buffalo mozzarella with fiordilatte mozzarella, definitely more delicate and therefore a better stooge for the white truffle.

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • yellow potatoes, 3
  • butter
  • fiordilatte mozzarella, 200 g
  • Maldon salt or fleur de sel
  • white truffle
  • grated Parmesan cheese, some tablespoons
  • breadcrumbs, some tablespoons

Peel the potatoes and cut them finely into slices a few mm thick (2 – 3 mm maximum). Grease the bottom of each single cocotte with some butter and arrange the potato slices of in a radial pattern, sprinkle with salt and cover with mozzarella and some finely sliced white truffle. Keep on arranging ingredients into layers and finish with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, add some butter shaves and white truffle slices and bake in preheated oven to 180°C (fan) for about 30 minutes, keeping the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

By doing so, at the beginning the liquid from the mozzarella and the steam will help to cook the potatoes, while the last minutes without the lid will golden brown the surface.

Tasting test. The cast iron cocotte has the advantage of keeping inside all the flavors and aromas. Serving in on the table with the lid creates curiosity and teases the eye and the imagination while, when you unveil what it contains, the sense of smell gets the better: the smell of truffles exceeds all the expectations and immediately conveys a sense of richness, of sharing good and precious time together and, why not, of Christmas.

And now, since today is Saturday and I’m at home, I’ll show you why: the snow! We are not used to snow here in Tuscany. Just a few snowflakes and everything gets into chaos, cars stop in the middle of the streets, people crawl home and news on tv have just one theme: the snow. Well, it’s difficult to appreciate entirely the snow when you see people getting crazy around you and when it takes 3 hours to get home, instead of 25 minutes. But then, suddenly, the day after the sun rises over an enchanted landscape, and you can finally sense the beauty of Nature.

The remains of the snow

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