Skye McAlpine grew up in Venice in a ‘dirty-pink house with watermelon shutters’. A home cook and lover of food, Skye’s recipes carry you through the day from Il Caffe to Aperitivo and onwards to sweet Pasticceria, informed by years of living and eating well in Venice. Romantic and warm writing is coupled with rose-tinted photographs of Venice, making this book a pleasure to open, let alone to cook from.
We have two recipes to share – one simple yet surprising linguine dish, and a slightly more challenging Zabaione, the lighter-than-air, Marsala-filled Italian dessert. We also have five copies of the book, A Table in Venice, Recipes from my Home to give away to five A Little Bird readers. To enter fill simply fill in the form below:
LINGUINE WITH ASPARAGUS AND PROSECCO
Linguine con Asparagi e Prosecco
Cooking with Prosecco always seems rather extravagant, but less so if you take it as an excuse to enjoy the rest of the bottle with your meal. You could, of course, make this using white wine or a splash of vermouth but there is something about the delicacy of Prosecco that works particularly well here. You can almost taste the bubbles in the sauce. If you can use fresh egg pasta, better still.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
400g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3–5cm lengths
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
30g salted butter
30g Parmesan, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, over a low–medium heat for 5–10 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the asparagus and Prosecco, then season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated and the asparagus is tender. If it is not quite done by the time the wine evaporates, add just enough water to cover the base of the pan and cook for a little longer. Stir in the parsley.
Meanwhile, cook the linguine in a large saucepan of generously salted boiling water until al dente. Just before you drain the pasta, scoop half a cup of the cooking water out of the pot and set to one side. Drain the pasta, toss it back into the saucepan and mix in the reserved cooking water, little by little, and the butter. Stir well, then add the asparagus mixture. Give everything one last good stir and top with the grated Parmesan.
ZABAIONE AND MERINGUE SEMIFREDDO
Semifreddo di Zabaione e Meringa
Sheets of crisp white meringue with blissfully chewy centres, layered with a light-as-air zabaione – this is semifreddo-meets-cake-meets-pavlova. There is something about the pure white-on-white of this that I find soothing and very seductive, but I won’t deny that a handful of sharp red berries or some roughly chopped glacé citrus peel buried in each tier of zabaione has an alluring more-is-more charm about it too.
6 large egg whites
300g caster sugar
For the zabaione
6 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
300ml whipping cream
Make the meringue layers first. Heat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Line 3 large baking trays with baking parchment and draw a 24cm circle on each piece of paper. Turn the paper over so you can still see the lines and use them as guides.
Rub a large bowl down with the lemon half to cut through any grease. Put the egg whites into the bowl and, using a handheld electric mixer, beat on a low–medium speed until the whites begin to froth. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the whites become glossy and form stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue on to the baking parchment and spread it out evenly within the circles.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, then switch off the oven and leave the meringues in there, without opening the door, for an hour longer, until the oven has cooled. Take the meringues out of the oven and leave them to cool on the trays.
Now make the zabaione cream filling. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof bowl and whisk with a handheld electric mixer for 2–3 minutes, until light and fluffy. As the mixture begins to froth up, set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water isn’t touching the base of the bowl. Keep whisking until the mixture is thick enough for a trail to stay on the surface when drizzled from the whisk. Slowly pour in the Marsala, whisking all the while. This should take 3–5 minutes, and as you add the liquid the zabaione will double in size and thicken. Remove the bowl from the heat and let the zabaione cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin forming.
In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold it into the cooled zabaione. To assemble the semifreddo, place one of the meringue layers on a serving plate, and spread half the zabaione cream over it. Top with a second layer of meringue, then the rest of the zabaione cream, and finish with the final layer of meringue. Freeze for 3–4 hours, or longer if you like, until set. Slice like a cake to serve.
Extracts taken from A Table in Venice: Recipes from my Home by SkyeMcAlpine (Bloomsbury, £26) released on 28 March 2018