Parrozzo is a traditional Christmas cake from the Pescara region in the Abruzzo, central-east Italy. The today cake was once a bread made with corn flour and baked in the woodstove.
Traditionally the Parrozzo was called ‘pan rozzo’, which means something like ‘sturdy bread’. It was made with corn flour and goat milk flavoured with time and mint and was actually a bread and savory.
In 1919 Luigi D’Amico, who had a coffee shop in the center of Pescara, thought it would be an idea to take this old traditional bred of the farmers of the Abruzzo mountains to make it sweet. So he alternated the original recipe, used the same half round baking form and covered the cake with chocolate to ‘imitate’ the original bread crust. As he was a good friend of Gabriele D’Annunzio, a very famous Italian poet, he send the now called Parrozzo to his friend as a Christmas gift. The poet was very pleased with the new cake and was full of praise. I new cake was born!
A friend of mine told me about the cake and I had a look at the recipe. Very easy to make without gluten, very easy to prepare. She even gave me the baking form. I felt ‘obligated’ to prepare the cake for her, my version obviously. And I confess: it was easy to make and the result was GREAT! I would say, a perfect ‘last minute cake’.
Every region has its own traditional dishes and treats. I am happy to discover more and more, from different regions in Italy. Surprise your family with something very special that for sure none ever eaten before if he/she is not from Abruzzo.
Divide the eggs in two bowls, the egg white in one, the egg yolks in another one.
Start to beat the egg whites until stiff.
Then beat the egg yolks together with the sugar and lemon zest until you get e nice white cream-like consistence. Add the the bitter almond extract, the Amaretto liquor, beat again, then add the almond and corn flour. You will get a semi dry batter. Now with a spatula fold in the egg whites. The batter will be again soft and nice.
Grease the baking form (should be hemispherical), dust with some rice flour and transfer the cake batter in the baking form. Bake for 45 minutes (make the toothpick prove, should be clean).
Take the cake out of the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes and then turn the cake out, let it cool on a cake rack with a wide dish under it.
Meanwhile prepare the glaze. Put the coconut oil or ghee and the chocolate in chunks in a double boiler and slowly let it become liquid. When the cake is all cool dash the chocolate all in once over the cake. The chocolate can run down and drip off from the cooling rack onto the plate.
Let the chocolate get hard at room temperature (overnight e. g.).
Serve with some coffee, the or even better hot mulled wine or Glühwein..
Sauerkraut is white fermented raw cabbage. The taste is sour and it is a thousands of years old way to preserve food during winter-time. It’s full of healthy goodness and one of the best foods to eat for a strong immune system.
I personally love Sauerkraut. In Italy we call them crauti. Raw white cabbage fermented thanks to a brine, full of healthy lactic acid bacteria, pure food for gut bacteria.
The Roman writer Cato already mentioned the way of preserving cabbage with salt. This kind of preserving food maybe was brought from China to Europe. The German word is confusing because many think it is originally from there.
This easy to make side dish is also packed with health benefits. A high percentage of vitamins and minerals (it was used against scurvy for seamen for example as it has a good amount of vitamin c and vitamin k), it is a perfect immune booster, it helps your many gut bacteria to be balanced, it is high in antioxidant properties and helps with leaky gut and even cancer.
There are many ways to prepare or preserve the raw white cabbage. Simply in brine for example. The typical German Sauerkraut has bay leaves, caraway, juniper berries and white wine. I sometimes had cabbage with shredded carrots pickled and more as a salad than a side dish. I made mine in brine just with bay leaves, orange and apple slices. I saw a recipe with grated ginger, also a super bomb of health. I have to try with pomegranate the next time.
In Germany they eat Sauerkraut cooked with pork and potatoes. Also sausage I think is a good partner. I like an egg with it as well.
Some fun? When I was in Mexico many years ago I stayed with a family. They were wonderful people and pampered me a lot. One of the always very delicious meals was with red cabbage. As I know red cabbage as a sweeter way, just cooked and not fermented, I was happily putting my fork full of red cabbage in my mouth expecting a certain taste. But it tasted like Sauerkraut. It was so difficult to except that taste to what my eyes suggested my brain. I learnt than how much we ‘eat with our eyes’.
If you make them these days it will be ready to eat for the new year. A good start to help your holiday gut back to a healthy balance!
Before you start, wash the apple and orange and beginning from the middle cut 2 thin slices of the orange and 2 from the apple.
Wash the white cabbage, take away the two outer leaves, cut the stem out.
Cut the cabbage in 4 pieces. Now cut all the four into thin slices in order to get long, thin cabbage pieces.
Transfer the cabbage into a big enough bowl, add the salt (10 g per kg, if the cabbage is 1.3 kg the salt should be 13 g). Now start to knead the cabbage. After a few minutes all starts to get wet, the cabbage starts to catch out its liquids. Knead at least 6-10 minutes.
Leave the cabbage for a while, meanwhile you prepare two middle seized jars with a lit. They should be cleaned perfectly.
Now put the cabbage in both jars, add 1 slice of orange and 1 slice of apple and 2 bay leaves. I put them along the side. Now press the cabbage as much as you can in the jars, the liquid coming out should cover everything. Cut a thicker apple or orange slice and lay on the top. If the liquid is enough to still cover all, perfect, if not put a weight on the top (a clean stone for example).
Put the lit on and leave the jars for a few days at room temperature. Every day take of the lit to leave gas out (bacteria at work!). After 4-5 days put the jars, firmly closed in a cool, dark place for the next 2 weeks. After that time the Sauerkraut is already lightly sour. The more you wait, the better it gets.
To make your own Sauerkraut is good for your (gut) health, but also a s a gift a great idea!
Try the Sauerkraut with different spices, fruits. Experiment with your favourite tastes!
Try also red cabbage or any other. You can also mix different cabbages or other vegetables. The procedure is always the same.
You can cook/warm up the Sauerkraut and serve with meat and potatoes or serve as salad.
Many manors offer events on their property during the year. Most of them have a spring market with a thousand of flowers and all kinds of decorations for garden and balcony. And a Christmas market in November/December. This year I finally had the possibility to see the Christmas market at Gut Basthorst.
Gut Basthorst is an old estate that is more than 400 years family owned. It is located between Hamburg, Lübeck and Schwerin, every one of these cities less than an hour drive away. It has around 30 buildings and offers a huge variety of events during the year: a spring and autumn market, the Christmas market at all four advent weekends and in summer a lot of concerts like open-air-operas. They offer as rooms and apartments for an overnight stay or vacation in the beautiful Schleswig-Holstein region as well.
Historically the manor has a long and interesting history. The warehouse of 1771 and the barn from 1862 are only two of the historically old buildings. The main house was built around 1750 after a huge fire.
But the whole area was owned by the Schack nobility and goes back to the 12th century when the first Schack fought together with Henry the Lion. Together with the Count of Lauenburg they were the most influencing family in the North-German area.
In the 17th century the widow of the last Schack count sold the property to the Lübeck merchant Peter von Uffeln. To save the property of being split in many small pieces because of the many children families oftentimes had, he made Manor Basthorst and the land to a “Kunkel-Lehen” (a fief that can be inherited also by the female line of the family).
A century late the property was owned by the Plessen nobility and came back to the counts of Schack through a female heritage.
During WW II the baron von Ruffin became the new owner. After the war, more than 150 refugees lived at the manor who all found a new home in the surroundings.
Today the estate works with Cerealis, a food producer, cultivating wheat and sugar beets. An income comes also from hunting in the own woods, mainly local game.
The last count was married to the Greek-German singer Vicky Leandros.
We spent a whole afternoon at the Christmas market. Many people were there but it didn’t seem overcrowded, nonetheless. It has a nice atmosphere, open fire-places in the open spaces, more than 300 vendors with wonderful handcraft. I am always amazed who many beautiful ideas people have and create. It was a little tricky to get a place for coffee and cake as we were five of us, one with a wheel-chair. But we managed and had a great mug of steaming coffee and a nice piece of cake.
I definitely would recommend Gut Basthorst for the markets and – honestly – also for vacation. The area is beautiful and ideal for hiking, cycling and photo-shooting. Nature, typical northern culture, good food and cozy stays.
Jambalaya is a dish of the Cajun cuisine of Louisiana of the USA. Influences of the Spanish, the French and even the West African cuisine make it special. A mix of vegetables, meat and fish together with rice it reminds a little the also world famous paella from Spain and the Italian risotto.
I love risottos and all kinds of stews, especially and mainly during the cold season. Soups are a lighter form of stew, but are similar as well. So when I had first this dish I was all about it!
Jambalaya – I like that word, it sounds so ’round’ and ‘cozy’ – was ‘born’ in the French quarters of New Orleans. Spanish people tried to make their own paella, but without saffron which was (and is still) very expensive. They changed it with tomatoes. By the time the many spices from the Caribbean found the way into the dish, the Cajun spices are a mixture of them and in the original recipe.
There are many different ways to make it. There are e. g. the Cajun Jambalaya and the Creole Jambalaya. The last one has tomatoes. But they all have onions celery and bell pepper as vegetables, chicken and sausage, broth and fish or seafood. Like all kinds of stews it is a dish born in the kitchens of poor people.
Some curiosity? The name comes from the French, better the Provençal and means exactly what it is: a mishmash.
There is an annual festival in Gonzales/Louisiana in the end of May, with a good ‘mishmash’ of events.
My version is different to the original one in many ways. I started to sautèe the three vegetables onion, bell pepper and celery, but added also some garlic gloves. Then I added a simple sausage, chicken breast, the rice (I used black rice as I didn’t have other) and the chicken stock. I had some leftovers of peas and put them in as well. As I had no Cajun spice mixture I used harissa, a Moroccan spice mixture. Then I let it cook until the rice was nearly done and added the shrimp more or less 10 minutes before all was cooked. I did this in the late afternoon and let the Jambalaya sit overnight in the pot on the counter. No fridge involved, it would stop the progress of getting taste and absorb the rest of the liquid.
The day after I had a very delicious meal! I am always delighted with a stew on my plate, in wintertime, when it is cold outside it is so warming and satisfying. I first had a lettuce wrap and then decided to put the lettuce in the dish to get warm. I like warm salads in winter.
Christmas is around and even if many don’t celebrate it for religious reasons they do family gatherings and a lot of good, homemade food. Especially the sweet part can be very tricky for many who can’t eat gluten and dairy and try to avoid refined sugar.
This year it will be twice so difficult to stay in shape during the Holiday season: first we can’t be active as much as we would like due to the Corona restriction and in result the good food is calling even louder.
During the years I prepared a lot of Christmas cookies and cakes, especially as a Christmas gift. Some I were missing from my childhood and I wanted to eat them again, others I was just curious how they are. But all of them are super delicious and most of them also easy peasy to prepare.
Here are my suggestions for this year baking, all my own recipes, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free.
Let’s fill the house with the smell of cinnamon and vanilla! It’s Cookie-time, it’s Christmas-time!
Though the name of the cake is Swedish, the origin comes from France. Sponge cake with a jam filling rolled into a log and covered by chocolate frosting. Pure indulgence! Easy to make but more laborious.
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