Rossini's Corner



The relation between food and music has been long established, Gioachino Rossini being its most well known exponent. This new section of my website pays homage to the 19th century Italian composer who was a noted gourmand in addition to his fame as an opera composer. From time to time further recipes will appear.
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A Sabaean Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
  • Dark Chocolate 250 gr
  • Double cream 300 ml
  • Buttered parchment paper
  • Cognac
  • Rose water or orange flower water
  • Any of:
  • Glacé cherries & morello cherries
  • Mixed fruit
  • Stem ginger
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Blanched almonds
  • Raspberries
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Figs etc.
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Method
  • Melt the chocolate slowly in a non-stick saucepan, then stir in the cream and mix. Taking the above list of fruit & nuts as an example, chop the cherries, ginger, nuts etc. into small pieces and then add to the melted chocolate. Add the cognac & rose water. Fit the buttered parchment paper into a cake tin and pour in the warm cake mixture. Shake the rose petals over the top & chill in the refrigerator.
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Ravenous Roast Duck

Ingredients
  • A good quality plump duck
  • Peaches (tinned are fine)
  • Grenadine
  • Salt, pepper, green peppercorns.
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Method

This simple but delicious recipe is the brainchild of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE, former Master of the Queen’s Music.

Drain and soak the peaches in grenadine overnight. Prick the duck all over and scald with boiling water two or three times, to begin to release the fat. Reserve the grenadine, stuff the duck with the peaches & some green peppercorns, and skewer the opening. Salt and pepper the outside, then roast the duck on a rack for 2 - 2.5 hours on a moderate temperature, basting it from time to time with the grenadine, and turning the oven up hot for the last half-hour. The duck is cooked when a skewer inserted in a leg releases just a clear liquid, not blood. A few minutes before the duck is removed from the oven, pour some Armagnac or Cognac over it.

The duck can be served with vegetables including peas, using a recipe for cooking frozen peas recommended by the pianist Charles Rosen:

Put the frozen peas in a non-stick saucepan together with a large knob of butter, salt, pepper and sugar. Do not add any water. Cook the peas covered on a very low heat for 1 - 2 hours, until the butter has melted and become absorbed into the peas which should still be green and glistening when cooked.
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A Sabaean Pistachio Cake

Ingredients
  • 250 gr unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 15 ml vanilla extract (I use Dr Oetker)
  • 100 gr blanched almonds
  • 200 gr pistachios
  • 150 - 200 gr caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 40 gr plain flour
  • Orange flower water
  • Buttered parchment paper
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Method

Line the cake tin with buttered parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 150C.
Grind 150 gr pistachios and the almonds, beat the butter and 100 -150 gr sugar until fluffy and add the beaten eggs one by one. Fold in the zest from one lemon, the vanilla extract, nuts, and sieved flour.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for approximately an hour. When a skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked.

Topping: in a saucepan heat the zest from the second lemon, the juice from both lemons and 50 gr sugar until thickened,
then take off the heat, add the chopped 50 gr pistachios, a good dash of orange flower water, and pour over the cake.

I have adapted this from a "River Cafe Easy” recipe that I saw many years ago in 'The Guardian’.

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Acar Kuning Telur
This is a sweet/sour egg dish from Maluku, Eastern Indonesia, as described by the Indonesian food writer Suryatini N. Ganie in a Garuda Indonesia magazine around 20 years ago. It serves 8.

Ingredients
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs (or 32 quail eggs), shelled & lightly scored
  • 8 shallots (80 gr)
  • 3 cloves garlic (15 gr)
  • 10 tiny chillies
  • 4 red chillies
  • 10 macadamia nuts
  • 10 gr ginger
  • 10 gr turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 blade lemon grass
  • 300 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
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Method

1. Cut shallots & garlic into thin slices, leave tiny chillies whole.
2. Grind red chillies, macadamia nuts, ginger & turmeric into a paste.
3. Fry shallots & garlic gently until aromatic, add ingredients from step 2 and continue frying, add the tiny chillies & bashed lemon grass, then water, vinegar, sugar & salt, and let it come to the boil.
4. Add eggs and simmer for a few minutes before serving.

Note: You can use fewer chillies if necessary. Maluku cooks like it hot!
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Andalusian Gazpacho

This is the excellent recipe of my friend Antonio González Barrera in Jerez.

Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg of ripe tomatoes (the riper the better)
  • 1 small green pepper
  • Half garlic clove
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 pieces of farmhouse bread
  • 1.5 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water.
  • Note: The amount of every ingredient is according to taste.
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Method

Soak the bread in water and then add all the vegetables (diced), olive oil, vinegar, salt and water according to how thick you want the Gazpacho to be, and then mix everything with a mixer.
Note: if you want it thicker do not add water at all; if you want it less thick add a small amount of water.

Presentation

Andalusian Gazpacho is usually served in an individual clay dish accompanied by onion, green pepper, cucumber, hard boiled egg, tomato, everything diced according to taste.
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Gazpacho
I was given this photocopy of the great singer’s handwritten Gazpacho recipe by Dr Frank Lappin, a close friend of Geoffrey Parsons, some years ago, and am delighted to reproduce it here as a comparison with that of Antonio González Barrera above.

Ingredients
  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup beef stock (or water)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Chopped parsley
  • Dash of paprika

Garnishes
  • cucumber, green pepper, tomato, onion - all finely chopped; croutons
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Method

In electric blender combine garlic & onion, blend for a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, stock or water, oil, vinegar, parsley, paprika.
Cover container & blend until smooth.
Chill soup thoroughly.
Serve the garnishes in separate dishes.
Serves 4 - 5. Can be served in a consommé cup.

(signed) Victoria de los Angeles

Written at Hotel Australia in Sydney for Geoffrey Parsons during their tour of Australia in 1965.