I cannot work out to what extent my affection for this recipe is due to the fact that it happened to punctuate the end of a near-perfect family morning.
This summer we spent a week at Baratti on the Tuscan coast. The area is steeped in Etruscans. My mother says it has a hint of of the sombre as a result. I would say that almost adds to the feel of the place. You don’t just lay down your bathing towel, you sense your place in several thousand years of history. The beach is still strewn with iron smelt from the ancient iron foundaries to one side of the bay that were important in making the local population wealthy and influential. Beneath the water lies the Etruscan harbour which is apparently what you see through your snorkel.
After five solid days of pedalos, picnics in the pine woods behind the beach and watching the general antics of Italian families complete with grandmothers and buckets of star fish, we decided it was time for an alternative. We went into Piombino, the town directly opposite Elba to the Etruscan Museum I visited with my school when I was 12. Many of the treasures on display were found in the bay where we were swimming including this silver vase which was dragged up on an anchor chain by a fisherman.
The museum had much improved. It was also totally empty, it was air-conditioned. Alexander enjoyed lying on the floor and feeling cool. Eleanor enjoyed lying in the make believe Etruscan feasting hall and Rosalind generally enjoyed it all on a slighty older level. We spent a beatific hour and unable to believe how smoothly everything was going went to the old town to have lunch.
Grilled fish, salads and this delicious Sformata.
I googled to try and reacreate it and came up with the following recipe which I have adapted a little – http://www.petitchef.it/ricette/sformatino-di-zucchine-con-fonduta-di-taleggio-fid-332364
Starter for 4 or main for 2.
For the sformata/souffle
300gr of zucchini / 3 eggs / 75 g di parmigiano /100 ml of cream / S+P as needed/ Ground nutmeg / Oil / Thyme /
For the Fonduta
100 ml of milk / 1 spoon of corn starch (I did not use corn starch for fear of offending my mother, but made a small besciamel from a tbps flour and butter and added the milk by degrees + a touch of cayenne and more ground nutmeg) / a knob of butter / 200 g di taleggio / Touch of salt
– Turn the oven to 390f and put in a glass or ceramic dish with water to make bain-marie
– Grate the zucchini on a thick grater and toss them in a pan with a bit of oil and some thyme and fry gently till they softend
– Beat up the egg yolks with the cream, parmesan + seasonings and add the zucchini when they are no longer hot and likely to cook the egg
– When oven is ready beat up the egg whites and gently add them to the egg yolk/zucchini mixture and fold in with metal spoon very gently so as not to knock the air out of the egg whites
– Put in buttered dish in the bain-marie in the oven for (she says 40 mins).. I think it was more like 30 mins and that was cooking it all in one dish rather than in 8 ramekins as suggested so I just kept an eye to the glass and nose out for smell and when it looked browned removed it gently.
– When this is in the oven make the besciamel and melt in the taleggio. I think the nutmeg was really important but am a bit of a nutmeg fruit cake.
– serve and top with the fonduta.