ZZAFF!: Risotto con la Luganega

This month recipe for ZZAFF! is a classic of Ticino cuisine. Luganega or luganighetta is a sausage made with pork, pepper and spices, which is usually grilled in summer and country festivals. I remember when I was a child at the Sassello Fair in Obino, the village where I grew up, they served luganighette rolled on wooden sticks which looked like a snail. This sausage is usually associated with carnival and is appreciated with the classic risotto, a dish formerly reserved for holidays.

Here you can listen the program, every first Sunday of the month:
At 20 pm Rendez-vous on http://www.radiogwen.ch to hear Vostok’s podcasts in Italian!
At 21 Rendez-vous on http://www.radiovostok.ch to hear Gwen’s podcasts in French!
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ZZAFF!: Ciambella ticinese

The ciambella ticinese is a crunchy and crumbly biscuit, spiced with anise seeds or sometimes fennel or cumin seeds. The typical shape of the ciambella is a ring with a hole in the middles, and its diameter is of about 8 cm. Apparently the ciambella ticinese was born in Lugano, at the hands the baker Bianchi who baked these biscuits in the early 20th century, flavouring them with different spices. It was he who made famous the ciambella ticinese, which spread in Ticino thanks to pastry chefs in urban areas. Once upon a time ciambelle could be bought in a bakeries or grottoes, bars and restaurants, usually stored in a typical glass jar. It was a daily consumer product, like bread. They were often eaten as afternoon snacks, dipped in red wine or milk. Widely popular in taverns, the ciambelle were strung into wooden rods resting on the bar counter and the customers enjoyed them accompanied by a glass of wine. Unfortunately ciambelle have lost importance in Ticino due to the competition from industrially produced biscuits. Today, family recipes are handed over, like the one I am presenting to you today which my aunt Luciana passed on to me.
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ZZAFF! Bülbora

The recipe I wrote for this episode of ZZAFF! is a classic of autumn and winter season. Pumpkin is a very popular vegetable in Ticino as in the whole of Switzerland. In Ticino pumpkin soup is traditionally cooked with rice and enriched with milk and butter. Not to make my own recipe too heavy without giving up tastiness I added bacon, which also adds crunchiness. Alternatively, you can always fry stale bread cubes, for about ten minutes in olive oil. The soup is delicious when flavored with dried herbs like thyme and rosemary. A classic to warm you up in these frosty winter evenings!

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ZZAFF! Spampezie

For this month’s installment of ZZAFF! I chose a traditional Christmas recipe. Spampezie biscuits are a typical Christmas treat filled with a mixture of nuts, grated bread, spices, grappa, sugar and honey which are only produced in some Leventina villages. They keep for very long periods and it is said that the families used to send them overseas to their emigrated children. Spampezie are produced only in Faido, Prato, Dalpe, Osco, Chiggiogna or in other municipalities of the lower valley such as Bodio, Personico and Pollegio. Some say that Osco is the homeland of spampezie.
Typically the cookies are pressed into wood shapes that have different shapes. Carved figures recall festivities or represent the coat of arms of a family. The basic preparation method has remained virtually untouched until today: however, everyone has his personal recipe, which is unlikely to be revealed.
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ZZAFF! Polenta Uncia

Polenta uncia, which means greasy, is called so because it is a mixture of polenta, cheese and melted butter. An original dish of the province of Como it is also popular, with small varieties, in the provinces of Lecco, Bergamo and the Ticino Region too. A filling dish, ideal for warm winter evenings.
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ZZAFF! Castagnaccio

Our ZZAFF! season begins with an autumnal recipe which has chestnut as the main ingredient. Chestnut is an ancient plant whose presence in the Ticino Region extends from Mendrisiotto to Leventina. Chestnut has been one of the staple ingredients in ticinese cooking since the Middle Ages, due to its high nutritional value. It’s nutritional value can be preserved for a long time through drying or grounding into flour. Among the different recipe sin which chestnut is used I chose the castagnaccio, a sweet which is typical of Northern Italy but has always been very popular in Ticino too. The ingredients are simple as well as the recipe is.
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ZZAFF! Riso in cagnone

This recipe, which I proposed in the latest episode of ZZAFF!, is a simple one. A recipe reminiscent of times when even with a simple rice dish could satiate the stomach as much as please one’s taste buds. Rice, mostly cooked as a risotto, is very common in Ticino’s culinary tradition probably because of its high content of starch, a quality that makes it a highly satiating food. Risotto was cooked mostly in middle-class families, while farmers would just add a handful to their soup. This recipe is simple to make yet very tasty.
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ZZAFF! Torta di pane Ticinese

It is with pleasure that I announce to you a new collaboration with some friends of a local radio station, Radio Gwendalyn. From now on I will be collaborating with some recipes for their new interregional podcasts, ZZAFF!, a program in collaboration with the Geneva-based Radio Vostok radio. Once a month we will meet in the “Svizzeria” to discover the wonders of the artistic and cultural Swiss scene. This program was especially thought to promote our linguistic region to the French-speaking friends. We will be recording one hour program in the language of Voltaire, while our friends from radio Vostock will record an all-Italian podcast. Interesting isn’t it? Alan, Chief Editor of Radio Gwen, asked me to take care of the regional cuisine column. And how not to start with a classic of Ticino cuisine? la torta di pan, or bread cake, Ça va sans dire!

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