ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Foodie Friday- Tuscan Torta di Riso and Citrusy Grapefruit Glazed Fish

       TGIF!!!! Yay!! This has been one of those weeks that never seemed to end. But here it is- Friday!!- and we're linking up to Michael's place at Design by Gollum for Foodie Friday.

It's been a bit of a crazy week here. I've had one of those never-ending, just-bordering-on-migraine-but-not-quite headaches, and not enough hours in any day to get it all done. To top it off, I've had this horrible insomnia which just leaves me dragging all day. 

Last night I started thinking about my Nonno in Italy. He swore by a cup of hot chamomile tea every night before bed. He claimed it settled the stomach and insured a good night's rest
So here I was at 1 a.m. digging through the pantry looking for the chamomile that I KNOW I bought....

Oh, well, something good did come out of that sleepless night. In thinking of my Nonno, I stirred up some memories of places we had gone and things we had done during our summers together. In particular, I thought of my Zia AnnaMaria. She was one of my Nonno's sisters and was known for her baking and desserts. One that she made often was Torta di Riso. this is a typically Tuscan dessert- a rice "cake" traditionally served cut into small diamonds. Zia would always have an Amaretto infused heavy cream whipped up alongside.  I was thrilled some years ago to get a recipe. We were eating at a wonderful restaurant in New York and happened to strike up a conversation with the Italian owner. He ended up sharing the wonderful meal with us and I went home with his mother-in-law's recipe 

A decadent dense mixture of arborio rice, ricotta, heavy cream and Sambuca

Personally, I like it best slightly warm or at room temperature, but also delicious cold from the fridge.

As many of you are aware, besides being a decorator and cooking teacher, I'm a trainer. My days start at 5:00 a.m. at a local gym. I have the best clients! One in particular is a hard-core foodie. he and his wife love to cook and dine at wonderful eateries for inspiration. Most of our training hours have been spent discussing food while working out.  The gym regulars find it amusing to hear me with him- 

"Get that butt down lower. I said SQUAT! By the way, did you roast those beets with balsamic?" 

Yes, I am the trainer that feeds my clients. Last week I brought an entire tray of chocolate eggs and biscotti to the front desk staff. My husband tells people I'm pretty smart. I keep feeding my clients as I whip them into shape- he calls it "job security"!

It's very common for me to scribble notes on the bottom of a client's workout log. 

Usually a recipe :)

One morning M. was telling me about an incredibly good dinner he and his wife had prepared the night before. They had based it on something they had seen on the Food Network- he didn't remember when or who had made it. He never followed a recipe as written, so simply told me what HE had done. I scribbled my usual one or two word shorthand which of course I promptly forgot so that by the time I got home and made dinner, my version probably bears no resemblance to theirs. 

In this case, it didn't really matter because what I ended up with was wonderful. This can be on the table in 20 minutes. The tartness of the grapefruit, the sweetness of the honey, and the little kick of the red pepper flakes meld into a flavorful sauce that is wonderful spooned over brown rice or wilted spinach. Tonight I braised some baby artichokes that I needed to use up. He told me that the original recipe was done with salmon, he used sea bass, and I used mahi mahi tonight (because it's what I had in the freezer). 

Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit Sauce

Mahi Mahi- I used 2 thick fillets (you may also use salmon or sea bass. I suggest thicker cuts, not a very thin fillet)
Olive oil

       Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet till hot. Brown fish on 1 side- about 3 minutes. Flip and slide pan into oven. Roast for about 8-10 minutes till fish flakes easily. While fish is roasting, prepare sauce.

Red grapefruits- I used 3. 1 was juiced and 2 peeled, membranes removed, and segmented. If you can find the Ruby variety (our market was out) you'll have gorgeous color on the plate
Olive Oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
red pepper flakes, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
handful of fresh basil, julienned
salt and pepper

       Saute shallot and garlic in small amount of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper. Add grapefruit juice and  honey. Simmer till reduced and thickened. add grapefruit sections and basil- simmer for 2 minutes and pour over fish.


Tuscan Torta di Riso
adapted from a Maccioni family recipe

2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup water
4 Tblsp butter
zest of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/4 large orange

   Combine all in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes till all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups ricotta 
3 whole large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tblsp. Sambuca or Anisette
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tblsp melted butter
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11 x 7 baking pan well and sprinkle with bread crumbs. In a small bowl mix together the flour and baking powder.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and cream. Mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix. Blend in the cooled rice and stir in the Sambuca and vanilla. 
Spoon into the pan and spread evenly. Pour the melted butter on top. bake about 30 minutes till golden and center is set. It shouldn't jiggle. Let cool for 1 hour and dust top with confectioner's sugar. Serve warm, room temp, or chilled. Try it with whipped cream infused with Sambuca. Buonissimo!

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Oh my gosh Pattie, I just can't stand it! Please adopt me, seriously! YOur food is just the absolute best! Both recipes I'll just have to make. The Tuscan Torta de Riso is spectular.

    I love the stories. I read each one with intensity, wanting to remember names and places. I sound out the words that are foreign to me. I try to put names and the pictures from your other posts together in my mind. What a treasure of family love and food you are creating!

    I hope you are feeling better. It is so hard to go through a day when you are dragging around tired.

    I just love our visits! God bless you!
    Allie- hi, I would love to hear from you.
    ox Yvonne

  3. There is nothing better than your authentic Italian recipes, Pattie! I'm so sorry about your headaches but I'm happy they resulted in this wonderful memory and recipe you've shared with us.

    Thinking 'headache free' thoughts for you!

  4. That Tuscan Torta de Riso sounds fabulous. I loved reading about your 'job security'. ;-)

  5. That torta looks downright legendary. I said it. Legendary.

    However, since I'm trying to cut back I think I'll be checking out the grapefruit sauce - hubby's all about grilling fish since his first attempt was successful!

  6. Ahhhh I think that Torta has my name on it Ms P!!

  7. "To die for", as usual Pattie! I'm coveting that blue compote. I don't suppose I could buy some like that somewhere? Also love your blue and white dishes. Hope your headache is better. Have a nice weekend.

  8. Pattie~ I'm fairly new to your blog, but have already found such an amazing selection of recipes. I look forward to trying them out.

    Hope you can stop by for a visit your company would be nice.

    Sweet wishes,

  9. mmmmmmmmmmmmm...che buona la torta di riso!! bravissima!! un abbraccio! ciao!

  10. Patti, I have missed you! The blue dishes are beautiful, and the is true. I can't live with out my nightly dose. Thinking of grandparents is so special. The food? I mean really...Do you have to taunt all of us? You are teasing us...just making us want to come visit and stay, and stay, and stay.

  11. "Get that butt down lower. I said SQUAT! By the way, did you roast those beets with balsamic?" LOL! My you are BUSY, what kind of vitamins do you take??? I have to say the
    Torta di Riso looks delish...I'm afraid I have to de-carb for a while, but I will have to try it!

  12. I love this cake... sounds so delish with all those good things in it.. cream and sambuca.. how great is that!

  13. O M G....Sangi..I visited this place soooo many times....Tell me did you live there..
    I love italian food...Your blog is wonderful..:)))
    Greets from Holland!

  14. I have been dreaming of travelling to Italy lately. I was 18 the last time so I would have an entirely different perspective after 30 years. In the meantime I will just relish in your stories and recipes such as this.

  15. OH MY...the grapefruit glazed fish sounds so good and refreshing!

  16. The grapefruit sauce sounds so good it's almost otherworldly and your recipe for the torta is an authentic gem. Thanks for sharing both with us. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  17. Buon Giorno!
    Oh my goodness... am I following yet? If not, I'll make sure I do after commenting!

    You bring back all the memories of growing up Italiana! I would love a piece of that Torta di Riso! My zia used to make that...
    The fish dinner is beautiful as are the dishes you used... I "need" those oval deep dishes.
    Your commentary is just wonderful ... I enjoy visiting here so much ~ thank you!
    Ciao ~Maria

  18. This looks like a lovely meal. I've never had rice cakes before. They sound really delicious!

  19. jus the kinda ecstasy we need at the party below and u sure are invited ...

    Hullo Happy Sunshine pal, its GOrgeously spring ,blue skies and summer hues, we are so happy and with this happiness lets JOin the Party ,for dear CHaya 's BIRTHDAY.[10th april]..yeah its a suprise party for her....and she's ur pal too....

    and all u need to do is hop at the link below and leave her a birthday message and link any or all of ur deliciousness u wanna bring to the party.....looking foward to u the party and CHaya going to love having u over .......
    ANd if possible please send this message atleast to 5 of ur bloggin buddys , we so wanna make her day dont we....

    come to the party ....ur presence n love will make the difference.....

    to bring the joy of the gorgeously stunning Springtime right here

  20. Pattie, Thanks for your kind comment. If you go back to my post, I added some inside pictures of the pink house.

  21. The torta looks delicious! I am not a fish know, all those years of having to eat it on Fridays! LOL
    Hope you are having a good weekend. I don't know how you do all the things you do!

  22. I am amazed will all that you do! Very inspiring! I love mahi mahi, we will have to give this a try! I like your job security trick!!

  23. Oh Yum! Another interesting and yummy looking dessert recipe I have to try! LOL You are going to have to create and nline training blog to counter act all the calories we are consuming from THIS blog!!

  24. I am glad I read your post as I am making mahi-mahi tomorrow! I just have to run out for grapefruits. Sometimes they are not as good as you probably get in NC. I will run to Waldbaums -is that familiar? I live on Long Isalnd!

  25. Ah, you have made me hungry! And I love your conversation with your client during squats!!

    Thanks so much for the birthday wishes! I had a lovely one.

  26. Hi Pattie,
    Loving the vintage pics over here as I was catching up. Especially the Horse and Cart riding toy and "mom & dad" dancing in the basement. So cute!!!
    Thanks for the prayers for my mom. Her “cement“ surgery is today.
    Mary Lou

  27. c'est toujours un plaisir pour les papilles et les pupilles de venir ici, j(adore
    bonne journée

  28. What a beautiful blog, what a beautiful post. All things wonderful going on here.

  29. Pattie, did you share the story on that blue compote or glass/crystal with the rice in it? It is gorgeous and I'd love to hear more about it.

  30. Hi Pattie!

    I hope you are feeling better! I have also been feeling some Spring allergies but the weather has been so nice that I don't mind them.

    I never made grapefruit into a sauce for fish but I've used mangoes in the past so I'm sure ther flavor is equally delicious and soemthing I'd like to try.

    The torta di riso sounds divine! Thank you for sharing this special recipe!

    I had a good giggle as I read this blog post as what was the google ad on your sidebar? It was for the Brooklyn Pork Store sausages! tee hee!

    ♥ Pat

  31. It all looks so yum! And personally I think all food would look better on those fab blue plates!

  32. The cake sounds amazing...perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea...or without...or just because!!


We LOVE comments and it's a great way to lead us to your home! Thanks for visiting!