The Bene Israel are one of three Jewish communities native to India. They are also likely the oldest – tracing their history to the 2nd century BC – and largest. They are now based in Bombay, though most of their members have emigrated to Israel. Their cuisine is based on Indian flavors and foodstuffs, but it’s adapted to fit with Jewish dietary requirements and holidays. Two of the three dishes I made were really good. Check out my Bene Israel recipes.
Friuli occupies the northwestern corner of Italy. Its cuisine is northern Italian with Austro-Hungarian influences. Check out my Friulian recipes.
This week I’m cooking Friulian food, which meant that I had to make a Frico. As I read in a blog (which I can’t find now), “frico” is what you made in the dead of winter, when nothing was growing and all you had was old cheese and old potatoes. At its simplest, frico is just Montasio cheese, shredded and fried with some flour into a thin wafer. It can be eaten as a snack or with soups. Montasio is a cowmilk cheese, eaten at different stages of its development, somewhat similar to Parmesan.
More complicated versions of frico will include thinly sliced potatoes, as well as chopped onions and pancetta (if you’re rich!).
I found a recipe that looked great and incorporated all those elements and wanted to make it. But then I lost it. Rather than go with one of the other recipes, I tried to remember the steps on that one but made a HUGE mess of it. First I fried the onions and chopped bacon together (didn’t have pancetta), then added slices of potatoes I’d previously boiled and topped with a lot of grated cheese. I didn’t have Montasio, so I used a mixture of Parmesan and San Joaquin Gold, a cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, which despite the cheesemakers claims that it’s a Fontina-turned-Cheddar, is actually very similar to Parmesan.
The cheese was supposed to melt, caramelize and harden, so that I could then flip the whole thing and cooked in the other side. Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead the onions started to burn before the cheese melted and when I tried to flip it, I just messed the whole thing up. It was still very tasty, but not what it was intended to be.
I may try again, actually following a recipe.