Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Simplicity: a frico and the abc's in Italiano

It's so simple really - I wonder about even mentioning it. A frico. One ingredient. A mound of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on a baking sheet. Bake. Eat. Is that a recipe?

But it is - scrumptious. Earthy, nutty. Packed with flavor - and one ingredient. After the excesses of the holidays, the starchy comfort during the frigid days in January and the weekend that was Valentine's Day, the Chinese New year, Mardi Gras down south and it's equivalent of Carnevale in Italy - simple.... one ingredient. A way of chasing the excesses away. Today Italian Catholics begin Lent. A 40-day feast of self-denial - and do you believe it - I've always loved it. It's a chasing away of winter and a cleansing of the palette for the spring greens that will arrive when Lent is over.

Fricos hail from the northern, mountainous region of Friuli Venezia Giula which borders Austria and Slovenia. One of it specialties is Montasio cheese. As a new cheese, it is creamy, milky and smooth. As it ages, it becomes saltier, earthier and similar to the king of Italian cheeses - Parmigiano-Reggiano. The Italian Parmesan is easier to come by than Montasio cheese, so that is the cheese I use for my fricos. You can jazz up a frico - add some fat (they do in Friuli Venezia Giula), or add some rosemary or other favorite herbs. Some people like them with potatoes, but I like the simplicity of the one ingredient.
A delicate, lacy Parmesan crisp - they add elegance to your salad of baby greens or stand alone with an aperitif before dinner (the Italians will have it with Vin Santo). The Parmesan should be freshly grated - it is lighter,and will spread into a lace-like pattern.
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Frico Ingredient
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese - freshly grated
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Frico Preparation
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
On a baking sheet, spray or grease parchment paper cut to fit baking pan.
Ladle 2 tablespoons into a 1-2 inch biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter. Lift the cookie cutter and flatten the Parmesan. Repeat - spacing the mounds of Parmesan 3 inches apart.
Bake 5-8 minutes - until the cheese is lightly browned. Cool for one minute.
With a spatula, carefully lift the crisps from the pan onto a plate. Serve warm as an appetizer or put on top of a salad.
`
Welcome to the season of simplicity. And as I wax poetical about the beauty of simplicity, please visit Joe of Italyville's blog. He has a delightful interview with Sonya Caruso, the author/illustrator of a new book that teaches the ABC's of Italian to toddlers. It's never to early to learn a new language. It's insightful and there's a giveaway of her new book ABC Italiano. As I struggle in Italian class, the idea of learning it from a toddler's point of view is enticing.

Simplicity: the key to learning and growing.

30 comments:

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I fell in love with fricos the first time I ate them. I do love them just simply made with cheese, but I won't turn down the ones with potato added either. GOod for you for getting Joe's project off to such a fast start.

Bridgett said...

I find fricos totally addictive but my favorite way to enjoy them is with some baby greens just as you have yours. Perfection!

Ruth said...

I so love the simplicty of this, I need to try it. It doesnt cease to surprise me on a daily basis, how quickly Alex is learning Italian. He comes home from school uttering full sentences that make perfect sense. He has no knowledge of grammar or syntax and yet his willingness to learn the language has meant that he can communicate so much more effectively than me. It is true what they say about children and languages. ABC Italiano for toddlers is geniuses as is this, dare, and I will, call it a recipe lol

pegasuslegend said...

Very nicely done Claudia! I would love to try some of this ....

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I adore fricos. They are addictive. I've served them a dinner parties and they are always a hit. I've never used the cookie cutter to form them. I'll have to give it a try.

I've seen recipes for frying them on top of the stove, but I do mine in the oven as you do and it's so much easier. I've used Parmesan and also a good cheddar. I'll keep an eye out for Montasio cheese. Thanks for the tip.
Sam

vickys said...

I didn't know these delicious parmesean thins had a name! And such a cute name too!

Vrinda said...

WOw sounds so simple and yummy ,thanx for sharing...

5 Star Foodie said...

I love one or two ingredient recipes like this! Those fricos look scrumptious!

Food o' del Mundo said...

May seem simple/obvious to you - but some of us have never heard of it so a mighty BIG THANK YOU for sharing!!! ~Mary

Wanda said...

You've taught me the Italian name for Parmesean Crisps...Fricos! ♥

joe@italyville said...

Thanks for your help with this Claudia! Joe

Katherine Aucoin said...

I love these but didn't know they were called Fricos. We always called them parmesan crisps, now I know better! We usually have these with soups but once you start eating these you just can't stop!

Cinnamon-Girl♥ said...

I was craving these with my vegetable stew last night. So simple but so divine!

Megan said...

I had these once at a party but they called them parmesan crackers. Whatever you call them, I call them delicious!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love fricos too Claudia! They are special treats.

I just came from Joe's blog! What a nice idea he had to interview the author of this wonderful book! It really is helpful to learn early in life...I had such problems learning and more or less gave up trying to be conversive in Italian.

alwayswinner786 said...

Those Fricos are simple and scrumptious. Hats off to such delicious simplicity!

Lori Lynn said...

Ha! I've made them! But I did not know they were called fricos. Learned something new today. Thanks Claudia!
LL

Mary said...

These look wonderfully easy to make. I'll have to try them this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing this one with us, Claudia. Have a wonderful weekend.

theUngourmet said...

My daughter is crazy for these cheesy treats! Yum! They look so darn good!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh how cool new to me love it

bonnie said...

How simple, yet so delish!! I love these and during the Lenten season they seem to be even more delightful!!

sweetlife

Katy ~ said...

Fricos, I love the word! I shall feel so cosmopolitan when i let the word roll off my tongue when I serve them, for I shall be making these! thank you so much!

Debbie said...

I love these but didn't know the name of them. They look delicious! So good...

Laurie said...

It is a recipe.. and a very good one! I love these and they make a good snack. I remember when as a child my mom would bake anything that had parmesan, I would always scrape the crispy cheese off the baking sheet and eat it! :) Ciao..

Velva said...

Your fricos are proof that simple is best! Nice.

OysterCulture said...

Cannot wait to give this a try. I'm confident they'll be swiped off the plate before they even have a chance to cool.

Angie's Recipes said...

Simplicity is at its best! That looks scrumptious and cheesy!

Nancy said...

Hi Claudia,
Your fricos look delicious! I have never made these at home but really must do that soon. And your statement about simplicity - how true.

Danielle said...

i have yet to try this simple yet oooh so yummy looking ...cheese thing. (what food category does this fall under? side? garnish?)

My Little Space said...

Olala... these look simpy delicious! I think it must be pretty easy to go with anything.