On one of my most recent trips to Italy, I discovered Cucina con Ale. Ale (short for Alessandro, and therefore pronounced Ah-lay) is an Italian TV-chef and my latest and greatest hero. This man is so perky, so wonderfully humorous, so endlessly charming that instead of being in love with him, I revere him as a deity. “Women want him, men want to be him” doesn’t apply here: I want to be him. I want his style, his flair, his dashing tache-with-goatee. Alessandro Borghese is my hero and I swoon over everything he does.
His show is one of those that are broadcast three times a day: old episodes as fillers in the morning and the early afternoon, then a brand new episode in the evening. Because I’m in Italy only ever so often, all three episodes are always new to me. I didn’t know (and still don’t) at what time Cucina con Ale was on, but by some remarkable coincidence, whenever I flicked the telly on, my hero was there, cooking, joking, humming and enchanting.
My love was getting a bit jealous and he found the whole situation quite suspicious. “You know,” he muttered, whilst frowning angrily at the TV, where Ale was skilfully cooking up some wonderful crostini, “when I’m here by myself and I switch the telly on, I never see Ale. Why is he always there when you’re the one who holds the remote?” I couldn’t answer that question. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s something stronger than I am, something I have no control over, that tells my subconscious it’s time for Cucina con Ale. Or maybe I was just lucky.
Ale always makes three dishes in one show, and usually he has an interesting mixture of Italian classics, international dishes and more experimental recipes. The following, Dolce di Patate or Potato Dessert, is one of his more revolutionary creations.
For those who understand Italian, here’s a link to his original recipe. Otherwise you can use my version below. I’ve changed the quantities a little to make a portion for two people. It’s quite heavy though, mind, so you’d probably be able to feed three people from this one if you serve it with some ice cream or custard.
You will need:
- about 225 gr of potato
- 2 eggs
- 25 gr of olive oil, extra virgin
- 60 gr of sugar
- 2 tbsp sultanas
- 3 tbsp almonds, chopped
- a tbsp of rum
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp (piled) of baking powder
- some corn flour
- icing sugar to serve
Boil the potato. Separate the eggs, save the whites for later, mix the yolks with the lemon zest and the sugar.
Soak the sultanas in some hot water. Once they’re nice and juicy, drain them, dry them a little if necessary and roll them through the corn flour, making sure they’re all covered. Chop up the almonds.
When the potato is ready, mash it and add it to the egg yolk mixture. Add the sultanas, the almonds, the rum and the oil. Mix well. Take a round cake tin, put in some baking parchment and fill it with the potato mixture. With a silicon brush, if you have one, otherwise with a spoon and some patience, cover the mixture with egg whites to make it nice and shiny. Stick it in the oven for a little over half an hour, 180°C.
For those of you who don’t speak Italian, but who want to see more Ale, I recommend the following: