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MT 18 September 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2016 35 THE south of Italy is famous for its Scamorza cheese. From the mozzarella family, the semi-soft white cheese, which is similar to a provolone in shape, is made throughout Apulia and in some parts of Campania and Molise. The cheese is made from pas- teurized cow's milk or from a mixture of cow and sheep milk. The Scamorza made in Bari is made primarily with sheep's milk. The process by which it is made involves stretching and moulding the curd that has been ripened for about 24 hours. The future cheese is then cooled in cold water and put in a brine bath for a period that varies ac- cording to the weight of the in- dividual cheese. The process of stretching the curd and allow- ing it mature in its own whey allows the acidity to develop by the process of lactose being con- verted to lactic acid. The end result is drier than Mozzarella, but is equally as smooth and shiny in texture. At the end of the cheese making process, the cheeses are hanged together in strings to ripen for about two weeks. The process of ripening the cheese has given Scamorza its name, which in southern Italy means 'beheaded'. After two weeks of ripen- ing, the cheese is sold as it is or smoked. The smoked vari- ant, called Scamorzi Affumicate is made by smoking the cheese over flaming straw for around 10 to 15 minutes. A fresh version of Scamorza is also sold within a few days of production. The texture of Scamorza is elastic, stringy and has less moisture than Mozzarella. In addition, the flavor is more piquant, milky and creamy. Smoked Scamorza has a subtle, smoky flavor with a sweet, light caramel note. Scamorza is used as a substi- tute for Mozzarella as it imparts more interest in the recipe. Since Scamorza has excellent melting qualities, it is best known to fla- vor baking dishes, for griddling or topped with prosciutto for extra zest. The smoky flavor of Scamorza pairs well with oak- aged Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Orvieto. Scamorza is generally eaten fresh or smoked, with the latter (Scamorzi Affumicate), having a lovely gold outer layer which makes an excellent table cheese that is also great when used in cooking. Scamorza can be substituted for mozzarella in most dishes as can any other cheese but the resulting taste will be much stronger and more dominant. It is reputed to melt better in bak- ing. Using the smoked variety (Scamorza affumicata) adds a nice background flavour in re- placement of mozzarella. Scamorze allo spiedo is a very old dish in which small Scamor- za cheeses are threaded on spits which revolve over a wood fire. During the cooking process, the cheese takes on an amber color and the interior becomes creamy and buttery. Fine food of the week Smokey scamorza Food Ingredients • 8 slices white bread (sand- wich bread) • Fresh basil leaves • 4 thick slices of mozzarel- la, drained and dried • 4 slices smokey scamorza • 4 tsp anchovy paste • 3 large eggs • ¼ cup milk • Canola oil for shallow fry- ing • Mixed salad leaves Method 1. Lay 4 slices of bread on a small baking tray lined with baking paper. 2. Arrange 4 basil leaves on each slice of bread slightly overlapping them in the centre. 3. Set 1 piece of mozzarella on each slice with a bit of an- chovy paste. 4. Top with a slice of Scamor- za and add another layer of basil. Lay the remaining slic- es of bread on top. 5. Place a piece of baking paper on the top and put another baking tray on top adding weights and pace in fridge for at least 2 hours or over night. 6. Once rested, remove the crusts or use a 7cm round cookie cutter to cut a shape. 7. Make an eggwash by crack- ing the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisking in the milk. 8. Pour ½ inch of oil in a shal- low heavy skillet and heat over medium heat until hot. Line a large plate with kitch- en paper 9. Dip the sandwich in egg- wash, remove and drain off the excess. 10. Add it to pan and cook un- til golden brown on one side (approx. 2 – 3 mins) then turn with spatula cook on the other side until golden brown (approx. 2-3 mins). 11. Remove from the oil and place on kitchen roll to drain excess oil. Season im- mediately with salt. 12. Serve immediately with mixed salad leaves. (Go easy on the salad dressing as there is already a lot of oil in the sandwiches.) Fry the sandwiches one (or two if the skillet is large) at a time. Overcrowding will reduce the temperature of the oil and more will be absorbed by the sand- wich, making it too oily. Recipe of the week Mozzarella in carrozza Scamorza cheese, though similar to mozzarella has a more piquant flavour and has less moisture Deep-fried, oozing with mozzarella and smokey Scamorza and flavoured with basil, this is not your average after-school snack!

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