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Onions focaccia: football food and happy memories

Onions focacciaSome foods are simply part of your life. You cooked them hundreds of time, your mum cooked them thousands of time and in the end is like they’ve always been there, linked to your past, your present and your future. This is certainly true for this onions focaccia recipe: I perfectly remember the first time I eat it, the people who were with me. It was a hot ans sunny summer and it was the summer of an incredible big event in Italy. 1990: I was in the transition between a child and a teen and the Football World Cup was held in Italy. Everyone was so exited!! I remember that days spent at the sea talking about football and even more the evenings, all together in front of tv with my beloved cousins. Of course I didn’t understand anything about football at that time, but I liked so much Nicola Berti, the most beautiful Italian player :-)

Protagonists of that world cup are still around and I saw them on TV during the Brazilian event: Klinsmann, Matheus, Maradona… these incredible champions are so linked to our memories, mainly nice memories, that really it’s easy to think at them with a soft smile: like the onion focaccia seems like they’ve always been there, part of the postcards of our lives.

Coming back to the recipe: as you’ve probably already realized, this one is really linked to beautiful moments of my life, and I hope you will enjoy it and that will bring you the same happiness! Buon appetito! Read more

Cocoa & nuts cake: celebrating a new UNESCO site in Italy

BeFunky_cake1.jpgHallo world, if you follow this blog you know that I often say that Italy is one of the most beautiful country in th world. It’s not only that we have tons of incredible masterpieces of art from different ages, we were also blessed with breathtaking natural landscape. We are surrounded by sea with million nuances of blue, we have mountains so beautiful that seems natural sculpture and we have lovely country side. I know, you’re thinking about Tuscany, but that is just a small part. We are celebrating now a new entry in the Italian Unesco sites. Italy has the world record: 50 UNESCO site in such a small country!! The new one is in Piedmont and is Langhe & Monferrato, in northern Italy, few km from Milan, This landscape made of rolling hills, with castles and antique mansions surrounded by vineyards is also the place where lot of delicious typical Italian food has its origin. In particular in Piedmont they produce a very good quality of hazelnuts ( I suppose there’s a reason Nutella, the most famous nuts cream in the world, has been invented here….) so, giving that I’m so happy that another breathtaking piece of my country is now recognized as something to be protected for future generation, I decided to celebrate with a cake with nuts :-) I advise you: this is sinful….. so don’t have too much, and enjoy the feeling at every bite!

Vigneti-Monferrato-br

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Vegetarian pasta al forno (baked pasta): everyday is Sunday lunch!

vegetarian pasta al fornoCountdown: – 3 days! Yes, just 3 days and I will be back in Italy! My heart is running fast with joy. Visiting parents, walk in the city center, make some shopping, drink tons of cappuccino, … and the great thing: living faraway means that your mom is so happy to see you that will cook the best food she’s able to. You can request everything you want and she will spend time in the kitchen just for you, so I guess that we’re going to have almost 3 days of “Sunday lunch”.

I call it “Sunday lunch” because really in Italy, and especially in my family, Sunday was the day when mom had more time to cook and is the traditional day to eat lasagna, or home-made pasta al forno (baked pasta). I’m so happy to come home that I want to celebrate sharing my recipe for vegetarian pasta la forno with you! Hope you will enjoy it, buon appetito!!

 

Ingredients:

-          3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oils

-          1 onions finely chopped

-          2 pepperoni (1 yellow and 1 orange)

-          1 eggplant

-          1 zucchini

-          1 cup of frozen peas

-          2 bottle of tomato sauce

-          500 g rigatoni

-          Salt

-          250 g Appenzeller cheese (or mozzarella or Emmethaler)

-          Parmesan cheese (grated)

 

 

Pour 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pan, add the onion finely chopped. Cook for few minutes at low flames, till the onion becomes soft. Increase the heat and add the 2 pepperoni wash and cut in small cubes. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add all the other vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes mixing well then add the tomatoes sauce and adjust with salt. Let boil, then put medium flames, cover and cook for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain it al dente (meaning that it shouldn’t be too soft) and mix with your vegetarian sauce. Add cheese cut in small cubes and a generous bunch of grated parmesan cheese. Toss well and cook in pre-heated oven (180°C or 360°F) for around 30 minutes, till cheese is completely melted.

 

Small ears pasta with broccoli, sundried tomatoes and black olives: go vegan!

pasta broccoli sundried tomatoes and black olives

Hallo world, it’s been a long time since my last post. In these months tons of things happened in my life: most important is that, after 2 years being a full time mom, I started again to work. It has been a great challenge start again, find a new routine, try to find the right approach to do everything but I enjoy every minute! I just miss the time I used to spend in the kitchen… now is not that much, but I’m try to cook at my best, to be creative and to find again time to write in this blog!

So here we are with a new recipe that represent perfectly what is my approach in the kitchen in these busy days: cook genuine, easy and fast dishes, healthy and not boring, trying to be as creative as I can be. Few months ago an American friend of mine explain me the great healthy advantages of the vegan diet and told that she tries to cook vegan almost 3 times per week. It’s funny how I realized that actually Italian Cuisine and Mediterranean diet actually have a lot of vegan recipe (think at the basic ingredients: pasta, tons of wonderful vegetables, olive oil, fruit, bread…). I will never stop to eat meat or fish, but the idea to cook vegan almost 3 times per week really seems to be a good start.

I hope you’re feeling hungry by now so let’s go to the recipe, my way to the Italian super classic “orecchiette coi broccoli” (small ears pasta with broccoli). Buon appetito!

 

Ingredients: (serves 4)

 

-          360 g small ears pasta

-          2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

-          1 garlic glove

-          1 big broccoli already boiled

-          20 sundried tomatoes under olive oil grossly chopped

-          A handful of black olives grossly chopped

-          Salt

 

Pour the extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the garlic, add the broccoli grossly chopped. Cook at medium flame for a couple of minutes, then add the sundried tomatoes and the black olives. Adjust with salt, add a spoonful of boiling water and cook at low flame for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted boiling water, when it’s ready drained it and pour in the pan with the vegetables. Toss well adding some olive oil. Buon appetito!

 

How to make meat sauce: a traditional Italian Sunday lunch

italian sauce with meatIf you look at Italy on a map you immediately realize how small it is. That’s why I often ask myself: how it’s possible that in such a small country you can find hundreds of different ingredients and tens of different traditions. Let’s talk for example of the Sunday lunch: that’s a super classic, something that assemble the entire family together but it’s not the same lunch in every house. In some houses, especially in the centre of Italy, spying on the Sunday table you will find lasagne, in other houses you will find pasta al forno (baked pasta) with almost one hundreds different ingredients. In the northern part of Italy polenta with meat or agnolotti (that is a particular kind of ravioli) with broth… In southern Italy, together with pasta al forno, it’s pretty common cook pasta with sugo di carne (meat sauce). I’m from the northern part of Italy, but trust me if I say that, one you’ve learned how to cook this particular sauce, you will never forget it and you will cook it quite every week. The point is not only that is incredibly good, but it’s super easy to do and the most important ingredient is time. Let me explain: to make this sauce you will need around 3 hours and a half but you need to work or actively cooking just for less than half an hour. For the other 3 hours you can watch tv, read a book, or whatever you like to do: the magic is done by low flame and the fat of the meat that slowly melt till create a magical fusion with sauce. I do it with different kind of meat (you can use pork, veal, lamb, even chicken drumsticks, the important thing is to chose a kind that has some fat) almost once a week: that’s because it’s a great way to flavor pasta (and we are Italian so we eat a lot of pasta!) and it’s a complete dish that doesn’t require too much work. Just try it and let me know! Buon appetito!

italian sauce with meat

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Clam chowder (my way), San Francisco & an honeymoon in New England

clam chowderWhen I hear someone say “Oh, the Americans, they don’t know what good food is” my first reaction is to say “Shut up, you idiot!” then I calm down and I think “ok, maybe this poor thing was never lucky enough to eat a clam chowder….” Now, you don’t have to be a genius to guess that my very favourite American dish is… CLAM CHOWDER! I still remember my very first one, at the pier in San Francisco… we arrived there after hundreds of miles and 5 States. Our eyes were full of desert and mountains and endless landscape, while we were driving it seemed impossible that something could border US, but in San Francisco there it was: the sea! That was the limit that also US had to face! And another view filled our eyes, and the sound of a big city after the silence of the desert filled our ears, and the salty scent of the air exploded in our nose. I’m sure that I fell in love with clam chowder exactly in the same moment I fell for San Francisco. Few years later we decided to spent our honeymoon in New England and what was just love became a real addiction. I’m not joking: we traveled New England for 2 weeks and I eat clam chowder and lobster every day for lunch and for dinner (I suppose is not such a big surprise that my scale wanted to died when I came back in Italy!!). I remember waitress asking me: “do you prefer a cup or a bowl” and myself think “oh my god, do I have a cup face?! Why they don’t ask me if I want the entire pot?”. A very special dinner was the one at The Black Cat Tavern in Cape Code: a romantic place is nothing without very good food! Unfortunately I don’t live in the US so I had to learn how to cook a clam chowder (the alternative, meaning don’t eat clam chowder at all, never crossed my mind) and here you find my recipe. It’s quite good and I like it even if it lacks the most important ingredients that makes the original one so good: the view and the smell of the sea! Enjoy!

clam chowder

Ingredients: (serves 4)

- 1 diced carrot

- 1 minced onion

- 1 diced celery

- 50 g diced bacon

- 450 g cubed potatoes

- 150 ml cream

- 3 kg clams + their liquid

- salt & pepper

- 4 scallops

- olive oil

- parsley for decoration Read more

Baked rice, a popular song & an ancient job

baked rice with meat

baked rice

“Sciur padrun da li belle braghi bianchi fora le palanche, fora le palanche”. These words are in Italian dialect and I’ve learned them when I was 8. I still remember them because they tell a story that could easily have been that of my grandma’s mother: this song talks in fact about the “mondine” who are the women that, at the end of the spring, went in the fields to harvest rice. This kind of job became common in the second half of 1800 and it was a big cultural change: these women faced for the first time the job market as independent subject, earned an individual salary and, considering that often the job was far away from home, they had more freedom. Together with these positive changes there were the negative consequences: they were paid less then men and the job was exhausting. To harvest rice they bent for hours with cold and insane water up to their knees, in June and July they were surrounded by insects and it was common to take malarial fevers. But this strong work experience gave them also the opportunity to develop a consciousness of themselves as a group: in the second half of 1800 there were some strikes and they succeeded in increase their salary. After 100 years everything seems so poetic but this is a story about hard work, misery and constant fight to improve, something that makes me proud to be a woman: it’s great see that if 150 years ago the only choice for a poor peasant girl was to break her back in a rice field today we have so much opportunities. The simple possibility to choose is a gift. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Italian cultural history and hope you will like the recipe. Of course Italy is famous for risotto, but it’s quite common to cook rice also in the oven like in the recipe that I propose you today. Buon appetito!

mondine

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