Summer, the kitchen garden, home produces and small fresh delicacies

Hello, welcome in August! Despite the very high temperatures, I keep on taking care of my kitchen garden early in the morning.

At this proper, it is about the same place where I used to play as a little child. At that time, the garden seemed so big to me, it was characterized by green frames of tall cypresses, bushes of roses, several cycas and a small citrus orchard. Later on in the years and more recently, I looked at the garden with new eyes and inspiration for a new natural dress. Indeed, because of the instability of temperatures and the rapid change of seasons nowadays, the garden called for a new organization of spaces and the creative planning with new thriving fruit trees, essence bushes, flowers and even vegetables. So, it started again with new life.

Last Monday, I finally had the pleasure to pick the first basket for this season of excellent green figs up from the tree, served some of them for breakfast and, what is more, I prepared some appetizers made of figs, bresaola and fresh creamy cheese for lunch time.

This dish didn’t take too long to prepare. For the green three figs in the picture above, since they were pretty big, I used about 60 gr fresh creamy cheese, a couple of table spoons of crème fraîche, a thin petal of bresaola for each fruit, parsley, a sprinkle of salt.

In a bowl, mix and whip gently the fresh cheese and the crème fraîche, add very little sea salt in it. Wash and dry accurately the green figs and make four slices of each of them as if you are creating flowers. Roll the petal of bresaola up and make a cup to fix around the center of the fig. Fill it with some creamy cheese (help yourself to decor with a poche à douille) and, in the end, add some parsley on top.

Dedicate a toast with a glass of your preferred wine to your family, friends and keep on enjoying Summertime!

Spaghetti dish, the European football championship and Summer season

Hello! Summer season is at the door, we enjoy the European football championship and we love pasta.

These are the three main ingredients for our special dish made with spaghetti and a convivial “al fresco”dining.

Let’s start with frying some fresh bacon or speck in a pan without using oil. Leave the fat to heat and melt in the pan until the bacon or the speck will have a crisp surface. Then, remove it from the cooker.

Grate some “pecorino” sheep milk cheese. I have tried a different taste by using smoked caciocavallo cheese from Calabria.

Peel some fresh fava beans.

Boil some salt water, then add spaghetti and cook them.

In the meanwhile, pour some boiling water from spaghetti cooking in a sauce pan, add some grated cheese in it and work to melt it. Help yourself with a fork or a whisk in order to have a light creamy cheese sauce.

Drain the spaghetti a couple of minutes before they are done, saving some water, which you will pour in a pan with some hot extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper powder and keep on cooking spaghetti in the pan.

Add the light cream made with cheese and “manteca”, that is, whisk all well.

Serve spaghetti warm with some fresh faba beans and crisp pancetta or speck, a pich of black pepper and a sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Wishing everybody “buon appetito”, bon appétit and enjoy a fantastic “al fresco” dining with the European football championship!

Crisp single crust polenta pie topped with broccoli, sausage and sweet Tropea onion. It tastes so good!

Hello, it’s a new week and it is time for a new recipe! Cooking polenta does not belong to the culinary tradition of Apulia, in Southern Italy, the region where I live. However, this ingredient, which is very much used in the North of Italy, pairs very well with home fresh produces and products from my area and with those that I chose yesterday at the food market. So, let’s try it!

In the kitchen, last night, I enjoyed cooking a delicious meal, which is pretty simple to prepare, even though it takes between 90 and 120 minutes of your time to be ready and to serve to your guests.

Starting with a good frying pan, where to pour some extra virgin olive oil to heat, then add sweet rings of onion (on the occasion, I chose gorgeous red onions of Tropea), small cherry tomatoes, pieces of a good local sausage made of minced pork and veal.

As soon as the oil starts hissing in the pan, add a hint of garlic and a pinch of oregano. By the flavoury taste of each ingredient present in the pan, your mouth will start watering.

Then, it is the turn for steamed broccoli.

You can watch the video I made to see how gently they cook with the other ingredients. All of them must have a very short cooking time in order to save their “crispness” for the palate. Once the ingredients that go on top are done, let’s work on with polenta, which will be the crisp base for the single crust pie.

Boil some salted water and, out of the cooker, pour gently the necessary polenta flour for making a smooth, soft, creamy mixture.

Help yourself with a whisk to crush every crumble of polenta and make it like velvet.

Pour the polenta in the frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil (not too much!) and, with a wooden spatule, prepare the base for the pie.

While the polenta base cooks, its surface will start coming solid.

After 30 minutes, turn the polenta base upside down, in order to fry also the other side and have it homogeneously golden and crisp.

Almost in the end, add all ingredients on the polenta pie crust and some grated smoked caciocavallo cheese on top. Cover the pie with a lid for few minutes to melt the cheese.

Serve the polenta pie warm.

Enjoy the dish with a glass of your preferred wine and “bon appétit”.

Thank you and until next recipe!

🌱🌼🌱🌼🌱

Cocoa or vanilla daisy pastries?

daisy short pastry

Hello! We are enjoying warm Spring days, which are getting longer and longer. Sometimes, after dinner time, it might happen you want to enjoy a glass of fresh milk and perhaps a light dessert in front of a good reading. The following recipe of small daisy pastries is for those who, like me, love to bake simple genuine tastes at any time of the day. Of course children would love them too!

As for the short pastry:

  • 250 gr all purpose organic flour
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 1 pod of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 100 gr butter
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • 2 or 3 spoons of cocoa powder
  • a sprinkle of cardamom
  • vanilla icing sugar

As for the filling:

use what you have in your pantry, or what you like best. I used some home made apricot jam for the cocoa daisy short pastries and “nutella” cream for the vanilla daisy short pastries.

First of all, make the short pastry by mixing well and very fast the ingredients all together. Only in the end, add the cocoa powder and a sprinkle of cardamom, right after you have split the mixture in two portions, in order to have two different tastes, that is vanilla and cocoa. Leave the short pastry to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Start with the vanilla short pastry. Help yourself with a rolling pin and greaseproof paper and get a thin (2-3mm) layer. Make small daisies with a mould and spread “nutella” cream on the surface of the daisy, then cover it with an other daisy. Do the same work with the cocoa version of daisies, spreading their surface with apricot jam. The daisies go in the 170°C oven for 10/12 minutes.

Out of the oven they will be deliciously fragrant with a warm melting filling inside. Serve them with vanilla icing sugar on top.

Now, can you tell which tastes you like best, vanilla or cocoa? Thank you and wishing everybody a good new week!

daisy short pastry

A warm jam apricot dessert

Hallo! It is the first Sunday of May and we want to prepare a delicious dessert for the afternoon.

Here we have some home made delicious apricot jam, a good burrata stuffed with cow milked ricotta cheese, cardamom, leaves of mint.

Heat the apricot jam in a bain marie for a couple of minutes, then spread it on a plate, add the small burrata, a sprinkle of cardamom, leaves of mint. Enjoy the dessert with a warm cup of coffee or tea.

Hallo! Es ist der erste Sonntag im Mai und wir möchten ein köstliches Dessert für den Nachmittag.

Hier haben wir hausgemachte leckere Aprikosenmarmelade, eine gute Burrata, die mit Kuhmilchen Molkenkäse gefüllt ist, Kardamom und Blätter von Minze.

Wärmen und verdünnen Sie die Aprikosenmarmelade in einem Bain marie für ein paar Minuten. Dann streichen Sie Aprikosenmarmelade auf den Teller, unter Zugabe von der kleinen Burrata, einer Prise Kardamom und Blättern von Minze. Genießen Sie das Gericht mit einem warmen Kaffee oder Tee.

Curly ribbons of home made fresh nettle pasta

Hello! We’re almost in the middle of February and for those, who enjoy gardening, it is time to help nature, starting to prepare the soil for the new Spring dress. On the ground, in the garden, among sleeping plants and trees, it is pretty common to find some growing plants of nettle to uproot. The nettle is a wild stingy herb, well known since ancient times, for its peculiar texture, the production of natural fibre and healthy benefits. Often, it is also used in the kitchen for making home made pasta, which turns to be a delicate dish worth to try.

Portions provided here can be for a couple of people. First of all, wash the tender stingy leaves of nettle in cold water thoroughly (be careful, use gloves!). Secondly, cook the nettles into boiling water for few minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt in the end. Thirdly, strain from the water and work the nettles in a food processor to have a thick mixture. Fouthly, mix 160 gr of processed nettles with 70gr of organic wholemeal flour (I used local ground stoned Senatore Cappelli quality) and 80 gr of yellow semolina. Since the nettles have water in their own texture, it shouldn’t be necessary to add more water for the kneading process. No eggs are necessary, since, according to Apulia culinary traditions, we do not use eggs in home made pasta making. Besides, we like to have a very light pasta dish. Add little more flour, if necessary, for a well compact mixture. Fifthly, make sheets of pastry (help yourself with a nonna papera machine, positions n. 3 or 4 for thickness) and then long stripes of nettle pasta, which you will roll up around your finger for having curly ribbons like I did in the picture. Then, leave the nettle pasta to rest for 5/6 hours or for a night.

At lunch or dinner time, the curly ribbons will take only 2/3 minutes into boiling salt water to be cooked “al dente”. I served them warm with a fresh moist tomato sauce and a sprinkle of pecorino di Pienza cheese. Of course you may serve with a different sauce you prefer.

Wishing everybody to enjoy this delicate dish, which perhaps might be an inviting, very simple, romantic idea to prepare by yourself for your loved one on Valentine’s day.

First Sunday of Advent in the kitchen

Here we are, Christmas is knocking at the door again and we already know it will be a very special season for all of us. Even though it won’t be often possible to behave as usual, that is expressing our love by hugging members of family and loved ones, we wish all of them to be safe and in our heart as always. In the mood to keep everybody closer to our thoughts and in the respect of a long family tradition for cooking and baking at Christmas time, we had a cosy first Sunday afternoon of Advent in the kitchen and made a delicious soft heart of vanilla and chocolate to have with a warm cup of tea. As you will see the recipe is pretty simple and it will be a delicious dessert loved by children and “older children”. Ingredients we need:

100 gr castor sugar (make your own), 2 eggs, 175 gr flour, 100 gr butter, 40 gr almonds meal (make your own), 60 gr crème fraîche, 8 gr baking powder, 2 soup spoons bitter cocoa, 2 soup spoons vanilla icing sugar, a coffee spoon of cardamom.

  • Choose the cake tin you prefer and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once you are to use it for the mixture, grease it inside with butter and sprinkle it with flour at first.
  • Mix castor sugar and eggs. Add flour, butter, almonds meal, crème fraîche and baking powder. Mix and beat with energy in order to have a very smooth mixture. Help yourself with a fork or a whisk or even use a whisk beater machine.
  • Pour the mixture in two different bowls. In the first bowl add cocoa and cardamom and mix all together. In the second bowl, add vanilla icing sugar and mix all together again. Add some milk if the mixture is too thick and it will turn to be more creamy and softer.
  • First, pour the vanilla mixture in the baking tin, then add the chocolate mixture on the surface of the vanilla mixture. Be careful to not touch the baking tin along its borders. Add a sprinkle of almond slivers on the surface of the cake.
  • Place the cake in the preheated 160°C oven for about 30 minutes. Once you see it looks golden, turn the oven off and leave the cake in it still for about 10/15 minutes.

This soft delicacy can be an excellent idea as a dessert served with a good warm cup of tea or coffee during a coffee pause or even after dinner paired with a spoon of vanilla cream.

Let’s enjoy the beginning of this Christmas season and wish a beautiful December month to everybody! ❤

Stay at home, listen to Mozart and enjoy cooking

Staying at home in these days is a good opportunity for spending more time with family. For this reason, let’s cook something appetizing for our loved ones. We need good local potatoes, asparagus, garlic, onion, extra virgin olive oil, some typical Toscanello cheese, an egg, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper and breadcrumb. Choose your preferred music to listen to while you are graciously following the rhythm of the recipe.

1. After steaming cubes of small pealed potatoes (let’s say about 8 small potatoes for 4 people), mash them and add a sprinkle of sea salt. Peal 8 asparagus and cut into small round pieces (please, do not forget to remove the lower stringy end). 2. In a pan with three or four soup spoons of warm extra virgin olive oil, add an idea of garlic, some chopped onion, rosemary, and the asparagus. 3. Cook for about five minutes and then, in a bowl, add the asparagus and the oil juice to the mashed potatoes. 4. Mix well all together and add one egg, the grated Toscanello cheese (4 generous soup spoons), some breadcrumb and a sprinkle of pepper and oregano. 5. In small greasy pans made of clay, pour a couple of soup spoons of the mixture making a first lower layer, then a second layer with mozzarella, and again add more of the mixture and make a third and last layer. Add a sprinkle of breadcrumb on top and some drops of extra virgin olive oil. 6. Bake the flans in the oven for about 20/25 minutes 220°C.

Potatoes and Asparagus Croquettes
Potatoes and Asparagus Croquettes

If you have more of that mixture, it would be nice to prepare also small croquettes by adding some all purpose flour as ingredient to it. Leave the mixture in the fridge for 2 or three hours and then make some squared gnocchi (you won’t be able to work the mixture too long). Fry them golden and crisp in extra virgin olive oil and serve them hot as snack with fried tomatoes (cooked very fast in extra virgin olive oil with some garlic and onion, a sprinkle of salt) and slivers of tasteful Toscanello cheese on top. Enjoy the dishes with your loved one and please, stay at home!

“If I were a child…”

Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine:

“If I were a child, I would certainly love my parents cycling me around on this super fantastic cargo bike for kids. On this dream house there would be plenty of room to share with other members of the family and friends, for the sky, the sun and little clouds and for the whole universe. Together, we would go like the wind along city streets and country paths and in the wonderful world of children, where adventures take place.”

Enjoy a good weekend, everybody!