A soft fragrant cake as Summer dessert!

Hello! We are in the heart of Summer and at this time of the year, by visiting our food stores and markets, it is possible to find gorgeous fragrant Williams pears there. This ancient variety is widely known to be excellent for canned or processed uses. So, let’s bake a cake, which has the fresh taste of Summer and the soft intense spiced fragrance of cocoa and cardamom.

The ingredients we need are: 250 gr ricotta cow milk cheese, 2 eggs, 50 gr organic whole wheat flour, 125 gr sugar, 1 Williams pear, 2 tablespoons of dark (no sugar) cocoa powder, 4 gr baking powder, icing sugar.

Whisk yolks and sugar as first step, then add the ricotta cheese and keep on working the mixture. Secondly, add the flour and the baking powder. Thirdly, peel the pear, make small pieces of it and add them to the smooth mixture. As fourth step, beat the egg whites in an other bowl and then add them to the mixture. Your wrist has to make a flexible rotating movement by going from the bottom up in order to have an airy bubbly mixture.

Pour half of the mixture in an other bowl, then add the cocoa powder and a sprinkle of cardamom in it and whisk.

Finally, grease a baking tin with butter, pour the white mixture first and then the dark chocolate mixture on top of it, in the center. Bake the cake in the oven for about 45/50 minutes 180°C. Leave it to get cool slowly and then serve it to your guests as excellent dessert, perhaps with a glass of fresh home made limoncello.

Enjoy a beautiful weekend everybody and please, keep on staying safe!

Small gnocchi made of semolina and green sparrows

During this Spring season, let’s keep on enjoying good genuine tastes in our dishes. Today, for lunch, I prepared a light soup with sparrows bouillon and home made semolina gnocchi.

Starting from the bouillon, I chopped eight (n.8) fresh green sparrows and started frying them gently in a sauce pan with a couple of soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil, small cubes of bacon, sliced onion and an idea of garlic. Five minutes later, I added some water (about half level of the sauce pan), three or four cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of black pepper and little sea salt, covered the sauce pan with a lid and kept the bouillon cooking and boiling slowly for 30 or 40 minutes.

As for the home made semolina gnocchi, in a large pan, I poured 250 ml of milk (ingredients are for one person), let it boiling and then, slowly, I added 75 gr of semolina flour, a sprinkle of salt, and kept mixing and stirring in order to have a smooth velvet mixture with no clots, which, after (more or less) 20 minutes got well thick.

Far from the stove, I poured the semolina mixture in a small greasy bawl and, as soon as it was a little bit cooler, I started making and shaping small balls (gnocchi) on the wet palm of my hands. After that, I dipped gently the small gnocchi in the boiling bouillon made with sparrows only for three/four minutes and then, served them very warm in a bowl. I hope you will enjoy making this light and genuine dish and wish everybody bon appétit and a good weekend!

Rachmaninov and the pork in the pan

It was a bizarre weather today, since, after a warm and sunny morning, at dinner time, it seemed it was almost going to rain. Any way, there was a cosy atmosphere in the kitchen, listening to Rachmaninov and cooking some pork (prosciutto) and peppers. 1. Starting from a couple of peppers, I grilled them in the oven and, still hot, I removed their skin. Then, after making small stripes of them, I cooked peppers slowly for about 10/15 minutes in a pan with a couple of soup spoons of extra virgin olive, some capers, spicy local green olives, finely chopped fresh garlic. Besides, there I added an anchovy to melt and mix with the other ingredients in the pan. 2. As for the pork (prosciutto), firstly I chopped some fresh herbs from the garden, like rosemary and sage, together with garlic and spread them on the surface on both sides of the pork. Then, secondly, I placed the pork in a pan (moderate flame) with a couple soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil and some white wine and let it cook until the wine evaporated. Salt and black pepper right before removing the pan from the cooker. In the end, I served the pork very warm with peppers and a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top. By the way, peppers recipe might taste also really good as sauce for a dish of rice or pasta. The choice is yours. Many thanks and bon appétit.

Let’s make small zucchini boats and red onion sauce for dinner

The red onion hisses in the pan with a couple of soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil. This is to start preparing a red onion sauce to be served with small zucchini boats on your dinner table. Leave a couple of red onions frying gently for about 20 minutes. Then, add a leaf of bay and a clove to broaden the flavour. Melt a soup spoon of all purpose flour in the onions with half glass of white wine and leave this latter to evaporate. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and chili pepper in it. Remove the leaf of bay and use the minipimer to make a smooth sauce with onions. Only if necessary, add little more white wine, sugar and then place again the sauce for few minutes on the cooker to make it sweeter and thicker.

Ingredients for the onion sauce: 2 red onions, a clove, a soup spoon of all purpose flour, a leaf of bay, 2 soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil, half glass white wine, a sprinkle of salt and chili pepper, (some sugar if necessary).

As for zucchini, split each of them in half. Use a corer for removing the pulp inside and make little boats. Save the pulp, which you are going to use later on for the filling. In a pan, toast some breadcrumbs in extra virgin olive oil (a couple of soup spoons). Then, out of the cooker, add some milk to the golden breadcrumbs, mix all together soft and leave to get cooler. In the meanwhile, steam the small zucchini boats for 5 minutes and add salt in the end. In a bowl, make a mixture with breadcrumbs, add the chopped zucchini pulp, salt, an egg and small cubes of spicy provola cheese. Mix well and fill the small zucchini boats with the stuffing. Few drops of extra virgin olive oil on top and place the small boats in the oven for about 30 minutes (180/200°C). Serve them very warm with the sweet/spicy onion sauce. I wish everybody bon appétit!

Ingredients for the small zucchini boats: 3 or 4 zucchini, 1 egg, 200 ml milk, extra virgin olive oil, 2 or 3 soup spoons of breadcrumbs, small cubes of spicy provola cheese, a sprinkle of salt.

Home made white lasagna for the Easter table

It is the beginning of the first week of Spring and, in the range of crops at the food store, we might find the asparagus that can be chosen as privileged ingredient of several dishes for the Easter table. During the last weekend, I made some different kind of fresh pasta at home. For the dough, according to the gastronomy tradition of my region, Apulia, I used simply good local flours (Senatore Cappelli and semola) and water. No eggs were necessary and, in this way, the dish could be a bit lighter. What is more, you can store the fresh pasta in the fridge for a couple of days. At this proper, for example, I use to alternate layers of lasagna on layers of fridge papers that are cut of similar sizes of lasagnas and store them accurately in the fridge.

As for the recipe about white lasagna dish, you need few simple steps for making it. 1. After removing the lower wooden ends of the asparagus (you need three or four per person), steam them for five minutes and then put them in a pan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, a fragrant idea of garlic and cook them for few minutes more. 2. Make a smooth velvet Béchamel sauce. Melt some butter (I used about 30/40g), add a very small idea of garlic in the pan, if you like it. At this point, out of the small cooker, add slowly some all purpose flour (I used a couple of soup spoons) and mix it with the butter. Work it very well in order to dissolve each lump and have a smooth roux. Back on the small stove, add gently hot milk (250 or 300 ml) and keep on stirring and whipping until the white sauce is done. Add a sprinkle of salt, grated nutmeg and melt one or two generous handfuls of grated Rodez cheese (please, see the previous recipe – crêpes). 3. Cook lasagna pasta for about 5 minutes in salt boiling water. Then, strain and leave lasagna to dry on a clean towel on the table. Before starting with layers of lasagna, pour a couple of soup spoons of béchamel sauce on the surface of the cocottes and then alternate n. 4 layers of lasagna with béchamel sauce, asparagus and pieces of mozzarella cheese. 4. Place in the oven 180°C/200°C for about ten minutes (please, don’t leave it too long, in order to still have a moist surface) and then serve it very warm. I hope you enjoy the recipe and wish everybody ‘bon appétit‘.

Enjoy the music

A delicious dish for the Springtime table

Days are flowing towards the good season and, on the wave of staying at home, let’s try to focus on the delicious dishes we can prepare around Easter time. For lunch, today I made some crêpes stuffed with artichokes and fresh creamy robiola cheese. 1. As for the crêpes, I used one egg, half liter milk, 100 gr all purpose flour, a sprinkle of salt. After making a batter with those ingredients, I left it to rest for little while. 2. In the meantime, I prepared the filling by chopping a couple of artichokes very thin and then poured them in a pan with warm extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic. I sautéed them for about five minutes. Besides, I added a bit of warm water to soften them and a sprinkle of salt and pepper right at the end. 3. Time for preparing crêpes by pouring a ladle of batter at a time in a warm greasy pan and making thin disks. 4. I spread fresh robiola cheese on the surface of each disk and then added the artichokes. 5. Crêpes were rolled up and served warm (perhaps it is a good idea to place them in the oven 180°C just for few minutes to get warmer) with a good fragrant sauce made of small pieces (cubes) of tomatoes. (As for the tomatoes sauce, cubes of tomato were gently cooked for few minutes in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, onion, an idea of garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper).

I hope you will enjoy this recipe and wish everybody “Bon Appétit“.

Please, be safe for yourself and be safe for the others ❤

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!

Broccoli and potatoes, symphony for comfort dishes

We just stepped into February month and by taking a walk in the garden or in the countryside of Apulia region, in Southern Italy, we got the feeling of nature’s slow awakening and preparing its new dress as prelude to the approach of the Spring. Actually, even at Winter and its bizarre weather, the season we are living right now, we have amazing local agricultural produces for making delicious dishes to enjoy on our kitchen tables every day.

According to the tradition of simplicity in the kitchen and to the old saying ‘use what you have’, I turned classical music on in the kitchen and prepared a warm, inviting soup with broccoli and potatoes.

First of all, after peeling and dicing some local potatoes, chopping onion and garlic, making small broccoli tops, it is necessary to fry these ingredients in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Let them cook for five minutes in order all tastes of vegetables mix harmoniously, then pour a bouillon prepared with carrot, celery and onion on them and keep on cooking and boiling the soup for about 20 minutes. In the end, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You may choose to make a cream, which perhaps children would prefer, or, even better, serve the soup in small pieces of vegetables in order to enjoy each flavor and warm crisp slices of home made bread dipped in the pot like a spoon.

An alternative to this appetizing dish, by using the same ingredients, would be sauteing diced potatoes, small broccoli tops in a pan with onion and garlic in some extra virgin olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper in the end, when they are done, and use the vegetables to stuff a sheet of puff pastry. Make a cream with some milk and robiola cheese and pour it on the filling made of vegetables. Roll up and close hermetically the puff pastry, paint its surface with some water or milk, bake it in the oven for about 15/20 minutes, 180°/200° C. Serve the steaming roll with your preferred wine and enjoy the recipe. By the way, this latter could be also an excellent idea for a dish to have for a picnic at Springtime.

A gracious tulip to make Springtime

We are still in January and it is gonna take a little before milder temperatures. However, we can take good energy from the food we have even at Winter time, of course without forgetting that simple food is the best. At this proper, here it is a light genuine recipe of a cake for enjoying our coffee pause or to bake and serve to children as snack.

The ingredients are: 100 gr all purpose flour, 50 gr coconut flour, 75 gr sugar, 75 gr carrots, 50 gr dark (75%) chocolate, 3 soup spoons maize oil, 25 ml milk, 1 egg, vanilla seeds, 1/4 baking powder yeast, carrots to decor. Firstly, in a bowl mix both the all purpose and the coconut flour with the grated carrots and then add sugar, maize oil, the egg, vanilla seeds, the baking powder yeast and the milk. Secondly, once you have got a homogeneous mixture, pour it in a well greased and floured baking pan for cakes. Thirdly, dip small pieces of dark chocolate in the mixture and place the cake in the oven for about 30 minutes 120°/200° C, until you will see its surface becoming a little bit crisp. In the end, out of the oven, before serving the cake, decor it with small gracious tulips made of carrot and enjoy a piece of fragrant cake and a cup of good warm coffee or tea. What is more, you may add some vanilla cream on a side of the plate, if you prefer. Besides, this cake might be a wonderful idea for a children party or a light dessert after dinner.

To make little tulips, take a piece of carrot and make oblique cuts around it for creating petals, then cut the piece gently and use a toothpick for fixing the tulip in the cake .

Many thanks, I hope you will enjoy the recipe ❤

Choose a pattern for your focaccia: just the way you like it

In the early morning, before going to work, you can prepare a soft mixture for a focaccia dough. You need the following ingredients: 500 gr all purpose flour, 40 gr extra virgin olive oil, 9 gr yeast and some sugar, (the tip of a coffee spoon) which will help the soft mixture to leaven, 300 ml water, 10 gr salt. Then, leave it to bubble and rise for four or five hours at least. At this point, you will make the focaccia by pouring the mixture on the oiled surface of a baking tray. Work on and stretch out the dough with the tip of your fingers. Cover the dough with a clingfilm and leave it to rise again for about 20 mins.

Then, choose to decor the focaccia by making a pattern with the delicacies you prefer and bake it in the oven 180°/200° C. Perhaps you can make an emulsion with water, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and just paint it on the surface of the focaccia. Or you may choose to go for brie cheese, fried rings of leek, slices of sweet and sour bulbous of Leopoldia comosum (an inviting delicacy from Apulia culinary tradition) and a hint of thyme leaves. Whether in a way or in an other, your focaccia will taste very appetizing and much welcome by your table-companion. Enjoy it. Thank you.