Shall we make a zucchini tart?

Hello! On this second week of June we are going to bake a tasteful zucchini tart, which perhaps would turn to be a delightful appetizer for our Summer “al fresco” dinners in the verandah with family and friends or a fantastic snack for the children. Let’s do it!

As for the ingredients to make the tart, we need: 250 gr all purpose flour, 100 gr hot water, 100 gr extra virgin olive oil, a coffee spoon of sea salt, a coffee spoon of baking powder.

Let’s mix and work the ingredients all together, until we have a homogeneous mixture, which we leave to rest just for the time we will slice and steam (for about 10 minutes, or less) a couple of fresh zucchini.

Once zucchini are lightly soften but still “al dente”, let’s season them in a dish with an emulsion based on extra virgin olive oil, few drops of apple cider vinegar, hints of garlic, black pepper powder, citrus thyme and mentha leaves.

Back to the tart mixture. Make a disk of it. Help yourself with greaseproof paper and a rolling pin. Place the disk in a baking tray and make a layer with zucchini.

Add sweet rings of red onion (I used Tropea onion) and bake the tart for 45 minutes in the oven (200°C).

About 10 minutes before the tart is done, let’s add some cheese. I had some smoked caciocavallo cheese on top, which tastes very good with the sweetness of the onion and the zucchini.

Serve the crisp tart warm or cold. Any way it is a delightful dish for the Summer season.

A variation for the filling of the tart might be this gorgeous velouté sauce prepared with 200 gr robiola cheese, 100 gr spinach leaves, 4 small zucchini, a scallion, 800 ml broth, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

Chop scallion and stew it in extra virgin olive oil. Add chopped zucchini, spinach, broth. Cook zucchini until they will be soft. Work all ingredients and the robiola cheese in a food mixer and make a velvet cream. Use the cream as the filling of the tart and .. bon appétit! 

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!

🌱🌼🌱🌼🌱

Spring in the kitchen

A dish has to talk to you. Indeed, all senses have to be activated to feel its vibrations. Even though you are not a chef, but, of course, you love cooking, it is a full experience around the dish, first of all as executor of the dish, by choosing ingredients properly at the food market and in the elaboration of the recipe, secondly as gourmet, by tasting the dish. What is more, small variations in the way you cook a dish, make you feel like an artist painting a canvas each time in a different way, in order to express creativity and going little further with culinary experiences.

For the Sunday lunch, I chose to cook big sized, bronze drawn “paccheri” pasta prepared with two different sauces and the following ingredients:

sweet cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, leeck, onion, crème fraîche, minced pork and veal, nutmeg and black peppar, local baked black olives, basil.

  • As for the execution of the recipe, first of all, let rings of leeck hiss in extra virgin olive oil, then add the minced pork and veal in the pan. Pour the crème fraîche after a couple of minutes and keep on cooking until it boils and the sauce becomes thicker. A sprinkle of salt and nutmeg at the end.
  • Then, it is the turn of a light tomato sauce prepared with fresh tomatoes. At the food market, I chose cherry tomatoes because of their sweetness, which is a good pairing with the white sauce just described above. Help yourself with a needle and pierce every tomato you are going to put in the pan. Once they will start to fry lightly in some extra virgin olive oil and chopped onion, they will cook gently for few minutes in their own juice. Add a sprinkle of sea salt in the end.
  • Cook paccheri pasta into boiling water for 14/15 minutes or at least for the time suggested on the package and, please, do not forget to add a sprinkle of sea salt.
  • Before serving the dish, add some baked black olives, few leaves of basil, cherry tomatoes and black peppar powder on top.

The dish will taste very good. Thank you and wishing everybody a good new week! 🌸✨🌸✨🌸✨

Bread rolls, focaccia and green vegetables: are you hungry?

Just few days more and soon, January will fly away. It is pretty cold outside, but now, more than ever, it is beautiful to have a walk in the middle of a silent nature. On the one hand, the earth is having a little rest, on the other hand, it is also preparing, in its own precious case, the new gems to wear at Springtime.

At this proper, even in Winter season, of course, it is possible to choose among a plenty of good vegetables for making inviting meals. Here there are a couple of easy culinary ideas you might like to try and develop if you want to have something appetizing throughout the day, perhaps for your coffee pause or as a tasteful snack or appetizer, just before dinner.

First of all, prepare a dough mixing 250gr of flour (125gr all purpose flour+125gr wholemeal bread flour), about 10/12gr yeast, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of sugar (to help the ricing process) and the necessary warm water to make a thick and very soft dough. Then, cover the dough with a clingfilm and leave it to rest for about 6 hours.

As vegetables for the filling of the focaccia, I chose leaves of chard and cabbage. In a pan, cook gently and only for few minutes, in extra virgin olive oil with rings of leek and an idea of garlic, the chopped chard (please, remove the hard stem), the cabbage and, right in the end, add a sprinkle of salt, pepper and cubes of smoked bacon. The vegetables must be crisp.

Once the dough is ready, you can bake for example some simple bread rolls in the oven (250°C) until you see their golden puffy surface. (I used a baking tray for muffins, helped myself with a soup spoon and little water in order to dip it in and then fill the moulds with the dough). Stuff your bread rolls with the ingredients you like best.

If you prefer to try a tasteful focaccia, pour a layer of dough in a buttered baking tin, add the filling of vegetables, smoked bacon and some cubes of Emmenthal cheese. Make a second layer of dough for covering the filling, drops of extravirgin olive oil on the surface and in the oven for about 20 minutes (220°C). Serve the focaccia fluffy and warm, enjoy the taste and a good weekend to everybody!

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.

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!

“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!