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! 

Warm shades of Autumn in the pot

Hallo! November is right behind the corner and, day after day, the Autumn season is offering us an extraordinary palette of tones, from pale golden yellows to bronzed oranges and browns, flaming reds and violets, till silver green and grays, which leaves wear once they start their mesmerizing, melancholic dance from the trees down along the sides of the streets. There is something soothing and mystic in their graceful pirouettes, which fills the air with beautiful, lively waves and serendipity. Autumn is also an inspiration for my kitchen and today, after a quick check at some family old food notes, I decided to prepare a couple of tasteful dishes we enjoy to make at this time of the year. So, in the garden, where temperatures are still around 20°/22°C in these days, I chose herbs like tender bay leaves, sage, rosemary for a bouquet garni to add in the pot together with the other ingredients for a rich stew. The dish of small bites of tender beef and pork cooked in a special pot by the fireplace represents an old family gastronomy tradition, which once took many hours of slow cooking in the day before being well done. Nowadays, we are ready to serve this delicacy on our table in 2 or 2,5 hours. Starting with pouring some extra virgin olive oil in the pot, then I added the bouquet garni, a couple of small onions, some juniper berries (2 or 3), a couple of cloves, some garlic, the bites of young beef and pork in the end. As soon as the meat started hissing, it was necessary to brown it gently on every side, in order to seal the surface well and keep the tenderness of meat and its juices inside the bites. For this reason, I didn’t add salt and pepper until the end of the cooking process. After several minutes, I added some red local wine and kept on stewing. Finally, I added pieces of celery, carrot, local new potatoes, king trumpet mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii), cherry tomatoes, then covered everything with warm water and brought to simmer for the time necessary to have a slow cooked well done stew. Salt, pepper and a sprinkle of parsley right in the end. I served this warm dish with some home made, broken in small pieces tagliatelle (noodles) cooked for less than 5 minutes straight in the broth of the meat. As for the mixture of tagliatelle, I used only hard wheat (Senatore Cappelli) flour, semolina and water and the outcome was an excellent, “al dente” cooked pasta.

Rosendals Trädgård

As already mentioned above and you can also see in the featured picture, I prepared also one more dish basically made with pumpkin. I was only a young child when I learnt from my aunt how to make it. After having steamed only for few minutes some thinely sliced pumpkin in order to soften it, I salted it. Then, I oiled and sprinkled with breadcrumb a pot and started making layers of pumpkin. Each layer had a sprinkle of breadcrumb and black pepper powder, an idea of garlic and sage, some small capers, few drops of extravirgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I left the pumpkin to rest for 15/20 minutes and then it was good to be served as side dish. Wishing everybody, who want to try to make these delicious recipes ‘Bon Appétit’!

A good All Saints’ Celebrations weekend and be safe, everybody ❤

Autumn and the good fragrance of small puff pastries and apple

There was a good fragrance of Autumn this morning, on Sept 30th, in the kichen. We said hello to Autumn by baking ready made puff pastry in the shape of small squares filled with pieces of excellent moist golden apple, sprinkled with a handful of sugar, chopped hazelnut and pistachio, flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon.

The ingredients in the puff pastry squares were previously slowly and gently stewed for less than 15 minutes in a couple soup spoons of water and a couple spoons of Amaretto di Saronno. No lid was necessary in order to let Amaretto di Saronno to dry off.

Then, the small puff pastries went in the oven for about 15/20 minutes until they got swollen, light and their surface was golden and crunchy. Puff pastries with apple are an excellent snack to serve at any time of the day, at breakfast, for a coffee pause, or even after dinner as a dessert with a good cup of coffee, tea or milk. By the way, you may add as ingredients also pine-kernels and raisins. Wishing everybody a good start with Autumn season and please, stay safe ❤

Puff pastries and apples
Puff pastries and apples
Puff pastries and apples

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!

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

Tasting new extra virgin olive oil in Apulia

The harvest of olives goes on in Apulia region, in the South of Italy, and, in full respect of our family tradition, in these days we looked for the new local productions of olive oil. We tasted among different kinds in order to choose those new extra virgin olive oils, which meet both cooking and gourmet requirements, for our annual supplies. In the end, our choice was for a very good quality biological extra virgin olive oil made with leccino monocultivar, which has only 0,2 acidity and herbaceous taste, and a second one, a blend that has more rustic attribute and it is made with “leccina”, “nociara” and “picholine” varieties of olives (0,5 acidity).

The apple orchards around Gripsholm Castle

There is a wonderful flourishing nature around Gripsholm Castle. A good chance while visiting the castle, during Autumn season, is to enjoy the view of beautiful apple orchards in the area.

“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!

It is the season for fava beans

Hallo! An inviting recipe introduces the new week and Springtime. This last weekend, at the food market, among hills of vegetables, I saw fresh fava beans winking at my direction. Since they looked small and tender, they could taste appetizing prepared with a light salad of spelt (triticum spelta). By the way, I added some globose, pulpy tomatoes to my shopping list for using them as natural floral cups to be filled with the salad.

In the kitchen, I accurately cut the upper side of the tomatoes, then, helped myself with a corer and emptied the tomatoes of their juicy pulp, which will be added to the preparation of the fava beans later on. Tomatoes were turned upside down on a grill, after adding a sprinkle of sea salt inside in order to have a good straining process.

As second step, I cooked some spelt into salted boiling water (a small coffee cup filled with spelt can be the right portion for each guest at your table). When the spelt was done and strained, it was left in a corner for few minutes, until the fava beans were also ready for finishing the dish.

Then, it was the turn of the fava beans. After being shelled, the fava beans were gently fried with some chopped onion and an idea of garlic in a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil for three or four minutes. I added the juicy pulp of the tomatoes prepared before to the fava beans and kept on cooking them. It was necessary to add also some bouillon made with vegetables, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. In the end, the spelt was well mixed with some grated Toscanello cheese, the fava beans and its creamy sauce.

Last step, for finishing the dish, was to fill the tomatoes with spoons of spelt and fava beans and top them with few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Then the tomatoes were placed in the oven for about 20 minutes (180°) and served with leaves of fresh mint.

I heartly hope you will enjoy this culinary idea that tastes of Spring and wish ‘buon appetito’ and a good week to everybody.