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!

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 rich tasteful meal to welcome the arrival of snow

   It does not snow often in Apulia at Wintertime. Indeed, it takes years or even decades to watch snowing and perhaps, once in a while, it is a welcome gift for generations of new borns to learn with amazement about its cold, fluffy, white lightness. On Friday, January 4th 2019, right at the beginning of this first weekend of the new year, silently snow came, like a couple of years ago, for  covering the  regions of Southern Italy with its white blanket, to celebrate Epiphany and last days of a very mild weathered holiday season. On the one hand, it was a delightful surprise again for many of those, who learnt about its existence with joyful spirit during their childhood. On the other hand, snow means to hurry in order to reap the local crops from the fields, before they get lost. Indeed, since snowing is not so frequent in the South of Apulia, it is not used to have growings in greenhouses. Perhaps, experiencing different climatic conditions in recent years might be seen as an excellent opportunity to bring safer, innovative solutions to local season farming. 

   For lunch time, we prepared a symphony of different tastes, both from local culinary tradition and from the gastronomy of Central/Northern European Countries. We started with a warm healthy soup made of lentils coming from Altamura (an ancient town in Apulia, not far from Bari, which was founded by Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dinasty and it is also well known for its genuine tasteful bread), which is an authentic healthy idea, when it is cold outside. Taking advantage of our cosy fireplace, we cooked the lentils soup in the old slow way, on the live charcoal, in a typical earthenware pot. Lentils were prepared in some extra virgin olive oil and water (you can pour some vegetables bouillon, if you like it), adding small cherry tomatoes, selery, onion, salt, pepper, laurel.

   Then, it was the turn for a puree of broccoli. We steamed and  lightly sautéed broccoli in extravirgin olive oil and rosé wine, with chopped onion, an idea of garlic, a sprinkle of salt and hot pepper. After that, we put broccoli in a food processor, where the puree of broccoli was done, adding some vegetable bouillon from time to time.

   From the butcher, we had a delicious porchetta style turkey tenderloin aromatized with fresh rosemary, fennel seeds and sage, which we cooked with an emulsion of extravirgin olive oil, red wine, chopped leek, laurel at first. Then, almost at the end of the cooking process, we poured some vegetable bouillon on the turkey tenderloin for a tastier moister flavour.

   New local potatoes are an appetizing delicacy even at Wintertime and a must for a dish, when good flavour of meat paired with lightness are served. So, we prepared a wonderful sauce for the steamed potatoes, using a special recipe, which was given to us, while in Stockholm, by a very kind and solicitous lady, working in a food store. We mixed together the ingredients for the sauce in a good balance of moutarde de Dijon, skånsk senap, vinegar, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, (rapsolja is mostly used in Sweden), garlik, leek and fresh herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon.

  In the end, the dish made of a warm lentils soup, fragrant porchetta style turkey tenderloin on a bed of broccoli puree, new potatoes dressed with a tasteful Swedish sauce was served by the fireplace.

   The holiday season is at the end and we do hope you had beautiful time. We wish you all the best for the new year ahead and hope you will keep enjoying our culinary tips. Thanks a lot and enjoy the music!

Shrimps potatoes croquettes: a tasteful appetizer-idea for children and older children

Hallo! Have you got in mind to prepare something appetizing for your dear ones at the week-end? Well, you might follow this tasteful warm suggestion we are going to explain about, which will make mouth watering both to children and older children. 

Ingredients you need for preparing the croquettes: good local potatoes, fresh pink shrimps, ginger, scallion, white wine, fresh dill, chili pepper, an idea of garlic, breadcrumbs, salt, fresh butter. As for the right proportions among the ingredients, please, feel free to choose the correct balance according to your tastes, e.g. more or less potatoes or more or less pink shrimps. Then, in order this delicious recipe to be successful, you need to split the process for preparation in two phases.

First phase : steam the potatoes on the day before you have in mind to prepare the croquettes and leave them to rest in a cool place (e.g. in the fridge). This is because when you will bake them in the oven or you will fry the croquettes, they won’t flake off.

Second phase : On the day you are going to make the croquettes, mash the potatoes and add a sprinkle of salt. Sauté the shrimps in extra virgin olive oil, add chopped scallion, grated ginger, an idea of garlic, fresh dill, then pour some white wine, let it to evaporate, and, in the end, add a sprinkle of salt and chili pepper. As soon as the shrimps get cooler, chop and add them to the mashed potatoes, more dill. Besides, you will need to add one or two handfuls of breadcrumbs, so the mixture will be more thick and homogeneous, in order to be worked in small portions in your hands, when you make croquettes. Once croquettes are done, place them accurately on a baking tray and leave a knob of butter on the surface of each of them. Bake the croquettes in the oven (220° C) for about 10/15 minutes and serve them warm, golden, crisp and fragrant. By the way, I may suggest to pair the croquettes with a home-made cream of green peas: perhaps you can enjoy decorating the dish with quenelles made of it, what do you think?

I hope you will enjoy this recipe and wish ‘buon appetito’!

PS. I have poured few drops of an excellent fresh Béarnaise Provençale Sauce (made in Sweden) on top of the croquettes and they taste sublime!

Golden crêpes filled with small shrimps that taste like Spring

   Hello! Spring is at work here again: day by day, its distinct singing can reach even the most distant corners and, by magic, its brush masterfully covers every little space of this huge natural canvas with the most beautiful and vivid palettes of colors. It is time for staying much longer in the open air, enjoying the garden and long walks and..visiting the local food markets, where to find the ingredients for tasteful recipes.

   The dish prepared today is not so elaborate as it can appear. They are crêpes made of chickpeas flour, filled with small shrimps and sautéd zucchini gently mixed with a couple of spoons of soured cream.

   So, as first step, prepare the batter for crêpes by pouring 120 gr chickpeas flour in a bowl, then add a spoon of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, a sprinkle of turmeric, coriander, just few seeds of cumin and a couple of parsley leaves, gently whip all ingredients by adding 270 ml water very slowly until you have a fluid batter. At this proper, please, remember that, in order to make air bubbles in the batter, your wrist must be always up and firm while your hand will work down, up and down again. Place the batter to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Secondly, warm few drops of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying-pan and use a ladle for pouring the batter in it, make a disc on the surface of the frying-pan and when the crêpe will look golden and crisp, turn it on the other side. 

   Souté the shrimps, once their shell has been removed and they have been accurately washed: in a pan, fry some rings of onion, a hint of garlic, rings of leek, a couple of small cherry tomatoes, add the shrimps, salt and pepper, some Chardonnay wine, a sprinkle of dill. Cook the shrimps only for few minutes in order to keep their sea fragrance.

   In the end, as already mentioned before, sauté fresh zucchini in extra-virgin olive-oil with little onion, garlic and leaves of sage, add salt and pepper in the end, right before gently mix with a couple spoons of soured cream.

Serve this dish warm with a good Chardonnay wine and ‘buon appetito!

 

Home-made ravioli and the vegetable garden in the wintertime

   It is the third Advent week, and it is less than ten days for Christmas day. Outside, in the garden, the air is crisp and invites to have a cup of warm coffe in your hands. Three small candles brings light into the darkness of the early morning. Soon, the sunrise will fill the sky with its golden pink brightness. Winter season is just behind the corner and, according to the good agricultural practice, fruit trees need to be pruned in order to be prepared for the new Springtime. Since every season has its own crops, now it is time for beautiful plants of cardoon in our vegetable garden, they are ideals for warm tasteful soups and, at this proper, in Apulia, Southern Italy, it is common to cook cardoons in many different ways. The recipe, I am going to make today, combines, calling to a culinary harmony, savours and food products of the Northern regions with those coming from the South. Step by step, we are going to build the dish, by adding the ingredients it needs.

   First of all, let’s work a mixture made of good ecological flour and water and make sheets of pasta for ravioli. I have used 200/ 250 gr of Senatore Cappelli flour and about a glass of water. You can help yourself by using a manual Nonna Papera machine for home-made fresh pasta at first, then choose to use a fan-shaped mould for ravioli or simply use a glass to make discs and, in the end, once the filling is in the center of the disc, press the tips of a fork to seal along the border of ravioli. 

DSC_2932 sfoglia

As for the filling, make a mixture made with mashed local potatoes (at this proper, I steamed  Sieglinde potatoes, a variety that is firm on cooking and has high nutritional values), add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, chopped onion lightly fried into extravirgin olive oil, a couple of soup spoons of grated local ‘pecorino’ (sheep milk) cheese, small cubes of Speck from Alto Adige and raclette cheese, rosemary. Fill the center of the raviolo disc and close it in the way suggested above.

DSC_2940 ravioli

   The third step is to prepare the cardoon cream. Sauté the cardoons and some cherry tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil and then add vegetable bouillon. Keep on cooking the cardoons until they are tender and then make a cream with them, by adding a couple of spoons of crème fraîche and tasteful pecorino cheese.

   Cook ravioli in salted boiling water, strain and serve them very warm on a plate with the smooth cardoon cream. Decor the dish with some fresh rosemary and ‘buon appetito’, bon appétit, smaklig måltid!

Wishing everybody a good third Advent week

Taraxacum potato gnocchi on a velvet Taleggio cheese cream

   Hello and welcome to a new Autumn week-end, which will bring a new good recipe to try for those of you, who love cooking! The morning crisp November air is an inviting call for a relaxing walk through narrow paths in the countryside, where, perhaps, it is possible to find out and picking wild (safe) vegetables, mostly known as excellent ingredients for a tasteful kitchen. So, taking inspiration from a simple, seasonal soup, made with taraxacum, which is pretty popular in Apulia, in Southern Italy, and that my Mom keeps on preparing quite often at this time of the year, on this Sunday, we are going to make taraxacum potato gnocchi on a velvet Taleggio cream. In my opinion, this delicious dish seems to be an ideal junction  among genuine ingredients, which, coming from different places from North to South, have both benefit healthy qualities and peculiar tastes that can be clearly perceived from gourmets.

   We will start 1.steaming potatoes and then replacing them in the fridge for a night. (At this proper, I would like to add that I found some good local potatoes at the food market, which still had the earth on the thin peel and looked compact inside in the middle, ideal for preparing gnocchi). The next day, before lunch time, we will keep on preparing the dish, by 2.mashing the potatoes and 3.boiling the taraxacum for few minutes. Then, after 4.straining the vegetable, we will keep on 5.cooking it in a pan with some extra-virgin olive oil, an idea of garlic, little chopped onion, salt and pepper, few fresh tomatoes, a sprinkle of goat cheese. Since we will 7.add the minced taraxacum to the mashed potatoes and 8.work both the ingredients together for making a mixture, it is highly recommended to 6.’dry’ the taraxacum from the juice during the cooking process, in order to have a solid mixture. The proportion of ingredients I used and I may suggest for potatoes and taraxacum mixture is about 200/250gr potatoes : 100/150gr cooked taraxacum. Of course, it depends on the type of potatoes used, the cooking process of the taraxacum and the number of guests at your table. As for the mixture, I added an egg and some organic durum wheat flour (not too much, since I prefer to feel the potato taste rather then the flour’s that has the task to bind the main ingredients) during the working process. Once the 9.mixture looks compact, we will 10.make a long thin cylinder and then 11.cut it in small gnocchi. For 12.preparing a smooth taleggio cream, it is necessary to melt a couple of generous pieces of Taleggio cheese, a knob of butter into some crème fraîche and to add a sprinkle pepper in it. Then, we will 3.pour the gnocchi in boiling salted water and wait for a couple of minutes until they will come out on the surface of the water. In the end, 14.strain accurately and serve them on a dish with some velvet Taleggio cream and parsley. 

I hope you will enjoy the recipe some time and wish everybody a good new week!

Buon appetito, bon appétit, smaklig måltid!

Appetizing croquettes made of vegetables and sweet yellow tomatoes for a smooth sauce

   The new week started with its usual rhythmic step but then, in the middle of the day or when activities allow a break, that is the time for turning your sight, looking at nature and enjoying the splendid work of art the Autumn season is making of it. Since it is almost lunch time, I will prepare some light croquettes made of wild chicories I bought from an old friendly peasant that knows where to find them along the stony paths in the countryside.

   The thought run to the past, to a family tradition we had when I was a little child and it was right at this time of the year: indeed, my aunt, during the week-end, visit us for a cup of warm coffee and then, all together, her sister and my Mom used to have a drive to her plot of land in the countryside, where, in the soft light of a mild afternoon, we enjoyed picking wild chicories and other vegetables, which then were prepared as the local gastronomy suggested.

   Back to the recipe of the day I have in mind, first of all, it is necessary to check the wild chicories, washing accurately and boil them for few minutes, in order to remove the bitter taste. After that, the chicories go in a pan with some extra-virgin olive oil and, as soon as they start hissing, it is necessary to add some bouillon made with vegetables to enrich their taste. Next step, far from the cooker, is to strain and chop the wild chicories up. So, in a big bowl, I prepare an homogeneous mixture made of wild chicories, an egg, grated goat cheese, breadcrumbs, some milk, a sprinkle of pepper. Working with hands the mixture, I make small croquettes stuffed with tiny cubes of provolone fiaschetto cheese (I chose this kind of cheese because of its light spicy taste that matches so well both with the mixture of vegetables and the sweet sauce made of winter yellow tomatoes, I am going to prepare for the croquettes). After breading, the croquettes go in the oven with few drops of extra virgin olive oil for about 15 min 220°C until their surface will become gold and the cheese will start melting inside.

  In the meanwhile, as already mentioned, let’s prepare a velvety sauce with those typical winter yellow tomatoes. It is simple: it is necessary to have some extra-virgin olive oil in a pan, onion, an idea of garlic, a piece of carrot and celery and then add the tomatoes, hot pepper, a sprinkle of salt. It will take only  few minutes to prepare a smooth sauce.

   Serve the croquettes very warm and with the sweet yellow tomatoes sauce and some parsley as decoration for the dish and ‘buon appetito’!

 

 

 

Orecchiette and Chanterelles: season ingredients for an appetizing Sunday meal

   Last Sunday morning, the sky was clear and temperature was mild: it was the promise for a good walk into nature soon. After sipping a cup of warm coffee in front of the kitchen window, I thought it was time for making orecchiette, as typical among the Sunday meals, according to Apulia gastronomy suggestions and traditional old habits of my family. As for the home-made pasta dough, ingredients are very simple, only water and good flour (I used organic Senatore Cappelli flour as usual for its excellent qualities and ancient genuine taste).

   For the dish I had in mind, there were some flavoured chanterelles in the fridge that I bought the day before at the local food market. Since, it was not my intention to use the mixer for making a sauce, I did prefer to chop the chanterelles in very small pieces. So, in a pan, I poured some extra-virgin olive oil, small cubes of fresh bacon, which soon started to ‘sweat’, giving a very tasteful smell, then I added an idea of garlic, little chopped onion, some white wine and the chanterelles. Sprinkle of thyme, rosemary and hot pepper were added to make a more intense flavour, while a couple of spoons of crème fraîche was for amalgamating the ingredients in a smooth homogeneous sauce; salt went right at the end, in order to preserve the chanterelles from loosing their own water during the cooking process.

   Once the orecchiette were cooked and tasted ‘al dente’, they were added in the pan with the chanterelles sauce and a sprinkle of small parmigiano flakes just for a couple of minutes and then, the dish was ready to be served with a simple parsley decoration.

   Hoping you are going to try and enjoy this dish, I wish everybody a good week and ‘Buon Appetito’.