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! 

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.

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!

Fast and easy: lamb chops in pistachio crumble

Hello, a new week on this Monday, October 12th, starts with a succulent dish made with delicious tender lamb chops in pistacchio crumble. The progress of the recipe will take less than an hour.

First of all, marinate the chops of lamb for about 20 minutes in some white wine (I used Chardonnay), adding a hint of garlic, drops of extra virgin olive oil, some pepper, rosemary, few juniper berries. (No salt)

In the meanwhile, steam fresh asparagus for few minutes and leave them crisp. You will add a sprinkle of salt and good extra virgin olive oil only in the end, when you are going to serve the dish on the table.

Prepare a simple decoration of small tomatoes for the plate you are going to use for serving the lamb chops.

Sprinkle the lamb chops with pistacchio crumble and sea salt, fry them well in good olive oil or peanut oil until they will have a golden surface and the meat inside will be rose-colored and juicy.

Serve the dish very warm with tomatoes and asparagus or add some other vegetables you prefer.

Enjoy the dish, stay safe and wishing a good new week to everybody. Thank you!

Vegetables soup at Summertime: a delightful refreshment

At the end of August it is pretty hot in Apulia, Southern Italy (some days temperature is around 40°C). Then, having more vegetables and fruit might turn to be a daily healthy habit in order to help feeling well. What is more, at the food market there is a rich colorful triumph among season vegetables and fruit to choose for preparing appetizing dishes. One of the simplest lightest dishes for these hot days is the soup of vegetables, which you can serve fresh. Down here I’m going to provide a short note with the ingredients you need and the description to make it. You are very welcome to try it, if it meets your personal tastes. Enjoy it!

Zucchini flowers and Summer nuances for a picnic

Soon it’s gonna be Summer again and we love staying in the open air, living the cosy moments of conviviality with family and friends around a table or, even better, sitting on the grass for enjoying a picnic. At this proper, stuffed zucchini flowers, fried and served warm, might be an inviting and very welcome appetizer. Here to follow we have got the ingredients and few steps for the execution of the dish.

  • 20 zucchini flowers
  • 500 gr cow milk ricotta cheese
  • 25 gr parmigiano + 25 gr rodez cheese
  • 50 gr mortadella Bologna
  • 10 green big olives
  • flour and cold sparkling water for the batter
  • peanut oil to fry
  • salt and black powder pepper.
  1. prepare the stuffing mixing the ricotta cheese, grated cheese, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, minced olives and mortadella.
  2. Wash the zucchini flowers and dry gently them on a sheet of blotting paper.
  3. Prepare a thick batter made with flour and cold sparkling water, add a sprinkle of salt and leave it to rest for 10/15 minutes.
  4. In the meanwhile, stuff the zucchini flowers with the mixture (help yourself with a tea spoon) and accurately close them.
  5. Warm the oil in a frying pan.
  6. Dip each stuffed zucchini flower in the batter at first and then fry it in the oil.
  7. Serve the stuffed zucchini flowers as entrée with a glass of wine you prefer and enjoy the picnic.
Zucchini flowers

Preparing stuffing for zucchini flowers
Stuffing for zucchini flowers: ricotta cheese, mortadella bologna, green big olives, grated parmigiano and rodez cheese, black pepper powder
thick batter made with flour and water
stuffed zucchini flowers before being fried

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!

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.

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).

Parmigiana of aubergines, easy and inviting dish from Southern Italy

   Hallo! Are you thinking, by chance, about something easy to prepare for dinner? Even in January, this parmigiana would make you think about Summer flavours. For this dish, it is  ideal to choose round aubergines, since they are sweeter and have less seeds. The distribution of aubergine cultivations makes possible to find this vegetable even at Winter time, thanks to the farming in green houses. What is more, it is highly recommended to look for aubergines coming from the close surrounding area and freshness will be guaranteed. The skin of the aubergine should look smooth, glossy and its flesh has to be compact. Pressing lightly against the vegetable, you will be able to check about its ripeness, that is, if the sign of your finger will stay for few seconds on its skin, it would mean the aubergine is good for being cooked. Of course, according to your taste, feel free to have the aubergines with their skin on or to remove it. 

   For preparing parmigiana, as first step, it will be necessary to have a homemade tomato sauce prepared with fresh peeled tomatoes or to choose a good peeled tomatoes sauce in the tin. If your option will be for a fresh homemade tomato sauce, then you should dip tomatoes into boiling water, only for a couple of minutes, after having done a small cut on their surface. This will help to peel tomatoes in an easier way, once they are out of the water. Any way, the tomato sauce you are going to make will be simple, with a very home fresh flavour and it will taste of good. In a sauce pan, let rings of onion and a hint of garlic hiss in extravirgin olive oil. Then, add small pieced peeled tomatoes and cook them slowly. Add little juice from the tomatoes, a sprinkle of pepper and sea salt. The sauce will be good when it will be little reduced.

   As for the parmigiana, make round slices of aubergine. Dip the slices into egg, mixed with a sprinkle of salt, and coat them with breadcrumbs. Fry the slices of aubergines making a golden crisp surface. If you think that frying the aubergines you would have a fat dish, then you can simply grill them in the oven and your parmigiana will turn to be a lighter dish. Start creating layers of your parmigiana in a baking tray, alternating aubergines, with slices of good cheese (in this case, here we have an excellent caciocavallo from Gargano, in the North of Apulia) and a traditional salume (capocollo is a typical pork cold cut produced in the area of Martina Franca, Apulia). Feel free to opt for any cheese and ham you prefer, however. Place the parmigiana in the oven (180°C for few minutes) and leave the cheese to melt. When the parmigiana is ready, add warm tomato sauce, decor and serve the dish with fresh leaves of basil. Enjoy the meal, enjoy the evening.

   Buon Appetito, Guten Appetit, Bon Appétit, Smacklig Måltid!

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