Featured

Spring in Stockholm between Nature and Art

In April, it may happen that after an afternoon flight plunged into an amazing painted sunset lighted sky, a smooth evening landing at the Stockholm airport of Skavsta and a reinvigorating night rest, you will start your next first day in Stockholm having breakfast in front of a snowy, almost “Christmassy aired”, fluffy view. You, then, realize that is an invite to go out to enjoy and to be part of that landscape. It is a magnificent gift of serendipity that nature offers you before, in just few hours, perhaps in the same day, letting you immerse yourself in the rhythm of Spring and its mesmerising light, filled with new leaves, gems in bloom and food for the soul.

Featured

Almond bread: an old family recipe on Easter Monday

It was a very special Easter Day, which was spent, most of it, between writing and talking to members of the family and friends. Besides, according to the culinary traditions of my family at Easter time, last night I enjoyed baking a fragrant almond bread ideal to be served at any coffee pause throughout the day or to bring with as a dessert for a picnic now that Spring has come.

The ingredients of the recipe to make the almond bread are:

  • 170 gr cake and pastry flour
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 75 gr butter
  • 3 eggs + a yolk to paint on the surface of the bread
  • 250 ml of white wine
  • a coffee cup of Alchermes liqueur
  • 100 gr peeled almonds
  • 50 gr hazelnuts
  • the peel of a lemon
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • 2 cloves
  • 8 gr baking powder
  1. Start with beating one egg and an albumen with 25 gr sugar and the Alchermes. Then, add 50 gr minced almonds and the hazelnuts, a couple of cloves and work all together until you will have a fluid creamy mixture.
  2. Prepare a second mixture made of flour, one egg and a yolk, a sprinkle of salt, the butter (at this proper, my aunt, who used to enjoy baking this bread and to deliver it to neighbours and members of the family, would have add lard instead of butter), the rest of minced almonds mixed with sugar, the peel of a lemon and the wine. Add the baking powder and work the mixture just a couple of minutes in order to have all ingredients well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture in two parts (help yourself with a rolling pin and little flour) and make two layers for your greased, floured baking tray.
  4. Place the first layer in the baking tray. Please, do not forget to make 1 cm border with the first layer all around the baking tray.
  5. Pour the cream made with the first mixture and then add the second layer on. Seal hermetically, paint some yolk on the surface of the bread, make some decors with a knife.
  6. Place the almond bread in the oven and bake it slowly and gently for about 50 minutes (160°C).
  7. Decor your almond bread for the right occasion, serve it with a couple of spoons of vanilla cream or some ice cream or enjoy it with your preferred drink.

A good Easter Monday and safe new week to everybody! Thank you 🙏💖

Featured

Cups of pâte sablée, ricotta cream and red fruits at Springtime

Hello! Up on the trees new gems are in bloom and everywhere it is the fragrance of earth and green. Let’s start this first Sunday of Springtime by preparing some small cups of pâte sablée, which we are going to fill with a light ricotta cheese cream and decor with red fruits.

The ingredients we need are: 125 gr of flour, 70 gr of butter, 50 gr of caster sugar, a yolk, a sprinkle of salt, seeds of vanilla, cow milk ricotta cheese, red fruits.

  1. Work a mixture of flour and small cubes of butter with your hands.
  2. Add the caster sugar. Using the caster sugar will help to make a more compact mixture.
  3. Then, it’s the turn of a yolk and a small idea of sea salt.
  4. Mix until the ingredients are all together and then leave the pâte sablée to rest in the fridge for a couples of hours.
  5. Work the mixture without adding much flour, in order to have more humidity, and make little discs of pâte sablée, then place them in buttered moulds.
  6. Prod the surface of each cup with a fork and cover it with a piece of greaseproof paper. Then, add a handful of dried pulses.This will help the surface of pâte sablée to bake well without rising much.
  7. Bake the cups for about ten minutes (180°C) or at least until they get a golden color.
  8. As soon as they get cooler, help yourself with a sac à poche and fill the cups with ricotta cheese cream (prepared with cold cow milk ricotta cheese, seeds of vanilla and some sugar).
  9. Decor with red fruits on top.

Your children will love to have these delicious cups any time you are going to prepare and serve them as a genuine light snack. Wishing a beautiful Spring to everybody and, please, keep on staying safe!

Featured

In Stockholm Archipelago

Some time ago… it was an amazing sunny Sunday in Stockholm. The snow was melting and everywhere you could breath the crisp mesmerising atmosphere of early Springtime. It was a great chance for my first boat tour in the Archipelago.

Down here it is a video made of some images, which, during the navigation, my camera captured, both of the magnificent green nature landscapes of Stockholm Archipelago and of the beautiful architecture for company buildings and graceful family homes by the water, along the rocky coasts line. Enjoy it!

Featured

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.

Featured

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!

Featured

Fragrances of chocolate to start 2021

Christmas season is at the end with religious celebrations on this January 6th 2021 and, in Italy, children love in particular way this holiday and wait with great enthusiasm and wonder for the arrival of “la befana”, a folkloristic character of the ancient tales, that is an old lady flying on a magic besom to bring toys to them.

On this occasion, we have prepared some little disks of excellent fine 70% dark chocolate with a range of tastes of dried fruit and spices on top. Because of the choice of ingredients, these delicacies might be a different version of “mediants au chocolat”, which represent an ancient tradition for the French pâtisserie.

For preparing them, you need chocolate (250g), the one you like best, be dark chocolate, or white or milk chocolate. Choose and chop some dried fruit (100gr) to top on the disks: we used apricots, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, sesame. Then, mix these latter all together. Temper the chocolate and when it reaches the right temperatures in the process, use a soup spoon to make small disks on greaseproof paper sheets, then sprinkle the chosen dried fruit, adding cinnamon, cardamom, hot pepper powder on top. Place your chocolate disks in the fridge to get them cooler. Then, out of the fridge, remove them from the greaseproof paper sheet and serve them with a good cup of warm tea or coffee to your guests. It would be a good idea to store them accurately in a tin box and keep in a cool place for 4-5 days.

Many thanks and now let’s enjoy a long walk in the new year. Stay safe, everybody! ❤

Featured

Welcome 2021

Hello! We welcome 2021 with hopeful heart both for ourselves and for humanity. Actually, the best wish and gift to the world for the new year would be the final defeat of pandemia together with the overthrowing of the disheartening but necessary, safe, constant use of face masks and all other health, sanitary precautions taken as preventive measures against sars-covid 2 in line with what has been taught us during the last year. Let’s think more about the return to a renovated more normal social life and the new endless possibilities to hug all members of family and dearest ones, especially those at a ripe old age or those, who are in weaker health conditions, since they are considered easier target for sars-covid 2.

While waiting to celebrate 2021, we made a thick batter, which was left to rest and swell for about 12 hours. In our mind there were some puffy appetizers belonging to the local culinary tradition at Christmas time. The batter was prepared with about 350 gr of flour, 6,5 gr yeast, a sprinkle of sea salt and all the necessary water to make a thick, soft, airy batter. In Apulia we love these puffy fritters and we enjoy to have them prepared with several different ingredients, according to personal tastes or following the traditional tastes of the families.

First of all, we fried some fritters with no other ingredients inside. Later on, we will enjoy those fritters as snack or dessert with a local homemade syrupy must reduction (mosto cotto), which is the result of a slow boiling process of grapes. To fry the batter, help yourself with a wet soup spoon for plunging and frying in very hot peanut oil. Then it was the turn of mixing steamed romanesco broccoli in a small portion of the batter and then fried. At last, we made some pizzaiola fritters with chopped olives, capers, tomatoes, anchovies. Before mixing these ingredients with the batter, put them all together in a small bowl, add little salt and a sprinkle of oregano. Please, do not pour their juicy liquid in the mixture otherwise it might turn to be dangerous because of the hot oil. Serve the warm fritters to your guests by pairing with a glass of your preferred wine or spumante and .. wishing a good year to everybody! ❤

Gott nytt år

Featured

Christmas, Tolkien and a warm cup of creamy zabaione

Merry Christmas, everybody! It is time to sit by the fireplace, in good company of a beautiful book written by J.R.R. Tolkien and posthumously published for the first time in 1976, “The Father Christmas Letters“, while enjoying the pleasure of tasting a warm creamy zabaglione prepared with a hint of Armagnac, a sprinkle of cocoa and tiny slivers of dark chocolate on top. The recipe of zabaglione is simple and you need only very few ingredients for enjoying this delicious cream.

Ingredients for 4 people: 6 yolks, 50 gr of icing sugar, 4 soup spoons of Armagnac, a knob of butter, a tea spoon of (bitter) cocoa, a tea spoon of tiny slivers of dark chocolate.

Heat in a bain-marie yolks, icing sugar and armagnac. Beat the ingredients for at least 15 minutes by using a blender. When the cream is thick, add a knob of butter. Remove the bowl from the cooker and the bain-marie, keep on beating and whip the zabaione for more 15 minutes. Serve the warm cream in cups, add a sprinkle of cocoa and slivers of dark chocolate on top. Enjoy it!

Many thanks. I hope you all are well and wish a beautiful Christmas day. Please, stay safe, everybody. God Jul! ❤

Featured

First Sunday of Advent in the kitchen

Here we are, Christmas is knocking at the door again and we already know it will be a very special season for all of us. Even though it won’t be often possible to behave as usual, that is expressing our love by hugging members of family and loved ones, we wish all of them to be safe and in our heart as always. In the mood to keep everybody closer to our thoughts and in the respect of a long family tradition for cooking and baking at Christmas time, we had a cosy first Sunday afternoon of Advent in the kitchen and made a delicious soft heart of vanilla and chocolate to have with a warm cup of tea. As you will see the recipe is pretty simple and it will be a delicious dessert loved by children and “older children”. Ingredients we need:

100 gr castor sugar (make your own), 2 eggs, 175 gr flour, 100 gr butter, 40 gr almonds meal (make your own), 60 gr crème fraîche, 8 gr baking powder, 2 soup spoons bitter cocoa, 2 soup spoons vanilla icing sugar, a coffee spoon of cardamom.

  • Choose the cake tin you prefer and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once you are to use it for the mixture, grease it inside with butter and sprinkle it with flour at first.
  • Mix castor sugar and eggs. Add flour, butter, almonds meal, crème fraîche and baking powder. Mix and beat with energy in order to have a very smooth mixture. Help yourself with a fork or a whisk or even use a whisk beater machine.
  • Pour the mixture in two different bowls. In the first bowl add cocoa and cardamom and mix all together. In the second bowl, add vanilla icing sugar and mix all together again. Add some milk if the mixture is too thick and it will turn to be more creamy and softer.
  • First, pour the vanilla mixture in the baking tin, then add the chocolate mixture on the surface of the vanilla mixture. Be careful to not touch the baking tin along its borders. Add a sprinkle of almond slivers on the surface of the cake.
  • Place the cake in the preheated 160°C oven for about 30 minutes. Once you see it looks golden, turn the oven off and leave the cake in it still for about 10/15 minutes.

This soft delicacy can be an excellent idea as a dessert served with a good warm cup of tea or coffee during a coffee pause or even after dinner paired with a spoon of vanilla cream.

Let’s enjoy the beginning of this Christmas season and wish a beautiful December month to everybody! ❤