An excellent dish: hand made pasta bows and broccoli on Mardi gras

Hello! For celebrating Mardi gras we are going to prepare an excellent dish that both children and older children, who enjoy to make pasta dough, would love to try. We need only few genuine ingredients, which, by the way, remind of traditional tastes of Apulia gastronomy.

As for the pasta dough, on this occasion, I mix semolina flour and a local ancient biological durum wheat flour with some water. No eggs are necessary. It takes only few minutes for a thick homogeneous mixture, which then will be worked (you may help yourself by using the nonna papera machine) for becoming very thin sheets of pastry. After that, make small rectangles of those sheets. Next step is to join both the longer sides of each rectangle right in the middle in order to have small bows. Let pasta bows dry accurately for some hours.

Once it is time to prepare the dish, dip small broccoli for a couple of minutes in hot boiling salt water. Strain broccoli (please, do not forget to save that water for later) and add them in a pan with hot extra virgin olive oil, an idea of golden garlic and hot pepper. Cook broccoli for about 5/7 minutes by adding some of that water you saved before. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper if it is necessary. At this point, broccoli should be tender in order to make small pieces of them straight in the pan, by using a wooden spoon. Add some fresh grated ricotta sheep milk cheese on top of broccoli in the pan and let it melt for a couple of minutes.

In the end, cook hand made pasta bows for about 7/8 minutes in hot boiling salt water, strain and add them to broccoli for gently mix all together. Serve pasta bows and broccoli warm in a bowl with crisp golden breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of fresh ricotta sheep milk cheese on top. Enjoy the dish in good company of your family and friends and wish everybody a good Mardi gras. Bon Appétit! ❤

Broccoli and potatoes, symphony for comfort dishes

We just stepped into February month and by taking a walk in the garden or in the countryside of Apulia region, in Southern Italy, we got the feeling of nature’s slow awakening and preparing its new dress as prelude to the approach of the Spring. Actually, even at Winter and its bizarre weather, the season we are living right now, we have amazing local agricultural produces for making delicious dishes to enjoy on our kitchen tables every day.

According to the tradition of simplicity in the kitchen and to the old saying ‘use what you have’, I turned classical music on in the kitchen and prepared a warm, inviting soup with broccoli and potatoes.

First of all, after peeling and dicing some local potatoes, chopping onion and garlic, making small broccoli tops, it is necessary to fry these ingredients in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Let them cook for five minutes in order all tastes of vegetables mix harmoniously, then pour a bouillon prepared with carrot, celery and onion on them and keep on cooking and boiling the soup for about 20 minutes. In the end, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You may choose to make a cream, which perhaps children would prefer, or, even better, serve the soup in small pieces of vegetables in order to enjoy each flavor and warm crisp slices of home made bread dipped in the pot like a spoon.

An alternative to this appetizing dish, by using the same ingredients, would be sauteing diced potatoes, small broccoli tops in a pan with onion and garlic in some extra virgin olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper in the end, when they are done, and use the vegetables to stuff a sheet of puff pastry. Make a cream with some milk and robiola cheese and pour it on the filling made of vegetables. Roll up and close hermetically the puff pastry, paint its surface with some water or milk, bake it in the oven for about 15/20 minutes, 180°/200° C. Serve the steaming roll with your preferred wine and enjoy the recipe. By the way, this latter could be also an excellent idea for a dish to have for a picnic at Springtime.

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!