A bouquet of Zinnia flowers in bloom for our fresh Summer tastes

It keeps on being so hot in these Summer days and, in the garden, now it is the turn for a bouquet of beautiful zinnias to bloom one after an other. When, in the early morning, zinnias showed their spectacular palette of colors up to the sky, to take pictures of their smooth, shining beauty was full delight. It reminded me of a few, well known William Blakes lines:

“To see the world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wildflower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.”

Leaves and petals of Zinnia flowers in their moist, bright light was the mesmerizing frame for a fresh, delicate dish prepared with figs from the kitchen garden, sweet Parma ham, leaves of mint, cantaloupe melon, chive. The main ingredient for this dish is a rhytmical dialogue determined by salt, sweet, spicy, fresh tastes according to ones own preferences.

First of all, make small cubes of the cataloupe melon. Use a blender to centrifuge them with little cold water and leaves of mint. Then, peel the figs, make thin slices and put them in the center of a plate. Add some sweet Parma ham, a spoon or two of the fresh melon purée you made, decor with more leaves of mint and chive. Add few drops of glaze made with grapes must if you like it.

Enjoy a good weekend, everybody!

Summer, the kitchen garden, home produces and small fresh delicacies

Hello, welcome in August! Despite the very high temperatures, I keep on taking care of my kitchen garden early in the morning.

At this proper, it is about the same place where I used to play as a little child. At that time, the garden seemed so big to me, it was characterized by green frames of tall cypresses, bushes of roses, several cycas and a small citrus orchard. Later on in the years and more recently, I looked at the garden with new eyes and inspiration for a new natural dress. Indeed, because of the instability of temperatures and the rapid change of seasons nowadays, the garden called for a new organization of spaces and the creative planning with new thriving fruit trees, essence bushes, flowers and even vegetables. So, it started again with new life.

Last Monday, I finally had the pleasure to pick the first basket for this season of excellent green figs up from the tree, served some of them for breakfast and, what is more, I prepared some appetizers made of figs, bresaola and fresh creamy cheese for lunch time.

This dish didn’t take too long to prepare. For the green three figs in the picture above, since they were pretty big, I used about 60 gr fresh creamy cheese, a couple of table spoons of crème fraîche, a thin petal of bresaola for each fruit, parsley, a sprinkle of salt.

In a bowl, mix and whip gently the fresh cheese and the crème fraîche, add very little sea salt in it. Wash and dry accurately the green figs and make four slices of each of them as if you are creating flowers. Roll the petal of bresaola up and make a cup to fix around the center of the fig. Fill it with some creamy cheese (help yourself to decor with a poche à douille) and, in the end, add some parsley on top.

Dedicate a toast with a glass of your preferred wine to your family, friends and keep on enjoying Summertime!

The genuine habit of baking home made bread

There is a good fragrance of home made bread in the kitchen tonight. Actually, it is almost one year that this genuine habit of baking home made bread has taken place in my kitchen. More precisely, about once or twice a week, the kitchen looks like a small bakery, where I enjoy to make and bake different kinds of flavourful bread. Today, I baked some “panzerotti” or “calzoni”. It is leavened dough stuffed with fresh tomatoes sauce, a sprinkle of oregano, mozzarella and cow milk ricotta cheese. In my region, that is Apulia, in Southern Italy, you can bake this delicacy in the oven or fry it. It is an excellent snack, which both children and older children would love to bring with in a basket as an excellent snack for a picnic or for a party in the garden. I hope you will enjoy to try. Thank you!

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!

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

Homemade yogurt and quince jam for breakfast

There is a kind of satisfaction in making your own quince jam and store this delicacy in small glass jars for tasting it any time you wish throughout the year. You choose the golden fruits by your trustworthy greengrocer at the weekly food market and, at home, you chop quinces in small pieces without peeling them. Since we do not use to have much sugar in the jam, the proportion for our quince jam will be 1kg of quinces for 500g of sugar. You leave quinces to rest and macerate with sugar and, after about one hour, when you are going to make the jam, you will find out sugar will be melting. Start cooking quinces and sugar in a saucepan on a stove, it will take about a couple of hours for the jam. Please, take in mind, you do not have to stir the jam with a spoon, otherwise it will stick at the bottom of the saucepan. When it will start boiling, have a taste of it from time to time, in order to add some sugar if it is necessary. It is up to your personal taste whether quince jam has to be thicker or more liquid. Once you remove the saucepan from the stove, it will keep on dry up for little while. Fill sterilized glass jars with quince jam and screw the airtight lid. Turn the glass jars upside down and leave them in that position for little while, in order to be sure no air will be inside of them.  Your quince jam will be at hand any time you would like to have it for breakfast or for a snack or served with small cheese appetizers. Enjoy it!

There is a kind of satisfaction in making your own quince jam in Autumn season and store this delicacy in small glass jars for tasting it any time you wish throughout the year. You choose the golden fruits by your trusted fruit seller at the weekly food market and, at home, you chop quinces in small pieces without peeling them. Since we do not use to have much sugar in the jam, the proportion for our quince jam  will be 1kg of quinces for 500g of sugar. You leave quinces to rest with sugar and, after about one hour, when you are going to make the jam, you will find out sugar already melting. Start cooking quinces and sugar, it will take about a couple of hours for the jam,. It is important to not steer it with a spoon otherwise the jam will stick at the bottom of the sauce pan.

Beetroot cream: a simple recipe for inviting appetizers. Have a try!

Hello! Sometimes, when I’m in Stockholm I enjoy to visit the Saluhall  in Östermalm, the ancient food market built in 1888. There is a nice cosy atmosphere and people may sit and have a meal or look for special food and delicacies. Since I like trying recipes, once I bought some fresh beetroots and Chèvre cheese and, at home, I prepared a light tasteful cream for appetizers. 

  • First of all, it is necessary to peel and steam the beetroots to get them softer. Then, chop and fry them very gently in extra virgin olive oil just for few minutes. In the pan, you may also add rings of red onion, scallion, very little lemon grass, salt & pepper. Right at the end, a sprinkle of parsley and some pine nuts are the perfect tasteful touch for the recipe. Perhaps you might serve a small portion of it as salad. Better if it is warm, indeed, you will find that its flavour is delicious !

  • Next step, make a cream of all ingredients with a mixer.

  • Or add crème fraîche to all ingredients and then process with the mixer.

Sourdough rye crispbread and rosemary flatbread are perfect for spreading this velvety delicacy on. 

I may suggest some pine nuts on top of one version of the appetizer and small pieces of Chèvre cheese and parsley on top of the other.

I hope you will enjoy the taste and wish buon appetito!

Have a good week.

Mandel potatoes and kantarellen for a warm fluffy sformato: genuine ingredients in a pot!

   In Stockholm, from Spring to Autumn season, at the weekend, from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm, it is nice to have a walk for visiting the local farmers market in Katarina Bangata, in the nearby of Götgatan. Small, sometimes improvised and graciously decorated stalls are all along a pedestrian area in the heart of Södermalm, set like colorful, natural gems in a crown made of high trees and their own light, dancing foliage. People enjoy meeting old friends and neighbourghs, talking and tasting what farmers prepare and offer them. It’s a feast of flavours for any palate: there is a plenty of local cheese, jams, fresh bread, corn, kale, inviting salami and sausages, pickled herrings, salmon and different kinds of sauces.   

‘Help yourself’, a friendly lady invites me to choose some mandelpotatis: suddenly, a recipe peekaboos in my mind and… yes, I will add kantarellen. Indeed, in this farmers market, you can see little hills of kantarellen here and there and, perhaps, this might be the reason why you can also smell a good fresh fragrance like being in the wood. Scallion, onion and eggs and then let’s go home for baking a fluffy ‘sformato’.

   We can start by steaming our mandelpotatis, it will take only few minutes. In the meanwhile, let’s fry gently, in extravergin olive oil, some chopped onion, scallion, our flavored kantarellen, salt, pepper, origan, rosemary and, right at the end, we will add also small cubes of Culatello di Zibello DOP…mmm…indeed, the fragrance of Italy pairs so well with Swedish kantarellen!

   As second step, mash the mandelpotatis and add some drops of extravirgin olive oil, a generous sprinkle of parmigiano, breadcrumbs, and one egg to make the mixture thicker. Then, in a pot, greased with butter, pour a half of the mixture. Make a second layer with the cooked kantarellen, scallion, onion and the small cubes of Culatello di Zibello, add slivers of provola piccante and a new layer of the mandelpotatis mixture. One more sprinkle of breadcrumb and few drops of extravirgin olive oil on top. Place the ‘sformato’ in the oven 200° C for about 10 minutes, or at least until the surface will be golden and crispy. Serve it warm. 

   In the end, I would toast to a friendly table by raising a glass of Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay, a fresh, young wine with notes of fruity aromas and light mineral.

   I wish everybody ‘Buon Appetito’. 

Sunday trekking in Apulia, Southern Italy: from Torre delle 4 Colonne to St. Mauro

Sunday trekking in Apulia: from Torre dell'Alto Lido to St. Mauro Abbey                                      Sunday trekking in Apulia: from Torre dell'Alto Lido to St. Mauro Abbey

Last Sunday morning, in front of my eyes and of those, both adults and children, who joined in the trekking excursion, organized and magistrally guided by ‘Avanguardie’, there was the blessed scenery of a blue clear sky kissing the calm, still warm, limpid waters of the Ionian sea, the soft waves of multi-shaded swishing green and the smooth shining rocks in the October indulgent sun. Through the wilderness of the pine forest and ancient paths (these latter most likely belonging to the Roman era) our careful climbing took us to visit the old Abbey of St Mauro that might date back to the first half of the XII century, according to the first documentary evidences or, supported by other sources, its origin might be even before that date. In addition to this, just few steps behind the abbey, in the middle of an almost lunar steppe, it was possible to stay few minutes in contemplation of an interesting landscape, characterized by the remains of an ancient circular architecture made of stones, which could be the same age of the religious building. Right at this proper, even though, on one hand, it is known that this place once might have hosted also a village in the nearby, on the other hand, it invites to advance concrete studies to determine the true reasons of its existence. 

Sunday Trekking in Apulia: from Torre dell'Alto Lido to St. Mauro

A great thnx to ‘Avanguardie’ for the beautiful trekking excursion!

Cappuccino or café au lait?

Cappuccino or café au lait

Good morning, Cappuccino or café au lait?
Cocoa, cinnamon or cardamom?