Warm crisp crostini of bread and lentils to wish a wonderful 2020

It is Tuesday morning, on the last day of December 2019. For the table of the new year and for wishing all the best in 2020, I prepared a soup of small lentils. In less than an hour it can be served to guests.

You need lentils (the proportions are according to the number of your guests), celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bouillon prepared with vegetables, tomato puree, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, curry, salt and pepper.

Firstly, fry a mixture of diced celery, carrots, onion in a pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then, add a clove of garlic, the lentils, a coffee spoon of curry, a tea spoon of tomato puree. (When you buy lentils, please, pay attention whether you can already cook them or you have to leave them in a bowl with cold water for a couple of hours right before starting with the cooking process). Once in the pan, leave the lentils for a couple of minutes to let flavors of the frying vegetables be soaked up by the lentils and then add the bouillon. Add salt and pepper. Cook the soup slowly for about 40 minutes. In the end, lentils should be tender and dried.

Serve the warm lentils on discs (crostini) of homemade bread that you previously made crisp in the oven for about 10 minutes, 200°C, with few drops of extra virgin olive oil on their surface. Add leaves of parsley to decor the plate. This dish could be an inviting idea for starters or a light warm soup.

Many thanks and wishing everybody a wonderful 2020!

Lamb chops and bell peppers, a colorful and tasteful dish for your holiday season table

The time of holiday season is flowing and soon we will enter the new year. This is time for some relax and enjoying the good company of family and friends. At this proper, today I prepared lamb chops and bell peppers for lunch. It is a colorful and tasteful dish, which I enjoy to make from time to time for its fragrances of Mediterranean herbs and I may recommend for your New Year’s Eve table. It is easy to prepare and your guests will appreciate it.

The ingredients for this dish are lamb chops, garlic, leek, breadcrumbs, some herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley, grated parmigiano, a lemon, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, salt and pepper.

As first step, for preparing this dish, it is necessary to make little pieces of parsley, thyme, a clove of garlic and the peel of a lemon. In a bowl mix all these little pieces of herbs and garlic together with breadcrumbs, grated parmigiano, after you have added a couple of tea spoons of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Secondly, make cubes of red and yellow bell peppers and cook them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, little white wine, garlic and rings of leek. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, some thyme and a soup spoon of rough minced almonds. Keep on cooking for about 20 minutes.

Third step: coat the chops of lamb with the mixture in the bowl made of herbs, breadcrumbs, garlic etc. and fry the chops until they will get a golden crisp surface.

In the end, serve the warm chops of lamb with the bell peppers.

Wishing everybody “bon appétit”, thank you and, most of all, may your 2020 be wonderful!

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!