Spring in the kitchen

A dish has to talk to you. Indeed, all senses have to be activated to feel its vibrations. Even though you are not a chef, but, of course, you love cooking, it is a full experience around the dish, first of all as executor of the dish, by choosing ingredients properly at the food market and in the elaboration of the recipe, secondly as gourmet, by tasting the dish. What is more, small variations in the way you cook a dish, make you feel like an artist painting a canvas each time in a different way, in order to express creativity and going little further with culinary experiences.

For the Sunday lunch, I chose to cook big sized, bronze drawn “paccheri” pasta prepared with two different sauces and the following ingredients:

sweet cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, leeck, onion, crème fraîche, minced pork and veal, nutmeg and black peppar, local baked black olives, basil.

  • As for the execution of the recipe, first of all, let rings of leeck hiss in extra virgin olive oil, then add the minced pork and veal in the pan. Pour the crème fraîche after a couple of minutes and keep on cooking until it boils and the sauce becomes thicker. A sprinkle of salt and nutmeg at the end.
  • Then, it is the turn of a light tomato sauce prepared with fresh tomatoes. At the food market, I chose cherry tomatoes because of their sweetness, which is a good pairing with the white sauce just described above. Help yourself with a needle and pierce every tomato you are going to put in the pan. Once they will start to fry lightly in some extra virgin olive oil and chopped onion, they will cook gently for few minutes in their own juice. Add a sprinkle of sea salt in the end.
  • Cook paccheri pasta into boiling water for 14/15 minutes or at least for the time suggested on the package and, please, do not forget to add a sprinkle of sea salt.
  • Before serving the dish, add some baked black olives, few leaves of basil, cherry tomatoes and black peppar powder on top.

The dish will taste very good. Thank you and wishing everybody a good new week! 🌸✨🌸✨🌸✨

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.

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!

Good food in the kitchen

Genuine, simple ingredients make good dishes. Wishing everybody a beautiful Sunday!

Golden Quinoa Croquettes, inviting Idea for Conviviality

Spring is finally in the air and a rich variety of colorful vegetables, fruits and other season products cheerfully peeped out the stall at the food market, where I was to choose the ingredients for a tasty dish. It came in my mind by using quinoa (chenopodium quinoa) as main ingredient, which is not a cereal, rather a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets : 5000 years are in the historical background of this seed, actually known as the ‘mother of all seeds’, which originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile and was considered to be sacred for Incas civilization. So, this time, our dish takes us to a different place of the world, where the scenery is made of high peaks and outstretched views, in spite of the previous culinary suggestions and typical food coming from the sunny Mediterranean landscapes. Indeed, quinoa is particularly versatile in the art of cooking and is also a high nutritive valued food for many reasons. One of these reasons is its considerable amounts of both lysine and isoleucine, which allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a complete protein source. Going into details, here there is a link to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health for more interesting thorough explainations that might be worth to be read.

   Now, back to our recipe that can be served  as appetizer: it’s about light golden quinoa croquettes to be paired with some fresh goat cheese and a glass of excellent organic wine. First of all, place the quinoa seeds in a fine-meshed strainer and run cold water over the quinoa while gently rubbing the seeds together in your hands, in order to remove the saponins that gives that certain bitter taste. Then, if you prefer a nuttier flavor, place the quinoa in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir for about 5 minutes, otherwise go straight to the next step, that is, add some vegetable bouillon and cook the quinoa for about 20 minutes. Leave it to swell for about 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, dice some pumkin and cook it with some extra virgin olive oil, rings of onion, salt, pepper, little wine and let it to evaporate. Mash the mixture, add a hint of truffles cream and aromatize with leaves of mint. Now, it is time to mix all together: pumpkin, some grated parmigiano, the quinoa and an egg or two, it depends on the number of your guests, of course. Work and make croquettes on the palm of your wet hand and place them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they will have a golden look. As already mentioned, serve croquettes warm on a dish with cheese and some vegetables (for this specific occasion I have chosen broccoli to garnish) and a glass of red Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere seems to me a very good suggestion to try. Thnx and wishing you all ‘Buon Appetito’!

Cono Sur