Zucchini flowers and Summer nuances for a picnic

Soon it’s gonna be Summer again and we love staying in the open air, living the cosy moments of conviviality with family and friends around a table or, even better, sitting on the grass for enjoying a picnic. At this proper, stuffed zucchini flowers, fried and served warm, might be an inviting and very welcome appetizer. Here to follow we have got the ingredients and few steps for the execution of the dish.

  • 20 zucchini flowers
  • 500 gr cow milk ricotta cheese
  • 25 gr parmigiano + 25 gr rodez cheese
  • 50 gr mortadella Bologna
  • 10 green big olives
  • flour and cold sparkling water for the batter
  • peanut oil to fry
  • salt and black powder pepper.
  1. prepare the stuffing mixing the ricotta cheese, grated cheese, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, minced olives and mortadella.
  2. Wash the zucchini flowers and dry gently them on a sheet of blotting paper.
  3. Prepare a thick batter made with flour and cold sparkling water, add a sprinkle of salt and leave it to rest for 10/15 minutes.
  4. In the meanwhile, stuff the zucchini flowers with the mixture (help yourself with a tea spoon) and accurately close them.
  5. Warm the oil in a frying pan.
  6. Dip each stuffed zucchini flower in the batter at first and then fry it in the oil.
  7. Serve the stuffed zucchini flowers as entrée with a glass of wine you prefer and enjoy the picnic.
Zucchini flowers

Preparing stuffing for zucchini flowers
Stuffing for zucchini flowers: ricotta cheese, mortadella bologna, green big olives, grated parmigiano and rodez cheese, black pepper powder
thick batter made with flour and water
stuffed zucchini flowers before being fried

Rachmaninov and the pork in the pan

It was a bizarre weather today, since, after a warm and sunny morning, at dinner time, it seemed it was almost going to rain. Any way, there was a cosy atmosphere in the kitchen, listening to Rachmaninov and cooking some pork (prosciutto) and peppers. 1. Starting from a couple of peppers, I grilled them in the oven and, still hot, I removed their skin. Then, after making small stripes of them, I cooked peppers slowly for about 10/15 minutes in a pan with a couple of soup spoons of extra virgin olive, some capers, spicy local green olives, finely chopped fresh garlic. Besides, there I added an anchovy to melt and mix with the other ingredients in the pan. 2. As for the pork (prosciutto), firstly I chopped some fresh herbs from the garden, like rosemary and sage, together with garlic and spread them on the surface on both sides of the pork. Then, secondly, I placed the pork in a pan (moderate flame) with a couple soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil and some white wine and let it cook until the wine evaporated. Salt and black pepper right before removing the pan from the cooker. In the end, I served the pork very warm with peppers and a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top. By the way, peppers recipe might taste also really good as sauce for a dish of rice or pasta. The choice is yours. Many thanks and bon appétit.

Let’s make small zucchini boats and red onion sauce for dinner

The red onion hisses in the pan with a couple of soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil. This is to start preparing a red onion sauce to be served with small zucchini boats on your dinner table. Leave a couple of red onions frying gently for about 20 minutes. Then, add a leaf of bay and a clove to broaden the flavour. Melt a soup spoon of all purpose flour in the onions with half glass of white wine and leave this latter to evaporate. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and chili pepper in it. Remove the leaf of bay and use the minipimer to make a smooth sauce with onions. Only if necessary, add little more white wine, sugar and then place again the sauce for few minutes on the cooker to make it sweeter and thicker.

Ingredients for the onion sauce: 2 red onions, a clove, a soup spoon of all purpose flour, a leaf of bay, 2 soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil, half glass white wine, a sprinkle of salt and chili pepper, (some sugar if necessary).

As for zucchini, split each of them in half. Use a corer for removing the pulp inside and make little boats. Save the pulp, which you are going to use later on for the filling. In a pan, toast some breadcrumbs in extra virgin olive oil (a couple of soup spoons). Then, out of the cooker, add some milk to the golden breadcrumbs, mix all together soft and leave to get cooler. In the meanwhile, steam the small zucchini boats for 5 minutes and add salt in the end. In a bowl, make a mixture with breadcrumbs, add the chopped zucchini pulp, salt, an egg and small cubes of spicy provola cheese. Mix well and fill the small zucchini boats with the stuffing. Few drops of extra virgin olive oil on top and place the small boats in the oven for about 30 minutes (180/200°C). Serve them very warm with the sweet/spicy onion sauce. I wish everybody bon appétit!

Ingredients for the small zucchini boats: 3 or 4 zucchini, 1 egg, 200 ml milk, extra virgin olive oil, 2 or 3 soup spoons of breadcrumbs, small cubes of spicy provola cheese, a sprinkle of salt.

Home made white lasagna for the Easter table

It is the beginning of the first week of Spring and, in the range of crops at the food store, we might find the asparagus that can be chosen as privileged ingredient of several dishes for the Easter table. During the last weekend, I made some different kind of fresh pasta at home. For the dough, according to the gastronomy tradition of my region, Apulia, I used simply good local flours (Senatore Cappelli and semola) and water. No eggs were necessary and, in this way, the dish could be a bit lighter. What is more, you can store the fresh pasta in the fridge for a couple of days. At this proper, for example, I use to alternate layers of lasagna on layers of fridge papers that are cut of similar sizes of lasagnas and store them accurately in the fridge.

As for the recipe about white lasagna dish, you need few simple steps for making it. 1. After removing the lower wooden ends of the asparagus (you need three or four per person), steam them for five minutes and then put them in a pan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, a fragrant idea of garlic and cook them for few minutes more. 2. Make a smooth velvet Béchamel sauce. Melt some butter (I used about 30/40g), add a very small idea of garlic in the pan, if you like it. At this point, out of the small cooker, add slowly some all purpose flour (I used a couple of soup spoons) and mix it with the butter. Work it very well in order to dissolve each lump and have a smooth roux. Back on the small stove, add gently hot milk (250 or 300 ml) and keep on stirring and whipping until the white sauce is done. Add a sprinkle of salt, grated nutmeg and melt one or two generous handfuls of grated Rodez cheese (please, see the previous recipe – crêpes). 3. Cook lasagna pasta for about 5 minutes in salt boiling water. Then, strain and leave lasagna to dry on a clean towel on the table. Before starting with layers of lasagna, pour a couple of soup spoons of béchamel sauce on the surface of the cocottes and then alternate n. 4 layers of lasagna with béchamel sauce, asparagus and pieces of mozzarella cheese. 4. Place in the oven 180°C/200°C for about ten minutes (please, don’t leave it too long, in order to still have a moist surface) and then serve it very warm. I hope you enjoy the recipe and wish everybody ‘bon appétit‘.

Enjoy the music

Stay at home, listen to Mozart and enjoy cooking

Staying at home in these days is a good opportunity for spending more time with family. For this reason, let’s cook something appetizing for our loved ones. We need good local potatoes, asparagus, garlic, onion, extra virgin olive oil, some typical Toscanello cheese, an egg, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper and breadcrumb. Choose your preferred music to listen to while you are graciously following the rhythm of the recipe.

1. After steaming cubes of small pealed potatoes (let’s say about 8 small potatoes for 4 people), mash them and add a sprinkle of sea salt. Peal 8 asparagus and cut into small round pieces (please, do not forget to remove the lower stringy end). 2. In a pan with three or four soup spoons of warm extra virgin olive oil, add an idea of garlic, some chopped onion, rosemary, and the asparagus. 3. Cook for about five minutes and then, in a bowl, add the asparagus and the oil juice to the mashed potatoes. 4. Mix well all together and add one egg, the grated Toscanello cheese (4 generous soup spoons), some breadcrumb and a sprinkle of pepper and oregano. 5. In small greasy pans made of clay, pour a couple of soup spoons of the mixture making a first lower layer, then a second layer with mozzarella, and again add more of the mixture and make a third and last layer. Add a sprinkle of breadcrumb on top and some drops of extra virgin olive oil. 6. Bake the flans in the oven for about 20/25 minutes 220°C.

Potatoes and Asparagus Croquettes
Potatoes and Asparagus Croquettes

If you have more of that mixture, it would be nice to prepare also small croquettes by adding some all purpose flour as ingredient to it. Leave the mixture in the fridge for 2 or three hours and then make some squared gnocchi (you won’t be able to work the mixture too long). Fry them golden and crisp in extra virgin olive oil and serve them hot as snack with fried tomatoes (cooked very fast in extra virgin olive oil with some garlic and onion, a sprinkle of salt) and slivers of tasteful Toscanello cheese on top. Enjoy the dishes with your loved one and please, stay at home!

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 gracious tulip to make Springtime

We are still in January and it is gonna take a little before milder temperatures. However, we can take good energy from the food we have even at Winter time, of course without forgetting that simple food is the best. At this proper, here it is a light genuine recipe of a cake for enjoying our coffee pause or to bake and serve to children as snack.

The ingredients are: 100 gr all purpose flour, 50 gr coconut flour, 75 gr sugar, 75 gr carrots, 50 gr dark (75%) chocolate, 3 soup spoons maize oil, 25 ml milk, 1 egg, vanilla seeds, 1/4 baking powder yeast, carrots to decor. Firstly, in a bowl mix both the all purpose and the coconut flour with the grated carrots and then add sugar, maize oil, the egg, vanilla seeds, the baking powder yeast and the milk. Secondly, once you have got a homogeneous mixture, pour it in a well greased and floured baking pan for cakes. Thirdly, dip small pieces of dark chocolate in the mixture and place the cake in the oven for about 30 minutes 120°/200° C, until you will see its surface becoming a little bit crisp. In the end, out of the oven, before serving the cake, decor it with small gracious tulips made of carrot and enjoy a piece of fragrant cake and a cup of good warm coffee or tea. What is more, you may add some vanilla cream on a side of the plate, if you prefer. Besides, this cake might be a wonderful idea for a children party or a light dessert after dinner.

To make little tulips, take a piece of carrot and make oblique cuts around it for creating petals, then cut the piece gently and use a toothpick for fixing the tulip in the cake .

Many thanks, I hope you will enjoy the recipe ❤

Tasting new extra virgin olive oil in Apulia

The harvest of olives goes on in Apulia region, in the South of Italy, and, in full respect of our family tradition, in these days we looked for the new local productions of olive oil. We tasted among different kinds in order to choose those new extra virgin olive oils, which meet both cooking and gourmet requirements, for our annual supplies. In the end, our choice was for a very good quality biological extra virgin olive oil made with leccino monocultivar, which has only 0,2 acidity and herbaceous taste, and a second one, a blend that has more rustic attribute and it is made with “leccina”, “nociara” and “picholine” varieties of olives (0,5 acidity).