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.

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.

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!

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’. 

Pumpkin velouté and gnocchi: a light dish for your special dinners on this Holiday Season

   Hey, let’s cheer this November weekend with a tasteful dish that has the fragrance of aromatic herbs, spices and Holiday Season. At the food market I found a big round pumpkin that, for its characteristics, resembled a ‘cappello di prete’ (priest hat): most likely it comes from Mantova, Ferrara or Reggio Emilia areas, places in Italy where, according to history, after WWII, a prolific culinary tradition for the preparation of this healthy vegetable spread in many different ways. In particular, let’s think about the well known local ‘mostarda’ and ‘tortelli di zucca’ (in 1999, these latter were recognized as Italian Traditional Product by the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole).  What is more, because of its shape and tough-skinned surface, after an accurate work of emptying and carving, it might become a beautiful bowl for serving rich meals. Or, at least, if left to dry in the sun for some time, it might be used as water-bottle like in the ancient times people used to do.

     Back to our recipe, as always, simplicity is made of genuine ingredients for making good meals. In this case, one may choose whether to have a delicious soup or a refined course for special events that are going to take place during this Holiday Season. Indeed, we will start by preparing a pumpkin velouté and, in the end, we will also have the possibility to add some homemade potato gnocchi for a richer and more important presentation. So, fry gently some chopped scallion and red onion in extravirgin olive oil, add little cubes of pumpkin (about 500 g for 4 people), a sprinkle of cinnamon, salt, chili pepper and keep on hissing lightly. Perhaps you may add also a fragranced taste of Schwarzwälder Schinken. Pour half glass of wine (for the occasion I have chosen a Spanish white wine, El Coto De Rioja, since it has a fresh bouquet and is excellent for pairing with spices) and, as soon as it evaporates, add fresh rosemary, vegetable bouillon and let it boil until it will be a little reduced and the small cubes will be softer. Then, it will be time for making a velvety cream with your minipimer. According to your taste and preference, you can serve this delicacy to your guests as a rustic light soup (even better with dark rye farmer bread for example) or as a tasteful richer dish by adding homemade potato gnocchi and few slivers of Gouda cheese. I may suggest to decor your dish with leaves of sage. 

      Wish bon appétit and enjoy your weekend!