From a crisp rosemary schiacciata to a millefoglie made of green

After a long very hot Summer, which made us long for appetizing fresh salads, thirst-quenching drinks and creamy fruit ice creams, now it is time again for delicious dishes that make us feel the warm, cosy welcome of the Autumn season.

For those, who love the good fragrance of a just home-baked potato focaccia or “schiacciata” (a kind of flat bread), here it follows the list of ingredients, quantities and description to make it: 175 gr all purpose flour, 100 ml water, 50 gr potatoes, 6,25 gr yeast, 2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil, a coffee spoon sugar, rosemary, sea salt.

First of all, boil the potatoes and then let them get cool. Peel and mash them.

Secondly, melt the yeast in warm water, add extra virgin olive oil, sugar and then pour and mix alltogether with the flour on the table. Add a sprinkle of salt and work on the dough.

Thirdly, add the mashed potatoes and work the dough with the tips of your fingers. Then cover the dough with a napkin made of cotton and leave it to rest for the whole morning (five or six hours) in a fresh and dry place.

Fourthly, work the dough again and, by helping yourself with a rolling pin, place the schiacciata dough on a oiled baking tray. Make the schiacciata dough thick if you like it softer or make it thinner if you prefer a crisp schiacciata. Give small pinches to the surface of the dough, paint it with some extra virgin olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt flakes and leaves of rosemary on it. Leave the schiacciata dough to rest for one more hour in a warm place.

Fiftly, bake the schiacciata for a about 20/30 minutes in the oven at 200°C and then serve it fragrant and very warm.

How do you like your schiacciata bread, crisp or softer? How would you like to serve it?

Now, for enjoying a cosy Autumn dinner, let’s prepare few simple ingredients for a “millefoglie” made of green. For this dish, we need some potatoes, zucchini, carrots, salt and pepper, some butter, brie cheese, leaves of basil, pine kernels, extra virgin olive oil.

As first step, it is necessary to peel both potatoes and carrots and then to make thin slices of them and of zucchini. Place accurately the vegetables in a steam basket, add a sprinkle of salt and steam them for few minutes to soft. Then, let them to get a little cooler.

As second step, wash and dry the leaves of basil (about 20 leaves), work them a little in a mortar with pine kernels and extra virgin olive oil.

The third step is to butter a roasting pan, make layers, alternating potatoes to carrots and zucchini. Add some brie cheese and few drops of extra virgin olive oil between one layer and an other. Some more little pieces of butter and a sprinkle of black pepper on top.

As fourth step, the roasting pan goes in the oven for about 15 minutes at 220°C or until the “millefoglie” gets a golden surface, but it is still soft inside and the brie cheese melts.

In the end, add a delicate taste to your millefoglie, serving the dish with some basil cream on top.

Thank you, enjoy a beautiful evening and good week to everybody!

Work in progress in the kitchen garden, puntarelle chicory and grilled tomatoes.

It was a very long, hot week. In Italy, people just celebrated “Ferragosto” and are still enjoying their holidays. In the meanwhile, the kitchen garden calls for some work in progress.

Last Spring, an area for dining was created in the open air under a big bright umbrella, and, during this last week, in the very early mornings, I took the chance to work on a footpath made of old typical local large tiles that are commonly used in Apulia, up on the terraces, for covering the roofs. Years ago, those wide tiles were put away after some works and then well kept. Now, I found it was a good idea to use them again, so they have been accurately set and levelled among the small crushed stones, in order to have a safer path to go across the area.

Besides, it was time also for recycling an old large washtub. At Summertime, when I was a child, my aunt used to place that washtub under a big magnolia tree, and, after filling it with fresh water, around midday, she let me have the best of fun by taking a bath in it like a small duck. Back to our days, that large washtub has been filled with 70 L of good soil and sowed with puntarelle chicory.

Time is flying for the tomatoes plants, which are daily receiving generous rations of water and are keeping on growing and producing excellent small, sweet, heart-shaped tomatoes. This particular variety of tomatoes, called ‘principe borghese’, is pretty vigorous and versatile to be grilled and dried. Indeed, here I grilled some of them in the oven twice (first time 180° C, second time 160° C), after flavouring them with an idea of garlic and fresh herbs like chopped bay, chive, lemon thymus. In the end, I served the grilled tomatoes on slices of home made bread with fresh soft cheese, rucola and drops of extra virgin olive oil. A real delicacy I recommend to try!

Thank you and wishing a beautiful Summer weekend to everybody!

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!

Crisp single crust polenta pie topped with broccoli, sausage and sweet Tropea onion. It tastes so good!

Hello, it’s a new week and it is time for a new recipe! Cooking polenta does not belong to the culinary tradition of Apulia, in Southern Italy, the region where I live. However, this ingredient, which is very much used in the North of Italy, pairs very well with home fresh produces and products from my area and with those that I chose yesterday at the food market. So, let’s try it!

In the kitchen, last night, I enjoyed cooking a delicious meal, which is pretty simple to prepare, even though it takes between 90 and 120 minutes of your time to be ready and to serve to your guests.

Starting with a good frying pan, where to pour some extra virgin olive oil to heat, then add sweet rings of onion (on the occasion, I chose gorgeous red onions of Tropea), small cherry tomatoes, pieces of a good local sausage made of minced pork and veal.

As soon as the oil starts hissing in the pan, add a hint of garlic and a pinch of oregano. By the flavoury taste of each ingredient present in the pan, your mouth will start watering.

Then, it is the turn for steamed broccoli.

You can watch the video I made to see how gently they cook with the other ingredients. All of them must have a very short cooking time in order to save their “crispness” for the palate. Once the ingredients that go on top are done, let’s work on with polenta, which will be the crisp base for the single crust pie.

Boil some salted water and, out of the cooker, pour gently the necessary polenta flour for making a smooth, soft, creamy mixture.

Help yourself with a whisk to crush every crumble of polenta and make it like velvet.

Pour the polenta in the frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil (not too much!) and, with a wooden spatule, prepare the base for the pie.

While the polenta base cooks, its surface will start coming solid.

After 30 minutes, turn the polenta base upside down, in order to fry also the other side and have it homogeneously golden and crisp.

Almost in the end, add all ingredients on the polenta pie crust and some grated smoked caciocavallo cheese on top. Cover the pie with a lid for few minutes to melt the cheese.

Serve the polenta pie warm.

Enjoy the dish with a glass of your preferred wine and “bon appétit”.

Thank you and until next recipe!

🌱🌼🌱🌼🌱

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! 🌸✨🌸✨🌸✨

Fast, easy and delicious composition

Soon it will be May and days are filled with beautiful light longer. I find that staying in the open air and working in the garden be invigorating. It is almost time for dinner and this composition of crisp vegetables paired with a warm creamy goat milked tomino cheese on soft flat bread might be very fast to be prepared and a delicious dish to be served and enjoy by sitting in the verandah. Would you like to join for dinner? You are welcome ✨🌷✨🌷✨🌷✨

Bald wird es Mai sein und die Tage sind länger mit schönem Licht gefüllt. Ich finde, daß es belebend ist, im Freien zu bleiben und im Garten zu arbeiten. Bald ist es Zeit für das Abendessen und diese Komposition von knackendem Gemüse mit einem warmen cremigen “Tomino” Ziegenkäse auf weichem Fladenbrot könnte sehr schnell zubereitet werden und ein köstliches Gericht serviert werden, um in der Veranda zu genießen. Möchten Sie zum Abendessen mitmachen? Bitte ✨🌷✨🌷✨🌷✨

Curly ribbons of home made fresh nettle pasta

Hello! We’re almost in the middle of February and for those, who enjoy gardening, it is time to help nature, starting to prepare the soil for the new Spring dress. On the ground, in the garden, among sleeping plants and trees, it is pretty common to find some growing plants of nettle to uproot. The nettle is a wild stingy herb, well known since ancient times, for its peculiar texture, the production of natural fibre and healthy benefits. Often, it is also used in the kitchen for making home made pasta, which turns to be a delicate dish worth to try.

Portions provided here can be for a couple of people. First of all, wash the tender stingy leaves of nettle in cold water thoroughly (be careful, use gloves!). Secondly, cook the nettles into boiling water for few minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt in the end. Thirdly, strain from the water and work the nettles in a food processor to have a thick mixture. Fouthly, mix 160 gr of processed nettles with 70gr of organic wholemeal flour (I used local ground stoned Senatore Cappelli quality) and 80 gr of yellow semolina. Since the nettles have water in their own texture, it shouldn’t be necessary to add more water for the kneading process. No eggs are necessary, since, according to Apulia culinary traditions, we do not use eggs in home made pasta making. Besides, we like to have a very light pasta dish. Add little more flour, if necessary, for a well compact mixture. Fifthly, make sheets of pastry (help yourself with a nonna papera machine, positions n. 3 or 4 for thickness) and then long stripes of nettle pasta, which you will roll up around your finger for having curly ribbons like I did in the picture. Then, leave the nettle pasta to rest for 5/6 hours or for a night.

At lunch or dinner time, the curly ribbons will take only 2/3 minutes into boiling salt water to be cooked “al dente”. I served them warm with a fresh moist tomato sauce and a sprinkle of pecorino di Pienza cheese. Of course you may serve with a different sauce you prefer.

Wishing everybody to enjoy this delicate dish, which perhaps might be an inviting, very simple, romantic idea to prepare by yourself for your loved one on Valentine’s day.

Bread rolls, focaccia and green vegetables: are you hungry?

Just few days more and soon, January will fly away. It is pretty cold outside, but now, more than ever, it is beautiful to have a walk in the middle of a silent nature. On the one hand, the earth is having a little rest, on the other hand, it is also preparing, in its own precious case, the new gems to wear at Springtime.

At this proper, even in Winter season, of course, it is possible to choose among a plenty of good vegetables for making inviting meals. Here there are a couple of easy culinary ideas you might like to try and develop if you want to have something appetizing throughout the day, perhaps for your coffee pause or as a tasteful snack or appetizer, just before dinner.

First of all, prepare a dough mixing 250gr of flour (125gr all purpose flour+125gr wholemeal bread flour), about 10/12gr yeast, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of sugar (to help the ricing process) and the necessary warm water to make a thick and very soft dough. Then, cover the dough with a clingfilm and leave it to rest for about 6 hours.

As vegetables for the filling of the focaccia, I chose leaves of chard and cabbage. In a pan, cook gently and only for few minutes, in extra virgin olive oil with rings of leek and an idea of garlic, the chopped chard (please, remove the hard stem), the cabbage and, right in the end, add a sprinkle of salt, pepper and cubes of smoked bacon. The vegetables must be crisp.

Once the dough is ready, you can bake for example some simple bread rolls in the oven (250°C) until you see their golden puffy surface. (I used a baking tray for muffins, helped myself with a soup spoon and little water in order to dip it in and then fill the moulds with the dough). Stuff your bread rolls with the ingredients you like best.

If you prefer to try a tasteful focaccia, pour a layer of dough in a buttered baking tin, add the filling of vegetables, smoked bacon and some cubes of Emmenthal cheese. Make a second layer of dough for covering the filling, drops of extravirgin olive oil on the surface and in the oven for about 20 minutes (220°C). Serve the focaccia fluffy and warm, enjoy the taste and a good weekend to everybody!

Welcome 2021

Hello! We welcome 2021 with hopeful heart both for ourselves and for humanity. Actually, the best wish and gift to the world for the new year would be the final defeat of pandemia together with the overthrowing of the disheartening but necessary, safe, constant use of face masks and all other health, sanitary precautions taken as preventive measures against sars-covid 2 in line with what has been taught us during the last year. Let’s think more about the return to a renovated more normal social life and the new endless possibilities to hug all members of family and dearest ones, especially those at a ripe old age or those, who are in weaker health conditions, since they are considered easier target for sars-covid 2.

While waiting to celebrate 2021, we made a thick batter, which was left to rest and swell for about 12 hours. In our mind there were some puffy appetizers belonging to the local culinary tradition at Christmas time. The batter was prepared with about 350 gr of flour, 6,5 gr yeast, a sprinkle of sea salt and all the necessary water to make a thick, soft, airy batter. In Apulia we love these puffy fritters and we enjoy to have them prepared with several different ingredients, according to personal tastes or following the traditional tastes of the families.

First of all, we fried some fritters with no other ingredients inside. Later on, we will enjoy those fritters as snack or dessert with a local homemade syrupy must reduction (mosto cotto), which is the result of a slow boiling process of grapes. To fry the batter, help yourself with a wet soup spoon for plunging and frying in very hot peanut oil. Then it was the turn of mixing steamed romanesco broccoli in a small portion of the batter and then fried. At last, we made some pizzaiola fritters with chopped olives, capers, tomatoes, anchovies. Before mixing these ingredients with the batter, put them all together in a small bowl, add little salt and a sprinkle of oregano. Please, do not pour their juicy liquid in the mixture otherwise it might turn to be dangerous because of the hot oil. Serve the warm fritters to your guests by pairing with a glass of your preferred wine or spumante and .. wishing a good year to everybody! ❤

Gott nytt år