The right time for the Piennolo tomato harvesting

Good news from the kitchen garden! Finally the time for harvesting the cherry “ciliegino” and the small heart-shaped “piennolo” tomatoes arrived. To have 826 gr tomatoes all together in a boat plate in the same morning was like a welcome gift.

Both of the two varieties have a sweet taste and they offer a number of possibilities to use in the cookery. What is more, thinking about the new tomatoes season, I already dried their seeds to collect and keep for next year. Besides, since in the winter season a good supply of tomatoes is also required for our kitchen, it will be necessary to wash and dry accurately and put them in few small bags to store in the freezer.

At this proper, in detail, the excellent “pomodorino del piennolo” variety, which has a time-honoured tradition in the history of gastronomy and in the South of Italy in particular way, is very small, its weight is around 20-25 gr and has a tough skin. So, with respect of old customs, it is common to see this kind of tomato in small bunches typically hanging from the ceiling or on the walls of old rural rooms, where they can stand up to six months and ready to use.

Now, can you tell all the good dishes can be prepared with tomatoes as ingredient throughout the year because of the several varieties and versatility?

Wishing a good new week and be safe 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!

Spaghetti dish, the European football championship and Summer season

Hello! Summer season is at the door, we enjoy the European football championship and we love pasta.

These are the three main ingredients for our special dish made with spaghetti and a convivial “al fresco”dining.

Let’s start with frying some fresh bacon or speck in a pan without using oil. Leave the fat to heat and melt in the pan until the bacon or the speck will have a crisp surface. Then, remove it from the cooker.

Grate some “pecorino” sheep milk cheese. I have tried a different taste by using smoked caciocavallo cheese from Calabria.

Peel some fresh fava beans.

Boil some salt water, then add spaghetti and cook them.

In the meanwhile, pour some boiling water from spaghetti cooking in a sauce pan, add some grated cheese in it and work to melt it. Help yourself with a fork or a whisk in order to have a light creamy cheese sauce.

Drain the spaghetti a couple of minutes before they are done, saving some water, which you will pour in a pan with some hot extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper powder and keep on cooking spaghetti in the pan.

Add the light cream made with cheese and “manteca”, that is, whisk all well.

Serve spaghetti warm with some fresh faba beans and crisp pancetta or speck, a pich of black pepper and a sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Wishing everybody “buon appetito”, bon appétit and enjoy a fantastic “al fresco” dining with the European football championship!

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! 🌸✨🌸✨🌸✨

Vegetables soup at Summertime: a delightful refreshment

At the end of August it is pretty hot in Apulia, Southern Italy (some days temperature is around 40°C). Then, having more vegetables and fruit might turn to be a daily healthy habit in order to help feeling well. What is more, at the food market there is a rich colorful triumph among season vegetables and fruit to choose for preparing appetizing dishes. One of the simplest lightest dishes for these hot days is the soup of vegetables, which you can serve fresh. Down here I’m going to provide a short note with the ingredients you need and the description to make it. You are very welcome to try it, if it meets your personal tastes. Enjoy it!

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