Brioche au fromage for the picnic basket

For celebrating this May 1st, I did enjoy preparing and baking a soft brioche au fromage. This easy, genuine recipe was given to me years ago by a couple of friendly ladies during Summer holidays and, from then on, my family and friends showed always appreciation every time I prepared it. Indeed, this brioche au fromage can be an excellent idea for the picnic basket and a meal in the open air, or for a children party: they are events, which take place quite often during Spring and Summer season.

Ingredients:

500gr whole wheat organic  flour, 3 eggs, 12,5gr yeast, 250ml milk, a sprinkle of sea salt (about a coffee spoon), 100gr parmigiano reggiano, 100gr speck, thyme, 125ml peanut oil.

Mix all ingredients together and leave the mixture to rest for a couple of hours. Then, grease a baking tin and pour the mixture in it, bake it (220° C) until it has a golden crisp surface.

Serve it with vegetables or a fresh salad: for this occasion, I also added some grilled tomatoes, which have been seasoned with drops of garlic and thyme aromatized extra vergin olive oil and little cubes of fresh sheep milk local cheese .

Wishing everybody a beautiful Spring and Summer season!

 

 

A sinergy of events for celebrating Salento, as UNESCO candidate through an art conference in Galatina, historical corteges and dishes evoking tastes of an ancient gastronomy

Just few days ago, on Saturday April 1st, we had a cultural dip into the historical and art atmospheres of Salento, attending an interesting conference that took place by the ‘Gallerie Teatro Tartaro’ in Galatina, organized by the local Club for UNESCO. In details, the round table was about the precious ‘Orsiniani’ frescos situated in one of the most important Romanesque and Gotic art monuments in Apulia, the Santa Caterina d’Alessandria Basilica.

Galatina - Santa Caterina d'Alessandria

DSC_0596 at the conference

The architectural structure of the basilica was built during the second half of the 14th century on a preexisting church, which dated back to the 9th – 10th century, according to the will of Raimondello Orsini Del Balzo, prince of Taranto and Count of Soleto. The legend tells that the prince, back from the crusades, headed for a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai and, after stopping by the monstery for paying homage to the body of Santa Caterina D’Alessandria, in a daring way, brought one of her mummified fingers in Italy. The relic was mounted in a reliquary made of silver and nowadays it is still kept among the tresaures of the basilica. After Raimondello’s death, at the beginning of the 15th century,  his wife, Maria D’Enghien, Countess in Lecce, and her son, Giovanni Antonio, continued the works of patronage for the basilica in Galatina and for the magnificent three architectural ordered spire in Soleto, by calling together artists from different painting schools in Italy and expert workers.

DSC_0613 raimondello's tower

The audience at the conference welcomed with great attention the magistral lesson of eminent art experts and researchers in an almost mystic silence and sometimes with expressions of dilightful astonishment. Among the speakers: prof. Maria Stella Calò Mariani (University of Bari), Antonella Cucciniello (director of the Royal Palace in Naples), prof. Anna Trono (politic-economic geography – Unisalento), prof. Luigi Manni (researcher), prof. Rosario Coluccia (linguist and academician from ‘Accademia della Crusca’)

DSC_0602 at the conference

On Sunday morning, April 2nd, a historical cortege took place in Soleto, a small center that is only few kilometers far from Galatina, where it is possible to contemplate both the beautiful spire of Raimondello and sometimes you have also the chance to visit the tiny precious church of Santo Stefano, an authentic work of art for its decorated walls with sacred scenes.

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DSC_0661_1 historical dress up

The historical cortege of Maria D’Enghien advanced slowly along the narrow paved streets of the old center to the roll of the drums and both the local people and the visitors from the neighbouring towns and villages could admire the refinement of the dresses, worn with elegance and style. Attending the event was an invitation to read a bit more about the local history and its characters.

DSC_0628 historical dress up

DSC_0634_1 historical dress up

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Grown-ups and children showed great care in performing the historical cortege of Maria d’Enghien and later on, it was amusing to watch all of them playing and having fun, cheered on by families and friends. In the end, even some parents joined the games.

DSC_0747 historical dress up

In the afternoon, the cortege was in Galatina, where a lot of people gathered by the door of the old town hall and most of them followed the sumptuously dressed characters in a sort of procession that ended in Piazza San Pietro, the main square, where more games, a banquet reserved to the cortege, music and dances took place.

DSC_0760 historical dress up

DSC_0866_1 historical dress up

Along the way, people could stop by a banquet accurately prepared by some students of the Istituto Alberghiero ‘Aldo Moro’ from Santa Cesarea Terme (Ascalone Giorgia, Rizzo Pierpaolo, Scrimieri Luca, Pagliara Chiara, Murrone Angelo) and their teacher (prof. Piero D’Urso) and try delicacies that had tastes and fragrances of the Middle Ages cuisine. (Both of the two pictures have been kindly provided by Club for Unesco – Galatina)

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Many thanks for the remarkable commitment and all we can wish for this amazing cultural initiative is to be performed again at Summertime, when more and more people, both locals and those coming from abroad on holiday, will be glad to attend it.

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’. 

A Light Lasagna Stuffed With Summer Vegetables

Hey, we are in Stockholm in these days and right now, while we are in the kitchen, serving a delicious lasagna stuffed with Summer vegetables, we are enjoying the beautiful bright light of the evening. Some little birds are cheerfully playing on the branches of the tree in front of the window and its green foliage dances and shines to the swish of a soft breeze. In the distance, you can even listen to the dominant sound made by the siren of a ship. Two or three segulls on the top of a roof, in the direction of Sofia kyrka, fill the air with their singing.

If you are interested in making this lasagna, here there are some suggestions that might be useful.

As for the tomato sauce, pour some extra vergin olive oil in a pan, small stripes of fresh bacon, a sprinkle of rosemary (better if it is fresh), salt and pepper, chopped onion and garlic. After two or three minutes, add the tomato sauce and let it boiling for a while. At the end, when it is good and thicker, add a small cup of water (or two), since we are going to cook the lasagna pasta straight in the oven with all ingredients.

In the meantime, we have already diced aubergines and bell peppers and we have chopped some leeks, then placed the vegetables in the oven to grill for 10 or 15 minutes (according to your own taste)

At this point, we can start preparing our lasagna, by pouring some sauce on the surface of the baking pan. Then, let’s make some layers by alternating, lasagna pasta, vegetables, spoons of tomato sauce and mozzarella. In the end, before placing the lasagna in the oven for about 15 min/ 20 min (200°), add curls of parmigiano and a sprinkle of nutmeg on the surface.

This dish is ideal served warm, paired with a glass of rosé wine for celebrating the cheerful dress of nature and midsommar, which is almost at the door here in Sweden.

Genuine Homemade Jam and Fresh Ricotta Cheese for Light Dessert Ideas

It’s a Sunday morning, Spring will be here very soon and, in the meanwhile, at breakfast time, we are keeping on spreading a spoon of apricot jam on bread as a healthy habit for daily energy. It is nice when you have homemade jam, since you can choose to prepare it with less sugar and at the same time it will taste of the real fragrance of genuine fruit. Of course, you can also use it to prepare delicious desserts for your family, both children and grown-ups, or even for your guests.

Here there are a couple of suggestions that I’m glad to share with you:

In the first example, we have a typical ‘burrata’ from Apulia region, in Southern Italy, which is stuffed with fresh sheep milk cheese ricotta on apricot jam and a sprinkle of cardamom. It is really worth a taste! Besides, I may suggest to warm lightly your jam in order to have a kind of pleasant contrast with the freshness of the burrata and to decor with some mint, which will exhalt the fragrances of the dish.

As for the second culinary suggestion, you won’t need eggs to prepare the dessert, nor to bake it and, what is more, it will take you only a very short time since it is very easy to make. It could be a cheerful idea for a children party for example!

Ingredients for 5/6 desserts (approximate quantities for glasses):

  • 100 g biscuits (even better if they are homemade)
  • 75   g almonds
  • 65   g fresh butter
  • 500g fresh sheep milk cheese ricotta on apricot jam and a sprinkle of cardamom + crème fraîche
  • icing sugar
  • organic apricot jam
  • cardamom
  • cinnamon
  • mint
First of all, you have to crumble biscuits and mince peeled almonds while golden butter is gently melting in a pan on the stove. Then, mix all together (butter, almonds and biscuits) in a bowl and add a generous sprinkle of cardamom. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 20 min.
Delicately whisk the fresh ricotta cheese (according to your taste, you can choose among the ones you prefer, such as cow, sheep, goat..) and add also some crème fraîche, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a spoon of icing sugar. Make a velvet, smooth cream.
Out of the fridge, start filling glasses making a uniform, compact base with 1 cm biscuit and almond mixture. Gently press it and add some ricotta cheese on it, then, a couple of tea spoons of organic jam on top and some little more cardamom and fresh mint. In the fridge again for about 15 minutes.
Serve this light dessert cool, your little guests will appreciate it!
Wish a beautiful Sunday to you all! 🙂