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.

A spiced chickpeas soup with coriander, turmeric and cumin to welcome this new September weekend

Hello! Soon a new weekend is going to start, so let’s welcome it with the spicy fragrances and healthy lightness of a warm soup made with chickpeas and zucchini. The spices in the soup remind of the inviting fragrances of the Mediterranean lands: the fruits of coriander (a plant that is very similar to parsley and coming from East Mediterranean area) have a delicate, warm aroma, a hint of nut and light citrus aftertaste. The second spice that we will add to the soup is turmeric: for Ayurvedic medicine, the natural root of turmeric is well known for its health benefits, as strong balancer, for its natural cicatrizant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effects. India is the main world producer of turmeric, a yellow ochre powder that reminds of the precious saffron fragrance, but, of course, it has a cheaper cost. The black cumin (nigella sativa) is very well known and appreciated in all Middle East and India for its peculiar benefits. Besides, cumin is also cultivated in Europe, North Africa and Asia, it has digestive properties, whets the appetite, prevents spasms and intestinal fermentations. It is highly recommended to use cumin with parsimony, since its flavour is very intense, spicy and it has just an acrid hint.

 Let’s have a look at the recipe now: 

we need about 50g chickpeas per person, 1 or 2 small zucchini, a small onion, some water or bouillon made with vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, herbs, extravirgin olive oil, a pinch of salt) coriander, turmeric and black cumin, salt and pepper, extravirgin olive oil.

 As for how to prepare chickpeas, the process takes a little bit longer, since we need to make the pulses to rest into a bowl full of water for a night: we will help to make the cooking process easier and cheackpeas will taste softer by adding also a sprinkle of salt or bicarbonate. Next morning, in a typical pot made of clay, pour some extra virgin olive oil, add rings of onion, chopped celery and carrot, a couple of small cherry tomatoes, one or two cloves, coriander, hot pepper, salt, chickpeas and water to cover them. We let chickpeas boiling very slow until they get done, tastefully little crunchy outside and soft inside. 

Once chickpeas are done, wash and dice zucchini and then fry gently some chopped onion in few drops of extravirgin olive oil for a couple of minutes, add chickpeas, zucchini and cover them with some bouillon made with vegetables. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper and let the soup boiling. You won’t need to cook it for a long time, (about 10/15min) since chickpeas are almost cooked and zucchini taste better when they are still little crunchy. Please, won’t forget to add half coffee spoon of coriander, turmeric and cumin, but only few minutes before the soup is done, in order to keep almost intact and distinct the different aromas of the spices.  Serve the soup with cubes of warm bread and cheer the arrival of the new season with a glass of rosé wine. On this occasion, I chose a rosè wine coming from Provence (Château Routas Rouvière): fresh delightful pairing with the warm flavours of the Mediterranean cuisine.

Buon Appetito and enjoy a good weekend!

Genuine Fruit Taste in the Dish: Pork Tenderloin and Plum Velouté

  It is already September and, even though Autumn season is at the door, we still keep the fragrances of Summer season. At this proper, I would like to introduce a recipe made with plums (it should be Santa Rosa variety) from a young tree that was planted no more than four years ago in our garden and, in the last couple of years, has elegantly made low bows for inviting to the crop of its pulpy deep red round fruits. Yes, and it is time to prepare something particularly delicious with them. So,  I chose a tender lean pork fillet to make this dish and the other main ingredients are: 4 plums, 2 or 3 leaves of bay, 4 or 5 juniper berries, an idea of garlic, a clove, 3 or 4 spoons of extravirgin olive oil, a spoon of sugar, less than a half glass of white wine (your choice), salt and pepper.

  As first step, make a pesto with garlic, clove, and juniper berries in a mortar. Then, rub the tenderloin with pesto you made, add drops of extravirgin olive oil, leaves of bay and let it marinate for a couple of hours. 

  For the velouté, wash the plums, peel them and make small cubes. Start frying them very gently in extravirgin olive oil, add thinely chopped onion and leaves of bay. In few moments, you’ll see how the beautiful shades of colors of the plums will get even livelier. Add some white wine and let it evaporate. It should take about 15 minutes to have a velvety compote, it depends on how much water the plums have inside. Add a coffee spoon of sugar (at this point, a good suggestion might be to taste the velouté to be sure it is right and delicate, in good balance between an acid hint and sweetness). 

  Last step is to add the pork tenderloin in the pan and keep on cooking all together before the velouté is done. The fillet will be good in few minutes and if you notice that the velouté is getting dry too fast, add a couple of soup spoons of water in order to have a moist creamy result for the recipe. Salt & pepper in the end.

  I would serve this mouthwatering dish by decorating it with slices of plum and bay leaves and I would pair it with a glass of good red wine. Any one you prefer will be the right choice for enjoying a delicious meal. 

Bon Appétit!

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’. 

Sunday Recipe: Spaghettoni and Cauliflower Cream, the Light Taste of Summer in the Dish

The beginning of Summer is officially round the corner and the weather is a bit bizarre sometimes, any way everything looks more limpid in front of our eyes and we inhale fresh air for reinvigorating in body and soul. The rain is also a blessing for plants that gratefully share their daily ration of nourishment. Lively voices of young children, who play in the small squared garden, and those of grown-ups, who lazily sat on the benches, entertaining themselves in small conversations with their own neighbours, come and go out of the open windows. In the kitchen, as music background to sip slowly like a persistent and tannic ruby wine, a soft ‘Mediterranean Sundance’, magistrally played by the guitars of Paco de Lucìa and Al di Meola, becomes the authentic frame for our Sunday recipe. In the fridge, a small cauliflower peekaboos everytime the door is open, so it might be a good idea to cook it and prepare a nice sauce for our spaghettoni.

Let’s make a vegetable bouillon with carrots, selery, onion and tomatoes: chop everything and start gently frying in extravergin olive oil for two or three minutes, then add also some water and let boil. Again, cauliflowers will go in the boiling water until they will have a soft consistency and the bouillon will be reduced. Then, mash the cauliflowers and make a velvety cream by using the minipimer. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and melt small pieces of cheese with the fragrance of truffle in the cream. At this proper, for this occasion, I have used  Castello® white with truffle, it has an excellent taste. Besides, it is necessary to underline the fact that there is no crème fraîche in the recipe and this means that each taste is enhanced in a natural and lighter way.

Cook Spaghettoni for the right time suggested on the package, in order them to be cooked ‘al dente’ and, after having strained them, serve on a plate with a couple of spoons of cream and thyme for decoration of the dish. By the way, check whether it is necessary to add some water from the cooking process of pasta: in this case, it might not be necessary, since the cream has been prepared with bouillon and it should be moist and velvety. The taste is really good and it is worth to try.

I hope everybody can enjoy this recipe and wish a good start for the new week!

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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! 🙂

A warm cup of tea for celebrating Epiphany

    The Christmas season is almost over and, while we are walking on the hours of the first days of the new year, people are there to welcome Epiphany, the last Christian celebration of this holiday season, which represents the arrival of the Magi for the adoration of Christ Child and marks the beginning of the new year. An ancient Italian tradition tells that right tonight children look patiently forward at this very special event known also as ‘Befana day’ and personified by an old little lady who, sitting astride a broomcorn, will travel nightly the starry sky, over the world, bringing small gifts and sweets to children, as hope for the new year that just began. At this proper, with a tiny spark in the eyes, our grandparents would certainly evoke, how joyful, very special moment it was to receive candies, fresh fruits and almonds, especially for those children in Italy by the times after WWII. And now as well, our thoughts are for all the children on Earth, because they have the right of dreaming about a better world.

   So tonight, let’s celebrate the arrival of Epiphany with a good cup of tea and a warm puff pastry pocket filled with tiny pieces of pears, which have been steamed for few minutes, some ‘robiola’ cheese and a sprinkle of cardamom (in the oven for about 10 min 220°C). Also our little old ‘befana’ would certainly appreciate this special treat!

Here to follow, there is an interesting reading: 11 golden rules, according to George Orwell, to make the perfect cup of tea.

 How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea: George Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules

 

Appetizing Pumpkin Cream Snack, a Glass of Campari and.. in the Mood for the Weekend!

Hey, it’s Friday afternoon and the new weekend is on arrival! Turn the radio up, let’s go dancing straight to the kitchen and start preparing a small snack to enjoy with a glass of clinking Campari (I may suggest Orange Passion). We need half pumpkin, a quarter of savoy, onion, extravirgin olive oil, nutmeg, half liter of vegetable b0uillon, thyme, salt & pepper. Sauter chopped onion and pumpkin cubes in few drops of extra-virgin olive oil for little less than 5 minutes. Chop the savoy finely and mix it in the pan with onion and pumpkin. Salt & pepper and a sprinkle of thyme. Add little bouillon and let it evaporate slowly in about 15 minutes (please, remember to cover the pan with a lid). When it is cooked, let the mixture of pumpkin and savoy to get cooler, add some grated nutmeg and then work with a minipimer for having a homogeneous cream. Serve the pumpkin cream on warm squares of bread, your Campari and cheers..enjoy a beautiful weekend!

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!