Gluten Free Banana Bread (with pecans nuts and chocolate!)

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I have discovered the rice flour only recently, thanks to a gluten intolerant friend who uses it very often and I have to say it ‘a revelation! I’ve always only used it for breading and fried ’cause since the rice flour absorbs very little oil, the fried food remains light, dry and crisp making it more digestible and tasty (for example it is perfect for the Japanese tempura). However, recently I’m re-evaluating this flour for many other uses!

The rice flour has a low protein content (approximately 7%) and a low attitude to baking but, on the other hand, it is suitable for the production of pastry and cookies, for which it is not necessary structuring the grating determined by the gluten. We can recommend the rice flour for the preparation of dumplings “unbreakable” or biscuits and sablés.

I actually tried to use it for a gluten free banana bread!

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 or 3 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 90 g melted butter
  • 120 g sugar (if you prefer you can even use the honey)
  • 2 eggs
  • a bit of cinnamon
  • 1 bag baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 180 g rice flour
  • 2 or 3 spoons of milk or yogurt or coconut milk if you like it!!
  • 70 g nuts
  • dark chocolate flakes (as much as you want!)

Preheat the oven 180°. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, the eggs, and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, and finally nuts and chocolate. When everything is well mixed put everything in a loaf pan and bake for 45 min.

Try to dip a toothpick in the dough, when it comes out clean it means that the cake  is ready. Bring it out and, when it is still hot, add above a little bit of ground hazelnuts and chocolate chips! served warm…

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Easy…fast..perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack :)

Farewell dinner for special friends

Everybody knows that Brussels is a ‘transit’ city. You live there frenetically for months, you find your house, you settle down, you meet people. You meet special people, and you make friends. Good friends. You share with them everything, they become your family, they welcome you when you go home after an awful day at work, they dry away your tears if you had a bad day, they cook for you when your fridge is empty. One day, they tell you that they are leaving. That their adventure in Brussels is over (maybe for a while), and suddenly you realise that after all, in this weird, rainy city we are all passengers. Well, I don’t want to be emotional, but this weekend I have to say goodbye to a very special person. She is one of the most generous and kind persons I’ve ever met, and I am truly sorry I won’t see her for a while. We are going to celebrate her last night properly, but in the meanwhile I made something special for her. As she loves truffles, I tried to make a very special type of fresh pasta. It’s made with a mix of buckwheat and durum wheat. It is dark, almost black when you cook it, and remains extremely rough, so the sauce will be perfectly absorbed. If you want to properly thank a dear friend who’s leaving, this is the best way to do it (besides partying hard for all the night long!)

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Ingredients and procedures for rough tagliatelle with truffle and sausage sauce

For the tagliatelle (4 people)

  • 300 gr. buckwheat
  • 100 gr durum wheat
  • 200 ml hot water
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the sauce with sausages, truffle and mushrooms

  • 5 fresh sausage ‘chipolata’ style
  • 500 gr fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 garlic
  • 3 tbs of the special mix ‘pennette del bosco’ from Dille&Camille’ (a melange of dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, spices and mushrooms)
  • 2 tbs of truffle oil (here in Brussels we definitely recommend ‘Il Tartufo di Paolo’, an olive oil with truffle aroma that you can find at the Delhaize. Not too expensive and delicious).
  • 100 ml creme fraiche

Procedure for the rough tagliatelle

In a bowl, mix the two types of flour. Add the pinch of salt and slowly the hot water (it’s the same procedure for the ordinary fresh pasta). Mix everything until you obtain an elastic, soft dough, that your will knead for a while until the dough won’t stick anymore on your fingers. Cover the bowl with a lid, and let it stay for 30 minutes. Put some flour on the table where you will spread out the dough with the roling pin. Cut a first piece of dough, spread it with the rolling pin and cut as much stripes as you can with a knife. Each stripe should be 1 cm large, 20 cm long. Put all the stripes on a dish, adding some flour in order to avoid that they get sticked. Follow this procedure until you finish all the dough. Put the water boiling in a large cooking pan. Add salt and some drops of olive oil. Boil the tagliatelle for 5 minutes, then pour them in the frying pan where you previously cooked the sauce. Mix carefully for a couple of minutes, so that the sauce will be absorbed by the tagliatelle. Add the creme fraiche and the two spoons of truffle oil, keeping on mixing. Serve and eat immediately. pasta tre pasta quattro

Procedure for the sauce with sausage, mushrooms and truffle oil

In a frying pan, put some olive oil, the garlic and the chopped onion. Add the sausages (you have previously taken off the peel, and mashed them) and the mushrooms you already cut. You may add some drops of white wine, then you pour the three spoons of ‘mix pennette di bosco’. Add some pepper, eventualy more wine and some more drops of olive oil if the mix seems too much dried. When sausages and mushrooms are cooked, add one spoon of truffle oil, some salt, and put the pan away from the fire. Once you pour the tagliatelle in the sauce, add the creme fraiche and another spoon of truffle oil.

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It seemed that my friend appreciated the meal. All I have to do now, is to wish her good luck for her future, with the promise that we will see each other again. Thank you for this wonderful year, Maartje!

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SAVE THE DATE: 9th of June Italian Homemade Pizza WORKSHOP

Good Morning Brussels!

Silvia&Silvia are really proud to inform all of you of a great news: on the 9th of June  2013 at Rue du Cardinal 15 at 17.30 for 2 hours will take place our first WORKSHOP.

Yes guys, you have read right!

Do you want to know how Italian Pizza is really made? Do you want to know each secret of it? Do you want to eat a super delicious Italian homemade Pizza? If for these three questions your reply is YES, you cannot miss it!

Pizza will be the protagonist of this our first WORKSHOP! A typical Italian dish, famous in all the world , loved by children, grandparents, mums, dads, boys, girls and any other kind of human species present in the world!

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For our Pizzas we use only 100% Italian products and your palate will taste different Italian Pizzas:

Margherita ( tomato sauce, mozzarella e basilic); Pizza 4 cheeses ( gorgonzola, brie, parmigiano e gauda); Pizza radicchio e goat cheesePizza broccoli and sausagePizza Aubergine; Pizza mozzarella, sausage and trufflePizza  Diavola (chorizos, tomato sauce and mozzarella with some spicy)…This is just an idea of which types of pizza you can prepare with us but you’ll have the possibility to create your own pizza with your favorite ingredients!

After the workshop you will have both the possibility to bring home your dough and also to eat a very good pizza with us!

Last but not least, there will be a Pizza Competition, and the maker of the most innovative pizza will receive a special Italian gift!

So guys, you have an only choice for the  9th of June: Italian Pizza Workshop! 

If you want to discover how you can participate, do not hesitate to contact us! Feel free to send us an e-mail ( [email protected]or just to leave a comment below!

We are waiting for you and your stomach is waiting for trying our delicious Pizzas!

Vegetarian Friends for dinner..

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Although I am not a vegetarian I think vegetables and legumes, together with good cheese, are my favorite ingredients. Thus, for me it is always a pleasure to cook a vegetarian dinner as it happened few days ago! This time I decided to do many different small appetizers rather than a main course. The secret is to choose only easy and fast recipes!

One of my must is the hummus.

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Indeed, it is very easy and fast to prepare, and even if it is not very original it is always a success and can solve you an improvised aperitif. The ingredients?

  • 300g of pre-cooked canned chickpeas
  • salt
  • pepper
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 spoon of tahina (sesame paste: you can make it yourself chopping and mixing toasted sesame seeds with a bit of olive oil, otherwise in many organic shops you can find the thaina already prepared)
  • 1 small spoon of cumin
  • a bit of hot water
  • paprika

I am following the original first recipe of hummus that was without garlic since I am allergic to it but if you like it you can add it!

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The preparation is very easy: chop and mix all the ingredients together with a mixer, the quantity of each ingredient, together with the ammount of water to add it depends by your personal tastes. And voilà! Then, it is perfect to be served with the arabic bread that you can easly find everywhere here in Brussels!

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To discover the other vegetarian recipes of our dinner continue to follow us!!

Finger food & Spring: Aubergine Rolls

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Lately we did not have enough time for elaborate recipies. Day light is lasting longer in this season, and we definitely want to get the most of it. When I get off from my work, the sun keeps shining as if it was still midday, and I am not really used to this. In my country, even in summer the sun goes down around 8 pm, therefore all activities stops by that time, when people normally have dinner, and we possibly go out after that. Here, you want to stay outside until the last ray of sunlight won’t be gone, and it means that we completely changed our italian habits of having dinner first and going out afterwards…

With warmer temperatures and less time for cooking, we recently adopted a fast-but-healthy food-style. In this case, we propose some Aubergine Rolls filled with creamy cheese with herbs and baked ham.

Ingredients and Procedure for Aubergine Rolls (for 10/12 rolls)

  •  1 big aubergine (the long and violet variety)
  • 1 pack of creamy cheese (like Philadelphia) with herbs
  • 3 slices of backed ham
  • Olive oil for the topping
  • 5 Mint leaves

Wash and dry the aubergine. Cut it in a half, then start cutting the first half in thin slices. Put a frying pan on the fire, and when it’s hot, put the first three slices of aubergine. Grill them properly (not too burned!), then keep them apart in a dish. Cut the remaining half of the aubergine. Keep on grilling the slices, until you finish all of them. Spread on each slice some creamy cheese with herbs, then put a small piece of backed ham. Roll the slice, and put it in a large dish. Once you’be made this procedure with all the slices, chop the mint leaves and shed them over the rolls. Season the rolls with some drops of olive oil, and serve them immediately.

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A Russian Salad for spring times

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I don’t really know why in Italy we call this meal ‘Russian Salad’. I am not that sure that it’s a typical Russian traditional food (apologies to our Russian friends if I am wrong). In any case, it’s one of the unavoidable recipes of my grandma’s Sunday dining table. It’s fresh, tasty, healthy (well, maybe it could be healthy if you suppose to eat just that one, without any other additional meal) full of colors and perfect for a spring day. It’s not a real salad, but it is made with a mix of vegetables and cheese that stay together thanks to the mayonnaise  It takes really few minutes for preparing it, and I’m sure that you won’t miss it anymore, once you discover the technique ;)

Ingredients and procedure for the Russian Salad (3/4 people)

  • 5 carrots
  • 300 gr frozen peas
  • 250 gr Emmenthal Cheese
  • 4 big potatoes
  • 400 ml mayonnaise (you can make it by your own, it’s easy and healthier! just follow our recipe on the ‘born in U.S.A. post)

Boil carrots, potatoes and peas. They have to be well cooked, but not too soft, or they will get broken when you mix everything. Let them cool down, until they get cold. Cut every vegetable (but the peas, of course) into cubes (2.5 cm each), as well as the emmenthal cheese. Put vegetables and cheese in a big bowl, adjust with salt, then add the mayonnaise one spoon per time. Mix the mayo with the vegetables, creating an homogeneous compound. Cover the bowl with a lid or some aluminium, and put it in the fridge.

Serve your Russian Salad cold, right from the fridge and enjoy it with some bread!

 

Best wishes to all mothers!

To celebrate as it should be any kind of party, a cake is a must. Then, when I think of my mother I think of a very specific cake: LA CROSTATA. A typical Italian cake, unknown abroad, quick and easy to praparare and of course delicious. The base of this cake is made with the so called “pasta frolla”, a set of sugar, eggs, butter and flour, thus, it is very funny also for the children to help their mothers in preparing this cake kneading and mixing all the ingredients with their hands! Then, you can stuff it with many diferent things following your personal taste: chocolate, fruit, jam, custard, etc.

The smell of this cake coming from the oven is something that remember me, probably more than anything else, my home and my family so, despite the fact that today I am in Brussels, far away from all of them, I decide to prepare the crostata anyway. Follow me for discovering the secrets of this amazing italian recipe..

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I decided to do a very particular and a bit more elaborated version: chocolate creme and caramelized pears. I saw this recipe on a web site (http://www.donnamoderna.com/cucina/scuola-cucina/crostata-pere-cioccolato/foto-1#title ) and I decided I should try it.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 300 grams of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 grams of sugar
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon of baking

For the filling:

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120 g of sugar
  • 2 glasses of white wine abundant
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • 2 medium-sized pears not too ripe

Place the flour in a bowl, put in the middle sugar, diced butter, 2 eggs, grated rind of a lemon and a teaspoon of baking powder. Mix the ingredients quickly working the dough with your fingertips to form a firm and elastic dough and with it form a ball. Wrap the dough ball of pastry in a plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour. Then roll out the pastry just removed from the fridge with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 4 mm. Lining the pan with parchment paper wet and squeezed over which you will put the dough. Teases out the dough with a fork, cover it with parchment paper or aluminum and fill it with dried beans or with any wheel so that the dough will not growth. Cook it in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, then let it cool.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, cut them into wedges, remove the core and spray them with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil the wine with the vanilla pod engraved along its length, the cinnamon and 40 g of sugar. Immerse the slices of pear and cook them for about 5 minutes. After that, drips off the pears and cut them into slices. Meanwhile cook the liquid over low heat for other 10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy, then turn of the fire, immerse again the pears into the syrup and leave them there till they become cold.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with shredded butter. Meanwhile, mounts, always in a double boiler, eggs and egg yolk with the remaining sugar (80 g), until frothy, like eggnog. Then, remove it from the heat and incorporates the melted chocolate, stirring constantly with a whisk.

When the pastry is cold and you have removed the aluminum or waxed paper with the legumes fill it with the chocolate cream and the slices of pear, making them slightly into the chocolate cream.
Finally, bake the cake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until the cream is thick. Remove from the oven and when it is cold brush it with the where you previously have cooked the pears.

The day after it is even better!!

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Celebrating the Europe Day with fresh homemade pasta!

Today it’s the Europe Day, when citizens from all over Europe should properly celebrate the creation of our beloved European Union. Brussels is definitely the right place for promoting the common values on which the EU identity was built during the last 60 years. Do you know any better ways of celebrating than a luxurious lunch with homemade italian style pasta? After all, pasta is the meal that almost every human being tried at least once in his life, and despite the incredible culinary differences that belong to each EU Member State, it’s one of the most common food within the EU borders. Ok, now I will stop with the self-congratulation of Italian cooking traditions, and I’ll go through the recipe.

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Procedure and Ingredients for italian homemade ‘gnocchi’ with tomato,mushrooms and sausage sauce.

For 500 gr. of gnocchi (ideally a meal for 4 people)

  • 200 gr white flour
  • 250 gr durum wheat
  • 300 ml hot water
  • pinch of salt
  • For the sauce with tomatoes, mushrooms and sausage
  • 600 gr fresh red tomatoes
  • 350 gr mushrooms
  • salt
  • 1/2 onion

1 little sausage merguez-style (I had a special reserve of a dried sausage from a little Italian town called San Severo, where they produce a very special variety of spicy sausage. No, you can’t find it in Brussels, so you have to use the merguez).

Procedure

As for all types of fresh pasta (excluding fresh pasta made with eggs, as tagliatelle or ravioli), the secret for excellent homemade pasta is the usage of hot boiled water for amalgamating the dough. So, first of all you boiled 300 ml of water, and put in a bowl the two tipes of wheat with a pinch of salt. Start pouring the hot water in the bowl, mixing it with the flour. Since the water will burn your fingers, don’t panic, just be a little patient and put on the working table also a cup with iced water, where you can immerge your fingers in case you can’t stand the heat. Work the mixture until you will obtain a compact, elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a lid, and wait 15 minutes before starting using the dough.

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Now, cut the dough into slices of 3 cm thick. Create a rounded stripe with every slice, as you can see from the picture below.

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Cut each stripe into small pieces (the row ‘gnocco’), and brush every little piece on the grater, in order to obtain a rough and wrinkled surface, and the typical concave ‘gnocco shape’.

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You will obtain almost a hundred little ‘gnocchi’ with this procedure. Let them dried a bit, and in the meanwhile put the water boiling in a large cooking pan. Once the water is boiling, add salt, some olive oil, and finally pour the gnocchi. Once they start emerging in the surface, drain them gently.

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Season them with the sauce you prepared in advance, cutting the tomatoes in small cubes, pouring them in a cooking pan with olive oil, the mashed garlic and onion, adding the mushrooms and finally the sausage.

Enjoy your homemade fresh gnocchi and happy Europe Day!

 

 

Before going to the park..

I love May in Brussels! So many days of holidays..and if during one of these days there is also the sun what more could you ask?

Usually I try to profit of these kind of days going to the park because in Belgium you never know when you will see the sun again. Thus, before going to the park it is better to eat something light and fast to prepare! The recipe of today is a “non recipes” in the sense that is a very basic one: grilled vegetables! Perfect for spring and summer, to eat alone or together with meat, fish or a good slide of cheese. However, the vegetable I am proposing you to grill today is a bit unusual: il Radicchio!

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This is a product from my region, Veneto. In Italy there are many different varieties, here in Brussels you don’t have this choice but you can find it even at the Delhaize. I use to eat it in every possible way: with risotti, pasta, baked, within salads etc. But one of my favorite it is this one: simply grilled.

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Wash and dry carefully the radicchio, cut it into strips for long, not too thin. Then put it on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes per side. Once removed from the fire season it with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Ready!!

I know that not everyone likes it since it is a bit bitter but if you are like to find a good quality you will be not disappointed, promise!!

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Now, if you are thinking that maybe this afternoon at the park you could still have a bit of hunger, why you don’t bring with you a lunch box with some strawberries cut with lime and sugar? This is the right season and I should say that the organic Belgian ones are very tasty!

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Besides, did you know that this fruit activates the metabolism, protects the teeth, and contrasts cellulite, hypertension and aging? So..what are you waiting for? Let’s go to prepare them and then see you at the park!

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Home sweet home!

I am at home, in Italy, for few days of holidays and this is without doubts a great period to enjoy this country. The Italian spring offers amazing colors and flavors of vegetables and I am trying to profit as much as possibile of these gifts. Many different kinds of asparagus, the fresh peas, bruscandoli, agretti, chard and many different variaties of herbs and spring salads (lattughino, pasqualina,  cicorino, raperonzolo, romana, da taglio, riccia, rossa, gentile, a cappuccio, valerianella, songino , gallinella) artichokes, green beans and small zucchini with their flower. These are flavors I am missing very much in Brussels and when I have the opportunity to cook and eat them again I love to eat them in purity, without cooking or altering them too much. Indeed, I agree very much with the idea that often the easiest recipe is also the most good.

Today I decided to spoil myself with a “risotto ai fiori di zucchina”: Easy, fast, light, luscious!!! I know it is nothing special or original but you should try it and you will understand my choice…

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Ingredients for 2:

  • 180 g of rice (Carnaroli)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a glass of dry white wine
  • vegetable broth q.b
  • salt and pepper
  • 15 zucchini flowers
  • 1 knob of butter

Heat the oil in a pan and add the zucchini flowers you have washed, dried and deprived of stem and pistil. When the flowers start to wither you should add the rice and toast it. At this point, pour in the white wine and let it evaporate, them add a ladle of broth, wait until when it will be absorbed and then add another ladle and so on till the rice will be cooked (about 15/20 minutes). When it is cooked, turn off the heat, add a knob of butter, stir well, add the pepper and serve with grated parmisan cheese!!

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Buon Appetito!

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Un Petit Picnic sur l’herbe

tortanoTortano tagliatoSun is shining again in Brussels, and we won’t miss it! Without notice, we decided to meet at the Cinquantenaire Parc at noon, with the successful ‘everyone-brings-something’ deal. At home, I had some flour, some fresh yeast, some good gouda and spanish Chorizo. And I remember that during one of the best family picnic I have ever had, one of my lovely aunties prepared a ‘tortano’. It is a typical meal prepared on Easter in Napoli. A kind of brioche dough, filled with ham, cheese, or spicy salami. Absolutely delicious, easy to make and to carry somewhere else, excellent if eaten cold, even better if warmed few minutes in the oven. The perfect meal for the perfect picnic. My version is a variation of the original ‘tortano’ (also filled with boiled eggs and 4 different kinds of cheese, and with a circular shape) ‘lighter’ and rectangular . Here you have ingredients and procedure:

Ingredients for 4 small ‘tortano’

  • 600 gr flour
  • 60 gr butter
  • 1 cube fresh yeast
  • 60 gr sugar
  • 30 gr salt
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • milk for blending

For the filling

  • 12 slices of chorizo
  • 7/8 big slices of gouda
  • or
  • 5 slices of baked ham
  • 7/8 slices of gouda
  • some origan and rosemary

Procedure

As you might have learnt from my previous recipies, you have to prepare the dough. Melt the yeast with a spoon of sugar in a cup with mild water. In a large bowl, put the 600 gr flour, the remaining sugar and the salt. Mix it, then add the melted yeast and its liquid. Cut the butter into small cubes, and add it in the bowl. Start blending the ingredients, adding some milk for helping blending. Work the dough until it won’t be soft and not sticky anymore. Cover it with a towel and let it grow for two hours. Then, roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, and distribute the chorizo (or ham) all around, adding then the cheese. Roll out the dough, be careful in closing well the borders of the dough, otherwise during the baking the melted cheese will spread out, and put it in a baking pan. Pre-heat the oven at 200°, then put the dough inside. Leave it until the surface won’t be golden/brown, and you will check that the dough is  also baked inside with the ‘toothpick test’ (if the toothpick is dried, the dough is ready!).

When it’s colder, cut the tortano into slices (2 cm thin). Enjoy your tortano sitting on the grass of a park!