Happy New Year to me!

Hello people. Sorry for the week end of silence but for me it has been a very important week end. Indeed, I have officially turned thirty..OMG! The thing is that during these last months I used to say to people I was already thirty as if, implicitly, I wanted to prepare myself to this moment, but now that I am thirty I still believe I am not  as if I still pretend :)

I know that it is very stupid all this feeling and talking for a birthday that is actually as all the others. I think the problem is always the expectations..Usually I like expectations for an event, a new job, a new guy..It is another word for dreams..However, sometimes expectations, specially if socially imposed, are synonymous with anxiety. And even if you promise to yourself that you don’t want to have expectations for not being disappointed, it is very very hard to do it.

Expectations in them self are not a problem. The problem is when your dreams don’t become true, when expectations are not the reality. I should admit that, despite at the stroke of midnight on October 26 (my Bday is the 27th) I was in the perfect place with the perfect person, celebrating in the best way as possible, when I watch my clock my heart began to beat faster and I started to panic. Thirty and what I have done with my life? Where I am? What I have? no job, no flat, no children, no special talents, no money…A disaster..And then suddenly you start to feel an incessant ticking of the damn biological clock …nooooooo!

However, thanks to great people around me and thanks to my brain that sometimes is still working, I then realized that are not the big events or big goals that make you who you are, but all the small things you have done to try to reach those goals (I know it is a trivial and well known thought but it is incredibly true). And if I think about all the small pieces that have constructed my life…I lived in 7 different countries, I visited more than 24 countries, I did more than 10 different jobs, I have spoken with thousands of people from all over the world and many of them become part of my family. I become an aunt, a girlfriend, a friend. I did incalculable errors and many many many stupid things. I had fun. I had the chance to love..a lot..people, food, wine, places, animals, moments, songs..I changed: city, boyfriend, hair, weight, job, ideas..In other words I have lived, I have actively lived, and all this makes who I am and what I have. All this brought me here, in Brussels, writing to you, and, if I look around me, and even behind me, I cannot complain :)

And if it is true, as Carrie Bradshaw teaches us, that when you’re a teenager, all you want to do is buy alcohol and enter in clubs without being checked but once you hit 30 all you want to do is to get carded, is also true (I hope) that it is between thirty and thirty one that women live the best ten years of their life (cit. Sacha Guitry) so..let’s see what will happen in the next years, without panic and without expectations, just with a lot of good new energy, hoping that this damn clock will let me quiet a little bit more :) . Indeed, the thirty of today is the new twenty isn’t it??!!

Said so, I will stop to speak about me (resolutions for the new year: learn the gift of synthesis) and I will give you the recipe of today. I have decided to start with a super healthy recipe: Red Rice with Peas, Soybeans, Beans and Almonds.

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The red rice is native of the Camargue, it is unique for its qualities, prized by gourmets from all over the world for its pleasant aroma of hazelnuts and the characteristic consistency of its grains. It is a brown rice and, as such, it always maintains a particular crunchiness of the beans. It is nothing but common rice that is fermented by various strains of a yeast known as Monascus purpureus, a microorganism that owes its name to the color red and that is actually also called red yeast. The red yeast rice is a traditional component of theChinese kitchen and Chinese folk medicine. It is used as a coloring agent in food preparations, including fish, fish sauce, rice wine, cheese, red bean, pickled vegetables, salted meat. Moreover, In medicine it is used to improve the circulation of blood, indigestion, but, most of all, it has an high power  in lowering cholesterol. So..why do not try?

Ingredients:

  • 200g of red rice
  • 250g of fresh peas
  • 250g of soya beans and normal small red beans
  • 1 punches of skinless natural almonds

You should boil everything: the rice in one pot and the other vegetables in another one. Be careful of do not cook too much the legumes. When everything is ready drain the rice and add the legumes and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Then, wait till the rice is completely cold and enjoy! (Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the other pictures..you should trust me even without seeing the final result!)

 

Strudel jam and..big jumps

Helly everybody, I am finally back!
Well, if you didn’t feel my absence, I hope you were at least looking forward to try my new recipes..I was surely looking forward to prepare and present this easy but astonishing recipe!

I have some big news:first of all, we left our cozy, lovely and tiny house in Bologna to move to..Bolzano!
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The reason why is the second big news: I found a new job here which looks promising and exciting, so we decided to leave Bologna after almost ten years…
Bolzano is my native town, is a tiny, cozy and beautiful city up in the North of Italy, surrounded by the Alps, specifically Dolomites. Half of the population here talks Italian, and the other half is German speaking. Everything here is neat and organized, which is an aspect that probably set the town more like an Austrian city, rather than an Italian one. By the way, one of the typical products from here are apples, besides wine and other wonderful culinary products.
Today, in Bolzano, it was definitely raining cats and dogs, that’s why I decided to propose you a delicious way to store this wonderful fruit now, when it is at its best. I called it “strudel” jam because the flavour is very similar to the famous pie from South Tyrol (ok, recipe soon..)

INGREDIENTS:

2kg apples (typical from Bolzano are Golden Delicius)
a bit of water if needed
juice of one lemon
some tablespoons of sugar (Golden is an already sweet apple and do not require extra sugar)
1 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
a fistful of raisins
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Put clean jars and new lids in a saucepan with water and boil at least 10 minutes to sterilize them. Leave them into the pan until water is cold again, then let dry and start preparing the jam.
Peel and finely dice the apples and sprinkle with lemon juice.
In a high-sided saucepan combine apples with lemon and sugar and stir well, paying attention that the apples don’t adhere to the pan. Just in case add a glass of water and cook slowly. Cook the jam for around 60 minutes adding a bit of water if needed. By cooking it for so long and thanks to the natural property of apples, you do not need to add jelling agents, because apples naturally contains pectin.
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Remove from heat, add cinnamon, pine nuts and raisins and fill the jars to within 1cm to the top. Close with lids, after cleaning rims from the jam. Put the jars upside down thus creating a natural vacuum and leave it until cool.
To appreciate the flavour at its best, you should leave the jars a couple of months in a cool and dark place, but in our house it never lasted that time… ;)
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You can use it to fill a pie, you can taste it with biscuits and tea, but most of the friend who received the jars as a Christmas present told me, they used to gobbled up without anything, just filling the spoon :)

…and to fight a heavy sky, a 24h of pouring rain and blue mood: try the jam while you listen to Big Jumps -Emiliana Torrini (“Me and Armini” album released in 2008).

oh..my new job won’t start until November, that’s why I’ll leave soon for my last week of holiday as an unemployed..where? guess..it’s not difficult, it’s my second home by now…and I’ll come back with funny anectodes and new regional recipes.

Enjoy!
Claudia

Tea time & blueberries

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5.00 pm. I’m alone in my cozy shelter up on the roof, and I need something warm and sweet (together with cuddles, if possible!). If your partner does not suppose to come back before 8.00 pm, and clearly there would be a lack of cuddles in the meantime, you definitely have to bake something sweet that possibly matches with your afternoon tea. I had very few things in my fridge, and I was about to cry because my inspiration was gone with the missing ingredients. Then, I saw the light. Milk, a couple of eggs, flour, cane sugar and… blueberries. The perfect combination for a genuine, simple cake, like those that my lovely and wise granny uses to prepare when I’m home with her. Your rainy afternoon will become suddenly colorful and tasty, after your almond scented tea and a slice of blueberry cake. Follow me with the procedure!

Ingredients

  • 200 gr flour
  • 80 gr cane sugar
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1/2 bag of baking powder
  • 200 gr blueberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter

(if you have it, some cinnamon powder would be a great ingredient to add!)

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Mix all the ingredients together (before mix the dry ingredients and then add the other things). Put the result mixture into a plumcake mold previously covered with a baking paper and then cook the cake at 180° for around 40 minutes.

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Autumn sweet Autumn: Home made Ravioli with Shrimps and Pumpkin

Hey, look outside the window! It’s autumn! And winter is coming, as my favorite TV character would say :)

My today’s dish is a celebration of summer flavors combined with the incoming autumnal tastes. Shrimps and Pumpkin, two elements from two different environments. Don’t be skeptical, and try them with these home-made ravioli. You’ll be surprised, I swear.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 500 gr durum wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 250 gr fresh ricotta cheese
  • 400 gr pumpkin
  • 16 fresh shrimps
  • 16 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 garlic head
  • fresh persil
  • black pepper
  • 250 ml soja cream

For the Dough:

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All you have to do is prepare your fresh home-made ravioli dough mixing flour, eggs and a bit of salt. Wrap the dough in plastic film and let rest for about 1 hour in a dry place. After resting, fresh pasta will be softer and more elastic so get ready to roll it out. Flour the work surface and take a rolling pin. Before you roll your dough flatten it by lightly pressing with your fingers, then, continue to work with a rolling pin, bearing in mind that the dough will have a thickness of about 0.5 mm. When you’ve got the right thickness, you can get the desired pasta shapes that, in this case, are round discs to make the ravioli.

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For the filling:

Create the filling mixing ricotta, parmesan, parsley and pumpkin (previously boiled and smashed).

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Then, you wash your (imperatively) fresh shrimps, chop some onion and garlic, put some oil in a cooking pan, and let the onion and garlic gently cook. Now, you get a slice of bacon (the one for breakfast use), and you roll each shrimp into the bacon slices. Put the rolled shrimps in the pan, and cook them until the bacon won’t look ready (it has to be cooked, but not crunchy). You filled your ravioli with the ricotta & pumpkin cream, be careful in closing them very well pressing the edges with a fork or with the appropriate templates to cut the ravioli.

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Therefore you boil them few minutes, and once they’re ready you just put them in the cooking pan where bacon&shrimps rolls are. Pour over the ravioli 200 ml of soja cream (it’s sweeter than the milk one, and matches definitely better with this meal), turn on the fire and let it cook with high flame for a couple of minutes. Chop some fresh parsley and pour it together with black pepper for the final seasoning.

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Good bye summer, welcome back fall!

5 minutes, 4 ingredients and a guaranteed success!

Hot bresaola rolls with cream cheese and truffle oil:I know that the ingredients of this recipe are a bit more expensive than usual but it’s worth it!

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Ingredients:

  • 100g bresaola in slices
  • 100g philadelphia
  • few drops of truffle oil (you can find it also at Delezhe)
  • rocket
  • salt and pepper

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Prepare the cheese creme mixing the philadelphia with few drops of truffle oil (the taste is very strong) and a bit of salt and pepper. Then, fill each slice of bresaola with a tea spoon of creme and close the rolls.

Leave the rolls in the pan for a few minutes, just long enough that the bresaola get a little crispy and the cheese is melted. When the rolls are ready  distribute them on a bed of rocket (I used salad since I didn’t have rocket at home) previously topped with olive oil and salt.

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5 minutes and…enjoy your meal!

 

Smells of late summer..

I know, we are in October. This means fall, grey sky, falling leaves, pumpkin, chestnuts.. Do not worry, in few days I will start stressing you with “fall recipes” but for today let me still taste the smell of summer. Outside is not yet very cold and in the markets we can still find plums and peaches that bring back our memory to the season just ended. Moreover, in September I was a very good and diligent girl making few jars of plum jam that I was very curious to taste. Thus, before starting with pumpkins, chestnuts, chicory, khaki, etc., today I decided to make you enjoy again a little  bit of summer making a cake (I will need a lot of sugar this month to cope the arrival of my thirty years), a crostata, that smells of plums and lemon!

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The crostata is a typical Italian cake, the first one you learn to make with your mom, very easy, authentic, simple and incredibly good! For me, this cake means home and this is way I like to make it imperfect and craft like a did when I was a child (as you can see from the pictures :) )

Ingredients:

  • 1 jars of plum jam
  • 2 tea spoons of grated ginger
  • 300g flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 2 yolks
  • the grated rind of 1 lemon

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You start making the dough: Mix together flour, sugar and the grated rind of lemon (the dry ingredients). Then, add the eggs and the butter at room temperature. Mix everything till all the ingredients will become an elastic and compact ball. Leave the dough covered by a film in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out 2/3 of it on a baking paper ( it should be 3-4 mm of thickness) and put it into a baking tin. At this point cover evenly the dough with the plum jam previously mixed with the ginger. With the remaining 1/3 of the dough create few strips to be placed crosswise on the surface of the cake in order to create a grid.

The cake must cook in a preheated oven at 180° for 40/45 minutes.

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I wish you all a good Sunday!