Crostata pears and Nutella and happy Father’s Day!

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Today is Father’s Day and although many expats or migrants around the world have their dads away it is always good to prepare a beautiful cake to celebrate them even at a distance. Then of course, we will eat the whole cake by ourselves but what can you do … for dads will make this sacrifice :)

And if you are so good not to finish it all in one day you can hope that there remains a slice when you come back tomorrow or saturday night at 5 am wanting something good to eat..Or it can be perfect as Sunday breakfast!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 jar of Nutella (or chocolate cream)
  • 2 pears Kaiser
  • 1 egg and 2 yolks
  • 300gr flour 00
  • 125gr butter
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon of yeast
  • 100gr of sugar

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Prepare the pastry:
Mix the softened butter with sugar and the eggs. Form a mound of flour mixed with baking powder and pour the mixture of butter and eggs in the center. Knead the dough with your hands until it forms a ball.

Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

After this time, divide the dough into two parts, one double the other.

Roll out with a rolling pin the biggest part of the dough and put it on a round baking pan previously covered with baking paper. At this point have fun and  spread the pastry with the nutella (or chocolate cream). I would suggest to warm a bit the cream so it will be easier to spread it.

Then, peel and slice the pears and place them in over the chocolate cream.

Now take the smallest part of dough and crumble it with your hands to form an uneven coverage of the whole pie.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 30 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Plumcake

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I know that we let Halloween go unnoticed but you must not think that we have ended up with pumpkin recipes. November is the pumpkin month and we should celebrate it (you will see what we will do for the Thanks Giving day!). So..before the amazing and traditional pumpkin cake (stay tuned to discover the recipe), I have decided to propose another cake, very easy and very comfortable for these raining afternoon!

Ingredients:

  •  200 gr. of flour
  • 150 gr. of sugar
  • 250 gr. of pumpkin puree
  • 120 ml of olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 spoon of natural yogurt
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • a packet of baking powder
  • white and dark chocolate (the amount is up to your taste)

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 First of all you should cut the pumpkin in slides (leave the skin on) and then put them into the oven closed by silver paper for around 45 min, till when they will become very soft. A good alternative is to cut the pumpkin in small pieces without skin and then boil them with a bit of water using the microwave. In the meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients (before flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Then, add the yogurt, the olive oil and the eggs). At this point add also the pure of pumpkin that you will do removing the pulp of the pumpkin and smashing it with a fork or with the blender (if the smashed pumpkin is too compact add a little bit of water). Finally, add the chocolate and the spices. Mix everything and then reversed the mixture into a baking dish for plum cake. Oven at 180° for 45 – 50 minutes until when the inside will be dry.

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If you like pumpkin you cannot image how good is it, without counting that the pumpkin is low in calories and very good for health :)  we should profit now that we have it!

Potato Croquette filled with Cheddar and Baked Ham

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Belgians had very good reasons for partying hard in the last weeks. Their national football team won 2-1 against Croatia, ensuring a place in the sun among the lucky and walrus ones that will play the next World’s cup. I’m not a big fan of football in general, but I have to admit it: when Italy plays, I am always among the first line of supporters. Maybe it could be incredibly stupid that people rediscover their affection to their Homeland only upon such occasions, but as far as I leave far away from my Country, I became much more patriotic, and I follow with true interest and concern the wisdom of Italian National Team (and, ça va sans dire, the dramatic time that my Country is facing right now).

Pathetic or not, football and sport in general is able to make you cry a river if your National team is going to win and you need – as always –  a good meal that goes with celebrations.! The following recipe is a traditional ‘couch&tv&match’ finger food, crunchy and tasty. You can even prepare it in advance, froze it and keep it for these special occasions.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices baked ham (I truly love the ‘fumè’ version, much more tasty I believe)
  • a couple of eggs
  • bread crumble
  • sunflower seeds oil
  • 2 spoons flour

Boil in enough hot water the potatoes, and peel them once they are ready (they have to be very soft, if you put a fork inside, you have to feel that they are perfectly cooked). While they are still hot, start mashing them (you can use a fork or the proper tool). If they are not sufficiently soft, add 2 spoons of hot milk. Add two eggs and the 2 spoons of flour. Add salt and pepper as well, and mix properly all the ingredients. Be careful: the consistence of the dough you are preparing must be soft but not creamy nor liquid. It has to be dense enough for making balls. Now, put some potato dough in your hand, previously oiled with some olive oil so that the mixture won’t stick on your skin (use a spoon, consider that two full spoons would be enough). Curve your hand, making a hollow in the potato dough, where you will put the slices of cheddar and ham (cut them if their dimensions are not in proportion with the width of the potato disk. Then, cover the surface with another spoon of potato dough. Overall dimension of the ball should be around 10-13 cm diameter. Roll the ball in the bread crumble, trying to keep it compacted and with a precise form. Put the sunflower seeds oil to warm in a frying pan, and when it starts frying, gently put the potato disks one by one. Fry it 4-5 min per side, until it gets golden/brown. Eat your crispy croquettes when they are still warm and crunchy, but be careful to let them get colder a little bit, or inside they’ll burn!

All you have to do afterwards is just focusing on your loved team. This time, I felt like supporting Belgium, just for once, as a special thanks to the land that is gently hosting me and giving me a good job and a warm house to live. And with no doubts, this time, I cried: ‘Go, Red Devils, Go!’

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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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When desire and need match!

22:30. Coming back home after having enjoyed a new summer in Brussels. I feel sooo good (probably also for the few glasses of wine I have just finished to drink but still, I feel good).

It is the first time I am posting an article at this time but I thought of all of you, of all the people that, for different reasons, are coming late at home, they have their fridge almost empty but they need, they want, they deserve something good to eat and maybe, as in my case, also to bring the day after to the office for lunch (don’t worry, I am still unemployed, I am just working few weeks for a project).

What I have at home are those products we always have in our kitchen: canned tuna, eggs, some kind of creamy cheese, etc. What to do with these ingredients? A tuna mousse! Perfect to eat inside a crunchy baguette but also with a salad.

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You can prepare it in few minutes in the late evening (like me) but also in the morning before going to work and it can solve a lot of problems for you: an improvised aperitif at home, a snack for the kids, a picnic, your lunch box for the office or a strange craving for something good and tasty after one of those drinks out with friends that take you to drink a lot and eat almost nothing :)

Ingredients:

  • 250 g of philadelphia or ricotta
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 1 big pack of canned tuna
  • capers as much as you like
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • a bit of parsley or thyme or oregano (the one you have at home)
  • salt
  • If you like a stronger taste you can add 1 or 2 anchovies in oil.

Put all the ingredients together into the mixer until they become a cream. That’s it. I told you it was very easy :)

Then, if you want to create something more sophisticate you can always add some boiled potatoes and olives and you will have a great tuna salad!

Buon appetito e buona notte..

 

Friends, Small talk and…Bruschetta!

Hello!

I apologize for this week of silence but I have been to a very special wedding in Sicily. The most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen, the best weekend ever. I am so ​​full of happiness, serenity, love and cheerfulness that I think I will be happy for all the next year:)

40 people, friends from childhood, a big family together in a big sicilian farmhouse for an entire weekend. Who could ask for more? And then, if at the center of the garden there is also a huge BBQ on which have been cooked more than 16 kg of lamb, many of fennel sausage, and ribs bracciole all washed down with gallons of Sicilian wine..No words, only happyness!

About the menu of the wedding I will maybe show you some pictures later on since we all know that images speak more than words. In the meanwhile we should, I should, come back to the reality, to Brussels, where the weather is not longer very good and we start to spend our evenings at home, maybe with good friends and a bottle of wine, speaking about our summers and our loves.

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To Silvia, me and our friends, it often happens  that we start our evenings outside, with an apero, and then we decide to continue our chat at home in front of something good to eat. However, not always the fridge is full of ingredients and possibilities so..sometimes creativity is essential. The recipe I want to give you today is exactly the result of one of this evenings!

Bruschetta with avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala and chilli oil. So easy soooo good!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 soft avocado
  • few tomatoes
  • 1 mozzarella di bufala
  • brown bread
  • chilli oil

Toast the bread, spread on it the avocado and put on top the small pieces of tomatoes and mozzarella. Then, season with chilli oil and salt!

Have fun

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Why we need a man if we have the cookies?

I love cookies. First of all they are very simple to made, then, they can last longer if stored in the right way. They are perfect for a snack or an easy breakfast but, depending by the recipe, they can also be an elegant dessert for a dinner with friends. They can keep you company in front of the tv watching a nice movie, they can come with you everywhere, they are good for all the seasons and you can eat them without feeling guilty since they are small and thin :) Moreover, you are never tired of them becuase you can eat them in sooo many ways: soaked in latte, coffee or tea, covered by chocolate or jam, made with dried fruit or spices, butter or olive oil..they are the fantasy realm, Not to mention all the forms that you can give to them. And, finally, the nicest thing is that, if they come out with some mistakes..it is enough just to eat them and the mistake will disappear! So…Why we need a man when we have the cookies?! :)

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Now, do you remember those nice molds for cookies that I had bought together with some nice jam and the speculos spices from Dille&Camille few months ago? (http://youritaliancookmates.altervista.org/dillekamille-un-angolo-di-paradiso/) Finally I decided to use them!

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Ingredients:  

  • 250g of flour
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg
  • a bit of salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons (as much as you like) of speculos spices (you can do it also just with cinnamon or other spices you like!)
  • apple and cinnamon jam q.b.

MIx all the ingredients together (except the jam) in order to create the pastry that you will leave in the fridge for 30 min. wrapped in a film. After that, you should roll out the dough with the rolling pin to obtain a thickness of about 3-4 mm.

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 Have fun to cut out and shape the cookies as you like the most. Remember that, for those “bulls-eye” with jam the best idea is to cut circles with glasses, and, for half of these, you have to make an extra hole in the center with a smaller glass. The donut-shaped cookies will be used as a cover of the other circles-shaped cookies covered with jam!

At this point put the cookies into the oven, 180°, for around 20 min.

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When they are ready, leave to cool the ones you want to eat as they are. Instead, for the ones with the jam, you should take the circles-shaped cookies still hot, spread them with the jam and cover them with the donut-shaped cookies. Then, leave them to cool to room temperature!

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I wish to all of you a good Sunday and a good relax!

Italian Quiche with Tomatoes Confit, Chèvre Cheese and Oregano

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 Actually this is not a real quiche, this is why I added the adjective “italian” in the title :) Inded, here there are no eggs and no cream but just tomatoes and cheese..let’s check together the ingredients:

  • a pack of puff pastry
  • 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes on the vine (better if you have the cherry tomato, I didn’t have them)
  • chèvre cheese, the one you can can into slices
  • oregano, salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil q.b.

FIrst of all we should prepare the tomatoes confit, that means caramelized.

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The process is very simple: you should cut the tomatoes into slices or in 2 parts (it depend by how big are the tomatoes), place the slices on a baking and season them with some sugar (better if borwn), salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil. Then, put everything into the oven 150° for 1h30 more or less.

At this point roll out the puff pastry, prick the pastry with a fork, stretch the tomatoes on it and cover everything with small peaces of chèvre cheese and a bit of olive oil.

This should stand in the oven, 180°, for around 40 min. but you should check when the pastry becomes golden.

Enjoy!

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A successful experiment

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Sometimes you have to risk .. in the kitchen as well as in life!

Few days ago I had the visit of one of my French friend who, after having lived for many years between Morocco and Algeria, is fond of strong flavors and spices, combinations of fish and fruit, mix of flavors that she easily recreates here in Brussels where there are many different kinds of markets and shops with similar ingredients. So, as I was preparing dinner for a friend, I decided to ask her some advises for a good starter. This is the result: toasted bread with smoked swordfish, accompanied by a sauce made with cream cheese mixed to turmeric and lemon and then covered with chopped pistachios and few leaves of mint!!

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Ingredients:

  • 200g swordfish
  • toast bread
  • 100g philadelphia
  • 1 lemon
  • turmeric
  • mint
  • pistachios

You should start toasting the bread, then cut every slide in 2 triangles and spread on them a cream made with philadelphia, the juice and the rind of 1 lemon and a bit of tumeric. Spread over a slide of swordfish and finish the dish with some choped pistachios and few leaves of mint!

My suggestion is to do them just before eating them. If not, the bread will become soft! And be careful with the tumeric, indeed the taste, if you do not use to eat it, is very strong!

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Tzatziki for a fits and starts summer

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Hey you!
What’s up in Brussels?
Here in Italy summer still plods on, one day we fight with muggy weather and mosquitos, the next one we spend half an hour in front of our closet looking for a buried sweater…
But the sun is really shining today and we don’t feel like cooking, we feel like eating fresh stuff that you can prepare quickly, so you can go out, to the park, to the beach or wherever you can relish from the rays of sunlight.
That’s why today I propose you a fresh appetizer (also served with main dishes as a sauce) coming from Greece but popular in all Middle East and more: Tzatziki!
Of course the recipe has tons of variations, hope you’ll enjoy mine.

Have a wonderful weekend
Claudia

here’s my recipe:

TZATZIKI

Ingredients

300 gr. Greek yogurt (I used the 0% fat)
2 cucumber
a tablespoon of dill
a table spoon of minced mint leaves
a tablespoon of apple vinegar
a clove of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt

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Start by peeling and grating the cucumbers, then put it in a strainer with a bit of salt, squeeze a bit and leave one hour or until the excess of water is discarded. Place the yogurt in a bowl and add squashed garlic, dill, and fresh mint.

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After one hour squeeze the cucumber then add to the yogurt. Add salt, apple vinegar and extravirgen olive oil.
Stir the mixture well and put in the fridge.
You will fully appreciate the herbs fragrance if you taste it the day after you prepared it.
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Chocolate Cookies for the weekend

Hello everybody!

Here in Bologna summer has already gone, and after a couple of weeks of 30-35°C, we got back to November rains. With this horrible weather (cold, wind, storms and rain) I propose you a recipe that you will definitely appreciate, while drinking your tea on the couch (do not forget the blanket).

I tried this recipe long time ago in Canada, but now I propose you my personal and modified one.

I am talking about chocolate cookies, that all Americans, Canadians and people from all over the world love (watch out, they could cause addiction ;) ).

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I hope that my friend Gina (born in the States but with Italian origins, blood and smile) to whom is dedicated this post, will approve my version.

And I hope that all of you try it ,and let me know if you liked it.

CHOCOLATE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS (around 40 cookies):

120 gr. BUTTER

100 gr. BROWN BUTTER

2 tablespoons of HONEY

1 EGG

220 gr. WHEAT FLOUR

½ teaspoon SALT

1 teaspoon VANILLA BAKING POWDER

120 gr. CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Soften butter in the microwave for less than a minute, ten put it in a bowl and beat it with a whisk, while adding brown sugar. Without stopping beating, add one egg and a couple of tablespoons of honey. Stir flower with salt and baking powder and sift it in the bowl.

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Add chocolate chips and stir gently. While preheating the oven to 180°C, put the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes (otherwise the cookies will spread out too much with the heat of the oven). Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto a baking pun covered with wax paper.

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Bake for 8-10 mins (depends on the oven), then allow the cookies to rest and cool completely befor transferring it in your favorite biscuits box.

Happy weekend and take advantage from bad weather to bake these wonderful cookies!

Claudia

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Italian Pique-nique

I know we have already written this many times but..this seems to be the right one: spring is coming in Brussels!! The weather forecast predicts till 23 degrees for this week end so…We have to profit of the sun spending as much time as possible in the park and what a better way if not a pique – nique?

My recipe for this occasion is an amazing stuffed focaccia. The focaccia bread is a flat and baked bread. Of Italian origins, it is historically linked to the pizza, indeed, the style and texture are similar consisting of wheat flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. The focaccia is usually seasoned with olive oil and salt, sometimes herbs, and possibly onion, cheese, and vegetables.

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The ingredients are very simple:

  • around 300ml of water
  •  extra virgin olive oil (more or less 130ml)
  • 500g of flour 00
  • 10g brewer’s yeast
  • a bit of salt for the dough
  • a bit of coarse salt
  • a small spoon of honey
  • Rosemary

Dissolve the normal salt in warm water and put it into a bowl with the honey, a bit of olive oil, and half the flour and stir to form a smooth batter and fairly liquid. United at this point the crumbled yeast and knead for another 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining flour and knead again until you get a smooth mixture (which will be quite sticky). Put around 50ml of extra virgin olive oil on the baking sheet for baking the cake, place the dough on the oiled baking pan, give it a rectangular shape and place it covered to rise for about an hour inside the oven off until its volume will be doubled. After this time, take the dough for focaccia and redistribute the dough on the entire surface of the pan, taking care to assure that below it there is still plenty of oil. Brush the surface of the cake with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt, let rise again for about another hour. It ‘s time to bake the cake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for at least 15 – 20 minutes, but before you do that you will have to spray the surface with a mix of oil and water sprinkling the surface of the focaccia with the coarse salt and a bit of rosemary.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool, then leave the cake on a wire rack before cutting and stuffing it with what you prefer.

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However, if you don’t have time, you can easily buy the “already done” dough for focaccia or pizza at the supermarket! It is of course not the same but it will be good as well! but schhhhhh, do not say it:)

The focaccia is very good already simply like this. Otherwise, as I did, I suggest you to stuff the focaccia with ham and cheese or with boiled potatoes and cheese! In this case fill the focaccia before putting it into the oven: roll out 1 layer of dough very thin, then add the ingredients and finally cover all with another layer of dough sealing well the edges. Always remember to spray the surface with a mix of oil and water sprinkling the surface of the focaccia with the coarse salt and a bit of rosemary.

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If you buy the dough it is better to buy 2 of them so that you can roll out 1 dough, add the ingredients for stuffing it and cover it with another dough before putting it into the oven.

A special thanks to Claudia for the amazing week end and for this idea!!

 

 

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!