Tuna and Potatos Meatballs

There is nothing in the fridge but you still feel like you want something good to eat for a  perfect Sunday with friends maybe in front of a movie? The solution is easy: just a can of tuna, boiled potatoes, a bit of cheese and the success is guaranteed.

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Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 200g of boiled potatoes
  • 80g ricotta
  • 200g of tuna in oil
  • 50g of mayonnaise
  • parsley
  • salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • sesame seeds

Boil the potatoesin hot water till they become very soft. Drain, peel and mash them with the appropriate tool.
Add the tuna to the mashed potatoes together with parsley, finely chopped, ricotta, grated lemon zest, salt and mayonnaise.
Mix well and let the dough rest in refrigerator for an hour or so. In the meanwhile, put the sesame seeds into a bowl.
After an hour, take the dough from the fridge, form the meatballs and pass them in sesame seeds.

Easier than this can’t be, what do you think?

Eggplant and mint: a vegetarian variation on the usual meatballs

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The union of eggplant and mint is in my opinion a perfect union..In summer as in winter this dish is a tasty appetizer or an original main dish, easy to make and very light thanks to the baking. Of course in this gray and rainy day a soup might have been more appropriate , but the meatballs have the advantage that they are a convivial dish, to do together with a bit of music as background…It is this aspect that makes it a perfect Sunday recipe, taking advantage of the fact that we can all stay together at home :)

Plus this morning I took a walk around St. Josse and smells of mint exploding at every store were too strong … impossible to resist , I had to take advantage of it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 eggplants
  • 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 4 mint sprigs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 o 3 slides of bread soaked in milk
  • salt
  • pepper

Remove the skin from the eggplants and cut them into small cubes. Cook them for about 15 minutes in hot water. Drain and let them rest for an hour or so to cool down and lose all the water with something heavy over them.

Place all ingredients in a blender. With the mixture form small balls, roll in breadcrumbs,  and bake them at 200 degrees for 30 minutes.

Buona domenica e buon appetito :)

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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!)

 

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..

 

Pasta al pesto “stop and go”

Hello everybody!
How’s the weather in Brussels?
Here in Italy is still kind of temperate, but it depends on the regions and in this period I’m traveling a lot, up in the North, back to the South, and so on!!
I caught more trains in the last few weeks than in the past two years, and the story won’t change much in the forthcoming ones.
That’s why I have few time to cook but I refuse to give up to fast and prepared food.
If you too, you don’t want to give up, this post is for you!
Yep, this recipe is for those people who don’t have much time or do not feel like cooking, but want to eat healthy and well.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)

  • 200 gr Durum wheat flour pasta
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 50 gr almonds
  • a fistful of fresh Valerian salad
  • Parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • extravirgen olive oil
  • a spoon of sugar
  • garlic if you like it
  • thyme
  • salt, pepper.

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Wash and cut the cherry tomatoes. Prepare a baking tray with some grease proof paper and place tomatoes on it.
Sprinkle with thyme, a bit of salt and sugar.
Put the baking tray in the oven, grill on the top, 140°C.
Fill a large pot with water and bring the water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile combine almonds, cheese, Valerian salad and garlic (if wanted) in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add salt, pepper and oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water (do not forget to add salt to the boiling water before adding pasta).
Drain the pasta into a colander and shake off excess of water.
Season pasta with the almond pest and stir well.
Add the caramelized tomatoes and serve.

I wish you a wonderful weekend, mine will be a matter of love, surprises and friends.
Claudia

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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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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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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!