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?

Irish seafood Chowder – a record from Carrick-a-Rede with a Belgian variation

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Irish seafood Chowder is officially on my Top-Ten-favourite-food-list since I’ve tasted it for the first time during a trip to Ireland, last October. The Irish weather blessed my journey to Dublin and Belfast with a beautifl autumnal sun (yes, there is sun in Ireland, and it just adds more colour to that awesome, magic country) shining all day long. After a 4 hours trip from Dublin, I finally got to the northest peak of Eire, headed to the famous rope bridge of Carrick-a-rede, surrounded by a magnificent emerald landscape and a sea as crystalline as the finest glass. With my greatest  happiness, after few hours spent contempling that piece of art which is the Irish generous nature (and wondering what the hell we are still doing in Belgium, overwhelmed by paperwork and burocracy, when we could just quit, easily live by the sea and fishing salmons), we found shelter from the northen cold wind in a lovely Irish Pub, where they served their “Suggestion of the Day”: a delicious, hot and creamy chowder, which definitely made my day.

I have been desperately looking for a recipe which could have (partially) reproduced such delicacy. The ingredients are simple, and easy to find (especially in Brussels, where the quality of the seafood is, I have to admit, absolutely excellent). It does not take too long, and the procedure is rather simple. Nonetheless.. There is something that might compromise the achievement of your perfect Irish seafood chowder. It has to be creamy. The broth where you have been stewing the vegetables and the fish, doesn’t have to be a broth anymore. Fish and veggies have to melt in your mouth, together with this dense, thick and savoury mixture that just tastes as a sunny, windy day on the Northen Irish coastline.

Ingredients and procedure (serving 4 people)

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  • 1kg mussels
  • 300 gr code (preferably fresh)
  • 400 gr salmon (preferably fresh)
  • 300 gr shrimps
  • 200 gr smoked bacon
  • 7-8 potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 leak
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • 100 gr butter
  • 200 ml cream
  • 2.5 l of fish stock.

First of all, you prepare a hot, tasty broth of fish stock. In a large pot, you add 100 gr butter, the chopped leak, onion and garlic, and you gently cook for 5 minutes.

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You add the sliced bacon, keeping on stirring, then you add the bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Cut the potatoes into cubes 3cm larges, as well as the carrots, and add them in the pot. Keep on stirring for other 5 minutes, so that all the ingredients get flavoured.

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Now, start adding the broth, covering the mix of vegetables as you would do with a risotto. You wait that the liquid is almost absorbed by the vegetables (keeping a medium/low fire), then you repeat the procedure, pouring more broth when needed. When the potatoes are well cooked and soft (just being sure to leave some liquid to always cover the ingredients), you start adding the salmon pieces, the cod and only at the end the mussels and shrimps.

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Once the fish is cooked (you see it getting mashed a bit, but watch out not to overcook it!!), add the cream and softly turn the mixture. The cream, together with the stewed vegetables, should give that thicken shape to your chowder. Serve immediately, just checking salt and pepper taste. The top tip would be eating the chowder with some slices of typical Irish soda bread, and some salty butter.. But this, is another recipe, and another story ;)

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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..

 

countdown and sushi

 

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Ok guys, I’m in the countdown mood, ready to leave Bologna in a couple of days. I won’t tell you my destination now, but it’s about sea, marine and forestal reserves, mountains and italian culinary tradition. I will come back with a backpack full of regional recipes, nice pics of wonderful places and funny anecdotes about food to tell you.
BUT..
Before to leave I have a present for you!
This is one of my favorite recipes ever, and this one in particular is my personal one, adapted, modified and readjusted to my taste.
I am sure you will love it, you only have to pay attention to 3 things:
1.Fish has to be more than fresh, almost alive :)
2.Rice must absorb all water but remain “al dente”.
3.Use chopsticks (or hands) and enjoy!

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Ingredients

600 grams sticky rice (in Italy you can use “riso Roma” and fits perfect)
850 ml water

125 ml rice vinegar (I actually use apple vinegar)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt

nori seaweed sheets
raw fish (salmon, tuna, swordfish, porbeagle, shrimps)
cucumber – peeled and cut in strips
avocado – peeled, pit removed and cut into slices
whatever else you like

pickled ginger
soy sauce
wasabi

bamboo rolling mat

Rinse the rice a couple of times, until water runs clear.
Put the rice in a pot with cold water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins without uncover (I use a glass lid). In a small saucepan combine vinegar, salt and sugar and cook until sugar and salt dissolve, stir well while cooking, then let it cool until rice’s cooked.
Put the cooked rice in a wooden or glass (but not iron) bowl and stir with the vinegar. Flutter with a fun while stirring as to hand out vapor and allow to cool to room temperature.

NIGIRI
Prepare fish for wrapping by slicing against the grain into thin slices. Grab a bit of rice and roll it into a small nugget in your hand. To prevent rice sticking on your hands, dip fingers in a bowl with 1 part of vinegar and 8 of water. Place the rice ball on top of the fish slice or shrimp, if you like it, you can smear a bit of wasabi between rice and fish, then squeeze gently to make it adhere.
et aside while you assemble the remaining pieces of fish and shrimp.
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MAKI ROLL
Place a sheet of nori on a bamboo rolling mat. Soak fingers in your “8 parts water-1 vinegar” bowl and spread a handful of sushi rice over half the sheet; firmly press rice along the edges.
Arrange ingredients of your choice about 2 cm from the bottom of the rice. I love the tuna-cucumber and avocado-salmon combination but you can also switch it or add other ingredients.
Roll up the maki tightly, helped by the bamboo rolling mat, leaving the last cm of the nori sheet exposed. Dip your fingertips into a bowl of water and wet the last inch of the nori, then finish rolling it closed. Cut with a sharp, wet knife, divide in two parts, then cut again both parts in two or three parts.

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I leave you with this wonderful sushi etiquette.
Have a nice holiday!
Claudia

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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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Exotic Salad

Unfortunately winter is coming back here in Brussels but this should not stop us from preparing nice summer recipes isn’t it?

The one of today is perfect for a romantic aperitif on the terrace but also as a fast and light lunch to bring to the office. Ready? It only takes 2 minutes to prepare it!!

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Ingredients for 2:

  • 10 red prawns
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 mango (but also papaya can be a very good combination)
  • Lime
  • white wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a bit of chilli if you like it

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 Clean and shelled the prawns, then cook them for few minutes in a pan adding a bit of wine till when the the wine has evaporated and the prawns have done a bit of crust. At this point add the prawns to the avocado and the mango (both cleaned and cut in pieces) and seasoned all with the juice of 1 lime, olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli (optional)!

I didn’t have at home but I think that that also some mint leaves and maybe some fennel could be a very good alternative!).

Now you just need to open a good bottle of white wine very cold and…enjoy!

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Italian meets Asian…in Brussels!

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my friend Silvia (S.) in Brussels.
We are good friends, we studied together at university, and we have in common is the love for food. We love to eat, cook, talk about it (of course, we are Italians!), try new flavors, invent new recipes, and we both love to take pictures.
Oh, I forgot: she and her friend Silvia (C.) have a blog (this one)…
That’s why after a weekend of drinking, eating, laughing, eating and drinking again, we decided to start a new project about regional food, and I’m very proud and grateful to both of them because they will host my posts every week (for Italian version see my tumblr scattincucina.tumblr.it and follow me on twitter: scattincucina). I’ll talk about Italian food of course; in particular, recipes from the different regional traditions, sometimes mixed with my passion for cooking.
The project will start in September, so don’t worry: if you lucky guys go to the sea you won’t miss it!
BUT..
..for the ones who stay in town, I’ll post in the meanwhile a bunch of recipes from different regions of the world. I will post on Fridays, but I might surprise you, so stay tuned! And follow me and your Italian cook mates, Silvia and Silvia.
Oh.. I’m Claudia by the way!

and here’s the recipe:

UDON NOODLES WITH SHRIMPS AND BRUSCANDOLI* 

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INGREDIENTS
(2 persons )
  • 90 gr udon noodles
  • 12 shrimps
  • 150 gr bruscandoli
  • a fistful of soy sprouts
  • 600 ml of water
  • 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
  • garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • thai hot pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • white wine (less than half glass)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Peel and devein shrimps and put it in a bowl.
Prepare a “quick brodetto**”: put heads and shells of shrimps with oil, garlic, parsley and hot pepper in a pot and press the heads a bit with a wooden spoon, as to release fluids. Simmer with white wine until reduced, then add water and boil for 20 minutes.
Filter with a strainer and put aside in a bowl.
In a slightly oiled pan sauté sprouts with bruscandoli for a couple of minutes, then add shrimps and ginger (and more hot pepper if you like it really spicy).
Cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the udon noodles for 8 minutes, strain it and add it to the pan with the “brodetto” you put aside and miso.

Stir well for a couple of minutes, put in two bowls and serve.

Eat with chopsticks of course!

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GLOSSARY:
*Bruscandoli: bruscandoli are the turnip tops of Humulus Lupulus, better known as Hop and main ingredient of many biers. In the Italian culinary tradition has a similar use as asparagus, that’s why throughout Italy is often called wild asparagus.
**Brodetto: the brodetto is a light broth made with different fishes, cuticles, claws of shellfish. Every seaside italian Region has his different Brodetto recipe. This one is a very quick and revisited one, invented just not to waste shrimps shells.

A fish soup that smells like home…

As promised here are the results of a sunny morning at Clemenceau!

As we told you yesterday, when in Brussels it’s not raining, it could worth having a trip to the Clemenceau Market (right after the Midi Station). On Saturdays, there is a wholesale market that reminds me of those ones I used to go with my father in my city when I was a child. Crowded, noisy, colorful, with an outstanding amount of all sort of food displayed in the benches. There, you can find the best fishmongers of the city, and get the ingredients for the best fish soup you’ve ever had. If you were born, like I was, nearby the seaside, the soup will smell like ‘home’. If not, you’ll enjoy having a meal imaging to be seated on the dock of a south-Italian bay…

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Ingredients for a fish soup that smells like home (3/4 people)

  • 300 gr. fresh squid rings
  • 300 gr. little squids
  • 300 gr. prawns
  • 600 gr. tomato sauce (if you can’t find real tomatoes, you can buy those cans with entire tomatoes, and then follow the procedure for making a real tomato sauce)
  • Half onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh parsley
  • black pepper

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There we go with the preparation. In a medium-sized pan, verse three spoons of olive oil, the cloves of garlic (without peel), the half onion you already chopped in small, thin slices. Let the oil warm a bit with, acquiring the tasty aroma of garlic and onion. Don’t let it fry, or your tomato sauce will taste as burned oil. Add the whole can of tomato sauce, plus half a glass of water, with a pinch of sugar (for contrasting the natural acid taste of tomatoes). Stir the sauce for a while, and then cover the pan with a lid. Check that the flame is not too high, then let it cook for 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, you already cleaned and washed prawns, squid rings and squids. Put the squids first, then add the squid rings after 5 minutes, and the prawns as last ones. Stir, and grind some black pepper in the sauce, chopping as well some fresh parsley. Now the smell should be absolutely incredible, and all that you wanna do is taste the soup. You should definitely do it, so you check if your ingredients are soft enough (careful, because if squids and squids are still chewy, it means they are half-baked. If prawns are chewy, it means you cooked them too much. This is why you should add prawns as last ingredient!). As you figured out that your soup is finished, and you finally want to devour it, just turn off the flame and add the fresh chopped parsley on the top. Verse the soup in soup plates, and wait one minute before eating it, as it will be extremely hot. Enjoy it with some toasted bread (the best one is those you bought a couple of days before, because if it’s dried, it will get softer once you immerse it in the soup).

 

Clemenceau Market!

Facciamo un attimo un passo indietro dalle ricette, partiamo dagli ingredienti, dove e come sceglierli. Devo dire che questa e’ per me una delle parti piu’ divertenti! In particolare se la spesa la si fa in un mercato come quello di Clemanceau (Clemanceau metro station, subito dopo Gare du Midi!), che pare essere il piu’ grande di Brussels, e in un Sabato di sole come quelli delle ultime settimane.

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Ovviamente non potete andare li’ pensando di trovare piccoli produttori biologici, questo e’ un mercato etnico, immenso, dove potete trovare verdure e radici mai viste, frutta bellissima a basso costo, grandi banchi di olive e spezie, tanta musica, voci, colori e soprattutto ottimi banchi di pesce. Per chi gia’ conoscesse il mercato di Midi (a presto un post anche su quello), il mercato di Clemenceau e’ molto simile solo piu’ grande, un po’ meno caotico, e con una qualita’ un po’ piu’ alta a mio avviso rispetto a quella di Midi anche se qui non ho visto ne’ banchi di formaggi, ne’ banchi di carne!

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Una cosa pero’ su cui voglio attirare la vostra attenzione e’ questo banco di pesce con annesso micro ristorantino sulla strada! Quando si passa li a fianco c’e’ un profumo sensazionale e i piatti hanno un aspetto meraviglioso! Purtroppo Sabato scorso non mi sono potuta trattenere e mi vergogno a dirlo ma in 2 anni di permanenza a Brussels non l’ho ancora mai provato ma credo che succedera’ molto molto presto! Qualcuno di voi c’e’ stato? Se si fateci sapere com’e’..

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A presto con la ricetta della zuppa di pesce from Clemanceau!!

Calamari alla Lampedusana

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Incredibile…cielo azzurro e sole splendente a Brussels..è durato solo un istante..un breve attimo ma è stato un attimo perfetto, anzi, una domenica perfetta! Confidiamo si ripeta domenica prossima, nel frattempo, riguardando questo foto, mi è venuto in mente che non ho ancora postato una ricettina che sa fortemente di mare ed estate e di sole. Arriva diretta diretta da lampedusa..certo leggermente rivisitata e sicuramente senza lo stesso sapore di mare ma..comunque buonissima.

Ammetto che i calamari e le seppie non sono tra i miei piatti forti, ho sempre paura che diventino duri o gommosi ma in realtà cucinarli è facilissimo e il costo è limitato, cosa che non guasta mai. Noi per 2 mega calamaroni (per 4 persone) abbiamo speso 8€, più che fattibili direi, e se poi chiedete al vostro pescivendolo di pulirveli..bhè..non sarà nemmeno troppo faticoso prepararli. Di cosa sto parlando? Dei CALAMARI RIPIENI ALLA LAMPEDUSANA

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Sembrano più difficili di quanto siano in realtà. Partiamo:

  • 2 calamari medio grandi puliti
  • uvetta
  • pinoli
  • prezzemolo
  • ricotta salata dura
  • parmigiano grattuggiato
  • pangrattato
  • 1 uovo
  • vino bianco
  • 2 Medium/ Large Squids
  • Raisins
  • Parsley
  • Salty ricotta
  • Pine nuts
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • White wine

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Dunque…iniziamo…tagliate a piccolissimi pezzettini i tentacoli e le “ali” del calamaro e metteteli in padella senza nulla aspettando che rilascino tutta la loro acqua. A questo punto unitevi un po’ d’olio e fateli soffriggere qualche minuto. Nel frattempo preparate il resto del ripieno con 4, 5 cucchiai di parmigiano grattuggiato, pangrattato, ricotta salata o caciotta tagliata a pezzettini, prezzemolo, pinoli e uvetta. Le quantità di questi ingredienti dipendono dal vostro gusto personale e dalla dimensione dei calamari. A questo punto unite al ripieno anche i pezzettini di tentacoli precedentemente passati in padella, amalgamate il tutto con un uovo e imbottite i calamari! Una volta pieni chiudeteli con uno stuzzicadente e..voilà, il gioco è fatto! Ora avete 2 alternative: potete cuocerli in padella con un po di sugo oppure, come ho fatto io, farli andare in forno con un bicchiere abbondante di vino bianco, coperti da una stagnola di modo che non si secchino. 180° per 30-40 minuti sempre a seconda della dimensione dei calamari. Poi provate a sentire con una forchetta quando sono teneri.

So guys…we can start! You have to cut into small pieces squid’s tentacles and “wings” putting them in a pan, until their natural water had been released.  After this steps, add oil into the pan, letting them frying for few minutes. Meanwhile, you can prepare squid’s stuffing with: 4-5 spoons of grated parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salty ricotta, parsley, raisin and pine nuts. Quantities of these ingredients depend on your personal taste and squid’s size. At this point add the pieces of tentacles previously cooked in the pan into the stuffing, mix them well together with an egg and finally stuff the squids! Once filled, close them with a toothpick and … voilà, les jeux sont faits! At this step you have two choices: you can cook them in a pan with a bit of tomato sauce or, as I did, you can put them in the oven adding a glass of white wine, covering them with aluminum foil so they do not dry out. Cook them at 180 ° for 30-40 minutes, but remember that baking time always depends on squids’ size (and on your oven’s capacity!). As a last step, insert a fork inside squids. If the fork go inside them easily, they are ready!

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Ovviamente un piatto così va accompagnato come si deve, e non parlo solo di un buon bicchiere di bianco, parlo anche di un contorno appropriato. Vi lascio quindi con un’altra ricettina interessante nel caso vi avanzi un po’ del ripieno dei calamari e non sappiate cosa farne:

  • 3 patate grandi bollite
  • 500 g di spinacini freschi bolliti
  • il ripieno avanzato dei calamari
  • un aggiunta di uvetta e pinoli

Fate rosolare il tutto in padella con un po’ di sale e di olio per alcuni minuti affinchè i sapori si mescolino alla perfezioni e le patate facciano un po’ di crostici! Da servire tiepido.

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