Pasta with arugula pesto, speck, walnuts and taleggio

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Spring played a bad joke andit  is back in hibernation for a while giving way to gray skies, wind, cold and rain, and so you go back to spend more time at home and you go back to having the desire to pamper yourself with good food, those calorie recipes of great satisfaction that keep us warm until we look at the rain continues to fall out of the window.

The recipe of today is pasta with arugula pesto, speck, taleggio and chopped walnuts. Taleggio and speck are two Italian products but you can find them easily in supermarkets even here in brussels or in Italian stores thus, don’t worry about it.

Ingredients (for 2):

  •  300 gr of penne
  • 100 gr speck
  • 50 gr rocket
  • 20 gr walnuts
  • 1 dl of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 gr of Grana Padano
  • salt and pepper q.b

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Cook the pasta in salted hot water.

Wash and drain the arugula, add the grana cheese, the oil and a bit of cold water (or a cube of ice). Mince and mix all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

Apart size the speck very thin, in strips and brown it in a pan.

Drain the pasta, mix the pasta with the cold pesto and then add the speck. At the last minute put the pasta on the fire for 1 minutes and add the pieces of taleggio that will melt slightly.

Serve the pasta and pour over each dish a bit of chopped walnuts.

 I wish you all a good rainy Sunday!

Rice pilaf with radicchio, speck and pecorino

The evening of the 15th is approaching and rehearsals begin. We need recipes that are easy to eat, tasty, typical and of course which have an aesthetic effect!  What do you think about these cubic of rice??

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Ingredients:

  • Pepper and salt
  • 60 g of butter
  • vegetable broth (about 8 dl)
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 350 g of long grain rice, Basmati
  • 100 grams Speck (or bacon)
  • 2 small heads of radicchio Rosso
  • 100 grams Smoked scamorza or young pecorino

Prepare the ingredients: cut the radicchio into strips, wash it and dry it; chop the speck or bacon. Put the rice into a bowl and wash it under cold running water. Measure twice the rice’s volume of broth. Heat the broth and, meanwhile, turn on the oven to 170 ° C.

Make the sauce. Make the butter in the pan for a few minutes, add the speck/bacon till it become crispy, then the radicchio previously cooked and mix. After 1 minute, add the rice. Toast it mixing it with all the ingredients until it will be glossy. Add, all at once, the hot broth. Adjust salt and pepper, cover the pan and put in the oven for 16-18 minutes. Without stirring the rice, check the cooking. When ready remove the pan from the oven.

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Let cool rice and at this point creates mall square with a “coppa pasta” or simply small balls. Lay over each piece a small piece of pecorino or scamorza and brown in the oven for 5 minutes.

What do you think about the result?!

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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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Comfort Food: Pasta with ham, zucchini and cheese cream!

Today is Monday is and we have to start the week by pampering ourselves! How? Follow me in this recipe!

This pasta remember me the 80s and 90s. Indeed, in Italy the use of cream and ham on pasta, if nowadays is almost disappeared, during the 80s – 90s it was very common: ham, cream and peas; ham, cream and zucchini; ham, mushroom and cream..Unfortunately this cook style is no longer in vogue but sometimes I like to savor again, with a bit of nostalgia, the feeling of home, of pampering, of girlhood that this recipe gives me! I remember me, eating this pasta after 5 hours of school watching “Non è la Rai” (The Italians will understand me) in front of the TV…moments of high culture :)

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Ingredients:

  • more or less 100-150g of pasta per person depending on how hungry you are (mezze penne are the best for this recipe!)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 100g ham
  • philadelphia cheese (3 spoons)
  • Parmesan (4 spoons)
  • a bit of milk or cream
  • salt and a lot of pepper (if you like it)

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 Slice the zucchini and brown them in a pan for 10 minutes with a bit of salt. In the meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water and cut small pieces or strips of ham slices that you will add to the zucchini once they are soft. Stir-fry zucchini and ham in the pan for another 1 or 2 minutes and then add the cheese mix (philadelphia + Parmesan) and the milk or cream (just a little bit, enough to stretch a bit the mixture of cheese and make it more creamy). The sauce is done!

Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the other ingredients. Serve with plenty of pepper if you like it.

Buon appetito e buon inizio settimana :)

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Carrots and changes

As you probably know I have been a little bit busy this last month…
Instead of changing my seasonal closet this autumn I decided to…change town.
and job!
:)
As you can imagine I had very few time to cook, actually I sometimes had even few time to eat.
And since I led off with the new job I started bringing a lunch box with me everyday.
This recipe is rich but not heavy, balanced and colorful, a perfect idea for your lunch box, but also for a gloomy sunday like today is.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings if you have a hungry and greedy boyfriend)
250 gr Pasta tortiglioni;
4 carrots;
1 yellow onion;
curry mix (you can find a lot of different mix, just choose yours! I actually buy turmeric, cilantro, ginger and cumin separately and add other spices that I like in order to create my own curry mix!);
3 tablespoons of pine nuts;
if necessary other spices that you like;
extra virgen olive oil;
salt&pepper.

Parboil carrots 15 mins in boiling water before pan-frying them. Chop grossly and put them in a pan with EVO oil, a bay leaf, a small minced onion and stir swiftly. Add half of a glass of water and let simmer until carrots are well-browned and cooked. Add your curry mix and salt&pepper.
Grind everything with a food mixer until creamy.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water.
Meanwhile pan-fry the pine nuts with a spoon of EVO oil, until well-roasted.
Strain the pasta, stir well with che carrots&curry mix and add the pine nuts.
If you like it you can grate a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the top.

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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!)

 

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!

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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Arborio rice with truffle from Abruzzi

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What a hard work to come back from the longest and probably most beautiful summer I ever spent in my entire life!
Sun is still shining in Italy, and I still don’t feel like get in the kitchen and start cooking…but as I promised you, I came back from holiday with a lot of recipes. I spent most of August travelling around the Abruzzi, our first stop-over.. from the sea to the mountains and back, all over the region.  _DSC9028

The recipe I propose you today comes from the countryside, and I have to thank Lino, Paola and Matilde for the present, but also Tobia and Havana, Lino’s dogs, who did the dirty work and found the truffle!

ARBORIO RICE WITH TRUFFLE FROM ABRUZZI

Ingredients:
6 small cups of Arborio rice
a little yellow onion
butter
beef bouillon or vegetables broth
a glass of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
truffle-peeled and sliced thin
Parmigiano Reggiano

Mince the onion and put it in a pot with a bit of butter. Add Arborio rice and stir well.

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Simmer with white wine until reduced, then add a spoonful broth at a time and cook for about fifteen minutes, adding broth when needed.

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Turn the burner off, add truffle, parmigiano and some butter, stir and cover for a couple of minutes. Serve hot, adding some more truffle on the top of the risotto.

Have a nice weekend,
your Claudia.

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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.

Farewell dinner for special friends

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

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Ingredients and procedures for rough tagliatelle with truffle and sausage sauce

For the tagliatelle (4 people)

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

For the sauce with sausages, truffle and mushrooms

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

Procedure for the rough tagliatelle

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

Procedure for the sauce with sausage, mushrooms and truffle oil

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

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

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Celebrating the Europe Day with fresh homemade pasta!

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

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

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

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

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

Procedure

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your homemade fresh gnocchi and happy Europe Day!

 

 

Home sweet home!

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

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

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Ingredients for 2:

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

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

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Buon Appetito!

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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).

 

Aspettando la primavera..

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Ma quanto buoni sono gli asparagi??Io da buona veneta li adoro! C’è chi dice che non hanno gusto ma chi lo dici non ne ha mai mangiati di buoni!! E poi sono poco calorici e..sanno di primavera, di tepore, di fiorellini che sbocciano e uccellini che cantano. To be honest mangiandoli qui a Brussels bisogna avere molta fantasia per vedere o sentire tutto questo ma..restano comunque buonissimi!

Uno dei piatti più tipici da fare con gli asparagi è sicuramente il risotto ma avevo voglia di un’alternativa al classico normale risotto con gli asparagi e cosi..Benedetta Parodi mi ha ispirato! Ebbene si..Fino a poco tempo fa (ora lo hanno tolto purtroppo), si poteva vedere La7 anche da Brussels e capitava che, quelle rare volte che tornavo prima delle 8 a casa dal lavoro, mi mettessi a guardare Benedetta aspettando il tg da buona italiana. In una puntata lei ha poposto questo risotto con asparagi verdi e burrata…mi ha subito convinto!  Il mio problema è che decido le ricette sempre all’ultimo e cosi mi sono messa di sabato sera all’ultima ora a cercare a Brussels una burrata..missione impossibile! Le avevano finite anche dal mio negozietto italiano di fiducia (Vi svelerò presto dove si trova). Ovviamente abitando all’estero e volendo proporre ricette italiane questi problemini capitano spesso percui bisogna essere flessibili a abili ad adattare le proprie idee al posto in cui ci si trova! E cosi..il risultato finale è stato un buonissimo RISOTTO AGLI ASPARAGI VERDI E MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA che vi dirò è forse stato anche meglio perchè la ricotta di bufala ha un gusto più forte e deciso che dà un certo sprint al piatto. IMPORTANTE: evitate le mozzarellla di bufala del Delheze o di qualsiasi altro supermercato, sono terribili. Se la si deve mangiare una volta che sia quella buona giusto? anche se costa un po’ di più. Io le ho prese sempre dal mio negozietto di fiducia ma in quasi tutti i mercati ci sono spesso banchi di prodotti italiani in cui potete trovarne di buone.

  • 2 mazzi di asparagi verdi sottili
  • 2 mozzarelline di bufala
  • una noce di burro per mantecare
  • prezzemolo
  • riso arborio o carnaroli
  • vino bianco per sfumare
  • sale e pepe

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Il procedimento è quello di un classico risotto: pulite, lavate e lessate gli asparagi, dividete le punte dai gambi. Frullate i gambi con un po’ d’acqua di cottura degli stessi asparagi e un po’ di sale, le punte invece tagliatele in piccoli pezzetti e mettetele a soffriggere con un po’ d’olio nella pentola dove poi unirete anche il riso. Essendo io allergica alla cipolla evito il soffritto ma voi siete liberi di farlo ovviamente! Tenete da parte 2 o 3 punte per decorare. Unite il riso alla maggior parte delle punte che stanno soffriggendo con l’olio, quando il riso sarà tostato sfumate con un mezzo bicchiere di vino bianco, l’altro mezzo, se si tratta di un buon vino, io vi consiglio di bervelo durante l’esecuzione della ricetta :)

Portate avanti la cottura del riso con l’acqua in cui avete precedentemente lessato gli asparagi e a cui avrete unito 1 dado per darci un po’ più di sapore. Quando il riso è cotto togliete dal fuoco, aggiungetevi un po’ di prezzemolo, i gambi frullati e infine mantecate con una noce di burro. In ultimo, proprio prima di servire, spezzettate dentro la mozzarella e pepate a piacere!

In alternativa alla mozzarella di bufala io proverei anche con la ricotta al forno grattuggiata sopra..se qualcuno di voi decidesse di provare questa variante mandatemi foto e giudizi e saranno pubblicati!!

Buon Pranzo