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Archive for the ‘dinner’ Category

Fast because I think that there isn’t a sauce for pasta faster than this … Furious because, come on, it’s very ‘angry’ with our health: butter, butter and more butter. But, as I usually say, if one must do bad, must do it to the fullest! But back to our happy recipe. This sauce is excellent with all types of pasta, ravioli and gnocchi. Specifically, today I’ve cooked with these special Gnocchi called ‘Spätzle‘. They are typically made in South Tyrol, an autonomous province of the northen Italy, Austria and Germany, and are made ​​with wheat flour, eggs and water. The ones I used today were ready-made and flavored with spinach. Delicious!

Ingrendients for 2 servings:

  • 350 g Spätzle;
  • 30g of butter (try with margarine for those suffering from high cholesterol);
  • a handful of dried or fresh sage, chopped;
  • Salt and pepper to taste;
  • Parmesan cheese to taste.

Instructions:

1- In a bowl, boil the water for the Spätzle;
2- In the meanwhile, put in a saucepan (large enough to put then the Spätzle) butter, sage, salt and pepper. Then, with a very low heat, stir the ingredients. The heat has to be very low because the butter must not fry, but just melt. So turn off the heat when the butter is melted.
3- When the water boils, add salt and then add the Spätzle. As for the potato gnocchi (check out my previous post), remove them from the water with a perforated spoon when they come to the surface and pour them into the saucepan with the butter.
4- Add the Parmesan cheese, and, turning on once again the stove under the saucepan – always low heat – stir well until all the cheese melts.
5- Serve hot and well … enjoy it!

Buon Appetito!

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The proceeding behind this side dish could be defined somehow as the foundation of Italian cuisine.
In fact, most of the vegetables can be cooked in this way, as well as many pasta sauces. So you can serve as an accompaniment to a main course or it can be even eaten alone with some fresh bread.
So I decided to post this recipe especially for the benefit of non-Italians who read my little blog!

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1 kg of broccoli (or cabbage or turnip tops or whatever you want, but green :-));
  • 4 cloves of garlic, to which you have carved some small cut with a knife and you have squeezed a bit;
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil;
  • 1 or 2 dried chillies;
  • Salt to taste.

Instructions

1- Wash broccoli, remove any loose or damaged part. Boil them in salted water for 7 minutes from the recovery of the boiling or more if you are using cabbages. If you use a pressure cooker, cook for 4 minutes maximum after the hiss (or follow the specific instructions of your pressure cooker!).
2- Sauté in a a large nonstick pan the cloves of garlic and chilli. When the garlic turns golden, add the previously drained vegetables. Add salt to taste.
3- Sauté on high heat for three minutes, then add a glass of water and, covering with the lid, cook until water is absorbed and the vegetables are dried up in the pan. About 8 minutes. Actually you have to see by eye when the broccoli are ready: it depends on how much you like them soft.
4- Serve hot as a side dish. Very delicious with fresh Italian bread.

Tasty option: when sauté, you can use a bit of anchovy paste to give a stronger and savory flavor. In this case, pay attention that the anchovy paste tends to burn easily.

Buon appetito!

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Pasta al forno means Oven Baked Pasta and it’s a very basic Italian main course. I don’t know a single Italian person who dislikes Oven Baked Pasta: we do this kind of recipe very often and actually with everything we have in the fridge.
The one I’m going to illustrate is been ‘created’ and cooked by me and by my husband Federico who had the brilliant idea of using Curled Chicory.

You see, chicory is maybe a little bitter for the common taste, so you may also use spinaches or other vegetables with green foliage. Besides this specific Pasta al Forno is a simple variant because there is no mozzarella or complicated stuffing.
Very easy to do and very yummy, so let’s start!

Ingredients for 4-6 servings

  • 400 g (14 oz) short pasta of your choice (here I used a mix of 2 different shapes of pasta)
  • 1 kg (35 oz) fresh Curled Chicory /Cicoria Riccia
  • 1,5-2 cups of Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (here is a nice post about Pecorino I found from Deutschmaus page)
  • 500 g (2,2 cups) Bechamel/Besciamella sauce (here I used a packed one but you can of course do it by yourself)
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated nutmeg to taste

Instructions

1- Boil the Chicory in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. Then drain well the vegetables in a colander but keep in the same pot the water you cooked the chicory in.

2- Boil again the ‘green’ water of the chicory and pour the pasta in the same water. Make it al dente, very firm, because it will cook in the oven too. In the meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200° C (390° F).

3- When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander (not the same of the chicory!).

4– In a squared glass or non-stick oven tray, pour a thin layer of Besciamella sauce and spread it with a paddle, then put some pasta and cover with some chicory, the grated cheese, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Now pour again the Besciamella and repeat this step. You have to obtain 2 or 3 layers. Eventually the last layer must be the grated cheese, with some butterball on the top.

5- Put the tray in the oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until it dries a little and the top becomes golden and crispy.
You can enjoy this dish even the day after because, in my and my husband’s opinion, it becomes tastier!

Buon appetito!


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Pumpkin and Gaeta Olives RisottoThere’s nothing we can do. It’s the pumpkin season! And while we wait for the coming of  The Great Pumpkin with Charlie Brown and Linus, well by now for the next year, let’s comfort ourself with this savory rice recipe!

Just a 2 fundamental notes before starting:

1) I don’t really know if the kind of olives used in this recipe, Itrana or Gaeta, are available outside Italy, so if you don’t know how to find them, you may use black or red olives. If I may make a suggestion, you should avoid green olives because they are too bland for the purpose.

2) The second matter it’s about the mantecatura which is, many of you surely know, the cooking process for obtaining a perfect creamy rice. It’s very simple to do, but maybe a little boring. Actually you have to regularly pour hot stock in the rice saucepan or wok, just the amount necessary for covering the rice surface with the liquid, and then you have to slowly stir while the liquid gentle simmers without boiling. When you see the rice a little dried, add another cup of the hot stock and repeat the process. You have to do this until the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender. All this process lasts about 18-20 minutes depending on the rice quality. Remember that the flavour of a creamy rice depends on the stock, so be careful using the salt during the preparation of the recipes that needs mantecatura.

And now the recipe!

Ingredients for 4 servings

– 800 g (3,5 oz) diced fresh Pumpkin
– 100 g (1/2 cup) minced Itrana Olives or Olive di Gaeta
– 1 minced white onion
– about 1,5 – 2 l (8,7 cups) hot vegetable stock (amount needed can vary, so better having stock in excess than to be done all over again)
– 320 g  (1-1,5 cups) Carnaroli Rice. Serving size about 80 g.
– a pinch of nutmeg (hey, you mean Noce Moscata!)
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
– 15 g (1 tbsp) butter
– grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Instructions

1- Take a large saucepan or a wok, add the olive oil and regulate the heat to medium fire. When the oil is heated, add the garlic and the minced olives and gentle sauté the mixture.

2-
When the onion becomes a little golden stir the diced pumpkin in.
Add salt (don’t exaggerate with salt as I said in the mantecatura’s paragraph), pepper and and a pinch of nutmeg and give a stir.

3– Cook the pumpkin for about 10 minutes or until it becomes a little dried then add the rice. Cook for about 1 minute stirring the rice.

4- Now comes the boring part, the Mantecatura! Read up for details! C’mon, pour the stock and stir, pour the stock and stir! Be patient and don’t go around watching telly because the rice might burn… Ok, it happened to me, I know colpa mia!
Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and check the flavour! Add salt if needed.

5- When it’s almost done, add the butter and stir. Serve the rice with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to taste and decorate the dish with some olives if you like.

Buon Appetito!

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Ah, sun-dried tomatoes! I’m totally addicted to them.
My kitchen cupboard could be empty but you’ll always find at least one sun-dried tomatoes jar. They are so delicious even plain on a slice of bread or on a cracker. Well, if you have never tried them, it’s time to start now. Maybe in this recipe!

It’s time to a nice, delicious but not so dietetic salad!

Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 1 head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 4 fresh tomatoes
  • about 10 sun-dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil
  • 100 g (3,5 oz) skinless and boneless canned salmon in water or boiled salmon
  • 250 g (8,7 oz) chickpeas boiled or canned in water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra-virgin olive oil to taste

Instructions

1- Wash well the lattuce and the tomatoes. Cut crosswise the leaves in smaller pieces (not too small, you don’t have to mince them!) and slice the tomatoes. Drain the vegetables and put them in 2 single serving-size bowl. Mix the tomatoes and the lattuce.

2 – Drain and rinse the chickpeas, divide in two parts and put them on the top of the 2 salad ‘s bowl.

3- Drain the canned or boiled salmon, dice it a little and divide in two parts. Then add to the salads.

4- Take the sun-dried tomatoes, drain them from the oil in excess and mince them with a knife. The divide and sprinkle them into the 2 salads.

5- Dress the salads with salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil to your taste. If you like it, you can enjoy this salad with some Italian bread like

Lariano or Genzano. Look a this interesting blog I found – Italicious – with 20 breads of Italy.

Have a good salad and Buon Appetito!

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Well, it sounds like an alcoholic drink. I give up, better use ‘Spaghetti allo Scoglio‘.
In this case Scoglio or Rock is the one in the sea, the one covered with mussels, clams and seafood. Exactly like this pasta from the tradition of southern regions of Italy.

Before starting, just 2 words about the mixed seafood necessary for this recipe.
I’m not a fan of fish cleaning, so when I want to do this kind of recipes I usually go to my trusted fish dealer to buy ready fresh mixed seafood or I go to the market to buy frozen mixed seafood.
Whatever your choice (you may also buy the fresh fishes and clean one by one. It’s up to you!), this dish can be made with various kind of seafood like mussels, clams, shrimp, and squid in varying proportions. If you want you can also add some piece of fresh salmon or grouper. In short you can do it with whatever seafood you like the most.

So, are you ready? Here we go!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 500 g (17,5 oz) frozen mixed seafood or fresh mixed seafood (if you use the frozen one, defrost before cooking)
  • 1 little dried peperoncino (red pepper)
  • 3 garlic cloves cut in 2 pieces and without the green core inside
  • Anchovy paste to taste
  • 700 g (24,5 oz) Canned Italian tomato sauce or 500 g (17,5 oz) chopped fresh tomatoes
  • half glass of white wine
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 400 g (14 oz) Italian spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1- Fill a big pot with water (the more the better!) and put it on the kitchen stove and turn it on. Here you’ll cook the spaghetti.

2- Put the olive oil in a large nonstick pan, a wok would be great, and put it on the kitchen stove, regulate medium fire. After one or two minutes add and sauté the garlic, the hot pepper, half of the chopped parsley and a bit of anchovy paste. Stir all the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

3- When the garlic becomes golden, add the seafood with a bit of its water and set  the fire to maximum. Stir well the mixture. If you are using fresh mussels and clams cook until the shells are open. After a while add the white wine and cook until it totally evaporates (how to know? Sniff the pan and if it doesn’t smell of wine, well it’s done!). Remove the garlic cloves.

4- Put the tomato sauce or the chopped tomatoes into the pan, regulate the fire to minimum. Add salt and pepper to taste (don’t exaggerate with salt because the anchovy paste is quite salted on its own). Cook for about 15-20 minutes and taste often to check the salt.

5- While cooking the sauce, let’s return to the pot of water that, at this point, is surely boiling. Add 1 tbsp of salt and and the spaghetti in the boiling water. Start timing when the water returns to boiling. Good spaghetti needs about 8-10 minutes to cook but read the directions on the package just to be sure.  Taste often the pasta and add salt if needed. Remember that the only way to determine if the pasta is well cooked is to taste: it has to be al dente: firm and yet a little elastic. Never sticky!

6- For this dish you need to cook the spaghetti less than the proper time, because you have to sautè it a little in the pan with the seafood sauce. So, drain the pasta into a colander in your kitchen sink. Shake the colander to remove the water in excess. Add the drained spaghetti into the sauce’s pan, regulate the fire on medium/maximum and stir it well. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

7- Serve into dishes and add the rest of the fresh parsley directly on the top of the spaghetti to decorate them. Enjoy now your Spaghetti allo Scoglio!

Buon Appetito!

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Because, of course, it’s good! Really, after several attempts I finally get the final, in my opinion, Pizza Recipe. Too bad for me beacuse of my husband I have to keep a watchful eye on my plate!
I’ve decided to start with a basic, traditional, very old recipe and maybe the most famous Italian one: Pizza Margherita. Wow, I feel a little nervous… Hope you’ll enjoy it.

The name Margherita came from the tradition stating that in June 1889, the chef Raffaele Esposito, to celebrate the queen of Italy, Margherita di Savoia, baked the first Pizza Margherita: a pizza in which the colors of the ingredients (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) resembled the Italian Flag. He was also the first to add cheese Mozzarella to this recipe. I don’t know if this tradition is true but I like it!

One important thing to know about pizza is that, thus the preparation is very easy, the quality of the ingredients is critical.

There are many methods, here is mine.

INGREDIENTS

Dough for 2 oven trays:
One tray is barely enough for me and my husband! With 2 trays you can satisfy another couple of friends or you can split in two the dough in order to deep-freeze the half you don’t want to use at the moment.

  • 800 g (3,5 cups) Bread Flour (0 Flour – Farina Zero – in Italy). Please note, in case of a celiac diet, use a gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour
  • 1 package of active dry yeast or 1 compressed fresh yeast (choose the one you prefer but check carefully the expiration date)
  • about 350 ml (1-1,5 cups) warm water
  • salt to taste

Topping for 1 oven tray:

  • Tomato sauce (real Tomato sauce not Ketchup, right? And please,  don’t add sugar because the real Italian tomato sauce doesn’t contain any sugar!!! A passata like this one is good for the purpose.)
  • 250 g (8,5 oz) shreded mozzarella (squeeze a little before using in order to remove as much milk as possible)
  • Oregano to taste
  • Basil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Instructions:

The Dough

1- If you use the dry yeast, melt it in half glass of warm water, add 1 tsp of brown sugar, then wait about 10 minutes until the yeast froth. Or, if you use fresh yeast simply melt it in half glass of warm water.

2- Put the flour with the salt in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a hole in the centre.

3- Pour slowly the yeast with its water and then the rest of the water, always very slowly and inside the hole. Stir while pouring the water. In this first steps you can help yourself with a tablespoon for stirring.

4- Now comes the sticky part! Are you ready for becoming covered with flour? Don’t be afraid: this is the most difficult part but after the first attempts you will obtain a perfect dough. With your hands (my grandma used to wet her fingers frequently with water while stirring the flour. I think it’s a good tip!) knead strongly the dough until it becomes elastic and smooth. No piece of dough must remain stuck to your fingers. In this step maybe you’ll find useful to add flour in the case of a too sticky dough or water if the dough is too dry. The amount of water could change on several conditions such as room’s temperature, season or kind of flour. Sooner or later after few attempts you will become a Pizza’s hero!

5- When you feel satisfied with your beloved dough, shape it like a ball. Now it’s time to cover your bowl with a clean napkin and to put it in a warm and dark place at least for 2 hours or until it double the size (I usually put it in the turned-off oven). Remember that more you leaven the dough more you will easily digest your pizza. One tip: Italian tradition states that before putting one dough to leaven you have to engrave a cross with a knife on the surface of the dough ball. This might seem like a blessing for the old granny but actually it helps the dough to better leaven.

6- The dough is ready to be used for your pizza. Now you should decide if you want to use all the dough (enough for 4 big serving size) or if you want to deep-freeze the half. In this last case remember that you have to use the frost dough in 1 month (put it in the fridge from the morning in order to obtain a slowly defrost, then in the afternoon put it in warm place to make it leaven again. Then use it as a fresh dough.)

Topping and baking:

1- Pre-heat the oven to about 220-250° C (430-480°F).

2- Oil the oven tray with some Extra-virgin Olive Oil. Don’t exaggerate with the oil but you have to grease well all the tray. You can use a square or a circular tray: it’s up to you! I prefer the squared one.

3- Flatten the dough in the tray with your hand helping yourself with some flour on your finger or with a rolling pin or with both. Cover with the flatten dough all the tray in a regular way as much as possible.

4- Helping yourself with a tablespoon pour the tomato sauce on the pizza. Remember to cover the surface but try to don’t get too closer to the borders. Pay attention not to wet the pizza too much: create a thin layer with the tomato sauce!

5- Sprinkle the shreded Mozzarella all over the pizza. Don’t put the cheese on the borders. Then sprinkle the oregano and the basil on the top of the surface. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add about 3-4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil well spread all over the surface.

6- If the oven has reached the right temperature, put the tray in. Bake the pizza until the borders become a little crispy and the mozzarella becomes golden. If you see too much liquid on the pizza, it means that it have to bake a little more. Anyway the time is about 9-12 minutes (actually the last pizza I baked needed 15 minutes). In every case, keep an eye on your pizza!

7 – Well, you don’t need instructions for enjoying a pizza!

Buon appetito!

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