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How many times do you want to cook something tasty, but with little time at your disposal? This is the perfect dish for this situation.
It is so simple that I almost feel ashamed to post it, but here in Italy is a fairly common recipe and, after all, typical.

For who does not know, the ricotta is a typical Italian cheese. It is very versatile and is used for many recipes, both sweet and salty.
Here is some information thanks to wikipedia.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 400 g fresh ricotta cheese
  • Pepper to taste
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1tsp chives
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 400 g wholemeal spaghetti

Instructions:

1- In a pot, bring to the boil the water for pasta. When it boils, add salt, then add pasta and cook according to spaghetti cooking time.

2- While the pasta cooks, in a bowl place the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, pepper, nutmeg, chives and salt to taste. Mix together with a fork.

3- When the pasta is almost ready, take 3 tablespoons of pasta’s hot water and put them in the bowl of ricotta cheese. When cooked, drain the pasta in a colander, then add to the mix of ricotta cheese.
Stir it well, then serve immediately and eat hot, otherwise it dries out and becomes sticky!

Buon appetito!

A simple and fresh recipe to resume the threads of this blog, far too long abandoned due to job, commitments, and other amenities, but always in my mind!
So, back in action!

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 200 g peeled shrimps
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • a dash of paprika
  • 1 tbsp brandy or Grand Marnier
  • white pepper
  • 150 g lettuce
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 2 slices of toasted bread
Instructions: 

1- Wash the lettuce, cut into small pieces and dry (or simply open a bag of already cut and washed salad! It’s up to you!;)).
Do the same with the carrots and cut into thin slices.

2- Put the mayonnaise, ketchup, paprika, white pepper and brandy in a bowl and mix with a spoon. Let rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Your sauce is ready!

3- Add the shrimps to the lettuce and carrots. Add the cocktail sauce, mix well and add salt to taste. Last thing, add the previously toasted bread cut in 2 pieces to decorate.
For a more elegant appearance, put aside some shrimp and use it to decorate the salad.

Buon Appetito!


Very difficult indeed. This is the best I can do… However it was really good!
Besides, it’s very simple to do and it’s sure. Sure in all senses: it has baked eggs inside rather than raw ones. Consider that the traditional Italian recipe relates only about raw eggs, but generally I don’t rely in eggs from common supermarket stores, so here you are this simple yet very delicious variant Tiramisù! Let’s start (and throw away from the window any slimming diet, please)!

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (2,1 cups) Mascarpone cheese
  • about 250 g (8,7 oz) Ladyfingers best known as Savoiardi in Italy (here is a good and… funny explanation)
  • 150 g (0,6 cups) white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 400 ml (1,6 cups) semi-skimmed milk
  • bitter cocoa powder to taste
  • strong espresso coffè to taste, about 8 little cups (you can add a bit of sugar in the coffee to taste. Personally I prefer a bitter Tiramisù but it’s up to you)
  • a bit of a liqueur of your choice (I’ve used Egg Marsala but Rum or Maraschino Liqueur are fine too)

Instructions

1- In order to prepare this variant Tiramisù you need first to cook a Creme Anglaise, and this is the only difficult part of this recipe because this is a very delicate kind of custard: it’s likely to curdle and it’s no good, trust me! So if you have a family one or a trusted recipe, I advise you to use it. If this is the first time, follow my directions and cross your fingers.

  • Add the sugar to the yolks and beat them with an electric whisk until they become frothy and white.
  • Bring nearly to a boil the milk. I repeat NEARLY to a boil. Remove it from the stove and add, very slowly and always stirring, the beated sugar/yolks mix.
  • Put again the mix on the stove, very low heat, and always stirring to avoid lumps, cook it until it becomes velvety and softer. It needs few minutes.

Don’t overcook! If the cream curdles, and believe me it can easily happens, remove it fast from the stove, then filter the cream with a colander, add a spoon of wheat or corn flour, and, always stirring, put it back on the stove cooking for few minutes. At least it is usable for the Tiramisù!

When you’ve done with the creme, put in the fridge at least for one hour.

2- Make the espresso coffee. Add a bit of sugar if you like it (it depends on how sweet do you prefer Tiramisù) and a bit of liqueur. Let it cool completely in the fridge. An hour at least.

3- When the cream is completely cold, take it from the fridge and add the mascarpone. With an electric whisk or simply with a spoon incorporate into the cream. In this way you obtain a dense and solid cream.

4- Now it’s time to arrange the Tiramisù! First, take a rectangular glass tray (the same used for Lasagna… look a this one for example!). You have to set about 2 layers of the various elements of the Tiramisù.

  • First dip the savoiardi into the coffee, then put in the tray, one beside the other, creating a layer of dipped coffee savoiardi (actually about half of the savoiardi’s pack). Remember: dip a little and don’t soak them! Otherwise you’ll have a soggy Tiramisù!
  • Now create a layer with the Mascarpone cream with a spoon spreading as evenly as possible.  You need about half of the cream at your disposal.
  • Then sift the bitter cocoa powder and sprinkle it on the top of the cream layer.
  • Repeat the operation another time: dip and assemble the savoiardi, add the cream, and sprinkle the cocoa.


Oh, we’ve almost done. At this point you cannot wait to put your spoon into this delicious Tiramisù but sadly you have too wait a little more… Keep it in fridge for at least 3 hours then enojoy it! Ah, one last tip. Before serving, if you think that the cocoa powder atop has been absorbed by the cream, simply add a little more!

Buon appetito!

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!


Well, actually in Europe many nations claim to be the the creators of this ancient basic dessert recipe.
In Italy tradition states that Pan di Spagna (Spanish Bread in English or Sponge Cake) derives from the creation of  a Genoese Chef who, during a journey in Spain in the late 1700, created this recipe to honour the country he was visiting. I don’t think this is true because this recipe has different names all over Europe…

Whatever the origin, the important thing is that this is the most used base for many desserts. It could be also be eaten on its own.
It’s simple, it’s good, it’s soft, it’s airy and it needs no yeast at all. It has also a low-calories value.
What are we waiting for? Here is the recipe.

Ingredients for 6-8 servings

  • 120 g (0,52 cups) (doppio zero) 00 flour/superfine flour/all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (0,52 cups) powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs (don’t separarate white and yolk!)
  • a pinch of salt
  • butter and flour for the cake pan

Instructions

1- Grease well the cake pan with butter and sprinkle the surface of the pan with some flour. Then turn the pan over and with gentle strokes remove the flour in excess. Remember that eventually you have to remove the Pan di Spagna from the pan, so grease and flour well!

2- Turn the oven on and pre-heat to 170° C or 350°F for about 10 minutes.

3- This cake doesn’t need yeast at all but it needs to incorporate a lot of air in order to leaven in oven. So put the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl and start to beat them very fast. If you use an electric beater, beat to medium/high speed for about 15 minutes or, if you do it with a handy beater it will takes about 30 minutes. You have to obtain a light and fluffy mixture. A little tip: stop beating the mixture only when, rising the beater and pouring the mixture, you can write an ‘8’!

4- Sieve the flour and pour a little at a time into the sugar and egg mixture. You have to gently  blend the flour with a spoon from the bottom to the top.

5- Pour gently the mixture into the bake pan with a palette knife and softly level the mixture off in the bake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Never open the oven while the Pan di Spagna is baking. You may test the cooking with a tooth stick. Put the stick in the middle of the cake and if the stick gets out dried the cake is ready. Pan di Spagna has to be golden, well fluffly, firm yet elastic to the touch.

6- Take the pan out from the oven and and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then you have to turn upside down the cake, and remove it from the pan. Put the cake on a baking rack and let it cool well.

Now that the Pan di Spagna is ready, you have many choices! You may deep freeze it and use it another day, or you may eat it plain -very yummy, you may decorate it with a topping like a fudge or icing sugar and you may fill with custard cream or a Chantilly. You may use marmalade or fruit as well, and so on. The only limit is your fantasy!
If you want to fill the Pan di Spagna with some stuffing you have first to divide it in 2 (or in 3 parts if you are able) thin layers with a serrated knife.  The you may use some sweet liqueur (Maraschino or Alchermes) or some sweet syrup to soften the 2 layers. Then fill one layer with a stuffing of your choice and cover with the second layer.

For instance, in the cake in photos I’ve used icing sugar as topping. For the lines I’ve cut several stripes of oven papers and used them as masks while sprinkling the icing sugar with a sieve.

Buon Appetito.

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!

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!