Skip to content

Archive for

Clafoutis with peaches & lavender: a Provencal dream

There are places that, once you’ve seen them, take a special place in your heart forever. Maybe they’re not full of luxurious resorts and they don’t have a caraibic sea, but there’s something that touches your soul and makes you feel lighthearted. That is the case of Provence, in South France, a land where artists and painters went for decades attracted by the incredible light that fills everything. Close your eyes: can you feel the warmth of the sun lightly touch your face? And the smell, a mixture of sea breeze and lavender, thyme, oregano… it’s not a case if Grasse, the capital city of “parfums” is here. Now listen: the musical sound of French language …. open your eyes and wonder watching infinite violet blurs, olive trees, old stone houses with colored shutters. It’s like a postcard sent directly to your soul.

Sometimes you cannot leave everything and just go there, so few days ago, wanting to feel that beautiful sensation in my heart, I decided to cook something that could give me the same emotions and this is the result: a soft clafoutis with peaches and lavender. Hope you will enjoy it, even if you don’t like dessert a lot, it deserve to be cooked just for the marvellous flavor that will expand in your house. Bon appetit!

Ingredients:

– 3 eggs

– 150 g of almond flour

– 100 g of butter

– 100 g of sugar

– 1 spoon of white flour

– 1 dl of heavy cream

– 2 peaches

– 1 spoon of lavender

Beat 3 eggs with then add the sugar. When the mixture is light and fluffy add the 2 flours and the melted butter (at room temperature) mixing after every addition. Finally add the heavy cream and mix again. Butter and flour a pan, pour the mixture and insert the peaches, peeled and tiny sliced.  Sprinkle with lavender and cook for 30 minutes in preheated oven at 180°C (350 °F).

Frozen coffee cream, a long journey and the wish to be “big”

It always surprise me think that a lot of the most important ingredients in the Italian cuisine are not really Italian. Tomatoes, eggplants, corn and a lot of other vegetables did a long journey to reach Italy, then found good conditions and became common cultivation. For some of them it wasn’t possible begin a production in Italy because the environment wasn’t good enough. That was for example the case of coffee that is one of the most favorite drink in Italy (if you’ve ever been here you know what I mean: you can find a coffee shop in every road corner) and that is still imported from South America and Central Africa. But this distance never stopped coffee lovers.

Coffee conquest of the world started in Arabian countries (around 900 – 1000 A.D) and took diffusion following the Muslim expansion in the Mediterranean. It arrived for the first time in Europe in 1615, thanks to the trades between the Republic of Venice and the East. It was in Venice that the first European coffee shop born: I’m talking about Caffè Florian that is still open under the arcades of Piazza San Marco. Read more

Profumo di pane: the art of bread making

bread“Profumo di pane” in italian means bread smell. I’m sure you know what I mean: you’re walking down the road and then you feel it, this incredible smell that comes from a bakery and that is enough alone to change your day in a better day.

The “bread thing” is quite an independent subject in the kitchen, maybe a life philosophy. I discovered it thanks to my friend Clio that is a real addict (how would you define a person that wakes up at 6 a.m. to make bread, knowing that a 12 hours day of work is waiting for her?). I’ve always teased her for this  “bread commitment” but the reality is that this incredible passion that she puts in bread making and in all other things of life is the reason why I love her so much.

So here we are, with the story of Clio’s love for bread and of course her recipe to make it!

“If anyone asks me about my favourite food, whether it is to eat or to cook, I have no doubts: BREAD.

It is so simple, so basic, yet it entrenches a whole universe. It symbolizes life, it describes cultures and religions.. It comes in a thousand shapes and flavours, enhances what it accompanies or it is just so good alone. They even made a museum out of the whole baking experience: it is in San Francisco and during my visit I was shocked to notice how brilliant that idea was. They just put a window that from the street gives view to the kitchen, and someone shaping the dough into funny animals’ shapes, and there you find bunches of people coming to watch.. and after you watch, you just got to taste! Genius… Read more

Wow!! I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blog Award!!

I really hope you believe me if I say that I’m really exited for this nomination and I want to thank Nillawan with all my heart. I’ve started this “blog thing” less than 3 months ago and such wonderful thing happened since that day!

Here 7 things you should know about me:

1) I think that New York is a state of mind

2) I’m a TV series addict (the list is too long, let’s say that “Dexter” is my favourite and I’m able to watch an entire season in 2 days..)

3) I got married 2 times..with the same man! The first one in Italy with all our friends, the second one in Gapstow Bridge, Central Park …NYC

4) My favourite food is Nutella, no ice cream, no pizza…ok, ask me tomorrow

5) Once in my lifetime I decided that I should try the “Sex & the City” experience so I walked up & down NYC with a gorgeous stiletto pair of shoes… after 2 years my feet are still aching …

6) The Italian thing that I miss most is have a cappuccino & brioche breakfast while reading a newspaper surrounded by incredible works of arts

7) I follow my heart

Here the 15 blogs that I love:

bellezza4you an Italian blog about one of the thing that I love most (together with food, shoes, Italian fashion, etc ..) make up!

Madame Croquette

My love affair with running

Juanita’s cocina

*  Sweet Life

Me & my sweat

Palatable jazz

La cucina di Kait

Rantings of an amateur chef

A kitchen addiction

Learn food photography

Savory simple

The cookie a day challange

La cucina prima donna

My fudo

Mediterranean crispy chicken, Pericles & a special football match

As you probably know, football is a preatty serious thing in Italy and I love it especially because it’s the perfect excuse to organise a party with friends. But football matches sometimes represent something more… and that’s the case of this evening match: every European journal and tv is talking about the game between Germany and Greece that perfectly represent the internal conflict that is destroying Europe.   But this is a too much sad theme for my blog, kitchen for me is a place for a light heart and for happiness and I really don’t want to tell you the story of how Greeks are knocked down by this economic crisis.

For me tonight it will be only a football match and I suppose that my choice to cook a “mediterranean chicken” probably already told you that this evening I will cheer for Greece, but I will do that not only because in this match Greeks are like Dave against Golia (Germany is really good in football!) but because I fell in love with Greece when I was a student and I discovered that we owe them the democracy idea . It was 461 b.C. when Pericles did the famous speech to the Athenians, and after more that 2000 years these are still the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard about democracy and freedom. Click read more if you want to read some quote from the text and the recipe! Read more

Lemon chiffon cake, Audrey Hepburn and the French Culinary Institute

It maybe seems strange, considering that I come from a country with a long gastronomic culture and that my brother is a pastry chef, but I’m sure that my first serious contact with culinary art is due to the lovely Audrey Hepburn. I’m talking of course about “Sabrina”, a movie that I watch almost once a year! I suppose you know the story: poor young Sabrina, daughter of a chauffeur, after a terrible love disappointment goes to Paris to become a chef. So we see her try to learn how to break an egg and how to make a perfect souffle…though her heart is so broken that she forgets to turn on the oven.  That was also the first time I started thinking at the kitchen as a sort of therapy thing…and I remember myself, watching the French chef, asking: “Oh, com’on…how much can be important to break properly an egg??!!” But as years passed and my attempt to cook something improved and my passion for cooking increased I understood: break properly an egg is part of the “therapy”: when you’re feeling down or when you want to cook something special, it gives you a big satisfaction know that you can do that exactly in the right way.
So here we are, with a “how to make a perfect lemon chiffon cake” following the French Culinary Institute recipe. I know, a chiffon cake is a “truly American” recipe (credited to Henry Baker) but because of they ‘re French…they know how to perfectly do that! 😉

Ingredients:

5 large egg yolks at room temperature

juice and zest of 1 lemon

210 g of sugar (60 for the base and 150 for the French meringue)

80 ml of vegetable oil (2 3/4 ounces)

150 g of cake flour (5 1/3 ounces)

6 g of baking powder

5 large eggs white at room temperature

In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, oil and zest and juice of one lemon, whisking to blend well.

Sift the flour, 60 g of sugar and the baking powder together and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture into the egg yolks compound, taking care that it remains lump-free.

Prepare the French meringue: place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on low to aerate then add 150 g of sugar, raise the speed to high, and beat for almost 5 minutes. The compound should create firm (but not too dry or stiff) peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the meringue into the egg yolks mixture. Carefully pour the batter in a pan lightly coated with softened butter (pay attention! You should coated with butter only the bottom of the pan, if you butter the sides the cake will collapse inward when baked) and put in preheated oven at 180°C (350°F).

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or till the surface is golden brown and the center springs back when lightly touched. Let cool completely before unmolding.

Risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese: Grandma’s Maria pantry

It occurred to me just recently that things that we consider culinary delights, not so long ago were a pure necessity. For us, modern girl that sometimes have a more stable relationship with our refrigerator than with other human beings, for us that are so used to doing our shopping in big supermarkets where you can find strawberries and tomatoes even in December, it’s difficult to imagine that our mothers grew up in houses where talking about a refrigerator seemed as strange as talking about UFO. But even if it seems strange, our grandmas DID manage the house without a fridge…so here we are with the story of Grandma’s Maria pantry, a magic room full of food.

Rodi Garganico is a small fishermen village in the south of Italy, just a white blur suspended between a blue sky and a wonderful and transparent sea. Maria lived there with her husband and her 3 children, in a white house in the center of the village. Summer has always been generous: the sea gave fishes and the fertile land gave olives, tomatoes, corn and a lot of fruit. But this generous land had known wars (my husband’s father was born in 1949, just 4 years after the II World War) and Maria’s husband had spent a lot of years far away under the army. So, gestures handed down for generations, seemed even more important. You had to work hard so that your pantry had enough food to feed the family during winter.

My step-father perfectly remembers those years and how, as a small child, he climbed the stair and entered this magic room full of food: olives, walnuts, melons, sacks of flour that Maria used to make a big bread loaf every 2 weeks..and of course tomatoes.

Sun-dried tomatoes have an ancient story: Maria made what for generations other women had done. She cut tomatoes in 2 halves and let them dry in open air over a wooden surface, under the rays of the sun. Every night she took them inside, to preserve them from humidity. Then, after a wash in water and a careful drying, they ended up in a jar covered with olive oil.

Now it’s time to open that jar…and begin to cook this risotto!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

– 400 g rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)

– 1 onion finely chopped

– half a glass of white dry wine

– sun-dried tomatoes under oil

– 200 g chèvre (goat cheese)

– 4 spoons of olive oil

– salt, pepper

– 1 teaspoon of butter

– parmesan cheese (grated)

– boiling water

Put oil and 1 onion finely chopped in a pan and fry lightly. Add rice and toast it (touch it with your finger, when it’s warm it’s ready), add the wine and let evaporate. Cook the rice adding a little bit at a time boiling water, remember to toss frequently. After 7 minutes add sun-dried tomatoes cut in small stripes. Adjust with salt and pepper. Meanwhile cut the cheese in small cubes. When the rice is cooked you can stir: add the goat cheese, the butter and the parmesan cheese. If you want you can use a pastry ring for make a nice shape. That you can put also in your fridge and eat the day after. Buon appetito!