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Pumpkin & Cognac cream: a Renaissance tale about a diamonds palace…

pumpkin cognac creamWhen I think about fairy tales sometimes occurs to me that Italy was probably a perfect setting and a truly source of inspiration. There was a time when the country was divided in kingdoms an duchies. Dynasties as de’ Medici, Gonzaga and Visconti spread their power over territories and people. They used their money to build palaces and finance works of art that would make their power visible and would make them immortal, that’s the reason why in every corner of Italy you can find beautiful things. Apart Rome, Florence and Venice there are hundreds of small towns enriched by architectural gems. One of this is Ferrara, a small city in the middle of Italy, surrounded by a fertile countryside and by rolling hills. The splendour of the Estense court during the Renaissance has left an indelible mark of beauty and harmony and since 1995 the city is Unesco World Heritage. I really think that only in fairy tales and in Italy you can find a place called PALAZZO DEI DIAMANTI (literally “diamonds palace”). This poetic name derives from 8000 pink and white marble ashlar  in the form of diamonds that cover the 2 main facades. This building is of course just one of the magnificent things you can visit in Ferrara and its surroundings: you can chose between castles,  churches, abbeys and towers… and the better part is that you can visit all this enjoing some of the best food Italy has to offer!  As I wrote near Ferrara there’s a fertile countryside and it’s exactly from there that comes the pumpkin I used to cook this cream. I know, like in a true fairy tale I should have probably tried to transform it in a carriage…but it was dinner time and even princesses have to eat something every now and then!

diamonds palace ferrara

Palazzo dei Diamanti – Ferrara (Italy)


– 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

– 1 clove of garlic

– 1 small leak, finely chopped

– few springs of thyme and marjoram

– 400 g (14 oz) of white potatoes

– 500 g (17.6 oz) of pumpkin cleaned and cut in small cubes

– 1/4 of a glass of cognac (or brandy)

– 1 liter ( 1 cup) of vegetable broth

– salt & pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling water then peel and cut them into small pieces. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add a clove of garlic and thyme and marjoram Fry lightly then remove both the herbs and the garlic. In the pan with only the spicy oil add the leak. Fry for 2 minutes, add the pumpkin and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Deglaze with cognac and when it’s evaporated add the potatoes. Cover with 1 cup of vegetable broth. When it starts to boil, reduce heat to minimum, cover with a lid and let it cook for about 20 minutes. You know that is ready when the vegetables are so soft that melt in contact with a fork. Season with salt and pepper and blend with a hand blender. Buon appetito!!