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Posts from the ‘How to & tutorials’ Category

How to make meat sauce: a traditional Italian Sunday lunch

italian sauce with meatIf you look at Italy on a map you immediately realize how small it is. That’s why I often ask myself: how it’s possible that in such a small country you can find hundreds of different ingredients and tens of different traditions. Let’s talk for example of the Sunday lunch: that’s a super classic, something that assemble the entire family together but it’s not the same lunch in every house. In some houses, especially in the centre of Italy, spying on the Sunday table you will find lasagne, in other houses you will find pasta al forno (baked pasta) with almost one hundreds different ingredients. In the northern part of Italy polenta with meat or agnolotti (that is a particular kind of ravioli) with broth… In southern Italy, together with pasta al forno, it’s pretty common cook pasta with sugo di carne (meat sauce). I’m from the northern part of Italy, but trust me if I say that, one you’ve learned how to cook this particular sauce, you will never forget it and you will cook it quite every week. The point is not only that is incredibly good, but it’s super easy to do and the most important ingredient is time. Let me explain: to make this sauce you will need around 3 hours and a half but you need to work or actively cooking just for less than half an hour. For the other 3 hours you can watch tv, read a book, or whatever you like to do: the magic is done by low flame and the fat of the meat that slowly melt till create a magical fusion with sauce. I do it with different kind of meat (you can use pork, veal, lamb, even chicken drumsticks, the important thing is to chose a kind that has some fat) almost once a week: that’s because it’s a great way to flavor pasta (and we are Italian so we eat a lot of pasta!) and it’s a complete dish that doesn’t require too much work. Just try it and let me know! Buon appetito!

italian sauce with meat

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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

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.