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Posts from the ‘Finger food, entree & creative ideas’ Category

Eggplants, tomatoes & pecorino: the last taste of summer

eggplant pecorino tomatoesIt’s always sad come back from holidays and it’s even sadder if you leave sand, sea and sun and find yourself already in autumn! So, even if outside it’s raining, I love to cook something that keeps my mind on the beach, that reminds me of blue sky and lazy afternoons. One of my favourite summer ingredient is eggplant: my love for them is quite an addiction! They are so full af flavors that it’s enough to mix them with simple ingredients, like tomatoes and pecorino, to get a dish able to surprise everyone, like this one… hope you like it!


– 2 eggplants

– 5 tomatoes

– 2 cloves of garlic

– 2 tablespoon of oregano

extra virgin olive oil

– salt and pepper

– 3 tablespoon of pecorino cheese, grated Read more


Focaccia with cherry tomatoes & black olives: comfort food for mom’s thoughts

focaccia with cherry tomatoes and black olivesI suppose that something like that happened almost once to everyone: you wake up in the morning, look back and ask yourself how it’s possible that your life has changed so much in so little time. If you are a new mother like I am, this probably happens almost once a week! In few days my little daughter will be 16 months old and I’m really astonished: she changes everyday and everyday is a new challenge. Then of course there’s the “mother trick”: if you are back to your job you miss the baby so much but, if you are still at home you miss your job so much! You know, when we decided to have a baby, I knew that my life would have been different but I was a little bit scared: what, I thought, if motherhood will change not only my life but also myself? After 16 months I’m happy to quote my best friend that, speaking with my brother, told: “Cristina? Noooo, she’s not a mother… she’s just Cristina with a child!” So, after all, I’m the same old witch I used to be…. still in love with shoes and bags (stroller walk with heels should be an Olympic sport), still interested in politics and literature and art, and food of course! And if you’re asking yourself why so much time passed since my last post now you have probably guessed that the little adorable monster took all my time in the last weeks… haven’t I deserve a spectacular comfort food like this focaccia? Trust me: this is the perfect end for a hard day! Buon appetito!

focaccia with cherry tomatoes and black olives

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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!!


Ratatouille, Halloween & a French cemetery story

french ratatouilleBreaking news: Halloween is coming! It’s really strange for me think at this event especially because it wasn’t common at all when I was young in Italy. In this very same period in Italy we celebrate the Saint (1 November) and the death (2 November), but it’s a really serious celebration, strictly connect with Catholicism and faith. So, even if I never did “trick or treat”, it’s nice think that, now that thanks to marketing Halloween is common also here, my daughter will have something fun to do. Unfortunately I’m not ready to create a skull cake or something frightening (I have to study so I will be ready next year!). I decided instead to follow the spirit of this blog and cook a French recipe while tell you the story of a French cemetery.

french ratatouille

Cemeteries are an important key to understand civilizations. Since Mayan and Egyptian pyramid, to the Etruscan catacomb till today they talk about our fears and our believes. When I was in Washington I spent few hours visiting Arlington: it was a touching moment and I really believe that this place tells about American patriotism more than every political speech. I visited a cemetery also when I went to Paris: I’m talking about the world famous Pere Lachaise. Read more

Ricotta & pumpkin verrine, a farm & a love story

ricotta pumpkin verrineHallo world, seems that the great pumpkin season has started! For me this vegetable has never been such a special ingredient until, around one year ago, I had a very nice moment while eating a pumpkin! I was pregnant and both me and my brother  were back in Italy, so my father organised a lunch in a restaurant. This place isn’t of course a simple restaurant, but it’s an old farm, the farm where my grandma and my grandpa fell in love. It’s really difficult to find the right words to describe the emotions that  I felt listening my father telling how my grandpa walked 7 km long just to see his loved, and how he was actually the second boyfriend, because the first grandma’s fiancé died during the war. How they spent long time separated because also my grandfather had to go to war and how, while he was fighting far away from home, the Nazis often went to the farm searching partisans. Luckily, like in every Hollywood movie, they had their happy ending and get married and  had 4 sons. All this happened in Franciacorta, one of the most beautiful countryside in Italy. You can only be enchanted by the mildness of the hills and the vineyards that produced some of the best Italian wines.

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Cauliflower & tuna balls: the Italian passion for “polpette”!

tuna and cauliflower ballsConfession: every time I make a travel I leave my house saying: “No, this time I swear I won’t go to eat Italian!”… and every time I end up in an Italian restaurant asking myself  “why do they have spaghetti with meatballs in the menu??!!”

The reality is that we in Italy love “polpette” (that is of course the Italian name of meatballs) but I had them for the first with a dish of spaghetti only when we saw Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”. My brother loved so much the movie that he asked my mother to have a dish like the one in this picture … Read more

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