Avocado and asparagus roast

That is a super healthy and tasty dish I prepared to treat myself during a relaxing night in.


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Ingredients for one person

1 avocado

4 asparagus

150g circa of small plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

bread crumbs

garlic clove, finely chopped

1 table spoon of dried oregano

the juice of one lime

salt, pepper and dried chillies

2 dollops of Greek yoghurt

Method

Cut the tomatoes and tossed them with half spoon of oil.

Cut the avocado in half and peel it.

Boiled the asparagus for just 2 minutes, drain them and set aside.

Mix breadcrumbs, garlic and oregano.

In an oven tray fit avocado, tomato salad and the asparagus. Drizzle avocado and asparagus with some oil, cover tomato salad with the breadcrumbs mixture and put in the hot oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to golden.

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Take the tray out of the oven and plate the dish: first a bed of tomato gratin then add asparagus and finally place on top the avocado. Fill the avocado with some Greek yoghurt and finally sprinkle with black pepper and chillies. Ready to eat! Serve it with rye bread or corn cakes for a super healthy meal.

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Pasta cacio e pepe, cheese and black pepper pasta

That’s my choice for the first meal of the year 2015: PASTA CACIO E PEPE (pasta with cheese and black pepper). It’s a classic Roman recipe prepared with pecorino romano cheese but this is my version. A while ago I was a girl visiting Rome and willing to cook a traditional local recipe and after having looked up for some tips that’s the recipe I came up with and that I have been following since then. It’s a super quick and easy recipe, delicious and hearty.

I will write the recipe for 500g of pasta… whatever you reckon is enough for 2 or 4 it’s up to you and your stomachs!

Ingredients

5 liters water

3 table spoons of salt

5 spoons of extra virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 large table spoons of freshly ground black pepper

250g grated PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE: it’s a hard and salty cheese , ideal for grating like the parmesan, made out of sheep’s milk. I just brought back some from Italy but I normally find it in small blocks at Sainsbury’s.

500g of long shaped pasta (I used “spaghetti alla chitarra” that I bought in Italy but normal spaghetti would do)

Method

Fill up a large pot with 5 liters water and bring to boil then add the salt.

In between put in a cold pan the oil, the garlic and the black pepper and heat up on a very slow fire: the garlic has to cooked and become slightly transparent and soft but doesn’t have to fry or toast. Let cool down.

In a bowl mix the grated cheese with some of the cooking water for the pasta. Add a ladle per time and mix well to obtain a kind of creamy mixture (2 ladles of water should be enough).

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook “al dente” following the instructions on the pasta package. Keep on the side a half cup of the cooking water.

Toss the drained pasta in the pan with the oil, garlic and black pepper and mix well, off the stove. Keeping the pan off the stove add the cheese mixture and mix very well using 2 forks and breaking the eventual clots of cheese until you obtain a creamy texture (add some of the cooking water you left behind if the result is too dry). You need to act quickly while the pasta is hot!

The pasta is ready and has to be served immediately.

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Ale and leek risotto

1200upload-10Amazing British produces in the most magical Italian dish.
I am amazed by the way my Italian cooking and eating habits are mixing with English ones. I love risotto and it is so versatile that has been the perfect ground for my culinary “melting pot”.

Today I am trying with Whitstable Bay Organic Ale, memory of a recent week-end spent in Canterbury with friends, and leeks… totally and obviously British!

I will try to put in words the method my grand mother taught me when I was a little girl… probably the time when all my passion for cooking started!

1200upload-99Ingredients

serve 2

1.5 liter of water

4 table spoon of granulated vegetable stock (you can do your own obviously, I will publish also my best veggie stock recipe, but using ready stock really speed up everything)

4 tablespoon of oil

300g of sliced leeks (circa half centimetre thickness)

half pint of Ale beer, choose a citrusy one

300g of small grain rice: I used vialone nano that I brought back from my last visit to Italy but in England you can easily find arborio rice in the supermarkets now.(Sainsbury’s or Tesco)

30g of grated mature cheddar

30g of butter

freshly ground black pepper, salt

Method

1.In a big pot bring the water to boil and add the granulated stock. The stock has to be hot all the way to the end, so keep it bubbling on the stove on low eat.

2.Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, add the leeks and cook them on low heat for 5 minutes until soften.

3.Now the most important part of it all! Add the rice and let it fry slightly on medium heat until the rice grains become translucent, circa couple of minutes. Constantly stir not to burn or toast too much the rice.

4.Turn the heat up, add the half pint of beer and continue to stir. That’s the best part, when the beer is sizzling in the hot pan and the smell of it is filling the kitchen!

5.When the beer is quite absorbed add a ladle of stock and bubble over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is just about been absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and keep cooking this way until the rice is cooked, circa 20 minutes. Don’t forget to stir and do not add to much stock at once! The result has to be creamy. I always prefer to add a ladle less than one more to avoid overcooking the rice.

A note on seasoning: if your stock is salted enough you won’t need to add salt during the cooking. I don’t anyway add it till the last ladle of stock, when I can try the rice and have a clear idea how salty the dish is.

A note on the cooking: I like the risotto al dente, very creamy and a bit runny, in Italy we call it all’onda, but you can cook your rice to a driest point and decide to add less stock. The final result should be anyway a bit creamy and the grains should preserve the original shape and should be separated, not sticking together in lumps.

6.Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and the cheddar and let rest for 2-3 mins before serving.  Dish the risotto and serve it with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and pair it with the same beer you used for cooking.

The risotto should be eaten immediately because it loses very quickly its texture, so if you are having guests it is not at all the dish to prepare in advance. I do actually like to prepare it for my guests, while they are around the kitchen and we are all having a nice glass of wine!

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Rob and the black&green patties

Rob in the kitchen: an inspired cook, not easy to please and with radical taste, straight animalist and wobbling vegetarian. Perfectionist while not on the booze, great with knives.

He just developed the following recipe and it’s a little revolution because he let in his pantry some ingredients he never used or considered before: ghee butter, garam masala, besan and avocado. I mean… he wouldn’t have gone near an avocado until yesterday.

Below the recipe of black and green patties, served with guacamole and kale in a brown baguette.

Enjoy! (I did very much)

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Ingredients for the patties (make 8 patties, serve 4)

3 table spoons of ghee butter

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

500g cooked green lentils, drained

500g cooked black beans, drained

100g besan

1 table spoon garam masala

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

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Method

Preheat the oven at 180 C. In a frying pan melt 2 spoons of ghee and lightly fry onions and garlic in it until softened. Add beans and lentils and, while frying, roughly mash them with the help of a wooden spoon or a masher. Set aside to cool in a bowl.

In the same pan add the remaining ghee and when hot stir in besan and garam masala, again lightly frying for a couple of minutes. Incorporate the mixture to the beans and lentil mash and season with salt and pepper.

Let cool down, devide the mixture in 8 equal parts that you will arrange on  a oven tray lined with baking paper. You can shape the patties with your hands or with the help of a spoon. Don’t worry if the mixture is quite soft and wet, the cooking will give the patties the right crispiness and body.

Put in the oven and let cook for 45 minutes.

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Ingredients for the guacamole (serve 4 patties)

2 avocados

juice of half lime

salt and pepper to taste

4 black olives, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

1 green chillie, sliced

1 table spoon olive oil

Method

In a small bowl smash the peeled avocado with a fork. Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir in all the rest of the ingredients and keep chilled and covered until serving.

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Ingredients for kale (serve 4 patties)

250g kale, roughly chopped

1 table spoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Fry kale with olive oil and sliced garlic until softened.

You can have the patties with the side of guacamole and kale or for a burger effect and a ultimate healthy meal you can use the preparations to stuff a nice multigrain and rye baguette.

Patties can be served right from the oven with the hot kale and the cold guacamole or they are great also at room temperature.

Use olive oil instead of ghee and avoid cheese for a vegan version and no bread for a gluten free one… what else do you want?

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Sugar and flour free oats biscuits

Banana based baking with no sugar and no flour… couldn’t resist to try something. Read a few recipes on Pinterest and here my version. Didn’t want any sweetener at all.

Oats and banana biscuitsIngredients

Prepare 15 biscuits circa

3 large very ripe bananas

2 cups of rolled oats

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 handful of walnuts in pieces

1 handful of blueberries

Baking tray and parchment to line it

Method

Pre-heath the oven at 180°C.

Put the oats in a bowl and then add the bananas roughly cut in big chunks and with the help of a fork (or with your hands) smash everything together and mix well. The result will be fairly runny and sticky. Add cinnamon and walnuts and mix again.

With 2 table spoon prepare rough quenelles with the compound and place them on the baking tray previously lined with parchment. The biscuits won’t enlarge during the cooking time so you can arrange them just couple of centimeters one from each other.

I did try some of them with blueberries, just add them before cooking on top of the formed biscuits pressing gently.

Put in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

The result is not bad at all, for sure these biscuits are really healthy and filling and they make a perfect morning or afternoon snack. They stay soft inside and definitely remind of some energy raw bar. Never baked something easier in my life.

Oats and banana biscuits

Oats and banana biscuits

Berlin: Stadt Land Food Festival

Fantastic opportunity to visit Stadt Land Food Festival in Berlin. Workshops about sausages, bread, cheese and coffee, talks and movies about good farming, good feeding and good drinking and amazing street food and German produces! Berlin may not be the most famous city in the world for its food offer but remember Berliners were going green and organic well before the word hipster made sense, their coffee shops were cool and stylish before we knew what a flat white was and they have been shopping with tote bags forever… so I believe they my not have huge resources invested in marketing and PR but they know what they do!

STADT LAND FOOD FESTIVAL

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Having calm down the craving for sausages with a solid regime of curry wurst in the past few days spent in Berlin, on the night at the street food festival I went for a fresh and tasty herring baguette at the fish stall inside the the Markt Halle Neun. Immune to the sight of lovely Italian goodies (apparently the best focaccia in town can be found here) but finally craving for all what I was looking at, I passed all the roasting sausages, got tempted by the triple cheese Surf & Turf Burger with prawns by FISCH ART (really popular) and since I had been such a good girl I finally rewarded myself with some fine Riesling. See you there next year!

Sugar free chocolate, for REAL!

ROH-KAO

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Amazing discovery during my visit at the Kollwitzplatz farmers’ market  in Berlin! I love chocolate and I am always looking for artisan one, with high percentage of cocoa. In addition, because the food industry is force feeding us with sugar, I am always looking for sugar free alternative but normally I found chocolate with sweeteners/syrups… nothing really free from major food processing or at a very low glycemic index.

So let’s say I saw this cocoa products selling stall and asked if I could take pics and also mildly asked Mario, the kind fellow behind the stall, if he had sugar free, REAL sugar free, chocolate… How shining his eyes! He had it indeed and he was very proud of it  because the recipe he’s using, that adopts crushed fruits as sweetener, is his very own!

So if you need sugar free chocolate Mario is the guy and Roh-Kao what you have to look for. Check the website and write to him at mario@rohkao.de, he does speak English and he is very happy to send goods abroad. Obviously if you can go and visit him in Kollwitzplatz on Tuesdays from 11am to 7pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm that’s even better!

I have got this amazing 75% raw double bar (half Ecuador cocoa and half Dom-Rep) and it tastes fantastic, a real natural sweetness that perfectly match the cocoa flavour in a moisturized and rich texture.

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Food&cinema: a 1979 Italian feast.

“La patata bollente” is a 1979 Italian Movie directed by Steno.

“Bernardo Mambelli alias “Ghandi” (Renato Pozzetto) is a PCI militant and pugilist working at a paint factory in Milan. One night, he sees a bunch of neo-Nazis beating a frail young man (Massimo Ranieri). He saves the man and brings him to his house to learn that he is Claudio, a homosexual. With nowhere to go, Claudio starts staying at Bernardo’s house but a series of typical misunderstandings lead his comrades as well as his girlfriend Maria (Edwige Fenech) to believing that he has “turned gay”. Bernardo is now seen as a potential lost cause and the ongoings soon reveal a “hot potato” situation for him.”

Here the sumptuous meal prepared by Claudio(Massimo Ranieri) in order to welcome back and conquer Bernardo. A most fine culinary and cultural movie passage. Bless.

La patata bollente, Steno 1979. La scena del pranzo. (link to youtube)

 

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