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Italian recipes

Spaghetti all’Arrabbiata – the Italian Signature Dish

arrabbiata-0383 Here I am, still in Italy and ready to share another simple and popular Italian dish (one more in my category dedicated to Italian Recipes).

Arrabbiata means “angry” in Italian, an adjective that describes the Italian temper rather well :). Well, at least a side of it.

The politically correct way to explain this dish is saying that “arrabbiata” term refers to the abundant addition of chilli to the sauce that thus becomes heated and piccante. The name comes from the fact that by eating this spicy dish you are likely to become red as a chilli pepper, just like when you are very angry.

I am personally inclined to think of the arrabbiata pasta somehow as the essence of the Italians – passionate, outgoing and, yeah, often “angry”.  In this dish of the Roman cooking tradition, a very intense and sharp flavor comes from the winning mix “tomato + chilli + garlic”. My touch of “piccante” comes from the dried chilli that I try to carefully adjust to the taste of my guests. When I cook it for myself I toss as much “peperoncino” as I can and if my tongue burns a little it is still OK (after all, I am Italian and “arrabbiata” myself).

arrabbiata-0391 The arrabbiata sauce is usually served with Penne, but it is entirely fine to prepare it with a different shape of pasta, such as spaghetti (my favorite one!). Pasta aside, my “arrabbiata” is presented in its simplest version with the only optional addition of a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese (skip it for a vegan version).

You can make it your own arrabbiata by changing the quantity of the ingredients, more chilli for a spicier pasta or more olive oil, if you fancy it. If you like your sauce to be more sauce-y, you can even add a bit of tin tomatoes. It’ll make the dish less dry and a bit lighter because with more liquid from the canned tomatoes you won’t need the whole amount of oil indicated in the recipe. There’s one thing that makes the difference and you should not compromise with, though. No matter how “angry” you want your sauce to be, the tomatoes must be fairly mature and of great quality.

Buon appetito!

arrabbiata-0395

Spaghetti all’arrabbiata

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced and chopped
  • Chilli and parlsey to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 300 g fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 180 g pasta (penne or spaghetti)

Instructions

  1. Chop the garlic, onion and chilli.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped garlic and onion into the pan.
  3. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden. Then add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Stir and season with salt.
  4. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, to reduce the sauce.
  5. A few minutes before the sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan with the sauce. Make sure to coat the pasta with the sauce by stirring well while the pan is still on the heat.
  6. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley, give a quick stir and serve immediately.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/spaghetti-arrabbiata/

Brown Rice Saffron Risotto (and why Brown Rice is better than White Rice)

risotto-milanese-0037 I’m in Naples right now, in my home town to spend the Easter holidays among familiars. Weather and family time are not the only reasons for me to be happy to be back, as you can imagine food is a big part of my life and I’m now more than excited to taste Italian tomatoes,  mozzarella, Neapolitan pizza, wine…. It’s my second day here but I might have already tried all these ingredients.

risotto-milan-0055 A couple of days before leaving for Italy I made a risotto that probably here in Italy wouldn’t be accepted as such. Let me explain you why.

Widespread in numerous versions throughout the country, Risotto for us southerners is not as popular and appealing as in north of Italy. We are huge “pastasciuttari”, a familiar term for pasta lover, in dialect. Sure, we cook rice every now and then. “Someone” told us that it wouldn’t be good for us to eat “white” pasta every day, that whole grain rice are better sources of complex carbs, B vitamins, minerals and above all fiber. Although we don’t take these nutritious facts too seriously, we take a few breaks from pasta (a few in a year, I mean).

Nothing more than the normal rice deprived of its skins (husk), whole rice, also know as brown rice because of the color, is far more nutritious than the white one. It is rich in fiber, first of all, which in refined white rice disappears completely. It’s detoxifying, slightly laxative, gluten-free, highly digestible and with a good amount of minerals (lowered by almost 70% in refined white rice).

Brown rice is great in terms of nutritional value but honestly not the best type of rice to make a classic Italian risotto. In a typical risotto the starch from the rice is released during the cooking to create a sort of a gel that binds the grains together and provides a creamy texture to the dish. saffron I pre-heated (roasted)  the rice in a pan with butter and onion and gradually added the liquid (broth) to keep a constant moisture balance. Just like for a classic risotto. However, my brown rice did not released its starch and I came up with a risotto-non-risotto, not creamy but rather “crunchy”, instead.

Saffron turned its brown into a beautiful vibrant gold, the reasonable amount of butter instead of olive made it flavorful and robust. A beautiful dish, different but beautiful and delectable. My way to lay the groundwork for the coming pasta and pizza days.

risotto-milan-0045 I’m now ready to dive into a sea of chocolate eggs and Italian cheeses. I got to honor family traditions :).

What are you up for to celebrate the Easter holidays?

Brown Rice Saffron Risotto

Yield: Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli rice, or other medium- or short-grain Italian rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable broth; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parsley, chopped (optional).

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice and cook it over medium heat for a couple oof minutes. Add the wine, 2 cups of broth, and the saffron. Turn the heat to high until the broth comes to a simmer.
  3. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Place the saffron in a cup and pour the warm broth in it. Stir and wait 2 minutes. Add this cup of "saffron broth" to the rice and keep cooking, stirring. Add the rest of broth and cook until the rice is cooked.The risotto must be fairly tight, not soupy.
  4. When the rice is ready, stir in the cheese. Off the heat, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and parsley.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/brown-rice-milan-style-risotto/

A Pizza For Breakfast

breakkie-pizza-0593 This week I wrote many blog posts but published only one. I have written a lot in my mind but not here. Does this happen to you as well?

It’s when you have a stream of consciousness, a flow of thoughts that emerge wild and untamed, beyond your control and above all free from any logical order. Too bad that I haven’t felt like ordering my words to make them clean-cut for the blog, afterwards. Communicating through thoughts without the medium of a written language that comes with grammar and rules, is much more spontaneous. I just wish you could read my mind (or forgive those cute spelling mistakes I leave around smile emoticon).

breakkie Am I “crazy”? Uhm, just a little.

I do like writing, though. A lot.

But I often get to think that words create a cage around my thoughts (a poky cage since I am a non native English speaker) so instead of helping me express what’s in my mind they keep my true thinking trapped somewhere inside. And that is the moment when photography comes into play. There’s still a lot of communication going on through an image however the “language of photography” comes across like a help and support for those moments when I run out of words (or it seems to me so because I’m not a photographer. Whatever, I can always write a blog post to describe my pics). 

breakkie-pizza-0607 I will probably keep communicating with you through my soliloquy speech every now and then (so please, stay tuned :)) but you will be definitely hearing back from me very soon when I publish the most structured blog post I have ever written. My idea is to provide a guide to anybody who’d like to express a passion about cooking by running a food blog. It’s been now almost two years since I started this little blog and I am “mature” enough (maybe!) to share something about my blogging experience…

p.s. In case you haven’t noticed, this is a breakfast pizza! Which means good-morning eggs cracked on top of a soft pizza base. No more words needed now, right?

Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients

  • 325 grams bread flour
  • 155 grams warm water
  • 6.50 grams kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 8.5 grams (about 1¾ teaspoons) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, per pizza
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons pesto
  • 5-6 halved olives
  • 5-6 halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • fresh parlsey, sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. First of all, be sure to weigh all of your ingredients.
  2. Mix together the dry yeast, sugar, water (the temperature of the water should be 110 degrees F), and oil in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together bread flour and salt. Slowly add the water and yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour and salt.
  3. Mix with a spoon until the dough comes together as a ball. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough until when you stretch it, you can see through it, (known as a window pane).
  4. Form a ball and place in a container and and allow to rise for 1 hour. When the dough is ready, fold and tuck the dough into itself again, then place back in the bowl to rise again for 1 more hour. While your pizza dough rises, preheat your oven at its highest temperature.
  5. Lightly sprinkle your work surface with flour. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin. The dough needs to be very thin as it will rise in the oven. Lift the rounds onto two floured baking sheets.
  6. Make any final adjustments to the shape and then drizzle with olive oil, then spread pesto all over the pizza dough, top with grated Parmesan cheese, with the halved cherry tomatoes and olives.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes or so, then pull the pizza out, crack the eggs on top, and finish baking for 5-6 minutes, until the crust is golden and the eggs are set. Top the pizza with the chopped parsley.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/breakfast-pizza/

Chipotle Mexican Risotto

CHIPOTLE-0012 I have recently told you about a new trend spreading very fast here in London: fusion food, a cuisine that mixes up elements of two or more different culinary cultures to create something original. Unless you find yourself mixing ingredients in the name of novelty rather than taste, it’s all good. And above all it is slightly riskier (oh, here’s why I like it). You don’t need to be a trained chef to take a risk and learn from your cooking rapture and you should not be intimidated by ingredients never tried and/or mixed before. This is my motto in the kitchen.

chipotle risotto-0033 As you might know I like going out of my comfort zone. It’s just much more fun (I had a blast making this spaghetti bun burger). With this risotto I knew many things could have gone wrong (rice+chipotle is explosive, right?) but I was pretty confident that applying the typical Italian technique of preparing rice, called risotto, and the typical Mexican combination of ingredients such as corn, beans and pepper, could not end up in a poisoning thing. Also, the possibility of ordering pizza makes me a brave cook.

chipotle risotto-0004 So how did my experiment with mixing Italian and Mexican cuisines go? It was a huge success. With a but. I love the Chipotle and the way it jazzes up the pepper and beans mixture. The only discordant note was the honey. The spoon of golden nectar I added at the end of the cooking time, made the risotto too sweet for me (I am not sure what I was thinking when I added it into the finished dish…). You know, I only reserve the best for you :), therefore in this recipe you find all the ingredients minus the off-key element. Buon appetito! ¡Buen provecho!

Chipotle Mexican Risotto

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sweetcorn
  • 4 tablespoons black beans
  • 250g Arborio rice
  • 70 ml white wine
  • 1 liter vegetable stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • small bunch flat-leaved parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Chipotle powder

Instructions

  1. Melt butter and oil in a large frying pan and gently fry onion for about 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Stir in rice, toast it for 3-4 minutes stirring continuously then add peppers, black beans and corn. Add wine and 1/4 of the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more stock every time the risotto dries out.
  3. When all the stock has been absorbed, add the yogurt and cook for 5 mins more. The risotto must be not too dry but definitely not soupy! Ideally you want the sauce to be absorbed.
  4. Stir in the parsley and Chipotle powder and season to taste. Mix well and serve warm.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/chipotle-risotto/

 

Affogato al Caffe (The wonders of Ice-Cream+Coffee)

Affogato-0129 The coffee I am drinking right now tastes like hot burnt water (if one could burn the water).

It’s a standard week day afternoon, I’m writing about silicon nanoclusters (what a lethargic activity, yaaaawn..) while thinking it wouldn’t be that bad to hole up for a couple of months and wake up with a summer breeze over my skin. And a refreshing coffee shake next to me. And its aroma.

As you can imagine, coffee is not only a solution to my sleepy moments. I arm myself with a mediocre source of caffeine probably every-time I am thirsty. Mediocre coffee – or less than mediocre because as great my coffee addiction may be, I hardly drink a good one. Honestly, I quit good coffee since I moved to London.

affogato-coffee-0135 Am I showing parochial attitudes toward my origins? Maybe. I admit I  flag wave about a couple of things about my country, one is the pizza, the other one is coffee. But I also complain about ONLY a couple of things from MiddletonLand England, one being the London underground, the other one coffee. There’s no such thing as a good coffee* for an Italian in London. A few exceptions hither and thither don’t help – it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

*black and bold nectar that comes out of made in Italy espresso machines.

coffeeaffogato Lots of people I met abroad shared with me the impression that we Italian expats are too picky when it comes to trying different dishes and things that are not made and conceived in Italy. These people are right and their opinion is grounded in facts. However, there are few exceptions and I believe I am one of those. I am now so accustomed to this-coffee* that I stopped buying the Italian brands I’ve been hooked on since I was born (!) and I do not use my moka machine almost anymore. I am fine with pouring hot water on a coffee powder. Any coffee powder. Now you can judge me. 

*hot burnt water.

Affogato-0152 In case you don’t know (but sounds like you might know already because, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word entered the English language by 1992), affogato means “drowned” in Italian. It is a coffee-based beverage, a scoop of vanilla gelato topped with a shot of  espresso. Now Ice cream alone is already something amazing, can you imagine how great can be drowning it into coffee? A great experience any coffee lover should go for, once in while. It’s easy, elegant and quick (can be prepared at the last minute without much work). 

Perfect even for picky Italians abroad: they don’t need an Italian espresso for a great affogato. Any type of coffee will do the magic. 

Affogato-caffe-0131 My very “meh” cup of coffee is finished and now I go back to my work on silicon nanoclusters (which I would love to drown in coffee too).  May you all have a great weekend!

Affogato al Caffe

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 200ml strong espresso coffee
  • 4 scoops good-quality vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  1. Make the espresso coffee, enough for 4 little after-dinner coffee cups.
  2. Put the ice cream into 4 dessert glasses or cups.
  3. Drown each glass with coffee and serve while warm and melting.
  4. To make it even more indulgent add a few pieces of plain chocolate in the hot coffee before pouring over the ice cream. Serve immediately!
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/affogato/

 

Conchiglioni Rigati al Forno – Ricotta & Shiitake Stuffed Shells

pasta-tomato-0320 Back to some Italian food. The good old  Italian pasta. This time it is in the form of shells stuffed with ricotta mixed with mushrooms (shiitake), carrots and zucchini.

While having this baked pasta dish last Sunday I felt emotional. No kidding, I was moved. It brought back many very good memories.

pasta-bake-0301 Such is the life of an emigrant: full of small things, like a familiar dish, that contributes to awakening of the usually dormant nostalgia. Four years after I left my hometown Napoli to move to the immense London, I can tell you: this homesickness is for life.

pasta-bake-7 However London is treating me well. Most probably better than my home country would do, hence, I am not planning to go back to my city in the near future (unless good job opportunities come up).

I am planning to cook more Italian food, instead. Maybe even more Neapolitan cuisine. Would you like to see more recipes from my region?

pasta-tomato-2 The culinary repertoire that’s accessible in this city is huge, endless and always surprising. I am pretty sure every type of cuisine from all around the world is represented in London. The variety of restaurants is impressive. In the last few years I noticed more fusion restaurants around; it is becoming necessary to stand out from the crowd and offer something new that can eventually become a trend.

I have a long list to try myself, such as a Japanese/Peruvian restaurant called “Chotto Matte”, in Soho, and a place called  “Asia de Cuba” (!)  for an “inventive Asian-inspired Cuba cuisine”. How cool.

pasta-tomato-9 You see, with all these things to try and new ingredients to experiment with I completely forget how reliable, tasty and simple is the cuisine of the country where I am from. Therefore, when I finally get to cook a baked pasta dish I almost cry from happiness! Maybe by missing the chance to cook an exotic dish, my curiosity is not fulfilled. However another type of satisfaction makes me feel all content. After all, familiar recipes never fail. Don’t you agree?

pasta-bake-0339

Ricotta and Shiitake Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 250g (or 30) conchiglioni rigati (pasta shells)
  • 1 zucchini onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 250g fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 x 400g canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

Instructions

  1. To make filling: in large fry pan, add olive oil, chopped carrot, zucchini and mushrooms and stir for for 10 minutes or until soft. Remove to bowl to cool and add ricotta, nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste.
  2. To make sauce: heat oil in large fry pan and cook garlic until for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add chopped basil and remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling and salted water (2 teaspoons of salt) for about 7 minutes, drain and let it cool down for 5-10 mins.
  4. Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture, then pour tomato sauce on to. Drizzle with olive oil and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.
  5. Bake at 180°C for about 15 minutes. Serve with some more grated Parmesan on top.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/ricotta-shiitake-pasta-bake/

Broccoli and Lemongrass Barley Risotto

A tasty and zesty main course starring the lightest of cereals 

Lemongrass Barlotto (3 of 1) In Italy we call farro what is most probably known to you as barley,  a nutty chewy whole grain very popular in northern Italy and mostly cooked into risotto-style primo (aka first course). Have you ever heard of Barlotto? The combo Barley/risotto translates into a constant stirring and the gradual addition of hot stock to the barley as it cooks. Just like a risotto.

I love the combination of grains and greens and I wanted to take advantage of being home alone to cook something light, wholesome and easy to make. The very first Broccoli and Lemongrass Barley Risotto you can find on the Web was born.

Lemongrass Barlotto (2 of 1) In southern Italian cuisine, as far as I know, barley is not popular. Don’t ask me why, all I know is that, just like polenta, farro belongs to the cold north. It must be because down there we’re too busy with pizza, pasta and ragu.

Whatever. Farro should be more popular everywhere in the world because, hold on tight, it’s high in protein and low in calorie. Farro has less calories than other cereals. It’s officially love ♥.

lemongrassbarlotto Of course, after reading about its nutritional content, I was craving a barlotto with greens on top. I added lemongrass for zesty tones, stir fried broccoli for crunchiness and thick Greek yogurt for creaminess and sharpness. But I wasn’t satisfied yet. What I also desperately wanted was to make this dish “good-looking”. How to make a barlotto looking as desirable as a pizza? You see I had higher expectation for this recipe. Making a dish look appetizing is almost as important as making it tasty. Also, you wouldn’t need to tell how good it is for you, the protein/nutrition story, you know…

To the point now. The secret, the beauty solution for this tasty dish is: a pinch of turmeric. Have I disappointed you? Turmeric notoriously acts on food as a sun tanning lamp does to the skin. Doesn’t this look as good as a pizza? …. uhm… I can almost visualize your face now. But hey! I’m not ready for miracles yet. I’m just getting somewhere where both pizza and barlotto coexist.

lemongrassbarlotto (1 of 1)

Broccoli and Lemongrass Barley Risotto

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (12oz) broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 3 or 4 cups vegetable stock (depending on how much liquid barley absorbs)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 Tablespoon chili flakes
  • 4 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pan heat olive oil, stir in barley and chopped lemongrass. Add ladleful at a time of stock to barley and stir constantly. When the broth is absorbed add more and repeat for 30 minutes or until barley is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in another sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the broccoli florets and stir fry 5 minutes.
  3. Add cooked broccoli to barley risotto with last stock ladle. Stir in parmesan, chili flakes, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Keep stirring and let it dry for a couple of minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and incorporate the yogurt. Stir well. Serve with parmesan on top.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/broccoli-and-lemongrass-barley-risotto/

Baked Parmesan Polenta Fries

parmesanpolentafries-0430

In Naples triangles of fried polenta are called scagnuozzi (I hope I haven’t misspelled it – although I was born in Naples, I do not know the dialect very well!).

These scagnuozzi (meaning “henchmen”) are yummy treats that every pizzeria sells as a street food fix or appetizer/entree for the Neapolitan pizza.

parmesanpolentafries-0384 parmesanpolentafries-0393 That said, these are not the Neapolitan scagnuozzi but my healthified version of them. I oven baked polenta to save lots of frying oil and – above all – many many KCals.

Since baked polenta is not as moist as fried polenta I found it NECESSARY to dip it in a sauce. You say polenta fries, I say ketchup marinara sauce, another neapolitan recipe made with tomatoes, garlic and oregano.

Most probably Neapolitans would’t approve the idea of baking polenta instead of frying it but I do not intend to let them know. Shh, let’s keep it secret :).

parmesanpolentafries-0401 parmesanpolentafries-0407

Baked Parmesan Polenta Fries

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic soy milk)
  • 11/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil (plus more the grease the baking sheet)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil water in a large saucepan. Gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils, around 10 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat off, stir in Parmesan and season with oil, salt and pepper. Spread polenta evenly onto a 8½×12-inch baking sheet. Press plastic wrap onto surface; chill in the fridge at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°.
  4. Uncover polenta and cut into 4×¼-inch strips. Sprinkle some parmesan and separate fries. Arrange on a greased baking sheet (I used oil).
  5. Bake fries around 25–30 minutes. Let them cool for at least 15 minutes before serving them along with your favorite dip.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/baked-parmesan-polenta-fries/

Easy Chestnut Flour Biscotti Recipe

chestnutbiscotti-0357

Christmas time is coming – as every year – with an intense gift trafficking and an amount of food that would be just enough to feed a football team for a year or so. I will be spending the festivities in Naples, mostly cherishing my idleness and dealing with  arguing sisters  (they argue at every blink of eye according to the best Italian tradition and family custom).

chestnutbiscotti-0318 chestnutbiscotti-0321

This year my little sister, who is the bright star of the family with her energetic mornings and a starting brilliant future as a Rugby player (!), promised to help me with the blog by cooking yummilicious recipes together. She must be thinking this blog is all kale and soups and needs a sweet twist.

Since last Christmas she was the author of this fantastic Swiss Nutella Roll, which hit the Reddit’s top 10 (a glory moment in my life), I will very much welcome her help in the kitchen.

chestnutbiscotti-0325 chestnutbiscotti-0332

To batten down the hatches, I should refrain from eating sweets and opt for a more discrete/light diet. This is the plan.

After all, the 12000 worth calories dinner is only a few days from now.  This is the wise little voice in the back of my mind.

What do I do instead? I crave for biscuits and bake a chestnut-based version of the popular Tuscan biscotti called cantuccini. Down to earth, this is reality. Ah, temptations…

chestnutbiscotti-0346

Cantuccini are a special type of biscotti, twice-baked cookies originating in the Italian city of Prato. These ones here are made with chestnut flour I bought in Tuscany. I can’t tell you how easy it was to make them. More than easy.

Uhm… well, maybe just a little less than “more than easy”. I had one (=1) difficult moment, to tell the truth, when I unexpectedly found my fingers glued to the dough in the attempt to shape it.

The dough is sticky, must be because chestnut flour absorbs water differently or because I kept it well wet;  whatever the reason, you need to wet your hands in water before touching it.  This should be just enough to help you avoid the glue effect.

chestnutbiscotti-0352

I am almost done with Christmas gifts and social dinners in London. Another biscuit, a couple of special pralines I got from Denmark, a glass of warm Mulled wine and I am all set for Italy, ready to delve into its bright sky and its mess, so crazy yet so heart-warming.

chestnutbiscotti-0364
How are you spending your Christmas holidays?

Chestnut Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 80 g of brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g of plain flour
  • 250 g of chestnut flour
  • 100 g of almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Whisk well the eggs into a large bowl with sugar.
  3. Add the chestnut flour and the plain flour sifted with the baking powder, then stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of whole milk (adjust to the right consistency) and the almonds.
  4. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spoon the dough over the tray to form a flat loaf, about 5 cm large and 2 cm thick.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove them from the oven, cut them slantwise into 2 cm thick slices.
  6. Arrange them a cut side down on the tray and bake them for other 5 minutes, until slightly golden brown.
  7. Let them cool down on a wire rack before serving.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/very-easy-chestnut-flour-biscotti-recipe/

 

Pea and Pumpkin Penne

pumpkinpasta-0178

A creamy pumpkin sauce without cream and butter. Just the way I like my “tomato-less pasta sauce” to be.

Cream is sickly heavy and cheese is overused. Any solution? Mine is a sauce whose creaminess comes from pureed pumpkin and egg yolks.

pumpkinpasta-0159

A sprinkle of Parmesan. A sprinkle or two: I swear, it’s enough. I could have melt half of my Italian cheese shape in this pasta and then totally covered the subtle taste of the pumpkin. No, no, no… cheese tastes great to me but I want to do justice to pumpkin.

pumpkinpasta-0172

Sometimes I fall asleep mixing ingredients in my mind. Sometimes a recipe is my last thought of the day. Does this happen to you as well? Sometimes a recipe is still there in my mind when I woke up in the morning.

The moment before I fall asleep, I am recipe developer. This is a glorious moment. Soon after I wake up, I realize I need Google to confirm if I came up with something new, something never tried before.

pumpkinpasta-0167

“Never tried before” is a concept the web does not digest well. Everything has been tried and published already.
No surprise I deceived myself one more time with this pasta: there is someone, somewhere in this world, who mixed pumpkin and peas before me (of course!). There’s even a website called sweet peas and pumpkin – I found out the morning after I conceived this recipe.

Well, never mind, I’ll keep dreaming on.

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Pea and Pumpkin Penne

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200 gr penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas
  • 2 eggs (only yolks)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 can 7 oz pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan, grated

Instructions

  1. Add the oil to a large skillet, then add the pumpkin puree, the two egg yolks and stir to combine. Place everything back into the large bowl and add cheese and nutmeg.
  2. Whisk to combine everything and season with salt to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, add salt to a pot of water and once it reaches a boil add your pasta. Cook until al dente.
  4. In another skillet, while the pasta is cooking, add peas and olive oil, cook for about 5 minutes then turn the fire off. Stir in the pumpkin sauce.
  5. Add the pasta to the sauce and fold well together. Serve immediately.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/pea-and-pumpkin-penne/