Recent Posts

Torta di Mele – Italian Apple Custard Tart

Torta di Mele – Italian Apple Custard Tart

Every bakery and every Nonna in Italy will bake a version of this, and it’s a marriage made in heaven when you combine pastry, custard and apples.  Serve it warm with a generous scoop of vanilla gelato for the ultimate dessert fix.  Don’t worry if […]

Sformato di Asparagi  –  Asparagus Flan

Sformato di Asparagi – Asparagus Flan

  Spring in Italy means it’s time to take advantage of wonderful new seasonal vegetables and the markets just happen to be overflowing with beautiful bunches of Asparagus at the moment!  I love to eat Asparagus with a crunchy bite to it, so if the Asparagus spears are […]

Casatiello Napoletano with Quail Eggs

Casatiello Napoletano with Quail Eggs

Casatiello Napoletano is a savoury bread traditionally eaten during Easter celebrations.  I find it so very delicious and very addictive, and it’s hard not to eat too much of it at one sitting.  It is traditional to bake the Casatiello with chicken eggs placed on the top of the dough, and using some dough put aside earlier, two pieces are used to make a cross over each egg.  I prefer to boil the eggs separately and serve them together with the casatiello.  This year I used quail eggs because I think they look better aesthetically and it makes for a more impressive presentation especially if you have guests. 

I think you’ll agree with me that this deserves to be enjoyed more often throughout the year and not just at Easter!

Casatiello Napoletano with Quail Eggs

  • 1kg plain flour + extra for rolling the dough
  • 2 cubes fresh brewer’s yeast
  • 125ml warm water
  • 100g pork lard
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked back pepper
  • 200g pecorino
  • 100g fontina
  • 100g aged provolone
  • 400g salami
  • 12 quail eggs
  1. Put sifted flour onto a work surface
  2. Mix in salt and black pepper
  3. Dissolve the yeast in 125ml warm water (not too hot)
  4. Add water with yeast a little bit at a time to the flour, working it in until a soft dough begins to form
  5. Add the lard and work it completely into the dough
  6. Continue working the dough, adding more water as needed until the dough is just slightly damp and very elastic, knead for 10 minutes.
  7. Cover with a clean, dry tea towel and allow to rise for 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
  8. Chop the salami and cheeses into small cubes, nd mix together in a bowl
  9. After the dough has risen, add half of the salami and cheese mixture and knead into dough.
  10. Put dough onto a  lightly floured board, and roll it out into the shape of a rectangle.
  11. Spread the remaining salami and cheese mixture along the length of the dough.  Roll up the dough and  then bring the ends together to form a ring.
  12. Grease a ring cake tin generously with lard, and gently lift the casatiello into the tin.  Brush top generously with more lard.  Cover and allow to rise for another 2 hours.
  13. Bake at 160°C for 1.5 – 2 hours, until golden.
  14. Meanwhile boil the quali eggs and serve with the Castiello.

Castiello Napoletano is delicious hot, warm or cold.  It can also be re-heated th next day.

 

 

Casatiello Napoletano con le Uova di Quaglia

  • 1kg farina
  • lievito di birra 2 cubetti
  • 125ml di acqua tiepida
  • 100g strutto (sugna)
  • pizzico sale
  • 1 cucchiaio di pepe
  • 200 g di pecorino
  • 100g provolone piccante
  • 100g fontina
  • 400g salame napoletano
  1. Stemperate il lievito in acqua tiepida (mi raccomando che non sia troppo calda).
  2. Disponete la farina a fontana, ponetevi al centro lo strutto, il sale e il pepe.  Aggiungete quindi il lievito sciolto nell’acqua un po’ alla volta e mescolate tutto fino a ottenere una pasta morbida che lavorerete con forza per una decina di minuti battendola sul tavolo. In caso, potete aggiungere un po’ di acqua.
  3. Fatela poi lievitare la massa in una terrina coperta, ponendola in luogo non freddo per un paio d’ore o, comunque, fin quando la pasta avrà raddoppiato di volume.
  4. Tagliate i formaggi e il salame a dadini, e mescolare insieme in una ciotola
  5. Quando la pasta sarà cresciuta, aggiungete metà della miscela di salame e formaggi, incorporando tutto dentro la pasta stessa. Stendetela poi con uno spessore di un centimetro sopra una superficie leggermente infarinata, mantenendo una forma rettangolare.
  6. Disponete su tutta la superficie, uniformemente, il salame e formaggi rimanente e arrotolate con delicatezza la pasta, il più strettamente possibile.
  7. Ungete di strutto uno stampo largo col buco centrale
  8. Disponetevi il rotolo di pasta a ciambella, unendone bene le estremità e spennelare lo strutto sopra. Rimettetelo a crescere in luogo tiepido coprendolo con un panno (deve riposare almeno due ore).
  9. Quando il casatiello sarà lievitato, infornatelo nel forno già riscaldato a 160° per 1 ora – 1 ora 30 minuti, finchè non sarà dorato in superficie.
  10. Sformatelo quando sarà tiepido.

Il Casatiello, è ottimo sia caldo che freddo, e anche riscaldato il giorno dopo!

È tradizionale cuocere il Casatiello con le uova di gallina sulla sommità della pasta, realizzando delle piccole croci su ogni uovo utilizzando due piccoli pezzi di pasta. Io preferisco bollire separatamente le uova e servirle insieme al casatiello, e quest’anno ho usato delle uova di quaglia perchè credo che siano esteticamente più belle, rendendo la presentazione più elegante (ottimo soprattutto se avete ospiti!).
Io credo che questa bontà dovrebbe essere preparato durante l’anno, e non solo a Pasqua… voi che ne dite?

 

 

Trippa alla Romana – Roman Style Tripe

Trippa alla Romana – Roman Style Tripe

There were many years where I wouldn’t eat Tripe, and I understand that Tripe isn’t loved by everyone.  My mother never cooked it and if my father ever wanted Tripe, he would satisfy these cravings by visiting his mother.  My Calabrian Nonna knew how to […]

Lime Tart with Gingerbread Crust

Lime Tart with Gingerbread Crust

If you love desserts that are sweet and tart at the same time, and you are a fan of lemon tart, then you will love this recipe for Lime Tart.  I was recently gifted a bag of limes ‘left-over’ from a food styling job where I worked […]

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Perfect Roast Potatoes

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Nothing makes my heart (and belly) sing more than a perfect roast potato. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a light sprinkling of good quality salt flakes, these definitely belong to the Royal Family of ‘comfort foods’.   It’s not really hard to achieve perfect roast potatoes, especially if you follow a few important steps.  I have made these for years with wonderful results using olive oil, but if you want to indulge in a different yet decadent fat, then you need to buy some goose fat.  You can also use pork lard,  and that is what I did for the potatoes you see photographed in this post.  (The general rule is match the fat with the meat you are accompanying the potatoes with. i.e. lard for pork, goose fat for poultry, beef dripping for beef).  

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I recently made ‘Porchetta’, and there was A LOT of fat left in the baking pan when it was finished cooking.  The same when you cook pork belly.  Don’t throw this fat away, but leave it sit until it settles.   Anything black from the baking tray will sink to the bottom, and then you can pour off the good part of the fat and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze it.  It is important to know that pork fat is actually good for us.  Although it is a mixture of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (like all fats), pork fat is is mostly monounsaturated and it also has antimicrobial properties. Pork fat is excellent for frying as it is very stable when heated.  When the saturated fatty acids are converted by the body, it is believed to have a neutral effect on cholesterol.  Knowing all that though, it is true that we are what we eat, and I wouldn’t recommend having these too often. Certainly they are perfect to accompany a family Sunday lunch!

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Perfect Roast Potatoes

  • 1 kg potatoes (quantity isn’t really important as you just cook as many as you need)
  • 80g goose fat, pork fat or olive oil
  • fresh rosemary
  • Maldon Sea Salt
  • seasoned salt *see note
  1. Wash, and peel potatoes.  Cut into equal sized pieces.  Add potatoes to a saucepan of cold water and bring to a boil.  Salt water. Par-boil the potatoes for 10 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 200°C.  Add the fat to the baking pan, and put this in the oven.
  3. Drain potatoes leaving them in the saucepan.  Replace the saucepan lid and shake the potatoes to create a floury, fluffy and slightly smashed surface.  The shaking roughens up the cooked edges of the potato and this is part of the secret to achieving a crunchy exterior.
  4. Remove hot baking pan from oven and working quickly, add potatoes to hot fat.  Turn them over to ensure their surface is completely covered in fat.  Sprinkly lightly with seasoned salt.  Place a sprig of fresh rosemary in baking pan (optional).
  5. Return baking pan to oven, on a high shelf and roast for 30-50 minutes.  I sometimes turn them over halfway through, although this isn’t necessary and they should brown up nicely being left unattended for cooking time.  Remove roast potatoes from the oven when they are golden brown.
  6. Serve as soon as possible and sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes.  Never cover them to ensure they stay crisp.

*Seasoned Salt:  I keep a jar of this in the refrigerator.  It is easy to prepare and lasts a long time.  It’s perfect to season roast meats, fish and vegetables.  In a mini food processor, blend together salt, fresh rosemary, sage and fennel seeds.  Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

PATATE ARROSTO

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Ingredienti

  • 1 kg patate (la quantità non è comunque fissa perchè potete cuocere quante ne volete)
  • 80g grasso d’oca, lardo o olio di oliva
  • rosemarino
  • Scaglie di sale di Maldon
  • sale con erbe (fatta in casa)

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  1. Lavate e pelate le patate. Tagliatele in pezzi di uguali dimensione. Porre le patate in una pentola di acqua fredda e portarle fino all’ebollizione. Salare l’acqua e lasciare sobollire per 10 minuti.
  2. Mentre le patate bollono, preriscaldare il forno a 200°C.  Aggiungere il grasso alla teglia da forno e infornare.
  3. Scolare le patate e lasciarle nella ciotola. Coprire con un coperchio e agitate il tutto fino ad avere una superficie soffice  e farinosa.  Agitare le patate crea un superficie ruvida che è il segreto per avere un esterno croccante delle patate.
  4. Togliere la teglia calda dal forno e lavorare velocmente le patate e il grasso bollente. Rigiratele per essere sicuri che siano interamente coperte dal grasso. Salare leggermente. Potete anche mettere sulla teglia un ramoscello di rosmarino, a piacere.
  5. Inserire nuovamente la teglia in forno a mezza altezza e cuocere per 30-50 minuti. A volte, le rigiro a metà cottura ma non è sempre necessario e comunque prendono un bel colore dorato da sole durante la cottura. Levare dal forno quando le patate sono ben dorate.
  6. Servire prima possibile condite con sale Maldon. Non coprirle per mantenerle croccante. *Sale con erbe:  io ne preparo un barattolo e lo conservo in frigo. E’ facile da preparare e dura molto tempo. Perfetto per condire carni arrosto, pesce e verdure. In un piccolo food processor, mescolare sale, rosmarino fresco, salvia e semi di finocchio.
Coda alla Vaccinara – Roman Oxtail Stew

Coda alla Vaccinara – Roman Oxtail Stew

While you may have had Oxtail Stew before, if you haven’t tried this classic Roman recipe you really are missing out.  I love slow cooked meats and this is one recipe that is well worth the wait.  You will either buy beef or veal ‘tails’, and the butcher will cut […]

Brutti ma Buoni

Brutti ma Buoni

  Brutti ma Buoni are a chewy and crunchy biscuit or ‘cookie’, consisting basically of meringue and hazlenuts.  Their origin is from Gavirate (province of Varese) in Lombardia, dating back to 1878.  Their name comes from the way they look, and it literally translates to ‘Ugly but Good’.  […]

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

If you love Chocolate Mousse, but feel guilty consuming loads of cream, you will love this less guilt-ridden version.  It isn’t low calorie, and avocados are high in fat, but they are not high in saturated fat. Instead providing a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat, which is considered ‘good ‘ fat.  Even if you eat more avocado than you should, you are still providing your body with health benefits.  Avocados also provide fiber and eating foods with fiber can help you to feel fuller and more satisfied. Weight loss experts generally recommend that dieters consume foods with fiber to help them eat less and create the calorie defecit needed for weight loss.  Avocados are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.   So although you need to be careful about how much avocado you eat if you are trying to diet, please know that just one eggcup of this chocolate mousse will be more than enough to curb chocolate and sugar cravings.  If there is one person that knows how hard it is to diet and eliminate sugar and fat from your diet, it’s me.  I have actually been on a diet for a month now, and although chocolate and avocados are not at all allowed, after one month of ‘behaving’, I needed a little something as a reward… SO, it’s sort of sinning….. but just not sinning a much as one could do!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

  • 2 large ripe avocados, halved & pitted
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon dark cocoa
  • 125ml macadamia or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • fresh raspberries, blueberries or blackberries to serve
  1. Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl in a microwave oven or a ‘bain marie’.   Microwave chocolate in short 20 second bursts stirring occasionally until it has all melted.  Pay attention not to burn chocolate.
  2. Use a food processor, and add avocados, melted dark chocolate, cocoa, milk and vanilla extract. Process until smooth.  If the mixture is too dense, add more milk until the chocolate mousse is the desired consistency, smooth and creamy.
  3. Spoon into small serving cups (egg cups are ideal), and decorate with berries before serving.
  4. Eat immediately or keep refrigerated until you are ready to eat it.

This is a great dessert to throw together last minute if you have a lot to cook for a dinner party, and you want to save time on dessert, yet create something that will impress.  Don’t tell anybody there is avocado in this mousse until they have finished and they are busy telling you how delicious your chocolate mousse was!

MOUSSE AL CIOCCOLATO e AVOCADO

  • 2  grandi avocado, maturi
  • 100g cioccolato fondente, tagliato in pezzi
  • 1 cucchiaio abbondante di cacao amaro
  • 125ml latte di madorle o latte di macadamia
  • 1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia
  • lamponi, mirtilli o more per servire
  1. Sciogliere il cioccolato in una ciotola di vetro nel forno a microonde o a bagnomaria.  Se utilizzate il forno a microonde, fate attenzione a non bruciare il cioccolato.
  2. Usare un robot da cucina (o frullatore) e aggiungere l’avocado, il cioccolato sciolto, il cacao, il latte e l’estratto di vaniglia. 
  3. Frullare tutto fino ad ottenere un composto liscio. Se la miscela è troppo densa, aggiungere più latte fino a quando la mousse di cioccolato è la consistenza desiderata, liscia e cremoso.
  4. Riempire piccole tazzine con la mousse al cioccolato (i portauova sono l’ideale), e decorare con i lamponi, mirtilli o/e le more prima di servire.
  5. Mangiare subito o conservare in frigorifero.

 

Budini di Riso

Budini di Riso

These delicious rice pudding tarts, known as ‘Budini di Riso’ are a traditional Tuscan pastry and are usually eaten for breakfast. (Budini is plural, you may see them named Budino di Riso).   They can be found in most bars, (and by ‘bar’ I mean ‘cafe’) in Tuscany and […]