The easiest fudge ever. Let the holiday season begin!

Holidays are getting closer and all I can think about now is what I can prepare for my family and friends. I would love to organize a couple of parties, one with my neighbors and another one with my little boy’s friends and their families. My dream is to prepare many different American Christmas cookies for three reasons; first because they’re sooo good,  second because most of them never ate them before and third because this year we’re not going to the States for the holidays. We’ll feel closer to our American side of the family by preparing all the sweets we eat when we are in stateside for the holidays. I have a long list of things I’m going to make together with my boy and husband, but the first on the list is this incredible fudge and I’m sure they will all love it as much as we do. Continue reading

The vegetable gratin for excellence

Before the summer finishes, I want to share this amazing vegetable gratin dish with you. My interest in this recipe started as a way to get rid of my mountains of zucchini and trombetta di Albenga squash. Instead it became my favorite summer dish. I made it so many times this summer and now I’m getting sad thinking that I won’t be able to prepare it again until next year, because my garden is producing less and less every day.

I made few changes from the original recipe I found on America’s Test kitchen and used what is available in my garden. There are only few vegetables in this gratin: zucchini, trombetta di Albenga squash but you can use yellow zucchini, white onions and cuore di bue tomatoes flavored with garlic and fresh thyme. The vegetables are then covered by a crunchy layer of whole wheat bread, Pecorino cheese and minced shallots. Continue reading

Digestive biscuits? Almost!

Digestive biscuits are one of the most popular commercially-baked biscuit varieties in the UK. The name Digestive derives from its high content of baking soda as an aid to food digestion. Digestives are not overly sweet and here in Italy are often used in cheesecake preparations. I personally like their taste, but in the last few years I eliminated a lot of store bought products and started to prepare my own. I prefer to know what the ingredients are and where they’re coming from. Thus, I’ve started making my own digestive biscuits too.

I found this recipe in a site that I often visit for its healthy recipes and interesting posts, and thought they would have been ideal for my breakfast. The original recipe Sonia found used whole wheat flour, but she changed it to whole rye flour, which I also prefer. Oat bran adds a depth and a rustic consistency to the biscuits.
Digestives are not exactly the same as the store bought ones but close enough and I should add much healthier. I added a tiny bit more sugar and also a pinch of baking soda to give the biscuits that tingly sensation that is typical for them. Continue reading

Let's party with some grilled pizza!

What took me so long to discover grilled pizza? Years ago I  watched Christopher Kimball on America’s Test Kitchen explaining how to make the perfect grilled pizza. I was amazed by it and decided to give it a try as soon as possible. I wrote down the recipe and instructions, then I filed the recipe away and forgot about it. A  few days ago I found the same recipe online and this time though I made it right away.

It was a pretty intense experience, if you consider that the temperature outside was 35° (95°f) and the BBQ was hot. We did it, though, and the pizzas were so good that we completely forgot the  effort and sweat it took us to prepare them. The recipe called for four large pizzas to cook in a round grill. I happen to have a rectangular one, so I prepared smaller pizzas, and I should say that I prefer the smaller size. I don’t have a lid for my grill so I used the lid of my wok, which is pretty big and worked perfectly. Continue reading

Bacon and tomato dip

Summer is finally here and for me it means barbecues with friends and family. With my husband being American we like to alternate and organize  either American or Italian barbecues though sometimes we mix up our traditional meals.

In Italy we usually like to grill sausages, salamelle (thicker but shorter than a sausage) pancetta, capocollo (pork neck chops), pork ribs, hot dogs or kebabs (alternating pieces of sausage, chicken, pancetta and bell peppers). The meat is often accompanied with grilled vegetables and grilled polenta, big salads and while the meat is cooking bruschetta is often chosen as an appetizer. We absolutely don’t put any sauce over the meat but we sometimes marinate it with olive oil and fresh herbs before grilling.
I personally like to grill some sausages, my favorite are with fennel seeds, but I also like chicken flavored with thyme, rosemary and sage. Continue reading

Orange-lemon cake

I was cruising  on the  internet when I stumbled upon one of Molly’s recipes for a “Marmalade cake“. I bookmarked it and made it with only some little changes a few days later because I couldn’t wait to try it. I fell in love with this recipe. I had a similar recipe but it was made with butter and also had considerably more  sugar so I never made it. Hers was my dream cake,  it had olive oil instead of butter so it was perfect for dairy intolerant people like myself  and it was not packed with sugar.

The cake came out just like I expected when I read the recipe. I don’t know about you, but when I read a recipe I often “taste” the dish before actually making it. The cake itself doesn’t overwhelm by its looks. It appears as a simple soft cake but as soon as you bite it you’re immediately captured by its citrus-almond texture, softness and the complexity of flavors. I couldn’t stop eating it and the funny thing is that every time I make it for friends or family the result is always the same. They all start with a small slice as they are uncertain by its appearance, but as soon as they taste it they keep asking for more. One evening two friends of mine liked it so much that after the fist few servings they asked me to hand them the knife. They kept cutting pieces of it until they finished it all. They were so embarrassed about it, but I was more than happy because they don’t usually like cakes that much. Continue reading

Turkey roll-ups with paprika and garlic sauce

Years ago I was following the South beach diet  so to have a wide selection of alternative meals, I bought most of the books written by dr. Agatston. I really liked the recipes and I still make a lot of them. I found the recipes very simple and appetizing, and certainly not fat if you follow a certain eating regime.

I’ve always liked the snack ideas most and turkey roll-ups became my favorites. Hard to say why maybe because they’re so different from typical Italian snacks. The recipe I liked has cilantro mayonnaise and seeing that I don’t find cilantro very often in my store I changed the recipe and substituted the cilantro with paprika and garlic powder. Continue reading

Crostini with fava bean spread

Fava beans also known as broad beans, Windsor beans or English beans just to name a few are one of the first spring legumes to appear on our tables. They have been a beloved food for centuries in Northern Africa, Asia and Europe. During the Roman empire favas were eaten by the plebeians and consumed in different ways. They were dried then grounded into flour, and used to make puls a grain mush, the ancestor of polenta prepared mainly with farro flour. They were also eaten raw which is still common or cooked together with lard.

In the last few years there has been a growth of new recipes and a re-elaboration of classic ones using this legume.  The recipe I prepared is a re-elaboration of one of the classics, “Fave e pecorino” (Pecorino cheese with fresh fava beans), typical from the Lazio region. Fava beans are eaten raw, when they’re still small and soft, accompanied by slices of Pecorino cheese. Continue reading

Quinoa with cream of leeks

Few years back, as some of you already know, I decided to vary my diet introducing different cereals like millet, kamut, spelt, barley and quinoa to name few of them. Quinoa made quite an impression on me for its  organoleptic properties and nutritional value.

Quinoa is actually a pseudo-cereal, closely related to species like spinach and beets. It has been cultivated in the Andean highlands for nearly 6000 years. Considered sacred by the Incas it was called, chisaya mama, the mother of all grains. Nowadays the majority of quinoa is still imported from South America where it grows in poor soil, arid climates and high altitudes. There are over 100 species of quinoa, but only three main varieties are cultivated: the white or sweet variety, the red and black quinoa.

Quinoa is highly appreciated by vegetarians and vegans for its high content of proteins. It’s actually a complete protein, meaning that one can obtain all 9 essential amino acids from the grain. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber phosphorus and is high in iron and magnesium. Quinoa has more calcium than milk and its fat, mostly polyunsaturated, provides the essential fatty acids our body needs. Being gluten-free it’s an alternative for people with celiac disease. Continue reading

Puntarelle, eggs, oranges and avocado salad

I made this salad for the first time last Easter and is served as an appetizer. It was more successful than I expected. Some of my guests didn’t even know what puntarelle chicory was and they were a little bit intimidated at first. A few years ago I didn’t know much about puntarelle either only that it was a famous vegetable widely used in the Roman cuisine. It was difficult to find it here in the North, but luckily now they are available in our stores starting in December through April.

Puntarelle is a variety of chicory, with serrated leaves, attached to the base of the plant that surrounds the shoots growing inside the plant during the winter. Its flavor is similar to chicory and endive with bitter and peppery-like taste. The shoots are crunchy and can be eaten raw or cooked. When cooked have a mellower flavor and can be used to make wonderful pasta dishes. There are also other ways to eat them cooked, for example, my mom boils them and simply eats them with hard boiled eggs seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. When eaten raw they have a stronger and bitter taste and thus they’re often accompanied with anchovies in salads that mitigate the bitterness and compliment the flavor. Continue reading