Tuesday, 12 February 2013


A rainy Sunday...what can you do at home? We decided to make orecchiette and the kids LOVED it!!!They enjoyed helping me ... for them it's a bit like playing with playdough so it kept them  entertained for a while!!

500 g semolina flour
500 g broccoli
4 Italian sausages
1 clove of garlic
20 gr grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil

Gather the flour into a pile, and create a well in the center. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the well.

Gradually incorporate the flour  into the water using your fingers. Once all the water is absorbed, continue adding water, a bit at a time, until the mixture begins to form a dough.
Start to gather and knead the dough, working it until no dry flour remains on your work surface. Continue to knead until smooth and elastic  (for about 5 minutes).
Cover the dough with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Roll 1 portion of dough into a rope.

Use a knife to cut and drag a 1 cm piece of dough from the end of the rope (a grainy wooden cutting board helps grip the dough) .

Unfurl each piece of dough over your thumb in the opposite direction to form a concave shape, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lightly sprinkled with semolina flour. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Orecchiette can be stored at room temperature in a single layer overnight; remember to cover them with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. You can even freeze them: first, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet; then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag, and return them to the freezer. Boil directly from the freezer.

For the sauce:

Wash and cut the broccoli and put them in a pot covering them with water; cook them for 10 minutes starting from the moment in which the water boils.
Put some olive oil in a saucepan and add the clove of garlic. Then add the broccoli and the sausage cut into small pieces. Add salt and pepper and some white wine (optional) and cook for a few minutes on low heat. Take away the garlic.
In the meantime cook the orecchiette in the same water you have used for the broccoli( the cooking time depends on how thick they are; they need to cook for a minimum of 11 minutes but sometimes it can take up to 20 minutes, so you need to try them!), then drain them and put them into the saucepan. Mix well and when on the dish, sprinkle with some grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Now that I've got a beautiful Kenwood KMix ( it was in my wishlist for Father Christmas...)I make focaccias and cakes all the time. This is a nice and soft one, you should try. Perfect for your aperitif or for the afternoon snack for the kids.

Ingredients for a 32*40 baking tray (enough for 3/4 people)

250 g strong white bread flour
250 grams plain flour 
150 g potatoes
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 teaspoons sugar

10 gr salt
250 mls water 
4t ablespoon extra virgin olive oil + a couple of spoons for drizzling on the top
10 cherry-tomatoes

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Then peel them and crush them using a fork.

Pour half of the water in a bowl with the yeast and the sugar and stir to dissolve, then leave to rest in a warm place for ten minutes. Pour the other half of the water in a second bowl with the salt and stir to dissolve.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the water with the yeast and that with the salt. Add also the olive oil and the potatoes .

Mix to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Add some water or some flour if you need it, until you have achieved the correct consistency.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly flour your hands. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth and pliable.

When finished, put the dough inside the bowl dusted with flour (remember that it has to be large, as the dough will double in size) and cover with a dishtowel. Set aside in a warm place (20 degrees) for 2-3 hours.

In the meantime wash the tomatoes and cut them in halves.

Now turn on the oven to 200 degrees and cut a piece of baking paper the size of the tray.

When the dough has doubled in size, remove the towel and punch the dough down. Remove from the bowl and knead again until smooth. Roll down the dough onto the baking paper, then put it on the tray. Adjust the shape with your fingers.

Put the tomatoes on the top pressing gently, sprinkle some oregano, and drizzle with olive oil.

Wait another half hour, then put your focaccia in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


A few weeks ago I got some little tart tins from Heals; I wanted to use them for making small jam tarts, but instead, I tried this starter and the result was outstanding!You can fill the tarts with whatever you like, they look really nice!

Ingredients for 4 tarts:

4 little tart tins
1 roll of puff pastry
8 Portabella mushrooms (medium size)
4 speck slices
grated Cheddar ( the more the better!)
1 clove of garlic

Wash and chop finely the mushrooms; put them in a pan with a clove of garlic, a sprinkle of salt and some olive oil.

Cut the speck slices into small pieces and, when the mushrooms are almost cooked ( the water has to dry) add them to the pan.
Cook for about 5 minutes, then take out the garlic.

Now cut the pastry (easy if you turn the tins upside down and cut all around them), then line with it the bottom of the tins. The sides should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom. Spread the pastry bottom with the mushroom and speck mixture, then add some grated Cheddar on the top.

Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board, then with a sharp knife cut it in strips 0.5 cm wide and make a lattice on top of the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 160°C and bake the tarts until golden, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


I had to post this recipe, as this is the typical dish of my native town! San Daniele ham is like Parma ham, but it tastes a bit sweeter and the quality is supposed to be better. I could find some in Waitrose but I usually bring it from Italy. You can find it also on nifeislife.com. This recipe is delicious and very easy to make... unfortunately it's not "light", but best foods never are!!!!!!

250 g Tagliolini pasta ( it's like tagliatelle but thinner-I usually buy De Cecco)
250 ml single cream
200 g San Daniele ham (chopped)
4 slices San Daniele ham
30 g butter
poppy seeds for decoration

Cook the tagliolini following the instructions on the package.

While they're cooking, chop the ham, then slightly cook in a pan where the butter has melted.

Add the cream, and when hot add the Parmesan cheese  and mix.

Drain the Tagliolini and put them in the sauce pan mixing well.

Serve with a ham slice and some poppy seeds on the top.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


 This isn't the easiest and quickest dish to make, but it is always very welcome by everybody, most of all kids. A few weeks ago I had a few friends over for lunch: French, Chinese, German. I wanted to cook something typically Italian so I decided for Lasagne. You'll need 2 or 3 hours to make them but believe me, it's worth it. You can even freeze them and use when most convenient.

Ingredients for 6 people:

2 tins of chopped tomatoes ( or 750 ml Passata)
100 g Italian sausage or Pancetta cubes ( the sausage is much better if you find it)
1/2 onion
1 carrot
800 g minced beef (or veal, or half beef and half pork)
1/2 glass white wine
500 g di lasagne all’uovo ( I use the dry De Cecco ones)
500 g mozzarella
bechamel sauce
30 g grated Parmesan
olive oil
1 liter chicken stock

For the bechamel sauce:

1 litre whole milk
a pinch freshly grated nutmeg
50 g butter
50 g plain flour

Slice the mozzarella and put in the fridge to let it dry.

Now make the ragu' alla bolognese:

Heat the olive oil in a hot pan. Grate the onion and carrot before frying together.
Allow the onion to soften before adding the sausage or the pancetta in the middle of the pan and stir. When cooked add the mince. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until all the meat has browned nicely. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol. At this point I usually mince again the cooked meat as in my experience it tastes much better ( here in the UK the minced meat is always too thick).
Then put it back in the pan and add the chopped tomatoes or the passata and allow to dry a bit. Then add some boiling chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 2 hours on a low heat (or until the sauce has dried.)

To make the bechamel sauce, first melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Over a gentle heat add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps forming. Add the rest of the milk a third at a time, whisking as you go. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Stir and remove from the heat.

For the lasagne, blanch the pasta in salted boiling water and a spoon of olive oil for three minutes, then put on a towel to dry.

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

Then start to compose your dish:

Spoon a third of the bechamel sauce into the bottom of a lasagne dish in a layer, then place some of the pasta strips over the top. Follow this with some ragu' sauce, some of the mozzarella slices and cover with bechamel sauce. Sprinkle some Parmesan then start again with the lasagne layer. Repeat these steps until you've used all the ingredients.
The last layer has to be ragu' sauce + bechamel sauce + mozzarella + Parmesan.

Cook for about 30 minutes or until the mozzarella is golden brown.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


After all the recipes for sweets I've posted ( I've realised later!!!!) finally a savoury dish!
This is a good idea for when you don't have much time. In 45 minutes it's done and ready. I often make this for dinner when I come back late from the kids swimming or gymnastic or whatever and it's a good way to make them eat spinach which is not their favourite food. The thing is, they love Frankfurters and looking for them, they necessarily have to eat some spinach as well!!!

1 roll of puff pastry
spinach ( I use frozen spinach)
1 clove of garlic (optional)
125 gr Ricotta cheese
1 small/medium egg
2 Frankfurters
milk for brushing
sesame seeds (optional)

Defreeze the spinach by taking them out of the freezer a few hours in advance or, if you are late, using the microwave. Then cook them slightly in a pan with a bit of olive oil, a bit of salt  and a clove of garlic. When dry, take out the garlic and set thm aside to cool ( or put in the fridge to do it quickly!).

Cut the Frankfurters in small pieces.

Open the puff pastry sheet and put it on a piece of baking paper on a baking tray.

In a bowl, mix the slightly beaten egg with the Ricotta cheese, the Frankfurters and add some salt and some grated nutmeg. Add the spinach and mix well.

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

Spread the mixture in the middle of the puff pastry roll, fold it and brush it with some milk. Add some sesame seeds on top, brush with milk again and put in the oven.

Cook for about 30/40 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


The other day I've decided to make these ciambelle, but only later I've realised it's the same recipe of the doughnuts!They are lovely and above all they're NOT FRIED, so they're not as bad...and I felt allowed to have at least two at a time!!!!!!Nice for breakfast or for the afternoon snack. They are best eaten on the same day, but if there are leftovers just warm them in the microvawe for about 20 seconds.

Ingredients for about 15 ciambelle:

1 egg
225 ml lukewarm whole milk
120 g sugar
450 g (250 g Manitoba and 200 plain)
1 sachet dried yeast
100 g softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 pinch of salt

for the finishing touch:
melted butter

Put the yeast in a bowl with the lukewarm milk and a teaspoon of sugar and mix well.

Beat the egg in a bowl ,then add the milk, the sugar, the vanilla essence and the salt and mix well.

Add 2/3 of the flour and mix very well.

Add the butter, one piece at a time,( when one has been absorbed add the other one), then add the remaining flour until you get a smooth, soft (but not too sticky) dough.

Then place it in the bowl and cover it for about an hour, or until the volume has doubled.

On a lightly floured board roll the pastry dough to a 1 cm thickness. Cut the doughnuts with big round shaped cookie cutters, use a smaller cutter for making a hole in the middle ( I've used the oil lid!) and put them properly spaced on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Cover with cling film and let them rest in a lukewarm place for other 20-30 minutes or until when the volume has doubled.

In the meantime turn on the oven to 200 degrees.

Cook the doughnuts for about 6-8 minutes or until golden. When cooked brush them with melted butter, sprinkle some sugar and pour some Nutella on top.

They are best served warm.