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.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


The other day I was craving for hamburgers, but after the recent bad pub experiences I've decided to try and make them by myself. I made the bread and the hamburgers and...what can I say? They were lovely, much better than those you usually eat at the pub...and if you make them,  for once you know WHAT you're really eating!!! I used 4 buns for the hamburgers and I kept the other 4 covered overnight. The day after they were still very soft.

Ingredients for 8 buns:

250 g plain flour
250 g strong flour (Manitoba)
40 g butter
10 g sunflower oil
20 g sugar
1 teaspoon honey
10 g salt
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
300 ml milk
milk for brushing
sesame seeds (optional)

Warm the milk in the microwave for one minute, then pour half of it in a bowl with the yeast, the honey and the sugar and stir to dissolve, then leave to rest in a warm place for a few minutes. Pour the other half of the milk 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 milk with the yeast and that with the salt. Add also the melted butter (cold), the oil and the sugar.

Mix to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Add some milk or flour if you need it.
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 about 1 and 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, it needs to be knocked down by simply punching all the air out of it with your fist; the dough will be brought back to its original size. Now, put it to rest for other 15/20 minutes (covered).

Turn on the oven to 190 degrees.

When risen again, form 8 small balls and put them on a baking tray (be careful to leave some distance between them). Brush them with some milk, sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top, then brush with milk again.

Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Last year, at Christmas time, a friend of my sister in law made this cake that we were so lucky to taste. It was wonderful and I immediately asked her for the recipe. She said it was a recipe that her family had been passing on for generations. It seems very simple, but it is very important to chop the ingredients in the right way, they don't have to be neither too small nor too big. I've tried to replicate it a couple of times and it has been successful among family and friends. It is best accompanied by vanilla custard or whipped cream.

200 g icing sugar
5 eggs
200 g  margarine (or butter, but you get best results with margarine)
A pinch of baking powder
250 g almonds (with skin)
10  Morning coffee biscuits ( Waitrose or Sainsbury)
200 g dark chocolate

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the margarine in the microwave then let it cool ( I usually put it in the freezer for a few minutes, but be careful it doesn't freeze, it just needs to cool).

Chop the almonds in a food porcessor, but be careful they don't become a powder.

Chop the biscuits: I put them in a plastic bag and crack them using a meat mallet or a full bottle.

Cut the chocolate using a sharp knife. The pieces have to be even smaller than the ones in the picture.    

Beat the eggs with the sugar for several minutes, until the volume has doubled.
Now add the almonds to the mixture, then the biscuits, the baking powder, the chocolate and the margarine. Mix well with a wooden spoon after you add every ingredient.                                                                                                                             
Now pour the mixture in a baking tin and cook for about 30/40 minutes.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


This ia a typical Italian dessert, traditionally from Tuscany. It's basically a custard pie with pine nuts. Not the quickest cake to make, but, if you like custard, it's worth it. It's really lovely.

Ingredients for a  22 cm cake tin

450 g flour
3 eggs
150 g sugar
150 g butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 
1 teaspoon baking powder
25 g pine nuts
icing sugar to decorate

For the custard

4 yolks
40 g cornflour
100 g sugar
400 ml milk
1 piece lemon peel 
1/2 vanilla pod

Mix flour, lemon peel and sugar, then work the butter in with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Add the egg and yolks and work briefly until the dough just holds together. It is important not to overwork the dough or it will harden when baked.

Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the custard.

Bring the milk, lemon zest and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Remove the vanilla pod and the lemon zest.

Whisk the yolk and sugar together in a pan until well blended then add the flour.

Pour the hot milk on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.

Return to the hob and over a medium/high heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened. When boiling take it off the heat, stir well and bring it back again on the heat. Do this two or three times.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
When the pastry has rested in the refrigerator, divide in two, and delicately roll out one half slightly larger than the tart dish (approx 1 cm/half inch thickness).
Pour on the custard.
Roll out the remaining pastry dough and place on top of the custard, closing the pie.
Decorate with pine nuts (pour some milk on them beforehand, so they won't burn in the oven). Try not to handle the pastry too much at this stage.
Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Friday, 26 October 2012


This is my favourite soup, perfect on a cold rainy, snowy day. The kids love it too. This is a recipe from my area, Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Ingredients for 4 people

200g pearl barley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
60g cubetti di pancetta
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 (400g) tins Borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
3 small potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 litre water
Fresh rosemary leaves (for serving)
Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Rinse the barley with water then put in a pan with cold water and cook for about 45/60 minutes from when the water starts to boil.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened slightly; then add the pancetta and cook until it starts to crisp up, about 3 or 4 minutes. 

Add the beans and the chopped potatoes and pour in enough water to cover. Season with salt and pepper; simmer for about an hour.

When ready blend it and add the rinsed barley. Mix well, then serve with a few rosemary leaves, some grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Ok, maybe it's a bit late for this, I think this is more summery than wintery....but I still love it, and so would most of your guests!!!!

Ingredients for 3 large dessert glasses:
100 g of Savoiardi (Ladyfingers) biscuits 
150 ml coffee

For the Mascarpone cream:
250 gr Mascarpone cheese
2 spoons of sugar
1 egg

Beat the egg until frothy. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat for other 10 or 15 minutes until creamy. Then add the Mascarpone cheese and beat 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.

Get the 3 dessert glasses, pour some  Mascarpone cream at the bottom.

Place the ladyfingers onto a serving plate, cut them into halves, then brush each with the coffee on both sides.

Now add a layer of ladyfingers in the glasses, then again Mascarpone cream. Then ladyfingers again; go on until you reach the top, then decorate with grated cocolate or cocoa powder.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving to allow cookies to soften.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


This is something quick and nice to accompany a drink or to serve at a party. They taste great with ham but you can use whatever you like: salami, speck, Parma ham, mortadella, lonza.

1 puff pastry roll (rectangular shape)
60 g honey roasted ham, |Parma ham, Salami, Mortadella or whatever you like
1 egg  
20 g Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl mix the egg, the grated Parmesan, the salt and a pinch of Paprika.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface so that the longest side is facing you.

Spread over  the mixture of egg, Parmesan salt and Paprika. Place the ham slices onto half of the pastry.

Now fold the pastry in half and cut into 1 cm strips.

Carefully twist each piece of pastry 4-5 times so it looks like a curly straw, brush with the remaining egg mixture then place on the baking tray.

Cook for about 15 minutes. They taste really nice when they are still warm.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Autumn is here and this recipe is perfect for these cold days. They're not too sweet, this time the kids weren't mad about them, but they were perfect for my tea!Love them!!!.

Ingredients for about 20-25 biscuits:

300 g plain flour
120 g butter
100 g honey

1 egg
100 g raisins
1 teaspoon baking powder

Icing sugar

Turn on the oven to 170 degrees.

Soak the raisins in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime mix the butter until creamy, then add the beaten egg and the honey. Mix until creamy, then add the flour, the baking powder and mix until you get a soft mixture.
Add the dry raisins.

Now make small balls with the mixture and put them far between each other on a baking tray.

Cook for about 15 minutes. When cold, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Monday, 24 September 2012


This is the perfect snack for your children and they are very quick to make, you don't even need a mixer! Soft thanks to the Ricotta cheese and with a jam heart...irresistible!!!And please note...NO BUTTER!!!!!!

Ingredients for about 16 small muffins:

150 g self-raising flour
150 g plain flour
160 g sugar
70 ml vegetable oil
130 ml milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g Ricotta cheese
100 g jam
Icing sugar to decorate

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar.

In another one, mix the eggs with the oil, the vanilla extract and the milk, then pour the mixture in the other bowl with flour and sugar and mix well.

Add the Ricotta cheese and mix until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into muffin cups until 1/2; add a full teaspoon of jam on each one, then cover with one tablespoon of the mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning on a wire rack. Sprinkle on icing sugar when cold.

Friday, 21 September 2012


This is one of my favourite desserts. September in Italy is the month in which the apples are picked, so when Autumn comes, it is very common to make apple cakes and desserts. And the strudel, if served with warm custard , can be's very very simple to make but for a good result, you need a good puff pastry and good apples. You can change the ingredients if you like, sometimes I put walnuts or pinenuts instead of almonds, a peach instead of an apple, figues instead of depends on what I have in the kitchen at the moment!!!


1 roll of puff pastry
2 sweet apples
80 gr sultanas
20/25 peeled almonds
10 dry pitted prunes
A generous cinnamon dusting
1 lemon
1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar
4 or 5 tablespoons of jam (possibly damson)
A small piece of unsalted butter
Custard (optional)

Turn the oven on to 170 degrees.

Soak the sultanas in lukewarm water and leave them there for about 1 hour.

In the meantime cut the apples into small chunks, the almonds in halves and the prunes in 2 or 4 pieces. Add the grated lemon peel, the sugar, the cinnamon, the sultanas and mix.

Open the puff pastry sheet and put it on a piece of baking paper; spread the jam on it and then add all the ingredients. Fold it and brush it with melted butter (put the butter in a small saucepan and melt over a gentle heat or melt in a small bowl in the microwave). For a lighter version, brush with milk.

Cook it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until golden.

When it’s cold, dust it with icing sugar. Serve it possibly with warm custard.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


This is the quickest, simplest starter that you can make. Bruschettas are great also to accompany an aperitif or for a party buffet. My kids love them.
This is the "without garlic" version, as we are not big fans of garlic. But if you like it, rub the bread slice with a clove of garlic cut in half, before you add the tomatoes on top.

Ingredients for about 6 Bruschettas:

Bread for bruschetta (I usually buy the Tuscan bread for Bruschetta in Waitrose)
300 g ripe-plum tomatoes (I buy Red Choice tomatoes in Waitrose)
5/6 basil leaves
Chilli ( optional)
Extra virgin olive oil

Toast the bread slices (if you have time, grill them, they taste better!).

In the meantime, wash the tomatoes and cut them into small pieces, discarding the seeds.

 Put the cut tomatoes in a bowl, add some salt, olive oil, the chopped basil and, if you like it, some dried chilli. Mix well and top the bread with the mixture. You'll love it!!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Last Sunday, after the pasta with tuna sauce, I made this dish that has been appreciated also by the kids. Maybe not all of them like squid, but it is worth a try!!

Ingredients for 4 people:

800 g squid  (cleaned, tentacles cut off)
1 carrot
1 potato  
1 courgette
1 small aubergine
30 g pitted green olives  (chopped)
1 tablespoon of capers
1 clove of garlic  (optional)
1/2 glass white wine (optional)  
olive oil

First of all, peel and wash the vegetables ( but you don't need to peel the courgette) and grate them with a grater with large holes.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add in the garlic and fry gently until golden; then add the vegetables, half a glass of water and some salt.

Now chop the tentacles and add them to the vegetables.

Add some salt, pepper, the chopped olives and the capers.

When ready ( they don't need to cook for long), fill the squids with the stuffing with the help of a teaspoon and seal the ends with a toothpick.

Now place the squids in the same pan you've used for the stuffing and cook for five minutes. Pour the wine and when evaporated, they're ready to be served (if you cook for children then skip this part).

You can decorate the dish with some cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Hello....I'm finally back after a very long absence....I've spent a beautiful and relaxing holiday in Italy where I've never had to shop, cook, clean or wash the dishes...and this is what I call the PERFECT holiday!!!!!
But now I'm back and looking forward to posting some new recipes. Yesterday we had friends over for lunch and as there were 3 kids I decided to make this Spaghetti as a main course, as usually children love tuna. So, here's the recipe!!!!It took me less than 30 minutes to make it.

Ingredients for 4 people:

350 g spaghetti ( I usually buy De Cecco spaghetti)
400 g cherry tomatoes (or tinned chooped tomatoes)
500 g fresh tuna
20 pitted Kalamata olives (optional)
2 tablespoons of capers (optional)
1/2 onion
1/2 glass white wine (optional)
a pinch of chilli (optional)
Parsley for decoration
Olive oil

Cut the tuna into small chunks.

In a large frying pan, slightly fry the chilli and the chopped onion with some olive oil.

Add the tuna and cook it for about two minutes. At this point you should add the white wine, but if you cook for the kids, skip this part.

Now add the tomatoes, salt and cover. After a while, add the olives and the capers. Then cook for about ten minutes.

In the meantime bring some salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti al dente( I usually turn the oven timer on, so I know exactly when they're ready).

When ready, drain the spaghetti and put them in the pan with the sauce.

Add some olive oil and  mix well. Now serve with a bit of chopped parsley on top.

Monday, 9 July 2012


This is a classic Italian dish, one that I love. I love it because it is really easy and quick to make ad because my children like it very much. It's the perfect thing to cook when you have to organize a last-minute dinner!

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 Sirloin steaks
a piece of Parmesan
60 g rocket
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Grill the meat and in the meantime, wash and dry the rocket and season it with some salt and a bit of olive oil. Place the rocket on the dishes. Cut the cheese into flakes.
When the steaks are ready, season them with salt and pepper.Cut them quickly into slices, set them on the rocket and add the Parmesan flakes on the top. Add some olive oil and serve.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


This is a wintery, very tasty dish, best accompanied with potatoes, as the flavours are quite strong. If you are so lucky to find ceps, then use those; otherwise you can use Champignon or Portabella mushrooms.
The kids don't like mushrooms, but I ate them and left  just the veal and the speck and they enjoyed it.

Ingredients for 4 people:

600 g veal cut in one big slice
30 g dried Porcini mushrooms
50 g Portabella or Champignon mushrooms
150 g Speck cut into thin slices
50 g Ricotta  cheese
250 ml meat stock
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon plain flour 
olive oil

Soak the dried mushroom in lukewarm water for about 30 minutes.

Turn on the oven to 170 degrees.

Wash and cut the other mushrooms into small pieces and put in a pan with the clove of garlic and 3 tablespoons of olive oil; cook for about 10 minutes; add the dried drained mushrooms ( but remember to keep a glass of their filtered water) and cook for another couple of minutes.
When ready put in a bowl together with the Ricotta cheese and 50 g of chopped speck. Add salt and pepper.
Unroll the veal roast and spread evenly with the mixture. Roll up the veal jelly-roll fashion; cover with the remaining slices of speck, then tie with string.
Place the roast in a roasting pan and cook for a few minutes. Then move it to the oven after covering with a bit of stock and a bit of the mushroom water.

Cook for about 40 minutes remembering to add a few spoons of stock every once in a while.

When ready, move the roast on a food platter and cook the sauce, adding the flour to thicken it.You can even use the food blender for a better result.

Now cut the roast into slices and cover  with the sauce.

Friday, 8 June 2012


My son Niccolo' asked for a chocolate cake, but I'm not a big fan of chocolate, so I had to look on the web to find a nice recipe...and when I found this I just thought that it was PERFECT. Quick, easy and yummy! I wanted a super soft cake and the result was amazing. So...what are you waiting for? You'll make your children happy!

Ingredients for a 22 cm cake tin:

5 eggs
125 g melted butter
125 g self-raising flour
125 g cornflour
200 g sugar
30 g cocoa powder

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.

In one big bowl beat the egg yolks with 10 tablespoons boiling water; add 150 g sugar and mix until thick.

In another bowl beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff.

Now mix together the whites, the yolks, the flour, the cornflour,the cocoa powder and the melted butter Mix gently from bottom to top.

Put in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

VANILLA ICE-CREAM (without using the ice-cream machine)

This recipe is incredibly easy, you just need some patience for the ice-cream to set!!!My son was checking every ten minutes if it was ready....

Ingredients for 4 people:

300 ml whipping cream
2 eggs
100 g sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla essence

For this recipe, you need three bowls.

In one beat and mix together the egg yolks and sugar until thick.

In the second one beat the egg whites until stiff.

In the third one, whip the cream adding the vanilla essence.

Now pour the eggs into the bowl with the whipped cream and mix gently.

Pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2-3 hours, or until set.

Friday, 25 May 2012


This is by far my favourite summer dish. Yesterday, third summery day in a row, I couldn't resist... I was craving for some Pasta fresca, so I made it for dinner!!
My best Italian friend made this Pasta for me a long time ago and since then I've made it every summer. If kept refrigerated, it's still good one or two days after you've made it. Like the rice salad it's a nice idea for a pic-nic.

Ingredients for 4: 

300 g pasta (penne rigate or fusilli)
600 g ripe tomatoes (I use Red Choice tomatoes)
100 g Kalamata olives
A few basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
250 g mozzarella
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
chilli (optional)

First of all, make the sauce:
Put the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, then peel them and discard the seeds. Skew the clove of garlic in a toothpick and put it in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes ,the chopped mozzarella, the olives, the chopped basil , some salt and extra virgin olive oil.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add some salt and cook the pasta. Drain it in a colander and put it under running cold water to cool it off.
Add the cold pasta to the sauce, stir and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Before serving, remember to discard the garlic!

If you don't like cold pasta, you can put the drained pasta in the bowl, stir and serve immediately. In this case, make the sauce a few hours earlier and put in the fridge. The pasta it's much tastier.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


This is the perfect recipe for summer days or for pic-nics. Children absolutely love it and it is even better if eaten the day after. It is also good for parties. The good thing is that you can personalise it choosing your favourite ingredients.

Ingredients for 4:

250 gr Carnaroli rice
10 cherry tomatoes
100 g peas (if they’re frozen just put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes)
3 or 4 Frankfurters
160 g tuna in olive oil
10 Kalamata olives
1 boiled egg (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Pepper (optional)

Cook the rice for ten minutes in salted boiling water; when ready put it under cold water to cool down.
While the rice is cooking, cut the tomatoes into 4 parts discarding the seeds. Cut also the Frankfurters and the olives into small pieces, then drain the tuna discarding the oil in excess and chop it.
Put all in a bowl, together with the peas and the rice, add some salt, pepper, olive oil, and stir.
Cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, then, when it’s time to serve, add the egg chopped (if you like it) and some mayonnaise on the top of the dish.

Friday, 18 May 2012


I wanted to make something different from the usual cakes, biscuits, muffins, so I decided to try this recipe using a mini doughnut tin I've recently bought from Amazon. My children loved these soft sweet little cakes and I think I'll make them again!You can use a different type of chocolate, milk or dark are equally good, it's up to you!

Ingredients for about 24 mini cakes:

200 g sugar 
1 egg
100 ml milk
125 g ricotta cheese
350 g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 g butter
100 g white chocolate cut into pieces
Icing sugar to decorate

Turn on the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the sugar in a bowl, then add the egg and mix vigorously. Add the softened butter, the milk, the vanilla essence and the Ricotta cheese. Stir well.

Now add the flour and the baking powder and mix throughly.

At the end, add the chocolate pieces to the mixture and pour all in the doughnut tin.

Cook for 15 minutes and when lukewarm, dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 14 May 2012


This is a different way to make lasagne. I had a couple of courgettes and an aubergine in the fridge and I wanted to make something different from the usual sauce or Parmigiana, so I decided to try this new dish. It takes a while (you have to grill or fry the vegetables first, then to make bechamel sauce...)but it is quite good, a nice alternative to the classic lasagne.

Ingredients for 4 people:

250 g lasagne ( I use De Cecco lasagne, the dry ones)
2 courgettes
1 aubergine
300 g mozzarella
150 g honey roasted ham
500 ml di bechamel sauce
20 g Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce:

60 g butter
50 g flour
500 ml milk
a pinch of nutmeg


Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and simmer the resulting roux over medium low heat for a few minutes, mixing gently with a wooden spoon. Take care not to allow the roux to darken, and remove from the heat.
In a separate saucepan, bring the milk just barely to a boil, then pour it into the pan with the roux. Taking a whisk, whip the roux and milk together vigorously, then put the saucepan back on the heat and bring it up to the boil. It will thicken considerably when it gets to the boiling point. 
As soon as the sauce begins to boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, seasoning well with salt and a bit of nutmeg to taste.
Be careful not to allow the sauce to thicken too much. It will cook and reduce further in the oven, and will be absorbed by the pasta, so you want a loose consistency, just a bit thicker than heavy cream. If the sauce thickens too much, whisk in a bit more milk. The sauce will also thicken up as it cools, so bring it back up to heat and/or add more milk to thin it out before using it.
To avoid lumps, which can occur if the roux does not fully amalgamate with the milk, keep your roux rather liquid. (If you do end up with lumps, it's not all lost: you can always pass the sauce through a fine sieve or mix it in a blender.) 


Wash the vegetables and cut them vertically into thin slices, then pour some oil in a large frying pan and grill them. Remember to add some salt when ready.

Cook the lasagne in salted boiling water ( remember to add a spoon of oil in the water otherwise the lasagne will stick to each other), then lay them on a layer of absorbing paper or on a towel.

Now cut the mozzarella into slices (better if you keep it in the fridge without its water for a few hours before you start).

Now put a few spoons of bechamel sauce on the bottom of an  oven dish and spread it evenly. Make the first layer of lasagne, then cover with some other bechamel sauce, then add a layer of vegetables, a layer of ham and some mozzarella.

Cover with bechamel sauce, then add more layers of lasagne, vegetables ham and mozzarella until you finish the ingredients.

Cover with bechamel sauce and put some Parmesan on the top.

Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

When ready, cut into slices and serve.

Friday, 11 May 2012


Last week I wanted to make a chocolate cake, so I decided to try to make the famous Sachertorte.
It was the first time I made it, 'cause we're not particularly keen on chocolate and this cake is very rich in chocolate and...calories!!!!But I gave away two pieces to friends so we've managed to finish it quickly...the result was very good.

Ingredients for a 24 cm tin:

160 g dark chocolate
150 g butter
150 g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
6 eggs
50 g cornflour
100 g plain flour
1 sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
200 g apricot jam

Ingredients for the icing:

100 g jam
50 ml water

100 g sugar
100 ml water
200 g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the cake tin then line the base with baking paper.

Break the chocolate into pieces, melt gently in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally, then cool slightly.
In the meantime separate the egg whites from the yolks and whisk the whites until they are stiff but not dry.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter until really soft, then gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at the time, then the cooled chocolate and the vanilla essence and beat again. Add the sieved flour, the cornflour, the baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda. Now fold in the egg whites and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake in the oven for about 30/40 minutes, or until well risen. Leave to cool in the tin for a while, then turn out and peel off the paper and cut the cake like a sandwich. Spread the apricot jam in the middle, then cover.

To make the icing, first you need to heat the other 100 g of jam in a small pan, then pass it in a sieve to eliminate pieces of fruit; then put it back again in the pan with 50 ml of water until boiling. At this point, brush evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

Make a syrup with 100 ml of water and 100 g of sugar and add the chocolate broken into pieces. Now cook on a low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted, and the mixture appears smooth (5 to 10 min). Then pour the icing on to the centre of the cake (but remember to leave a couple of spoons for the writing). Spread it gently over the top and down the sides, and leave to set.

After 10 minutes, if you want to write "Sacher" on the cake, reheat the remaining mixture, spoon into a small paper icing bag or polythene bag and snip off the corner. Pipe ‘Sacher’ across the top and leave to set for a few hours.

Friday, 4 May 2012


This is a good idea for an easy and quick dinner. Children love Frankfurters and when mine finished their portions asked for more!!!!

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 puff pastry sheet
2  potatoes
4 Frankfurters
125 g mozzarella
salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water and when ready, peel them and cut them into 3 mm slices.

Cut the Frankfurters in halves (vertically) and the mozzarella into thin slices.

Roll out the puff pastry on a baking sheet as much as you can and put one layer of  potato slices in the middle, then the Frankfurters, then the mozzarella on the top. Add salt and pepper then carefully roll the pastry up around the filling like a cigar, using the baking paper to help. Brush it with some milk.

Place the roll onto a baking tray and cook at 180 degrees for 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


This is a nice starter or side -dish (without eggs), or it could even be  your dinner. I love asparagus and you can use also Pancetta or Parma ham to wrap them if you like.

Ingredients for 4 people:

2 bundles of asparagus
a few slices of Speck or Pancetta or Parma ham
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash the asparagus, break off tough ends by snapping 1-2 cm from the bottom and peel the bottom portion.
Cook in salted boiling water for 1/2 hour, possibly in a high and narrow pan so that your asparagus can stand.
When ready, drain well and separate into bundles (2 or 3 to each bundle) and starting at bottom of asparagus bundle, wrap with 1 slice of Speck.

Put some olive oil in a oven dish then place your asparagus there, covering with Parmesan cheese.

Cook in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15/20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the eggs in boiling water for about 10 minutes. When ready, cut the eggs into small pieces, add some salt and serve the asparagus on a bed of eggs. Sprinkle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, 30 April 2012


A few days ago I found sales in Waitrose so I got a few aubergines and courgettes...but I didn't know what to do with them!At the end I decided to make a sauce for pasta. It was really tasty, but it could be tastier using vegetables bought at the market in the right season ( from June to September). But I got a great result, so I can't complain!!!

Ingredients for 4 people:

400 gr Pasta ( the best for this sauce are Fusilli, Penne or Paccheri)
1 medium sized aubergine ( about 300 g)
1 courgette
Kalamata olives (you choose the quantity!)
1 tablespoon of salted capers ( the salted ones are much tastier then the ones in water; just remember to rinse them well and leave them in a bowl full of water for a couple of hours before using them)
A few leaves of basil
400 g chopped tomatoes
1/4 onion
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Chop the onion and put it in a pan with olive oil to fry lightly. When gold, add the aubergine and the courgette cut into small chunks. Add some salt and cook on a slow heat with the lid for 15 minutes, then take off the lid and cook for other 5/10 minutes. Check often that the vegetables don't stick to the bottom of the pan, mixing.
When the vegetables are cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, some more salt, pepper, the chopped basil leaves, the drained capers and the Kalamata olives.Cook for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime cook the pasta in boiling water. When ready drain and serve with the sauce and some grated Parmesan on top.

Friday, 27 April 2012


This is a different way to eat gnocchi; my children don't like much spinach, but they loved this dish, so I've finally found a way to make them eat some vegetables!!!Sometimes we have to cheat....

Ingredients for 4 people:

500 g frozen spinach
3 eggs
300 g slightly dry bread
30 g flour
a few leaves of sage
40 g grated Parmesan cheese
60 g butter
salt and pepper

Grind the bread in a food processor.

Dip the frozen spinach in salted boiling water; once defrosted drain and squeeze them to remove as much water as possible. Now chop them and put them in a bowl. Add the eggs, the flour, the bread and a pinch of salt: you should get a quite stiff mixture; you can add a bit of milk if it is too stiff or a bit of bread if it is too fluid.

Now flour your hands and get small quantities of the mixture; then, using your hands, form gnocchi the size of a walnut and flour them. Boil them in salted water, drain as soon as they rise to the surface and put them on a serving plate. Now melt the butter in a pan with the sage leaves and pour on the gnocchi, adding some Parmesan cheese and some pepper (optional).


Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Ingredients for about 30 biscuits:  

150 g butter 
130 g icing sugar 
2 lemons
250 g plain flour 
20 g cornflour 
1 pinch of salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
 Icing sugar to decorate

In a bowl mix the butter with the sugar,  the grated lemon peel, the lemon juice and the pinch of salt.

Work the mixture until it reaches a creamy texture, then add the flour, the cornflour and the vanilla essence and continue to work it until it just holds together. Form a  few 3 cm diameter sausages, then wrap them in cling film and let them rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until they've become hard.

When 2 hours have passed, take them out of the fridge and cut them into 1 cm slices.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 10 minutes, or until golden; when lukewarm roll them in icing sugar and serve.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


I love Tiramisu' and this is a nice spring version of it. I served it after a light dinner, as it is quite heavy as a dessert...but amazing!!!!!

Ingredients for 3 large dessert glasses:

100 g of Savoiardi (Ladyfingers) biscuits 

For the Mascarpone cream:
250 gr Mascarpone cheese
2 spoons of sugar
1 egg

For the strawberry puree and juice:
400 g of strawberries
1/2 glass of water
1 spoon of sugar

Cut off the tops of the strawberries and slice the berries. Reserve 6 or more whole berries for the garnish.

In a blender, place the rest of the sliced berries and 1 tablespoon of sugar  and blend to puree. Put 1/3 of the puree in a bowl and add the water to it. Mix well and set aside.

Beat the egg until frothy. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat for other 10 or 15 minutes until creamy. Then add the Mascarpone cheese and beat 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.

Get the 3 dessert glasses, pour the strawberry puree at the bottom, then some Mascarpone cream, then some other strawberry puree.

Place the ladyfingers onto a serving plate, cut them into halves, then brush each with the diluted strawberry puree on both sides.

Now add a layer of ladyfingers in the glasses, then again strawberry juice and Mascarpone cream. Then ladyfingers again; go on until you reach the top, then decorate with the sliced strawberries you kept aside. If you like, you can add some mint leaves for decoration.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving to allow cookies to soften.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Today we had friends for lunch, and as they are a vegetarian family, I decided to make this salad as a starter. I served it in Parmesan nests, but it is delicious also on its own. I love it, this is one of my favourite starters.

Ingredients for 4 people:

70 g lambs lettuce
100 g Gorgonzola cheese ( I used the Gorgonzola piccante DOP from Waitrose but you can use Roquefort, Goat's cheese or Brie or whatever cheese you like)
50 g organic walnut pieces
1 and 1/2 pear ( I've used Rocha pears)
Extra Virgin olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Wash the lettuce, then put it in a bowl. Peel and cut the pear in small chunks and add it to the salad. Then cut the cheese into small pieces and add it to the rest together with the walnut pieces. Now add some salt and pepper, a few drops of Balsamic vinegar (if you don't like it you can use lemon juice) and a few spoons of olive oil. Serve in Parmesan nests ( you can find the step by step recipe on this blog)or on its own accompanied by some bread.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Outside it is cold and windy... a sad winter I need something warm and sweet to cheer me took me not more 10 minutes to make these biscuits and I've already eaten half of them...they literally melt in your mouth! So if you are particularly hungry...or sad...double the quantities!!!! With the egg yolks I made a Creme brulee....recipe will follow shortly!

Ingredients for about 25 small biscuits:

2 medium egg whites
120 g dessicated coconut
100 g sugar
30 g grated chocolate ( or small chocolate chunks, or drops)

Turn on the oven to 200 degrees.

Put all the ingredients in a  bowl and mix them well until the egg whites are well absorbed, then shape a few small balls with your hands. The mixture will be a bit sticky, so your hands will be completely dirty...but believe me, it is worth it!!!

Now put the tray in the oven for 10 minutes and serve cold.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


This is something I cook quite often, as I LOVE mushrooms. But I'll be honest: my children don't like them very much, so I spend a lot of time to take out all the mushrooms from their risotto...but when I have guest, expecially vegetarian ones, this is always a very appreciated dish. The Gongorzola gives it a very special taste. Try it!!

Ingredients for 4 people:

250 gr chestnut or Portabella mushrooms
1 tbsp dried Porcini mushrooms (optional)
200 gr Carnaroli rice
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
1/2 l vegetable stock
30 gr Gongorzola cheese
Salt and pepper

Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water for 1/2 hour and drain well. Heat some olive oil (2 tbsp) in a large, heavy based saucepan and add the garlic. Fry over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for a further 5/10 minutes, until browned, then take out the garlic.

Stir in the rice and after a few minutes, pour in the a ladful of stock and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock in this way, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump and tender (it usually takes no more than 20 minutes).

After 10 minutes, roughly chop the soaked porcini mushrooms and stir into the risotto; after 15 minutes add the Gongorzola cheese stirring well; and 1 minute before it's ready, add the chopped parsley. Remember to check if it is salty enough, then add also the pepper.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


The recipe I use, is the same I use for pizza. Manitoba flour is really great for bread making, the results you get are not even comparable to the ones you get using plain flour. The bread is much softer. You can "personalise" your bread using sesame or poppy seeds, olives, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes...and you can shape it as you like. The results are really amazing!!

500 gr strong white bread flour o Manitoba flour
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoons sugar 

10 gr salt 
250 mls water 
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

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.

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.

Once the dough has risen, it needs to be knocked down by simply punching all the air out of it with your fist; the dough will be brought back to its original size. Now, if you have time you can shape the bread and let it rest for another 1/2 hour; otherwise, if you are in a hurry, you can create your bread, then put it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm and enjoy your success!!!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


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

500 grams plain flour (or, if you prefer a thicker and softer base, use strong white bread flour)
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoons sugar 

10 gr salt 
250 mls water 
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
250 g Mozzarella cheese ( but also 125 could be enough, I love Mozzarella so I use a lot of it!)
50 g tomato  Passata
50 g honey roasted ham
2 or 3 portabella mushrooms

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.

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. (I usually put it inside the -turned off!- oven.)

Now turn on the oven to 250 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.

Now pour the Passata on the top and spread it evenly using a spoon. Cut the Mozzarella in small pieces and put them on the top. Wash and cut the mushrooms and cut the ham, then add on the pizza. Sprinkle some olive oil and a pinch of salt on the top.

Put your pizza in the oven, cook for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Monday, 20 February 2012


This is the easiest starter, if you find the Bresaola!!It's a bit tricky, but if you end up in Harrods, Selfridges, Partridges (King's Rd)or in any other Italian Delicatessen shop ( they're everywhere!)you should find it. Or you can order  online ( for example). It's expensive but very tasty and in the summer, when it's too hot and you're not too hungry this can be your dinner. My son Niccolò loves Bresaola, so it is not an "adults only" dish.

Ingredients for 4 people:

100 gr Bresaola (if it is a starter);200 gr if it is a main
100 gr Rocket
20 gr Parmesan cheese flakes
Some lemon juice
Extra Virgin olive Oil

Very easy: just lay the Bresaola slices on a dish, then cover with rocket and Parmesan flakes (the quantities depend on your taste!). Sprinkle some lemon juice and Olive oil and serve with bread or focaccia.

Monday, 13 February 2012


This is a very quick cake to make; I had some Ricotta cheese in the fridge that I needed to use and a few unwaxed lemons, so I decided to make this cake ( traditionally from Sardinia). It is very soft and the recipe doesn't contemplate any butter, so it is quite light.


2 eggs
300 g self-raising flour
300 g sugar
1 lemon (juice and peel)
250 g Ricotta cheese
1/2 glass milk
Icing sugar for decoration

Put the Ricotta cheese in a bowl, add the sugar and mix with a fork until creamy. Add the egg yolks (keep the egg whites aside), the grated rind of a lemon and its juice then add the flour. Mix well.

Whip the whites and incorporate them to the mixture.
Pour into a 22 cm cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes at 180° C until the cake is golden brown.

When cold dust with icing sugar.

Friday, 10 February 2012


These are my own creation, MY Valentine's biscuits. Today there is a cake sale at school, the theme is obviously Valentine's day...and this is what I'll bring.
A suggestion: you can use different types of chocolate: dark, orange, milk, mint, chilly ... I personally love the Green&Black selection....


250 g self-raising flour
25 gr finely grated dark  chocolate
120 g sugar
120 g butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
50 gr melted dark-chocolate for decoration

In a bowl mix the softened butter with the sugar. Add the egg, the flour, the chocolate and the vanilla essence. Work the dough until it just holds together. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.

On a lightly floured board roll the pastry dough to a 3 mm thickness.Cut the biscuits with heart-shaped cookie cutters and put them properly spaced on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 10 minutes; do not overcook, as they will become too hard, it’s better to take them out of the oven when they are still soft.

While baking, put the dark chocolate in a bowl and let it melt en bain-marie or use the microwave.

When ready, using a teaspoon, pour the chocolate on the biscuits, using an even, steady flow.

Let the biscuits to cool for at least one hour before serving.