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

PASTA SALAD (or PASTA FRESCA)



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

RICE SALAD




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)
Mayonnaise
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
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

RICOTTA AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CIAMBELLE



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

COURGETTE AND AUBERGINE LASAGNE




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
salt
olive oil

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce:

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

BECHAMEL SAUCE

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.) 


LASAGNE

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

SACHERTORTE



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

POTATO, MOZZARELLA AND FRANKFURTERS STRUDEL



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

SPECK-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS




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.