Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cannelloni filled with vegetables

Here's a fancifull and light version of cannelloni, the main course made of filled fresh pasta that is never missing on special Sunday's dinner. The lovely thing about them is that you don't have to prepare the painstaking bèchamel sauce because I'm giving you a simpler version...

Serves 4


Fresh Lasagna sheets 8

(I prepared a fresh pasta without eggs using:
100 g (3,52 oz) all purpose flour
100 g (3,53 oz) of durum wheat flour
Warm water about 100 ml (3,53 fl oz)
a pinch of salt
a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil)

a large eggplant (aubergine)
2 zucchini (courgettes)
a yellow pepper
a red pepper
5 tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a bunch of fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
50 grams (1,76 oz) of grated cheese (parmesan or grana padano)
salt and pepper according to your taste

If you are preparing fresh pasta: Put both flour on a work surface or in a large bowl, mix the flours and make a well. Pour in the middle half of the water, oil and salt and begin to knead from the center. Continue to knead gradually adding more water until all flour is combined. Continue to work the dough with your hands, roll it out on the work surface and then fold it, roll out again then refold and so on for about ten minutes, until you get a smooth and firm dough. Cover the dough and let it sit for half an hour. After this time, take the dough, knead it a little, then cut it into pieces and with the aid of a rolling pin (or a pasta machine) roll it out into thin sheets and place on surface well-floured with all purpose flour (or tipo 00 flour). Cover the pasta sheets and set aside for another hour.

 Place the peppers under a very hot grill and let them blacken and blister on all sides. When still hot, put them in a bowl and cover with cling film and leave to cool.
 Meanwhile wash your courgettes and slice them lengthways about 0.5 cm (0,20 inches) thick. Grill the courgette on a griddle pan for about a minute on each side or until nicely charred (pic 1).
Transfer to a clean tea towel in one layer, making sure they don't sit on top of each other, otherwise they will steam and go soggy.
Cut the eggplant (aubergine) lengthways into 1 cm (0,39 inches) thick slices. Place them on the griddle pan right away, to prevent from turning black and take a bitter taste. Chargrill the slices turning them several times until nicely marked (2), then transfer to the tea towel.
When peppers are cool enough to handle, carefully rub off the black skin and remove the stalk and seeds from the inside, then tear them up into large strips.

Now put all vegetables into a large bowl, season with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring to the boil enough salted water, add a drop of oil, when the water is at rolling boil, add the pasta sheets one at a time and blanch them, remove them as soon as they bob up, less than a minute, and place on a clean tea towel in one layer, making sure they don't sit on top of each other otherwise they will stick together.

In another saucepan bring enough water to a boil to blanch tomatoes, skin them and then cut them into quarters. Puree the tomatoes in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a clove of garlic, basil leaves and salt.

Take the pasta sheets, place on a work surface and put 2 or 3 slices of each grilled vegetables along one of the longer edges of each pasta sheet (3) and roll up to make cannellini. Put them in an oven dish dot with 1/2 of the tomatoes sauce (4),

spread with the remaining tomatoes sauce (5) and cover the pan with foil and bake in preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil, sprinkle with grated cheese (5), drizzled with a little olive oil and cook for another 10 minutes (6).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chocolates with hazelnuts

Since the first time they were prepared in the twenties these chocolates have been considered a symbol of love. Well this wouldn't have happened if they would have continued to call them "cazzotto (the italian word for punch)", which was the name that their inventor, Perugina co-founder Luisa Spagnoli, had given them because of their similarity to the knuckle of the hand. Fortunately, thanks to the cooperation with other experts, the name was changed into "Baci" which is the italian word for kisses, and also, they started to wrap them in a love note.
Soon Baci became a favourite among lovers, and still today all lovers exchange Baci (kisses) on St. Valentine's Day...(they share real kisses as well!)
And today's recipe is entirely inspired by these chocolates, because making them with your own hands at home is fun and even more romantic!

Ingredients for about 30 chocolates:

Nutella 100 g (3,53 oz) (or 150 g (5,29 oz) of milk chocolate)
100 g (3,53 oz) shelled, toasted and peeled hazelnuts
50 g (1,76 oz) of chopped hazelnuts
5 tablespoons of fresh cream
70 g (2,47 oz) of icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
30 g (1,06 oz) of cocoa powder

For the topping
About 30 whole toasted hazelnuts (one for each chocolate)
200 g (7,05 oz) of dark chocolate
Place the peeled hazelnuts in a blender (1) and mince them thinly (2), activating the blender at times to prevent hazelnuts oil to come out and create a sort of paste. Pour them into a large bowl and add Nutella chocolate, icing sugar and cocoa powder sifted together (3), and cream (4).
 Mix well and add the chopped hazelnuts (5-6), mix everything and shape into little balls (slightly smaller than a walnut) (7-8).
Lay them on a layer covered with baking paper (parchment paper) and place on top of each ball a whole hazelnut (8). Put in the refrigerator for half an hour. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (make sure that the double container doesn't touch the water) (9).
 Take the chocolate balls from the refrigerator and dip the base of each one in the melted chocolate (10), place them back on the tray covered with baking paper and let sit 10 more minutes in the refrigerator. When the base became harder, take  out of the refrigerator and take one chocolate at the time with a palette knife (11) and cover with chocolate by using a pastry brush.
Refrigerate and allow to harden (12).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tiramisu with oranges

Tiramisu is a traditional dessert of the Italian confectionery. Traditionally it is prepared with ladyfingers biscuits soaked in the coffee, a cream made of mascarpone cheese and cocoa. Nowadays there are various versions of this classical dessert, the one that I propose to you is a mix with the French cuisine, in fact I will replace ladyfingers with gingerbread, which is a typical dessert of the French tradition and I will use oranges instead of the coffee...


Serves 8

For the pastry cream (following doses refers to the minimum use of one egg yolk, you will need approximately 200 g of cream to prepare this dessert):
250 ml (8 and 1/2 fl oz) of milk
1 egg yolk
100 g (3 and 1/2 oz - 1/2 cup) of granulated sugar
35 g (1.24 oz)of all purpose flour
1 lemon peel

For mascarpone cream:
4 egg yolks
160 ml(5.50 fl oz) of milk
100 g (3 and 1/2 oz - 1/2 cup) of granulated sugar
3 grated oranges peel
400 g (14.10 oz) of mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons orange liqueur

To prepare syrup:
60 g (2.11 oz) granulated sugar
2 tbls of water
1 tbls of orange liqueur

To complete:
290 g (10.23 oz) of gingerbread (find the recipe here)
8 tablespoons of peanuts praline
Candied orange peel (optional)

Prepare the pastry cream : heat up the milk, knead the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl with the aid of an electric beater, add 1/3 of tepid milk, then slowly sift the flour and to finish pour the remaining milk still whisking with the electric mixer. Pour the mixture into a cooker, add the lemon peel, bring it to boil over low heat and, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, make it simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat and remove the lemon peel otherwise the cream will have a bitter taste. Allow to cool stirring from time to time to avoid the forming of a crust on the surface.
Prepare the mascarpone cream : Bring the milk to a boil. In a small saucepan knead with an electric beater the egg yolks with the sugar until it's creamy and fluffy (pic. 1). Mix the hot milk (2) and put on the flame, overheat till it reaches 80°C (176°F) (3). Turn off the flame and allow the mixture to cool, then gently mix in the mascarpone cheese (4-5), 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur and the grated oranges peel (6).
Prepare the syrup: Put the sugar in a small pot, add water and the tablespoon of orange liqueur (7), bring to a boil and turn off the heat .

Assemble the dessert: Crumble the gingerbread (8) and devide half of it in 8 small cups (9).
Sprinkle with half of the prepared syrup, spread the pastry cream (10), put the remaining gingerbread, then the syrup and mascarpone cream to finish (11). Complete with chopped peanuts praline and candied orange peel (if you prefer). Let it settle in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chocolate and candied oranges tart

This tart combines the sweet chocolate cream flavour with the sweet-sour citric taste of the oranges. It is as easy to prepare as yummy!!!  
On a layer of pastry shell a delicate chocolate cream and to complete many slices of caramelized oranges ...

Ingredients for a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inches) rectangular mould

For the short (sweet tart) pastry:
200 g (7.05 oz) all purpose flour
70 g (2.47 oz) of granulated white sugar
70 g (2. 47 oz) of butter, cubed
1 egg
1\2 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:
350 g (12.35 oz) of oranges
60 g (2.12 oz) of sugar
175 g (6.17 oz) of Nutella
150 g (5.30 oz) of pastry cream (you can find the recipe here)
A small glass of orange liqueur
Cocoa powder for dusting

Prepare the short pastry: Sift the flour with the baking soda, place them in a mincer (you can also make it by hand) with the other ingredients and blend until the mixture comes together. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for half an hour before using.

Meanwhile, prepare the custard (pastry cream) and let it cool.
Take the sweet pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface or if you prefer on parchment paper, use it to line a greased and floured rectangular mould (if you have rolled the dough on parchment paper you do not need to grease). Using a fork or a pastry docker, prick the bottom of the dough all over (pic. 1), cover the bottom of the dough with other parchment paper, spread with dried beans (2) and place in a preheated oven to 170°C (340°F) for 30 minutes.
Rinse the oranges, slice them into thin slices and arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (3), pour liqueur, sprinkle with sugar and grill until they are caramelized.
Take the dough out of the oven, remove the paper and beans, allow to cool.
Fold the nutella in the pastry cream until completely incorporated and spread it over the bottom of the baked pastry shell, place the caramelized orange slices on the cream, sprinkle with cocoa powder (4) and serve.

Risotto with radicchio and orange

Risotto with radicchio and orange is a unique main course, it is easy to prepare and suitable for any occasion. Maybe, it could be an idea for a romantic dinner since Valentine's Day is coming.
What makes this dish unique is the bittersweet taste given by the radicchio lightly bitter taste mixed with the sweet taste of the orange.

Serves 4


1 nr Leek
3 nr Oranges
2 nr Heads of radicchio
350 g (12.35 oz) of rice (for risotto)
Half a glass of brandy
Extra virgin olive oil as needed
Vegetable broth as needed
Parmesan cheese 30 gr (1.06 oz)(optional)
15 g of butter (0,53 oz)(optional)
Clean the leek, remove the outer leaves, wash, dry it and cut into thin rings (pic. 1).
Wash the radicchio and cut into strips (2). Let it simmer in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and turn off the flame.
Squeeze two oranges, peel the other and cut the flesh into little cubic pieces.
Put the leek with the olive oil in a large pan and let simmer for 2 minutes (3), add the rice and let it brown over high heat (4). Add the brandy and let it dry out, then add the broth (or stock) slowly (a ladle at a time) (5).
When the rice is almost cooked, add the orange juice (6). After a minute add the orange pulp and radicchio (7-8). When the rice is cooked mix in the Parmesan cheese and butter (9-10).
Turn off the flame, cover with a tea towel (or dish towel) (11) and let it stand a few minutes before serving.

Risotto all’arancia con radicchio

Il risotto al radicchio e arancia è un primo piatto particolare e al contempo insolito, semplice da preparare è adatto a qualsiasi occasione. Magari potrebbe essere un idea per una cenetta romantica visto che siamo prossimi a San Valentino.
Ciò che rende questo piatto particolare è il contrasto di gusto dolce amaro dovuto alla presenza del radicchio, delicatamente amaro, e del sapore dolce dell'arancia.

Ingredienti per 4 persone:

un porro
3 arance non trattate
2 cespi di radicchio
15 gr di burro
350 gr di riso per risotto
Mezzo bicchiere di brandy
Olio extra vergine di oliva q.b.
Brodo vegetale q.b.
Parmigiano reggiano 30 gr

Pulite il porro, eliminate le foglie esterne più sciupate, lavatelo, asciugatelo e tagliatelo a rondelle sottilissime (foto 1).
Lavate il radicchio e tagliatelo a striscioline (foto 2). Fatelo stufare in una padella con un poco di olio extra vergine di oliva, salate, pepate e spegnete.
Spremete due arance non trattate (6), sbucciatene un’altra, togliete la pellicina bianca e tagliatene la polpa a tocchetti (7).
Fate stufare per 2 minuti il porro in una casseruola capiente con l’olio (foto 3), aggiungete il riso e fatelo tostare a fiamma vivace (foto 4). Aggiungete il brandy e fatelo evaporare, quindi unite, poco alla volta, il brodo (foto 5).
Quando il riso è quasi cotto aggiungete il succo di arancia. Dopo un minutino unite anche la polpa di arancia e il radicchio (8). Quando il riso è cotto mantecate con il parmigiano e il burro ( 9 e 10), coprite con un canovaccio (11) e lasciate riposare qualche minuto prima di servire.

Tacchino all’arancia e cavolini di Bruxelles

Eccomi con un secondo classico, l’arrosto.
L’arrosto se accompagnato con il contorno giusto è un piatto che assicura sempre un successo in cucina.
In questo caso ho abbinato alla carne di tacchino, le arance e i cavolini di Bruxelles, a mio avviso un connubio di gusto perfetto.

Ingredienti per 4 persone:

600 gr di fesa di tacchino
300 ml di brodo
3 arance
500 gr di cavolini di Bruxelles
1 cucchiaino di zucchero
Un cucchiaio di fecola
50 ml di brandy
3 cucchiai di olio extra vergine di oliva
Sale e pepe q.b.

Legate la carne con spago da cucina per far si che rimanga in forma durante la cottura (foto 1). Mettete l’olio in una teglia, aggiungete la carne e ponete in forno già caldo a 220°C per 20 minuti (foto 2). Tiratela fuori, salate, pepate, bagnate con il brodo (foto 3) e continuate la cottura per un’altra ora.
Lavate e sbucciate 2 arance, tagliate le scorze a striscioline e scottatele in acqua bollente per 5 minuti (foto 4).
Pulite e tagliate a spicchi i cavolini, cuoceteli a vapore (foto 5), poi fateli saltare in padella con una noce di burro, sale e pepate abbondantemente (foto 7).
Affettate le arance sbucciate (foto 8). Spremete l’arancia rimasta e mettete il succo filtrato in un pentolino  con lo zucchero (foto 6).
Fate bollire poi togliete dal fuoco e aggiungete la fecola sciolta in poca acqua fredda, il brandy e le striscioline di scorza (foto 9). Rimettete sul fuoco e fate cuocere per 3 minuti sempre mescolando, aggiungete le fette di arance e fate cuocere altri 3 minuti (foto 10).
Togliete l’arrosto dal forno (foto 11), eliminate lo spago,  affettatelo e sistematelo su di un piatto da portata. Disponetevi da un lato le fette di arancia e versate su di esse tutto il loro sughetto, dall’altro i cavolini di Bruxelles (foto 12).

Turkey with orange and Brussels sprouts

Here I am with a tradictional second course, roast beef.
Roast beef is the classic kind of dish that will always ensure you success in the kitchen if served with the right accompaniment.
In this case, I served turkey meat with oranges and Brussels sprouts, which is in my opinion, a perfect blend of taste.

Serves 4


600 grams (1.32 lbs) of turkey breast
300 ml (10.59 fl oz) of broth
3 oranges
500 grams (1.102 lbs) of Brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon sugar
A spoonful of potato starch
50 ml (1.77 fl oz) of brandy liqueur
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper as needed
Tie the meat with kitchen twine to make sure it stays in shape during cooking (pic. 1). Put the oil in a pan, add the meat and place in a preheated oven to 220°C (428°F) for 20 minutes (pic. 2). Take it out, add salt and pepper, pour in the broth and continue oven cooking for another hour (pic. 3).
 Wash and peel 2 oranges, cut the peel into thin strips and sear in boiling water for 5 minutes (pic. 4).
Clean and cut the sprouts into wedges, put them in a steamer (pic. 5), then sauté in a pan with a knob of butter, salt and pepper (pic. 7).
Slice the peeled oranges (pic. 8). Squeeze the remaining orange and put the filtered juice in a saucepan with the sugar (pic. 6). Bring to the boil then remove from heat and add the potato starch dissolved in a little cold water, the brandy and the peel strips (pic. 9). Put back on the heat and cook for 3 minutes, constantly stirring, then add the orange slices (pic. 10) and cook 3 more minutes.
Take the roast out of the oven (pic. 11), remove the twine, slice it and place it on a serving dish. Serve it with the orange slices and all their sauce on one side, and the Brussels sprouts on the other (pic.12).


Gingerbread is a traditional dessert of the French cuisine, it is traditionally prepared during Christmas holiday. It's a mixture of honey and spices, it can be eaten as a dessert enriching it with a sweet frosting, or eaten for breakfast or even with cheeses and cold cuts as an appetizer.

Ingredients for 8 people:

100 g (3.53 oz) of butter
100 ml (3.54 fl oz) of honey
100 g (3.53 oz) of cane sugar
1 egg
150 ml (5.30 fl oz) of milk
2 clove (spice)
200 g (7.06 oz) of flour (all purpose)
1 tablespoon of baking soda
One orange peel
1 and 1\2 teaspoons of dried ginger
1 and 1\2 teaspoons of cinnamon
40 g (1.41 oz) of ground toasted almonds
Bring the milk to a boil, add the cloves (spice) and leave to infuse for 5 minutes (pic. 1).
Put the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan (2) and melt over a gentle heat (3).
Sift the flour and baking soda in a bowl (4), add the lightly beaten egg (5). Combine the mixture of honey, sugar and butter, also add the almonds and milk (6).
Then add the spices and the grated orange peel.
Pour the mixture into a plum cake mould covered with baking paper (7), let it sit for about ten minutes and bake in preheated oven to 170°C (338°F) for about 30 minutes (8-9).

Pan di spezie

Il pan di spezie è un dolce tipico della tradizione francese, viene preparato tradizionalmente durante il periodo delle festività natalizie. E’ un impasto a base di miele e spezie, può essere consumato sia come dolce arricchendolo con una glassa dolce, oppure a colazione o anche per accompagnare formaggi e salumi in occasione di un aperitivo. 
La ricetta che vi propongo oggi l'ho presa sul mensile di cucina "La Cucina Italiana".

Ingredienti per 8 persone:

100 g di burro
100 ml di miele
100 g di zucchero di canna
1 uovo
150 ml di latte
1 chiodo di garofano
200 g di farina
1 cucchiaio di bicarbonato
La scorza di un’arancia
1 e 1\2 cucchiaini di zenzero secco
1 e 1\2 cucchiaini di cannella
40 g di mandorle tostate in polvere
Fate bollire il latte, aggiungete i chiodi di garofano e lasciate in infusione per 5 minuti (foto 1).
Mettete in una pentolina il burro, il miele e lo zucchero e fate fondere a fiamma dolce (foto 2 e 3).
Setacciate la farina e il bicarbonato in una terrina (foto 4), aggiungete l’uovo leggermente sbattuto (foto 5). Incorporate il composto di miele, zucchero e burro,  unite anche le mandorle e il latte (foto 6). Per finire aggiungete le spezie e la scorza di arancia grattugiata.
Versate il composto in uno stampo per plum cake rivestito con carta da forno (foto 7), lasciate riposare per una decina di minuti e infornate in forno statico già caldo a 170°C per circa 30 minuti.