Wednesday, 19 December 2012

La piadina romagnola















Today let's talk about "piadina". It's a kind of flat bread (it reminds of a fajitas, more or less), which is typical of Romagna (the Adriatic coast of Emilia-Romagna, in Italy). 


As we celebrated my friend's birthday last Saturday, we decided to have a very "informal" dinner: in fact piadina is eaten with hands and  I think it's great because the guests can choose what to put in too. But let's start with the basics.
The ingredients for 5 people:
-         500 gr of flour
-         200 ml of warm milk
-         70 gr of lard (this is more typical) or Evo
-         1 teaspoon of baking soda (sometimes I also use 10gr of brewer’s yeast)
-         Salt
-         1 teaspoon of honey
1) There aren't many steps to follow: just mix flour, the baking soda (or the yeast melted in some milk) and lard (or Evo), salt, honey and then add the milk. Knead until reaching a compact texture.
You must be able to roll it out in a round shape, with the help of a rolling pin (here in Spain I don't have it, so I used an empty bottle of beer! It worked!). Before cooking in a teflon frying pan (there's no need to add any oil), riddle each piadina with holes, using a fork, then cook over a fairly high fire for 2 minutes each side.





Here above you can see you can eat piadina with cheese, veggies, salami, ham (cured meat in general), but you could also have it with sausages, adding sauces (like mayo, etc)..... and the best is piadina with Nutella and coconut flakes!
To drink we had Lambrusco wine, but what about a nice easygoing Sangiovese di Romagna!?










Gooey chocolate cakes




We were celebrating a friend's birthday party, here in Valladolid. We had dinner with "piadine" and for dessert I decided to make little gooey chocolate cakes.

It' an easy peasy recipe, but really yummy!

Here the ingredients (I manage to make 12 little cakes, as big as cupcakes):
200 gr of dark chocolate
180 gr butter
100 gr sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons of flour
12 foil cases

1) First you melt the chocolate with the butter.
2) When melted, add the sugar and an egg at a time.
3) Mix 2 tablespoons of flour.
4) Pour the mixture in the greased foil cases.
5) Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C.

Happy birthday Caterina!!!
ps: check out her blog if you like Yaoi http://consigliyaoi.blogspot.com.es/



Friday, 14 December 2012

Lasagna


When in Bologna, eat lasagna... when in Dublin, do it as well!

So I'm back, I was in Dublin's fair city last weekend to see my friends and it was great, as always!

Like every time I go there I find myself in a kitchen cooking lasagna, so I decided to post another classic Italian recipe, which I think it's perfect if you have a dinner party with friends.

As we were running out of time, I used ready-made lasagna sheets (moreover my friends haven't provided me with a rolling pin yet!), but to make it better I would use home-made pasta. I'll show you how to make it in another post.

The first thing to do is the bolognese sauce (better known in Italy as ragù). I use my family recipe, the one I learned from my mum, that she learned from hers etc...

These are the ingredients:
(bear in mind I baked lasagna for 15 people, it means 2 trays. The good thing is that you can make a generous amount of sauce, or lasagna itself, and put it in the freezer).
Bechamelle and ragù: a perfect marriage

- 3 tablespoons of Evo (extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 800gr. of mince beef
- 1 1/2 glass of wine (I normally use a dry white wine)
- 1l of passata (we already talked about this in the pizza recipe)
- salt, black pepper, a pinch of sugar

1) Chop finely the carrots, celery, onion, but not the garlic (I don't like it chopped, I think the taste is too strong). Put everything in a big casserole with Evo, rosemary and bay leaves, salt, black pepper, a pinch of sugar and let sautée for 10 minutes, covered with the lid.
2) After 10 minutes add the mince beef and cook for other 10 minutes.
3) Add the wine, cover and cook until the wine has evaporated (the smell of wine shouldn't be that strong by then).
The ragù is cooking!
4) Then add the passata, cover and now let it cook for at least (I mean it!) 2 hours (or 3, 4 even better).

Note: If you want you could add half a glass of milk and/or some dried porcini mushrooms. These would give it a twist!

Here we go with the bechamelle, the white sauce. To make two rich trays of lasagna I use:
- 2l of milk
- 200gr of flour
- 200gr of butter
- salt, black pepper, nutmeg.

1) Heat the milk up (you don't want your sauce lumpy!),
2) In a casserole melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
3) Slowly keep adding the hot milk to the mixture of flour and butter. Then cook for 10 minutes at least.
4) Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg as you like.

Then you're ready to make your lasagna. 

Start always with bolognese sauce and bechamelle on the bottomThen add a layer of pasta sheets and keep on doing this: sauces and pasta, as I'm sure you already know.

To make it more tasty, between the sauces and pasta sheets I spread a handful of Parmesan cheese!

Finish the lasagna with a layer of sauces, grated Parmesan cheese and "ribbons" of butter. Cook for 45 minutes at 180° and....


....enjoy your lasagna!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Butternut squash risotto


Another recipe that has a great success when I'm abroad is the butternut squash risotto, which is a perfect dish for this fall/winter season.

The choice of a good butternut squash (or pumpkin) is essential. The one you see here is the Mantua pumpkin, which I think is the best for this recipe.



Mantua pumpkin

But sometimes (above all outside Italy) the butternut squash is more common. This is the one I use when I'm not at home in Italy.


Basically the ingredients for 4 people are:
- 300 gr of Arborio or Carnaroli rice (these are the classic types of rice you need for risotto),
- 1/2 butternut squash, diced finely
- a knob of butter 
- a glass of white wine
- a shallot
- rosemary
- 600 ml of vegetable stock (better if homemade with carrots, onions and celery!)
- salt, black pepper
- another knob of butter and 50 gr of grated Parmesan to make everything creamy at the end.

Shallot

1) First prepare the stock and dice the butternut squash.
2) Melt the butter in a casserole and sautée the finely chopped shallot, add salt, black pepper and rosemary.


3) Add the butternut squash, cover with the lid and let it cook slowly until the butternut squash looks like a puree.
4) Add the rice and toast it for 3 minutes, then add the wine and let evaporate the alcohol.
5) At this point start pouring the stock, a ladle at a time, until it is all absorbed. This will take more or less 15/18 minutes... yes, be patient!
6) When it's cooked, add the Parmesan cheese and a knob of butter. Mix well until creamy. Set aside for 3 minutes before serving...

.... et voilá the risotto is ready to enjoy with a nice deep red wine (maybe a Valpolicella or a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo).

Taleggio cheese
ps: Sometimes I use Taleggio cheese instead of Parmesan at the end, which it makes the risotto creamier and tastes amazing!




Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Like a big pizza pie...


Wheat flour pizza with "salame piccante" (spicy pepperoni)

Wholemeal pizza
Today I was brainstorming about food (yes sometimes when I get bored I start thinking about recipes... these things happen!) and I thought that pizza should have the honor to inaugurate my blog. I mean it's easy, it's yummy and above all it's Italy!
So let's get started!

I love this recipe (which make pizza for 4 people, more or less) and it's always a success, according to the delighted faces of my guests!

This are the ingredients for the pizza dough:

  • 500 gr. of flour (I like using different kinds of flour. Most of the times I make the dough with wholemeal flour or even spelt flour if you're able to find it);
  • 380 gr. of water (it seems a lot, but pizza dough doesn't have to be dry, I'll post a picture as soon I can);
  • 1 cube of yeast (if you can't find it 2 teaspoons of dried yeast will be enough);
This is the "brewer's yeast", as it is called, that I use.
  • 3 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil (please make sure it's EXTRA VIRGIN!);
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (this will help the dough leaven);
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
So what to do first:
  1. In a cup dissolve the yeast with around 50 gr. of lukewarm water.
  2. Take a bowl (quite big as the dough will double) and mix the flour with the yeast. 
  3. Add the sugar and gradually pour the rest of the water.
  4. When it is all well mixed add the Evo (from now on this means extra virgin olive oil) and finally the salt.
  5. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside, in a place where there aren't sudden changes of temperature (this could be the oven, or even the fruit and veggie drawer of the fridge).
The more you leave it leaven, the better. Sometimes I make the dough the night before or in the morning. This it means around 12 to 24 hours of leavening.

Let's talk about the tomato sauce:
The best thing to use is "passata", which is very smooth, rather than canned tomatoes like these:




Always choose a good quality "passata", I personally use Mutti, which I think is the best ever!
You have to cook the passata to get the best flavour from it!
I use for 350 gr. of passata:

2 garlic cloves
Oregano
Basil (possibly fresh, not dried) and with this I'm always very generous!
salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar, which is great to contrast the sharpness of the tomato.
and 1 tablespoon of Evo, to conclude.

I let it cook for at least 15/20 minutes.


When you're ready to cook the pizza, spread it on the tray with your hands, don't push to much, think of massaging. Then on the top I put salt, black pepper, if you want some Evo again (this is totally like a massage!), add the tomato sauce and pop it in the oven.

The Oven:
The first thing to do is to preheat the oven at the maximum temperature (like mine heat up to 260°C). You put the pizza in the lower place in the oven for about 10 minutes.
At this point take it out, add the salami, pepperoni, mushroom, mozzarella cheese etc. (whatever your topping is) and move it to the middle place for others 10 minutes, more or less. Just keep an eye on it!

Then it's ready to eat! Enjoy your pizza!!! I will!

Chiara




Monday, 3 December 2012

Hello world! I'm Chiara, I'm a foodie and it's been a while since I started to think to write a blog about cooking and now, there you are, I finally took power of my laptop to make something creative...
I'm Italian, so it's useless to say how much I love food (especially my country's!), but I love travelling too, and as I get curiouser and curiouser, I love to experience new flavours and tastes!

So from now on I'd like to share my recipes with you! Stick around... I'll keep them posted!

Bye!
Chiara