May 13 2019

Artichoke Patties

 

Artichoke patties are an excellent alternative to meat patties, which will surely be appreciated even by the non vegetarian.  

For 30 patties

  • 3 big artichokes
  • 350 gr ricotta cheese
  • 100 gr parmesan, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 40 gr bread crumbs
  • zest of 1 organic lemon + the juice for cleaning the artichokes
  • 40 gr shelled walnuts, coarsely crushed
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

for the sauce:

  • 250 ml Kefir
  • the smallest pinch of saffron

Clean and finely slice the artichokes. (see http://www.lagrandemela.info/en/flan-di-carciofi/)

Place the oil and garlic (cloves halved) in a large pan and gently fry until golden, then remove from the pan and add the artichokes. Sautée for 2-3 minutes and pour in the hot vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and let cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until the stock has evaporated and the artichokes are very tender.

Place the artichokes on a board and chop using a knife.

In a bowl pop in the artichokes, ricotta cheese, parmesan, nutmeg, parsley, mint, lemon zest and walnuts. Mix well and if the mixture becomes too soft add the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the patties using your hands, roll into the bread crumbs and place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Spray with some oil and bake in the oven, still, at 200°C for 20/25 minutes, until golden and cooked through. If you prefer, you can fry the patties in hot oil.

Serve with some good Kefir seasoned with salt and the smallest bit of saffron.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
May 7 2019

Cuban Flan

This wondrous recipe is the Cuban version of the universally known European Créme Caramel , which, despite its French name, was born in Spain. The classical recipe is based on just milk, eggs and sugar; the Cubans substituted the fresh milk with powdered and condensed milk, probably easier to find, thus creating a dramatically different texture. Richer and creamier, trust me, it is a dream come true.

Serves 6

  • 1 tin condensed milk (397 gr)
  • 200 gr powdered milk
  • 3 whole free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp natural vanilla powder (or, half a vanilla bean, halved and scraped)
  • 125 ml water
  • 200 caster sugar for the caramel

 

In a small saucepan place the sugar, put  on low heat and let it caramelize: do not stir the sugar until melted and darkened. Coat a 1.2 liter baking tin with the caramel and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the powdered milk with the water and whisk well; add the condensed milk and mix thoroughly  through in order to eliminate any lumps (you can use an immersion blender to reach this goal perfectly), then add the eggs.

Add the vanilla, combine everything together and pour the mixture in the caramelized tin using a sieve to remove any remaining lumps and, especially, any bubbles.

Cover with aluminum foil, put the tin in a baking pan with boiling water and bake bain-marie in the oven, still, at 180°C for 75 minutes. Check the surface: if the flan is set, take it out of the oven, otherwise prolong the baking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the pan, let it cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

To unmold the flan, gently scrape along the edges with a round-bladed knife, then turn upside down on a dish. Serve cold.

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Apr 1 2019

Thai Mussel with Coconut and Lemon

This is a light main course which can even become more complete if you serve it with plain rice and steamed vegetables. It has an intriguing and mild spicy flavour.

Serves 3/4 

  • 250 gr mussels (net weight without the shells: you will need about 1,200 kg of fresh whole mussels)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves,  thinly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil (whatever you like: I used extravirgin olive oil, but feel free to use what you prefer)
  • 1 red chilli pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 pinch of lemon zests
  • chopped fresh coriander to taste

Clean the mussels in cold water and blanch in boiling unsalted water for 1 minute or until opened and cooked halfway through. Drain and discard the shells as well as any mussels that haven’t opened and set aside.

In a heavy-based pan place the oil, ginger, garlic and red chilli pepper and let fry gently.

Add the tomatoes thoroughly chopped by hand and cook for 5 minutes.

Time to add the mussels: stir well and pour the coconut milk.

Scatter with the lemon zests , season with salt to taste and, if you like,  the chopped coriander. Serve with steamed vegetables (I used green beans) and/or plain jasmine rice.

 

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes
Mar 11 2019

Artichoke Flan

I am pretty sure you will love this artichoke flan: artichokes are in season, the recipe is easy and the flan can be made the day before. You will just have to warm it a little before serving and decorate it according to your taste.

Serves 8

  • 750 ml fresh whole milk
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 100 gr plain flour
  • 80 gr butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 large artichokes
  • 1 small onion, thinly chopped
  • 4 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 lemon

Clean and trim the artichokes (if you are wondering how, look at this good video tutorial https://www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-trim-artichokes), halve and reduce to thin slices. Place the slices in cold water and juice from 1 lemon as you go along so they don’t darken in colour.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the chopped onion and fry until tender. Add the artichokes, cover the pan with a lid, and let cook for 10 minutes. At this point remove the lid and let the juice almost completely dry.

For the béchamel: melt butter slowly in a saucepan, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and slowly pour in the milk, while accurately whisking. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and season well with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, parmesan and the artichokes and stir well. Set aside.

Whisk  the eggs whites until they form soft peaks or until stiff and glossy and combine with the artichoke mixture using a spatula, so that the fluffy egg whites you have thoroughly worked won’t be damaged. Wash, dry and chop the basil leaves by hand, and add to the mixture. Do not use scissors to cut herbs, or they will turn sour and loose flavour together with their essential oils.

Grease a tin with butter, dust with some flour and remove the excess. Pour in the artichoke mix, level the surface and beat the bottom of the tin on a hard surface in order to eliminate possible bubbles. Bake at 180°C, still, for 45 minutes. When ready, turn the flan over while still lukewarm- gently moving a knife between the flan and the tin first if needed- or it will irreparably stick to the tin. In case it unluckily happens, you can fix the tragedy by warming up the flan over a very low heat for a couple of minutes and trying again.

 

 

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Posted in Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Feb 12 2019

Polenta Mini Balls

Stilish and elegant, these mini polenta balls are the ideal finger food to make the most of a winter dinner.  

For around 25 balls

  • 100 gr quick-cooking polenta
  • 500 ml tap water
  • 1 yolk and a half from free range eggs
  • 45 gr grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tbsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 75 gr hazelnuts, skin on
  • 75 gr raw pistachios

In a heavy-based pan bring the water to a boil; add the polenta and whisk with some energy until well combined. Always stirring the polenta, let it cook for 8 minutes (or follow the instructions on the box).

Add the parmesan, nutmeg, a pinch of  sea salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Now incorporate the eggs, one at a time.

Using a mortar and pestel coarsely chop the pistachios and hazelnuts to a granola.

Very carefully, since the polenta will be hot, make small balls  wetting your hands in water every now and then, in order to give them a more accurate shape.

Coat every ball first in the egg yolks slightly beaten and then in the granola, switching between the two. Delicately put the balls on a tray covered with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes at 180°C, still.  Serve warm but not too hot.

 

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Posted in Starters, Vegetarian
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