Dec 10 2018

My Mum’s Ricotta Cheese Tortelloni

Almost everybody on planet Earth are more than familiar with the classical tortelloni, or ravioli, with ricotta cheese and spinach. My mum Giuliana, who was born in Bologna, used to make the tortelloni with parsley instead of  spinach, like many Bolognesi were used to doing according to their own tradition. The parsley-based filling is absolutely more aromatic and has a stronger zing than the spinach-based one. For my family, there is no Christmas without this lovely dish.

Serves 6

  • 400 gr plain flour
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 350 gr ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp coarsley chopped parsley
  • 150 gr good Italian parmesan
  • 100 gr butter, melted

Prepare the filling mixing the ricotta cheese together with the parmesan, nutmeg and parsley. Do not forget to add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and make the dough.

Place the eggs, flour and a half of an egg shell amount of water into a food processor or a kneading machine. Knead for 5-7 minutes until you obtain a smooth lump. Wrap with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

If you want to make the dough the traditional way, by hand, place the flour on a large board, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork and incorporate the flour little by little scraping the side, until the eggs and flour are thoroughly combined. Knead the dough working with your hands as well as the back of your wrists for at least 10 minutes, working with a regular rhythm until you obtain a smooth and uniform lump of dough. Also in this case, wrap the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

Now fetch the dough from the fridge and knead it by hand for an additional 5 minutes working well with the back of your wrists and adding a small quantity of flour if needed. Dust the board with some flour (not a lot or your dough will become dry), press the dough out flat with your fingertips and roll using a rolling pin until very thin.  Cut into squares of 4/5 cm and place around half a teaspoon of the filling in the centre. At this point brush the sides with a bit of water, so that the tortelli will be more stiffly closed.

Fold the filled squares in a shape of a triangle, pressing with your fingertips along the sides. Pinch one end of the triangle, then using the other two fingers wrap the opposite end around your first index finger, then press the two ends together, and voilà your tortello is ready.

While closing the tortelli, place on a clean tea cloth dusted with flour, then boil in hot salted water for 4-5 minutes. Drain well, season with the butter, previously melted in a little pan with the sage, and serve immediately.

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Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
Nov 30 2018

Low Cal Chocolate Mousse with Lemony Salt Flakes

Quick and easy to prepare (you can make it the day before), luscious to taste and light on your figure: isn’t that a dream? Let’s try this dessert and you will find that dreams do come true… sometimes.

Serves 4

  • 100 gr top quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa) + 20 gr for decoration
  • 50 gr brown sugar
  • 4 free range eggs (you will need only the whites)
  • 1 fat free Greek yougurt (170 gr)
  • less than a 1/2 tsp lemony salt flakes (or plain salt flakes if you prefer to go easy)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in double boiler (a bowl set over a pan of simmering water). Let it cool to room temperature then add the sugar and yougurt. If you fancy a stronger flavour, omit the sugar. Mix well and set aside.

In a perfectly clean bowl pour the egg whites (it is important for it to be clean in order to have perfectly done egg whites, as any kind of grease can block the process) and whisk with and eletric hand mixer to medium-stiff peaks.

Using a whisk or a spatula, very gently mix together the whites with the melted chocolate and yougurt.

Divide the mix into four ramekins and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.

Scatter the surface of the mousse with grated chocolate and some salt flakes.

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Posted in Desserts, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Nov 15 2018

Cauliflower Pudding with Black Olive Pesto

As I would simply put it, this pudding is my signature dish. The pudding in itself is delicate yet savory, while the pesto sauce features a real triumph of aromas.  Please notice that the real zing to the pesto comes from the olives, so take care of choosing the best possible quality. 

Serves 4

  • 800 gr cauliflower, florets removed and washed
  • 150 ml milk
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 80 gr pecorino cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil

for the pesto:

  • 100 gr black olives, deseeded: if you are lucky enough to find the Taggiasche sort that will be the best! Otherwise, a good alternative is Greek black olives, which are surely easier to locate.
  • 100 ml top quality Italian extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salted capers, accurately washed and drained
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 3 anchovies in oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or chilli flakes, if you prefer it less spicy)
  • rind and juice of 1 organic orange

Boil the cauliflower in hot salted water, drain and sautéè in a large pan with the oil until golden. Reduce to a purée using the back of a spoon. Let it cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the pecorino cheese and milk and add a little black pepper powder.  Add the cauliflower and mix thoroughly.

Grease the inside of a plain bundt cake tin with some olive oil and pour in the batter. Bake in the oven, still, at 190°C, bainmarie, for 50 minutes.

Prepare the pesto by putting all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy and blended.

Leave the pudding to cool a little before turning out, garnish with the pesto and serve. You can make the pudding a day ahead and warm it in the microwave just before serving: cover with the pesto only after warmed up, so that the sauce won’t cook.

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Posted in Sides, Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Nov 5 2018

Risotto with Sardinian Pecorino and Caramelised Pear

I would highly recommend this risotto, which is a classic and always in vogue: the couple formed by cheese and pear represents a marriage which is one of the most successful in the history of cuisine.

Serves 4

  • 250 gr Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1,5 lt vegetable stock
  • 60 gr Sardinian Pecorino cheese (Fiore Sardo)
  • 2 Williams pears
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 small leek
  • 75 gr butter

Peel off and dice the pears, put in a pan with 30 gr butter and the sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until caramelised and set aside.

Chop or grate the cheese.

Chop the shallot and leek together and transfer to a heavy based pan with the butter. Let it sautée gently until lightly golden. Add the rice, toast for 3 minutes constantly stirring, add some salt to taste and cook adding the stock little by little, always stirring. You can also use a kitchen robot to make the risotto, eventhough I own one I prefer the classical manual way: still nothing is better than your own hands.

Sprinkle with some black pepper and add the Pecorino: mix well and rapidly, in order to incorporate as much air as possible, cover and let rest for 2 minutes.  Place the risotto on a platter, scatter with the pears (warm them up before serving) and serve immediately. As we say in Italy, risotto can’t wait.

 

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Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
Oct 22 2018

Spicy Quinoa Tabbouleh with Crunchy Chickpeas

The traditional  tabbouleh, a largely known Arabic recipe, is a sort of salad based on bulgur and parsley, enriched by other vegetables in varying proportions. It originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria and was an essential part of people’s diet in the Middle Ages. In the Libanese version the quantity of parsley is much more than the quantity of bulgur, or the same. In this case I substituted bulgur with quinoa and I did not use the same proportion between quinoa and parsley because I find it a little overwhelming on other more delicate flavours.  The result is an unusual formula which hopefully won’t disappoint you!

Serves 4

  • 150 gr red quinoa, cooked according to the instructions on the box
  • 1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 spooons duqqah (see below)
  • 8 spoons good extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 140 gr pink radish sprouts  (or broccoli or whatever sprouts you can find, except bean sprouts)
  • 20 gr parsley, chopped
  • 10 gr fresh coriander, washed and drained
  • juice of 1 lemon

for the duqqah:

  • 50 gr raw hazelnuts, skin on
  • 25 gr white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder

Separately toast the hazelnuts and sesame, let them cool and then reduce to a powder with a food processor. Incorporate the cumin and coriander, stir well and place in a little jar. .

Sprinkle the chickpeas with the dukkah and add 2 spoons extravirgin olive oil, mix well in order to completely coat the chickpeas, place in a baking tray and bake in the oven, still, at 180°C for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy.

Let the chickpeas cool to room temperature, then in a bowl place the sprouts, parsley, shallots, chickpeas and quinoa. Season with the oil and lemon juice, add salt to taste and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.

 

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Posted in Starters, International, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian
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