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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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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May 5 2018

Spaghetti con la bottarga

For those who don’t know it,  “bottarga” is a sort of fish eggs (mainly of mullet) dried in their own ovarian sack. Bottarga is a specialty of Sardinia and originates back to the Phoenicians, who once used to visit the island, but the word itself derives from Arabic, whose people were very popular in the Mediterranean. Spaghetti with bottarga makes a royal dish, very easy to prepare as long as you play by the rules. Have fun!

Serves 4

  • 320 gr spaghetti
  • 1 medium bottarga
  • 6 spoons first quality extravirgin olive oil
  • 4 bunches parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 unwaxed lemon, zest grated
  • chilly powder
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooking water, reserved

Place a pan with salted water to the boil; in the meantime peel off the bottarga, coarsely chop and blend in a food processor until powdered. Boil the spaghetti until it has still a little bite to it and place in a bowl with the oil, chilly powder, garlic clove and parsley. Toss to coat and pour 1 cup of cooking water. Add the bottarga, always stirring until you have a creamy, soft consistence. Serve immediately.




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Posted in First course, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Mar 15 2018

Spaghetti in Venetian sauce

The Venetian spaghetti is called “Bigoli” and is common in Northern Italy, often those of whole grain. Since it will be probably difficult to find them out of Italy, subsitute with normal spaghetti and it will do just as well. In comparison to the classic version, this recipe is lightly spiced and is accompanied by sultana and pine nuts, according to the Venetian culinary tradition. Since the historical and thriving relationships with the East,  spices in Venice actually spread quickly and take an absolute leading role in many dishes.

Serves 8

  • 700 gr spaghetti or bigoli, in case you find them
  • 36 salted anchovies
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 8 spoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 3 spoons sultana, softened in lukewarm water
  • 2 spoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 pinches oregano
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 pinch of chilli powder

Remove the fishbones from the anchovies then rinse well in cold running water.

In a large pan sautée the garlic, when golden remove the cloves and add the anchovies, sultana, pine nuts, oregano and turmeric. Sautée for 30 seconds, lower the heat and briefly cook until the anchovies become a kind of cream.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, place in the pan with the sauce and stir well. Serve immediately.

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Jan 18 2018

Lemon Orange Risotto

Among the millions of lemon orange risotto recipes, through very thorough research my sister found the following, which is certainly the best.

Serves 6

  • 500 gr Carnaroli rice
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 large oranges, organic
  • 2 lemons, organic
  • 1 liter vegetable stock
  • 5 spoons grated parmersan
  • 5 spoons extravirgin oil (or butter, though the oil is better)
  • white pepper


Finely chop the peel (rind) of one orange and half a lemon, peel the white layer, then dice the fruits into small cubes. Set aside. Finely chop the onion and let cook in a heavy pan with 1/2 cup water and the oil (or butter) until translucent.



When the onion is soft and tender place the rice, let sauté for 3 minutes, stirring. Pour in the juice of 2 organges and one lemon, let evaporate and cook the rice pouring the boiling stock ladle by ladle until the rice is cooked.

When the rice is al dente, add the zests, fruit cubes, parmesan and a good sprinkle of white pepper. Stir well, so that the rice becomes creamy and soft, and serve immediately.





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Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
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