Nov 26 2019

Apple Sauce-Based Brownies

No milk, no eggs, no fats: if you are sceptical like I am when trying “healthier” versions of consolidated myths, you will be stunned by these low cal brownies, which use the creamy consistency of the apple sauce to become as good as the classic type. It really is an option for the weight watchers.

Serves 6

  • 800 gr Golden Delicious apples
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • juice of a half lemon
  • 40 gr cocoa powder
  • 100 gr self raising flour
  • 1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 60 gr caster or brown sugar
  • 100 gr dark chocolate, knife sliced
  • 70 gr walnuts, chopped
  • 250 ml coconut milk

Prepare the applesauce: peel, deseed and quarter the apples, place in a heavy-based pot with the lemon juice, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of water. Cover with a lid and let cook over low heat for around 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. When the apples are almost reduced to a puréè the apple sauce is ready. Let it cool to room temperature, then weigh 250 gr and transfer in a bowl.

Spinkle over the flour and cocoa powder (using a sieve), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, chocolate, walnuts and coconut milk.

The mix should be on the running side; if you have a particularly thick apple sauce, add some water or extra coconut milk. Be careful to not overwork the dough, or the brownies will be tough once ready.

Line a square cake tin with non-stick baking paper and spoon in the mixture. Bake in the oven at 180° for  15-18 minutes until the surface is set but the inner is still a little soft. Let cool on a rack, then cut into squares and serve.

 

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Posted in Desserts, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Sep 30 2019

Rigatoni alla Checca, a Roman Recipe

Please do not hold a grudge on me, my Roman friends, but let’s admit that the Roman cuisine is essentially  oriented to the “basics” and to a rusticity that I often do not appreciate.  Yet,  give credit where credit is due: there are excellent recipes among the Roman ones too, and what I am describing today is exactly one of them, a very easy pasta, though rich in taste and flavour. The must is the ricotta cheese: it has to be the best you can afford.

Serves 4

  • 400 gr rigatoni
  • 300 gr ricotta cheese
  • 80 gr parmesan, freshly grated
  • 14 date or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 5 tbsp extravirgin olive oil of extra good quality, plus extra to garnish
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to your taste

In a large bowl whisk by hand the ricotta, parmesan and pepper until creamy. Dice the tomatoes to super tiny cubes and add to the ricotta mixture,  together with the basil leaves, washed, drained,  pat-dried and cut by hand into small stripes. Season with the oil and let rest for 2 hours at room temperature. Add some sea salt only before serving.

Boil the rigatoni in salted water (keep 1 cup of water in case the sauce is too thick), transfer to the bowl with the sauce and toss everything together. Add a further glug of oil, salt to your taste, some extra pepper and serve.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Jul 31 2019

Middle Eastern Bell Peppers

Kings of the summer, peppers like these are very simple to prepare yet feature a delicious Middle Eastern flavour which will make you dream of pleasantly being away from home.

Serves 4

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 100 gr hazelnuts
  • 50 gr white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar, any kind
  • 1 garlic clove
  • bread crumbs

Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds separately. Let them cool to room temperature, then add the cumin and coriander and reduce to a powder with a food processor. This mix is called Duqqah and it is very common in the Middle East, where they are used to eating it over slices of bread previously dipped in olive oil.

Wash the peppers, eliminate the white part and seeds and quarter them regularly.

In a small food processor, or using a hand blender, emulsify the oil with the vinegar and garlic.

Place the peppers on an oven tray covered with parchment paper, coat with the sauce using a kitchen brush, sprinkle over 3 tbsp of Duqqah (keep the rest in a glass jar up to 1 month) and the same quantity of bread crumbs.

Spray with extra oil.

Bake in the oven, 150° C fan, for around 50 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Season with salt and pepper and serve lukewarm.

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Posted in Sides, International, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Jun 12 2019

Marinated Egg with Agretti in Caper Sauce

Agretti are now in season and this recipe enhances their peculiarly earthy and mineral flavour through the delicacy and sweetness of egg yolks. Seemingly simple, this dish instead features an intriguing complexity that balances all the ingredients’s properties.

Serves 4

  • 4 free range eggs (prepare extra to leave room for error)
  • 160 gr sea salt
  • 40 gr brown sugar
  • 4 bundles agretti
  • 2 tbsp salted capers
  • 6 anchovies in oil
  • 6 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon

Eliminate the hard stalks from the agretti, thoroughly wash and boil in slightly salted water for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with running water to keep the colour.

In a food processor place the capers after rinsing well, anchovies, oil, lemon juice, two stripes of zest and whizz until smooth.

Season the agretti with the sauce (keep some for the decoration) then form 4 nests on 4 individual plates.

Mix the salt and sugar, put on a plate and even the surface. Very carefully lay the egg yolks over the mixture and leave to set around 30 minutes. Using your hands, very gently take the egg yolks from the mixture, shortly rinse under running water and lay on the center of the agretti nests. Decorate with a glug of sauce and serve.

 

 

 

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Posted in Starters, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
May 24 2019

Hazelnut and Ginger Pak Choi

Serves

This recipe is the result of a melting pot between a Chinese vegetable like Pak Choi and a very typical North Italian ingredient like hazelnut. I hope you appreciate the flavour as well as the easy and extremely quick cooking.

Serves 3

  • 1 tbsp  fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped as well
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil, or whatever oil you like
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts, skin on
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 medium pak choi, washed, well drained and cut into stripes of 1 cm

In a small pan roast the hazelnuts, let cool to room temperature and reduce to a medium crumble. Set aside.

In a wok or a large, heavy-based pan heat the oil and gently fry the ginger and garlic.

Place the pak choi in the pan, stir well, add the soy sauce and let cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes, frequently stirring. Scatter with the hazelnut crumble and serve hot.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian
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