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
Jan 27 2019

Tempeh with Artichokes

Tempeh is the result of a process of fermentation of yellow soya beans. Very important in the vegan cuisine, tempeh is a healthy and proteic food which can well substitute meat, specially when served together with sauces, vegetables and dips. In this case, I am suggesting a recipe which mimics more than vaguely a classic Italian dish, stew with artichokes.

Serves 4

  • 300 gr tempeh
  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder

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, in the meantime keeping them in cold water acidulated with the lemon juice so that they don’t turn black.

Let the onion simmer with 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil and a little water until white but tender, add the artichokes, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and brown off.

Add the parsley and salt to taste. Cube the tempeh and marinate with the soya sauce and chilli powder for 10 minutes.

Sautée the  tempeh in a clean pan with 1 tbsp extravirgin olive oil,  mix with the artichokes and serve hot.

 

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Jan 15 2019

Peas and Mint Veggie-Vegan Soup

Feeling a little heavy after Christmas? Let’s have a soft detox with this  warm, creamy and healthy veggie-vegan soup: if you want to go vegan, simply omit the feta cheese.

Serves 4

  • 350 fresh or frozen peas (they are not in season!)
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 red chilli pepper,  thinly chopped
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 30 gr almonds, skin on, coarsely chopped

Fry the onion in a heavy-based pan with the extravirgin olive oil and the red chilli pepper. Add the potato cubes and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas, mix thoroughly and pour in the pan 500 ml of vegetable stock or boiling water: you might need more, depending on the quality of the potato you chose. Let simmer for further 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste and the mint leaves as well (washed and drained). Place in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.

Dice the feta cheese, transfer the soup in 4 bowls and scatter with the feta or almonds, if you fancy the vegan option.

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Posted in Starters, First course, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, 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
Jun 7 2018

Bread and cheese patties

These patties come from Abruzzo, in central Italy, which has been recently beaten by a strong earthquake. My quoting an Abruzzese recipe is a kind of hommage to that beautiful and wounded land (now in full swing again!). It is a savoury recipe perfect for those who don’t eat meat end are looking for a main dish equally robust.

Serves 4

  • 300 gr white bread
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 50 gr pecorino cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes (preferably Italian)
  • 4 spoons extravirgin olive oil of good quality
  • oil for frying (I prefer peanut oil)

In a large, heavy based pan place the oil and garlic and cook until golden, then add the tomatoes, thoroughly minced. Add salt and pepper to taste and let cook for around 15 minutes, stirring constantly.

Wet the bread with lukeworm water, set aside for 30 minutes and drain well, reducing using your hands to a kind of paste. Otherwise, quickly chop the bread with a blender just for a few seconds.

Add the eggs, pecorino cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Make some flat patties and fry in hot oil.

Dry with paper towel.  Place the patties into the sauce and let simmer on super low heat for 10 minutes  (you may need to add a drop of water if the sauce is too thick). Serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Posted in Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
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