Feb 18 2020

Sweet or savory? An Intriguing Créme Caramel

When you eat this flan you get a peculiar feeling: together with the pumpkin cream, the sweetness of sugar arrives first while the saltiness of the parmesan comes at the end,  leaving your senses a little disoriented.  Then all flavors magically balance themselves in a spectacular result which will make you very, very happy.

Serves 4
300 gr pumpkin (peeled and deseeded)
170 ml double cream
80 gr parmesan, grated
100 gr caster sugar
3 free range eggs
30 gr corn starch
12 sage leaves, washed and drained

Heat the double cream with the sage leaves in a small saucepan over a low heat and remove from heat before coming to a boil. Cover with a lid and let cool at room temperature.
Dice the pumpkin and steam for 10 minutes, or until soft, let cool and reduce to a purée using a stick blender.


Beat 2 whole eggs and one egg yolk in a small bowl, add the parmesan, pumpkin purée, corn starch and the double cream (leaves removed and filtered).
Caramelize the sugar and thoroughly coat a cake tin of your choice. When the caramel is set pour the mixture in the mold and prepare a bain-marie. Place the cake tin in the hot bain-marie, that you will have prepared in a large pan that fits your tin, and bake in the oven, static, at 150° for one hour.

Rest in the fridge for 12 hours before serving: unmold the crème caramel on a serving plate and voilà, let your senses be surprised.

 

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Posted in Desserts, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Jan 30 2020

Roasted Fennel with Pomegranate and Tahini

Make the most of the plump fennels Mother Nature offers in this time of the year! This recipe is a luxurious version of the humble roasted fennel and boasts the bulbs with an explosion of colour and flavour from the Middle East.

  • 4 medium fennels, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp pomegranate molasses
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2/3 tbsp tahini sauce
  • bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped

Divide each fennel bulb in 8 wedges, steam for 8 minutes and line on the baking tray covered with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and mix well.

Brush the fennels wedges with the emulsion, heat the oven at 160°C and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature at 140°C and continue baking for further 40 minutes: you should leave the fennels in the oven until a second before they get burnt.

Transfer the baked fennel on a plate, season with some sea salt and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and parsley. Drizzle the tahini on top and serve.

 

 

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Posted in Sides, Light recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Jan 10 2020

Chestnut Gnocchi with Blue Cheese

Winter is at its peak, and with its cosy atmosphere we all are craving for a little more comfort food. Chestnuts are in season and are the key ingredient of this dish, and the recipe only entails a few others. The quality of the potatoes is crucial for quality of the gnocchi: choose the old and mealy ones, which contain the least amount of water.

 Serves 4/6

  • 1 kg mealy potatoes
  • 150 gr chestnut flour
  • 150 gr plain flour
  • 1 whole free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 25 gr butter + 25 gr for the sauce
  • 120 gr Italian Bleu cheese (regular blue cheese will also work)
  • 120 ml whole milk

 

Place the potatoes in a large pot, unpeeled, and pour enough water to cover at least  by 4 centimeters. Add a pinch of salt, 1 tsp white vinegar and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook for 30/40 minutes, depending on the dimension of your potatoes. The potatoes must be completely tender and easily pierced with a skewer.

Meanwhile pass both  flours through a sieve and place directly over a chopping board. Melt 25 gr butter, beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Drain and peel the potatoes while still hot and pass them through a ricer directly over the flours.

Knead rapidly, add the egg and butter and form a homogeneous dough, but do not overmix the dough or the gnocchi will become unpleasantly tough when boiling: the dough should  feel smooth and delicate to your hands.

When you have reached a uniform dough, set aside and clean the chopping board.  Dust with some flour:  in general,  remember that the more flour the dough absorbs the tougher the gnocchi will be.

Wash your hands and take a piece of dough the  size of an apple, covering the remaining dough with cling film so it won’t dry out. Roll the dough with your palms over the dusted surface and form a sort of rope about 1 ½ centimeter in diameter. Using a knife cut the rope every 2 centimeter in order to form the gnocchi, then lay on parchment paper dusted with flour. Proceed until you have used all the dough. You can  leave the gnocchi to sit on the counter  for maximum 2 hours, covered with a clean towel and dusted with some more flour.

To prepare the sauce, melt the Bleu cheese (or blue cheese) in a bain-marie, stirring constantly. Incorporate the remaining butter and keep warm.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and delicately transfer the gnocchi to boil. Let boil until they  float to the top, drain well and season with the sauce. Scatter with parmesan and black pepper and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
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
Oct 21 2019

Mediterranean Tempeh

Today my goal is to create a perfect union between a typical Indonesian food like Tempeh and a savoury Mediterranean flavour to achieve a balanced and tasty result. As you might know, Tempeh is the final product of fermented yellow soya beans. Central in the vegan cuisine, Tempeh is a healthy high protein food which can well substitute meat, specially when served together with sauces, vegetabled and dips. Its flavour is slightly acid, which compliments the sweetness of the carrot and onion.

Serves 2

  • 1 double pack natural Tempeh (about 150 gr)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 fresh chilli pepper
  • 100 black olives (I normally use Taggiasche)
  • 100 ml extravirgin olive oil + extra 4 tbsp
  • 20 basil leaves, whashed, drained and tap dried
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce

Place the basil leaves in a small food processor together with the olive oil and puls until homogenous and creamy. Pour in a bottle and set aside. This is a simple way to make your own basil oil -you can use it whenever you want to add some flavour to any of your dishes. Just remember to shake it well before using. This will keep up to 2 weeks when correctely stored in the fridge.

In a heavy-based saucepan, or wok, heat 2 tbsp oil and cook the Tempeh, thinly sliced, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until soft and a pale caramel colour. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.

Peel and thinly shave the carrots with the help of a peeler. Slice the onions and chop the red chilli pepper.

In the same saucepan, or wok, in which you cooked the Tempeh saute the onion and red chilli pepper in the remaining 2 tbsp oil until soft and still white. Add the carrots, fry for 40 seconds, the add the olives and Tempeh. Pour in 2 tbsp soya sauce, season with some sea salt according to your taste and let cook for a few more seconds, until thickened. Serve hot.

To complete you dish, place the Tempeh and vegetables in the centre of your plate and drizzle some of the basil oil around it. Enjoy!

 

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Posted in International, Recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian
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