Carrot and orange cupcakes

Hi all, today is cupcake’s day!YAY!So here we go with these delicious mini cakes!

What you need for the cakes:

  • 115 g softenend butter
  • 115 g brown sugar
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g of carrots
  • 20 g of chopped walnuts
  • 125 g flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

 

What you need for the frosting:

  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 5 tbsp icing sugar
  • zest of an orange

We will start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Place the softeoned butter in a bowl, with the sugar and the zest and beat unitl you don’t have a fluffy mixture – gradually add the eggs and keep beating.

Grate the carrots, squeeze the water in excess and add them to the mixture along with the walnuts and orange juice. Stir well. Sift the flour and the baking powder and set aside. Line your muffin case with 12 paper cases and spoon the mixture on them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

While your cupcakes are baking prepare the topping. Place the mascarpone in a bowl with the icing sugar and the orange zest. Beat togheter until they are completly mixed.

Spread your frosting on the cupcakes using a spatula only when they are completely cold !Et voilà..that,s the result!

 

 

 

 

Chicken with veggies and greek yoghurt

I decided to share with you one of my favourite recipe: it’s perfect for the lunchbox! We are gonna prepare chicken with vegetables and greek yoghurt cream. It will take  you not more than 20 mins to prepare it. The best thing of this dish? It tastes good, it makes you full and it’s really really light (no salt and low on calories and  fat).

What you need:

  • 200 g of chicken (breast!)
  • 2 carrots
  • half onion
  • 2 courgettes
  • 250 g of greek yoghurt
  • curry
  • parsley

How to make it:

Cut your vegetables in small pieces and put them in  a warm non sticky pan fry . Add 1 cup of hot water and cook your veggies on a medium heating for around 10 minutes or until they are tender and all the water is absorbed.  You can now add the chopped chicken.


Keep cooking for additional 10 mins and if required add another cup (or 2) of hot water. Do not add oil or butter. Just keep stirring and add water if needed.When the chicken is completly cooked, remove the pan from the hoven and let it cool down.

Now you need to prepare the sauce: take the yoghurt, put it in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of curry and blend them togheter.
Add the sauce to your chicken and top everything with some parseley.

Quick tip: do not cook the sauce otherwise the yoghurt will become too liquid and you will lose that lovely creamy side of the dish!

It’s pizza time!!!!!

Back to the Kitchen!!!Sorry folks but this Xmas Holidays got me really busy!Anyway….I’m back with one of the best things ever: PIZZA!I love it and I am sure you too!

What you need for the dough:

  • 400 g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons  dry yeast
  • 2 tbs of extravirgin olive oil
  • 40 g of sugar
  • 1 tbs of salt
  • 250 ml of warm water

What you need for the sauce:

  •  tomato sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgini oil
  • mozzarella
  • anchovies, ham, mushrooms, olives and other ingredients you may like in the pizza

Sift the flour with the yeast  in a large bowl and add the salt and the sugar. Mix well, make a holel in the centre, add the olive oil and the warm water.  Work all the ingredients quickly until you’ll  have a smooth and slightly sticky ball. Cover your ball with a cloth and leave your pizza dough for few hours until it has doubled in size.

Dust your hands with some flour to avoid the dough from sticking. Start working the dough and stretch it using the back of your hands. You can help yourself by using a rolling pin to roll the dough out. There are few “rules” about how to do it but in my opinion you don’t really need to follow them. We don’t want  a perfect pizza, just our pizza. So work the dough as you like and as you can: it’s gonna be ok. If not you can always try again :o)

Once the base is ready coat your baking tray with oil and sift with some flour (alternatively you can use a baking stone) and place the dough on it.

 

Pre heat the ove to 200° and in the meanwhile prepare the top by mixing the tomato sauce with the salt, the oregano and the extravirgin olive oil. Cover your pizza with the sauce and add some mozzarella slices. Cook for about 20 minutes and then remove your pizza. You can now add the topping you like (basil, cherry tomato, ham, anchovies, vegetables..) and cook for additional 10 mins. Complete with some oregano and your pizza is ready.

 

Easy lemon cake

Today I made this nice lemon cake for R.! It took me only 15 minutes plus 30 in the oven. Happy sunday everyone :0)

 

What you need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 1 cup lemon yoghurt
  • 20 g baking powder
  • lemon essence
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • some slices of lemon

 

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and meanwhile grease and flour a cake pan.

Put the eggs in a bowl and mix them well with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and whisk it together with the eggs.

In another bowl sift together the flour and the baking powder and then slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the salt and make sure it’s fully incorporated in the mixture. Add the yoghurt and the lemon essence (1 teaspoon should be enough) and gently whisk with a wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the pan, add the slices of fresh lemon on the top and bake for about 30 minutes at 180°C. Below your cake:

 

Tip:  1: if you are not sure about the cake after 30 mins in the oven you can check with a toothpick. If it comes out dry the cake is ready.

Tip 2: you can add some icing sugar or serv your cake with some ice cream on the side.

 

Ragù alla Bolognese

Today’s recipe is about one of the most famous pasta sauce: the Ragù (or Bolognese sauce!). This is probably the most known recipe among all the Italian food so I decided to share with you the most original version, the one with milk and stock! This is how they cook it in Bologna, the city where the sauce takes its name from.

What you need:

  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 400 g of minced beef
  • 150 g Italian pancetta
  • 200 g (or 2 cans) of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 glass of milk
  • 1/2 glass of stock (vegetable stock)

How to make it:

The first step is to cook the Italian pancetta in a low heat with no or little oil . While the cubes are cooking finely chop the carrots, the onion and the celery. Add them to the pan and cook until brown. Add the meat and stir well: when the meat starts sizzling add the wine. You can now add the tomato purée, stir well and then incorporate the chopped tomato.

Stir all the ingredients well, decrease the heat to the minimum and cook the ragù for around 1h30 . If you notice the sauce it’s too dry you need to add the stock.

Add the milk and incorporate it well to the sauce: this is a trick that will help reduce the acidity of the tomatoes sauce and it is what the original recipe for the ragù says.

Cook the sauce for another 30 minutes, adjust in salt and pepper and your bolognese is ready!

DSC_3449

Tips:

  • you can use bacon instead of Italian pancetta;
  • no need to add oil while you are cooking the pancetta as it will release its own fat;
  • for more flavour you can add sage and rosemary leaves with the vegetable;
  • do not add Parmesan cheese while preparing the sauce: this can be added to the final dish (i.e. with pasta) but the original recipe does not include cheese;
  • the best pasta shape to enjoy this sauce is tagliatelle but it can fit any type of pasta. Bolognese it is also perfect to fill tacos or simply with ciabatta bread.

 

 

lazy lunch

As usual on Sunday I woke up late in a very lazy mood. Well didn’t know what to eat so I decided to prepare crumbled eggs with carrots and mozzarella: 10 minutes to cook  and 2 mins to eat them! It’s the perfect for hangovers!:o)

Risotto Giallo/Arancio

Today we are gonna cook the risotto!I love it!It’s a perfect main dish but “posh” enough for a special dinner with your friends, parents, partner. Risotto is a typical dish from the north of Italy, in particular from Lombardia and Piemonte (the areas where italian rice fields are located).

I decided to start with an easy one: Risotto Giallo/ Arancio (Yellow and Orange). It’s Halloween time after all! :o)

You can choose among a big range of risotto’s , depending on your taste and time. To be honest with you the cooking tecnique is almost the same for all the recipes; you just need practice to improve it!

A quick advice before starting- you need to remember the following rules the “Tostatura” and the”Mantecatura”:

 

  • “Tostatura” should be the first thing to do when cooking risotto. Basically, it is important that your rice is slightly toasted before adding the broth.
  • “Mantecatura” is the last step and it’s necessary if you want a creamy and tasty dish.

Let’s start then!

 

Ingredients (for 4 ppl):

 

  • 1 cup of rice for each person (Arborio is probably the best)
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 2 chopped carrot
  • 2 chopped yellow pepper
  • half finely chopped onion
  • fine sea salt
  • 500 ml vegetable stock, heated to a simmer (if you don.t have stock you can use hot salty water but the taste won’t be the same)
  • 50 grams of finely chopped parsley
  • 50 grams of grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a pot over a medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened. Add the carrot, the pepper and the rice then stir for 1 minute. When your ingredients have softened add the wine and let it evaporate (this is the tostatura!).

Add the first cup of stock and stir constantly until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add another cup of broth and repeat the previous action. Remember to allow each cup of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. The secret is not to add all the stock at the beginning and leave the risotto cooking on its own. We are not preparing boiled rice, so be patient and follow up your dish!

Carry on adding more stock and keep cooking until rice looks tender and creamy (be careful: if the liquid is absorbed too fast you need to reduce the heat).

You can taste your recipe while cooking so you will know when it’s time to remove your pot from the heat.

Add your parmesan and a little slice of butter and ensure they melt well with the risotto (this is the mantecatura). Before serving add the parseley and adjust seasoning if needed.

Sorry about the few pics I posted but it’s pretty hard to cook and take pictures at the same time

Crostata alla frutta

Good evening!

I know it’s been a while since I have posted my last recipe but I’ve been a bit busy during the last few weeks. Anyway, here we are with the next one: the crostata. Crostata is a typical italian tart, with a nice crust  and a soft heart. It’s relly quick to make and it’s perfect for different occasions such as pic nics, b-days or just for a dinner. For our recipe, I topped the cake with a home made crema pasticcera and fresh fruit. Alternatively you can use marmelade or jam.

What you need

for the pastry:

  • 120 g  flour 00
  •  4 egg yolks
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 100 g  sugar
  • 100 g unsalted butter – room temperature

for the cream (crema pasticcera):

  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  •  4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoon of flour
  • 2 cups (500 cc) milk
  • lemon rind or lemon flavour;

 

How to make it:

TIP – 10 minutes before starting you need to prepare the butter: place it on a plate and cut it into thin slices. Keep it at room temperature.

 

Sift the flour in a bowl, add the softened butter and start working the ingredients with your fingers. You should obatin a dry crumbled mixture.

 

Add the eggs, the sugar and the pinch of salt and mix the ingredients togheter.

 

Transfer the mixture on a work surface and work it quickly with your hands until you get a nice and smooth dough.

 

If your mixture sticks on the table (or on your hands) use some flour to give it more conistency. The result has to be a smooth “ball”(see picture below). Once you have your pastry ready place it on a plate and let it aside for 15 minutes. A good tip is to cover it with a cloth or some film.

In the meanwhile, the cream can be prepared according to the following instructions:

Place the egg yolks in a sauce pan and add  the sugar.

 

Beat them together with a wooden spoon and gently sift in the flour. Whisk thoroughly until fully combined. Transfer the sauce pan on medium heat and add the slice of lemon rind or 1tsp lemon flavour.  Gently add the milk at room temperature, little by little, and bring the ingredients to a boil.

 

Keep stirring constantly as we don’t want a “smoked flavour”. Remove from the stove and set aside.

Pre heat your oven at 180°. Work your pasta frolla, using a rolling pin: you need to create a disk who fits  the baking tin. The thickness of your cake has to be at least 1.5 cm; if your baking tin is too large, you need a smaller one. Crostata has to be eaten with your hands so it has to be “hard enough”.

Place the pastry into your baking tin; you don’t need to butter the tin. While cooking the butter into the pastry will prevent the cake from sticking. When placing the mixture remember to create a little border so tyou will be able to eat it with your hands.

Place the baking tin into the oven and bake it for 30 minutes or unitl golden ( you can use the toothpick test if you are not sure).  While the cake is cooling down, add the custard (Crema pasticcera) on the top!Guarnish your cake with fresh fruit and ..enjoy!

 

Ps: we love tasty food, don’t we? So try to choose only seasonal fruit – you will get the best natural flavour ever. I’ve heard October is perfect for cox apples…;-)

Pasta salad with vegetables and speck

Today I’m gonna meet some friends for a bbq and everyone is gonna bring something to eat. I’ve decided to prepare a nice pasta salad with vegetables and speck.Ever heard about speck? It’s a gorgeous  cured and smoked ham, originally from the Sud – Tirol, an area located between north of Italy and Austria. I love it! You can taste it on small slices with some bread or just add it in many different recipes.

What you need:

  • 500 grams of pasta (farfalle or penne);
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 300 grams of speck
  • For the dressing:
  • 20 grams of fresh parseley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

How to make it:

Before starting here a small tip: when you prepare a pasta salad never use long pasta (like spaghetti) as it’s very hard to manage (long pasta sticks togheter very easily).

Cook your pasta according to the directions (if you need help, check my previous post) , drain it well and put it into  a large bowl. Add to the pasta  3 tbsp of olive oil and let it cool down.

Pasta

Now you need to prepare the vegetables: put some olive oil in a large pan and add the chopped vegetables. Let them cook for about 20 minutes and remember to add half cup of hot water to avoid your vegetables burn.

Vegetables

Again set aside and let cool.

 

 

Cut the Speck as thinly as possible and fry it for 5 minutes, then mix it with the vegetbales. Once all the ingredients are ready, add them to the pasta and gently toss.

To prepare the dressing mix the 5 tbsp of olive oil, the parseley and salt and pepper. You can decide to add the dressing immediatly or just before serving – Remember that you need to refrigerate your pasta salad for few hours before serving.