Panzanella

I love this recipe with all its freshness. The secret for a perfect result is the quality of the ingredients you will use: you don’t need many so make sure they are excellent. This is perfect for a spring pic-nic or it can also be an idea for your Easter vegetarian meal.

What you need:

  • ciabatta bread (250g)
  • 6 skimmed tomatoes (500g)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 25 g of capers
  • extra virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • basil Leaves (as desired)

Optional:

  • anchovies fillets
  • 1 cucumber

How to make it:
Cut the bread in small pieces and place them in a lined baking tray. Grill the bred until lightly browned and cut into chunks (to make it quicker you can use sliced bread and use a toaster; the flavour won’t be the same but it will work well)Cut into chunks). Drizzle with olive oil.
Chop the tomatoes, slice the onion (and if you want the cucumber!), then place them in a serving bowl.
Add the bread to the veggies and mix well with some extra virgin olive oil. At this stage you can add the basil, the capers and the anchovies, if you decide to use them.

Panzanella

TIP: you can prepare a small dressing with a garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For more taste you can prepare a small cup with the olive oil and let the garlic clove infuse all night.

Blueberries and red wine risotto

As promised, a recipe for your St Valentine’s day. I hope you like it: lots of love eveyone.

What you need:

  • 120 g risotto (Vialone style)
  • 2 glasses of red wine (I used Refosco dal Peduncolo rosso)
  • 100 g blueberries
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 dl vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g fresh cream
  • parseley

How to make it:

In a medium pan over medium heat, brown the chopped red onion in the oil until tender. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, then add the wine and when all absorbed decrease the heating. Start adding the broth and the blueberries and keep stirring so the rice does not stick.
Keep adding the broth, a cup at a time, until the rice is tender: it should have an “al dente” look . At the very last minute add the fresh cream and the parseley so the risotto gets quite smooth and all the ingredients are melted together. Serve hot and if you like you can add some fresh parseley leaves. Enjoy!

 

Polenta and mushrooms

Another recipe for your Christmas table: polenta can be a very versatile dish and it is typical from Northern Italy. In this recipe I will explain how it is cooked in Friuli Venezia Giulia, or better how in my family used to be cooked.
Polenta is made with stone- grounded cornmeal and with a grainy texture. It can be cooked to be creamy and thick, or allowed to set and then sliced.
My grandmother takes 2 hours to cook the polenta over the fire – in this version I have used ready to use polenta and I decided to serve it with mushrooms. It is also perfect with meat, fish or poultry.

What you need:

• pack of ready to make polenta;
• water;
• salt;
• 200 g mushrooms;
• 1 medium onion,
• 1 dl vegetable stock;
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;

(Optional: parsley and cheese).

 

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How to make it:

Cook the polenta following the instructions on the package. This recipe can be done with thick or liquid polenta, it really depends on the taste.
When the polenta has reached a thick structure transfer it in a dish and let it cool down. In the meanwhile cook the mushrooms: wash them thouroughly, slice them and cook them in an hot pan with the olive oil and the sliced onion. Add the stock little by little until the mushrooms are tender and have browned.

While the mushrooms are cooking on a low fire you can cut your cooled polenta as desired: as it is Christmas I have shaped it as a snowflake using a cookies cut. Just remember to wash the cutter you are using so the polenta does not stick to it.

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Serve the mushrooms on the top of the polenta and add some parseley if you like.

Tip: you can also add some Emmenthal or pecorino cheese on top of it.

Pumpkin and mushroom soup

Now that cold weather has arrived nothing is better than a soup. This is also super easy so no excuses like “I don’t know how to cook it” 🙂

What you need:

  • 350g pumpkin or buttersquash;
  • 250g mushrooms;
  • 1 pint of water;
  • 1 onion;

How to make it:

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Heat the oven at 180C° and cook the chopped pumpkin until soft (around 25 mins). Slice the mushroom and boil them in the water together with the onion for 15 mins or until tender. Mix together all the ingredients in a food processor. You can add some fresh parsley and a pinch of salt or some paprika to spice it up. If you like it you can also add a spoon of fresh cream for an even more creamy result. I just added extra virgin olive oil.

Soup (2)

Tuna and potatoes croquettes: the healthy ones!

This is perfect for your summer lunches/dinners and also if you have kids over: it’s quick, tasty and funny. Usually croquettes are very deep fried but today I want to suggest a lighter option: I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 200g potatoes;
  • 240g tuna;
  • 50g  breadcrumbs;
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 egg;
  • fresh parsley;

How to make it:

Peel and boil the potatoes until tender. Let them cool down and then mash them with a fork until you obtain a nice potato purée. Add the tuna, one egg, the olive oil and the parsley and mix well together. If you prefer you can use a food processor (as I did) so it is faster. Adjust of salt and pepper.

When your mixture is ready for the balls from it; you can try different shapes to add some fun to your dish. Place onto a lined oven tray and set them aside.

Prepare 2 shallows bowls: one with the beaten egg and the other with the other half of the breadcrumbs. Dip each croquette into the egg and then roll it into the breadcrumb: this step will guarantee a golden appearance and a crispy taste!

Cook the croquettes in a pre-heated oven for around 15 minutes or until golden.

 

Tips to improve your dish:

  • If you are not on a diet you can deep fry your croquettes;
  • You can use cornflake crumbs or flour to coat the croquettes instead of the breadcrumbs;
  • Make sure you don’t over boil the potatoes;
  • Instead of the parsley you can use fresh mint or use the 2 herbs together;
  • Don’t forget to serve them with some fresh veggies.

Tortilla de patatas

From Spain with love! The tortilla de patatas (omlette with potatoes) is a very easy recipe to prepare and it’s perfect for your lunch box or for a pic nic.

 What you need:

  •  4 eggs;
  • 3 large potatoes;
  • salt;
  • 1 small onion;

How to make it:

Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them in small, irregulars pieces (if you prefer you can slice them). Heat some olive oil on a fry pan and when it is very hot add the potatoes. Keep cooking until golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat, drain the oil and set the potatoes aside.

Beat the eggs togheter, add the salt and slice the onion. Cook the onion for few minutes in the same fry pan until tender, add the potatoes and as last ingredient add the eggs.

Cook the tortilla initially on a high heat and after few minutes decrease the temperature. Cook for additional 2 minutes.

 Now the hard part: you need to turn your tortilla. You can do it by using a plate as the top of the dish is still too liquid to turn it in the pan. Cover the fry pan with a plate. Quickly rotate the pan on the plate (basically you want to transfer the tortilla in the plate) and then put the tortilla back on the pan.

 Cook the other side of the tortilla for additional 5 minutes or until firm. You can turn the tortilla again if you wish a perfect finish.

TIP: if you like you can also add some parsley to the eggs. This is not part of the original recipe but it gives the dish an extraordinary taste.

Green peas with speck and chilli

I had some spare speck left so I thought why not to prepare something nice for dinner? And then I came up with this nice idea! Easy peasy!

 What you need:

  • 100 g speck;
  • 250 g peas (I used the frozen ones. The fresh one are the best option);
  • 1 tbs of tomato puree;
  • half finely chopped red onion;
  • extra virgin oil;
  • chilli flakes.

How to make it:

Pre heat a fry pan on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Finely chop the speck and cook it for 2 minutes in the pan. To prevent the speck from sticking  add 1 tbs of warm water. When the speck is tender enough and the fat starts melting , add the peas with half cup of hot water.

Cook for 5 minutes. You can now add the chopped onion and the tomato purée.

Keep stirring on a medium heat and after 5 minutes  add the extra virgin olive oil and the chilli flakes. Serve warm, it’s perfect with chicken or eggs!

 

Risotto with asparagus, mint and yoghurt

Well, let’s now celebrate this lovely day with a fresh receipe (finally spring looks to be in Dublin). I actually invented this receipe and at the beginning I was a bit scared of the result! With my big surprise (and also my boyfriend’s one) the risotto was fantastic. I hope you will enjoy it too!

What you need:

  • 1 cup of rice for each person
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • half chopped onion
  • 100 grams green asparagus
  • 125 ml natural yoghurt
  • 2 or 3 mint leaves
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1tsp salt

How to make it:

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan fry and when it’s hot add the onion and the chopped asparagus (rember to remove the woody ends of the asparagus before cooking them). Cook the vegetables for few minutes and then add the rice. Before the risotto starts sticking, add 2 cups of water and cook it for 7/8 minutes or until the water is all evaporated – remember to stirr constantly and gently!

When all the water has evaporated  you will need to add the yoghurt and cook the risotto with it. This will make your recipe more creamy and will provide it a really nice, fresh taste. Just note that while cooking the yoghurt will become very liquid (as in the picture); don’t worry, this is normal but don’t forget to stir it: ALWAYS!

Keep stirring the rice until all the liquid has gone: this will take around 10 minutes and after this time the dish should be ready (if you are not sure you can always taste your rice and see if you need to cook it more or not!). When no more yogurt is left and your “mantecatura” has been performed the last step is to add the mint leaves, the salt and if you like a pinch of parseley. Serve the risotto immediately and if you like add some Parmesan cheese on the top . In the picture below you can see the dish finished. I know it’s not a great picture but believe me, you will love it!

 

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!

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