Gusti di frontiera – an international food experience

If you know Friuli Venezia Giulia and you are a food lover you’ve probably heard of “Gusti di Frontiera”. The food fair is at its 16th edition and still manages to attract lots of visitors. The town of Gorizia has been hosting food stands from over 50 countries worldwide. There was also a remarkable choice of fine foods from the region Friuli Venezia Giulia such as prosciutto di San Daniele, malga cheese from Carnia or Zahre beer from Sauris.

I was impressed with the choice and the quality of the food I had.
I really enjoyed trying some “capesante”(scallops) in the “Borgo Mare” area near the lovely piazza Cavour and some cevapcici with typical bread from Bosnia in the Balcanic & Slovenian Stand. Last but not least I also had some gnocchi with ragu di carne from Toscana.

Obviously I did not forget to try some ribolla gialla (a great white wine from Friuli), some chianti and an unexpected Kranebe tonic.

Typical seefood from Friuli Region - Capesante

I definitely recommend a visit next year, I am pretty sure there will be more exciting events! Make sure you follow the event on Social Media and if you want to know more this is the website

Summer fruits cake!

Summer is finally here and what is the best than a cake to celebrate it with friends? This recipe is easy to make – at this link you will find my sponge recipe but if you don’t feel like baking you can always buy some already made sponge. The important thing in this case is that you are using fresh fruits to top it up! Happy Summer everyone!

What you need:

  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • a jar of jam (I used handmade strawberry jam but you can use any flavour)
  • juice of half lemon diluited in 150 ml water
  • 50 g almond flakes
  • fresh fruit for the topping (I used organic redcurrants from my parents garden)
  • food colouring (optional)

How to make it:

Slice the sponge cake in three layers and soak the cake base with some lemony water (the sponge can be quite dry so the water helps with this. Make sure the sponge is moist enough but not too much that it breaks). Beat the mascarpone with the icing sugar and if you fancy you can add some food colouring at this stage.

Spread a thin layer of jam on the cake and then add some mascarpone filling. Place the second layer on top of the iced one and repeat the steps above (water, jam, mascarpone) – in this second layer I have also added some almonds to add some extra crunch!

Place the last layer of sponge and decorate the top with the fresh fruit and the remaining almonds. You can also add fresh cream or icing sugar if you want.



Vegetable pasta sauce in a jar – Merry Christmas!

Holiday season is approaching and I would like to give some tips and inspiration in case you decide to go for the DIY gifts this year. The kitchen is offering plenty of ideas that you can cook yourself and there is nothing better than giving your time (and the time you spent cooking!) to show how much you care to someone. Remember that time will never be back!

I would like to show you a quick and easy idea I made: home made pasta sauce. This is a vegetarian and delicious recipe that you can make in no time if you follow the steps below.

What you need:

  • 3 small aubergines
  • 1 onion
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of caster sugar
  • glass jars (different sizes but make sure they fit at least 500 ml of passata)

How to make it:

First step is to sterilize your jars: wash thoroughly the  jars with dish soap and rinse them well ( and I mean very well or they will taste like soap). Place the jars & the lids in a deep pot, cover with cold water until all jars are covered and bring the water to the boil (IMPORTANT: do not place the glass jars directly into hot/boiling water or the glass will break. Water must be cold!).

After 15 minutes remove the jars from the water, place them on a clean cloth and allow them to dry completely (make sure you do not touch the hot water directly with your hands: use tongues or any other tool that you might find handy for this operation): you don’t want to burn yourself.

While the jars are drying, start preparing the sauce. Heat 2 tbsp of E.V.O. in a pan, finely chop the onion and once the pan is hot add in the onion and the garlic clove. Once the onion has got a golden and crisp look, add in the chopped aubergine and reduce the heat to a medium level. Cook the aubergines for 5 minutes (until they softened) and ensure you keep stirring so they don’t burn. After 5 minutes add the tomato passata, the sugar, stir well, cover and let your sauce cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.

After this time check the taste of the passata: feel free to add more spices/herbs/salt to taste and let the sauce cool down for a while.

You now need to transfer the sauce into the jars: do so when the sauce is still warm and remember to leave at least 1 cm of headroom at the top when filling them. Place the lids on the jars (make sure you do not leave any food stain on the jar rims) and once all jars are closed you need to replace them back in the pot with the warm water that you initially used to boil the glass (again make sure the water is not boiling and the jars are still warm).

Ensure the sealed jars do not touch the bottom of the pot so use anything that you have at home to help you with this (I have used a metal rack that fits the pot). Once the jars are in bring back the water to the boil for 10 minutes.

Remove them from the water, place them upside-down in a cloth and wait for 12 hours at least before turning them back. Keeping the jars upside-down will ensure the jars are properly sealed (check the lids: they should be slightly indented and should not “click”)

Once the jars are completely cool place a sticker and a ribbon and you now have an handmade Christmas present to give away! You can use many different ingredients for your sauce but make sure you write them in the sticker in case of any allergies.

Victoria sponge with fresh cream and fresh berries

Hi all,

it has been way to long since my last recipe, I know! I hope you will all enjoy this amazing cake that I baked some time ago: the base is a traditional sponge (recipe HERE), filled with lots of fresh cream and fresh fruit. In this case I used different types of berries (and added some edible flowers and a butterfly)

It’s a perfect cake for any occasion (from birthdays to Christmas).

Let me know your comments

Leek and pumpking soup

Happy 2017 everyone. Now that the winter has started nothing can beat a warm soup. . Pumpkin is probably the most popular winter veggie and it is associated with Halloween and it is thought to keep sinister spirits and ghosts away. Leek belong to the “Allium ampeloprasum” family and contains the flavonoid kaempferol, which helps us in protecting our heart from cardiovascular diseases. Last but not least this recipe is dairy and fat free therefore if you are on a diet it’s just the perfect meal.

I hope you will enjoy it.

What you need:

  • 1 leek
  • 500 g pumpkin, peeled and roughly cut
  • 0.5 l vegetable stock
  • 1 garlic clove
  • parsley to garnish
  • salt and pepper

How to make it:

Bring stock to the boil, in the meanwhile halve the leek length ways and wash it to remove any dirt. Wash the pumpkin and add it to the stock together with the leek and the garlic. Cook the soup for 15 mins or until the pumpkin has softened. Add salt and pepper and let the soup cool down for few minutes. With a blender or food processor cream the soup.

Serve it piping hot and add some parsley to your dish before eating it.

Chocolate cake – Christmas version

With a bit of delay, here is the first Christmas recipe for 2017. This Christmas tree chocolate cake is very easy to bake and it is made to impress.

What you need:

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 75 g cocoa powder
  • 15 g corn flour
  • almond essence
  • salt

How to make it:

In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until you have a creamy mixture. Sift in the flour, the corn flour, the cocoa powder and incorporate well until smooth. Add the almond essence and stir once more.

Beat the egg whites with the salt until peaks form and add them to the batter with smooth movements, mixing from the center of the bowl.

Add the batter to a Christmas tree shaped mold and bake in the oven at 190 C for 35 mins.

When the cake is completely cooled down use your fantasy to decorate it. In this cake I just used sugar ribbons and snowflakes and icing sugar.

Blueberries and almond cake

This is the right season for berries and this is a perfect recipe to use them. It is a delicious and moist cake that combines the nice flavour of the berries with the crunchy taste of the almonds.
The recipe below is for a square tin of 15 cms – baking a regular sized cake would be too much for the 2 of us but if you need to make a bigger cake (ie 20 cm square or round tin) you will need to double the ingredients below.

What you need:

  • 75g unsalted butter, softned
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 125 g self raising flour
  • 7 g baking powder (1/2 tsp)
  • 80 g blanched almonds, halved
  • 200 g blueberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 75 ml milk

How to make it:
Preheat the oven at 180C° and grease and line your cake tin. Gently wash the blueberries and let them dry before using them.

Cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Add the egg and work well until all ingredients are combined.

Add the flour and the baking powder (sifted), the almonds and the milk and whisk well. Once you have a nice mixture you need to incorporate the mjority of the blueberries. Spoon the mixture in the tin and add the remaining bluberries at the top.

Bake your cake in the oven for 35 mins approx – check your cake while baking as if it begins to brown you would need to cover it with some baking paper or foil so it will cook evenly.

Test with a toothpick if your cake is ready and if it comes out clean you can remove the cake from the oven and let it cool down.

Enjoy your cake when completely cooled down with some fresh blueberries or if you want indulge with some fresh cream.

Cranberries and pistacchio oat cookies

These cookies are Amazing: I baked them for my husband who is back to school again. He needed a little help with sugars so I decided to bake these beautiful treats.

What you need:

  • 100g pistacchio nuts
  • 100 g unsalted butter,softened
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1tbsp honey;
  • 125 g self raising flour, sifted
  • 125 g oats
  • pinch of salt

 

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven at 190° and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Mix together the butter and the sugar unitl smooth (better to use an electric whisk). Add the egg, the vanilla extract, the honey and whisk again. Add the flour, the oats, the salt, the pistacchio nuts and the cranberries. Mix well until combined.

You need now to divide the dough in small little pieces (like a walnut), place them on a baking sheet leaving enough space for the cookies to cook. Flatten the cookies slightly and bake them for 10 minutes. Leave the cookies to cool down.

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Tips:

  • if the dough is too stiff you can add little water or milk;
  • cookies need to be flatten before baking them so they cook evenly;
  • if the cookies look soft after 10 mins remove them from the oven: they will get the cookie consistency once they are completely cooled down. I learnt this after several burnt batches.

 

 

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

The perfect dish for those summer BBQ’s or outside lunches or pic nics! The secret for a perfect pasta salad is cook the pasta few minutes less than the cooking time. Pasta keeps cooking after it has been drained so if you wish a nice and crunchy pasta you need to drain it before it is fully cooked. Another advise I feel to give is to use best quality ingredients. This is an extremely simple recipe for pasta so it is important you use the best of the best: fresh and ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh prawns and good quality black olives. Last but not least use a good brand of pasta: they are not all the same!

 

What you need :

  • 320 g pasta
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 200 g prawns
  • 50 g dried black olives
  • 1 small shallot
  • basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil

How to make it:

Cook the pasta as instructed in the package and remember to drain it 3 minutes before the cooking time. Place the pasta in bowl, season with some extra virgin olive oil and leave it aside. While the pasta is cooling down prepare the sauce.

Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan, slice the shallots and cook them  until brown. Add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let the prawns cool down.

Chop the tomatoes, remove the seeds and the liquid and put them in antoher bowl. Season them with some sea salt and extra virigin olive oil: I like to toss the tomatoes with my hands in this case.

At this stage toss all the ingredients together: the pasta, the tomatoes and the prawns in a serving bowl. Add the black olives and the fresh basil,

Cover with some film and refrigerate the pasta for 1 hour: remove from the fridge 15 mins before serving.

Some tips:

  • if you over cook the pasta you can stop the cooking process by rinsing the pasta with fresh water (under the tap while draining it);
  • feel free to add some chillies at the end to give it a more spicy taste;
  • I do not recommend to add parmesan cheese (or any kind of cheese here) as it will cover the taste of the prawns.

 

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