Frittelle

Today is pancake‘s Tuesday but it is also the last day of the Carnival. One of the traditional desserts for this time of the year are Frittelle. They are sweet deep fried balls made with raisins or apples. In some parts of Italy (in Venice for instance) they are filled with cream or Nutella. Only one word to describe them..DELICIOUS (avoid them if you are on a diet!).

BEFORE YOU START you need to keep in mind few things about frittelle: first of all you will fry a lot so your kitchen will be VERY smelly after! Also don’t worry if your frittelle will look like little monsters, this is normal! You will need a lot of practice before having the “perfect frittella”

What you need:

  • 120 g plain flour;
  • 80 g self-raising flour;
  • 2 eggs ;
  • 50 g butter;
  • 60 g sugar;
  • 70 ml milk;
  • lemon essence or lemon zest;
  • 1oo grams sultans or 2 chopped apples;
  • 1 pinch of salt;
  • sunflower oil for frying;

How to make it:

Warm up the oil in a big pan. Sift together the flour, the baking powder and the sugar. Add to the “dry ingredients” the melted butter, the eggs (one at time), the milk, the lemon zest and the pinch of salt. Combine well all the ingredients until you have a smooth and fluid dough. The last step is to add the sultans or the apple.
Now comes the hardest part: with 2 teaspoons gather a small amount of dough and drop it into the boiling oil, like if you want to create small balls. IMPORTANT: do not fry too many spoons of dough at the same time or it will be a mess. Depending on the size of the pot but I suggest you not to fry more than 5 frittelle at the time. It will take you more time but you won’t waste anything.

Make sure you turn your frittelle while they are frying so they will get the same colour on all sides and you won’t burn them. Once they are golden brown drain them well and place them on a kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.

Once all the frittelle are ready, let them cool down and only when they are completely cold sift them with icing sugar.

 

 

 

 

Christmas biscuits

Happy New Year everybody! New year has just started and this is the perfect time for cooking and experimenting new ideas. Today I’d like to share with you the recipe for some biscuits I baked for Christmas (anyway they are perfect for all occasions).

There is no need to list the ingredients cause they are made from the crostata dough – you will find the recipe here.

 

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick,  place a stencil over the dough and cut your little men.

Dispose the biscuits in a baking tray  and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 15 minutes or until golden. Just note it will take less time for cooking than the normal crostata.

 

…and this is the final result!Feel free to add some sugar or decorate them with some icing, enjoy!:0)

Sole fillet with potatoes

Here we are with the first fish recipe, finally. It’s very healthy and tasty and if you are looking for something quick to impress your friends..well here it is. Unfortuantely I could not upload the pics, I don’t know why but I could not open the files. Anyway as soon as I mange to upload them I will post them. Enjoy!

What you need:

  • 300 g fillet of sole
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • parsely
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parseley

How to make it:
Pre heat the oven at 200C°. Peel the potatoes and finely slice them. Put some olive oil on a baking tray and dispose the potato slices all over the surface. Cook in the oven for 10/15 minutes (just note that cooking time depends on the size of your slices).

When your potatoes are tender take them out from the oven and dispose your fillet on the tray. Add some salt, pepper , the parsley and the onion and cook for additional 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked.

In my recipe I have also added some cherry tomatoes, finely sliced, to give some additional colour to my dish. You can choose to add some rocket or every other vegetable you may like.

Basic lasagna recipe

It has been a while since my last post. Ah, such a busy life..:) Anyway, I really hope you will enjoy today’s recipe: LASAGNA! Probably the most famous dish of the Italian tradition.

Lasagna is a very tasty and easy recipe BUT there are few important things to keep in mind. First thing, the quality of the pasta. This is vital for your dish.  Many blogs and books advise you to boil the lasagna sheets before assembling the dish, well, do not do it! If you buy a good quality brand of pasta you don’t need to pre cook them as they will cook in the oven with the other ingredients. In my dish I used De Cecco sheets, they are the best. Especially if you make lasagna for the first time, make sure you buy good quality pasta. I don’t recommend you to buy cheap brands – the result is awful.

Second thing: the traditional recipe for lasagna includes 4 main ingredients: pasta, ragù (meat sauce), besciamella and parmesan cheese. All the rest is optional. Of course you can add mozzarella cheese,  vegetables, ham, chicken..whatever you want but they are not part of the original recipe.

Last but not least: try to make your own hand made besciamella sauce, don’t buy it. It is not difficult, you just need some practice. But I guarantee you that the result will be amazing.

What you need:

How to make it:

Pre heat the oven at 200C°. Pour a thin coating of besciamella sauce into a non-stick tray. Make sure all the tray is covered with a bit of sauce, alternatively you can coat it with butter or olive oil.

Arrange the pasta sheets in order to cover the bottom of the baking dish, then add the ragù and the besciamella sauce. Cover the sauce with another layer of pasta, then again with the meat and the besciamella. At the end you should have 3 layers of pasta.

Cover the top with the ragù and the besciamella sauce left and spread all over the parmesan cheese. This will make sure your lasagna gets a bit crusty on the top.

 Cook your dish for 35 minutes at 180C° and serve very warm. It’s perfect with a glass of  red wine!

 

TIP: if you like you can add some parmesan in between the layers of the lasagna, but remember to keep most of it for the top.

Besciamella sauce

One of the most common Italian sauces.

What you need:

  • 50 g unsalted butter;
  • 2 tbs whit flour;
  • 250 ml skimmed milk;
  • black pepper/nutmeg.

How to make it:

Warm the butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat and when completely melted add the flour. Whisk well to combine the ingredients. Gently start adding the milk to the mixture: add a cup at time and while doing it continue to whisk. If you don’t do it, the ingredients won’t combine well. Add little by little all the milk and keep cooking for at least 10 mins.

 

 

TIP: If you prefer a more liquid result, don’t cook it for more then 5 mins after you have added all the milk. You can add some black pepper or nutmeg  at the end, if you like.

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!

 

Euro cup 2012

Even if Italy lost against Spain in the final, we still did a great job!Thanks to the Azzuri for all emotions in this tournament! And remember it’s always time for a good Italian pizza!

Roasted chicken with potatoes

What you need:

  • chicken drumsticks (6 or 7);
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • salt;
  • sage, rosemary and thyme;
  • 4 large potatoes;

How to make it:

The firs thing to do is marinate the chicken. Mix the salt, the rosemary, the sage and the thyme together and sprinkle the drumsticks with the mixture one by one. Put them in a salad bowl and cover with enough extra virgin olive oil. Allow the chicken to marinate for 2/3 hours.

 

Cut the potatoes in small pieces and boil them for 10 minutes in a sauce pan (remember to add the salt to the boiling water). Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and meanwhile place your chicken in a roasting pan. Add to the tray the potatoes and more olive oil. Remember that the oil will prevent the potatoes from sticking in the baking tray so..be generous! At least 5 tbs of oil are required. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes and every 10 mins remember to turn the chicken (and the potatoes). If the chicken or the potatoes are too dry add more oil. When the  drumsticks are well roasted and cooked (like in the pic) it’s time to enjoy your meal.

 

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!