Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Sourdough milk bread with Tang Zhong

Sourdough milk bread with Tang Zhong

Even when I am super busy, or not in my kitchen or without my tools - and currently I am at the same time in all of the mentioned conditions - I still love to make bread. Baking my own bread is for me a very relaxing activity - and definitely much less expensive than shopping - and makes me feel as I were at home.
As I said in my previous post, at the moment I am in a temporary accommodation - and so I will be for a while, probably even without an Internet connection for few weeks - where cooking is not as easy and pleasant as it can be in a fully furnished kitchen, with any kind of tool and utensil. This doesn't mean that I order from take-out places or buy ready to eat dishes; but of course I cannot make any sort of recipe, like those requiring a mixer or a blender (I'm missing hummus for example) or particular pans or pots.

But bread, probably because is one of the most basic and fundamental foods, can be made anywhere and requires few simple tools (some bowls, a fork or whisk, a baking tray or a loaf pan) and a oven.
To be totally honest though, I am somehow "forced" (by myself) to bake as I want to keep my sourdough starter alive and kicking.
In any case I am not experimenting a lot: I use to make only tested and simple recipes like rustic sourdough bread and pita.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Wholewheat crostata and some news

Wholewheat crostata

Well, if there are two or three people wondering where I've been lately and why I'm not posting regularly on the blog, I finally want to tell that some important changes are happening in my life.
Please don't worry, it's nothing bad, just something that took most of my time in the last two months and probably will still take it in the next future.
The news is that, after almost two years in Dubai, me and my family just came back to Italy; and exactly for the same reason why we had moved to Dubai two years ago: my husband work. Something we were somehow prepared to, even if we were getting used to Dubai lifestyle and for sure we'll miss it a bit.

To be honest I would have much preferred to cook, take and edit pictures, write recipes and posts rather than doing what I actually did in the last two months, that is in random order: meeting with moving companies for relocating all of our things back to Italy (and realizing how much stuff is possible to accumulate in just two years is quite shocking), finding a school for my son (actually two, as most likely we are going to move from where we are now), make a selection of things to leave back or throw away, wrapping all our clothes and other stuff in plastic covers to protect them during the travel, getting some refunds for activities paid in advance (this apparently easy task was actually a tough one), preparing the luggage to carry with us (one of which almost full of food, of course), meeting with friends to say bye (this was the best part actually, even if the saddest one and even if I didn't have the time to see all the people I would have loved to). And the daily routine? Almost the same as before, of course ...

Saturday, 10 October 2015

My recipe for wholewheat sourdough bread with mixed seed featured on MyHealthyDXB

Wholewheat sourdough bread with mixed seeds

Baking, and in particular making bread, is one of my passions - and to be honest also a personal challenge.
I love making bread for my family and friends and I am very glad when they appreciate my job. 
And I also like sharing my recipes, that's also one of the main reasons for which I decided to have a blog.
So, when the lovely Louise, author of MyHealthyDXB (a fabulous blog packed with useful information about eating, cooking and living healthy in Dubai) asked me to post one of my recipes on her blog I was more than happy.
And the recipe she has chosen to publish is probably the healthiest and most nutritious bread I've ever made: wholewheat sourdough bread with mixed seed.
You can find the recipe here.
I strongly recommend to bookmark Louise blog as you can find many pieces of information (recipes, articles, reviews, tips and more) for an healthy lifestyle in Dubai, and not only in Dubai indeed.

Thank you Louise!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Cakey chocolate chip cookies

Cakey chocolate chip cookies

Hands up who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies! Not many I guess...
But do we need another recipe for chocolate chip cookies?

I would say yes, in particular considering that I am not going to share one of those recipes giving the perfect (but what is perfect? what we like I think) balance of chewiness, softness and crunchiness, the combination of textures typical of the worldwide popular American - style chocolate chip cookies.
In fact the recipe I'm giving today makes another kind of sweet baked  good, having the texture of a cake, a crumby crust with a soft and light center...but small like a cookie: a sort of miniature chocolate chip cake.
Nearly the opposite of this chocolate chip cookie-cake that is the size of a cake and the texture of a cookie.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Pomodori gratinati (roasted crumbled tomatoes)

Pomodori gratinati (roasted crumbled tomatoes)

I have a special affection for this dish!
Because it is exactly what can be called a family recipe: in fact I learned how to make it from my mother,  my mother from hers and so back for generations. 
It is a classical in my mum's summer repertoire, as she makes it at least once a week when local tomatoes are in season - she is a fanatic of seasonal cooking and for no reason would buy a fresh tomato in winter.
Using the right products this dish actually has all the flavors and colors of summer: ripe tomatoes, herbs, garlic and not much more, just some olive oil, breadcrumbs and salt.
And it's one of those dishes that you can never be bored of, because it's simple but tasty like all the "peasant dishes" are, especially when born out of necessity (why throwing away a piece of stale bread, when you can make crumbs out of it?).

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Roasted pepper dip - my take on Muhammara

Roasted pepper dip

It's incredible how time flies!
When I published my previous post, at the end of June, I was not feeling like on holiday yet, but on the contrary I had the intention of writing something else before heading to Italy for my summer vacation and, most important, saying a "see you soon" to all my readers and wishing a lovely vacation to those - as lucky as me - able to take a break for a while.
But - and to be honest I can't exactly explain how - I am here to say "hello" only on the 5th of September, more than two months later. And even today what I can do is just a short and quick post, because of several other things to do. Unfortunately no time to share something about my summer in Italy. And probably when I have the time and the right concentration, it will be too late to be of interest to anyone.
But if any of you is curious to know something more about the time I spent in my home country, you can check my Instagram account where I shared quite a few pictures from Italy. It was a period of rest, also from the kitchen. time spent with the family and many aperitivi - mainly Aperol spritz, as you can see from the pictures.

But before leaving my desk, I want to share a recipe that I had made and pictured before going on holiday, still waiting to be published.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Grilled pepper salad with capers, olives and lemon

Grilled pepper salad with capers, olives and lemon

When summer arrives and temperatures start to rise (even though, honestly, where I live temperatures are pretty high all over the year) we all prefer light and refreshing food, and also do not want to spend much time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. Salads are a perfect solution for summer lunches and dinners: they can be served as a starter, as a side dish or even as a complete meal just by mixing up a balanced combination of tasty and nutritious ingredients.

And also salads do not necessarily have to be made with greens and leaves: many vegetables, raw and/or cooked, make great salads, with just few additional matching ingredients and the right dressing.
Like in the case of this grilled peppers salad with capers, olives and lemon, a tribute to Mediterranean colors and flavors. Quick and easy to prepare, it will make a good impression in several occasions: it can be a tasty solution for a family lunch along with some mozzarella or another fresh cheese and some bread to soak up all its tasty juices, and will be perfect also as a side dish for grilled meat or fish; but it will also go well in a spread of appetizers in a more formal dinner. As it keeps well, you can bring it with you in your lunch-box as well as for a picnic or a lunch on the beach. And if you have some leftover, use to make a rustic sandwich with sourdough bread (or another firm and crusty bread) and a slice of cheese (like scamorza or a fresh pecorino cheese).

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cake balls and cake bites: two ideas for using leftover chocolate cake

Cake balls and cake bites: two ideas for using leftover chocolate cake

This month we went to many children birthday parties and, by coincidence, ten days ago it was also my son's birthday. As an obvious consequence, I saw and tasted a number of cakes and also made one for celebrating my son's third year with us.
To be honest I am not a fan of traditional decorated birthday cakes and, if not explicitly asked for, I will continue to make my kind of cakes as I did this year (but I don't know how long this would last).
This time I made one of my favorite cakes: a delicious three chocolate mousse cake with a chocolate pastry base. In particular for the base I made a so called chocolate marquise, a sort of sponge cake that is perfect for frozen and chilled dessert as it keeps soft even after chilling.
Unfortunately I didn't take any nice pics of the final result and couldn't post neither on Instagram nor here, but I'm sure I'll make it again and hopefully share the recipe!
I didn't have any leftover of the finished cake (that anyway couldn't have been reused) but the dose of marquise I prepared was excessive for the size of the cake I decided to make.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Sourdough breadsticks

Sourdough breadsticks

Sourdough bakers, this post is for you.
If you are, like me, always looking for new recipes and techniques for using this amazing natural leavener and also don't like to throw away the part of sourdough you don't refresh, please go on reading.
Since I have been given some "precious" mature sourdough few months ago, I started reading and studying (books, websites, blogs and whatever I found) in order to use it at its best. And also experimented a lot to come up with my own favorite recipes. I have to say that I've already fine tuned the recipes for focaccia (and pizza too) and pita bread - when you make the same recipe at least once a week, you can say it doesn't need much improvement - while for bread I'm still in search for THE recipe - I'm pretty happy with a couple but the "wow factor" is still missing. I'm a perfectionist, so if the taste is good but what I make doesn't come out pretty all the times as well I feel that I still have to work.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard

Tartlets with (eggless) chocolate custard

The title of this post and the pictures talk about a recipe for a variety of tartlet.
And this is true, as I'm going to describe how to make delicious tartlets (or even a large tart if you prefer) filled with a egg-less chocolate custard. But here comes the focus and the very true reason of the post, since what I mostly want to share is the recipe for a really delicious chocolate custard that should be taken into consideration by all home cooks, bakers, amateur chefs as well as mums who like to feed their children and family on homemade food prepared with fresh, high quality ingredients and without artificial flavors, colorants or preservatives. And in fact this custard ticks several boxes.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Panzanella (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)

Panzanella (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)

I always love trying new dishes and recipes, making variations on familiar ones, experimenting with ingredients, spices and techniques. But there are some traditional recipes that I consider almost perfect in their original, classical version and that I therefore like to make without any particular innovation or personal addition. And panzanella belongs with honor to this group.

Panzanella is a recipe from the Italian region of Tuscany; even if it can be found with small local and/or family variations all across the region and even in other Italian areas, the main ingredient for this recipe is stale bread soaked in water or in a mix of water and vinegar.  In fact panzanella is one of those recipes born out of necessity as a way to use old bread and make it appetizing with the addition of fresh vegetables and extra virgin olive oil.
Like many other traditional recipes, panzanella's origins are not totally clear, but are for sure centuries old and probably date back to the Middle Ages.
Some legends say it's a dish of rural tradition created by peasants mixing old bread (at that time bread was baked only once a week or less) and the veggies available in the field; others believe that it comes from the custom of old mariners from Tuscany and Liguria to soak their bread (which was dried to keep during their long travels across the sea) in sea water before seasoning and eating with their meals.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Saffron roasted cauliflower with olives and sultanas

Saffron roasted cauliflower with olives and sultanas

For many years I thought I didn't like cauliflower, or to be more precise the most common white variety of cauliflower.
And the reason was that I usually had it boiled or steamed, like my grandmother used, and my mom still uses, to serve cauliflower most of the times, with plain extra virgin olive oil or a simple vinaigrette. But the cauliflower that my family usually eats is not - and never has been - the white one, but a green variety very common in the Italian region where I was born. Now my mom sometimes buys more "exotic" types like the Romanesco or the Sicilian (characterized by a purple head), but most of the times you will see her cooking, or better boiling, the green cauliflower and serving it as a side dish just with extra virgin olive oil.
When I started living, and cooking, on my own, far from my home town, I thought that cauliflowers were all pretty much the same.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Soft crostata with almonds and apricot jam

Soft crostata with almonds and apricot jam

Another recipe for crostata today!
I said before on this blog how much I like this type of sweet baked good and how much I enjoy "playing" with the recipe changing, every time I make it, the combination of the main ingredients: flour, sugar / sweetener, fat, raising agent (the options being yes or no) and filling (jam in the most basic and simple version).
And in the blog you can find some of the crostata recipes I prefer and make more often (check out this link).
But with today's recipe I have added another variable to those mentioned above, that is the filling technique.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Roasted aubergine with chili and herbs

Roasted aubergine with chili and herbs

Today I want to share a recipe that I made some time ago to cleanup the fridge from leftover aubergines, herbs and red chili and liked so much that I made it again several other times.
I literally hate wasting food, even a piece of stale bread, as I think it's a very bad habit, a sign of lack of respect for the environment, for the many people who have limited access to food, for the work of those people who produce our food and finally for our own money, because throwing food away is an indubitable waste of money. I know that the value of two slices of bread or an eggplant or a yogurt is very limited, but if we throw something every day at the end of the year we have probably wasted quite a good amount of food. And if every single family all around the world (at least the wealthier part) does the same, it's obvious that the wastage of food at a global level is a real and huge issue.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Salame di cioccolato

Salame di cioccolato

Salame di cioccolato is one of those dishes that, even if not properly belonging to the Italian traditional cuisine, are very popular all across the country and can even be found in some bakeries to take home or served in trattoria or rustic restaurants as dessert.
I don't know the origin of the recipe, and it's probably unknown, but it's really popular among Italian families where it is usually prepared as a merenda (snack) for children but much appreciated also by adults, with a good cup of coffee.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Blog first anniversary


1

I can hardly believe it, but today this blog officially turns one.
I say officially because the first three - four months of blogging where for me a sort of rehearsal, a way to prove to myself that I was able to do it.
And in fact, less than two months after going live, this blog went on holiday with me and only in September 2014 it really started the adventure in the blogsphere. This is why I tend to think that I started blogging after summer last year, but the very first post dates back to the 15th of May 2014, and so I have to celebrate today.
I don't want to be pathetic here but, really, during this year many things that I wouldn't have imagined before happened, and all thanks to the blog.
The most  important of them is that I am still blogging. And I think that I'm doing it better than one year ago: pictures are getting better, I always have new recipes to share (actually I'm faster at making new recipes than writing them here), I'm more confident when writing (English, as anybody can understand, is not my first language ...), all things that are giving me even more enthusiasm than one year ago. Therefore I hope there will be more blog anniversaries to celebrate.

But to be honest, if I am still here and still enjoy spending part of my time in taking pictures, writing recipes, telling stories about food or places where I like to shop and dine, and all the "back-office" work that keeping a "homemade" blog requires, is also thanks to people I met and things I had the chance to do during the last year, that gave me more self-confidence in what I am doing and reinforced my enthusiasm and will to keep on with this blog.
And I feel like I have to mention at least the most important things today.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Beetroot and aubergine "fattoush" salad

Beetroot and aubergine "fattoush" salad

This beetroot and aubergine "fattoush"is my favorite salad lately. 
Since the first time I prepared it, few weeks ago, I have been making again and again without getting bored of it. Actually each time I made it, I tried to refine the initial recipe with some variations until I finally found the "perfect" combination of ingredients, at least for my taste.
But, to be honest, this is not a recipe that I have developed totally by myself. In fact it was during a cooking demo - held at Bloomie's Kitchen by Troy Payne, head chef at Cle restaurant - that I had the chance to know and try for the first time the recipe, and actually loved it at the first taste.
Chef Troy described the recipe as his personal take on the fattoush salad, one of the most popular and prepared Middle Eastern dish; and also a way to make more appetizing two vegetables, aubergine and beetroot, that he personally doesn't rave about.
With this introduction, and considering the fact that, on the contrary, I love both aubergines and beets, as well as fattoush indeed, I couldn't not to like this salad!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Beer bread

Beer bread

I've been baking a lot of bread lately. And I mean more than I used to do before, as baking bread for my family is an activity that I have been enjoying for quite some time now.
But since I was kindly gifted a portion of a mature (more than 100 years old, as I was told by the pastry chef who gave it to me) sourdough starter, about one month ago, the baking activity in my kitchen has significantly increased. 
First of all because I would feel guilty to let that precious - at least in my eyes - and alive material go wasted.
Second because I have the opportunity to make experiments and, hopefully, improve my ability to manage sourdough starter and, in general, to make bread.
Finally because I love any kind of bread, from farmhouse to ciabatta to focaccia to pita / flatbread, made with a sourdough starter: I like the peculiar sourness (by the way), smell and texture of the crumb as well as the external thick and crunchy crust.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

I have already said how much I like crostata (the Italian tart) in a previous post where I have also shared some basic technical information on how to make pasta frolla, the Italian shortcrust pastry (follow this link to read more) along with one of my favorite recipes.
Since crostata, in any possible form, is a family favorite, and the simplest version - with a jam filling - is the kind of breakfast we all prefer, I make it regularly. What I like to do is to change, in a sort of rotation, not only the jam flavor but also the ingredients for the crust (as for the preparation technique, my favorite is the "crumble technique" explained, with other methods, in the above mentioned post). 
As I said in that post about crostata (see here) there are many different recipes even for the basic pasta frolla, and among all them I have two or three favorites that I alternatively use. But I also like to make more original variants, using different types of flour or sugar and / or replacing butter for extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt

Roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt

Something that I really enjoy when I cook is to try always new recipes, whether inspired by cookbooks, magazines, blogs or websites or developed by myself.
With the consequence that there are many recipes that I made only once, and not because they were not good or I didn't like, but just to try something different.

But despite this - good, bad, weird? - habit of mine, there are several recipes that I particularly love and regularly make. As is the case of this "roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt", a recipe from the favorite of mine "Ottolenghi The Cookbook" (probably the most consulted cookbook in my bookshelf, from which I tried many recipes, some of them also posted on this blog - for more details check here).

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips

Dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips

It's getting warmer and warmer here in Dubai, with temperatures that in Europe are typical of sunny summer days. I'm not complaining about this, as I actually prefer hot weather than cold.
And even in a weather like this, while there are many people preferring light and refreshing desserts, I still ask for chocolate ones, whether I am at home or dine out - and  when out I often "have to" skip dessert as some restaurants change their menu eliminating those heavy-sounding dishes, whit chocolate desserts usually being among the first items subject to seasonal review.
But I don't give up anyway; I can always make chocolate desserts at home. Including baked goods.
And in fact, with the heavy conditioned buildings we have here, turning on the oven is not so bad, even in the middle of summer. I take advantage of this, and bake in all seasons, from bread and focaccia to cakes, tarts, muffins and cookies, many of them full of chocolate.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Cooking at the Farmers Market on the Terrace: pasta, pasta, pasta

Cooking at the Farmers Market on the Terrace: pasta, pasta, pasta
Me and my son asking: "Mamma, what are you doing?" 

That I am a huge fan of the Farmers Market on the Terrace is very well known by all my friends and acquaintances here in Dubai,as well as by the readers of this blog. And also the other members of my family, who hesitated for a while before joining me on my Friday morning visits to the market (I like to go early to avoid the crowd and choose the freshest produce), are now regular visitors, having found good "personal" reasons to go, apart from being with me. And in fact, while I get the fresh,  organic, locally grown vegetables for the week, my son, too young - and too active - to enjoy shopping with me from the farmers, loves running and jumping in the garden, playing with a lovely white cat always present at the market and always looking for a stroke, as well as tasting honey from the Balqees stall and bread from Baker & Spice; my husband appreciates having a post-shopping breakfast in the garden with one the delicious items prepared by Baker & Spice's cooks (with the Spinach and Egg English Muffin being his favorite).

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Do you know somebody who doesn't like focaccia? I don't. And I have even seen many people avidly eating not so good versions of focaccia...
Because focaccia is one of those amazing creation of Italian cuisine in front of which it is impossible to say "no, thanks", sometimes even if it's not the best.
Not only focaccia is delicious and comforting, but it is incredibly versatile.
It's a perfect snack on its own at any time of the day and in almost all situations (at work, at school, on the beach, for a picnic) but it goes also well as a substitute for bread in any type of sandwich.
Can be served in a buffet or in a more formal, seated dinner.
It's the simplest yet ideal amuse buche, but it is also the perfect addition to any bread basket.
And it may be a tasty impromptu dinner when there is an empty fridge and no willing to shop and cook.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

Pappa al pomodoro  is one of the most popular and prepared recipes of the Tuscan culinary tradition.
Literally pappa means mush (but it is also the term used to indicate semi-solid baby food) and, as almost anybody knows, pomodoro means tomato. From this description it doesn't sound so appetizing, does it? But, trust me, the only reason why this dish is so famous and timeless is that it is absolutely delicious, mainly thanks to its simplicity and "poor" origin.
And in fact this tomato and bread soup (this definition sound better indeed) is one of those classic Italian dishes created out of necessity, when it was not possible to waste food, not even a piece of stale bread, that has to be reused to make it still edible: in pappa al pomodoro old bread is cooked with ripe tomatoes (or even canned or preserved ones when fresh are not available), garlic and / or onion, a generous quantity of extra virgin olive oil, some liquid (stock, when available, or salted water), salt, pepper (or chili in some versions) until everything turns into a thick, creamy and really comforting soup.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Super healthy chocolate cake aka wacky cake (no eggs, butter, dairy and ... chocolate)

Super healthy chocolate cake aka wacky cake (no eggs, butter, milk and ... chocolate)

Making an healthy yet delicious cake - and an healthy dish in general - is sometimes easier than one could think. 
No need to find particular or exotic products, or to use substitutes for regular (and unhealthy maybe) ingredients, or to search for innovative recipes developed and tested by gurus of healthy eating. 
All you need are few staple, cheap ingredients available even in the pantry of cooking-hating people and - here is the real surprise - an old, often forgotten and underrated recipe, developed when people had access to a much more limited number of food items than nowadays, and some products that we can have everyday (and often try to limit for healthy reasons, like meat or cheese) could be eaten just once in a while or reserved only for special occasions (think chocolate or coffee). 
Due to the scarcity of available ingredients, or to their high price, people were forced to be creative and inventive in order to develop"smart" recipes able to transform few basics products into tasty and satisfying dishes, some of which imitating or trying to reproduce richer and expensive ones.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Fettuccine with kale and almond pesto

Fettuccine with kale and almond pesto

I want to share this recipe, that I much loved, before the kale season ends.
Luckily kale is still available at the Farmers Market on the Terrace, and is still good and tender. I saw it this morning (though I didn't buy as I like to alternate my veggies throughout the month), and hope to find it again next week.

It is a bit weird to me but, at this time of the year, when I go on my weekly shopping trip to the market I can buy fresh, local kale and other vegetables that, from an Italian point of view, are typical of winter (like cauliflower, broccoli, fennel or cabbage) as well as ripe, juicy, tasty tomatoes - but also peppers, eggplants and zucchini - that in Italy is possible to find only in the middle of summer. Such a wide range of vegetables available at the same time gives me the possibility to make, in the same week, recipes that in Italy (and in Europe in general) I would make in January or February and others more typical of the summer season.
This week for example I made this kale pesto (the rest of the kale was braised with garlic, chili and extra virgin olive oil and eaten as a side dish) and a tomato sauce like the one my mother uses to make in August and preserve for the winter.  But I also cooked leeks, and beetroots, and green beans, not to mention all the different varieties of salads I had (lettuce, different types of rocket and other tasty varieties whose name is still obscure to me).
I'm getting used to this diversity and just love it!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cantucci (Italian almond biscotti)

Cantucci (Italian almond biscotti)

If you travel to the Italian region of Tuscany, you'll likely end most of your meals - especially if consumed in places where regional food is served, like trattoria, osteria, agriturismo - with some cantucci (or cantuccini), crunchy almond cookies usually served along with coffee, often with a glass of vin santo, a sweet wine perfect for dunking.
Cantucci are in fact the most renowned and representative sweet of the whole Tuscany, and in particular of the city of Prato where the original recipe was developed in 1858 by the pastry chef Antonio Mattei; due to their origin these cookies are also known as Biscotti di Prato. The 19th century original recipe for cantucci included not only almonds but also pine nuts and did not have any raising agents or butter, something that differs from almost all modern recipes.

The peculiarity of these cookies is the double baking process: in fact they are first shaped into a sort of flat log, which is baked then cut into thick slices and baked again, until dry and crunchy. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fennel, feta and pomegranate salad

Fennel, feta and pomegranate salad

Fennel is a vegetable that I like but don't buy and prepare very often because it's not much appreciated by the rest of the family: my son eats very few types of vegetables - excluding potato, or better fries, I would say he has only cucumbers, tomatoes (preferably on pasta as a sauce) and not much more - while my husband, who is a vegetables lover, prefers anyway other varieties.
In spite of this, especially when it's in season (by the way now at the Farmers Market it's still possible to find some good fennel), I buy it once in a while. Because, even if I know several persons who do not like fennel - I don't know, maybe it's a coincidence - I appreciate its aromatic, lightly sweet taste as well as the crunchy texture: to preserve both characteristics I like it steamed for few minutes, just until the color begins to change, and served just with extra virgin olive oil.
But it is also good raw in salads, finely sliced or chopped, in soups, or roasted, sauteed, baked as a side dish; and it is also delicious when combined with other ingredients to make more complex, rich and nutritious dishes, like savory pies and tarts, or baked gratin (in a popular Italian recipe boiled fennel are baked with bechamel, parmigiano or another grated cheese and, optionally, prosciutto or ham), or stuffed veggies with meat or cheese, or even battered and deep-fried.
The recipes I prefer are anyway those in which fennel is not cooked for a long time or overwhelmed by other ingredients or condiments; in particular I like the combination with ingredients able to enhance and complement to fennel peculiar flavor.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Digestive biscuits

Digestive biscuits

I particularly love making (and eating also) cookies! And the number of recipes for cookies published on the blog so far are a clear demonstration of this passion of mine.
Excluding few types that I really don't like, I hardly can say no to a cookie, be it simple or of a rich and more sophisticated variety.

I'm not a big fan of store bought cookies (indeed not only cookies); as I have already said in previous posts, two are the main reasons for which, when possible, I prefer to make from scratch as many foods as possible: the first is that it is not possible to know the quality and origin of the ingredients used in industrial stuff and the second is the presence, in all store bought products, of additives (only few of which are necessary for hygienic or conservation reasons) and flavors, in most cases artificial (that usually taste good but are not the real, natural flavor of what we are eating).
Anyway there are few industrial products that I continue to buy, because I like them no matter what they are made of. And one of these are Digestive biscuits. I've always liked their rustic texture, as well as the sweet-savory taste: simple things can sometimes be very pleasant and enjoyable.
But recently I started thinking of making them on my own: considering how simple they seem to be, they are probably also easy to make at home, I thought. And I was right.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Focaccia with cherry tomatoes

Focaccia with cherry tomatoes

I find the science of making bread very fascinating. 
And somehow poetic is the Italian expression used to call it, "arte bianca" meaning "the white art", where white obviously refers to the color of flour (at least the type most commonly used ) while the word art emphasizes how valuable and noble this activity is.
Even if I have been cooking and baking for many years, only recently I started practicing in making bread and similar baked goods. The reason of this late approach to this field is that I was somehow scared to try: I thought that making bread was a complicated job, just for experts, and I also considered almost necessary to have an electric mixer.
But then, a couple of years ago, I finally found the courage to try. To make it easier (and don't risk much) I started with one of the several possible versions of the so called no-knead-bread, where most of the work is made by yeast and time. Luckily results were satisfying enough after the very first attempts - in fact, in case of initial failures, I am not sure whether I would have continued making bread - so that now I bake on my own most of the bread, as well as other baked goods, we have at home. And to be honest, eating so often homemade bread I've become much more demanding and selective when it comes to buy it from shops (and there aren't many shop-bought breads that we really like now).

Friday, 6 March 2015

Chocolate Chantilly (two ingredients chocolate mousse)

Chocolate Chantilly

The recipe for this chocolate mousse had been in my "must try" list for quite a long time but I hadn't tried before, probably because I had always given priority to more complicated, challenging new desserts so as to learn and master new techniques and basics in pastry-making. And I regret I didn't make it before! Because the technique behind this mousse - as it is actually more a basic technique for handling chocolate than a real recipe - leads to an absolutely amazing result, even more surprising considering that it requires just two ingredients (one of which is water), a whisk (an electric mixer makes everything quicker but it's not strictly necessary), a pan, a couple of bowls, and not more than fifteen minutes time. And it is one-hundred-percent impossible to make it wrong: should you make any mistake there is a way to fix it; actually, to be precise, you can always go back to the first step and make everything again from the beginning. 
What you get at the end is an airy, soft, creamy, super chocolatey mousse that, for real chocolate lovers, tastes even better than a traditional chocolate mousse, as there is no other ingredient (cream and / or eggs) to alter the natural flavor of chocolate. It can be served as it is, or topped/paired with whatever you like (whipped cream, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, cocoa nibs), or even used like a ganache, for filling tarts and tartlets, cakes, cupcakes or other baked goods. Interesting, isn't it?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Couscous and Mograbiah With Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Couscous and Mograbiah With Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Mograbiah (or Mograbieh or Mograbieuh or Lebanese couscous or, even more common, pearl couscous or giant couscous) is a recent discovery of mine; and unfortunately, because I like it much and I am now curious to try more and more recipes using this grain. Honestly speaking I have to say that I have a particular liking for all sorts of grain like couscous, bulgur, spelt, barley, rices (impossible to list) but also quinoa and buckweath and so on. I cannot say how many packets of different types of rice and grains are stored in my pantry...and as soon as I come across something new I cannot resist from buying.
And I sometimes wonder whether my love for any kind of grain as well as any other alternative to pasta is a reaction of mine to the Italian habit of "everyday pasta" I grew up with. But I know that mine is not a dislike for pasta (impossible) but just a great and insatiable curiosity for traditions, lifestyles and customs of different countries and cultures, and in particular for anything related to food which is one of the most powerful cultural expressions. Of course food is so powerful because it's one of the basic human primary needs, but also because it is able to give one of the greatest pleasures... But I'm going off topic as my initial intention was just to share a delicious and easy recipe in which Mograbiah is one of the main ingredients.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil

I would have never thought to publish this recipe on my blog and also after deciding to do it, while I'm writing I still find it somehow weird. But don't get me wrong! I'm not going to share a bizarre, unappetizing or exotic recipe.
On the contrary this is a kind of dish that usually gets universal consensus, and I would also say it's one my favs when it comes to make or eat pasta. But as it is so simple, fast, fuss free - yet delicious - I find it difficult to consider this a "real" recipe, at least in the sense I usually mean: a precise, detailed list of ingredients and preparation steps to guide any cook in the realization and presentation of a dish. Here you need just few ingredients, usually available in most kitchens with maybe the only exception of fresh cherry tomatoes and basil (which, I'm afraid, are the main ingredients though), the requested amount of which is more indicative than mandatory (more or less of anything results in a good dish anyway); the preparation is absolutely feasible for anyone and it takes less than 30 minutes, including washing and preparing all ingredients (time never considered in recipes).

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Honey thumbprint cookies

Honey thumbprint cookies

Honey is an amazing product...and for several reasons. First of all let's think of honey makers: the idea that tiny, fragile insects like bees are able to collect / extract nectar and other substances from flowers and plants and transform them into a range of products - honey first, but also royal jelly, propolis, and beeswax- for feeding and sustaining their perfectly organized communities (and not only) may seem hard to believe (like other impressive things we find in nature though). Second honey is packed with nutritive properties: it isn't just a sweetener, a natural sweetener, it is a food. In fact, besides glucose and fructose - that are natural sugars - honey contains minerals and vitamins; it has antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. The possible health benefits of consuming honey have been documented since ancient times, and in many cultures, honey had associations that go beyond its use as a food, being considered a religious symbol or used in religious celebrations. And even if not all the honey's health claims have been scientifically confirmed by rigorous studies, it is widely used in many home remedies, some of them actually effective: honey is a natural relief for sore throat and cough, helps to sleep better (the popular cup of milk and honey before going to bed...), is an energy booster and therefore very useful before a workout but even everyday physical strain; it can also be used as a natural ingredient in homemade skin and hair care products. The only warning is that honey should not be fed to infants younger than 1 year to avoid the risk of possible allergic reactions.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Pumpkin ricotta gnocchi on beetroot sauce with pistachios and orange

Pumpkin ricotta gnocchi on beetroot sauce with pistachios and orange

Gnocchi, even if outside Italy are not as popular as other traditional dishes, are very common all across Italy where all families like to eat once in a while their gnocchi, home-made in the best case - in fact they may also be bought fresh from specialty stores or packaged, industrially produced, from supermarkets. Gnocchi, which are classified as primo piatto (first course) like pasta and risotto,  are soft little dumplings that, in the most classic and common version, are made from boiled potatoes; they probably originated during Roman times when potatoes were not available in Europe (as they were introduced from Americas only in 16th century), so were made from a semolina dough, probably very similar to the gnocchi alla romana that we find today, particularly in the Lazio region.
Like for many traditional Italian dishes, there are several versions of gnocchi and each family has its own recipe, usually handed down from the nonne to their daughters and granddaughters. And among the many possible variations are gnocchi made from something else - or something more - than potato as main ingredient, like ricotta, flour, spinach, pumpkin and so on. And gnocchi's versatility is beloved by chefs, in Italy and abroad, who don't stop experimenting with textures and flavors, from saffron to beets to anything in between. But whatever version of gnocchi you choose, to be really delicious they have to be light, airy and delicate; in fact at their worst they can be dense, chewy, or soggy or, even worst, they come apart in the boiling water. So it is important to make gnocchi properly, that may be less easy than it seems; but with some practice, probably a few failures, and perseverance everybody can become a master at making gnocchi. For the pleasure of all family members ...and of course great personal satisfaction.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Chocolate fudge cake

Chocolate fudge cake

I find it quite funny but every single year, around the same period, food related (but not only) topics are recurrently the same: in late spring light recipes to lose weight before going on holidays to the beach, in December rich traditional dishes for deciding the menu of meals during the festive season, then at the beginning of the year detox foods and recipes to purify the body and get back in shape, and then healthy food resolutions, new regimes and diets, ... and, around February, it's time for fine recipes for the Valentine's Day dinner, and desserts and sweet goodies - most of them with lots of chocolate too. 
To be honest I don't like Valentine's Day and all the celebrations of this sort, and I have never celebrated in my life by my own choice; particularly what I really do not like is all the commercial stuff around them. But let me say that Valentine's Day, whether one's in a couple or not, can be a good excuse to pamper ourselves and our beloved ones. And to me one of the best way to remind people - and ourselves - that we love them is to make (rather than buy) something good, And I agree that chocolate is the perfect ingredient for a homemade treat, and not only for Valentine's Day.
The recipe I'm going to share is that for a rich, decadent and absolutely moreish chocolate fudge cake, one of my all time favorites. Besides being very rich in chocolate, the peculiarity of this cake, which is flour-less and baked in two times, is that it comes out with two layers having different textures: the bottom is similar to a rich brownie, while the upper layer has the consistency of a firm, dense chocolate mousse. A cake for real (dark) chocolate lovers!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Eating out in Dubai - Dining Around Dubai with FooDiva and the Entertainer Dubai Fine Dining App

When I saw in my inbox an email from FooDiva I thought it was the newsletter that, being a subscriber, I regularly receive with updates on the newest reviews published on the website. But the incipit was quite peculiar as it said "Good morning Francesca! This is your lucky day! You are the winner of a spot on the invitation-only Entertainer and FooDiva Dine Around Dubai.." . Winner? Me? Of what? Why?
I had to think twice to understand - or better to remember - what she was talking about. I never win anything and for this reason I'm not used to enter competitions, of any kind, especially if I have to fill forms with lots of information. But this time I had actually entered a competition and, unbelievable, won. And won the best prize!
In fact few weeks ago, one of the mail from FooDiva was about the launch of a new Entertainer product, the Dubai Fine Dining App and guide; in particular the mail said that, in occasion of the launch, FooDiva had been asked to organize a tailored invitation-only dinner on Palm Jumeirah, during which guests would visit four restaurants with different cuisine, all in the same evening. Readers were invited to a enter a competition for getting the chance to win ten apps for the Entertainer Dubai Fine Dining 2015 guide, and one invitation to the exclusive dinner with FooDiva and the Entertainer around Palm Jumeirah. Since prizes sounded interesting and there was no complicated form to fill - just saying the name of the favorite restaurant on Palm Jumeirah and why, and of course leaving the email address - I answered ... and won. So I had the opportunity to join the special dining tour around Palm Jumeirah with FooDiva and other nice guests.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sablés chocolat à la fleur de sel

Sablés chocolat à la fleur de sel

I've already confessed my addiction to chocolate, which also explains why most of the sweet recipes I make (and of course share on the blog) have chocolate in it. And today's recipe is no exception.
But these cookies are so good and I have baked them so many times that the recipe has to be published on my blog. Even if, to be honest, these cookies are already renowned all over the world (and the world wide web too). Their story begins in France, where they were created by the famous pastry-chef Pierre Hermé (the recipe is featured in his book "PH10"); the American cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, who worked in France with Hermé, included the recipe in her book "Baking From My Home to Yours" and let them know also on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean; then the web made the rest of the story and these cookies have become iconic, and not just for chocolate lovers. If you google you will find that they are also known as World Peace Cookies, and if you are curious to know why they have been so named you can read the whole story on Dorie Greenspan blog (follow this link). What I can say is that, even if they probably cannot bring peace in the world, for sure they are able to make happy anyone who eats them. Because they are absolutely amazing and (I am afraid) addictive, due to a mix of factors: first of all they have a peculiar, unique texture - like sablés, they are sandy and melt-in-the-mouth but lightly chewy thanks to the presence of brown sugar - then they have a strong chocolate flavor - the dough contains cocoa plus is packed with chunks of hand chopped dark chocolate - and finally they are salty, since there is a relatively high amount of salt, and in particular fleur de sel, which is a white, moist and coarse French sea salt, typically used to garnish and finish dishes just before serving. And the salt enhances the already profound chocolate taste, making these cookies particularly attractive.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Shamandar: beetroot salad with yogurt tahini dressing

Shamandar: beetroot salad with yoghurt tahini dressing

Beetroot is a vegetable I discovered (and loved) relatively late. In fact it doesn't belong to the culinary tradition of the Italian region I come from, the Marche region. At least until my twenties, when I moved to North of Italy (where instead beetroot are more common), I thought that beets were used just to make sugar (as farmers in my area, including my grandfather, used to grow only the sugar beets) but I had no idea of the existence of other edible varieties. And also, after discovering the table beetroot, it was not love at first sight. Because actually the first beets I tried were the pre-cooked ones sold in supermarkets in vacuum-sealed plastic packages: not that delicious, to be honest! But finally I had ash-roasted beetroot - some farmers use to make and sell, but I could also found them in some vegetable shops - and realized how good they can taste (even better than oven roasted as the flavor is more concentrated and with a light smoked taste). Since then my liking for beets has progressively increased. I have had, both at restaurants and at home, many different dishes made using beets, sometimes as main ingredient, other times mixed with different things: salads (one recipe I love here), risotto, soups, spreads (like this beetroot hummus), drinks, even cakes (beets and chocolate go particularly well together) . And I am always curious to try new ways of preparing and serving them. Middle Eastern cuisine - that I am enjoying much lately, also making some recipes at home - makes a quite extensive use of beets (and I am very glad of this), especially in salads, sides, and mezze, the Middle Eastern appetizer, in which a selection of different dishes are spread on the table for sharing among guests. One dish usually served as part of mezze is Shamandar, a sort of dip made of diced beets in a tahini (a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds) and yogurt dressing. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Camargue red rice and quinoa with orange, dried apricots and pistachios

Camargue red rice and quinoa with orange, dried apricots and pistachios

Being Italian, I am probably expected to eat more pasta than I actually do. In fact, like it's true that pasta is the most universally renowned Italian food (only pizza is maybe as popular as pasta), so it is also true that the average lunch of the average Italian family usually includes a plate of pasta. 
This being the reality, I have to admit that I am quite peculiar to be Italian as I actually don't eat pasta so often. But don't get me wrong! I do like pasta very much, and I think it is a really wonderful creation of the Italian cuisine: it's so versatile that it can be transformed into a last minute dinner as well as into a sophisticated dish, resulting always tasty and satisfying. The fact is that I get bored: even changing the shape and / or the sauce, to me pasta is pasta (like it would be rice or fish or meat or chicken or anything else eaten every day). I enjoy it much more if I have once in a while (let's say once a week, maybe twice, three times start to be too much). I eat pasta more often - that means almost every day, with few exceptions - only when I visit my family, or my husband's, and have my meals at home with them. And then I usually get bored of pasta ...
What I like to do at home is on one side making always different and new recipes, on the other having different types of dishes during the week, especially at dinner (for lunch I am fine with a salad): this way we have something different every day and always prepared using different ingredients and recipes. It's funny but, excluding some recipes that I particularly love or that I make particularly well, as a result of this habit of mine there are some recipes that I made only once - that is actually a shame for certain lovely dishes, which would deserve to be made again! Also I have to admit to be lucky as my husband is very open to try anything new and different and appreciate my love for experimenting in the kitchen (even if he probably would appreciate more experiments on pasta...); and also never complains when something doesn't come out so appetizing as I wished. 
All this confession of mine is a justification - mostly to myself - for not sharing (yet) a recipe for pasta but for an alternative to pasta, a really good one though: a combination of red rice and quinoa, mixed with caramelized onions, dried apricots, toasted pistachios, rocket and orange zest, in a olive oil, orange and lemon juice dressing.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Pumpkin and beetroot salad with goat cheese

Pumpkin and beetroot salad with goat cheese

I like to create recipes and do it very often - if "create" may sounds an overstatement, let's say that I often cook without following any recipe; and this happens in most cases with fresh foods, mainly vegetables but also fish, that I buy prompted by their freshness and appearance or just by inspiration rather than the idea of making a specific recipe. And this is something I really enjoy, a bit challenging but much satisfying: I love to find good combinations of ingredients, flavors and textures, to choose the best cooking technique, to add spices and herbs, to experiment something new or different, and finally to make a nice presentation. And what a personal great satisfaction when the dish comes out so good that I wish to make it again! But in this cases, it is important to write down the recipe as soon possible, in order to take note of both ingredients (and possibly the exact amount used) and preparation steps. In fact I know from previous experiences that, if I like something I make, I'd better take note soon because it is much likely that the same, or at least a quite similar, good result won't come out again. And this is what I did with this salad, made few days ago - my Instagram followers have already seen the picture - when I was alone for dinner (husband traveling) but wanted anyway make something appetizing, not too complicated (not worth spending too much time in the kitchen for feeding just one person) and with plenty of vegetables (as I can't live without a huge portion of veggies every single day). I had a nice butternut squash, few beetroots and a bunch of baby spinach bought last Friday at the Farmer Market on the Terrace that I wanted to use. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Eating out in Dubai - where to eat fresh, organic, locally grown food ... seating outdoor (if you like)

Considering how long I've been living in Dubai (one year and a couple of months now), I still feel pretty new in the city, with many things to do and places and opportunities yet to discover. But I'm working on the task of getting more and more acquainted with the city, as I want to enjoy as much as possible of it during the time I'll have the opportunity to stay here. And one of the important chapters of my personal guide to the city is with no doubts the one dedicated to "where to eat out", in the possible different occasions. One of my family's routines is going out for lunch on weekends, an habit we've always had, also when we lived in Italy and my son wasn't born yet (though at that time we opted for a different kind of places...). Having a two and a half old boy dining with us, we cannot indulge in multiple-courses gourmet lunches, since we probably couldn't completely enjoy. But even if in most cases we have quick meals out, we try to avoid as much as possible fast food- like places, our favorites being  restaurants or, even better for lunch, cafes and bistros where it is possible to have well prepared and presented quality food, good service, nice ambience, possibly fair prices...and the possibility to eat outside is another much appreciated feature. A bit demanding? Maybe, but considering how many options are available in Dubai, I think I can select.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Triple chocolate mousse

Triple chocolate mousse

I find it very difficult to give up chocolate! I don't have many food addictions but chocolate and salads (I know they're antithetical...but that's it!) must be part of my daily diet. But while I eat tons of veggies, with chocolate I feel satisfied with just a little: a thin slice of cake, a small treat, a truffle (maybe two), but even a piece of the plain dark chocolate I use for baking and making desserts (which I always buy of high quality) is enough. And of course chocolate desserts are my favorite: when dining out, it's unlikely that I take into consideration ordering a non chocolate-y dessert, but also at home the desserts I prefer to make, eat and offer to my guests are those with chocolate, lots of chocolate, preferably dark. I own several cookbooks dedicated to chocolate and my dessert repertoire includes many chocolate-something recipes - cakes, tartes, mousse, cookies - more or less guilty, more or less difficult to make, more or less delicious.
Among these there is this triple chocolate mousse, three layers of different types of chocolate, dark, milk and white, that I made several times all with much satisfaction.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Buttermilk Plum Cake

Buttermilk Plum Cake

It sounds a bit weird to me making, and even more publishing on the blog, the recipe for a plum cake in the middle of the winter season! Because in my mind plums are a summer fruit; and they are a summer fruit. As I prefer locally grown foods, especially vegetables and fruits, I am not inclined to buy products if they are not in season. But unfortunately weather and soil conditions here are unfavorable for fruits production, with the exception of few varieties (on the contrary many vegetables can be farmed, so there is a very good availability of fresh, local veggies, that I love to take from The Farmer Market on the Terrace where it is possible to buy organic products directly from the farmers). As almost any variety of fruit is imported, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't make such a big difference buying apples, pears and oranges from Italy or Spain, when it's winter, rather than plums and peaches from South Africa or New Zeeland, where at the same time of the year it's summer (well, actually, New Zeeland is a bit faraway, that means longer travel, higher cost, bigger impact on the environment).
As a consequence of this, while in Italy in January I would have made an apple cake, here in Dubai I made a plum cake, a wholesome, simple plum cake perfect for breakfast and afternoon tea. It can also be served, lightly warmed and with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, as a light dessert at the end of a meal.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Beetroot "hummus"

Beetroot "hummus"

Hummus is an amazing Middle Eastern creation, a delicious spread never missing at any Levantine table but also popular - and rightly - across the world.
Hummus is an Arabic word meaning chickpeas, and in fact the main ingredient of this dip is boiled and mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. And this "original", classic version is really very good! But, starting from the most simple of the recipes for hummus, it is possible to create almost infinite possible versions, adding spices, herbs or other ingredients or modifying the proportions of the basic ingredients or also, in the most extreme variations, not even using chickpeas. At the moment, one of my favorite interpretations of hummus is exactly of one these alternative versions, where is used beetroot (boiled or baked) instead of chickpeas. Plus the same ingredients as the basic hummus recipe: tahini, a paste made of sesame seeds - a staple of the Middle Eastern cuisine- which adds a lovely nutty flavor; a bit of olive oil (better if extra-virgin) to make the spread moist; lemon juice for a sour balance and garlic which adds a pungent flavor.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Grilled cauliflower with tomato, dill and capers

Grilled cauliflower with tomato, dill and capers

I eat lots of vegetables, every day. I like almost any kind of veggies and enjoy having them in several different ways: raw in salads, boiled. steamed, roasted, sauted as a side dish, with pasta or rice or other grains, in soups, in quiches ... in short, I eat some kind of veggies at every single meal (except breakfast). For this reason I like to try and create always new recipes containing vegetables and also alternate during the week different varieties of seasonal products. Among all the vegetables I already know - in fact there are some that I have never tried or cooked by myself, because they are not farmed or available in Italy - I have some favorites, that I could eat every day (to name a few, tomato, green salad, broccoli, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, and others). But cauliflower doesn't belong to this group. I can't say I don't like it (actually there are only few types of vegetables that I really don't like so far), but I find it a bit tough, so I do not prepare it very often.
But considering that cauliflower is in season (go to The Farmer Market on the Terrace for a fresh local, organic product) and that it contains many nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals) which are so important for our health and well-being, I try to include it in my rotation and prepare it in some appetizing way.
I recently made Grilled broccoli with chile and garlic from  "Ottolenghi The Cookbook" and I liked much the flavor added to the vegetable by the grilling treatment, so I wanted to try a recipe for cauliflower (from the same book) using the same cooking technique. And I did well. The boiled then grilled cauliflower, mixed with other flavorful ingredients in a unusual combination, was a good surprise: an healthy, tasty and seasonal side dish which goes particularly well with chicken or turkey dishes.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Jam crostata (tarte) with spelt and olive oil crust

Jam crostata with spelt and olive oil crust


Happy new year everyone! I wish you all the best for the just welcomed 2015 and hope that you enjoyed the festive season, whether you spent this time of the year with your loved ones, your friends, never met before people or even on your own.
Christmas of 2014 was my real first Christmas in Dubai; last year, in fact, I had recently arrived and spent most of the Christmas period relocating from the residence where we stayed for about two months to the apartment where we are living now; and the 31st of December was the day when we actually moved to our apartment... I can say it was a peculiar Christmas. This year, on the contrary, we had a more "normal" Christmas - even if anyway much different than the kind of Christmas I was used to when living in Italy (where Christmas mainly meant gathering with my family in my home village, eating my mom's traditional recipes - I misses them this year - and having a rest from work). This year we decorated a Christmas tree, part of my husband's family came to Dubai and spent the Christmas period with us, my son enjoyed for the first time in his life the experience of finding and opening the presents left for him by Santa (or whoever on his behalf) under the Christmas tree, we appreciated some of the many different things that can be done in this city during the festive season and we enjoyed the lovely weather spending time and dining outside (our guests appreciated this much more then me and my family....). I enjoyed this time very much. And I also had the chance to go around the city as a tourist, which I like very much.