Italian Custard

We give this custard different names: ‘yellow cream’ (crema gialla), ‘pastry cream’ (crema pasticciera), it is one of our basic crème, we use it for many many recipes, and if you ever traveled around Italy, you know that it is a national thing, from North to South, withno exception. We have it inside our breakfast croissant; as you may know, Italians have a sweet tooth when comes to breakfast! It is used mainly as a filling (for pies for example), but an easy and yummy way to serve it, it is in a glass just with some fruits on top (typically strawberry) at the end of a dinner with friends or family.

I hope you will enjoy it, as much, as Italians do :)

Time: 20 min + cool down

Ingredients: 

  • 500 ml (17 oz) milk
  • 2 yolks
  • 2 spoons sugar
  • 2 or 3 spoons flour or starch
  • grated lemon skin or vanilla beans
 1. In a pot, with the help of a whisk, start combining flour and milk, gently pouring in small quantities. When you see no further lumps, grate the lemon skin (or vanilla beans) on it and put on the stove, on medium heat.
2. In a small bowl, divide yolks from the white part. Mix the yolks with 2 spoons of sugar with the help of a whisk.
3. Add the yolks+sugar mix to the milk: keep blending, and blending. till the miracle happens and from liquid it becomes a cream!
Just keep in mind,that after you turn the stove off and let it cool down, it will become even thicker. If you are not using it right of way, a thin film will appear on the surface. You can avoid it in two different ways: either cover the pot with some wrapping paper or you can sprinkle some sugar on the top of the cream.
Buon appetito!
Advertisements

Very Easy chocolate vegan Muffin

 

vegan_muffin

Five minute preparation, amazing taste. I really needed a recipe quick and easy, without any milk :) Oh just to tell, this particular recipe passed both my mother and mother in law prejudges on vegan stuff, they simply didn’t notice any differences with my regular ones.

Time: 30 min –  5 min. preparation

Ingredients

  • 150 gr plain soy yogurt
  • 110 gr organic brown sugar
  • 100 ml sunflower oil
  • 60 ml water
  • 170 gr spelt flour
  • 16 gr baking powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla flavor or vanilla sugar
  • 20 gr cacao powder (unsweetened)

1. Pre-heat you oven at 200°.

2.In a bowl mix all ingredients ( no particolar order needed) with a whisk till everything is mixed well and without lumps.

(3.)I use silicon muffin-pan, so I don’t need to grease them, if you don’t, make sure to do this passage :)

4. With a ice-cream scoop I fill ¾ of them and cook in the oven for 30 min. No more, or they will burn or become dry!

Buon appetito and happy weekend to everyone!

Farinata, italian chickpeas focaccia

Alternative and healthy bread, very good focaccia, especially for those who are gluten intolerant or have problem to digest yeast, because it has none!! This is another Italian recipe, typical from Liguria, but also in other areas of Piemonte, (both region are in north Italy).

farinata_ceci

Time: 30 min – 1 hours preparation

Ingredients: 

  • 250 gr chickpeas flour
  • 700 ml water
  • 1 stick fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 glass extravergin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1.In bowl filled with 700 ml water (room temperature) with the help of a whisk slowly pour the chickpeas flour and keep stiring till every lump is dissolved. Add a stick of fresh rosemary. Let the mix rest for at least 1 hour.

2.Preheat your oven, very high temperature 220º/ 428 f.

3.Always stiring with a whisk, add half glass of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper. I also cut in small pieces the rosemary. Don’t worry, the mixture has to be very liquid, you did nothing wrong.

4.In a lasagna tray or other quite large baking tray covered with waxed paper ( so it would be easier to remove the focaccia later) pour the liquid mixing.

5. Cook for 25 min at 220º, until it become crispy and golden-brown on the top. If it is not there yet, put your oven in ‘grill mode’ only from the up side, for other 5 minutes.

Traditionally, some extra salt and pepper are grained on the top of it, while it is still warm, but I don’t find healthy and necessary, it is already very very tasty.

Buon appetito!

 

Sicilian “Caponata”

This recipe takes quite long time, as all very good stuff do. But, you can keep it in your refrigerator for quite long. I remember when was a kid in my grandma kitchen, I used to hide under the table scared of her splattering oil. She had this tiny and old kitchen, and yet, she was sitting always there. She had other rooms of course, but as far as I can remember, she was always in that tiny steamy kitchen, always up to something, with some soap opera on her tiny old tv, always on. As a matter of fact, my grandma won’t know, but I too spend most of my day in my less small kitchen with music or youtube video or rai.replica on.

caponata

Time: 35 min – 2 hours preparation

Ingredients: for 4 portions

  • 3 aubergine
  • 2 onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 80 gr green olives (without pit)
  • 40 gr capers (much better the one with dry brining)
  • 30 gr pin nut
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 3 tomatoes (or a can chopped salsa tomatoes)
  • 100 ml white Italian vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 l frying oil (sunflower is better)
  • salt and pepper

1. First wash and dry with a kitchen towel your eggplants, cut them in cubes and put them on a strainer. Spread some salt on them and let them rest for at least 1 hour. You can also put an heavy pot upon them, in order to get rid of more bitter liquid. This method is always used to get rid of excess water during frying process. Otherwise they get mushy and not crispy.

2.While the eggplants take a nap, I usually get forward with the preparation of the other ingredient. a) I cut finely the onion b) wash capers and olive, cut them in small circles and leave some whole. c) wash and cut the red pepper and celery.

3. In an old pan bring the sunflower oil to right temperature( it takes usually 10-15 minutes or so medium heat).You know the right temperature, if you toss one cube of eggplant and immediately some small bubbles appear all around it. When they get some golden color, you get them out of oil and lay on some kitchen paper to absorb the excesses oil.

4. In another big pan put 3 tbs spoon olive oil and cook onions for 2 minutes.

5, Add a pressed clove garlic, red peppers, 80 gr green olives and celery. Add some salt and cook for 5 minutes. Then add 40 gr capers, 30 gr pine nuts and tomatoes without seeds or the one from a can without the preserving water, cook for other 4 minutes high temperature.

6. Add the fried eggplants, together with 100 ml white vinegar and one big tablespoon sugar. Cook for other 5-6 minutes medium temperature.

7. Now check, and eventually add, salt and pepper and let the whole thing cool down. It is usually served room temperature, better on some wholegrain bread.

and now I am so hungry… Buon appettito!

 

 

Potatoes “alla pizzaiola”

 

potatoes_alla_pizzaiola

These kind of potatoes are usually available in special places in Sicily called “pollerie”, they are gastronomical stores specialized in cooking chickens in long spits,that slowly rotates about their axes and make the skin crispy but remains juicy inside. For around 8-10 € you can get a whole chicken  as well as some sides, either french-fries or these potatoes; and usually, for half price, half chicken. My other Grandmother was an absolutely fan of them, and often ordered half for both me and her on our Saturday-nights together.

Time: 1 hour – 20 minutes preparation

Ingredients: for 4 portions

  • 6 potatoes (medium size)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 can chunks tomatoes
  • 3 tbs e.v. olive oil
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper

1. Peal and clean your potatoes. Cut them very fine. Do the same with the two onions

2. Grease a large casserole with olive oil. Put a first layer of potatoes and remember to salt them. On top of potatoes add: onions, pepper, sprinkle some oregano.

3. Filter the liquid part from the tomatoes chunks in your can, add only those. Drizzle some drops of olive oil on top. You can always use fresh tomatoes instead, but not the seeds-central part, which would be too watery.

4.Go on and complete with 1 or 2 others layers, until you’ve used all your potatoes slices up.

5. Cook for 1 hour at 160°c .

Buon appetito to everyone!

Artichokes by my Grandma <3

artichokes

My grandma used to have a huge pot, perfect to cook a lot of artichokes, I don’t own one, so I can unfortunately only make 4 at time! In Sicily we usually have artichokes around Easter time, we grill them in our bbq parties or we stuff them. Still, another option is to simply boil them, and make some “intingolo”: a mix of olive oil, garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and take each single leaf, sink them in your mixture, and eat it.

Time: 30 minuts cooking + 30 min preparation

Ingredients:

  • 4 artichokes
  • olive oil
  • anchovies paste (if you want to make it vegan, skip it)
  • fine bread crumbs (~150 gr.)
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pepper, salt
  • 3 lemons

1. First we need to clean our artichokes:

a) Remove the external leaves, I usually take two layers off. Doing so you are going to eat only the soft leaves, which are easier to digest.

b) Cut the bottom part off, in order to let our artichoke able to sit on his butt and stay vertically in our pot later.

c) Rub half a lemon all around, so the leaves won’t start oxidation process and won’t change their color.

d) There are different kind of artichokes, but most of them have pointy spike ends: use some scissors to remove the external ones. If you’re lucky you can find the variety without them, but this passage doesn’t really take long!

e) with your thumbs try to open the leaves gently.

f) put them inside a bowl with water,parsley and 3-4 half lemons.

2. For the stuffing part we need to warm  a generous amount of olive oil in a pan. Add two tablespoons anchovies paste and press a clove of garlic; with the help of a wood tablespoon, mix them together.

3. Add the fine bread crumbs and pepper. Let them get some color – around 5 minutes. Turn off, add a generous amount of chopped fresh parsley and half glass of water. The crumb mixture should have a moister texture.

4. Go back to your artichokes, gently squeeze them and place them on a plate with head facing down, so the remaining water will fall down. One by one, with a teaspoon, put your stuffing bread between the leaves. Don’t panic, it has to be messy and not perfect!

5. Get a large pot, place the artichokes on their bottom. The pot needs to be the right size to help them stay steady vertically, but not too squeezed.  Add carefully one glass water + 3 teaspoons olive oil to the bottom of your pot, pay attention do not to get your artichoke-heads wet.

6. Cook for 30 minutes, always with the lid on, at slow-medium heat.

Buon appetito to everyone!!!

Brigadeiros ~ Brazilian sweets

obrigaderoMy hubby has Brazilian roots, his mom was born in Rio, and so his grandmother. His Grandma – called also “Pigrissa” in english ‘sloth’, since she is very slow moving, is a wonderful cook. She makes these little sweets for holidays and birthdays.  One thing is sure: Brazilian cook is not light and good for a diet :P

Time: 30 minuts + 10 min cooling down

Ingredients:  30 pieces

  • 4 spoons cacao powder
  • 2 spoon butter
  • 1 can condensed milk (397 gr)
  • sugar decoration of your choice

1. In a pot, put the whole condensed milk can, 2 spoon of butter, 4 spoons of cacao powder ( better if you sift the cacao powder before, to avoid clump)

2. Then turn the radio on, because it takes at least 20 minutes, stirring  till it becomes a very thick cream, like a modeling clay.

3. Let it cool off completely. Use some butter on your hands and make little balls. Roll the ball inside a sugar decoration of your choice. I used also shredded coconut here to mix the color a little bit. They remain good for at least 5-6 days inside the refrigerator.

Buon appetito :)

Risotto alla Milanese

risotto_milanese‘Risotto alla milanese’ is a classic, you cannot get wrong with it. I like to personalize it with sun-dried tomatoes, honestly I am obsessed with them. My sweet nonna used to make them in her terrace for all summer long, every morning she waked up and turn them upside down and made sure no bugs were disturbing them, then she liked to put them in sterilized jar with olive oil for the winter.

Time: 30 min

Ingredients:  [4 person]

  • 350 gr rice for risotto
  • 1 onion
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 spoon of Parmesan cheese
  • 4-5 sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 saffron bag (powder)

1. Put a little bit of butter in a pot, when it starts frying add a fine chopped onion. At the same time, fill another pot with water and brings it to boil. You can decide to use plain water (lighter and healthier choice) or to put a bullion stock.

2. After the onion sweats, put the rice, toast it and add a glass of white wine.

3. Once the wine is all dried off, start adding a scoop of boiling water.  Wait for the liquid to evaporate an keep adding water spoon by spoon till the rice becomes softer.

4.  When you see the rice is almost done, season it with pepper, Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes cut in small pieces and a spoon of water in which the saffron powder will be dissolved . This will give this wonderful bright yellow color and make the color distribution uniform. Adjust with salt and cook for other 5 minutes.

I decorated with some parsley and served hot. Buon appetito!

 

Salva