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 ‚Äď ¬†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¬į.

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¬†¬ĺ 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!

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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 ‚Äď 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 220¬ļ/¬†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¬†220¬ļ, 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 ‚Äď 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!

 

 

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!!!

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

Potatoes Pur√®e ~ Family Recipe

pur√®eWho doesn’t love smashed potatoes?They are not the lightest side dish, but they taste amazing. This recipe is my father’s, it’s light and delicate. It is perfect to be served not only with meat, but also with fish. Be prepared to the fact, that once you get used to fresh pur√®e, you won’t be able to eat the pre-cooked one sold in the supermarket.

One trick: you can always boil potatoes with the skin: when you smash them, the skin get trapped in potatoes masher and doesn’t pass through.

Time:  1 hour preparation + 15 min cooking

Ingredients:  [ 4 portions]

  • 700 gr boiled potatoes
  • 50 gr grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 glasses milk
  • 2 spoons butter
  • pepper, salt, fresh parsley,nutmeg

1. Boil the potatoes until they are soft. You can use normal pots or, if you own it, a pressure cooker.

2. Smash the potatoes directly inside a pot. Add 2 spoons of butter, with a medium heat, starts add one by one the milk glasses. Use a whisk to stir.

3. Add slowly Parmesan cheese, pepper, small amount of salt. When you see the first bubble, it’s ready. Add some fresh parsley.

Once it cools down a little, it will be denser, don’t worry!

Buon appetito!

Snow peas with tomatoes sauce

snow_peaThis kind of peas are rare to find in my island, but in other Italian region, for example Lazio, are quite common. My uncle lives in Rome and used to cook them for me.This is the easiest way to make them, you can serve like this as side-dish or cook some pasta together. I looked around to see what kind of nutritional properties they have; apparently, they come from the family of peas, but even better, here you can eat the entire pod skin, which contains a lot of goodies in!

You can boil them first, and after you drained them, finish some minutes cooking in the pan. Or, you can be just lazy as I am, using one pan and not boiling them.

Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:  4 portions

  • 500 gr fresh snow peas
  • 1 big onion
  • 4 fresh tomatoes or 250 gr peeled tomatoes in a can
  • pepper, salt
  • basil
  • olive oil

1. Peel the onion and wash it together with snow peas under cold water.

2. Cut finely the onion. Heat some olive oil in a pan with high hedges. When it’s hot enough, let the onion becomes gold.

3. Add the snow peas cut in half (in this way they get quicker cooked and also easier eaten) and peeled tomatoes can. Otherwise, boil some water and sink the tomatoes in for 5 minutes. The skin will crack and you can easily remove it and add them in the pan.

4. Cook until snow peas are tender, around 30 minutes with a lid on. Add salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil.

Buon appetito

Friend’s wedding in Sicily

Before Christmas, one of my best friend got married. It was an amazing ceremony, as well an amazing dinner. She celebrated in Acireale, a town close to Catania. Even if was December, it was a sunny day and quite warm. I really wanted to share some pictures, since it has been an important and intense day for me.Etna

This picture above I took on the bus approaching Catania. That big volcano is called ‘Etna’ and it is the most active one in Italy. It is not dangerous as more silent ones, and it’s really full of paths and ski chalat.

cathedreal_acirealeThe cathedral in Acireale is astonishing, so opulent and elegant. My friend’s flower decoration were little roses white and red. She had a classical romantic dress and her husband was so fascinating as an English lord!..and yes also their cute-pie dog was there, whose name is ‘Sally’.

acireale_weddingAnd let’s focus on food. After wedding, all young people went to cheers in a pub with a lot of beer,and, after the photo section, we had party at Parco dei Principi, in Zafferana Etnea, which is a little village on Etna’s side.

As soon as the bride and the groom arrived, we had a huge cocktail section with different finger food option, of which I completely forgot to take picture because I was starving so much that I assaulted the buffet table. We had a wide range of regional cheese, Italian Prosciutto Cotto  freshly cut in front of us, together with some Focaccia-bread, cheese rapped by Speck grilled at the time. Then we moved inside the proper accommodation room, it was very modern and minimal adorned. We have two main starters, as you can see below. Bresaola with a fine crunchy bread made with hulled wheat, with and orange sauce and some salad. After that, a mix of three other appetizers: fried ricotta meatball, mini soufflé with porcini mushrooms and a  little roll of bacon and puff pastry.

sicilian_wedding01And yes, I was already full because I really went too crazy during the happy hour….but I didn’t give up. I wanted to try everything out. My favorite appetizer was the mini souffl√©, delicate taste.

sicilian_wedding02 As first meal we had Risotto with porcini mushrooms and pistachio; and ravioli fulled with green fresh herbs, with handamade squash and double cream salsa.Second main course was a Tris with roasted potatoes as side, a calf meat roll with almonds and pistachio inside( my favorite), along with local pork roast-beef with fresh tomatoes. sicilian_wedding03And no, it’s not my fault: the mariage cake was huge and I couldn’t fit it in one picture. Before the cake, we had a typical Sicilian dessert with fruits called “semifreddo alle mandorle“. I would describe it as a sorta of ice cream, with a different consistency, made with almonds and almond milk. The cake, which is usually very disappointing ina marriage was fresh and super soft. And to close, I add a picture of my husband and I, happy and full. But none stopped us to dance like crazy!

wedding_sicily

Autumn Tea Selection 2014

herbst_teaI absolutely love black tea, but I also enjoy a green tea during early evening. As a south Italian girl, we don’t have dinner before 8 p.m. and also my hubby always comes home quite late after work and gym; so I get quite hungry and “fill” the growling stomach with green tea. I am currently enjoy jasmine tea. I love it, it smells amazing and this one has whole flowers in it. I bought this one very inexpensively at one local Chinese supermarket¬† for 2,50 ‚ā¨¬† for 120 gr of product. Accordantly to the packages information, it is produced in Republic of China by FUJIAN TEA & EXPORT.CO. I am not sure about how much “fair trade” is this one though.

For black teas instead, I am enjoying THE RUSSE from the brand terre d’Oc. Their policy and their story is clearly explained¬† as you can read directly from their website http://www.terredoc.com/english/Default.aspx,¬† .My husband brought me this nice tin from France, that I will re-use for sure and I won’t throw it away. It would be such a pity!According to their description is an Organic citrus flavored black tea. The lemon doesn’t prevail too much, it’s a very gentle touch. I love it so much that I am scared to finish it up! It’s rich and delicate at the same time, but it’s impossible to find in Germany.

I am also drinking other two kinds of black tea ( honestly one is already gone), both of them I got from this tea-shop in Dresden “TEE-W√úRFELhttp://www.tee-wuerfel.de/catalog/index.php.

One is called Rosenliebe: black tea,with strawberries leaves,strawberries pieces and aroma. It ha a very sweet smell, but the taste it’s definitely strong as an Assam quality. And the one already¬† gone was called ” Sir Earl Grey“, which you can guess was an earl grey with¬† small dried parsley leaves and carrots in it. I was very suspicious at the beginning,¬† but was amazing. The only this that I really don’t understand why this shop needs to add a”mysterious aroma”in their blend.

In closing, just one word to describe Gl√ľckstag‘s blend- always from the same shop TEE-W√úRFEL -: yuch!!! it’s an infusion of fruits: mango, peach,apple, papaya, pineapple, apple and lemon skin. The only problem is that I can’t stand all the sugar added in it. It doesn’t really say how much is¬† added, but for my personal taste¬† it is over too much. If you are wondering why you bought it;then, it was a lovely present of my husband, and he really didn’t read what was inside. I am thinking of trying to make a cold drink with it, maybe with some extra ice and water all the sugar in it could be acceptable.

Cream Sauce/Bechamel Recipe

bechamelTime: 20-30 min

Ingredients:

  • 1l milk
  • 100 gr butter
  • 100 gr grated parmesan cheese
  • 100 gr white flour

1. Heat the butter and let it melt: before it starts to fry add the white flour ( better if it is been previously sifted) and mix them quickly with a whisk to avoid any lump.

2. Add the milk and little by little grated Parmesan cheese; keep stirring  with a very low heat until it becomes a dense cream. Better if you have some music on while doing this :)

Buon appetito!