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!
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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!

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

5 Minute Vegan Mayonnaise

vegan_mayonnaiseMost of the time, while I am looking for vegan recipe on-line, I give up trying. Whether for bizarre ingredient (some time very expensive one) or very long and complicated procedure ( do this, then one hour resting in the fridge, then blabla) I choose to simply don’t eat these things. But this, this is so easy and quick, and honestly taste much better than regular mayo, I couldn’t believe it! Furthermore, it won’t become unstable, it is dumb proofed.

Note: you’ll need an hand-blender

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 100 ml soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ lemon juice
  • pepper (optional)

1. In large and high glass, put 200 ml sunflower oil + 100 ml soy milk + ½ teaspoon mustard powder. Blend until the two liquid are uniform.

2. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and mix again for max 2 minute. And you have it. If it is still liquid, try to add just a tiny amount of extra oil.This can happen because not all lemons have the same amount of juice. I like to add some black pepper, but it is up to you :)

Buon Appetito!

No-effort Vegan Parmigiana

parmigianaI’ve been always cheating on parmigiana recipe. Vegan or original recipe, I do not want to spend hours frying or roasting eggplants. Of course, it tastes slightly different, lighter I would say. But in 30 minutes it is ready to go and healthier. The tricks are very easy: cut very thin your eggplants and make a maximum of three layer, better only two. I’ve never find the need of put eggplants under salt and press, have you?

Note: You’ll need a sheet of baking-paper

Time: 30 minutes cooking + 10 minutes preparation

Ingredients:   [6 portions]

  • 2 eggplant
  • 500 m (1 pack) of tomatoes passata
  • vegan soy-based prosciutto/mortadella ( what you find on offer :) )
  • vegan cheese (optional, if costs too much, screw it!)
  • salt & pepper
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • fine breadcrumbs (as required)

1. Wash and cut eggplants very thin, almost 5 mm thick.

2. In a lasagna tray, or any backing tray you have on hand, lay a sheet of baking paper. Put the first layer of eggplants: avoid to overlay them on each other and salt them.

3. Cover the eggplants with the tomatoes passata. Use a spoon to spread it even.

4. Add pepper and oregano. Put a layer of vegan prosciutto and cheese, if you have it.

5. Repeat the layer: 1. eggplants 2. salt  3.tomatoes passata 4.oregano and pepper

6. For the last layer: spread some fine breadcrumbs all over and some olive oil. In this way you’ll have some kind of soft-crust on it. Cook for 30 minutes at 200° both up and down heat.

Wait a little bit before serving, when parmigiana is too hot it is easy to fall apart and become a mess (prooved by personal experience >.< ). Buon appetito!

Croutons Salad

bread_saladThe are two things right now that can give me some happiness: cooking and sleeping. Cheering myself up with some colorful salad. Buon appetito!

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:   [8 portions]

  • 4 slices toast bread
  • 500 gr cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 cucumber
  • 15 olives (without pit)
  • fresh parsley
  • olive oil (generous amount)
  • salt & pepper
  • some lettuce leaves as base

1. First focus on pepper: pre-heat a nonstick pan, wash and cut your peppers and let them roast without oil until they get some tender but they are still crunchy.

2. While your peppers are on the pan, wash and cut the other veggies: cucumber ( I leave the skin on for this recipe), cherry tomatoes, red onions and olives. Toss everything in a bowl and season with pepper,fresh parsley, olive oil and salt.

3. Cut the slices of toast bread in small cubes and fry them in another pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Wait until he oil is frizzling before tossing the bread in. After 1-2 minutes flip them to the other side.Be careful, those small cubes burn easily! Lay them on a plate with kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.. Note: don’t add the croûtons on your salad till few minutes before serving, otherwise they will loose texture by absorbing the tomatoes juice!

4. Let the peppers cool down completely before adding them to the bowl. I usually move everything on a big serving plate, covered with some roman lettuce and croûtons on the very top, as in the picture. It is very scenic!

Handmade Gnocchi ~ Recipe

gnocchiOnly two ingredients for this gnocchi. They are very filling and delicious. You can boil potatoes the day before and smash them, keep them in the fridge and then make gnocchi shape the next day, as I do when I have people coming over. It is much easier though if you just smash the potatoes when they are still hot and mix them with flour right after, they stick together easier and quicker. Anyway, I tried both ways, and they come out as good! Freezing them it is not possible, unfortunately they loose their texture.

How to serve them:

This is a typical north-Italy dish and it can be served in many ways. What I personally love the most, is with just knob of butter, melted with some black pepper,sage and Parmesan cheese on top. I prefer it because it emphases the taste of potatoes and it is not over-powering. You can also have them served with ragù (click here for recipe).

Time: 1 hour and ½ preparation + 10 minutes cooking

Ingredients:   [8 big portions]

  •  1kg potatoes
  • 400 gr white flour
  • salt

1, Boil the potatoes in salted water. There is no need to remove the skin, it will remain trapped inside the potatoes masher.

2. When they are tender (check with fork, around 40 minutes after), smash them with an old-style potatoes masher. Taste them, if it is needed, add more salt, which usually happens.

4. Put some extra flour on your clean table surface and start working your potatoes with 400 gr of white flour until you’ll have  a compact texture, enough to create a mass. See the picture below.

gnocchi025. In the meanwhile spread a clean tea-towel on your table and cover it with some flour, as in the picture, in order to prevent your gnocchi to get sticked on each other.

6. With a knife, cut a small quantity from your mass. Now go back to your childhood and model it to obtain the shape of quite long worm. With a knife, cut it in smaller pieces, almost 3 cm long. Be sure to add extra flour on your table if they get sticky. While you’re making them put them on the tea-towel to rest.

7. Cooking process: Use an extra-large pot to bring salted water to boil. Add small quantities of them, not all together, otherwise they will stick on the bottom of your pot or even worse, they lose their shape and become one huge gnocco. They are cooked, as soon as they float on water surface again. Use a small colander to pull them out and keep cooking in the same pot all the other gnocchi left.

Buon appetito!

PS: I want to add a funny and unrelated information: in very informal Italian language we use the word ‘gnocca/o’ to point a sexy/attractive woman or man out: ‘Che gnocca!’ XD