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!

 

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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!!!

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

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!

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