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!

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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

Stuffed Peppers with Rice

stuffed_pepperI cook often stuffed pepper because it is a good solution to have a main dish and side dish all together. For this reason, I tried out many different ways to make them special every time. This is the easiest and quickest version recipe. Serve them room temperature or a littler warmer. This is one of those dish which is tastier the next day, if you know what I mean.

Time: 20 min + 45 min cooking in the oven

Ingredients:  for 6 portions

  • 5 red and yellow peppers
  • 100 gr Parmesan
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • 150 gr white rice ( short grain)
  • 250 gr peas (frozen or in a can)
  • dry parsley
  • pepper,olive oil, salt

Option 2:

When I want to make this dish super complete, 3 in 1 effects (as my dishwasher tabs are supposed to be…) I prepare what in Italy is called ” ragù in bianco“, or white ragù. Basically just follow my ragù recipe (click here) skipping step 3 and 4 . Simply mix it with the rice and follow the rest of the recipe I am posting below.

1.Bring water to boil in a pot and cook your rice, but not completely. Drain it 3-4 minutes before the total amount of minutes suggested in the package. It will continue to cook in the oven.

2.While your rice is cooking, cut the top of peppers, get rid of seeds, cut them in half when they are small, or more for bigger peppers.Wash them, salt them inside and let them drain a little water out.

3. Mix in a bowl rice, Parmesan, pepper, parsley,peas or ragù in bianco. Put peppers with the concave part facing up in a baking tray. Fill all shells with a spoon. Spread breadcrumbs on them and olive oil to make the top part crispy and gold.

Cook for 45 minutes at 180°c

Let them cool down and.. Buon appetito!

Russian Salad ~ Recipe

russian_saladIn Italy we call this recipe ‘Russian salad’, but now that I live in Germany I found out that here it is called just ‘potatoes salad’. However, the taste is quite different.  We use to make this dish as starter during holidays, for example for Christmas or New Years Eve, because it is easy to bring to someone’s else home and because it is usually presented scenic decorated with tons of pickles and more mayo on the top. I saw many time this salad adorned as porcupine, with carrots stick as spines.

This is my version of this recipe: the common recipe among Italians include also tuna and more mayonnaise. I like to put also a lot of fresh basil and one green apple inside, to give a more “summer” touch and freshness to the dish. Just adapt the recipe to your own taste :))

Little advice: this recipe is good and convenient to be prepared one day before being served.

Time: prep 1 hour + at least 2 hours resting

Ingredients:  for  15 portions

  • 1 ½ boiled potatoes
  • 1 fresh cucumber
  • 1 green apple
  • 250 gr frozen peas
  • 250 gr ( 1 jar) pickled carrots
  • 250 gr ( 1 jar) pickled celery
  • fresh basil
  • pepper, salt
  • 1 tube light mayonnaise

1. Let’s start peeling and washing the potatoes. Bring them to boil til they’re fully cooked. Boil also your frozen peas. You can always use a can of peas, but I find the taste not the same.

2. In the meanwhile, wash your pickles to get rid of extra vinegar in it. Peel, wash and cut in tiny cubes the fresh cucumber and the green apple. Mix everything together in a big bowl with mayonnaise and little pepper.

3. When your potatoes and peas cooled down for a while, add also them together with a lots of fresh basil leaves. Be carefully while stiring not to smash too much your potatoes.

Keep in fridge for at least two hours. It always better to take it out at least one hour before your guests come in.

Buon appetito!

Lentil Soup ~ Recipe

lentils_soupI cook lentils every week; they are a good resource for many nutrition components and it’s a good way to reduce the quantity of meat in our diet. When I don’t have enough time, I just put 1 carrots  and one onion inside the pot without chopping them, they release anyway all the flavor.

In Italy, it is tradition to eat them for New Year’s Eve, right before the midnight. We say that lentils bring good luck and money. We also wear red underwear for good luck, but that’s another story!

Time: prep: 8 hour soaking in cold water (better the night before for the next morning) + 1 hour cooking

Ingredients:  for  6 portions

  • 500 gr lentil (good quality one: I prefer red lentils or small ones)
  • 2 big carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tbs concentrate tomatoes sauce
  • 2 laurel oak leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 stick fresh celery
  • olive oil, pepper, salt
  • rosemary

1.Peel and wash onions and carrots and mix them in the electric chopper or cut finely with a knife.

2. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a big pot and, when it starts frizzling, add carrots and onions. Let them fry, until they are golden.

3. Add your lentils, laurel oak leaves, rosemary, 1 tbs concentrated tomatoes, 1 stick fresh celery ( so it is easier to remove) and two big glasses of water, until the water cover all lentils. I cook them with low heat, with a lid on, for 45 minutes. Then I check them to see if they are ready. I add pepper and salt, when they are near to the end of being fully cooked.

and… Buon appetito!