Archive | March, 2014

Insalata di Songino, Noci e Uva Sultanina (Songino, Nuts and Raisins Salad)

31 Mar

This colorful salad can be either a great side dish for a main course, although the addition of goat’s cheese makes this salad a perfect wholesome, standalone meal, too. I love it after exercising at the gym: it is light and nutritious. The color of nuts and raisins contrast with the bright green of the lettuce and add an exotic flavor to this dish. The dressing , sweet and spicy, is prepared with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard. This mix of flavors goes very well with the taste of songino lettuce.

Songino also known as lamb’s lettuce, has a slight sweetish taste and numerous nutritional properties and health benefits. It is rich in vitamins (A, B and C ) and minerals (phosphorus , potassium, iron and magnesium). It also has diuretic and detox properties, so it is a great choice for cleaning out our bodies in preparation of the summer. Do not forget that nuts are very rich in vitamins (especially vitamin E), minerals and unsaturated fatty acids, therefore an healthy choice too!

Preparation time : 10 min. Servings: 4

Insalata songino

150 g (5.3 oz) lettuce salad
4 tablespoons walnuts
3 tablespoons raisins

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pinch of salt

1. In a small bowl prepare the dressing by mixing oil, vinegar, honey , mustard and salt
2. Wash thoroughly and dry the lettuce . This type of salad retains dirt easily, so it must be washed several times. Set aside
3. In a large bowl toss the lettuce, walnuts and raisins (keeping aside a tablespoon of each of these ingredients for garnish) with the dressing. Serve immediately. You can garnish with goat cheese cut into small pieces.

Note: The type of nut is purely personal. I suggest pecans, typical American nuts. They have an intense and buttery flavor, they are my favorite. When you taste pecans, you’ll want to replace walnuts in your diet with them in the future, I guarantee! – Paola



Focaccia di Recco

23 Mar

Focaccia di Recco is a delicious snack that can be enjoyed any time during the day. When we think about focaccia, we usually think about bread dough with yeast; instead the peculiarity of the focaccia di Recco is the lack of yeast! For this reason it is also good for people who are intolerant to this ingredient.

It takes its name from the town of Recco in the Ligurian Riviera di Levante. The dough is very simple, made ​with flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and water. The filling is stracchino or crescenza, a soft cow’s-milk cheese with a mild and delicate flavor. The name stracchino comes from the Italian word “stracca” meaning tired. This refers to the fact that the milk from the tired cows coming down in autumn from the alpine pastures, is richer in fat and it has a characteristic taste. The delicious combination of this dough and stracchino makes this preparation unique, a special treat for both adults and children. My kids love it for a quick lunch after school or for an afternoon snack. You can also serve it as a tasty appetizer with a glass of prosecco.

The history of focaccia di Recco is ancient and dates back to the third crusade. It was an affordable food when only simple ingredients were available. At the end of the 1800s it was added to the menu of the various local trattorie (rustic restaurant) as a special dish for the Day of the the Dead, celebrated on November 1st. Today it is enjoyed all year round and not just in Liguria!

Preparation time: 150 min . Cooking time : 10 min. Servings : 6 people

Focaccia di Recco

320 g (2 cups) Mannitoba flour
200 ml (1 scarse cup) water, room temperature
8 g (1 heapping teaspoon) salt
45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil (Extra virgin)
500 g (19 oz) stracchino or crescenza cheese

1. In a medium bowl combine water and oil, then dissolve salt
2. Place the flour in a large bowl, add the liquid. Start mixing with a fork incorporating the flour little by little, then mix with a wooden spoon until you obtain a smooth dough. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead (about 10 min.) with your hands until the mixture is uniform and elastic. Wrap in plastic paper and let it rest for about two hours at room temperature
3. Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll out with a rolling pin on a floured work surface trying to keep it as round as possible and pretty thin, about 1.5 cm. Now the hard part comes: you’ll have to pull the dough with your hands (floured) until it is almost transparent. It is important not to have holes in the dough, otherwise the cheese will come out when it bakes
4. Preheat oven to 230 °C (450 °F)
5. Grease a round baking pan (30 cm, 12 inch diameter) with olive oil and place a sheet of dough on it, cover with the cheese cut into pieces (not too small). Cover with the other sheet, sealing the edges well with your hands and pinching the surface 5 or 6 times. Brush the top with olive oil
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the surface is golden Serve hot. If there is any left which you can it heat it again in a hot oven for a few minutes. Paola

Gnocchi di Pane Raffermo (Stale Bread Dumplings)

12 Mar

This is a quick and easy recipe for gnocchi made with stale bread!

These bread dumplings, also called Zanzarelli, are an ancient food. They began to appear in the Renaissance banquets in Lombardy as a delicacy and were prepared with bread crumbs, milk and chopped almonds. The recipe that I am proposing belongs to my family’s culinary traditions. I remember that I prepared these delicious dumplings with my grandmother at least once a week, especially on Friday (the gnocchi day). This dish is very tasty and can satisfy the palates of lovers of sweet-savory combinations and spicy food. The recipe includes stale bread, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and grated Parmesan cheese. Once boiled, the dumplings are served with melted butter flavored with sage. The sage’s aroma gives a fragrant and delicate taste to this recipe. You can enjoy it as a first course or as main dish. These are an excellent alternative to the traditional potato dumplings (see post gnocchi di patate) and can also be an appetizing vegetarian dish containing, however, eggs.

Preparation time: 20 min. Cooking time: 1-2 min. Servings: 4


180 g (6.5 oz) stale bread
150 g (5 oz) raisins
140 g (5 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
160 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

60 grams (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
3 sage leaves

1. In a large bowl soak the bread with milk. Let stand for about 15 min. until the bread is completely softened
2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, soak the raisins in lukewarm water for 5 minutes
3. Squeeze the bread with your hands to completely eliminate milk. In a large bowl combine bread, Parmesan, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, strained raisins, egg and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth. The amount of flour should be adjusted after cooking a couple of dumplings as a test (See next point)
4. In a pot, bring plenty salted water to a boil. Drop in a small ball of dough (teaspoon-sized). Before cooking the entire amount of dough, I suggest you do a test with a couple of dumplings to see if the dough is set. The right dumpling should be firm but not hard and does not break into pieces in the water. If it breaks , you should add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and repeat the test.
5. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon as soon as it floats, about 1-2 min.
6. In a separate sauce pan melt the butter with sage, to give the flavor. Arrange gnocchi on a serving plate and toss with the flavored butter and grated Parmesan cheese.- Paola

Tortino con Patate e Scalogno (Potato and Shallot Pie)

3 Mar

An appetizing pie made ​​with potatoes, shallots and hard-boiled egg yolk to get a colorful, mimosa-like colorful effect. A different idea to celebrate Women’s Day on March 8th

This recipe is a simple, versatile and absolutely delicious one to enjoy either as an appetizer or as a main course accompanied by a fresh salad. The delicate but distinct flavor of shallots blends well with the starchy taste of potatoes. The addition of cream makes this pie velvety and inviting. The crumbled egg yolk is an additional decoration to create the mimosa effect and makes this pie perfect to celebrate Women’s social, economic ,and political achievements. This holiday was first celebrated in the United States in 1909 and arrived in Italy in 1922. The mimosa flower, with its intense and radiant color, was chosen as a symbol because it blooms in early March. The addition of boiled egg yolk is not essential and can be omitted, but this pie makes a savory version of the famous mimosa cake dessert.

Preparation time: 45 min.  Cooking time: 20-25 min.   Servings: 8

Tortino con patate e scalogno

800 g (28 oz) yellow potatoes, peeled
250 g (9 oz) shallots, finely sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
250 ml (1 cup)fresh cream
2 teaspoons oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
230 g (8 oz) puff pastry , round shape
5 hard-boiled eggs

Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 °F)
1. Peel potatoes, put them in a pot and cover with cold water. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes ( the cooking time depends on the size of the potatoes) until the potatoes are cooked, but not soft. Remove from the water and allow to cool
2. While potatoes cool, in a saucepan over medium heat, sauté shallots in olive oil, stirring occasionally until it is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes
3. In a bowl combine shallots, ​​potatoes (thinly sliced) and cream. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper
4. Roll out the pastry into a ceramic pie plate (diameter 23 cm, 9 inch) , pour in the vegetable mix
5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown
6. While the cake is cooking, prepare the hard-boiled eggs. Place the eggs in boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Cool. Remove the shell, cut in half, remove the yolk and crumble with your hands
7. Remove the pie from the oven. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Garnish with crumbled egg yolk and serve warm. – Paola

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