Archive | June, 2014

Sorbetto al Limone (Lemon Sorbet)

28 Jun

This is a perfect summer treat, refreshing and beautifully light. You can serve it either as a dessert or as a palate cleanser between meals. Sorbet traces back its origins from the Chinese in the VII A.C. The Greeks thought it was a nectar of the Gods, the Romans loved it, and still in the 21th century we are enjoying it!

Sorbet, also known in English as sherbet, is a frozen dessert prepared with sugar syrup flavored with any type of different fragrant fruit juices, fresh herbs (basil, mint for example), wine (champagne) and liqueur. The preparation is very easy and fast, the longer time is due to the freezing period. I would suggest to prepare it one day in advance and store it in the freezer. Sorbet should have a soft and smooth texture, so I add natural stabilizers to the recipe such carob seed flour and beaten egg white instead of chemicals and milk products like the mass production industry does. Carob seed flour is a natural thickening agent, rich with fibers, minerals and protein. Egg white is rich in protein too. They improve texture decreasing the freezing point.

Lemon sorbet is my favorite flavor, delicate and digestive. I love it as a dessert because it is something sweet to enjoy but at the same time light. I don’t feel guilty after eating it!

Preparation time: 50 min Cooling time: 8 hrs Servings: 10 people

Sorbetto limone

950 l (4 cups) water
650 g (3 cups+4 teaspoons) sugar
10 organic lemon, filtered lemon juice
2 organic lemon, zest
6 g (1 heaping teaspoon) carob seed flour
2 pasteurized egg whites, lightly whisked
10 organic lemons with thick rind, to prepare the shells
Lemon rind, shredded

1. Cool a steel bowl in the freezer for 30 min.
2. In a saucepan combine 630 g (3 cups) sugar and water, bring to boil over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to simmer. Add lemon zest. Remove from heat and cool completely. Filter out the zest from the sugar syrup
3. While syrup is cooling, prepare lemon shells. Cut off the top 1/3 of the lemon. Hollow out each lemon by using a grapefruit knife just inside the rind, circling the flesh. Remove juice and flesh with a spoon. If you have a fruit maker, you can use the pulp to prepare lemon juice. Make a slight shallow cut on the bottom of each lemon shells (being careful not to cut through to the inside of the lemon). This procedure will prevent it falling over when you serve it. Wrap shells in aluminium foil and store in the freezer. The frozen shell will prevent the sorbet from melting too quickly when you eat it
4. Mix 20 g (4 teaspoons) sugar and carob seed flour in a small bowl. Add ½ cup sugar syrup and mix with a whisk. Beat egg white in a separate bowl with an electric whisk
5. Pour the sugar syrup into the chilled bowl and stir in lemon juice and carob seed mixture. Add egg white and mix well. You can expect the egg white to separate somewhat from the lemon juice. That’s normal
6. For the final step, you can choose from two different methods: ice cream maker or freezer method. Ice cream method: Pour the mixture into ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Freezer method: Pour the mixture in a suitable container and store in the freezer for one hour. Remove and mix with a fork. Put in the freezer for at least three hours. Remove from the freezer, stir and put back in the freezer for another three- four hours. At this point, the sorbet should be ready. To give the sorbet a creamier texture, pop it in a blender for just a few seconds and then fill the lemon shells and freeze again for about 20 minutes. Decorate with shredded lemon rind. You can also let it thaw a little bit and serve in a flute with a straw.

Note: You can store the sorbet in the freezer for 3-4 days. -Paola

Strudel di Verdure (Vegetable Strudel)

24 Jun

When we think about strudel, we usually imagine the delicious pastry roll filled with apples, raisins and cinnamon, which is a traditional dessert of Trentino Alto Adige. The term derives from the German word “strudel” which means vortex; in fact, this stuffed roll, made with a very thin dough, is typical of the Italian regions that were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The version that I propose here uses a different filling: fresh seasonal vegetables, sautéed in olive oil and flavored with fresh mint. A touch of robiola (anItalian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family, (see focaccia di Recco) gives a creamy taste to this recipe. This tasty strudel is ideal as an appetizer or light vegetarian lunch. The preparation is quick and simple, and I recommend using puff pastry to speed things up. The traditional strudel dough is made of flour, oil and water and is pulled very thin, until it’s almost transparent; this is the secret and also the hardest part! You can also prepare the strudel in advance and then heat it in the oven a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Preparation time: 50 min.                    Servings: 6

strudel di verdure fetta

1 medium red onion
200 g (7 oz) zucchini, cut into julienne strips
200 peppers (7 oz), cut into julienne strips
200 g carrots (7 oz), peeled and cut into julienne strips
3 mint leaves, chopped
5 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin)
100 g (4 oz) robiola, soft cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
230 g (8 oz) puff pastry (disc)
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 180 ° C
1. In a pan sauté onion over medium-low, just until soft. Add carrots and peppers. After a few minutes (about 5) add zucchini, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5-7 min., Vegetables should be crunchy. Add mint. When done, drain the vegetables on paper towels to remove excess olive oil
2. Place the puff pastry disc on parchment paper. Spread with vegetable filling, leaving a border of about 5 cm (2 inches). Distribute pieces of the robiola cheese on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
3. Roll up the strudel and close the ends to seal in the stuffing. Brush with egg and bake on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for about 35-40 min. Remove from oven and let stand on a rack for a few minutes. Serve warm. Paola


14 Jun

A simple and Mediterranean recipe but definitely enjoyed all over the world.
Peperonata (Pay-pay-row-NAH-ta) is a summer dish, since peppers are in season from June to September. Fruit and vegetables are definitely more tasty and full of flavor when they are in season. In summer I really like doing my vegetable shopping at the market, all stands are overflowing with bright colors and fresh fragrance. Peperonata is a simple dish made with bell peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes, but it is very versatile; we can enjoy it as a side dish with meat (I love it with meatballs!), with fish such as cod, as an appetizer with toasted bread, or as a first course on pasta. I leave the choice to you! If you prefer a richer recipe, you can add some diced potatoes to the peppers. Instead, the Sicilian recipe adds toasted (in olive oil and garlic) bread crumbs before serving.

Another delicious summer recipe to enjoy with these vegetables is grilled pepper, a tasty appetizer or a side dish. Do not forget that peppers are very rich in water, about 90%, therefore they are an excellence choice for your summer diet.

Preparation time: 55 min. Cooking time: 50 min. Servings: 6

1.2 kg bell peppers of different colors, cut into 1.5 cm strips
350 g Tropea onions (red onions) peeled and thinly sliced

garlic cloves
400 g peeled plum tomatoes cut into small cubes

6 tablespoons of olive oil (extra-virgin)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon of dried chili pepper (optional)
Ground black pepper

1. Peel the onions, wash and cut into thin slices.
2. In a pan heat the oil olive over medium heat, add onions and garlic. Sauté over medium-low heat for about 15 min. turning a few times with a wooden spoon until onion is soft and translucent.
3. Wash the peppers under running water. Remove the stalk, cut in half, then remove seeds and filaments. Cut the peppers into strips (1.5 cm, about 1/2 inch thick). Combine with the onion and garlic. Cook covered over medium-low for 15 min. Remove the lid, add the tomatoes, chilli pepper (optional), salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well and cook for about 15 min. until peppers are tender.

Note: I suggest to buy bell peppers of medium size, firm and meaty. The onions that I use are the red onions of Tropea (a city of Calabria), they have a delicate and sweet flavor. Paola

Bruschetta al Pomodoro (Tomato Bruschetta)

8 Jun

Bruschetta (broo-SKAY-tah) is a perfect appetizer to serve with an aperitif; it’s fast and easy to prepare. The ingredients are simple: bread, tomatoes, olive oil (extra-virgin of course), basil and garlic, but the result is wonderfully flavorful. The type of bread that I use is homemade bread from Puglia or Tuscany. The quality of tomatoes is very important; they should be mature, sweet and full of flavor. They should also have a thin skin, because they should not be peeled. Bruschetta is a native of Rome, where “bruscare” means simply “to toast” in the Roman dialect. Originally a simpler version existed: only bread and olive oil. Today it is also a typical dish all over central Italy – Umbria , Tuscany and Abruzzo – and is prepared using tomato, too. I personally prefer this version; I find it more tasty and inviting, perfect for a summer cook out.

Preparation time: 10 min. Servings: 6 people Bruschetta al pomodoro INGREDIENTS
12 slices crusty bread
8 ripe tomatoes

18 basil leaves
4 garlic cloves
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Wash the tomatoes and dice them into small pieces. Place in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt, 5-6 basil leaves and a clove of garlic cut in half. Allow to stand for 10 min. Remove the liquid and drizzle with some olive oil
2. Slice the bread ( 15x5cm, 6x2inch thickness 2.5 cm, 1 inch). Toast it on the grill or under the broiler. Rub with a clove of garlic cut in half and cover with the tomato mixture. Garnish with a basil leaf and serve warm. Paola

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