Thursday, 26 November 2015

Cod with cream and potatoes

Salted and dried cod is traditional in many Italian regions, as it keeps well for months. It was an abundant source of proteins for poor people, above all during winter when food was scarce. 

Nowadays it is less used because you should keep it in cold water for at least a couple of days, change the water often, so actually you have to plan to cook it well in advance to have it ready for dinner.
Luckily supermarkets help us and you can find it ready to cook, even if you miss part of the fun and of the smell...
OK I joke.

Whatever you decide, cod is a fantastic fish, and it is suitable for cooking in so many ways, and in my area it is a winter dish.

Ingredients for 4

450 gr/1 lb salted cod (or 600 gr. 1.5 lb desalted -soaked cod)
650 gr. 1.5 lb potatoes
2 oz butter
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
4 tea spoons chopped parsley (to garnish)

Two days before use, de-salt your cod, changing the water at least a couple of times.
After soaking it properly, cut the fish into pieces and boil it until the flesh comes away easily from the bones.  
Peel the fish from the skin.

In an other pan, boil the potatoes in their skins, peel them while they are still hot and let them cool down.
Cut them into slices. (Sorry no picture, but I am sure you can make it alone...)

In the meanwhile chop the onion and the garlic and saute them in hot butter with the bay leaf. Set aside.

Drain the cod, let it cool a little, 
Remove the skin and bones and break into bits by hand. 

6) Put the fish and the boiled potatoes in the pan with the saute onions, garlic and the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and then pour in the cream.
Stir gently for a couple of minutes and serve hot with some chopped parsley.

Also, you can try it on a slice of toasted rustic bread!

I suggest a white wine, someone can suggest me which is the best match?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Beer and rustic mustard stew

This recipe, originated in the North of Italy, and may be even more North in Europe, is a must in Winter, when the smell and the sound of the boiling pot is a great company in the kitchen.
I chose pieces of the fore shoulder, and I understand that the name and the cut it is different in every country so I prefer to attach the picture. My meat was cut n. 8!
A very cheap cut indeed,  that can give excellent results as a long cooking makes the meat very soft and delicious.

Last but not the least it is easy to warm up the following day, and still delicious.
I match this stew with some polenta, and my tip is to cook it with a little more liquid than requested to make it smoother.

Ingredients for 4

800 grs/ 1 +3/4 lb pieces of fore shoulder, cut into thick cubes 4 cm/1,5 inches
1 golden onion
About 500 ml / 1 pint double malt beer
2 large slices of rustic bread
4 table spoons mustard in grains
40 grs butter
1 table spoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2 table spoons chopped parsley 
1/2 table spoon chopped  sage leaves

450 grs/1 lb ready to cook polenta flour.

Peel the onion and cut it into thin slices.
Put the butter and the oil in a large pan, bring them to the boil and add the onions. Stir in until soft and golden. 

Flour the meat cubes, shake to avoid any excess of floor.
Remove the onion from the butter, set it aside and put the cubes in the hot butter, stirring in now and then until nicely golden on each side.Salt the meat and put the cooked onions in the pan again. Stir gently.

Pour in the beer, little by little or the foam will go out! Stir well so that the flour does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir well now and then.

Spread the mustard on each side of the bread, gently lay them on the meat, put a lid on the pan and let it cook over a low heat for about 1 hour. 

Stir the meat so that the bread dissolves as well and let it cook for 2 more minutes. 

Remove from fire and add the chopped vegetables.

Serve it hot with steamed potatoes or polenta.
Red wine, or better the same strong beer is recommended!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Pappardelle with fresh tuna

Pappardelle are just a little wider than tagliatelle. You can make them by hand, following my home made pasta recipe, and in this case they will cook in 2-3 minutes, or buy them dry. Reginelle will suit as well, always check they are made with eggs for  a better taste.
In each case, this mouth watering sauce will make a great dish!

Ingredients for 4

3 eggs fresh pasta or 320 grs/ 10 oz dry (egg) pasta
450 gr/ 1 lb fresh tuna
4 red tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 pinch dry oregano
1 pinch salt (to taste)
40 gr/2 tb spoons salted capers
20/25 green cored olives
3 table spoons extra virgin olive oil

Peel the garlic, cut them in half and, put a large frying pan over a medium heat, gently let the oil warm up and add the garlic until golden. Wash the capers to remove all the salt (if you are not used to do that, taste them! They can be very salty!).

In the meanwhile, wash and cut the tomatoes into small pieces and drain most of their water. Cut the tuna into cubes.

Remove the garlic and add the tomatoes to the hot oil, then add the tuna and the capers.

Let them cook for about 10 minutes, then add the olives and the oregano, and let them cook together for an other 5-6 minutes. Keep warm.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt (10 gr. each liter) and cook pasta until al dente. Drain it in a colander and mix it gently to the warm sauce over a low heat.

Serve immediately and eat hot!

Sunday, 25 October 2015


Today I wanted to make something basic, to eat at breakfast with a nice cup of tea....
To tell the truth in my area we deep ciambella in a glass of wine... But the shape of this dessert is different...


250 gr. /9 oz all purpose floor
130 gr. /4.5 oz Sugar
2 eggs
50 gr. /2 oz melted butter
1,3 / 4 fl oz. Milk
½ a bag baking powder
Grated zest of half a lemon.

Separate the yolks from the whites.
Beat the whites until stiff. Refrigerate them.

Pre-heat the oven 180°C/ 360°F.

In a bigger bowl, beat the yolks with the
sugar until they become a clear cream, add the floor sifted with the baking powder, then add the sugar and the grated zest.
Then add the milk and the melted butter, and stir well.

As a last ingredient add the stiff whites and stir in mixing from down to top.

Pour the dough in a silicone ring mould, place the mould on a oven tray and let it cook for 35/40 minutes.

Take it out the oven, test with a stick if ready and let it cool down.

Take it out the mould,  dust with icing sugar and serve with tea or caffelatte.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Cooked Pears with zabaione

I saw these little pears at the supermarket the other day, and immediately my mind went to my grandmother’s house in the countryside. She had an old pear tree that produced little, but very sweet small pears, very similar to the one on sale.
I couldn’t help buying them, hoping my hubby and daughter could enjoy them (I cannot eat most fruits unless they are cooked).
The pears  were getting ripe, and nobody seemed to appreciate them, so I decided to cook them, and I asked  the experts, my mom and aunt, on how their mother would do.
Make them with zabaione! They told me. What? An old family recipe which I did not know? 
Well, said and done.
Here is my version of course, I do not know about the exact recipe because I guessed it from what they told me over the phone. The pears were delicious, and even my daughter (always sceptical on cooked fruits)  appreciated them and asked for a second one.

For a small dessert (serves 4)

4 small pears
2 egg yolks
40 gr sugar
3 tb spoon marsala (or other aromatic wine, such as porto)

Wash and peel the pears.
Boil them in a small pan with half a glass water, two table spoons of wine and 3 table spoons of sugar. Let them cook for about 20 minutes or until soft, but still firm (try with a tooth-pick). let them cool.

In the meanwhile, separate the yolks from the white and put them in a glass bowl with the sugar.

Beat the yolks with the sugar with a whisker until the sugar dissolves.
Add the remaining marsala wine and beat an other minute.

In the meanwhile prepare a bain-marie but putting some water in a small pan. Put a ring on the bottom. The pan must be large enough to contain  the bowl but the bowl should not touch the sides of the pan. 

Put the pan over a medium heat.
Bring the water to the boil and cook until the cream becoming a little thick, stirring in continuously for about 10 minutes.

Put each pear in a very small bowl (this is the usual Ikea candle holder) an pour the zabaione over the cooked pears.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store any leftover in the fridge for 1 day.

Tip 1: The pears are good enough even without the cream!
Tip 2: Do not discard the cooking water, it has a delicious fruit taste.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Spaghetti with clams

Few nights ago, when the weather was still warm at night,   we were at a party on the beach, in a beautiful casual environment, great  friendly atmosphere, candle lights…
Our hosts served us some casual food, among with these spaghetti.
Too easy, full of flavor, and so maritime not to share!
Try the little fished inside after cooking, We also serve them as an appetiser, still in their shells, just drain them from the cooking liquid, add a handful of parsley and some more extra virgin olive oil.

Just few things to remember about clams: 
1) the clams must be alive, which means tightly closed, 
2) they should have a nice sea smell 
3) discard any smelly/broken shell, 
4) wash and scrub the closed shells under cold running water because they have lots of sand inside.

This is how I make them:

Ingredients for 4

400 grs./ 14 oz spaghetti
1,3-1,4 kg / 3 lb Clams (I realise in Italy are smaller)
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup parsley
3/4 spoons extra virgin olive oil

Wash the clams: put them in a large bowl full of cold water and wash them changing water now and then until the water is completely clean. Drain them in a colander.

On a medium fire, put a large pan with some extra-virgin olive oil in it, add the peeled garlic cloves, and when the oil is hot, add the clams and cover with a lid. The shells should cook for about 6-8 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally.
To make sure open the lid:  the shells all must be open. If not cover again and let them cook for some more minutes.
Switch off the fire and let cool down.

In the meanwhile wash and chop the parsley.

When the clams are cold, start discarding the shells keeping the small fishes in a other big pan. Leave at least 1/3 of the shells with the fish inside: they will be nice in your dishes. Put the remaining full shells in the same pan. KEEP the liquid!

Now you have an inch of liquid in the bottom of your pan. Pass it through a wire mesh sieve, discard the garlic, and add the liquid to the fishes. Please test the liquid: it should be very salty. If it is not, salt the water for your pasta normally.

Boil the pasta in slightly salted water. (sorry less salt than usual is required let’s say 6-7 gr/liter). Three minutes before it is ready (please read the instructions on your pack) drain it and pour it in the large pan with the fishes. Keep at least a ladder of the cooking water. Stir well and let them cook over a high fire, stir gently until they reach the perfect cooking. If the pasta absorbs all the liquid, add small quantities of the cooking water, little by little.
Take off fire, add the parsley and serve immediately.

A glass of cold white wine strongly recommended, traminer for example!