Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

I have already said how much I like crostata (the Italian tart) in a previous post where I have also shared some basic technical information on how to make pasta frolla, the Italian shortcrust pastry (follow this link to read more) along with one of my favorite recipes.
Since crostata, in any possible form, is a family favorite, and the simplest version - with a jam filling - is the kind of breakfast we all prefer, I make it regularly. What I like to do is to change, in a sort of rotation, not only the jam flavor but also the ingredients for the crust (as for the preparation technique, my favorite is the "crumble technique" explained, with other methods, in the above mentioned post). 
As I said in that post about crostata (see here) there are many different recipes even for the basic pasta frolla, and among all them I have two or three favorites that I alternatively use. But I also like to make more original variants, using different types of flour or sugar and / or replacing butter for extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt

Roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt

Something that I really enjoy when I cook is to try always new recipes, whether inspired by cookbooks, magazines, blogs or websites or developed by myself.
With the consequence that there are many recipes that I made only once, and not because they were not good or I didn't like, but just to try something different.

But despite this - good, bad, weird? - habit of mine, there are several recipes that I particularly love and regularly make. As is the case of this "roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt", a recipe from the favorite of mine "Ottolenghi The Cookbook" (probably the most consulted cookbook in my bookshelf, from which I tried many recipes, some of them also posted on this blog - for more details check here).

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips

Dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips

It's getting warmer and warmer here in Dubai, with temperatures that in Europe are typical of sunny summer days. I'm not complaining about this, as I actually prefer hot weather than cold.
And even in a weather like this, while there are many people preferring light and refreshing desserts, I still ask for chocolate ones, whether I am at home or dine out - and  when out I often "have to" skip dessert as some restaurants change their menu eliminating those heavy-sounding dishes, whit chocolate desserts usually being among the first items subject to seasonal review.
But I don't give up anyway; I can always make chocolate desserts at home. Including baked goods.
And in fact, with the heavy conditioned buildings we have here, turning on the oven is not so bad, even in the middle of summer. I take advantage of this, and bake in all seasons, from bread and focaccia to cakes, tarts, muffins and cookies, many of them full of chocolate.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Cooking at the Farmers Market on the Terrace: pasta, pasta, pasta

Cooking at the Farmers Market on the Terrace: pasta, pasta, pasta
Me and my son asking: "Mamma, what are you doing?" 

That I am a huge fan of the Farmers Market on the Terrace is very well known by all my friends and acquaintances here in Dubai,as well as by the readers of this blog. And also the other members of my family, who hesitated for a while before joining me on my Friday morning visits to the market (I like to go early to avoid the crowd and choose the freshest produce), are now regular visitors, having found good "personal" reasons to go, apart from being with me. And in fact, while I get the fresh,  organic, locally grown vegetables for the week, my son, too young - and too active - to enjoy shopping with me from the farmers, loves running and jumping in the garden, playing with a lovely white cat always present at the market and always looking for a stroke, as well as tasting honey from the Balqees stall and bread from Baker & Spice; my husband appreciates having a post-shopping breakfast in the garden with one the delicious items prepared by Baker & Spice's cooks (with the Spinach and Egg English Muffin being his favorite).

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Do you know somebody who doesn't like focaccia? I don't. And I have even seen many people avidly eating not so good versions of focaccia...
Because focaccia is one of those amazing creation of Italian cuisine in front of which it is impossible to say "no, thanks", sometimes even if it's not the best.
Not only focaccia is delicious and comforting, but it is incredibly versatile.
It's a perfect snack on its own at any time of the day and in almost all situations (at work, at school, on the beach, for a picnic) but it goes also well as a substitute for bread in any type of sandwich.
Can be served in a buffet or in a more formal, seated dinner.
It's the simplest yet ideal amuse buche, but it is also the perfect addition to any bread basket.
And it may be a tasty impromptu dinner when there is an empty fridge and no willing to shop and cook.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

Pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup)

Pappa al pomodoro  is one of the most popular and prepared recipes of the Tuscan culinary tradition.
Literally pappa means mush (but it is also the term used to indicate semi-solid baby food) and, as almost anybody knows, pomodoro means tomato. From this description it doesn't sound so appetizing, does it? But, trust me, the only reason why this dish is so famous and timeless is that it is absolutely delicious, mainly thanks to its simplicity and "poor" origin.
And in fact this tomato and bread soup (this definition sound better indeed) is one of those classic Italian dishes created out of necessity, when it was not possible to waste food, not even a piece of stale bread, that has to be reused to make it still edible: in pappa al pomodoro old bread is cooked with ripe tomatoes (or even canned or preserved ones when fresh are not available), garlic and / or onion, a generous quantity of extra virgin olive oil, some liquid (stock, when available, or salted water), salt, pepper (or chili in some versions) until everything turns into a thick, creamy and really comforting soup.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Super healthy chocolate cake aka wacky cake (no eggs, butter, dairy and ... chocolate)

Super healthy chocolate cake aka wacky cake (no eggs, butter, milk and ... chocolate)

Making an healthy yet delicious cake - and an healthy dish in general - is sometimes easier than one could think. 
No need to find particular or exotic products, or to use substitutes for regular (and unhealthy maybe) ingredients, or to search for innovative recipes developed and tested by gurus of healthy eating. 
All you need are few staple, cheap ingredients available even in the pantry of cooking-hating people and - here is the real surprise - an old, often forgotten and underrated recipe, developed when people had access to a much more limited number of food items than nowadays, and some products that we can have everyday (and often try to limit for healthy reasons, like meat or cheese) could be eaten just once in a while or reserved only for special occasions (think chocolate or coffee). 
Due to the scarcity of available ingredients, or to their high price, people were forced to be creative and inventive in order to develop"smart" recipes able to transform few basics products into tasty and satisfying dishes, some of which imitating or trying to reproduce richer and expensive ones.