Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Gratinated Mussels

This is an other recipe from the South of Italy, where bread crumbs and olive oil are the main ingredients.
It s a very easy appetiser/starter, you can prepare it in advance and bake it just before serving. 

(for 4 generous portions)
About 1 Kilo /35.27 oz Mussels, scrubbed and washed very well removing the beard and scraping the outside
1 cup Breadcrumbs (or more)
50 gr /1.76 oz Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
25 gr /0.88 oz Grated Pecorino
3 Cloves of Garlic
Hot Pepper Flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How to:

0) Clean the mussel very well!!!

1) Pour 6 spoons of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan, heat over the medium heat, add the 2 garlic cloves, a pinch of pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the mussels, cover up with a lid and let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes until they all open. Let them cool.

2) Put the breadcrumbs in your food processor, add grated pecorino, grated Parmigiano, the parsley, salt, ½ clove of garlic, extra virgin olive oil and 4-5 spoons of the cooking liquid from the mussels. Mix at medium speed for about 2-3 minutes, taste and season with salt if necessary.The mixture should be soft enough to keep the shape; if it appears too runny, add some more breadcrumbs, if it's too dry, add some more oil.

3) Discard the closed mussels, remove the empty half shell from all the mussels and put those with shellfish in a baking dish.

     4) Also, I detach the mussel from the shell so it will be easier to eat it.

5) Fill the shells with the breadcrumbs mixture and drizzle some olive oil on top. 

6) Preheat the grill 200 C (392 F) and bake for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Once the mussels are done, transfer to a serving dish and finish by drizzling over some olive oil. Serve hot!

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Here you are a fantastic Italian classic! The pictures are not as good as the dessert, but try the recipe and send me your images!

This dessert is very easy and fast to make, but you need the right ingredients: make sure you find very fresh mascarpone and possibly the spongy original “savoiardi” (ladyfingers)

Where I live, we make it also withou the biscuits : we simply call it mascarpone and garnish the cream with dark chocolate chunks… very very rich!!!!You can use this recipe to fill panettone at Christmas!


4 very fresh eggs
150 grs. Sugar
250 grs.fresh mascarpone cheese
125 heavy whipping cream
2 packs Italian ladyfingers (savoiardi)
50 grs. dark chocolate chunks
½ cup cold espresso – slightly sweet
1 tblsp. cocoa powder for dusting

How to:

Prepare your container or single portions cups: dispose the first layer of ladyfinger in the container and, with a cooking brush, put a little bit of coffee on the biscuits. You will not need much. Set aside.  

You can make 1 container or cups/glasses with one portion only.

1) Separate the yorks from the whites and whip half of the whites until they form stiff peaks. Refrigerate it.
2) Whip the cream until soft peaks form, (careful not to over whip it or butter will form!!!);. refigerate it.
3) Combine egg yolks with the sugar until it is perfectly dissolved; you should obtain a thick, soft pale yellow cream.

4) Add the mascarpone to the cream and mix slowly with a fork. When fully dissolved, add the whipped cream, mix again and then, very gently, add the whipped white eggs mixing from low to high to obtain a soft cream.

5) With a sac a poche or a spoon pour half of the cream on the biscuits. Put the chocolate chunks on it.

6) Make an other layer with more ladyfingers, wet them with coffee and pour the cream.

7) Refrigerate for at least 4 hours  or overnight to allow to settle and dust with cocoa powder before serving (to distribute it evenly use a strainer).

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Stuffed escarole

I was looking for a different side dish, instead of potatoes or salad for once, to add something new to my menu, and I found this old, traditional recipe from Naples which uses the typical Mediterranean ingredients. I really love it, it is  full of taste and can be served as starter as well.
This recipe can be prepared in advance and put in the oven just before you eat it!

Ingredients for 4
4 Small escarole heads
2 Garlic cloves
20 grs. Pine nuts
20 grs. Raisin (soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes)
50 grs Capers (de-salted under cold water)
1 cup Bread crumbs
30 g Anchovies (de- salted under cold water and cut into pieces)
80 grs Black olives, (no pips)
Parsley (washed and finely cut- leaves only)
Extra virgin oil
Salt and pepper

How to:

1)    Wash your escaroles without separating the leaves and boil into salted hot water until soft.
2)    Drain well, let them cool and take off all the cooking water pressing gently in order not to break them.

3)    Pre-heat your oven at 170 °C/338°F
4)    For the stuffing: in a large pan warm 4 spoons of extra virgin olive oil and let the garlic cook until it becomes blond and soft. Remove it.
5)    Add 4 spoons of bread crumbs and let it saute for few minutes until toasted.

6)    Add the pine nuts and the raisin, mix well and before removing from fire add the anchovies, the parsley and a pinch of pepper.


    7)    Now open the leaves of each escarole and distribute some of the filling, reserving one spoon to garnish, and close them tightly.

8)     Dispose the stuffed escarole in a baking pan greased with oil, put on the vegetables the remaining filling, put some more olive oil (about 1 spoon) and cook in the oven for about half an hour.

9)    Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms (pleurotus) are very easy to find (at least in Italy) because they are widely cultivated and you can buy them all the year. (and of course they are safe to eat!)

I usually cook them in the oven: I clean them, cut the stems off and put them in a baking pan, dress with salt and extra virgin olive oil, and cook, covered with foil, until soft (180°C  for half an hour/45 min.)
They can also be grilled, and then served with olive oil, salt and finely cut parsley

Today, I decided to use the whole of them, and make a dressing for my pasta. It can be cooked in advance, and warmed up when your pasta is ready.

Ingredients for 4 people:
500 grs / 1lb. of oyster mushrooms
1 clove garlic
2-3 table spoons chopped parsley
Extra virgin olive oil

How to:

1)       Clean the mushrooms by gently removing all soil residue with a wet cloth.
2)       Cut the stems in very small pieces and the wider mushrooms into pieces.
3)       Put 5 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over the medium heat, add the garlic and let it fry for few minutes, until blond and soft.

4)               Add only the stems in the pan and let them cook for at least 10 minutes, the add all the mushrooms, salt and let it cook over the high hit for 10/15 minutes. They will dry a bit and reduce their volume. Remove the garlic. Put a lid on the pan and let it cook for an other 5 minutes, or until soft.

          5)    Add the parsley and switch the gas off. Put the lid again on the pan.

Now you need some nice fresh pappardelle or tagliatelle (but bought ones can be a quicker solution).

Boil the pasta in salted water as long as stated on the packaging, drain it “al dente” in a colander and pour it in the pan with the sauce. Mix it well without braking them and serve immediately.

If you have some mushrooms left, why don’t try them on a crostino?

Cut some slices of rustic bread, grill it until light brown, put a little bit of salt, and a spoon of mushrooms. Serve as a warm appetiser!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Gratinated cauliflower

I really like cauliflowers, and I had to find a way to convince my daughter to eat them as well. So I tried my mother's trick, to disguise it in a different dish.
She usually made this recipe with boiled fennel (which I still do not eat), but I think that cauliflowers are much better.
A very easy recipe, which can be done using different stemed vegetable leftovers, and that can be an easy and elegant side dish.

You can prepare it in advance, and bake it just before eating it.  (Remember that bechamel sauce must be refrigerated and that it lasts one day in the fridge), or frozen after cooking.


1 cauliflower
30 grs Shredded Parmigiano reggiano
a pinch of nutmeg
butter to grease your baking pan

for the bechamel
1/2 liter milk
50 grs. butter
50 grs. flour

salt and pepper

How to:

1) Prepare the bechamel sauce.

2) Pre heat your oven 180°C/

3) Wash and clean your cauliflower, cut off all the leaves and the harder inside parts. Discard them but do not throw them away.
You can prepare a nice soup with them!

4) Put the cauliflower in the pressure cooker or boil the cabbage until soft but not too much or microwave it. Drain it well;

5) Grease your baking pan and put the boiled cauliflower in it - season with salt and pepper. Pour the bechamel sauce on it and spread the Parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg

6) Bake for 15- 20 minutes or until the bechamel boils and the Parmigiano is slightly brow. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving to let the sauce settle.

You may also try:

cauliflower soup