Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Asparagus soup with quail egg

It is Easter!!
The flowers are blooming, I am sneezing all the time, the Easter Bunnies jump here and there and it is time to change the menu!
As soon as I can buy fresh asparagus I make this fantastic soup.
As many of my preparations, you can prepare it in advance (6 hours) and garnish it before eating.

Quite simple in its preparation, it will surprise your family and guests as well.

Ingredients for 4/6

2 bundles of  cultivated asparagus (about 2 pounds)
1 medium white onion
2 spoons extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 liter /2 pints vegetable stock (salted and warmed up)
4/6 quail eggs
fresh thyme
4/6  slices of French baguette
fresh ground pepper

How to:

1) Wash the asparagus to remove sand and dirt and peel to bottom to remove the woody parts. Cut them in 2 cm (1 inch approx) pieces. Set aside.
Also spare 8 tops for decoration . Gently boil the tops in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set them aside.

2) Peel and cut the onion in pieces, put the oil in a pan, let it warm up and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring now and then.

3) Add the asparagus, and let them saute for 2-3 minutes stir now and then. Add the vegetable stock. The liquid should cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30-45minutes, stirring now and then.

4) When the vegetable are soft, take out of fire and with an immersion blender, blend the soup together until you have a soft but thick cream. Season with salt if necessary. Set aside put on a lid and keep warm.

5) Cut the bread into slices less than 1 cm/1/3 inch thick and grill them on both sides until slightly  golden.

6) Few minutes before serving, warm up the soup until hot, if necessary.
Warm up the serving bowls and pour the soup in them. Put a slice of bread for each bowl on top of the soup. It will remain on surface.

7) Put the oil in a frying pan and fry the quail egg for one minute, put a pinch of salt and pepper on the yolk which should remain quite liquid.

8) Drain and gently put a fried egg on each slice of bread, decorate with the asparagus tops and a little fresh thyme.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Vegetable lasagna with escarole and artichokes

For all my vegetarian friends, here is a lighter lasagna recipe, which I am preparing for the Easter lunch with my family.

If you use store bought pasta, take care to cook it until soft in boiling hot water. If you use small moulds just like mine, cut them when cooked.
Anyway, do not use bought bechamel sauce as it is too runny...

For a fully vegetarian you can use margarine instead of butter, and vegetable stock instead of milk in the bechamel. (not my favourite option)

As many times I do, I made small portions, so it is easier to freeze and de-freeze, but you can bake it in the usual square baking pan. 

I made 10 very small portions because we will have many different dishes, but this quantity will be enough for 4 people.

Ingredients for 4
2 eggs fresh made egg pasta
Bechamel sauce made with 1 l (something like 2 pints) milk
250 grs / Frozen artichokes cut into pieces and de-frozen
2 whole escaroles washed and cut into pieces
3 Shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek (white part only) finely sliced
2+2 spoons extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
100 grs Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
Butter to grease the moulds

How to:

1) Prepare the bechamel sauce and the pasta.

2) Wash and cut the escarole.

3) Finely slice the leek and let it saute in a large pan with 2 spoons evoo until golden and soft and then add the escarole

4) Slice the shallots and let it sauté in an other pan with 2 spoons of evoo and then add the de-frozen artichokes.

5) Let the two vegetables cook for about 15 minutes (lid on) on a medium heat. Stir now and then.

6) Boil the pasta in boiling salted water, drain it well on a tea towel.

7) Grease the moulds with butter or margarine and put a spoon of bechamel sauce on the bottom.


The first layer then will be pasta, then the escarole - squeeze it to drain it well, Parmigiano Reggiano, bechamel sauce, pasta again and the artichokes, Parmigiano, to fill the baking pan or small oven bowl...Last layer should be pasta or bechamel with a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

Bake at 180°C/356F for about 15-20 minutes (depends on the size of the container) - You should see the bechamel boil.

If you want to freeze it, cover the top with cling film before freezing.
Also, you can cook it and freeze the cold leftovers - if any - in an air tight container.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


This alcoholic drink is one of the most famous in Italy in this moment. My foreign friends seem to like it a lot and it is good in winter and summer as well.

There are many versions, as usual in Italy everybody has to make it different.
In Venice, for example, some bars do not add prosecco at all. A Dutch friend of mine suggested that may be they prefer to taste the dry prosecco as it is, and there is no doubt prosecco is a great wine.... 

This is the original mix which you can find on the back label of the Campari bottle.

3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol 
1 splash of soda
1 orange slice for each glass
ice cubes

My husband's version.... (less alcohol)

1/3 prosecco
1/3 Aperol
1/3 Schweppes
1 orange slice for each glass

1)  Refrigerate all the bottles for 2 hours....

2)  (original recipe)
Pour Prosecco, Aperol and Schweppes over the ice  in a cocktail glass, add a slice of orange (unpeeled but washed)