Thursday, 26 March 2015

Easter savoury pie

Tradition again for this Spring dish - torta pasqualina -, made with eggs and fresh sprouts. Easy to prepare and to carry with you during an Spring pic-nic, is a great Italian Easter classic!

Ingredients for 4 people

400 gr. /0.90 lb ready to use pastry 
300 gr/0.68 lb ricotta
500 gr/ 1.1 lb fresh spinach 
salt and pepper
6 eggs (4 hard boiled - 8 minutes - and 2 fresh) or 6 boiled quail eggs and two fresh hen's)
1 yolk - beated
100 gr./ 0.22 lb grated Parmigiano Reggiano 

How to

Boil 4 eggs for 8 minutes and, when cold, peel them.

Clean very well the spinach and quickly boil them in salted water; drain them well and chop them finely with a knife.

In a bowl, put together the spinach, ricotta, two fresh eggs, the cheese, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Mix well. 

Pre-heat your oven at 190°/374F.

Roll the pastry into two disks, one large enough to cover completely a spring form pan covered with non stick paper. With the remainings make little decorations.

Pour some of your mix to make an first layer, add the boiled eggs, cover them with the remaining mix and cover all with the second disc of pastry and seal it with the the bottom. Add the decorations using the beated yolk as a glue.

Brush the top of the pie with the beated egg and put the pie in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a glass of dry white wine.

Happy Easter!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Red chicory risotto

This creamy risotto has the special bitterness of the red chicory and the nice smoky smell of the scamorza cheese.
It takes nearly half an hour to make a good risotto, the time necessary to cook the rice. 
But I can also suggest a short-cut, purist would have to blame to me for that, but  in this case, 4+6 minutes in the pressure cooker instead of 25-30 minutes, give fantastic results, without affecting the original taste. 

In this case I took pictures of the recipe when I made a single portion, while I give the recipe for 4 people. Your quantities will be bigger.
Also, I will describe both versions, so you can try them both and decide which you like most! 

Risotto is a first course, not a side dish, so consider that you will have to increase a bit the quantities if it is your only dish.

Ingredients for 4

320 gr/ 0.71lb rice (carnaroli if possible) (or 400 gr/ 0.88lb)
1 leek white part only finely chopped
1/2 glass white wine
1 red chicory
twice the weight of the rice of vegetable stock (SALTED)
250 gr/ 0.6 lb smoked scamorza (or any other smoked melting cheese)

How to:

Bring your vegetable stock to the boil and let it simmer on a low fire.

Wash your leek and slice it very thin.

Wash your red chicory as well as possible and cut it into thin slices.

Put 1 table spoon butter in a deep pan, use a good one with a thick bottom or your pression cooker, and let the butter melt over a medium heat.

Add the leek and let it cook for few minutes until soft.

Add the rice and stir well until it becomes translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the wine and let it evaporate quickly.

When dry, the first part of your risotto is over. You can do this part in advance if you like. Make sure that the wine evaporated completely.

Add the red chicory and stir again. Now. if you are cooking in the pressure cooker, double the weight of your rice and pour it all in the pan. It will cover the rice and the vegetables almost completely. Close the pan with its own lid.
Count 6 minutes from the first  whistle  and switch it off. Help the steam go out from the valve, mix well and add the cheese. Mix again, wait one minute and serve it.
If you are cooking it in the traditional way, add just a ladle of BOILING vegetable stock, let the rise absorb it stirring it well, before adding an other ladler of boiling stock.
Boiling stock will allow the rice to cook inside, it is very important that you keep it very hot. It will take about 17 minutes of adding and stirring. Taste it, when ready add the cheese, close with a lid for 1 minute and serve.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Pasta with sweet pepper sauce

This is a healthy and light recipe.
You can also use thick spaghetti or whole wheat pasta (I recommend spaghetti or penne), more suitable for vegetarians!
But let’s stick to the original.
This is one of the few recipes for which I use the pasta machine, because as the rolling pin is not requested, and you need that special roller to cut it, it takes just few minutes to have a fantastic pasta!

3 eggs
300 grs flour
2 red/yellow sweet peppers
4-5 spoons extra virgin olive oil
100 grs. ricotta
1 tea spoon fennel seeds


1) Wash and dry your peppers. Put them in a pre-heated oven 180° covered with baking paper for at least 30° or 4-5 minutes in the microwave. They must be soft and hot.

    2) In the meanwhile prepare your pasta, weight the 3 eggs first (here they are 5 because I made it for 6 people), then put the same quantity of flour on a pastry board, make a well in the centre, pour in the eggs and start mixing with a fork, adding the flour when needed.

  3) Make a nice dough and work it with your hands for at least 5-7 minutes. Let it rest 30 minutes in a bowl covered with a clean cloth.

   4) Go back to your sweet peppers, they should be hot and soft .
Close them immediately in an air tight container or bag and let them cool down.

    5) When warm, peal them (the outer skin comes very easily) and remove and discard the stem and the seeds.

    6) Process them in your food processor together with the oil, the fennel seeds and a pinch of salt. Add the ricotta to obtain a very smooth creamy seasoning.  taste again and add salt if needed. Refrigerate it if you are not using it within an hour or so.


   7) Prepare your pasta machine. Cut the dough into slices,  and pass it through the first rollers. Dust the stripes you obtain with some flour.
     8) Decrease the distance between the rollers and pass it again through the rollers.
   9) Repeat until you are in the middle of your dial and let all the stripes dry a bit.
  10) Prepare one or more trays with a clean cloth. 

  11) Install your cutter on the machine and after dusting the stripes once more with flour cut the pasta into square spaghetti. Display them on the trays and dust them with some  flour.

  12) Let them dry for a while. They should not stick to each other.  

 13) Few minutes before eating, throw the home made spaghetti in a deep pan of salted boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes until they float. Drain them well in a colander, dress them with the creamy pepper sauce and serve immediately.