30 June, 2012

Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries

Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries

Please, please tell me the first thing that came to your mind when you read the title! Yummy... Yuck... Interesting... Curious...
I didn't give myself lots of time for thinking. I'm a curious cat and I had to give it a go.
My verdict: surprisingly good, tasty dish, perfect for hot summer weather. Nutricious and healthy, I simply couldn't ask for more.
And... don't worry about cherries sounding strange in a savoury combination, they fit in so good you won't be sorry if you give them a chance. And since the cherry season is almost over (at least where I live), you might give this dish a try using peaches or nectarines as well.

I found this recipe in last month's issue of my favourite food magazine, Cucina naturale, where you can find a monthly list of the most important fruit, vegetables and herbs in season that month. As well as useful advice and recipes based on those particular ingredients.


Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries

Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries

(4 servings):
* 400 g green beans
* 200 g cherries
* 100 g black olives
* 200 g cous cous
* 40 g sliced almonds
* a small bunch of fresh basil leaves
* extra virgin olive oil
* turmeric
* salt

Wash the green beens, cut off the ends and cook them for 5 minutes in boiling, salted water.
Drain with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Take 250 ml of the water you cooked the green beans in, still boiling hot, add a little turmeric and pour it over the cous cous you put into a bowl. Stir well and quickly, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Dry toast the sliced almonds at low heat and set aside to cool.
Chop the basil leaves, mix them with 3-4 TBspoons of olive oil.
Cut the green beans into small pieces; pit and chop the cherries and the olives.
Stirr the cous cous with a fork. add the green beans and the oil with the basil. In the end stir in the cherries.
Serve the cous cous sprinkled with the toasted almonds.


Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries


Cuscus con fagiolini e ciliegie


(per 4 persone)
* 400 g di fagiolini freschi
* 200 g di ciliegie
* 100 g olive nere
* 200 g cuscus
* 40 g mandorle in scaglie
* un mazzetto di basilico fresco
* olio extra vergine d'oliva
* curcuma
* sale


Lavate e spuntate i fagiolini. Lessateli per 5 minuti in acqua bollente, leggermente salata. Scolateli quando sono ancora croccanti.
Prelevate 250 ml di acqua di cottura dei fagiolini ancora bollente, aggiungete un pizzico di curcuma e versatela sul cuscus in una ciotola. Mescolate, coprite e lasciate riposare per 10 minuti.
Tostate le mandorle in un pentolino a fuoco basso.
Tritate le foglie di basilico e mescolatele con 3-4 cucchiai di olio EVO.
Tagliate i fagiolini, le olive e le ciliegie snocciolate a tocchetti.
Sgranate il cuscus con una forchetta, unite i fagiolini e l'olio aromatizzato al basilico. Alla fine aggiungete anche le ciliegie.
Servite il cuscus decorandolo con le mandorle tostate.


Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries

Tek sam polovicom ovog mjeseca otkrila da je tema igrice Ajme koliko nas je, trešnje. Temu je zadala Petra s bloga THURSDAYSCOOKING, a kako ja trešnjama jako teško odolijevam prilažem osim ovog recepta za Cous cous još nekoliko novijih i starijih recepata objavljenih na ovom blogu (još gomila ih nije ugledala svjetlo dana i čami u draftu do daljnjeg).
Sladoled od pečenih trešanja, Torta s bijelom čokoladom, sirom i trešnjama, Čokoladni muffini s narančom (i trešnjama), Pekmez od trešanja s cimetom, Vijenac s trešnjama,  Savijača s vrhnjem i trešnjama,  Muffini s trešnjama (bez glutena)

Cous cous sa zelenim mahunama i trešnjama


(za 4 osobe)
* 400 g zelenih mahuna
* 200 g trešanja
* 100 g crnih maslina
* 200 g cous cousa
* 40 g badema u listićima
* svežnjić svježeg bosiljka
* ekstra djevičansko maslinovo ulje
* kurkuma
* sol


Operite mahune, odrežite im krajeve i stavite ih kuhati 5 minuta u posoljenu, ključalu vodu. Trebaju ostati krokantne, nikako raskuhane.
Ocijedite ih i ostavite da se ohlade.
Odvojite 250 ml vode u kojoj su se kuhale mahune, u još vrelu dodajte malo kurkume pa prelijte cous cous koji ste stavili u zdjelu. Dobro ga promiješajte, poklopite i ostavite da odstoji 10 minuta.
Listiće badema kratko tostirajte u tavi na suho, na tihoj vatri, a zatim ostavite da se ohlade.
Listove bosiljka sitno nasjeckajte i pomiješajte s 3-4 žlice maslinovog ulja.
Mahune i odkoštene trešnje i masline nasjeckajte na komadiće.
Pomiješajte cous cous s aromatičnim uljem s bosiljkom, dodajte mahune, masline i na kraju trešnje.
Poslužite cous cous posut tostiranim bademima.


Cous Cous with Green Beans and Cherries


29 June, 2012

Cherry Ice Cream

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream

Here's where the cherry story I started telling you yesterday, continues.
Those lovely, plump, juicy cherries, a small quantity of what I bought, ended here - first roasted to enhance and concentrate their flavour, then smoothed and mixed with egg custard to make a delicious refreshment... Ice cream, of course.

Chocolate sauce

I've been making lots of ice cream over the past few weeks. So much that I have a fridge full of egg whites left over from making custard. I normally use less or no eggs at all for fruit flavoured ice cream, but since the rest of my family prefers vanilla, chocolate and similar types of ice cream I'm literally overloaded with the egg whites. It's too humid to tempt making macarons, my oven isn't working well (hope to get it repaired these days) so making any type of cake, cupcake or similar is out of question, but I've already managed to do something with part of them. And now I've found a new ice cream recipe using only egg whites that I can't wait to try. If it proves to be good, I'm saved.
The cookies in the picture are simple lemon shortbread cookies, and there's also homemade chocolate sauce and cherry compote, let me know if you're interested in any of these recipes.

Stay tuned for more cherry recipe ^__^

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream

Roasted Cherries Ice Cream

* 200 ml full fat milk
* 150 ml heavy cream
* 90 g honey
* 1 egg
* 2 egg yolks
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean)
* 1 TBspoon cherry liquor (optional)
* 300-400 g cherries
* 1 TBspoon honey
* a little ground cinnamon (or vanilla seeds or herbs)

Pit the cherries and cut them in half. Lay them in a wide enough baking pan or dish, cut side up. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon (omit if you don't like it) and drizzle with a tablespoon of honey. Instead of cinnamon you might put scraped vanilla seeds or a several twigs of for example thyme, rosemary or other herbs.
Put the pan in an oven preheated to 200°C and roast the cherries for 20-30 minutes, until soft.
Let them cool completely and then either mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor, depending on whether you prefer it smooth or with pieces of cherries left once it's incorporated into ice cream base.

                 Cherries      Cherries

roasted Cherries


For the ice cream base, mix the milk and the heavy cream in a heavy bottom sauce pan and heat slowly until they almost reach a boil. If using the vanilla bean add the seeds and the empty bean, too.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, the egg yolks and the honey (90 g) until smooth.
Add one TBspoon of hot milk at a time, at first, whisking the eggs at the same time so they don't curdle. Then add slowly the rest of the milk, whisk well then return to the pot and cook on low heat stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard starts coating the back of the spoon or reaches 80°C.
Pour the custard into a clean bowl through a fine mesh sieve and place the bowl into an ice bath to speed up the cooling process. If using the vanilla extract, add it now, as well as the cherry liquor. Let the custard cool completely at room temperature.
Once both are cold, mix together the custard and the cherries. Leave in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, even better over night for the flavours to blend.
Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream machine and process according to the instructions, then transfer into a freezer safe container and freeze until firm enough to serve.
If you don't have an ice cream machine, transfer the ice cream base directly into freezer taking care to stir it every hour or so until firm.
Serve plain or with a few shortbread cookies, with some chocolate sauce or if you have some cherries left, prepare a cherry compote.

Cherry compote



Roasted Cherry Ice Cream


Gelato alle ciliegie arrostite


* 200 ml latte intero
* 150 ml panna fresca
* 90 g miele
* 1 uovo
* 2 tuorli
* 1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia (o 1/2 baccello di vaniglia)
* 1 cucchiaio di liquore alle ciliegie
* 300-400 g ciliegie
* 1 cucchiaio di miele
* un po' di cannella in polvere


Snocciolate le ciliegie e tagliatele a metà. Mettetele in una teglia o pirofila, cospargete con un po' di cannella e un cucchiaio di miele. Se non vi piace la cannella usate i semi di vaniglia o delle erbe aromatiche (timo, rosmarino, lavanda per esempio). Arrostite le ciliegie nel forno caldo a 200°C per circa 20-30 minuti, finché diventino morbide e aromatiche.
Lasciatele raffreddare e poi schiacciatele o frullatele nel robot da cucina.
Per la base del gelato unite il latte e la panna in un pentolino e portate quasi a bollore (se usate il baccello di vaniglia, tagliatelo a metà, togliete i semi e aggiungeteli insieme al baccello vuoto nel latte).
In una terrina mescolate con una frusta l'uovo, i tuorli e il miele. Aggiungete il latte caldo, inizialmente un cucchiaio alla volta per evitare che le uova si rapprendano, e poi il resto versandolo piano e mescolando con la frusta tutto il tempo.
Versate di nuovo tutto nel pentolino e rimettetelo sul fuoco. Cuocete la crema a temperatura bassa mescolando continuamente finché inizia a velare il dorso del cucchiaio o raggiunge 80°C.
Versate la crema in una ciotola pulita attraverso un colino a maglie fitte e mettete la ciotola in un'altra con l'acqua fredda e ghiaccio per fermare la cottura e far raffreddare la crema più velocemente.
Se usate l'estratto di vaniglia e il liquore, aggiungeteli adesso. Lasciate raffreddare la crema.
Unite la crema fredda e le ciliegie, mescolate bene e lasciate in frigo per almeno 3-4 ore, ancora meglio tutta la notte, per permettere ai sapori di unirsi meglio.
Se usate la gelatiera procedete secondo le istruzioni per la vostra macchina e una volta pronto, trasferite il gelato in un contenitore adatto al freezer.
Se non avete la gelatiera, trasferite la base del gelato direttamente nel freezer e congelatelo, avendo cura di mescolarlo almeno una volta ogni ora o due per evitare la formazione di cristalli di ghiaccio troppo grandi.
Servite il gelato da solo, con qualche biscotto, la salsa al cioccolato o una composta di ciliegie.


Roasted Cherry Ice Cream


Sladoled od pečenih trešanja


* 200 ml punomasnog mlijeka
* 150 ml svježeg (nezaslađenog) slatkog vrhnja
* 90 g meda
* 1 jaje
* 2 žumanjka
* 1 žličica ekstrakta vanilije (ili 1/2 mahune vanilije)
* 1 žlica likera od trešanja
* 300-400 g trešanja
* 1 žlica meda
* malo cimeta u prahu


Odkoštite trešnje i prepolovite ih. Rasporedite ih na pleh ili u vatrostalnu posudu s prerezanom stranom prema gore. Pospite s malo cimeta i žlicom meda. Ako ne volite cimet možete ih posuti sjemenkama vanilije ili dodati par grančica omiljenog vam mirisnog bilja poput timijana, ružmarina, lavande itd.
Zapecite trešnje u pećnici zagrijanoj na 200°C oko 20-30 minuta.
Izvadite iz pećnice i ostavite trešnje da se potpuno ohlade, a zatim ih smrvite gnječilicom za pire krumpir ili ih smiksajte u mikseru ako više volite da je sladoled bez komadića trešanja unutra.
U međuvremenu pripremite i kremu za sladoled. Pomiješajte mlijeko i vrhnje u lončiću i zagrijte ih skoro do vrenja. Ako koristite mahunu vanilije, prerežite je na pola, sastružite sjemenke pa ih dodajte zajedno s praznom mahunom u mlijeko.
U zdjeli pomiješajte jaje, žumanjke i med ručnom pjenjačom - nema potrebe mutiti ih mikserom.
Dodajte toplo mlijeko, prvo žlicu po žlicu istovremeno miješajući pjenjačom, a zatim i ostatak sipajući u tankom mlazu, postepeno da se jaja ne bi zgrušala.
Vratite sve u lonac i kuhajte na sasvim laganoj vatri miješajući drvenom žlicom dok se smjesa ne počne lagano zgušnjavati, pokrivati stražnju stranu žlice, odnosno dok ne dostigne 80°C. Smjesa ne treba proključati inače će se zgrušati.
Maknite odmah s vatre i prespite u čistu zdjelu kroz gusto mrežasto cjedilo. Stavite zdjelu s kremom u veću zdjelu s hladnom vodom i ledom da se zaustavi kuhanje i krema brže ohladi.
Ako dodajete ekstrakt vanilije i liker, umiješajte ih sada.
Ostavite kremu da se potpuno ohladi, a zatim umiješajte smiksane trešnje. Smjestite smjesu za sladoled u hladnjak na najmanje 3-4 sata ili još bolje preko noći da se okusi bolje prožmu.
Ako imate stroj za sladoled pripremite sladoled dalje prema uputstvu za vaš stroj, a zatim ga smjestite u zamrzivač do upotrebe.
Bez stroja - zamrznite kremu izravno u zamrzivaču, miješajući je u početku svakih sat ili dva da izbjegnete stvaranje velikih kristala leda.
Poslužite sladoled sam, uz prhke kekse, ili s čokoladnim ili umakom od trešanja.

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream


Roasted Cherry Ice Cream

28 June, 2012

White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

The good news, and one burden off my shoulders, is that my baby boy is already in a head down position. I was sure he was because I felt the strange movements one evening, but it's good to have it confirmed by a doctor and the ultrasound. I was terrified, I must say so, of the C-section. I'd rather suffer the natural pain. And my doctor added that as far as she was regarded I could deliver at home as well since the whole pregnancy's gone so smooth, without complications and the baby is growing fine. I don't have any intention to do that anyway, but it's nice to know. After having my first daughter, the nurses, amazed at how quick everything was finished, told me I should be careful not to deliver in the middle of the street next time ^__^

With this positive charge, despite the heat I continue complaining about, I went towards Vignola orchards yesterday with my daughter. Vignola is a town only some 30 km from Modena and it's famous for it's cherries  that are in season from the middle of May to the end of June with different varieties that can be found. I was especially glad to find some duroni variety yesterday. They are really huge type of cherries, dark in colour and juicy and sweet. I weighed some of them and they were all between 11 and 15 grams. Compared to a few cherries I had at home, bought at the supermarket, these were almost double in size.
I've already used one small part of those I bought yesterday to make some... mmmmmmmm, I won't tell you yet, you'll have to come back ^__^ and I'm thinking I should make some Cherry jam as well.
Then I remembered how many recipes with cherries I actually have in my draft folder on blog. For some reason never published, but more then worth talking about.
So, if you're still in time to get your hands on some sweet, juicy cherries don't miss your chance. Here's just one suggestion, but a few more should follow soon... and not only sweet...
This is such a light and delicious cake. A soft, melting layer of sponge cake on the bottom and the perfectly smooth, melt-in-your-mouth layer of white chocolate and cheese cream on top. Only pieces of cherries make opposition and creating a flavour contrast as well.
I'd so love to have a slice in front of me... see, one reason why I shouldn't have pulled this out of the draft folder...


White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

Sponge cake:
70 g sugar
1/4 teaspoon honey
75 g eggs (approx. one large egg)
45 g egg yolks (approx. 2 large or 3 small egg yolks)
50 g flour
30 g potato   starch


Cream layer:
3 egg yolks
120 g sugar
150 g white chocolate
3x2g gelatine leaves (6 g in all)
150 g fresh ricotta cheese
250 ml heavy cream
1/2 lemon (juice)
200 g cherries
2 TBspoons sliced almonds (for decoration)

Put the whole egg(s), the sugar and the honey into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and foamy.
Add the egg yolks and continue beating at highest speed until stiff.
Add the flour and the potato starch mixing at lowest speed until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into greased and floured 22 cm spring form and bake the cake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 20 minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

For the cream part, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes to soften.
Mix the egg yolks, the sugar and the grated white chocolate in a heat proof mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl shouldn't be in contact with water) and cook stirring until the sugar has dissolved, the chocolate has melted and the cream starts thickening.
Remove the bowl from heat, stir in the well drained gelatine leaves and then the ricotta cheese previously passed through a fine mash sieve and the lemon juice. Whisk until the cream is smooth and set aside to cool at room temperature, stirring every now and then.
When the cream is cold, add the whipped heavy cream and the chopped cherries. Leave some cherry halves for decoration.
Place the cake on a serving plate and place a metal ring around it (1 cm wider than the cake). Pour the cream over the cake and level with a spatula or a spoon. Put the reserved cherries on top pushing them just slightly in.
Cover with a cling film and place the cake in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or until the cream has set and isn't runny.
Remove the metal ring - run a knife between the cake and the ring to loosen it.
Slightly dry toast the almonds in a skillet and press them to the sides of the cake.




White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

Cheesecake al cioccolato bianco e ciliegie


Pan di Spagna:
* 70 g di zucchero
* 1/4 di cucchiaino di miele
* 75 g di uova (circa un uovo grande)
* 45 g di tuorli (circa 2 tuorli grandi o 3 piccoli)
* 50 g farina
* 30 g fecola di patate


Crema:
* 3 tuorli
* 120 g di zucchero
* 150 g cioccolato bianco
* 3 fogli di gelatina (6 g)
* 150 g di ricotta fresca
* 250 ml panna fresca
* 1/2 limone (succo)
* 200 g di ciliegie
* 2 cucchiai di mandorle a lamelle per decorare


Per il pan di spagna, mettete le uova intere, lo zucchero e il miele in una terrina e sbattete con uno sbattitore elettrico finché la massa diventi chiara e gonfia. Aggiungete i tuorli e continuate a sbattere finché la massa diventi ben soda e montata.
Unite la farina setacciata insieme alla fecola continuando a mescolare alla velocità più bassa.
Versate il composto in uno stampo imburrato e infarinato di 22 cm di diametro (o leggermente più grande se preferite il pan di spagna più basso). Infornate a 180°C per 20 minuti circa.
Togliete il pan di spagna dallo stampo e lasciatelo raffreddare su una griglia.


Lasciate i fogli di gelatina in ammollo in acqua fredda per circa 10 minuti per ammorbidirli.
Per la crema, mescolate i tuorli, il cioccolato bianco grattugiato e lo zucchero in una terrina resistente a calore usando una frusta a mano.
Mettete la ciotola sopra una pentola con l'acqua che sobolle evitando il contatto tra i due. Cuocete la crema mescolando con una frusta o un cucchiaio finché lo zucchero e il cioccolato si sono sciolti e la crema inizia ad addensarsi.
Togliete dal fuoco e unite la gelatina ben strizzata, la ricotta setacciata e il succo di limone. Mescolate bene con una frusta e lasciate raffreddare a temperatura ambiente mescolando ogni tanto.
Montate la panna e tagliate le ciliegie a pezzettini lasciando qualcuna intera o tagliata a metà per decorare la torta. Aggiungete la panna montata e le ciliegie alla crema e mescolate bene.
Mettete il pan di spagna su un piatto. Posizionate un anello d'acciaio intorno, 1 cm più largo della torta.
Versate la crema sopra e livellatela. Posizionate sopra le ciliege lasciate da parte.
Coprite il tutto con la pellicola e lasciate in frigo per almeno 2-3 ore o finché la crema si sarà rappresa.
Passate un coltello tra l'anello e la torta per staccarlo.
Tostate le mandorle in un pentolino (senza aggiungere grassi) e decorate i lati della torta.


White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

Torta s bijelom čokoladom, sirom i trešnjama


Biskvit:
* 70 g šećera
* 1/4 žličice meda
* 75 g jaja
* 45 g žumanjaka
* 50 g brašna
* 30 g škrobnog brašna


Nadjev:
* 3 žumanjka
* 120 g šećera
* 150 g bijele čokolade
* 3 listića želatine (6 g)
* 150 g svježeg kravljeg sira
* 250 ml slatkog vrhnja za šlag
* 1/2 limuna (sok)
* 200 g trešanja
* 2 žlice listića badema (za ukras)


■za biskvit:
Stavite cijela jaja, šećer i med u zdjelu i umutite dobro mikserom na najvećoj brzini.
Dodajte žumanjke pa nastavite mutiti dok ne dobijete čvrstu smjesu.
Smanjite brzinu miksera na najnižu pa polagano dodajite brašno (pomiješano i prosijano zajedno sa škrobnim brašnom).
Ulijte tijesto u namašten i pobrašnjen kalup promjera 22cm (ili veći ako želite tanji biskvit) i pecite oko 20 minuta na 180°C. Izvadite tijesto iz kalupa i ostavite da se ohladi.


■za nadjev:
Namočite listiće želatine u hladnu vodu 10-ak minuta da omekšaju.
Pomiješajte žumanjke, naribanu čokoladu i šećer pa kuhajte na pari da se čokolada i šećer istope i krema malo zgusne.
U toplu kremu umiješajte ocijeđene listiće želatine, a zatim i dobro ocijeđeni i propasirani sir i sok limuna. Izmiješajte dobro pjenjačom da dobijete glatku kremu. Ostavite da se potpuno ohladi, povremeno promiješajte pjenjačom.
Umutite čvrst šlag od slatkog vrhnja pa ga umiješajte u ohlađenu kremu, a zatim dodajte očišćene i narezane trešnje (ostavila sam nekoliko polovica trešanja koje sam na kraju utisnula u kremu).
Položite biskvit na tanjur, pa oko njega stavite metalni obruč (neka obruč bude za 1 cm širi od torte) i ulijte nadjev. Pokrijte prozirnom folijom i ostavite barem 2-3 sata u hladnjaku da se nadjev stisne.
Pažljivo uklonite obruč (prođite prvo pažljivo nožem između torte i ruba obruča, a onda ga otvorite i skinite). Ukrasite stranice torte malo poprženim listićima badema.

White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

White Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake

25 June, 2012

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette

The first thing I check in the morning is the weather forcast, hoping every time to hear some "good" news, that is to say that the temperature is getting slightly normal, a little bit cooler. Looks like there's no hope. Apart from a 5-minute shower on Saturday afternoon nothing has changed, at least not significantly.
I especially find it difficult to start a day, feeeling heavy and tired in the morning, after a sleepless night. I find that fruit and vegetables, fortunately available in this period, are the best "drug", supplying the energy and lost mineral salts and vitamins in order to push through the day. I'm literally loading on peaches, apricots, cherries, melons, etc.  Have you got any idea or advice to share? What helps you go through the summer heat?

When it's this hot, but you need to cook anyway, the best solution is to prepare an all-in-one meal. Pasta with vegetables and cheese polpette is a perfect example. Simple and yet nutritious, however, not leaving you feeling heavy after meal.
I've already made it twice in the past few days and I think that says it all.
I even liked the idea of zucchini and ricotta polpette alone, could eat them as side dish as well, or just with a large salad.

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette
(4 servings)

* 320 g pasta (pennette, fusilli, etc.)
* 500 g zucchini
* 200 g ricotta
* 2 eggs
* 6 TBspoons flour
* 4 TBspoons of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
* several leaves of fresh sage
* salt and pepper
* Extra virgin olive oil

Wash and dry the zucchini. Cut off the ends, then cut them lenghtwise into 2-3 mm thick slices and then into sticks.
Place the zucchini into a wide baking pan. Add 3-4 TBspoons EVOO, salt and pepper to your taste, and stir well with your hands so that the zucchini are well coated.
Mix the ricotta cheese with lightly beaten eggs, the grated parmigiano, the flour, the finely chopped sage, salt and pepper. The mixutre will be quite soft.
Using two small spoons (for example coffee spoons) shape the mixture into polpette (little balls), don't mind if they aren't perfectly shaped. Place the ricotta polpette in the baking pan dropping them over the zucchini.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake the zucchini and polpette for 20-30 minutes or until the polpette are golden colour, stirring everything a couple times.

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta.
In a large skillet heat 1 TBspoons olive oil with a clove of garlic.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to the skillet with hot oil. Stir well and then add the zucchini with the ricotta polpette, stir well and serve.



Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette


Pasta con zucchine e polpette di ricotta
(per 4 persone)


* 320 g di pasta (pennette, fusilli, etc.)
* 500 g di zucchine
* 200 g di ricotta
* 2 uova
* 6 cucchiai di farina
* 4 cucchiai di parmigiano reggiano grattugiato
* qualche foglia di salvia fresca
* sale e pepe
* olio extra vergine d'oliva


Lavate asciugate e spuntate le zucchine. Tagliatele a fettine spesse 2-3 mm nel senso di lunghezza e poi a bastoncini.
Mettete le zucchine in una teglia larga con 3-4 cucchiai di olio, sale e pepe. Mescolate bene.
In una ciotola mescolate bene la ricotta con le uova leggermente sbattute, il parmigiano grattugiato, la farina, la salvia tritata, sale e pepe. 
Aiutandovi con due cucchiaini da caffè prelevate un po di impasto di ricotta e formate delle palline. Adagiatele sopra le zucchine. 
Riscaldate il forno a 200°C e infornate la teglia con le zucchine e polpette per circa 20-30 minuti o finché le polpette diventino dorate. Rimestate il tutto un paio di volte durante la cottura.
Nel frattempo portate a ebollizione una pentola con l'acqua, salatela e cuocete la pasta.
Scaldate un cucchiaio d'olio in una larga padella con uno spicchio d'aglio. Scolate la pasta e saltatela un attimo nella padella con l'olio caldo. Aggiungete le zucchine e le polpette, mescolate bene e servite.


Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette


Tjestenina s tikvicama i polpetama od ricotte
(za 4 osobe)


* 320 g kratke tjestenine (npr. pennette, fusilli, itd.)
* 500 g di tikvica
* 200 g di ricotte (ili svježeg kravljeg sira)
* 2 jaja
* 6 žlica brašna
* 4 žlice naribanog parmigiana
* nekoliko listića svježe kadulje
* sol i papar
* ekstra djevičansko maslinovo ulje


Operite i posušite tikvice. Odrežite im krajeve pa ih narežite prvo uzdužno na ploške od 2-3 mm, a zatim poprečno na štapiće.
Stavite tikvice u širi pleh, dodajte 3 žlice maslinovog ulja, soli i papar, izmiješajte dobro rukama.
Pomiješajte u zdjeli ricottu, malo razmućena jaja, naribani sir, brašno, sitno nasjeckanu kadulju, sol i papar. Izmiješajte dobro žlicom.
Uz pomć dvije žličice uzimajte ovu prilično mekanu smjesu i oblikujte manje više pravilne kuglice koje stavljajte na pleh preko tikvica.
Stavite peći u pećnicu zagrijanu na 200°C otprilike 20-30 minuta ili dok polpette ne porumene, promiješajte sve par puta tijekom pečenja.
U međuvremenu stavite lonac s vodom da zavrije. Posolite vodu i stavite kuhati tjesteninu.
Zagrijte u široj tavi žlicu maslinovog ulja s češnjem češnjaka. Ocijedite kuhanu tjesteninu i dodajte je u tavu s vrućim uljem. Izmiješajte i lagano zagrijte sve skupa. Maknite s vatre i dodajte tikvice i polpette od ricotte. Izmiješajte i poslužite toplo.

Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Polpette

23 June, 2012

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with Cherries)

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)

Obviously, I could have planned my pregnancy better than this. Having still two months to go in this African heat sounds almost like being a masochist. The truth is that I did plan for the baby to be born in May, and probably for this reason got pregrant later than I wanted to. And I'm suffering this heat more than I want to. I hate it. If only the temperature would go down to some normal 30°C, but no... humid, suffocating 38-40°C for the entire week have been insisting and will continue till God knows when.
I don't know whether it's worse during the day or at night. I think I've had in all several hours of sleep during the whole week. Just hoping that won't influence the little guy when he comes out... That would be a serious punishment, because my daughters were really great at night, never spent a night listening to them crying.
My punishment at the moment, other than heat, is the oven that's not working again. You care about the oven when it's so hot? you might say. You're right. But no matter how absurd it may sound I never stop baking even when temperatures seem impossible. It's almost a relief when I get out of hot kitchen and go to another room where it seems fresh, at least for a moment. And then, hot or not, you have to eat. I'm not the kind of person who can live on salads and ice cream. I need a slice of fresh bread, as well as a cookie, a muffin or a slice of cake with my coffee. And I've spoiled myself to the point that the store bought stuff is all "forget about it".
These muffins, that I made a couple weeks ago, were such a success with my younger daughter to the point that I had to make them twice in two days. Obviosly, she's not the only one who liked them ^__^.
Originally, there were no cherries in the recipe, but they were my daughter's idea, and being a cherry lover as I am, I couldn't resist adding them in.
So soft and chocolaty that they're impossible to resist. Someone had a little tummyache after eating three in a row... no, it wasn't me ^__^

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)
(slightly adapted from Croissant e biscotti,by Luca Montersino)

(for approx.15 muffins)
* 225 g flour
* 35 g unsweetened cocoa
* 3 teaspoons baking powder
* 90 g non refined brown sugar
* 100 g chocolate drops
* 1 large egg
* 2 egg yolks
* 285 g full fat milk
* 70 g melted butter
* 1 teaspoon orange liquor (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, ili sl.)
* about 15 cherries (if adding them)

Sift the flour, the cocoa and the baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk the dry ingredients together.
In another bowl whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolks and the milk. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Add the melted and cooled butter, then the liquor and in the end the chocolate drops.
If you want to add the cherries, pit them first. I left the stems and removed the stones from the bottom of each cherry leaving them as whole as possible.
Fill the paper muffin cups up to 2/3, add a cherry on top (it will sink on it's own while baking) and bake the muffins in an oven preheated to 200°C for about 15 minutes (check with a toothpick).
Remove the muffins from the muffin tin and let them cool on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)

Muffin al ciocolato e arancia (con ciliege)
(leggermente adattato da "Croissant e biscotti" di Luca Montersino)


(per circa 15 muffin)
* 225 g farina
* 35 g cacao amaro
* 1 bustina di lievito per dolci
* 90 g zucchero di canna integrale
* 100 g di gocce di cioccolato fondente
* 1 uovo
* 2 tuorli
* 285 g latte intero
* 70 g burro fuso
* 1 cucchiaino di liquore all' arancia (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, o simile)
* circa 15 ciliegie (se decidete di aggiungerle)


Setacciate la farina, il cacao e il lievito in una ciotola. Aggiungete lo zucchero e mescolate.
In un'altra ciotola mettete l'uovo intero, i tuorli e il latte. Mescolate con una frusta a mano e poi versate il tutto nella ciotola con la farina e zucchero. Mescolate con un cucchiaio di legno senza lavorare troppo.
Unite il burro fuso, il liquore e infine le gocce di cioccolato. 
Riempite i pirottini per i muffin con la massa preparata fino a 2/3 della loro altezza. Mettete una ciliegia snocciolata sopra ogni muffin (affonderà da sola nella cottura). Ho snocciolato le ciliegie togliendo il nocciolo da sotto in modo di lasciare la ciliegia quasi intera e con il picciolo attaccato.  
Infornate i muffin a 200°C per circa 15 minuti. 
Lasciateli raffreddare prima di mangiarli.


Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)

Čokoladni muffini s narančom (i trešnjama)


(za oko 15-ak muffina)
* 225 g brašna
* 35 g gorkog kakaa
* 1 vrećica praška za pecivo
* 90 g integralnog smeđeg šećera
* 100 g čokoladnih kapljica
* 1 cijelo jaje
* 2 žumanjka
* 285 g punomasnog mlijeka
* 70 g otopljenog maslaca
* 1 žličica likera od naranče (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, ili sl.)
* 15-ak trešanja


Prosijte u veću zdjelu brašno, kakao i prašak za pecivo. Dodajte šećer i promiješajte.
U drugoj zdjeli izmiješajte ručnom pjenjačom jaje, žumanjke i mlijeko. Dodajte u zdjelu sa suhim sastojcima pa izmiješajte drvenom kuhačom - ne miješajte previše, tek toliko da se svi sastojci spoje.
Umiješajte otopljeni, prohlađeni maslac u smjesu, liker, a zatim i čokoladne kapljice.
Napunite kalupe za muffine obložene papirnim košaricama do 2/3 visine.
Ako želite dodati trešnje, zarežite ih s donje strane u križ i izvadite košticu bez da trešnje izgubi previše oblik (ostavite i peteljku). Stavite trešnju na vrh muffina i sasvim malo utisnite (ja sam ih utisnula malo više pa su u pečenju potpuno nestale).
Stavite ih peći u pećnicu zagrijanu na 200°C oko 15-ak minuta (provjerite čačkalicom zabodenom u sredinu, ali ne u trešnju - mora izaći suha).
 p.s. Ako vam se ne žuri, stavite muffine prije pečenja 10 minuta u hladnjak, dobit će ljepši oblik (karakterističnu kupolu na vrhu) pri pečenju.

Chocolate Orange Muffins (with cherries)

19 June, 2012

Simple Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread

Since I prepared my sourdouhg starter, this bread is a regular guest at our table, at least once a week. I really love it. Such a great crust and soft inside. It's hard not to finish the whole loaf within a couple hours.
Bread made with the sourdough starter may ask for a little bit more time and effort, but it's basicly simple to prepare. You may choose the flour you prefer - I love white bread, but I've also made it combining white wheat flour with rye flour as well as with semolina flour. I'm just excited every time it's done and I have to force myself to wait and not to cut it immediately.
Compared to bread made with beer yeast, sourdough bread has richer and more complex flavour, it's more fragrant. It's much easier to digest thanks to the numerous yeasts and bacteria present in the sourdough starter.
Haven't got any sourdough starter yet? What are you waiting for? Start preparing it now... or if you live nearby, stop by and I'll be glad to share a piece of mine with you. Happy baking, everyone.

Sourdough bread

Simple Sourdough Bread

* 200 g sourdough starter
* 300 g water
* 500 g flour (white or wholewheat, rye, spelt, kamut or combination)
* 2 teaspoons salt

The evening before, refresh your sourdough starter: Take 200 g of the sourdough starter. Put it in a bowl with 100 g of lukewarm water and mix with your hand until it's almost completely dissolved. Add 200 g of flour and knead well to form a soft ball of dough. Cover with a humid cotton cloth and let rest overnight (or at least 6-8 hours. The following morning take 200 g of the active sourdough and use it for bread, store the rest in an airtight glass container.

Mix the sourdough starter with 300 g lukewarm water until almost completely dissolved.
Add the flour, mixing it in with your hand - when you have incorporated half of the flour add the salt, and then the rest of the flour.
Knead well on the kneading board dusting it with a little flour as necessary until the dough is soft, elastic and doesn't stick to the board.
Place the dough into a clean, large bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 3 to 4 hour.
Take the dough out of the bowl, onto a lightly floured kneading board (I use finely ground semolina flour), flatten it slightly with your hands, but delicately in order not to lose all the air. Fold the upper third towards the middle, and then lower one, too. Fold the left side towards the middle and the right one over it. Turn the dough so that the seam is underneath and put the dough back to the bowl. Let it rest again for 45-60 minutes.


                           Sourdough bread           Sourdough bread

          Sourdough bread      DSC_0071

          DSC_0072       DSC_0072

          DSC_0073         DSC_0074

After that you may repeat the folding two or three more times or form a loaf. Dust the loaf generously with flour and let it rest covered for 1 or 2 hours, depending on temperature.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake the bread for approximately 30 minutes.
I bake it in a cast iron oval pot with a lid - I preheat it together with the oven to 250°C, then put the loaf in and bake for 20-25 minutes covered, remove the lid, lower the heat to 200°C and bake for about 10 more minutes. This way the crust is incredibly crunchy and delicious.

                                                      Sourdough bread

Let the bread cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing it.
It keeps well for days and may be frozen as well (better freeze it sliced).

* So far I've made it with white wheat flour only, and combining 300 g white wheat flour with 200 g rye flour.


Sourdough bread

Pane semplice con lievito madre


* 200 g di lievito madre
* 300 g di acqua tiepida (meglio se minerale)
* 500 g farina a scelta (bianca o integrale, segale, farro, kamut o combinazione)
* 2  cucchiaini di sale


Rinfrescate il lievito madre la sera prima - togliete il LM dal frigo, prelevate 200 g e fatelo ammorbidire con 100 g di acqua leggermente tiepida. Unite 200 g di farina e impastate bene. Lasciate riposare in una ciotola coperta con un canovaccio umido per tutta la notte. La mattina dopo prelevate 200 g che vi servono per il pane e il resto ponete di nuovo in un contenitore di vetro, in frigorifero.
Mettete ora i 200 g di LM in un'ampia ciotola, aggiungete 300 g di acqua tiepida e fatelo sciogliere mescolando con le mani. Cominciate ad aggiungere la farina che avete scelto (anche un misto di farine diverse), precedentemente setacciata. Quando avete aggiunto circa metà farina, unite il sale. Impastate bene,
trasferite la pasta su una spianatoia infarinata e impastate per qualche minuto finché la pasta risulti liscia, morbida e non più appiccicosa.
Formate una palla, ponetela in un ampia ciotola, coprite e lasciate riposare per circa 3-4 ore. L'impasto deve raddoppiare.
Rovesciate la pasta sulla spianatoia infarinata e appiattitela leggermente con le mani. Fate un giro di pieghe portando i quattro lati verso il centro. Lasciate riposare di nuovo per 45 minuti. Dopo di che potete formare subito un filone oppure ripetere le pieghe per altre 2-3 volte. Una volta che avete formato il filoncino, infarinatelo e lasciatelo raddoppiare (1 o 2 ore, dipende dalla temperatura).
Scaldate il forno a 200°C. Trasferite il pane su una placca da forno e fatelo cuocere per circa 30 minuti.
Oppure procedete come faccio io - scaldate una pentola con il coperchio (in ghisa, o altro, basta che non abbia parti in plastica) insieme al forno a 250°C. Trasferite il pane nella pentola rovente e cuocetelo coperto per circa 25 minuti, poi togliete il coperchio e continuate la cottura per altri 10-15 minuti.
Lasciate raffreddare il pane su una griglia prima di tagliarlo.
Potete anche congelarlo, meglio se prima affettato.


Sourdough bread

Jednostavni kruh s kiselim tijestom


* 200 g kiselog tijesta (startera)
* 300 g vode (bolje ako je izvorska ili mineralna negazirana)
* 500 g brašna po izboru (bijelog ili integralnog pšeničnog, raženog, pirovog, kamuta)
* 2  žličice soli


Večer prije pripreme kruha, izvadite vaše kiselo tijesto iz hladnjaka, uzmite 200 g i osvježite ga s 200 g brašna i 100 g mlake vode. Kad ste dobili ujednačeno i glatko tijesto ostavite ga da stoji na sobnoj temperaturi cijelu noć (u većoj zdjeli pokrivenoj vlažnom krpom i prozirnom folijom).
Ujutro, odvojite 200 g od ovog kvasa koje ćete upotrijebiti za izradu kruhu, ostatak vratite u staklenku, pa u hladnjak gdje može stajati opet do tjedan dana najviše, prije sljedeće upotrebe i osvježavanja.
Stavite kiselo tijesto u zdjelu s 300 g mlake vode i miješajte rukom da se otopi. Dodajte oko 1/2 kg brašna po vašem izboru (pšenično, pirovo, itd.) i zamijesite tijesto. Tek kad ste dodali otprilike polovicu brašna i tijesto se počne povezivati umiješajte sol.
Ostavite tijesto da se diže 3-4 sata na toplom mjestu, pokriveno, dok ne udvostruči obujam. Istresite tijesto na pobrašnjenu površinu. Lagano ga rastanjite rukama, ne pritiskajući previše da ne izađe sav zrak iz tijesta. Preklopite sve četiri stranice prema sredini tako da se preklapaju. Okrenite preklop prema dolje. Malo izdužite tijesto ako želite oblikovati štrucu, ili ostavite okrugao kruh. Ili tijesto podijelite na manje dijelove i oblikujte manje štruce, kruščice, peciva po želji.
Pecite na 200°C oko 30 minuta, ovisno o veličini. Ili kao ja u posudi s poklopcem (posudu zagrijte s poklopcem na 250°C, stavite tijesto i pecite 25 minuta s pokolpcem i još 10-ak bez poklopca, pri tom smanjite na 200°C).

17 June, 2012

Swiss Chard Fritters

Swiss Chard  Fritters

I don't know why, but sometimes I just can't find words to say something before the recipe. This is one of those "empty" moments. No matter how much I enjoyed this recipe I don't know what to say about it except that if you're looking for something quick and delicious, do give these a try. I had them for lunch and I found them perfect. With some cottage cheese and salad, I didn't need anything else. With kids at home now at lunch time and everyone asking for something different, it's not easy to try new things and satisfy everyone.
My tiny vegetable garden has only two vegetables this year - zucchini and Swiss chard. The kind of Swiss chard I planted is the one with tiny, tender leaves, almost like spinach, so I thought they could perfectly substitute baby spinach that the original recipe called for. I even like better that earthy flavor (don't know how else to describe it), than the spinach. And of course, whatever has been just picked up tastes much better than the stuff from a sealed bag.
Well, we should be off to the seaside any moment, just for the day, the heat in town is becoming unbearable and we need a little change in our daily routine and a little fun and refreshment.


Swiss Chard  Fritters

Swiss Chard / Spinach  Fritters
(from february issue of Cucina naturale magazine)

* 2 eggs
* 150 g flour
* 150 ml milk
* 20 g di butter
* a little baking powder 
* 1 TBspoon finely chopped parsley 
* 100 g baby swiss chard or baby spinach
* salt and pepper
* extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Mix in the flour and then gradually the milk making attention not to leave any lumps.
Add the melted butter, the baking powder, the parsley, salt and pepper to your taste. In the end, stir in the swiss chard or baby spinach cut into tiny strips. You should obtain pretty dense batter.
Heat 2 TBspoons of oil in s skillet. Drop spoonfulls of batter and cook them for a couple minutes. Flip them and cook for one more minute. Continue with the remaining batter adding more oil if necessary.
Serve these fritters with some fresh cheese, like cottage chese or similar, and a seasonal fresh salad.



Swiss Chard  Fritters

Frittelline con erbette / spinaci
(da Cucina naturale, numero di febbraio)


* 2 uova
* 150 g di farina
* 150 ml di latte
* 20 g di burro
* la punta di un cucchiaino di lievito per dolci non vanigliato
* 1 cucchiaio di prezzemolo tritato 
* 100 g di erbette/bietoline o spinaci da insalata
* sale, pepe
* olio extra vergine d'oliva


Mescolate con una frusta a mano le uova con la farina, aggiungete gradualmente il latte facendo l'attenzione a non formare i grumi.
Unite il burro fuso, il lievito, il prezzemolo, una presa di sale e pepe, e alla fine le foglie di erbette o spinaci tagliate a striscioline sottili.  Dovete ricavare una pastella piuttosto consistente.
Scaldate in una padella 2 cucchiaio di olio EVO. Mettete cucchiaiate del composto nella padella ottenendo frittelle di circa 7-8 cm di diametro. Cuocetele a fiamma moderata per un paio di minuti, poi giratele e cuocete ancora per un minuto. Continuate con il restante composto aggiungendo altro olio se necessario.
Servite le frittelline con formaggio freschi tipo stracchino, fiocchi di latte o simili e un'insalata.


Swiss Chard  Fritters

Palačinkice s mladom blitvom / špinatom
(iz časopisa Cucina naturale)


* 2 jaja
* 150 g brašna
* 150 ml mlijeka
* 20 g di maslaca
* na vrh žličice praška za pecivo
* 1 žlica sitno nasjeckanog lista peršina 
* 100 g mlade blitve ili špinata za salatu
* sol i papar
* extra djevičansko maslinovo ulje


Pomiješajte ručnom pjenjačom jaja s brašnom. Dodajte postepeno mlijeko da dobijete smjesu bez grumenčića. Umiješajte otopljeni maslac, prašak za pecivo, peršin, malo soli i papra i na kraju blitvicu ili špinat narezane na tanke trakice. Trebali biste dobiti dosta gustu smjesu.
Zagrijte u tavi 2 žlice maslinovog ulja pa stavljajte žlicom smjesu oblikujući hrpice promjera 7-8 cm. Pecite ih par minuta, a zatim preokrenite pa pecite još jednu minutu s druge strane. Nastavite peći ostatak smjese dodajući po potrebi ulja.
Poslužite ih uz svježi sir po želji i salatu.



Swiss Chard  Fritters