spacedlaw: (Default)
( Feb. 19th, 2017 04:37 pm)
I think we've all got these types of emails. That and the penis enlargement ones.
Regardless of our sex or sexual preferences, obviously.
Just like we all get [insert African state here] scams regardless of the state of our bank account.

But it so happens hot dates are good.
Just mind that you don't burn your tongue on them.
[insert salacious emoji here]

Hot dates

Use un-pitted dates, preferably medjool.
In a pan or skillet heat up some olive oil.
Crumble some dried chili in it (to taste).
Add the dates and let them plump a bit and get warm (about 5 minutes). Mind that they don't burn.
Drain them in a bowl, sprinkle with salt flakes (smoked salt flakes are great if you have them)
Sprinkle them with a little grated zest of orange and lemon.

Wait until just warmish
Enjoy with a glass of wine (or your favourite aperitif drink)

Hot dates
These were about erasure and I did not have any material (or time) to play with, so I am pushing these aside for the time being.
I made pasta, vitel’ tonné, vignarola, and cake instead. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL.

Pomodori vestiti, crema di ricotta e pecorino, olio di basilico
spacedlaw: (Default)
( Aug. 25th, 2015 02:07 pm)
Yeah, I know: As a title, that’s a trifle generic.
However, even if the version I am about to document hereinafter is a fig tart, that recipe works for any juicy fruit, so I suppose the recipe is fairly generic. And slightly incorrect too, as tarts go [insert improper tart jokes here]

Fig Tart

What happens here is a rising brisée soaking up the juices of a spare layer of fruits. So strictly too high to be a real tart, too thick a dough to be cake, too moist to be biscuit (also only cooks once if you want to be pedantic about what a biscuit really is). However…

You know what? I don’t care. Call it anything you like. I call it SIMPLE and I call it GOOD. FRUITY is adequate too.

So what does it take?

An oven heated up at 200c

260g flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons of cream (the fluid type)
150g butter
A pinch of salt
A dusting of cinnamon (or vanilla)

Mix all this and pour into a parchment-lined deep dish.
Cut some fruits in half or segment (here figs, collected from a tree we have at work, are cut in two – that works fine with small fruits like cherries, plums, apricots, or figs. For things like peaches or rhubarb, segments work better)
Lay them on top of the dough, pressing the fruits gently into the paste – only partially as the dough will rise.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Fig tart

Let it cool partially or fully before cutting and eating.
Good on its own, this can be served with cream (clotted or not), mascarpone, ice cream, or even custard.
Remember that recipe I nicked from Heston Blumenthal?
An amount of porridge oats
Three time that amount in liquid
Three time that amount in flavoured butter (!)
Some aromatic purée
A VERY short cooking time?

As in: You boil the liquid, add the oats, let them absorb the liquid stirring, add the butter, adjust liquids if necessary.
Take off the heat.
Add the puréed stuff.

I have been making a lighter version of my tomato version over the past weeks – using basil infused olive oil instead of butter and cottage cheese or labneh instead of burrata.

But last Sunday, as I was walking about the neighbourhood in a chilly weather I was assailed by a profound desire for chocolate. So my mind toyed with the concept while I was increasing my step. Then I stopped to forage for some rosemary in bloom.

Because you see, it had to be chocolate but it still had to be savoury.

So I boiled some water (150g) with a pinch of smoked salt and a pinch of unrefined cane sugar. Added a few finely chopped leaves of rosemary.
Added 50g of rolled oats
Cooked briefly.
Took the pan away from the heat, added a big tablespoon of raw chocolate, some cocoa nibs, and a piece of salted butter.
Graced this with a dollop of cottage cheese garnished with rosemary flowers and more cocoa nibs.

Had to chase Caos away from the plate – the bid doofus has a thing for cottage cheese which I tend to humour but chocolate is toxic to animals, so no licking allowed this time.

Chocolate Porridge


It was all I had wanted.
May have to repeat in the future if my chocolate addiction does not abate.

Chocolate Porridge

All chocolate goodies from the fabulous Alyssa.
As per miracle, holiday happened. Very briefly and intensely - and all over the place:

- Went to Cupra Marittima for Ferragosto (mostly ate)
- Then back home for 2 days (mostly packed)
- Then to Paris (ate and walked the Coulée Verte) for a day or so
- Then to Nancy (visiting my parents, reading, and eating) for five days
- Then back to Paris (barely the time to eat) for half a day
- Then home for a blink (I only just barely made it into the Frida Kahlo exhibition before it closed - some laundry was performed)
- Then to Cura Marittima again (some walking about happened) for 2 days and a half
- Then to Sarnano for six days. There - thank goodness - it rained so I could not walk about so much and was forced to REST.
- Then back home to do laundry and mentally prepare for return into madness

(I need a new holiday to recover form my holiday)


While in Nancy, we were invited to an Apéro Dinatoire at my parents' new neighbours' and one of the nice dishes we were served was a wonderful and moist apple cake. We immediately petitioned the author for recipe and I decided to try a variant on my colleagues as soon as I would be back into work, to see if they could be bribed into sending me on holiday again. (not such lick yet, although they did love the cake).

Moellux Poires et Chocolat

So here's my spin on Ludovic's incredible Moelleux aux Pommes:


100g flour
1 packet of instant yeast
70g sugar
45g milk
40g soft butter
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
2 firm pears peeled and chopped in small pieces.
1 handful of small chocolate chips (the ones I have used are tiny – the size of big pin heads – so you might want to chop yours up, if needed)


70g very soft/liquefied butter
100g sugar
1 egg

Set your oven on 200ºC.
Take a square 22cm/22cm deep dish (or the round equivalent if you can be bothered to square a circle – I used a square dish because it is easier to cut pieces). Line it with parchment.
Mix all the first seven ingredients for the base. Thoroughly. Then add first the chocolate chips and last the pear pieces, making sure the batter covers them all. There is not a lot of batter and the adjunction of fruit should about double the amount that you have.
Pour the mixture into your dish and stick in the oven for 20 minutes.

While this is cooking, mix together the ingredients for the topping. You can use the same mixing bowl than for the base!
After the 20 minutes have gone, take your base out of the oven and pour the topping mixture over the top of your partially baked cake. Stick the whole thing back in the over for another 20 minutes.

Let it cool a bit (liquid in the fruits will stay warm a long time).
Eat warm (best!) or cold.

The consistency should be similar to that of a bread and butter pudding. Fruits can be changed (the original version was calling for 4 green apples – and no chocolate chips) but make sure that your fruits are not too juicy (pears are juicier than apples, even if not fully ripe, which is why I have used only 2 in my version of the recipe, adding the chocolate chips for fun) and not too ripe otherwise they might cook to some sort of jam. The nice young man I stole this recipe from (Hi, Ludovic!) has used peaches with some success and I am pretty sure this recipe would be great with plums too. It might probably also work with cherries.

Now, if I could just work out a savoury version…

Where I totally poach a cooking scheme from Heston Blumenthal – no liquid nitrogen needed.

So a few weeks ago, I was in London and I went to have lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
(Recipes by the man, actual cooking done by somebody else: Ashley Palmer-Watts.)
(A hoax, you say? I believe it is called a concept.)
(Semantics? Well. What wrong with that? I couldn’t make a living without semantics. I certainly couldn’t afford to eat at Dinner without semantics too.)

A very nice lunch it was too, with dishes inspired from old traditional English cook books. The oldest dish I had that day was, in its earlier avatar, traced back to 1390 while the most recent one stemmed from 1720 (clearly an upstart, though there are recipes on the menu which are as recent as the 19th century).

One of the dishes I had that day was this:

Nettle Porridge (c.1660)

Which is a nettle porridge (c.1660) garnished with frog's legs, girolles, garlic & fennel (attributed to “The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected” by William Rabisha, 1661).
The nettle porridge itself tickled my curiosity and I knew I would have to play with the idea of a savoury oat porridge not necessarily cooked in water or milk. And not reduced to mulch.

The recipe as served is actually – I believe – also a spin on Heston’s Snail Porridge, a dish from his Fat Duck restaurant which – lucky for me – made it into the pages of The Big Fat Duck Cookbook. Which I have in my - not negligible - cooking books library.
While I had bought the book mostly because of Dave Ms Kean’s art in it – the book is enormous, which make it a tad difficult to use as an actual cookbook – I was happy to resort to it in order to figure out the dynamics of that particular porridge.

Heston makes a rather complex recipe of his snail porridge, but I was able to extract some very basic tips for my own private play time:

An amount of porridge oats
Three time that amount in liquid
Three time that amount in flavoured butter (!)
Some aromatic purée
A VERY short cooking time.

The recipe more or less runs like this:
You boil the liquid, add the oats, let them absorb the liquid stirring, add the butter, adjust liquids if necessary.
Take off the heat.
Add the puréed stuff.

Voilà. Less than 10 minutes (more like five, really: the longest point must be getting the liquid to a boiling point).
Except that the original recipe involves making chicken stock, blanching and puréeing nettles, bringing together a parsleyed butter which is far more complex than what I would have envisaged from just reading those two words. And snails.
While mine didn’t.

So what was my take on it?
For now, tomatoes.
(You can’t get more Italian and seasonal than this).

What I did was to slice thinly some tomatoes and add salt so they would render their water.
Since the salad I later did with the flesh bits was rather tasteless (we’ve had too much water, I fear, for the tomatoes to really be any good), I could have just juiced the tomatoes so I would suggest you do just that, if you have the tools to do so.


Dear Heston uses 10 grams of porridge oats for 2 persons (for a starter) but I weighted that much in a bowl and thought “Naaah. That’s never going to feed my mad cyclist!” so upped the proportion to 50 grams for a primo. I could have used more – the portion was rather lean – but I was concerned about not having tomato water (using 50g of oats meant having to use 150g of liquid). Besides the recipe is fairly rich, so a little goes a nice way.

Porridge oats

The next bit to prepare was the flavoured butter.
By laws of proportion, I should have prepared 150 grams of it but I decided to keep the level of fat at about 50 grams instead (about. I didn’t weight it) on the basis that it should be already plenty and I wanted to garnish the porridge with stracciatella di burrata and a splash of olive oil.
I melted some unsalted butter, torn some basil and let the lot do their mingling magic away from the heat.

Basil infused butter

About an hour later…

Once the table was set, I boiled the tomato water, added the oats and stirred until they had absorbed the water. Since keeping a bright green colour was not on my list of priorities (as it would do if – like Heston – I had worked with puréed nettles which would have turned to a yucky green if cooked more), I left the pan on the stove and added first the flavoured butter and then some tomato sauce, table spoon by table spoon, stirring until the consistency was that of “a runny rice porridge” as per Heston’s instructions. Think risotto consistency.
Five minutes maximum all in all unless you want your oats to be thoroughly mushed.
Called the cyclist to come and eat. NOW!

Dressed the porridge in two plates, added cracked pepper, a splash of stracciatella di burrata cream, a coma of stracciatella di burrata, and a semi colon of the best olive oil I have.

Tomato porridge with stracciatella di burrata

I could totally have that for breakfast every day (for a week at least). The mad cyclist would have preferred pasta.
Next experiment will involve beetroot and blue cheese. That should be plenty colourful and tasty too.
Oh show me the way to the next cocktail bar…
(Oh don’t ask why. No don’t ask why.)

Do ask why.

I don’t drink cocktails. They are by and large over-sweet for my taste and I drink very little alcohol anyway.
I tend to prefer my whiskey neat (because it’s good whiskey and I am not wasting it). Vodka, I normally use for cooking (unless it’s Żubrówka, in which case I drink it ice cold and neat with a side of blinis and salmon or fish eggs)
Therefore, when I got that chocolate martini making kit in the mail…

Chocolate martini making kit (by Blyss Chocolate)

Hang on.
Who gets chocolate martini making sets in the mail?

Why, members of the Blyss Chocolate Club, of course!
Monthly raw virgin chocolate landing at your door. Delicious eco-solidarity morsels (or powder) brought together by Alyssa, the loveliest cocoa grower and harvester you’ll ever meet. Consider getting a subscription, it is well worth it.

So I did get that kit in the mail. In June. And instructions (thank goodness). And then I immediately ran into troubles: I don’t have martini glasses.
Utter drama ensued. As you can imagine. (well, no, not really. But it could have. If I had felt strongly about cocktails in the first place. Though if I had, I most likely would not have found myself glassless. Oh well.)

Also: for health related issues, I could only sample the martini during the day (as aperitif or post prandial drink). Which meant that I could only have it during the weekend (there is sufficient mayhem at the office right now without having to add alcohol related nonsense). And I was going away for 2 weekends in a row.

Thus the kit sat – dejected – in my cupboard for almost a full month.
But by the time I was ready to have that martini, I REALLY NEEDED that martini.
(Have I mentioned that the office is murder these days?)
(That’s it’s been murder for the past seven months and is unlikely to change before… another seven or so?)

So there goes the chocolate martini mambo:

Take some good quality vodka, measure 260 ml of it (or more) in a bottle and dump the content of the raw cocoa nibs phial in it. Let it rest, shaking once a day, for at least a week.

In a saucepan, dump the content of the raw cocoa powder phial, together with sugar and 280ml water. Combine well, bring to a boil and let it cook until syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally.
Let it cool.
Once cool, put in the fridge.

Measure 4cl chocolate infused vodka, 2cl chocolate syrup, 1 cl Kalhua (or if you like me think this is WAY too sweet already, substitute by equivalent measure of strong coffee). Add a couple of ice cubes.
Shake? Stir?

Call in Daniel Craig on that one: He’s the current expert.

Or don’t.

Pour over a spoonful of chocolate coated cocoa nibs in a frosted glass.

Chocolate martini

Resist having another one: This thing is sugar-loaded.

Now that is all good and nice (very good and nice actually: that thing could become addictive) but once you’ve had a glass, what do you do with the rest of the prepared stuff?
(The Love drinks even less than I do and he hates sweet stuff even more strongly than I do so there were plenty of leftovers).

(I am shocked that you didn’t even think of this yourself)
(Disclosure: I only thought about it because I kept feeling that the martini could do with some whipped cream on top)

So what you need for the Chocolate Martini Waltz is:
- The rest of the chocolate vodka added to the rest of that espresso. It should amount to roughly 250 ml.
- The rest of the chocolate syrup It should amount to roughly 250 ml as well.
- Some agar-agar powder (mine comes in handy individual doses, each of them sufficient to gel 500 ml of liquid)

Some jelly moulds or glasses (2 to 4 depending how much you want in each serving)
Whipped cream (obviously)
The rest of the chocolate covered cocoa nibs

And, possibly some cookies of your choice.
See, alcohol doesn’t gel all that well – in fact, I didn’t really know if my attempted pudding would gel at all – so a part will not set. But there are (at least) two ways to handle this:
You crumble some of your cookies of choice at the bottom of your glass/mould and let them soak in the excess alcohol

Chocolate martini pudding

You just let the pudding float in its own alcohol, which will make a nice sauce once you have upturned the pudding in a deep dish - à la crème caramel (only in a not-suitable-for-kids type of way).

Chocolate martini pudding

For my Rome peeps, I suggest the use of Pepitas (also known as “crack”) for the first scenario.
(Pepitas are locally produced chocolate cookies loaded with dark chocolate chips and Himalayan pink salt – pure crack in a I’d-better-steer-clear-of-that-cookie-place sort of way). The salt counter-balances the sweetness of it all (which is less obvious because of

As for the pudding recipe, just mix the agar-agar with the chocolate syrup, bring it to a boil, stirring. Take off the heat and add the alcohol/coffee part, stirring some more.
Pour in the moulds/glasses and let cool before covering in cling film and placing in the fridge overnight.

The day after, either upturn your puddings or not, add whipped cream on top and garnish with the chocolate covered cocoa nibs.

(I got drunk just eating one of these, so don’t eat and drive, eh?)

Which is this:

Tartelette  la crme de pecorino et fves

It is basically a whole wheat pie crust baked blind and filled with a mixture of ricotta and pecorino, with a few shelled fava beans on top but since my friend Diana asked for the recipe...

There it is )

spacedlaw: (Default)
( Mar. 16th, 2013 02:14 pm)
There is this bizarre ingredient here, called "grano arso" - burnt wheat - a specialty from the Puglia region.
That burnt wheat was that left ovter the harvest, traditionally picked after the remaining wheat stalks had been burnt to the ground. So this flour comes from stray kernels that might have gone lost but were collected nevertheless because you don't let food go to waste.

Nowadays, of course, wheat is deliberately burnt to recreate what has become a delicacy. The flour can find its way into pasta or bread.
Or, as today's dish shows, gnocchi.

Gnocchi affumicati con chiodini, salsiccia e stracchino

The flour is a dark brownish grey, with a pleasant smoky scent but it needs to be mixed with normal flour not to be overpowering, so I though it would do well with mashed potatoes.

On with the recipe... )

Or rather the idea of food.
Or even better: ideas of food.

It all started with a tiramisu. The recollection of how smooth and fluffy mascarpone can be.
Except I wanted it to be savoury.
Of course.
Why go the obvious way?
Now a couple of years back, I had created a pecorino and fava beans version for Easter. Seasonal and all. It had been a great success.
I realize now – looking for a post – that I'd never blogged the recipe. Naughty, naughty.
Alas, since it was an improvisation, the recipe might actually be lost in the meanders of my failing memory.

Oh well.
So this was the starting point.
I had guests on Saturday night and I wanted a show starter.
A seasonal show starter.
So no fava beans this time.

But it's puntarelle season and they are just a marvellous green.
Besides, they are absolutely Roman in essence.
And a welcome juicy crunch, a promise of spring in every bite.
Puntarelle are traditionally served with a sauce made of olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, and garlic (sometimes, this is optional).
So the idea was – obviously – to recreate such sauce in the guise of a tiramisu, i.e. with a mixture of mascarpone and eggs.
Plus a biscuit base.

Ah. The biscuit base.
That could be a problem of course.
In the pecorino and fava beans version, I had done away with it, opting to replace it with raw and shelled fava beans instead, for a bit of crunch. But this time, I decided to use tiny croutons for added texture.

So there it is...

Une ide de tiramisu avec puntarelle

Puntarelle tiramisu )

spacedlaw: (Default)
( Jan. 27th, 2013 03:11 pm)

Last weekend was pretty miserable in the line of soggy with a side of frigid and would have been perfect to stay at home, tucked in bed with a book, a pot of tea and the usual feline complement.
Alas, this wasn’t to be.
However, if you have to surrender domestic bliss, you have to do it in style and what better excuse for venturing out in the cold and wet than a chance to gape at Proserpina’s thigh followed by culinary delights at my favourite restaurant?
Trust me on this.

The event was organised by Tavole Romane, a previously anonymous food tasting organism I had been following from some time now and which finally showed its face that day. Two faces, in fact, those of Silvia and Gabriele.
The exceptional visit we were invited to join was a guided tour of Galleria Borghese – featuring most heart bracingly the famous thigh of Proserpina – followed by culinary bondage in the guise of a set menu degustation at Metamorfosi.
How could I ever resist such an offer?
You’re right. I didn’t.

So last Saturday, I roped in the Love and my favourite mother in law in tow and offed to Villa Borghese.
Tavole Romane had organised one visit in Italian and one in English and the two groups proceeded to move in en block to the Galleria.

Now it is really a shame that the Galleria Borghese enforces a strict no photo policy... )


A well spent day and a bunch of well spent us too.
Many thanks to Silvia and Gabriele of Tavole Romane for a great event!
spacedlaw: (Default)
( Dec. 9th, 2012 03:48 pm)

I don't blog food.
Well, now, that isn't quite right, is it? I do blog the odd recipe and goodness knows that I blog a LOT of food pictures across the internet.

I just don't normally write about restaurants.

First because I think that most of you guys are far away and thus aren't likely to come here and check out the places I could recommend. But also I have this deeply ingrained loathing about having to explain why I like a place (or anything, really).

Blame this on having to go through hoards of heinous compulsory “explications de texte” as a kid – where you have to pseudo-analyse a writer to confirm that, yep, his or her text is worth the reading – goodness knows I do. After so many years, I still today refuse to inspect the reasons as to why I love something, whether it is a story – even more so if the text is a poem – a painting, a piece of music, or a meal.

The best I can come up with is this: If it moves me, then it is good.
To me.
You are entirely entitled to think otherwise. After all, I can't expect you to feel exactly as I do, in particular half a planet away.
Despite what we have been force-fed at school, critique or appreciation isn't so much about how an author grew up, what they had to breakfast on the day or what type of lovers they favour or if they like the colour blue. Beauty -pleasure - is in the eyes, the ears, the hands, the mouth, and the guts of the beholder and – what's more – in the deeper hidden folds of memories and education-driven crinkles.

Having just written that – my sort of disclaimer: the legal education does tend to repeat on one's conscience – I shall now proceed to tell you – albeit only briefly - about my favourite restaurant in Rome, Metamorfosi.


Warning: No matter how corny this may sound, this is love, pure and as unadulterated as it should be.
Though, of course, it can also be steamed, smoked, poached, slow-cooked, grilled, foamed, whipped, charred, infused, sprayed, minced, roasted, pacojetted, etc. (you catch the drift).

I've just returned this Friday to Metamorfosi for a delayed birthday lunch and, once again, I came to realize that this is the best place for me to start the weekend, let alone to treat myself to a few hours of utter pleasure. I always leave the place with body and mind singing in harmony, feeling utterly pampered, reassured that life is worth living, as well as feeling gloriously tipsy.

Why is that? Well...
Wonderful food, brilliant presentation, adorable service, great wines.
Of course.
You see why I have problems with those “explications”? Isn't all this rather obvious?
Besides which, Metamorfosi was just given its first Michelin star, something I've said from the first they were bound to get. And do mark that I just wrote “first”. I don't see them stopping there... So all of the above are per definition a given.
Therefore, if I had to dig deeper and search below the veneer, beyond the surface, I would say that I love Metamorfosi because it engages all my senses, the most important of which being my imagination.

So there you have it.
If EVER you come to Italy and want to sample something different from the nominal Roman fare – all good stuff, just a tad repetitive after a while – go to this place and let your mind blown away.

Via Giovanni Antonelli 30/32
Tel: 06 8076839

With gratitude to a great team:
Chef - Roy Caceres
Sous-chef - John Regefalk
Sommelier - Paolo Abballe
And all the unsung heroes, in the dining room and below.

Various pictures...

spacedlaw: (Default)
( Aug. 11th, 2012 08:40 pm)
It all started when my Twitter buddy Shelley posted this picture of three non native Italian dishes.
Now I love parmigiana di melanzane (and even the zucchine version they bake at work) so the concept of chicken parmigiana caught my eyes,

Of course, proteine- wise, it is all unbalanced (which is the reason why the dish is normally done with vegetables) but the idea of lean slices of chicken braised in tomato sauce did appeal to my taste buds. Normally in Italy, you'd add a little mozzarella on top and call it "pollo alla pizzaiola". But I did not fancy mozzarella so decided to replace it with a layer of spinach for a full balanced meal instead.

This ended up as a layer of wilted and well drained spinach, some grated parmiggiano, a thorough absence of mozzarella, a layer of thinly sliced chicken breast, a layer of thick tomato sauce and a sprinkling of grated parmigiano. All this placed in a lighly oiled  oven-proof dish sprinkled with coarse dried bread crumbs (to soak up excessive juices).
Normally this would have been cooked under the grill  but I haven't been able to use my oven since June on account of the high temperatures - am having some SERIOUS withdrawal symptoms there - so grilled everything in the microwave instead since it has a decent grill function.

So there you go:  the chicken parmigiana that wasn't.

The chicken parmigiana that wasn't

Hey, if the Americans can invent some Italian dishes, the contrary ought to be possible too, n'est ce pas?
(And let's just slide on the fact that I am French, not Italian. Detail, really. Were all Europeans here,)

spacedlaw: (Default)
( Jul. 6th, 2012 08:48 pm)
Something I've cooked tonight for my mother in law, who doesn't eat much meat.
So I've disguised it inside Swiss chard leaves...

Involtini di carne

To much success.

It goes this way: )
spacedlaw: (Default)
( Apr. 15th, 2012 06:26 pm)

A little treat – the perfect detox food – for the vegetarian and vegans among us. And for vegetable lovers all around.
This dish is simple but rely on fresh vegetables. As such it can only be made for a couple of weeks as it calls for the fragile collaboration of winter’s last artichokes and spring first harvest of fava beans and peas.


The recipe itself is simple – clean and slice all the vegetables and cook them like a green version of the Ratatouille – but, due to the variety of greens involved, quite labour intensive. However, I can promise you the result is well worth the time spent on preparation work.
There are no real rules about what goes in or not and how much and for how long you should cook it: it’s all a matter of personal taste and – of course – of availability on the market.

What it requires (roughly) – or rather what I used for mine: )

It's been a long time.

WARNING: This is NOT a dish suitable for vegans and vegetarians (and I am pretty sure you can't substitute the main ingredient with a vegan or vegetarian version either).


This dish is Brodo di coppa di testa all'arancia e spezie )

I can see you from here - yes, right through my computer screen - frowning. Unless you are Italian or Italian connected, you might not know that "cappelletti in brodo" is THE standard star of any Italian Christmas day lunch.

Never mind lengthy explanations. They look like this:

Cappelletti in brodo

They are also sold under the name of “tortellini” – I think this is more a regional setting or the tradition might have got lost somewhere in the commercial maelstrom.
You can buy them ready made, either from the supermarkets or your local “Pasta al’Uovo” (fresh pasta making shop) OR you can go the hard TRADITIONAL way and make them at home.

A women-only family affair – this is not so much about sexism, you’ll see the point later on – the knowledge usually gets passed on from grand-mothers to daughter to grand-daughters. When you do not have an Italian grand-mother, you either get them from the shop or do as I did a week or so ago and take a lesson.

I repaired to Tricolore, my local favourite cooking school for a quick – one hour – lesson, wondering how they would manage to give us the skills within that time frame: after all, both the broth and pasta dough making take over an hour…

Follow me for a moment )

A little Italian excercise...

About this:

Budino al pepe verde vanigliato

1/2 litro di latte intero
35g di frumina (o maizena)
1 cucchiaino da tè di pepe verde vanigliato (Emporio delle Spezie - Testaccio)
Un filtro metallico per il té
6 cucchiai di zucchero di canna
4 stampini di plastica o vetro

Mettere il latte - meno 2 cucchiai - in una pentola robusta.
Poi mettere il pepe nel filtro e chiuderlo bene. Metterlo nel latte freddo e riscaldare il latte a fuoco basso (ma non farlo bollire ancora). Quando il latte sta per bollire toglierlo del fornello e togliere il filtro con il pepe. Se rimane un pò di polvere nel latte non importa.

Mischiare il latte freddo con la frumina ed aggiungere quest' impasto e il zucchero alla pentola di late caldo Mischiare bene con una frusta e rimettere a cuocere, sempre a fuoco basso, mischiando sempre fino a quando il latte non è devenuto cremoso, della consistenza d' una crema pasticciera un pò lenta.

Versare nei stampini e lasciare raffreddare a lungo (almeno 12 ore).


Star ingredient is this:

Pepe verde vanigliato - vanilla green pepper

A green peper that tastes of vanilla, that I discovered by chance when visiting the Emporio delle Spezie in the Testaccio area of Rome.

More or less the recipe follows this one.
Got myself a wonderful book called "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" by Maria Speck, full of marvelous recipes with weird and wonderfuls grains in them (and some quite mundane too).

I am yet to try most of the recipes but they are fascinating and I have been wanting to make her buckwheat and feta burgers ever since i've read that story.
Yesterday, I finally caved in and did them:

Buckwheat and feta burgers

Of course, I did not quite follow the recipe...
Of course )
That is: I am trying to figure out what the £$%@& is so hot about tofu.

Yes, it is supposed to be good for you (maybe) but it's rubbery and tasteless and - what's worse - mostly immune to my cooking charms.
The minx.
(That really stings, that does.)

"It soaks up flavour!" they've been telling me.
Over and over.
And perhaps it does.
Especially if you make your dish well in advance and let it steep in its juices for a couple of nights before reheating (just like any good curry, really). But it doesn't give out as much flavour as it slurps in and that is just plain bad manners.

I made Tofu Bourguignon for a lark and the lark is on me.

Fun with tofu - Tofu Bourguignon

Not that it tasted bad, or anything...
Although having just written this, it probably didn't taste like anything.
The sauce, carrots and onions were nice (you could tell they were really making the effort) but the tofu just floated about looking pale and wobbly and distinctively smug.
And rubbery.

Let's face it: that thing works better with curry, Indian or Thai.
After all, it's an exotic ingredient and should be really kept in the exotic environment it grew up in (or against).
It would probably work out as well the Tex-Mex way too, as a chili con tofu incarnation (or would this be an intofusation?) 
But I haven't said that and I am certainly not trying it in a hurry.



spacedlaw: (Default)


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