lunedì 31 agosto 2015


Entree - vegetarian and lactose free

Asparagus, for me, mean Easter lunch and this is what I prepared for that lunch. Anyway, I love them and use them anytime I can get my hands on some... sometimes I buy them frozen. When you really love something, you do all you can to eat it as often as you can ;-)

For the dough:
200 grams Italian 00 flour (aprox 1 1/2 cup)
200 grams Italian semolina, milled twice (aprox 1 1/2 cup)
4 extra large eggs

For the sauce:
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest of half lemon
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley (optional)

To minimize cleaning arrange flour in a bowl, create a “well” in the middle and place eggs in it.

Working with a fork, mix flour and eggs enough to be able to transfer “crumbles” on a lightly floured surface without messing your kitchen too much.

Knead, until you obtain a smooth dough, at least 10 minutes: the time depends also on the quantity of pasta you're preparing.

Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Flour gets “stressed” when you knead it and if you don't allow it to rest, it will compromise the results.

While your dough rests, prepare the sauce.

Snap asparagus in two and put both pieces in the water. Cook to your desired doneness, then remove from water (which is where you'll cook pasta), and turn the heat off.

When asparagus is ready, cut it in pieces, leaving the tips a little longer. Scrape the "pulp" of the asparagus' bottom and blend it with some cooking water, enough to obtain a smooth cream.

On medium-high heat, warm olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee onions for about 5 minutes, then add asparagus pieces. When sauteed, deglaze pan with brandy and, once alcohol evaporates, add a few tbsp of the cooking water.

Stir in the asparagus cream and let cook a few minutes, or until it's at your desired thickness. Set aside.

Cover your working surface (usually I work on my table) with an old but clean tablecloth, one of those you won't use anymore.

Cut a slice from the dough and flatten it so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers at widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it's smooth.

Arrange the pasta sheet on the cloth and keep going until you set all pasta trhough the widest setting.

Roll pasta sheets through the machine, decreasing the setting, one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), passing all sheets through the same notch before decreasing it, until you reach your desired thickness.

Let pasta dry for about 10 minutes, flipping it once.

Now feed your dough through the fettuccine attachment and spread them on the cloth, to allow a little more drying time.

Bring the water you used to cook asparagus back to a boil.

When water boils, add salt then your handmade fettuccine and stir immediately.

Pasta will cook in about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Pull it out of the cooking water and transfer it directly into the skillet with sauce, toss to coat on medium heat, adding a few tbsp of cooking water, if needed.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with the lemon zest (and/or freshly chopped parsley).

- As a rule of thumb, when preparing fresh pasta, you should consider 1 egg per person.
- Please, don't use parmigiano with this dish.
- You can use dried Italian egg fettuccine or pappardelle, adjusting cooking time!
- Remember that fresh pasta needs a thiner sauce, because it absorbs a lot.
- You can find the video on how to make the pasta here (it was presented with a different sauce).

lunedì 24 agosto 2015


Entree - Gluten and Lactose free

Vitello tonnato is a typical summer dish (I used pork loin, instead of veal, for taste and cost effectivness). In the video I mention capers packed in OIL, but the recipe calls for capers packed in SALT: sorry for the mistake. The original version is actually made with veal tenderloin & hard boiled eggs, NO mayo. You blend the tuna, capers, anchovy paste and yolks with the cooking juices to create the the tuna cream.

1 pork loin, in a single piece
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Warm broth
1 5oz-can Italian tuna in olive oil and drained
1 tbsp Sicilian capers, packed in salt and rinsed
1 tbsp Italian anchovy paste

Tie meat with butcher's string in order to retain its shape.

In a deep saucepan with lid (barely bigger than the meat piece), over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and brown all sides of your meat. Add broth, cover with lid, lower heat to minimum and simmer for at least 1 hour; a longer cooking at low temperature will have a tender meat as result. Lightly season with salt, carefully because of the other ingredients.

Let meat cool down into the cooking juice.

Prepare the tuna sauce.

In a food processor combine tuna, capers, anchovy paste and mayonnaise. Blend until you obtain a smooth cream. You shouldn't need salt in this sauce, due to tuna, capers and anchovies. I used an immersion blender, actually, that works perfectly.

Thinly slice meat, not thicker than 1/8", and arrange slices on a serving platter, slightly overlapping them.

Cover with tuna sauce.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap; this way, the meat will absorb the tuna sauce flavor.

Serve with a fresh green salad.

- You can use beef or pork tenderloin, as long as they're lean and tender
- You can use anchovy fillets instead of the paste. Not everyone likes them, beacuse they tend to remain a little "sandy" compared to the paste.
- You can use a mix of mayo and plain yogurt for a lighter sauce.
- You can cook the pork loin in milk, instead of broth, adding some sage and rosemary.
- It's lactose free and gluten free.
- You can find the video of this recipe here.

lunedì 17 agosto 2015


Dessert - Lactose free (READ notes below) and vegetarian

Another recipe from my sister! Yes, she is a big recipe sharer and warned me about the sweetness of this cake. That's why I made the changes in the foot notes. It's typical of Viareggio, a seaside town in Tuscany.

300 grams sugar (aprox. 1 1/2 cup)
300 grams zucchini (aprox. 2/3 lb.)
150 grams Italian 00 flour (aprox. 1 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup corn oil
2 extra large eggs
Confectioners' sugar
Milk Optional

Thinly slice zucchini and place them in a bowl.

In a big bowl, lighly beat eggs, vanilla and oil, then add sugar and sift flour in (you should always sift flour, regardless of what the bag says ;-) ). You may need a few tbsp of milk, in order to be able to mix all the ingedients and combine them evenly.

Then stir in the zucchini, making sure they are all coated with the thick batter (use more milk, if necessary).

Preheat oven to 380F.

Line a large baking dish with parchment paper (wet or oiled) then transfer the zucchini batter on top and level it evenly.

Bake on central rack until edges and top are golden; if edges are golden but top isn't, you might want to broil the cake for a few seconds.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, then broil until it almost caramelize.

Let it cool down to room temperature before serving, sprinkled with some more confectioners' sugar.

This is for a 16" round pizza dish. It has to be a very thin cake.

- This cake is unbelievably sweet. When I made it, I cut the sugar almost by half (180 grams) and did not use confectioners' sugar... and it still was really really sweet!
- Next time, I'll try "shredding" the zucchini instead of slicing them: it may be easier to mix ingredients.
- Also, next time I'll lower sugar some more and, maybe, add a little more flour.
- If you need to use milk, but can't because of lactose intolerance, use a little cold water or part water and part oil.
- I would actually use lemon (or mixed citrus) Italian extra virgin olive oil, instead of corn one... it would add a lemony taste that goes very well with zucchini.
- Wait until it's at room temperature to cut and serve it: it will be easier to detach it from the parchment paper, to which it will stick anyway, given the amount of sugar.

lunedì 10 agosto 2015


Entree - Pasta - Gluten free

I love to cook pasta in the same water I cook vegetables. Whatever nutrients are lost in the water are, at least partly, absorbed by the pasta, not to mention the veggies flavor!!!

1 lb Gluten free penne
1 bunch fresh asparagus
7 oz ham
1 cup cream
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt
Freshly chopped parsley

Bring a large pot with water to a boil.

Snap asparagus in two and put both pieces in the water. Cook to your desired doneness, then remove from water (which is where you'll cook pasta).

In the meantime, dice ham and preprare the sauce. In a large non stick skillet, over medium heat, warm up a little oil, and briefly sautee diced ham (not longer than five minutes).

When asparagus is ready, cut it in pieces, leaving the tips a little longer and add to the ham, stir and cook 2-3 more minutes.

Stir in cream, season with salt and turn heat off.

Add salt to the water you cooked your asparagus in and cook pasta.

Drain when pasta is al dente and transfer to the skillet with sauce. Sautee for a couple minutes.

Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

This recipe serves 4-6

- Use heavy whipping cream
- You can substitute cream with ricotta or cream cheese and milk.
- I used Garofalo Gluten free pasta made with corn, rice and quinoa flours.
- If you can find it, use Italian cooked ham otherwise Black forest.
- I generally use the "pulp" of the asparagus' bottom in soups or sauces, blended with some milk or cream.

lunedì 3 agosto 2015


Meat entree - Lactose free - Can be gluten free (read footnotes)

As I always say, we have lots of friends that love us and love to cook and, since loving is sharing, they share recipes. This one comes from my friend Mara's website (http://italianfoodista.wix.com/italianfoodista), with a few changes. I first saw the recipe on her FB page (www.facebook.com/ItalianFoodista) and loved it!!! So, thanks Mara for loving and sharing!!!!!!!!

2 chicken breast
2 peaches
2 oranges
1/4 cup brandy
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt
Italian 00 flour

Grate the zest of half orange, then squeeze both of them; peel the peaches and cut them in wedges (if big, halve the wedges) and transfer them with the orange juice.

Reduce thickness of the breast by half, slicing it accordingly.

Sprinkle the breast slices evenly with the grated zest, on one side, pressing with your hands so it will stick well; then dredge your slices in flour, making sure to coat nicely both sides and shaking (carefully) the excess flour.

Warm up the olive oil in a non-stick skillet with lid; over medium-high heat, sautee the breasts until golden on both sides, season with salt, then deglaze pan with brandy.

When alcohol is evaporated, add the peaches with the orange juice and finish cooking, on medium-low heat and covered, about 10 minutes.

Serve immediately.

This recipe serves 2-4, depending on the size of the meat slices and what else is served.

- I served it with a nice homegrown tomatoes salad.
- You can find the original recipe at the site mentioned above, or on her FB page.
- I love the combination of sweet and savory ingredients! This was outstanding: thanks again, Mara!
- I guess it is a great combination for fish, also... I'll try that soon!
- It's lactose free and can be gluten free, if you use corn starch in lieu of flour.