lunedì 25 luglio 2016


Dessert - Vegetarian

I love crostata and prepare it in many ways. I got the idea of the limoncello custard by my Facebook friend Ada Tiso; I generally use regular custard but, since we were all adults and this custard intrigued me, I decided to try it (the fact that I love limoncello is NOT a secondary detail ;-) ); I only changed the way to measure the ingredients from the recipe she passed on me to the on I was more familiar with. This dessert is not super sweet, you can adjust the quantity of sugar to your liking. Just, as I always say, please try the original one the first time and taste it. To measure flour and sugar for the custard I use a soup spoon, NOT a measuring one!!

For the dough:
350 gr. Italian 00 flour (approx. 3 cups)
100 gr. sugar (approx. 1/2 cup)
3 extra large eggs
80 gr. butter, diced and chilled
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the custard:
2 eggs
2 spoons full of sugar
2 spoons full of Italian 00 flour
1/5 cup limoncello
1 4/5 cup milk
grated zest of 1 lemon

Fresh fruit and gelatin to brush
Cheap dried beans

In a bowl arrange all dry ingredients and mix them to combine evenly. Add butter and mix it roughly, pinching it with flour mixture; form a well and put the eggs in it. Mix all ingredients well but quickly in order not to warm up butter too much (which would result in a "hard" dough), you have to obtain a smooth "ball". Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes at least.

Prepare the custard. Warm up milk with limoncello.

In a saucepan, mix sugar, flour and lemon zest, then add eggs and whisk to prevent lumps.

On medium heat add the warm milk/limoncello in a thin stream, mixing and bring to boil, whisking continuously.

It will take about 5-8 minutes (the warmer the milk, the quicker the cooking).

Never stop stirring, otherwise your custard will stick to the bottom and burn, giving it an unpleasant taste. Sprinkle a little sugar on top, so it won't form the "film" on top of your custard; let it cool down to room temperature.

Grease and dust with flour a 9" tart pan (or line it with parchment paper).

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out, over a flour-dusted table about 1/4" thick.

Preheat oven to 375.

Put it in the pan, poke it with a fork and cover with parchment paper. Top paper with dried beans.

Bake on the central rack for 20-25 minutes; remove beans and paper then bake for 10-15 more minutes, until lightly golden on the edges.

Pour custard in the tart shell and top with your favorite fresh fruit; brush with gelatin then refrigerate 3-4 hours.

- I always weigh the ingredients when baking or making pasta: it's the most accurate way to dose them.
- As said at the beginning, it's not super sweet. Use come confectioner's sugar or whipped cream, if you think it's not sweet enough.
- The beans are used as weight to avoid dough to be lifted by steam bubbles and keep it flat.
- Once you remove the beans, let them cool down and store in a ziplock bag: you won't be able to use them anymore for soups, but you can use them endless times for the same purpose.
- For a more yellow custard, use 1 egg and 2 yolks.
- Make sure to check the fruit you use: some won't make your gelatin set. I used peaches, apricots, banana, strawberry
- You can see here how to prepare the dough.

lunedì 18 luglio 2016


Salad - Entree - Lactose and gluten free - Can be vegetarian/vegan (READ footnotes)

Summer: the salad season!! I love salads in any way, and I play with them. This time I found fennel bulbs that were worthy of their name!!! We grow our own lettuce and arugula, the latter was peppery beyond belief, which made it perfect for the dish!! Then I added a protein source (read footnotes for vegetarian substitutions).

1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1/2 fennel bulb
1 big cucumber
2 ripe tomatoes
1 can Italian tuna in olive oil
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian balsamic vinegar
Italian sea salt

Wash carefully lettuce and arugola; if you're using romaine (or similar) break leaves in smaller pieces.

Thinly slice, with a mandoline, fennel and carrot; peel and slice the cucumber; slice tomatoes and celery stalk (a little thicker than the other veggies).

Arrange all vegetables in a big bowl. Drain tuna from its oil and crumble it into the salad bowl.

In a small bowl put salt and balsamic vinegar and stir until salt dissolves, then add the olive oil and whisk until foamy. Drizzle over your salad, mix well to coat and serve.

Serves 2 people

- I didn't put quantity of lettuce and arugula because I didn't measure. I love them, especially if home-grown, therefore there was a lot of them.
- I forgot to add onions: they would have been amazing in this salad.
- I always peel cucumbers; if you use pickling ones, consider at least 3 of them and it's up to you to peel them or not.
- This recipe can be vegetarian/vegan provided that you substitute tuna with hard boiled eggs or cheese or beans or chickpas (the latter ones being the perfect substitutions to obtain a vegan recipe)
- It's lactose and gluten free.

lunedì 11 luglio 2016


Appetizer & side dish - Vegetarian/vegan, lactose and gluten free

We had friends for lunch, Sunday, and I wanted to serve a vegetable dish, instead of the usual salad. I had just bought some bell peppers and wanted to make something with them (along with the panzanella - written and video recipes - and the handmade pici with Italian porcini mushrooms - written and video recipes with a different sauce -). It is a perfect Summer dish, that can be eaten at room temperature or cold. You can have it as an appetizer or a side dish; you can heat it up and  toss it over some pasta, or use it cold mixing it with some short pasta for a wonderful pasta salad!!! We closed the meal with a crostata with fresh fruit and limoncello cream (next week's recipe ;-) ).

3 bell peppers (yellow, red and orange)
1 medium onion
4-6 sundried tomatoes halves, packed in oil
10-12 Italian green olives
1 tbsp Italian capers, packed in salt and rinsed
Italian sea salt
Freshly chopped parsley, optional

Wash bell peppers, halve them and remove seed and white inner ribbings; cut them in 1" pieces; peel and cut onions about the same size.

Warm 4-5 tbsp of the sundried tomatoes' oil in a non-stick skillet with lid; add onions and, once they start turning translucent, add bell peppers. Sautee for a couple of minutes, then add olives, capers and sundried tomatoes; season with some sea salt, lower to medium-low heat and cook for about 20 minutes covered with the lid.

Serve, sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley, if you like.

- The servings of this dish depend on its use.
- The natural liquid contained by the vegetables and the steam produced by the cooking, and retained by the lid, should be enough to cook your vegetables; in case it's not, just add a few tbsp of water and it will do the trick.
- It's vegetarian/vegan, lactose and gluten free!

martedì 5 luglio 2016


Entree - Gluten and lactose free

Vitello tonnato is a typical summer dish made with veal tenderloin; I never use veal (and I never used it Italy, also) because pork loin is as tender, but more flavorful and cheaper! 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.

Once meat is cooked, let it 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.

- It's very important that your ingredients are top quality!
- You can actually prepare it the day before: it will be even tastier.
- You can use anchovy fillets instead of the paste. Not everyone likes them, because 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, or plain yogurt and hard boiled egg yolks.
- 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.