lunedì 21 novembre 2016


Appetizer - Vegetarian

I love butternut squash and always look for different ways to prepare it; my friend Raffaella in Rome had this recipe and shared it with me. Next time, I'll try a sweet version... stay tuned!!!

7 oz (1 cup) finely minced butternut squash
1/3 cup Italian 00 flour
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
3 eggs
1/2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
Extra virgin olive oil to fry

Lightly beat eggs, then add parmigiano, flour, lemon zest and parsley. Mix to combine and add the squash, stir until all ingredients are nicely combined. You should obtain a dense batter.

Bring extra virgin olive oil to frying temperature (if you don't have a thermometer and want to know if the oil is warm enough, just put a little piece of bread in it: is has to "rapidly" fry).

Spoon batter into the olive oil (not more than 3-4 fritters at a time), and flip them a first time as soon as they start getting solid. Then turn another couple of times until golden on both sides.

Lay them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve immediately.

This will make about 20 fritters, depending on size.

- I didn't put salt in it, even though my friend Raffaella likes it.
- Sprinkle with salt, if you like it, AFTER frying!
- You can find the video recipe here

lunedì 14 novembre 2016


Soup - Gluten and lactose free - Vegan/Vegetarian

I made this minestrone for a friend, who informed us she was rather ill and would have loved this dish, but didn't have energy to prepare it. So I decided to make it for her (and quite a decent amount) so she can freeze it and eat it whenever she feels like it. Cooking for a friend who's not well, fills your heart with peace and love and, hopefully, this will be ingrained in what you cook. At least, I like to believe that! Anyway, this is an amazing comfort food, perfect for the cold front coming our way!!!

1 14oz can Italian Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can Italian Borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can Italian Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can Italian San Marzano tomatoes, cut in pieces or roughly chopped
12 oz carrots, diced
12 oz peas, fresh & shelled or frozen
12 oz spinach, fresh or frozen
12 oz cauliflower florets
12 oz broccoli florets
12 oz green beans, cut in 1" pieces
1 bunch Tuscan kale, trimmed and cut into strips
2 celery stalks, cut in strips
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 sage leaves
1 rosemary sprig
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt

Tie herbs together with butcher string.

Once you have all your vegetables ready, arrange all them (except for beans ad chickpeas) and the herbs in a big saucepan with lid and cover them with water or vegetable broth.

When it boils, add some salt, cover with lid and let simmer until all veggies are soft.

At this point, add the beans and chickpeas and bring back to boil; taste and, in case it's needed, adjust with salt.

Lower to medium, cook for 10-15 more minutes and remove from heat.

Serve in individual bowls, drizzled with some very good Italian extra virgin olive oil.

Servings... undetermined!!

- In order to minimize prepping, use frozen veggies (when possible): they are as good, but will be ready to go, which is not a minor detail ;-)
- These quantities will produce a large amount of soup: freeze it!!! It will make the perfect "dinner ready in minutes" and will be MUCH better and healthier than canned soup.
- You can add other vegetables (Swiss chards, leeks, Savoy cabbage and much more); also, you add a Parmigiano rind, which will give a lot of flavor!
- This recipe is vegan/vegetarian, lactose and gluten free.

martedì 8 novembre 2016


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

I bought some stir fry beef and wanted to briefly cook it with bell peppers, mushrooms and other vegetable I had in the fridge. Turned out that the meat was not tender as I would have liked it, so I turned the "stir fry" into a "stir stew" and served with polenta :) During winter time, it's a perfect meal (and a complete one!) to warm you up and satisfy you completely! It's the perfect comfort food!!

For the "stir stew":
1 lb stir fry beef
2 large carrots, cut in 1" pieces
2 celery stalks, cut in 1" pieces
1 large onion, cut in 1" cubes
2 bell peppers, cut in strips
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
1 medium potato, sliced
1 oz dried Italian porcini mushrooms
1 28-oz can Italian peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 rosemary sprig
3 sage leaves
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt

For Polenta:
12 cups water
1 lb. Italian coarse polenta flour (bramata)
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian sea salt

First of all, start preparing your stir stew, which will cook for a longer time. Also, soak porcini in lukewarm water for 20 minutes.

In a large and deep saucepan with lid (better one with a heavy bottom), over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and sautee meat cubes stirring to try to get them golden on all sides.

Remove dried mushrooms, squeeze them and set aside; carefully strain water to remove impurities and save it.

Deglaze saucepan with red wine and let alcohol evaporate. Add the San Marzano tomatoes with their juice and the herbs, stir in the porcini mushrooms soaking water, lower heat to simmer, cover with the lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours at least, stirring occasionally.

At this point, add all the vegetables, stir and season with salt to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft.

While your stew cooks, prepare polenta: bring a large pot of water to a boil.

When the water boils, add salt and slowly add polenta flour in a thin stream, whisking; reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Serve polenta together with "stir stew" either on a side or on top of it.

This recipe serves 4

- If you want a softer polenta, use a little more water; if you want it harder, use a little less water or cook it for a longer time, so that water will evaporate more: there is NO overcooked polenta ;-)
- If you have leftover polenta, you can slice them and make a "lasagna" with the slices to be used instead of pasta.
- It's gluten free and lactose free.
- If you want a vegan/vegetarian dish, just stew the vegetables and serve your polenta with them.