May 20, 2013 by Giulietta
Every month the challenge of the MTC becomes bigger and bigger. And, in April, Mai challenged us proposing us the fideuà, a Spanish dish (Catalan, to be precise, because I learned that Castilian and Catalan aren’t the same thing), a sea dish, a complex dish, but simple at the same time, because it was born on a fishing vessel, so you’ll need few ingredients and tools (believe me, cooking on a boat is not easy at all).
In addition, this dish helped me to recall a very far past (even if it was only 2009) and a trip to Barcelona in the middle of winter, and in that moment I didn’t give to that city the possibility to amaze me, to capture me with its eccentricity, his sinuous shapes , its pulsating life. It was such a different period of my life, in which the beauty of the eccentricity, of the peculiarity had a lesser power on me, a period in which I wasn’t ready to see the essence of Barcelona. Therefore, I believe I have an offset memory of this city: in my mind I see it as a city that has the color of the sand, where nothing seemed to me finished or definitive (but, while now this appears to me as a sign of hope and constant evolution, once it seemed to me as a simple lack of something). I can’t see its colors in my head, I can’t smell it or taste it, and remember it as a cold city (and it was cold, indeed, at least its weather conditions) and so far from Barcelona seen through the eyes of Pepe Carvalho, who describes it as a hot, pulsating city.
It’s amazing how moods or stages in life can change so much our own perception, so that an entire city can change with it. And I am a sea lover, so I usually love seaside town no matter what: even in the most banal or awful seaside town I can find something to love. However, I never felt anything for Barcelona (and -how strange?!-some time ago I lost all the pictures I took there and that were stored in my laptop), every memory is blurry, fuzzy, muffled.
But now I have something to start with, before I come back to Barcelona, I hope with my eyes changed: I have this seafood dish, a dish that I tried to transform, but without transfiguration, adding some artichokes (also available in a 1915 vessel that docks in a Spanish harbour – oh, yes, Spain produces artichokes) and using almost exclusively black squid (but also some prawns) with their ink black (my mom’s idea, I recognize that).
A sort of black and white picture of the original fideuà, something like my black and white picture of Barcelona. Who knows, maybe sooner or later I’ll go and add the necessary colors.
Category Contest, First course, Pasta, Sauces, Sea first course, Shellfishes, Spanish cuisine, Vegetables | Tags: artichoke,catalan cuisine,contest,fideuà,first course,ink black,mtc,pasta,prawns,sauces,sea first course,seafood,shellfishes,spanish cuisine,squid,sun dried tomatoes,vegetables | 4 Comments
April 4, 2013 by Giulietta
I’ll start with a confession: I (cordially) hate layered cakes. You know, the classic birthday cakes: sponge cake with layers of custard or chantilly cream and then covered with whipped cream. Well, I hate those cakes. Let’s be clear: they’re good, but it’s not my kind of cake. I’d never choose one of those for my birthday: I’d prefer a millefeuille (I know it’s a layered cake, but here layers are crunchy and, well, I know I’m a bit contradictory, but don’t judge me) or a cup dessert.
But I learned to make these cakes in my pastry class, I know how to make them from scratch (and I’m also pretty good at it, apparently) and I enjoy it making them, but don’t ask me to enjoy them.
For this reason, in front of the MTC challenge proposed by Stefania of Cardadomo & CO. I was startled: not only it was a layer cake, but typical US layer cake, a Red Velvet Cake, and a gluten free one. I obviously don’t anything against “gluten free” .. I think I should add to my blog more recipes for people allergic to gluten, but in this particular case it didn’t simplify the mission.
So, with my usual aplomb, I thought, “shit!” and, secondly,”who is going to eat an entire layer cake? “
So I opted for a convenient solution: I decided to make single-serving cakes (I knew those mini layer cake molds would be useful, sooner or later … they were still in their box, waiting for the right occasion), I chose to soak them with a blueberries liquor and garnish them with the least cloying topping I could think of, simple whipped cream (barely sweetened) enriched with freshly chopped blueberry. A purple garnishment (and filling), fresh and a bit sour, perfect for my taste.
So after these necessary adjustments, I happily made this cake to celebrate a birthday, my blog’s birthday, which turned two years old on February 22nd.
Happy (latecoming) birthday, Alterkitchen!
And I was glad to be able to celebrate this milestone with all my readers, all the MTC friends and with a cake that could be enjoyed by celiac friends, too.
Category Cakes and pies, Contest, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Fruits of the forest, Gluten Free, USA Cuisine | Tags: blueberries,cakes and pies,contest,fresh fruit,fruits of the forest,layer cake,whipping cream | 8 Comments
February 27, 2013 by Giulietta
In Jenuary I decided to join the MTC, a challenge between bloggers: every month everybody make the same recipe, but all dishes are obviously different, ’cause everyone makes some changes, so that his/her recipe becomes unique.
And the crazy thing is that this decision has brought me luck, because January recipe was pici, a type of fresh pasta that awakens in me so many memories of a long gone holiday I spent in Umbria (I checked the pictures: damn it, it was the year 2007). For me pici mean Umbria, Trasimeno lake (where I ate pici with a rich duck ragù), a green and hospitable land, with a great history and culture.
Making pici I was able to remember all these things, and I hope I could return soon to Umbria, but also I hope to discover the Tuscan side of this dish.
For the seasoning of this wonderful dish, I chose a very Piedmontese sauce, instead. I chose a chicken livers ragù, typical of Langhe region, a very poor sauce, with a strong and rustic taste, and yet very velvety on the palate.
Category Contest, Earth first course, First course, Fresh pasta, Italian cuisine, Pasta, Regional Italian cooking, Sauces, Tuscany | Tags: chicken livers,contest,earth first course,first course,fresh pasta,italian cuisine,livers,pasta,pici,ragù,regional italian cuisine,sauces,Tuscany | 6 Comments
November 15, 2012 by Giulietta
If the gestation of the first recipe I sent to the Fiandino Farms’ Contest was long and painful, I had no doubt about the second recipe (I could send how many recipe I want, but I opted for two recipes, a savoury one and a dessert) since the first moment I saw, made and tasted it during the professional pastry class that I am attending.
Ta dà! Surprise! I didn’t tell you, yet, but I’m attending a professional pastry class at the Chefs’ Association in Turin, and I’m finally learning the basics of pastry, which I wanted to learn for a long, long time, and now I’m finally learning them.
During the lesson about short pastry for tarts and tartellette we made a great Piedmontese classic, the Langarola (which means “from Langhe“, wonderful Piedmontese lands) cake, a triumph of butter and hazelnuts, a delicious cake in which a sort of frangipane cream (made with hazelnuts instead of almonds, though) is enclosed in a shell of short pastry, a real bomb of flavor (and calories, but I didn’t tell you this). A cake perfect for a special occasion, rustic but elegant and refined at the same time .
Maybe it’s my Piedmontese DNA, but I love it … and you?
Category Cakes and pies, Contest, Dessert and Sweets, Dried fruit, Pantry cakes, Piedmont, Regional Italian cooking | Tags: butter,cakes and pies,contest,dessert and sweets,dried fruit,hazelnut,italian cooking,pantry cakes,Piedmont,regional italian cuisine,short pastry | 6 Comments
November 7, 2012 by Giulietta
This is the way I am, at least for blog-related things (and not only for those): I burst in a flash, I enrol in a contest by instinct, moved by some sacred fire and usually having already 500 different ideas in my head. Then, a day or two go by and all those ideas seem useless or stupid (or both), so a period of reflection, begins, the “maturity”. I think, I reflect, and then suddenly it comes the IDEA, the brilliant one (I’m not so humble, in those moments), and that’s when I start working.
The problem is that sometimes, between the reflection and the born of the idea that will be carry out, it could be a matter of (a rather long) time .. That’s why I signed up months ago to a contest by the Fiandino Farms and that only now I publish my first recipe. But, in my defence, is a recipe that I loved at the first thought and now I love it even more, because its taste and its look completely conquered me.
So I propose you a finger-food that tastes like autumn, perfect for an aperitif or as a starter for an important dinner: little savoury panna cotta flavoured with Ottavio Pichin (a cheese flavoured with dark beer) served on mini savoury cookies (made with salted butter) and topped with a beer jelly (I chose a stout beer).
Category Appetizer and Finger food, Beer, Cheese, Contest, Jam | Tags: appetizer and finger food,beer,beer jelly,cheese,contest,panna cotta,salted butter,short pastry,stout beer,whipping cream | 4 Comments
October 13, 2012 by Giulietta
The origin of this recipe lies in a contest created by Switzerland Cheeses in collaboration with Tery of Peperoni e Patate, entitled “Switzerland in a dish“.
This contest asked to create one or two original recipes, inspired by the Italian gastronomic tradition, but using POD Swiss cheeses.
So, thinking about a dish that fully represents the Italian tradition, but at the same time very customizable, I immediately thought about lasagne (we all love the classic Bolognese lasagne, but I often twist them – take a look at my pesto, potatoes and green beans lasagne or curly hard wheat lasagne with eggplant sauce and smoked scamorza). So, thinking about a sauce that would harmonize well with the two Swiss cheeses I chose, Gruyère POD and Sbrinz POD, I chose a zucchini cream with a béchamel adding.
The result was a white and green lasagna, in which zucchini, béchamel and cheeses were married to perfection, creating a delicate and yet tasty dish.
Surely these lasagne are different from the usual (in fact you could call them doubly Swiss – for the origin of the cheeses I used, and because I’ve always heard the term “Swiss” as a synonym for “weird, wacky,”…who knows why?!), in which the Italian tradition is contaminated, creating a new and delicious dish.
Category Cheese, Contest, Earth first course, First course, Fresh pasta, Italian cuisine, Pasta, Vegetables | Tags: béchamel,cheese,contest,earth first course,first course,fresh pasta,gruyère,italian cuisine,sbrinz,single course,swiss cheese,switzerland,vegetables,zucchini | 13 Comments
August 21, 2012 by Giulietta
Today we talk about cinema, and the opportunity to speak of this love of mine (I'm saying I want to take a second degree in history of cinema long before taking my first degree … ok, I have a problem) comes from an amazing contest, organised by Patty of Andante con gusto in collaboration with Lagostina. For this contest I was asked to describe a comedy through a recipe.
I had to take up the challenge! And, thinking about a comedy, the first one that came to my mind was Little Miss Sunshine, one of the movies that I loved the most in recent years, a comedy out of the box and with tragicomic tone.
Category Cheese, Cinema, Contest, Earth first course, First course, Fresh pasta, Herbs, Home-made is better, Pasta, Spices, Vegetables | Tags: cinema,contest,earth first course,first course,fresh pasta,herbs,home-made is better,mint,pasta,ricotta cheese,saffron,spices,vegetables,zucchini | 6 Comments
April 18, 2012 by Giulietta
Third (and fourth) and last buttery recipe (always for the Occelli butter contest), and this time the key word is not just "butter", but also "quick".
Thinking about quick and buttery recipes, the first thing that jumped to mind is the combination between butter and eggs, so I decided to propose two minor changes to this "theme".
I replaced chicken eggs with quail eggs and I paired them with brown butter; I also made an hard-boiled version (to serve as a finger food) and a sunny side up version (in Italy we call this "uovo all'occhio di bue" aka "beef's eye egg").
Two super-easy recipes, that can sort out a last minute dinner with elegance and easiness.
Category Appetizer and Finger food, Contest, Cooking for dummies, Second course | Tags: appetizer and finger food,brown butter,butter,eggs,quail eggs,second course | 10 Comments
April 15, 2012 by Giulietta
Prepare yourselves, 'cause this will be the first of 3 posts with a common ingredient, butter. I chose to title this series "not only butter", 'cause we certainly don't live only for butter (and I'm a real Italian, 'cause I definitely use more extra-virgin olive oil than butter), but in my opinion butter is a great discriminant in certain preparation, 'cause it's an added value, that accompanies flavors and enhances them.
These buttery thoughts arose from a contest dedicated to butter (binder butter): the challenge is to create and/or implement three recipes (an original one, a quick one and a traditional one) that have butter as a key ingredient.
I started from this key element and I tried to create (or re-create) dishes in which the butter is the binder, the ingredient that holds the flavors together and, at the same time, doesn't tower above them.
I hope you'll be pleased with these creations as I was of the results.
As for the original recipe, I made some beef turnovers filled with fresh spinach, walnuts and Parmigiano, cooked in butter and served with a walnut sauce. To create this recipe, I started from the assumption that beef cutlet cooked in butter is absolutely delicious, and I decided to add two more buttery notes: I sauteed spinach in butter and there's butter in the walnuts sauce (which is a quick recipe to keep in mind to dress a pasta dish).
Category Beef, Contest, Dried fruit, Meat, Sauces, Second course, Vegetables | Tags: beef,butter,contest,dried fruit,meat,sauce,second course,spinach,turnovers,vegetables,walnut | 11 Comments
August 22, 2011 by Giulietta
"The waiter returned, bringing the order: the doctor beat down on the sfogliatella, hungry. The graying mustache turned white for the icing sugar sprinkled on the soft dough; he accompanied every bite with moans of pleasure.
"Hmmm … ask me what I love about this city, and I'll tell you: the sfogliatella! Not the sea, not the sun, but the sfogliatella."
from "Il senso del dolore" (The meaning of pain) by Maurizio de Giovanni (p. 101)
If you hadn't realized it yet, reading between the lines of my posts, I'm a fierce reader, and among my favorite genres are crime, noir and thriller, although I can call myself an "omnivore" reader, 'cause I never disdain a good book, whatever genre it belongs.
But I have a weakness for crime, in its broadest sense. Sure, I hang behind with this genre knowledge, but I struggle to be after an increasing amount of books and time, which is always a hard master. But when I find an author who catches me with his plot, his characters and his settings, time somehow carves himself out, so I can savor every page, every line, every word.
I discovered that author last year, but since then I foretaste every book release as I wait for something that is baking in my oven: in reverent waiting, mouth-watering and with a hint of anxiety, which accompanies any discovery or confirmation.
Category Books and reading, Campania, Contest, Dessert and Sweets, Pastries, Regional Italian cooking | Tags: books and reading,campania,candied fruits,cinnamon,contest,dessert and sweets,lard,pastries,regional italian cuisine,ricotta cheese,semolina | 38 Comments