March 20, 2013 by Giulietta
There is nothing you can do: there are some traditional Italian dishes strictly connected to holidays and festive occasions. When you see those dishes on the table, you immediately think about Sunday, you smell home, you recall the whole family sitting around the table. Usually those dishes, at least in my imagination, are (almost) all piping hot… well, maybe because in my imagination they always came out of the oven.
Think about it: lasagna, pasta al forno (pasta -usually with ragù or tomato sauce- baked in the oven with cheese -usually mozzarella and parmigiano- and bèchamel sauce), casseroles, eggplant parmigiana, pot roast (with baked potato, of course), then pizza and focaccia, and so on and so forth. Well, in my humble opinion, the dishes baked in the oven are synonymous with holidays, care for food, conviviality.
Among these dishes we can anso include cannelloni. You can stuff and garnish them in every possible way, but the version that I love the most is the most famous and perhaps the simplest one: ricotta and spinach filling, topped with tomato sauce and béchamel sauce. I admit it, prepare them from scratch requires a certain commitment: Everything in this dish could (and probably should) be done by hand, and this is the challenge that conquers me every single time I make them. Because I love being in front of a dish that I can really define “homemade” (well, maybe I should make my oven dish, too – for philological accuracy), a dish that is able to speak for you and say to the people sitting around your table “I love you” at the first bite. And this is not something that all the dishes are able to do…
Category Earth first course, First course, Fresh pasta, Home-made is better, Italian cuisine, Pasta, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tags: béchamel,earth first course,egg pasta,first course,fresh pasta,home-made is better,italian cuisine,ricotta cheese,spinach,tomato sauce,vegetables,vegetarian | 6 Comments
December 13, 2012 by Giulietta
Have you already resigned to my pumpkin-oriented posts?! Good, because I don’t think this will be the last of the season.
For sure, though, this is the first post about Christmas presents (let’s face it, Christmas is coming). For some years now, my Christmas gifts have been mostly home-made and food-related (but not only .. maybe I’ve never said to you that I also create my own jewelry! I revealed another mystery). Panettone, truffles, chocolates, cotognata (quince paste), cognà, gingerbread men (just some ideas, uh?), but mostly jams, the my favourite Christmas’ saviors.
In fact, you can prepare them in advance, if you wrap them in the right way they are very choreographic (by themselves or in gift baskets) and so adaptable, because they range from the simple to original, from the classic “tart” jam to those that merry “with cheese and boiled meat”.
The nice thing about the jam I propose you today (the inspiration comes from La ciliegina sulla torta) is that everybody can agree on it: the more adventurous palates would appreciate a layer of this jam spread on toast in the morning (not to mention the bold ones, who would make a tart with it), but the fearful palates would serve this jam with a cheese (fearful, but trendy, since the combination between cheese and jam -or honey- is really à la page in these days).
Long story short, a gift for brave, for bold or for fearful ones, but definitely an appreciated gift.
Category Christmas is near - home-made gifts, Home-made is better, Jam, Spices, Vegetables | Tags: cardamom,Christmas,home-made gifts,home-made is better,jam,pumpkin,spices,vegetables | 5 Comments
December 3, 2012 by Giulietta
Did I ever tell you that I have a passion for pistachios? No?! Well, now you know it: I am a pistachio-addicted! I can’t say no to a couple (a couple?! Who believes that?) pistachio nuts, at any time and situation, I believe that “if a dessert has pistachio in it must be good” (and not just desserts… I’m not a racist!), I strongly believe that “Sicily is the promise land”.
So when last summer I went to Calabria, even without setting foot in my promise land (I admit it, I haven’t been in Sicily, yet), I found out that pistachio flour was very easy to find. Could I ever come back home empty-handed? I definitely couldn’t, so, while a part of that treasure still lies in my wardrobe/pantry (yes, sometimes I keep food and clothing together), a part has already gone away, but it was for a good cause.
Our heroine, in fact, sacrificed itself on a special occasion, the birthday of two people who are very important to me and who, like me, love pistachios. So I chose to prepare as a birthday cake a mille-feuille with hand-made puff pastry, pistachio custard and then garnished with a sprinkling of pistachios and a chocolaty writing (as I said, there were two party boys: no one turned 2728).
To accompany the dessert I could choose to stay in Sicily, with a Pantelleria passito (did I ever mention my passion for passito wines?! Well, I still have many secrets), but then I decided to serve it with a Piedmontese passito, the Sulé Caluso Passito doc produced by Orsolani. This wine, sweet and fruity, would marry even better with pastries, but I think that pistachios created the right conditions for a perfect wedding, even if this dessert is made with custard and whipped cream. And, maybe it’s my love for the Sicilian land, but I’m always in favour of a marriage between Sicilian food and a Piedmontese wine, as I already shown in the past.
Category Birthday, Dessert and Sweets, Dried fruit, French cuisine, Holidays, Home-made is better | Tags: birthday,butter,custard cream,dessert and sweets,french cuisine,holidays,home-made is better,mille-feuille,nuts,pistachio,puff pastry,whipped cream | 5 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
February 13, 2012 by Giulietta
Tomorrow it will be Valentine's Day, Lovers' day, stationers' day, caterers' day, florists who sell hackneyed roses (you don't know that, but roses are the flowers that I hate the most) day . The web goes crazy for cake pops, chocolates, chocolate covered strawberries, hearts, sugar paste and sentimentality of every kind, but I will be immune from this sort of things.
You see, I'm a romantic with a capital R, I deeply believe in love (and feelings, in general) and I appreciate every single act that could come from the heart, but I don't believe in the social convention that dedicates a day to mawkishness (which for me are very different from romantic gestures), a day where you have to write notes, dedicate all kinds of bad and trite love songs or buy flowers and chocolates, without really feel any need or desire for it.
Here, this is this spirit that I don't like, that pale sense of obligation that lies behind this day. I swear, this is not the speech of a cynic, or the speech of a confirmed single and disenchanted woman (maybe a cat lady, with all due respect for cats and their fans), but this speech comes from someone who has great faith in feelings and in everything that comes from them and who, therefore, is suspicious of all that is "due", when it comes to feelings.
So to "celebrate" this day, I chose a dish that has nothing romantic, the spring roll … if you want to make this preparation with your loved one, you'll stink of fried food, it's not an aphrodisiac food (unless you find aphrodisiac foods that have a vague phallic shape) and it doesn't even remotely recalls the conventional idea of a romantic dinner, but it's very good and digestible (in spite of certain indigestible rolls that you may find in some Chinese restaurants, at least in Italy), and this is not a trivial matter.
I am truly democratic: you can choose to celebrate a "heart and kisses" St. Valentine's day (and this is not the place for you … but you could use this recipe – and I would try the chocolate and chili combination), you can choose not to celebrate it at all or to do so something anti-conventional (and in this case some spring rolls and/or some home-made Chinese dumplings will be fine) or you can decide to celebrate St. Faustino (in Italy it's the day dedicated to single men and women) … and, well, at this point why do you care about the stink of fried food?!
But, in any case, I'm not denying a roll to anyone … Have a great St. Valentine's day, you all, lovers or not (and if you fall into the latter category, I wish you to fall in love, 'cause I think it's always a good thing).
Category Appetizer and Finger food, Chinese cuisine, Fried food, Home-made is better | Tags: appetizer and finger food,bamboo,Chinese cuisine,chinese mushrooms,fried food,ginger,home-made is better,soy sauce,soy sprouts,spring rolls | 22 Comments
January 4, 2012 by Giulietta
Surviving from Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, lunches, at the gate (perhaps) the Epiphany lunch, and here I am suggesting you to make chocolates?
I'll answer in a simple and honest way: yes, because the new year deserves sweetness… maybe it'll decide to bring something good with it (do you want to attract bad luck not celebrating it with the due courtesy?!).
So, despite all the lunches, dinners and aperitifs, roll up your sleeves and let's make something sweet (but not too much, they are still dark chocolates) and aromatic (orange flavored) to gain favors with 2012.
… Then maybe the Mayans are right and all this will be useless!
HAPPY NEW (and maybe last) YEAR!
Today my post is featured on Helene's blog, Masala Herb.. go check it out!
Category Chocolate, Chocolates, Dessert and Sweets, Holidays, Home-made is better, Pralines | Tags: chocolate,chocolates,dark chocolate,dessert and sweets,ganache,holidays,home-made is better,orange,pralines | 26 Comments
December 25, 2011 by Giulietta
What can I say about Panettone, except that it's the Italian Christmas dessert par excellence (for me Panettone is way way better than Pandoro)?! That I think that the scent could revive dead persons? That its softness could melt even the most hard-hearted?
No, I prefer to say that this year I wanted to allow myself this experiment, repeated twice: the first time I failed (a wrong and too long rising, which led to a very good Panettone, but drier than it should be), while the second Panettone was phenomenal, also thanks to Morena from Menta e Cioccolato, this recipe's mom and the one who suggested me not to give up and who gave me some successful tips.
With this Panettone (which will cut itself by magic in exact the number of slices needed for all of you) I wish you to spend a happy and peaceful Christmas, reveling surrounded by your loved ones (I have to wish you something food-related). And I wish you that this Christmas will bring you everything that you want.
And, last but not least, I want to thank you all for your patience in reading my rigmarole, for the affection, attention and support I feel in your every comment and every e-mail. Thank you all and, sincerely, Merry Christmas.
… don't worry, now I leave you the recipe!
Category Christmas, Dessert and Sweets, Holidays, Home-made is better, Leavened, Lombardy, Regional Italian cooking | Tags: candied fruits,Christmas,dessert and sweets,holidays,home-made is better,leavened,Lombardy,Milan,panettone,raisin,regional italian cuisine | 33 Comments
December 24, 2011 by Giulietta
Here we are, today is the beloved or dreaded Christmas Eve, a day about preparations: clean up house, cooking (I have to make coniglio al civet -a rabbit stew- and bread for tomorrow's lunch), wrap the last gifts and, in my case, pack the edible gifts (so that they don't lose their fragrance, hopefully). I know that I skimped on: I didn't write about a lot of recipes for home-made gifts, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise to my closest friends.
But today I can at least reveal the first secret of Fatima, about my sweet and cute Gingerbread men, that remind me of the one from the movie Shrek. Of course, this isn't an Italian sweet, but I like these spicy cookies so much, and I find that they smell like winter, like homely warmth, like Christmas. Also, once you've decorated them (although I did a very simple decoration) with glaze, they'll become very cute and nice: they can almost talk!
Category Breakfast, Christmas, Cookies, Dessert and Sweets, Glaze, Holidays, Home-made is better, North Europe cuisine, Spices | Tags: breakfast,Christmas,cinnamon,clove,cookies,dessert and sweets,ginger,glaze,holidays,home-made is better,honey,North Europe cuisine,nutmeg,spices | 9 Comments
December 10, 2011 by Giulietta
While you're reading this post, I will be in Rome for a book exhibition, an "excuse" to finally see again many friends who come from all over Italy. Take a school trip, add a food and wine tour, add a package tour with thousand forced stops, add a shopaholic meeting and you still can't fully grasp the spirit of this reunion. And then I'll take some food tour (I have to), and I'll finally meet some fellow food bloggers live, but I'll tell you everything when I'll come back.
But, since "we're not here to comb the dolls" (a roman saying that means "we're not here to bake cookies"… even if we're here to bake cookies), in this post I try to satisfy with a single recipe those who are looking for simple and light breakfast cookies and those who are looking for a gourmet cookie gift for Christmas (and you can give them even to your lactose intolerant friends. Home-made really is better), perhaps along with a nice bottle of passito wine. I guarantee you, these cookies are fantastic dunked in milk and in wine … a miracle!
It's not a miracle, it's a Juls' (from Juls' Kitchen) recipe!
Category Breakfast, Cookies, Dessert and Sweets, Home-made is better, Wine | Tags: breakfast,cookies,dairy products free,dessert and sweets,extra-virgin olive oil,home-made is better,white wine,wine | 18 Comments
November 13, 2011 by Giulietta
With this recipe I officially start (perhaps I should include some old recipes, though) a new "section", and I'm calling it Home-made is better, a section dedicated to all those delicacies that perhaps you might find in stores that sell quality products… but those same delicacies, if home-made, reach a new level of deliciousness, almost beyond the Nirvana of taste.
In addition, I'll use this section to give you some gift ideas for the upcoming (argh!) Christmas, gifts that can be used for other occasions, too (birthdays, graduations, confirmations, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, weddings – gifts or favors- and so on) .. In short, do whatever you want with them.
To get off on the right foot, I chose a regional product. Some of you might know it, but I believe that most of you never heard about cugnà. Cugnà (or cognà), a word which I don't know the meaning of, but that materializes in a dense marvel that you can store in jars. I don't define it, 'cause there is a quarrel about its ontological essence: is it mustard? Not really, but it looks like it. Is it jam? No, but it can be used as jam, and a few decades ago it was used like that, simply spread on bread, as a snack. Well, maybe it's better not to define it, but simply be enchanted by it.
One thing it's sure: it's an ancient dish, which comes from the need to reuse the waste from the harvest (the main ingredient is, in fact, grape must) and the excess production of autumn fruits. This is enriched with dried fruits (needless to say, the special guests are Piedmontese hazelnuts) and some spices. In the past people didn't keep in jars, but simply in an earthenware container (called the Tupina. Piedmontese small note: a very similar word, tupin, is still used in Piedmont, more than every day, to call a generic container, from a jar to an airtight container and so on. So if a Piedmontese says "put it in a tupin", he/she is not saying that you have to stuff a rodent. PS. in Italian "topo" means "mouse", so there's a little word pun, here) covered by a plate.
You'll wonder how you use this delicacy … traditionally, since it was born a poor dish, cugnà was especially eaten with polenta (I'll have to try this use), while the wealthier used it to accompany boiled meat (which is very typical here in Piedmont) and cheeses; however,as I already said, it was also used like an usual jam, so spread on bread. The choice is yours!
Category Conserve, Dried fruit, Fresh fruit, Home-made is better, Jam, Piedmont, Regional Italian cooking | Tags: almond,apple,cinnamon,clove,cognà,conserve,cugnà,dried apricots,dried figs,dried fruit,fresh fruit,hazelnut,home-made is better,madernassa pears,most,pears,quince,renette apples,walnut | 31 Comments