Cantaloupe and feta summer salad

Celebrating cantaloupe peak season!
A fresh, Mediterranean and incredibly easy to make recipe.
IMG_5941.jpg

Yield: serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: none
 
Ingredients
Cantaloupe, 1 whole diced
Feta cheese, ½ pound
Toasted pine nuts, 2 tablespoons
Black taggiasca olives, 3 tablespoons
Extra virgin Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
Fresh basil, ½ bunch torn
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Scrape seeds out of the cantaloupe, dice and mix with all other ingredients in a bowl. Crumble the feta with your hands – the texture will be more pleasant. Tear the basil and don’t chop with a knife, the metal oxidises it very quickly and will make it turn dark brown. Serve chilled with a glass of crisp white wine.

Buon Appetito!

IMG_5991.jpg

 

Back to school Italian lunch box

In need of some inspiration for creating balanced, healthy  yet tasty meals for your kids? Here are some quick Italian inspired recipes.

Mozzarella lollipop

IMG_5775.jpg

Ingredients

4 mozzarella ovoline
4 cherry tomatoes
4 cocktail sticks
2 tablespoons of basil pesto (check our blog to learn how to make your own at home or find it already made at Bellina’s Market)

Method

Roll the mozzarella in the pesto.
Carefully thread the tomato half way through the cocktail stick and top with the mozzarella.

IMG_5819.jpg

Zucchini pancakes

IMG_5824.jpg

Ingredients
1 large zucchini, trimmed and shredded
2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Shred zucchini , and squeeze excess water with your hands, Mix with flour in a medium size ball. Mix in the cheese. Add egg, salt and pepper.
Heat oil of choice in frying pan over medium heat. Using a spoon scoop a spoon of the batter into the hot oil.
Using a spatula, flip the pancakes after the first side has browned.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Great to serve with a scoop of Greek yogurt as a snack or light lunch.

IMG_5868.jpg

Indulge in the flavors of Summer – Pasta al Pesto

IMG_5795.jpg

Pasta al pesto is a classic summertime Italian recipe. It is originally from Genova in the Liguria region of northern Italy but is nowadays widespread throughout the country. The name pesto comes from the Italian word pestare (to crush) traditionally the ingredients were blended using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle. The good news is that it’s actually incredibly easy to make. The simplicity of this recipe does requires the use of high quality tasty ingredients. Any pasta shape will work but a classic traditional Trofie or Garganelli do the trick.

Recipe for 4

Ingredients
1 pound Trofie Pasta
For the Pesto:
10-12 Sprigs of Fresh Basil, Leaves only
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1/3 cup Premium Pine Nuts
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, peeled
Salt and Pepper
For assembling the dish:
½ cup Heirloom or cherry tomatoes, coarsely diced
Utensils needed
Large Bowl
Large pot
Electric blender
Strainer
Method
 Mix all pesto ingredients in a blender until a smooth paste has formed. If Pesto is too dry, slowly add some more olive oil. Pesto can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days in a closed jar. To prevent it from turning brown pour a little extra virgin olive oil in the jar and cover the pesto so that it is sealed and not in contact with air.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water, according to recommended cooking time written on the box.
When pasta is Al-Dente cooked, drain and transfer directly into a large mixing bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of Pesto sauce, 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water and diced tomatoes. Toss the pasta gently to evenly cover with the sauce.
Place pasta in individual serving bowls, drizzle olive oil on top. Garnish with shaved Parmesan Cheese and fresh basil leaves and if desired tomatoes.

Buon apettito!

Focaccia made easy

Focaccia is an Italian flat bread that comes in many variations throughout the country. Try this easy traditional recipe from the northwestern region Liguria. All you need is a little time.. plan to make it when you are at home for a few hours, like on a Sunday afternoon. We choose to use a whole grain unrefined, unenriched and unbleached flour, stone ground made from only Italian wheat. Whole flours are rich in nutrients and taste and will make a darker and more flavourful bread. Usually local farmer’s markets will offer local good quality, possibly organic wholewheat flours. We also love natural fermentations and love keeping a sour dough starter.. it’s a great excuse to have to make bread, pizza and focaccia at home every week or so. It sounds scary but once you get into the habit, it’s a piece of cake. If this is one step to far for you, fresh yeast will work just as well.

MB_Food 160209 1 (14)

Yield: Makes a large tray
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking and leavening time: 3 hours

Ingredients
Mother yeast starter, 3 ounce (6 tablespoons)
or fresh yeast from store, if so 2 ounces are enough
Whole grain flour, 1 pack (1 kg)
Luke warm water, 2 ½ cups
Sea salt, 2 tablespoons –
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Extra virgin olive oil, 9 tablespoons–

Utensils Needed
Oven, oven tray, electric mixer or bowl, tea towel, rimmed baking sheet

Method
Place all ingredients but the oil in the electric mixer or in a bowl and mix or knead until smooth and uniform. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and mix. Cover the bowl with a damp clean tea towel and let sit for about 2 hours, or until the dough has roughly doubled. Preheat oven to 390 F. Grease the tray with a little oil (1 tablespoon). Now knead lightly and gently press into the baking tray, flatten to fill whole tray and obtain a sheet no higher than 1 inch. If the dough is too sticky use some flour on your hands. Drizzle the whole surface with the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust looks crispy and light brown.
Enjoy with some delicious spreads, cheeses and salumi (cured meats).

MB_Food 160209 2 (24)

Lima Bean Minestrone

These last cold days of winter make us feel like a warm bowl of comforting soup. Here is a classic soup recipe from the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the northeast of Italy. In summer use fresh beans and add fresh corn.

Yield: serves 6
Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Ingredients
dry beans, 1⁄2 jar (about 8 ounces) Lima Beans by Mariangela Prunotto
dry bay leaf, 1 teaspoon
white onion, 1 large
garlic, 2 cloves peeled and minced
celery, 2 stalks diced
carrot, 1 large diced
bacon, 3 ounces diced (optional)
potato, 1 diced
parmigiano reggiano cheese, 3 ounces
parmigiano reggiano rinds (optional)
extra virgin olive oil, a few tablespoons to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Utensils needed:
large pot, strainer, large bowl

Method:
Fill the large pot with water and bring to boil, add dry beans and bay leaf, cook for about 50 minutes or until beans are cooked through. Once cooked strain the beans putting a large bowl under the strainer to collect all the cooking water – this is where all the depth and taste of the soup comes from! In the same pot, over medium heat start your ‘soffritto’. Add a splash of Extra Virgin Olive oil (or other oil if preferred), garlic, celery, onion, carrot and bacon (optional). Stir and cook until brown, then add potatoes, bean water and parmigiano reggiano cheese rinds (optional). Add at least two teaspoons salt and one of black pepper (or more depending on personal preference). Let the soup cook through about 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. After about 15 minutes of cooking add the cooked beans. Serve with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Delicious served hot or cold. Tastes even better the day after!IMG_6565

The making of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Called the king of cheeses, made following 800 year old recipes, using only local raw cow’s milk, aged for at least 12 months,  this cheese is one of the most delicious foods Italy has to offer.

It not only tastes amazing but is also a very nutritional food, extremely digestible and rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. It’s production is regulated and made completely naturally with respect to tradition. We can’t get enough of it, grated over pasta, crumbled in salads or enjoyed pure, on a cheese board with honey or balsamic vinegar.

We went to Emilia Romagna, a region that is home to some of the finest gastronomic products  (think Parma Ham, Mortadella, Culatello, Balsamic Vinegar, etc..), to learn more about this extraordinary delicacy.

Like any top quality product it all starts with the ingredients, in this case raw milk, from cows that live in the region and only eat locally grown forage. DSC09900 2The cheese is made using the milk from the evening milking that by resting overnight naturally separates bringing the fatter part to the top. Early in the morning this cream top is skimmed and used to make fresh butter and whole milk from the morning milking is added. The process rigorously happens in large bell-shaped copper cauldrons. Calf rennet and fermented whey, rich in natural lactic ferments, obtained from the processing of the day before, are added. Once the milk coagulates, the curd is broken using a traditional tool called ‘spino’. The liquid solution is heated using open fire and the cheese granules sink to the bottom. After resting for around thirty minutes, the cheese mass is removed, with deft movements, by the cheese maker. Cut into two parts and wrapped in its typical cloth, the cheese is then placed in a mould which will give it its final shape. DSC09418The process is very skill intensive, the cheese makers perform an astonishing precision and perfection in each and every movement. A perfection that can only be achieved by the repetition of tasks, day after day, the precision that only comes after years of experience making the one and only product. IMG_0381.jpgOnce settled, the wheels are immersed for about a month in a brine solution, where the cheese is slowly salted by absorption. After that starts a whole new journey, the ageing process. For at least 1 year the wheels rest on wooden shelves, they are turned and checked upon frequently, taken care of and nurtured with affection. In this time the cheese develops all those exceptional intense and complex flavours, that only time can help achieve. Just like an aged wine or ham, this is where all the magic happens.DSC09437Benito makes parmigiano reggiano 365 days a year. He has been waking up at 4.30 am for over 40 years to do so. He jokes about how cow’s don’t go on holiday, so neither does he. It’s a passion and a tradition, he explains, a devotion that is hard to understand from a distance.

 

 

Making your own pasta is easy

Making fresh pasta is one of our favourite activities, a way to fill up a cold winter afternoon cooking with friends and family. Get your hands dirty and try this simple recipe. All you need is a little time and the eagerness to enjoy a home cooked meal, that will take you all the way back to your Italian memories and fantasies.

IMG_6077-2

Recipe                                                                                                                                 Yield: 6 people

Ingredients

  • Unbleached, unenriched semolina flour, 200g (approx 7 ounces)
  • Unbleached, unenriched white wheat flour, 200g (approx 7 ounces)
  •  Large pasture raised eggs (70 g) 4

Method
On a clean surface, make a pile out of flour and form a deep well in center. Break the eggs into the well  and beat very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well, trying not to make the egg spill out of the well. When mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading using your hands. If flour does not fully incorporate into the dough add one or two tablespoons of water. (Be careful not to add too much!)

Dough is very sticky at the beginning and becomes more elastic and smooth after around 4 minutes of kneading. Once the dough is formed, continue kneading for 3 more minutes to allow the dough to reach its maximum elasticity and firmness. Long kneading is important in order to develop the gluten in the flour and to prevent dough from tearing apart later on. Dust work surface with flour if needed to keep dough from becoming sticky.

Roll dough into a ball shape and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

The traditional way of rolling out the pasta is by using a simple wood rolling pin, so even if you don’t have a pasta machine don’t be intimidated to make fresh pasta at home. Dust working surface with flour and start rolling dough one piece at a time. After every roll, make a quarter turn and repeat the same movement until you have achieved the desired thickness. (Approximately the thickness of a playing card).

If using a machine to roll out the pasta, make sure to firmly attach it to a clean working surface before you start. Then set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll one slice of pasta dough through. Fold the dough into thirds and pass through the machine again. Repeat this process 3 times. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. After 3 times of rolling the dough in the widest setting, click the machine setting down, and pass the dough through several times, starting from the widest setting down to around the narrowest, until reaching the thickness of a playing card.

After achieving the desired thickness it’s time to cut the dough into the desired shape. Make sure to dust dough on both sides so it doesn’t stick to itself.

IMG_5785-2

For Lasagne – Cut into large sheets (can vary depending on baking dish)
For Tagliolini – Cut the sheets into strips the thickness of a quarter (2mm).
For Pappardelle – Cut the sheets into 0.7 inch (2cm) strips.

When pasta is ready to cook, boil water and add salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes (when the pasta is ready it will float to the top of the surface), drain and toss directly into sauce pan with desired sauce.