Berry Semifreddo

DSC02297 (1)

This simple and delicious recipe will make your heated summer day. With no effort, a fresh, light and sophisticated bite. Semifreddo is a traditional Italian summer dessert, easy to make at home with no need of a gelato maker. You can use 100% cream if you want, this specific recipe uses yogurt to make for a lighter option. You can also play around with different flavors: chocolate, coffee, meringue, other fruits, spices…

Watch video here

DSC02275

INGREDIENTS
Seasonal mixed berries, 1 pound
Full-fat yogurt, 1 pound
Double cream, ½ pound
Powdered sugar, ½ pound
Lemon, 1

METHOD
Whip the cream with half the sugar and the zest of one lemon. Once stiff fold in the yogurt.
Wash the berries and mix with the remaining sugar and the juice of half a lemon.
Line a casserole with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Pour half of the yogurt cream in the casserole, cover with a layer of berries, then pour the remaining cream and cover all barriers. Freeze for at least 4 hours, overnight works great.
Serve in slices with some berries and their juice.

DSC02289DSC02293

Buon Appetito!

Balsamic? What’s all the fuss about?

GIUSTI2

When talking balsamic it’s important to understand there are very different degrees of quality for this unique condiment. The original version, the so called Traditional Balsamic vinegar, is what gave worldwide fame to this regional delicacy. Not to be mistaken with balsamic condiments, or IGP certified, produced in much larger quantities not even nearly as sophisticated. Compared to its industrial rivals Traditional Balsamic vinegar has a very small production. It is the representation of traditional knowledge passed down for generations throughout centuries. The only ingredient is cooked must, which is then “aged” for at least 12 years – a concentration of deep complex flavour.

GIUSTI1

Here is how it goes: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is the most controlled and regulated food product of Italy. It is made using a series of barrels of decreasing size, called a battery. The battery is exposed to cold temperatures in winter and high temperatures in summer, which reduces the content of each barrel by approximately 15%. The product is ready when it has aged one year in each barrel, beginning from the largest one. When it reaches the smallest one it is ready for extraction. The result is a continuous blend of different vintages and is characterised by rejuvenation. Each year the finished product from the smallest barrel is removed and bottled while the contents of each barrel are transferred to the next, with the first barrel being filled with new must. This long and caring process provides the vinegar with a concentration of taste and a viscous texture. All imitation, non-regulated products add sugar to create density. A small bottle of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is obtained from 70 – 90 pounds of grapes, and the process takes at least 12 years. It’s something very special, to be used occasionally and on very specific foods.

GIUSTI

Pairings:
Being such a precious and fine food, cooking with it is a waste as heat would destroy it’s essence, and it would be wasted over a salad. Best with:

  • Vanilla gelato and strawberries
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Panna cotta
  • Steak
  • Meat ravioli

bellina_final_0055

Interesting facts: A good traditional balsamic vinegar uses barrels of at least 4 different types of wood in its battery. A small bottle of this kind of vinegar is obtained from 30 to 40 kg of grapes (66-88 pounds).

Tips on how to recognise the REAL product:

  • The name must contain the word TRADIZIONALE and the certification DOP
  • The texture must be viscous
  • No ingredients apart from must
  • No vintage statement

Red Pesto alla Trapanese

DSC01972

A traditional summer recipe from Trapani in the western part of Sicily. It was the sailors from Genoa, stopping in the ports of Sicily, who introduced the island to their cherished pesto recipe. Sicilians embraced it and made it their own, by adding fresh tomatoes and using almonds instead of pine nuts, basically using more of what was available in their region. Mainly used as a pasta sauce, it’s also delicious as a dip or a spread in a sandwich. Perfect on a summer day after a refreshing swim in the sea.

DSC01976

Recipe for 4
Ripe tomatoes, 1 pound
Garlic, 1 clove
Basil, 1/2 bunch
Almonds, 1/4 pound
Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, 1/2 pound
EVOO, 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Conchiglie (sell) dry pasta, 1 pound

Method:
Bring to boil a large pot of water. Place the almonds on an oven tray and bake for five minutes at 400°F. Blanche the tomatoes in the salted boiling water for two minutes (keep the same water to cook your pasta) , then peel off the skins. Place tomatoes, garlic, almonds, half of the cheese, basil, half of the EVOO, a pinch of salt and a little pepper in a blender. Mix until smooth and creamy. Cook the pasta in the boiling water, once cooked, drain place in a bowl and fold in the pesto. Drizzle with raw EVOO and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Buon appetito!

DSC01984

Take a trip to Apulia

IMG_0341

Summer has kicked in, the warm breeze from the south is blowing, the sea water is crystal clear and the tomatoes are ripe and juicy. Apulia (Puglia) is at it’s best, located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the western-most tip of Italy’s peninsula. There is something just charming about this place. The warm colours of a landscape burnt from the summer sun, the astonishing architecture, the light yellow stone baroque buildings of Lecce (known as the Florence of the south), the white homes and the Romanic churches.

6781970219_cc736d218c_b

Apulia has been the granary of Italy since Roman times, still leading the country in the production of prime wheat. It’s a rich land giving some of the best extra virgin olive oils, stretched cheeses, dried pastas as well as fruits and vegetables converting the richness of the sun rays into unbelievably concentrated flavors. The food is just out of this world, something that is really hard to put in words. It’s simple, it talks about the land and the season, it’s what you would expect to eat at nonna’s (grandma’s)  place. Orecchiette pasta with rapini and anchovies, baked rice with mussles and potatoes, eggplant parmigiana, mashed fava beans and chicory, pasta and chick peas, raw sea urchins, octopus salad, or the meat bombette (“little bombs”, the name says it all): caciocavallo cheese wrapped in veal and pancetta and barbecued on an open fire. The list keeps going, you will just have to pay your own visit to taste them all.

puglia-552098_960_720

Best beaches:
Beaches in this region are made of the stuff of dreams, a few of them really do stand out: Grotta della Poesia – Roca Vecchia, Porto Selvaggio and Maldive del Salento. In peak season they can get pretty crowded, but it’s still worth it and it’s one of the best places for people watching. Nothing beats an Italian family on holiday, on the beach with umbrellas, deck chairs, tables, trays of eggplant parmigiana, pasta salad and polpette (meatballs)… a must.

IMG_0203

Where to stay:
There are plentiful different options for accommodation but try renting your own trullo, the traditional stone conic buildings once used by farmers and herders. Today they have become the symbol of Apulia and many have been converted in stunning residences and boutique hotels. There are also a number of stunning masserie – old farm house complexes – to choose from as well.  Affordable beauty, often slightly inland, but the region is surrounded by the sea so it’s never more than a 20 minute drive to the first beach. Check out Borgo San Marco with its beautiful built in spa.  If you are looking for a unique and exclusive experience you can go for the Italian location of Francis Ford Coppola’s Resorts, Palazzo Margherita. 

IMG_0383

Where to eat:
Go to Ceglie Messapica, it’s a beautiful town and you can either eat at Cibus – make sure to dig into their cheese selection – or at Fornello da Ricci (1 Michelin star). If you visit Lecce do not miss out a meal at Le Zie, its terribly authentic, like eating at someone’s home. And a stop in Cisternino to savor their grill culture and the unmissable bombette at Il Vecchio Fornello  is a must.

Buon viaggio!