Sicilian Orange and Fennel Salad

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Fennel peak season calls for a one-of-a-kind Mediterranean recipe.  Healthy, fresh, crunchy, delicious and very simple to prepare. It makes for a great light lunch or the perfect side to a roast chicken or fish.

Italians love fennel and use it in a variety of dishes, making the best of all its parts, from the bulb to the flowers and seeds. And it isn’t just a matter of taste. Think of Finocchiona, the traditional Tuscan salami: the fennel seeds help preserve it while adding their characteristic flavour.  Its is rich in vitamin C, fibers and several essential nutrients for our diet. It also has unusual phytonutrients that give it ample antioxidant and immune-boosting capabilities.

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Ingredients:
3 large fennels (try and find them with the green tips)
3 oranges
2 spring onions
2 tbsp Capers in salt
2 tbsp pitted taggiasca olives
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp ground pepper

Method:
Finely chop the fennel, fennel tips and spring onion and place in a bowl. Peel the oranges using a knife, trying not to waste the fruit but taking away the white bitter outer layer. Slice the oranges, keep the juice and add to the bowl. Add capers with salt, olives, Evoo and pepper and mix well. The salad can keep for up to one day, but is best when just made.

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Buon Appetito!

Sausage and Kale Calamarata

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Cavolo nero also known as lacinato kale is originally from Tuscany. Usually recognized for being the main ingredient in the popular Ribollita soup, it pairs beautifully with fresh sausage in this pasta dish. You can switch the cavolo nero with any kind of kale or rupini, and use any shape of short pasta. Calamarata is a shorter variant of paccheri, the name recalls the similarity in shape to fried calamari… but has nothing to do with seafood!

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Watch the recipe video: https://youtu.be/aQU8zxvSNCU

Recipe for 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 500g pack Calamarata dried pasta
Sea salt, 2 tablespoons
For the sauce
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 3 tablespoons
Garlic clove, 2
Chili flakes, 1 teaspoon
Yellow onion, 1 large
Splash of white wine
Sausages, 2
Cavolo nero (lacinato kale), ¾ lb
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, 4 tablespoons
Salt to taste

Utensils needed
Large pot
Pan
Pasta Strainer

Method
Fill the pot with 1.5 gallons of water and bring to a boil. In the meanwhile start making the sauce: peel the garlic and dice the onion. Heat the pan and add a tablespoon of EVOO, chili flakes and 2 garlic cloves. When it starts to sizzle add the onions, once they starts browning add the wine and let evaporate. Slice the sausage links in half lengthwise and peel off the casing, add to the pan, mix and cook for about 10 minutes. Chop the kale into strips and add to the sauce, stir it in, slightly lower the flame and cook for another 10 minutes. If in need of moisture add a few tablespoons of hot water from the large pot.
At this point while the sauce cooks through the water should be boiling. Add 2 tablespoons of sea salt and pour the pasta in, keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick. Cook for the suggested time on pack, but our suggestion is to always try one noodle before draining, you want to cook it ‘al dente’. Dente means “tooth” in Italian, it suggests that the texture must be firm and have a bite to it. After you cook pasta regularly, you will just know when it is ready.
Once pasta is ready, drain but keep about 3 tablespoons of cooking water. Add pasta and cooking water to the sauce and stir at high flame for a few minutes.
Drizzle with the remaining EVOO and garnish with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

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Buon apettito! 

All the colors of Pasta

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Next time you make your own fresh pasta at home why not experiment with different natural colorants? Seasons have so many ingredients to pick from and eating seasonal is the best excuse to get creative and cook with what’s available. Right now during winter you can get plenty of vitamins, fibres and antioxidants from veggies such as beetroot, which will turn your pasta pink or purple, and fresh spinach if you want it to turn green. In summer try with tomatoes or basil! Squid ink – which can be sourced year-round – will turn your dough charcoal black, cocoa powder a nice earthy brown, while turmeric and saffron bright yellow. It’s fun, gets kids excited about a healthy meal and can be the next trick to impress your guests at a dinner party. Start out with your classic fresh pasta recipe and add the following proportions:

  • Beetroot, spinach, tomato: ½ ounce every 100g flour (For the vegetables boil until soft, squeeze out the extra water, blend and weigh)
  • Cocoa, turmeric: 0,2 ounce every 100g flour
  • Squid ink: if fresh, one bladder is more than enough every 200g of flour. You can also find it dehydrated in powder (use same proportions as cocoa)
  • Saffron: A pinch of pistils diluted in a few drops of warm water every 100g flour

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Need a refresh to our fresh pasta recipe?
Yield: 6 people

Ingredients
Unbleached, unenriched semolina flour, 200 g (approx. 7 ounces)
Unbleached, unenriched white wheat flour (cake flour), 0 type, 200 g (approx. 7 ounces)
Large pasture raised eggs (280 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 add colorant. Whisk eggs very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides 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!) In the case of beetroot, spinach and tomato the opposite may occur, you can add a little semolina flour if the dough is too sticky.

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). After achieving the desired thickness of the dough, start cutting the pasta into desired shape. Make sure to dust dough on both sides so it doesn’t stick to itself.

Buon appetito!

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Heat up with a cup of Vin Brûlé

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Italy is snowed in! Smokey, hot and spicy wine – the perfect solution to chilly weather.
Vin Brûlé (mulled wine) is a tradition in most mountainous areas of Europe. Red wine is infused with spices and citrus and served boiling hot! It’s an extremely fun and easy preparation for your next winter party.

Watch the recipe video: https://vimeo.com/199480956

Recipe for 4
Ingredients:
Red wine, 1 bottle
Orange peel, 1 orange
Brown sugar, 3 Tbsp.
Cloves, 1 Tbsp.
Star anise, 4 whole
Cinnamon, 2 sticks

Method:
In a pot add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Strain and ladle into individual cups or glasses. Serve hot and garnish with orange peel and whole star anise.

Cheers!

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White gold… pure lust

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A strong scent that propagates in the soil rises to the surface and traps our nostrils with an irresistible and seductive aroma. It’s the most expensive mushroom in the world, sought after by connoisseurs across countries. A few weeks ago, at the Alba Truffle fair in Piedmont, Italy – the most prestigious truffle event worldwide – a chef from China bought a white truffle weighing 1.170 grams for the outstandingly high amount of €100,500.00 bringing the 2016 fair edition to its record sales of over €450,000.00

Its preciousness derives not only from the unique and inebriating flavor but also because it can’t be cultivated. It grows in the wild in symbiosis with the roots of specific trees (usually oaks, hazels, or lindens), in distinct areas across the globe, only at certain times of the year under the right climatic conditions. Hunting for truffles is not easy! In most cases it means going out at night – so neighbours and passers by won’t find out your secret spots – being pulled up hills by your truffle dog and his olfactory gift. Truffle spores emit a musky aroma – which is what attracts beetles, squirrels, rabbits, deer, pigs and dogs. You better find your truffle before a wild bore does, or he will devour it in one bite.

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In nature there are about 100 types of truffles, but only 9 of these are edible and can be white or black. France is known for Perigord black truffles, while Italy for its white variety from Alba, Piedmont. There are some truffle hunters in other parts of the world, but the varieties change and the quality is not the same.

Truffles have been praised and enjoyed since the era of Ancient Greece, where it was thought they were created from the lightning of the god Zeus. A gift from the sky that encloses all the fragrances of the forest striking you with its unbeatable scent. And it keeps coming… truffles are also said to be aphrodisiac!

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Tips on buying truffles:
If you decide to buy a truffle, ideally ask for a certificate of origin, touch it and make sure it is firm. The aroma should be strong and persistent. Have it weighed in front of you and compare it with the year’s market price.

Tips on how to cook truffles:
The thing is, you should not cook fresh truffles. You will loose the entire aroma. This rule goes for white truffles as you can cook black ones, but gently. Shave into paper-thin slices over egg pasta, a fried egg or a steak. Keep it simple, truffle is what you want to enjoy and savor, don’t overpower your dishes with other strong ingredients. This delicacy can stand on its own. Buon Appetito!

Tiramisù

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Need some dessert revelation for Christmas? Why not go the Italian way?
Tiramisù could be defined as THE Italian dessert, known the world over for its creamy texture and comforting flavor. Its origin is mysterious and is motive for many disputes amongst different northern Italian regions that claim the invention of this classic. Tiramisù in Italian means “Raise me up”, probably referring to the highly nutritious ingredients that make it an energetic food. More malicious theories believe it has a sexual connotation that refers to it being an aphrodisiac dish. Energy food or aphrodisiac, to us it remains a favorite, especially for its simplicity in the making. A few simple ingredients and little skills needed. Make sure to use fresh eggs from a trusted source, as they will be served uncooked. Get out your spatula and let the show begin!

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Watch the recipe in a short video: https://vimeo.com/195761067

Ingredients:
Lady finger cookies, ¼ pound
Coffee, 1 cup
Eggs, 4 medium
Powdered sugar, 2 ¼ ounces
Mascarpone, 1 pound
Bitter cocoa powder, 2 ounces
Red berries, as a garnish

Method:
In a casserole, display the cookies to form a layer. Pour over coffee and set aside. Separate egg yolks from egg whites in two bowls. Add the sugar to the yolks and mix until smooth, add the mascarpone and mix until smooth. On the side beat the whites until stiff. Fold whites into the mascarpone cream, gently, trying not to loose the fluffiness. Pour the mixture in the casserole to cover cookies. Sift the cocoa powder over the whole surface. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Serve slices garnished with berries.
Buon Appetito!

Dreaming of an orange Christmas

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If you feel overwhelmed by the Christmas shopping craze, a gift made with your own hands can be a very special and unique way to show your love. This year why not make orange jam? It’s the peak of the season and the oranges are as juicy, sweet and ripe as it gets. Presented in a glass jar of your choice with a handmade decoration it will unmistakably win your loved ones over.

Recipe:
Ingredients
Oranges, 4 pounds
Apple, 1
Brown sugar, 2 pounds
Fresh Ginger, 1 tablespoon
Cloves, 2
Cardamom, 2 pods

Method
Peal oranges, clean trying to discard as much of the white part as possible, as this is what makes the jam more bitter. Keep the peel of an orange and boil in a pot of water for 5 minutes (helps take bitterness away).
In a large pot bring to boil the orange pulp, sugar, ginger, spices and chopped orange peel. Cook over a medium to low heat for about 40 minutes. Take out the cardamom and cloves and let the jam cool a little. With an electric blender, blend the jam to as fine as you prefer it. We like ours to stay a little chunky, so we just give it a quick blend for smoothness.
Sterilise your jars, ladle the boiling jam into the jars, screw the lids on and turn upside down.
Once cooled down you can play around with creating fun labels and decorating the jars with beautiful materials and strings.

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