(Pop)Corn Muffins with Salted Caramel Icing

 

Popcorn Muffins I have already talked in past posts about the Farina Bona (also called Farina Sec’a), which is a kind of flour made of dried corn kernels, which are then roasted and finely ground. Continue reading

This product is typical from the Onsernone Valley, which is geographically situated in the Locarno region. I really love this product as you can do so much with it and, you don’t even need to cook it. The Farina bona has a pronounced toasted flavour and it’s a great addition to many recipes. Personally, among the different recipes I’ve tasted and/or made are: Sablés cookies, Ice cream, Bonella (which is like Nutella but made with the Farina Bona), spaetzle and the Grido. When baking, because of its strong flavour, I combine the Farina Bona with normal flour… but this is up to you. This historical product, which contributed to the diet of our ancestors, can now be found a bit all over Switzerland. Beyond our borders unfortunately it will be super rare to find. It was some time since I wanted to post a recipe made with this flour, but knowing it wouldn’t be available for most, I figured out how to make my own. It’s not the original product but it’s close to it, so if you like it, give it a go with other recipes. For more information (history, recipes…) on the Farina Bona I advise you to visit their website.

On the left is my version, next to it is the original product.

On the left is my version, next to it is the original product.

The first time I tried the popcorn, I popped too much of it and the batter was a weird rocky looking thing. The second time the result was much better. It was the first time I was making popcorn without oil so I searched for tips and found here an article that was very helpful.For the batter I used the Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio. 

 

 

(Pop)Corn Muffins with Salted Caramel Icing

 

Recipe for 12 muffins

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30-35 min

 

Ingredients

90-100 g natural popcorn kernels

120 g flour

100 g sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

2.4 dl milk

2 eggs

100 g butter (melted)

+ butter and flour to coat the muffin pan

 

For the icing:

2 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. cream

90 g packed brown sugar

1/3 tsp. salt

About 120 g icing sugar

 

Recipe:

Place a pan on a medium to medium-high heat (I used a non stick one with a glass lid and it worked great), add the popcorn kernels and place the lid on top.

About every 10 seconds move the kernels around by shaking the pan. The aim here is not to get popcorn but to toast the kernels. In the end you should have quite dark toasted kernels with about ¼ of popped popcorn. If the popcorns are starting to pop too much, either reduce the heat or remove the pan from the fire and wait a little before placing it back on (it’s actually an easy task son don’t be daunted by it). Once the kernels are done let them cool.

Place the kernels in a food processor and grind them to a powder. They should look like flour in the end (see picture).

Heat the oven at 200°C.

Grease the muffin tin with butter and dust it with flour.

In a bowl mix the flour, 80 g of the (pop)corn flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. In another bowl combine milk, the eggs and butter. Whisk the wet ingredients together and add the flour mixture. Just blend the ingredients together, without overworking the batter. Evenly pour the mixture in the muffin cups and gently tap the tray on a surface to make sure there are no air pockets. Place in the oven without waiting for 15-18 min. When ready remove from oven and leave for 3-5 min before removing from the moulds and placing them on a wire rack.

Meanwhile prepare the icing. Start by melting the butter then add the cream, the brown sugar and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes on a medium fire. Remove from heat. Beat in the icing sugar bit by bit until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

Spread the icing on top of the muffins and if you want, top them with a piece of popcorn.

 

Broccoli Fries

Broccoli FriesI admit I like munching in front of a film, with the fireplace burning and my dog begging for some food. Continue reading

My fiancé is in regional politics and the campaign is starting so I know that when I’m not accompanying him, I will be enriching my film culture. The good thing is that I will get to watch films in original version :) – In order not to feel too guilty when I treat myself, I try to make lighter and healthier snacks instead of fried chips or salty meats… well, sometimes I succumb to cheese, but I try to limit eating too much of it by using it in smaller quantities. A little of the dairy delight can go a long way and this is what I did for with this recipe. A little cheese for these baked broccoli fries is all that is needed… along with the other ingredients of course.

 

Broccoli Fries

 

Recipe for 2-3 people

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: about 8 min

 

Ingredients

250 g broccoli florets

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

3 tbsp. finely chopped walnuts

2-3 tbsp. finely grated cheese

¼ – ½ tsp. smoked paprika

1 dl cream

Salt

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 210°C.

Clean and cut the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl place the cream; in another bowl place the breadcrumbs, walnuts, grated cheese and smoked paprika.

Take a few pieces of broccoli and soak them in the cream, let excess drip and then coat them with the breadcrumb, walnut mixture. To prevent the dry mixture from getting too soaked I divided the quantity and used them one at the time.

Once they are coated place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cook in the oven for 8-9 min. Serve.

 

 

Quick Broccoli Rabe Pasta

Quick Broccoli Rabe Pasta Over the Christmas holiday we visited my fiancé’s uncles. On that occasion, his aunt told me I should give this recipe a try, and so I did. Continue reading

In my version of the recipe I added a little sun dried tomatoes, other than that, I stuck to what she told me. Besides the flavour, this recipe is healthy and so quick to make and a part from the broccoli rabe, the ingredients can easily be found in any kitchen. My favourite pasta dishes are either a pasta bake or pasta with a few simple ingredients. This dish ticks the second box.

 

 

 

Quick Broccoli Rabe Pasta

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 10-12 min

 

Ingredients

360 g pasta (I used whole wheat farfalle but that’s up to you)

12 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

160 g broccoli rabe

2 medium garlic cloves

1-2 red chillies

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

(optional: grated cheese)

 

Recipe:

Finely slice the broccoli rabe. Dice the sun-dried tomatoes and finely chop the garlic and chilli(es).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain.

Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a pan with the sun-dried tomatoes, chillies and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 4-5 min (stirring occasionally), then add the broccoli rabe and cook for another 5 min. Then add the pasta and cook for another couple of minutes tossing now and then. Serve either alone or with some grated cheese.

Lasagne with Potatoes


Lasagne with Potatoes Since, like always I couldn’t sleep on Sunday morning, I went to one of my favourite places in the house: the kitchen. Continue reading

While Mr fiancé was sleeping, I had all morning to make this lasagne. When he woke up, we had this lasagne together. He ate it as breakfast, for me instead it was lunch. Although I did have pasta sheets to make the recipe the way it’s usually done, I decided to replace them with potatoes. I love pasta but potatoes on a rainy day felt just right. It was a bit of a test but finally I was happy with the result and decided to post this recipe.

 

Lasagne with Potatoes

 

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 25-30 min

Cook Time: 1h 15-20 min

 

Ingredients:

 

For the Bolognese

600 g minced meat (I only used beef but if you want to use a beef/pork it’s up to you)

1 carrot

1 small celery stalk

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 dl beef stock (I strongly recommend replacing ½ of the stock with red wine, I didn’t have any at hand)

2 tsp. chopped rosemary leaves

1-2 tbsp. olive oil (+more to grease the baking dish)

Salt and pepper

 

For the Béchamel sauce

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

1.5 dl milk

1.5-2 dl stock

Nutmeg

 

Other

600g thinly sliced potatoes

80-100g grated Parmesan

 

Recipe

Finely dice the carrot, celery stalk, onion and garlic.

Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pan with the above ingredients. Cook for about minutes stirring regularly.

Add the minced meat and break it with the help of a spatula. Cook until the meat is starting to brown (another 5 min or so). Pour in the red wine (if using it and the stock) let it cook for a moment further before adding the tomatoes. Let the ragù simmer until it start to thicken (about ½ hour) stirring occasionally. If you have the time, cover and let the Bolognese simmer for 2-3 hours, and/or prepare it the day before (in this case cover the pan with a lid during cooking process).

Meanwhile prepare the béchamel sauce. Start by melting the butter in a pan with a little nutmeg, add the flour and whisk until the flour begins to brown. While still whisking, start adding milk bit by bit. Once you have added all of the milk, start adding the stock. Keep an eye on the consistency of the sauce. If it’s too liquid cook it a little further, if it’s too thick, add a little more stock.

Heat the oven at 200°C.

In a greased baking dish spread a small amount of Béchamel sauce. Start by making a layer of potatoes, they should be slightly overlapping and cover the whole bottom. Evenly spread 1/3 of the béchamel sauce on top of the potatoes, then 1/3 of the Bolognese sauce and a little grated cheese. Repeat the layer for another couple of times finishing with the grated cheese. Cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 35-40 min, remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 min.

 

 

 

 

Goat Cheese Toasts

Goat Cheese ToastsSeeing old Dutch acquaintances over the Christmas holidays made me think about the time I lived in Amsterdam. Continue reading

Besides being a city I absolutely fell in love with, I also often enjoyed having the nice sandwiches you could find around town. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as many sandwiches as during that year. Among my favourite combinations was one I often chose, with goat cheese and honey. Thinking about that year made me want to eat something similar and so I made these toasts. In this recipe I added some beetroots and arugula because they add taste, texture and the eye also wants its part. These toasts can work for a quick lunch (1-2 p.p.) maybe with a salad, or a brunch or whenever you feel like it.

 

 

Goat Cheese Toasts

Recipe for 4 pieces

Prep time: 5-10 min

Cooke time: 15-20 min

 

Ingredients:

4 slices bread (1.5-2 cm thick, I used brown bread)

Butter

120 g goat cheese log

2 tbsp. sour cream

2 tbsp. dry roasted pine nuts

4 tsp. runny honey

12 thin beetroots wedges (a few millimetres thick)

Arugula leaves

Pepper

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 180°C.

Spread a little butter on each side of the bread slices and place them in the oven until lightly toasted, about 5-7 min.

Meanwhile crumble the cheese in a bowl and add the sour cream with some pepper. Mix the ingredients together.

Take the bread slices out of the oven and spoon over the goat cheese sour cream mix. Replace the slices in upper part the oven and cook them for about 15 min. Once the cheese starts to slightly brown, take them out.

Drizzle 1 tsp. honey over each slice, then; on each bread piece place 3 beetroot wedges and a few arugula leaves on top. Sprinkle with the pine nuts as a finishing touch. Serve.

Orange Arugula and Pistachio Wheat Salad

Orange Arugula and Pistachio Wheat Salad 1.1 Since the beginning of the year I have been eating more or less lightly. I feel encouraged to continue and that’s why I have come up with this Orange Arugula and Pistachio Wheat Salad. Continue reading

After a milestone birthday party this last Saturday, I had not energy on Sunday to stand for too long in the kitchen but I wanted something light and fresh in taste. Unfortunately this year seem like the fondue and other Swiss melted cheese meals are not present. I know I have already talked about the weather in my last post but our environment is so important, and I am worried about such high temperatures and crazy weather. Last year, despite not really having summer weather, it was recorded as one the warmest (if not the warmest) years. At least the warm weather continues for the next few weeks, being outside celebrating carnival time will be more enjoyable… especially when, like some of my friends, it’s almost a celebration marathon: each weekend, from Friday to Sunday plus the week of the carnival of Bellinzona.

 

 

Orange Arugula and Pistachio Wheat Salad

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 10 min

 

Ingredients:

300 g precooked wheat

3 organic blood oranges

2 generous tbsp. chopped parsley

2 handfuls arugula

3 tbsp. olive oil

1.5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp. roughly chopped pistachios

Boiling water

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Trim the extremities of the blood orange. With a knife peel the skin of the orange following the contour with the blade of your knife. Cut the orange segments by slicing along the membrane of the fruit. Cut each segment in half. Repeat with the other oranges.

Bring two times the volume of wheat in salted water to a boil. Add the wheat along with the orange peel of 1 orange. After 10 minutes remove the pan from the fire, drain if necessary and remove the orange peels.

While the wheat is boiling make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the wheat while it’s still warm. If you want you can either let the wheat cool or serve it straight away (with the rest of the ingredients of course).

In a bowl mix the wheat with the parsley, the oranges and the arugula. Sprinkle the pistachios on top and serve.

Grido – A Traditional Recipe

Grido
I must have been seven or eight years old when first tried Grido and I can still remember the moment. Continue reading

Growing up, I spent many weekends with my two best childhood friends, in their parent’s house up the mountain, above my village. During one of those getaways there, Flavia their mother, called us back to the house and when I entered I saw everyone standing by the fire, when I approached it, I saw a bowl with some kind of batter inside it and I asked:

“What is it?”

“It’s a Grido.” Flavia replied while handing me one of these things that to me looked like a crêpe/tortilla hybrid.

It only took one bite to become a fan of this treat. A couple of years ago, I fell across this recipe, which my father had written down on one of our old cookbooks. I was excited because I would have always loved to know what went into the batter.

This recipe is something almost exclusive from my valley, the Valle Maggia. If I ask people from the nearby town of Locarno, most don’t know what a Grido is, besides thinking that it’s a way to shout (un grido in Italian mean a shout).

Ideally one should cook the Grido on the fire (like in my childhood), if you have all the appropriate material, I would strongly recommend giving this cooking method a try (maybe on a cold night or around a campfire). Traditionally Grido is served with salted butter melted on top, but this recipe can be treated as if it was a normal crêpe or tortilla: have fun filling it with whatever you like. I like my Grido the traditional way but with a little jam it’s great too.

 

Grido

 

Grido

 

Recipe for 4 large pieces

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

180 g flour

60 g fine grain polenta

3 dl water (add more water if you wish to make thinner Grido, I like them a little thick)

½ tsp. salt

Cooking oil to brush the pan (rapeseed oil, sunflower oil…)

To garnish: Salted butter (alternatively use normal butter and add salt)

 

 

Recipe:

 

In a bowl combine the flour, the polenta and the salt.

Start adding the water bit by bit while constantly whisking.

Heat a pan on a medium/high heat and brush it with oil.

Add ¼ of the batter and spread it out on the surface of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the surfaces start to brown.

If you are serving the grido the traditional way, add and spread the salted butter on one side while it’s still in the pan, fold or roll the the grido and serve. Repeat with the other portions.

 

Quinoa Carrot and Sweet Potato Muffin Tin Frittatas

Quinoa Carrot and Sweet Potato Muffin Tin FrittatasHappy New Year! I hope everyone had a nice festive period filled with great and tasty food and hopefully a lot of laughter and joy, too. We left for a short week to Crans-Montana in a search for winter, which we only found up to a certain point (in fact the last day it rained, and we were at 1500 above sea level). Continue reading

Here in Ticino, the weather feels like spring time and although the temperatures are relatively pleasant, it feels wrong for the season. One week during the festive time of the year is not made for dieting and among the foods that have passed through our mouths are a lot of cheese (melted and non), Argentinian beef, dried meat, crêpes, sweet treats, wine, champagne….

When we came back on Saturday I couldn’t wait to go for lighter and healthier food, which I actually craved. After a good night rest, I wanted to make myself something I enjoy but which is lighter and healthier than what my belly had seen during the previous week, so after my jog I prepared these Quinoa Carrot and Sweet Potato Muffin Tin Frittatas. This easy recipe with its colourful combination tasted great with a salad. I think I could almost hear my body saying “Thank you”.

 

 

Quinoa Carrot and Sweet Potato Muffin Tin Frittatas

 

Recipe for 12 pieces

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 35 min

 

Ingredients:

75 g coarsely grated carrots

75 g sweet potatoes

1 small onion

2.3 dl water

2 tsp. olive oil

¼ – ½ tsp. smoked paprika

2 heaped tbsp. chopped parsley

salt and pepper

3 eggs

3 tbsp. milk (or cream)

80 g fresh goat cheese

 

Recipe:

Cut the sweet potatoes into ½ cm cubes and finely chop the onion.

Add the olive oil and onion to a pan on a medium fire and fry for 4-5 min, until onion is soft. Mix in the grated carrots and cubed sweet potatoes, toss and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the quinoa. Cook for two more minutes stirring often. Add the water to the pan. Once the water is boiling cook the onion, carrots, sweet potatoes and quinoa for about 12 minutes on a gentle rolling boil (make sure that all the water has evaporated/been absorbed). Stir regularly and once ready remove from fire and leave it to cool almost completely.

Grease a muffin tin with olive oil

Beat the eggs together with the goat cheese (don’t worry if there are a few lumps) and add the parsley.

Add the quinoa, carrot, sweet potato and onion to the egg mix, stir together and evenly fill the muffin cups.

Cook in the oven for about 16 min at 180°C, until the top looks cooked and dry. Take the muffin tin out of the oven and leave it to set for a few minutes before removing the mini frittatas from their mould (detach them with the help of a pairing knife). Serve.

Chestnut Cake

Chestnut Cake First of all….

BEST WISHES & MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!

This will be my last post for 2014 as I will be off next week and will be back on the 6th of January. Continue reading

To end the year well I wanted to make a post with a sweet note: Chestnut Cake from Ticino. I adapted this recipe from this site and I must say that the end result was a very moist cake. With a nice coffee or tea, this cake is a great wintertime treat. I’ll keep this post short as it’s Christmas it’s either a festive or a lazy day, so

SEE YOU IN 2015!

 

 

Chestnut Cake

 

Recipe for a 26 cm wide cake mould (for an 18 cm cake use half the ingredients)

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 1 h 5 min

 

Ingredients:

360 g cooked chestnuts (I used the vacuum packed ones)

200 g melted and cooled butter

340 g fine grain sugar

300 g ground hazelnuts

6 eggs (separated)

1 vanilla pod

 

For the glazing

3 tbsp. hazelnut nougatine

90 g dark chocolate

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 180°C. Grease a loose bottom cake mould.

Mash the chestnuts and set them aside.

Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk them to a peak.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar and whisk them until the mixture becomes lighter in colour. Incise the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add them to the sugar and egg mix, along with the mashed chestnuts, ground hazelnuts and melted butter. Mix all of the ingredients together. Delicately fold in the egg whites in two or three times, without overworking the dough.

Pour the preparation into the cake mould and place in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool 4-5 min before removing it from the mould and placing it on a wire rack. Let it cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and evenly spread it on top of the cake. Sprinkle the hazelnut nougatine on top and wait for the chocolate to harden before serving (mine still had to harden a bit at the centre).

 

Phyllo Leek Tart

Phyllo Leek TartDo you also always struggle finding which dish you will prepare for Christmas dinner? I do, usually I face this dilemma each time I have someone coming over. Continue reading

Finally this yeas I’ll be making a Beef and Ale Casserole and as starter I will be making this Phyllo Leek Tart which I tried out last week. Last weekend, in my fridge I found some phyllo pastry I had to use soon so I decided to make this tart. As much as I’m not a huge puff pastry fan, I love the consistence and lightness of layered phyllo pastry. Other of the main ingredients in this tart are the leeks, which the more I read and learn, are so common in Swiss cuisine (Papet Vaudois, gateau Savièse…). Leeks are an easy local produce to find and it’s a good seasonal produce to take advantage of. I don’t know about you but I love eating leeks with something creamy so to complete the recipe I used crème fraiche, which is a little like for the flammkuchen recipe. The festive season is here and this recipe would work well as a starter as it’s in season and relatively easy to put together.

 

 

 

Phyllo Leek Tart

 

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time:

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

300 g leeks

6-7 sheets phyllo pastry (average size of 29cm x 37 cm)

190 g crème fraiche

6 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. thyme leaves

2 tbsp. roughly chopped hazelnuts

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 210°C.

Cut the leeks into about 7-9 cm long pieces. Lengthwise divide each piece into half being careful to keep the layers into place.

Melt one tbsp. butter in a pan and add the leeks to cook for about 4-5 min per side on a medium fire. Season them with salt, pepper and thyme. Be gentle when turning the leeks as they tend to get undone. Once the leeks are cooked set them aside.

Take one sheet of phyllo pastry and brush it with the melted butter. Top it with another sheet of pastry and repeat the process until all sheets are used.

Make a small crust by folding the edges of the pastry a couple of times. If it doesn’t hold, press it gently down. Brush the crust with a little more butter.

Spread the sour cream on the bottom of the tart and, distribute the leeks on top.

Bake in the oven for 10 min, take the tart out and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top and serve.