Grilled Zucchini and Bacon Risotto

Grilled Zucchini and Bacon Risotto (800 x 587)Okay, I’ll tell the truth: Continue reading

this is my first attempt at risotto (and I felt really quite happy about the result). Although I live less than a two hour drive from Milan, I have never really made risotto, I used to only be an observer of the process. I guess I found it a boring dish for a reason I am still trying to figure out. I guess that leaving for a week to Portugal gave me some new stimulus in trying out new recipes,  I feel so refreshed. By the way, I totally recommend Portugal as a destination, from the food to the people and also the whole city of Lisbon, all is really beautiful. I particularly liked the little streets and the beautiful buildings decorated with tiles that come in just so many colours and designs. It was a great opportunity to practice my photography skill (which are still at a beginner level).


About Risotto:


Between the 1300 and the 1700 rice was attributed one unique way of cooking: and that is in water. It was in 1779 that a cook from Macerate in the Marche region in Italy wrote about gently fried a bit of butter and wetting the rice with broth. Very soon the technique became more elaborated by adding, for example, some chopped onion. Through time risotto became more complex but it was in 1929 that a well known cook in Milan named Felice Luraschi published a recipe book  called “Il Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico” (or “The New Economic Milanese Cook”). The recipe called for rice with butter, beef marrow, saffron, nutmeg, stock and completed with grated cheese (source – Italian: http://www.risottoallamilanese.com/ )

 


Grilled Zucchini and Bacon Risotto


Recipe for 2


Time: 35-40 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 zucchini

8 slices of streaky bacon

20g butter (plus a small teaspoon for a finishing touch)

1 onion

100g risotto rice

30g parmesan cheese

2.5dl stock

4-5 basil leaves

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:


Slice the zucchini at an angle (about 1 cm thick). Pour one teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan (if you don’t have one just use an normal non-stick pan). Once the zucchini slices are coloured on both sides remove from the heat and set them aside.

Bring the broth to a boil and set aside.

Heat another pan and add the bacon to cook until brown and crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe the pan and on a low heat add the butter along with the onions . Without letting the onions brown cook them until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice and cook for another 4-5minutes, stir often until the grains are translucent. Add 1/3 of the broth and stir often until all the liquid has been absorbed. Once the rice looks more on the dry side add the second third and stir regularly again. Finally, repeat the operation of adding broth for a last time and stir until rice has basically soaked up the liquid.

Add the grated cheese and incorporate it in the preparation. Cut the bacon and the zucchini into small pieces and chop the basil. Add the three ingredients with to the rice and blend them in. To make your risotto richer here is when  you can add a bit more butter. Eventually correct to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve and drizzle a little bit of olive oil and optionally some parmesan shavings.

Steak Salad with Beetroots Arugula and Horseradish Dressing

Steak Salad with Beetroots Arugula and Horseradish Dressing (816 x 612)When I have lunch with my mother we often eat either vegetarian or chicken or fish, but nothing is ever a strict rule so out on the terrace, in the warm sun and with a nice glass of wine we enjoyed this steak salad while we chatted about our common passion: food and the infinite possibilities and combinations one can make with it. Continue reading

As one of the components in this recipe is arugula, I went to look up some information and was actually not expecting that the consumption of this leave dates back to the Romans and the Greeks who used the leaves to improve the medical prescriptions the doctors gave at that time. Arugula was reputed to have aphrodisiac properties (it was in fact planted at the feet of the statue of the god of fertility Priapus). It’s amusing to think that what was at a moment consumed because of a certain attributed propriety (in this case its aphrodisiac powers) was not long after in history forbidden for the same reason; and that was during the medieval era. Luckily during the twentieth century the arugula made a comeback and we keep on enjoying it today (source – in French: http://www.certiferme.com/jardin/fiche-roquette-80.html ).

Steak Salad with Beetroots Arugula and Horseradish Dressing

Recipe for 2 – Time: 20 min

Ingredients:

  • 200 g beef steak
  • ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100 g beetroots
  • 40 g rocket salad
  • 50 g tender salad leaves
  • 1 Spring onion

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ½ tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp hazelnut oil
  • Salt and pepper

Recipe:

  • Season the steak with salt pepper and the thyme leaves. Heat some oil in a pan and once it’s hot add the steak and cook for 2-3 minutes without touching it. Turn it around and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from pan and let it rest. Once it has cooled down a bit, slice it into strips of about 0.7 cm.
  • For the dressing mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
  • On a serving dish place the salad and the arugula. Cut the beetroot into thin wedges and slice the spring onion and place them on top of the salad leaves. Drizzle 2/3 of the dressing on the leaves and on top place the meat and add the rest of the dressing.

Potato Salad with Basil and Lemon Dressing

Potato salad with basil and lemon dressing (816 x 612)Since barbecue is associated to gathering during summertime I thought I’d try a potato salad I had not tried before. So when my boyfriend came over to my place a few days ago we made a tête-à-tête barbecue and I made it an occasion to try this recipe out. Coming Continue reading

from the new world, potatoes are such a great addition to our diet and I found out that making a salad out of the spud is not a recent finding, not at all actually… John Gerrard (british herbalist and author, 1545-1612) is said to have noted down one of the first potato salad recipes in 1597 in his The Herball, or generall historie of plantes. According to Arnold Shircliffe (executive chef of Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel during the 1920’s) the potatoes are ‘sometimes boiled and sopped in wine, by others boiled with prunes , and likewise others dress them (after roasting them in the ashes) in oil, vinegar and salt, every man according to his own taste. However they be dressed, they comfort, nourish and strengthen the body’ (source: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodsalads.html ).

  • Potato Salad with Basil and Lemon Dressing
  • Recipe for 2
  • Time: 45 min (+ 1 hour resting time)
  • Ingredients:
  • 400g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 1/2  tsp mild mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large spring onion (or 2 small ones)
  • (eventually you can add some grated garlic to the dressing)

 

Recipe:

  • Heat the oven at 200°C.
  • Cut the potatoes in about 2 cm chuncks and boil them in some water with salt. Once they are soft remove the water and one teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and make sure all potatoes are coated. Place them in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • For the dressing mix together the olive oil, the lemon juice, the mustard, salt, pepper and eventually the grated garlic and the chopped basil leaves.
  • Once the potatoes have cooled down add the dressing, mix and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Bacon and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini (800 x 600)I can say that today I am really happy because after years of cooking on an electric stove, today I will be able to cook again on gas. Continue reading

Lately I was getting really annoyed with the electric plates; between the time they take to get warm and the little flexibility in changing temperature fast, it will soon be over. I really feel that soon my recipes will get an upgrade in general. I am as happy as a kid getting her dream Barbie.

In this recipe I am using stale bread, I find that this ingredient is a humble but very versatile food (think for example of eggy bread or bruschetta or if it’s just a little stale it’s perfect to dip in a cheese fondue). Bread in general is the people’s food; but at times in history even that was missing. The valley I live in (the Valle Maggia) has been populated by the since the time of the Celts and through the ages there have been tough times where food was scarce and people either starved or emigrated. Now I still remember when I was in primary school that my teacher used to tell us that people, during meager times did not even have flour to make bread so they would make flour out of the cortex they would collect from the trees.  I find that my valley looks like a small paradise and it’s strange to think that, not so long ago people still struggled to survive.

Bacon and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini

Recipe for 2

Time: 45 min.

Ingredients:

  • 40g stale bread (2-3 days old)
  • 150g mozzarella
  • 80g diced bacon
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove

Recipe:

  • Preheat oven at 190°C.
  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthways and remove the softer part with a teaspoon. Oil a baking dish and place in the zucchini halves, face up and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a foil and place in the oven for about 20-25 min.
  • While the zucchini are cooking chop the onions and the garlic; cut the tomatoes into quarters and cut the bread into 1.5 cm cubes and cut 100g of the mozzarella into small bits while the rest should be sliced.
  • Brown the diced bacon bits in a pan. Once ready, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, on a medium heat,  add the onions and garlic and fry for  3-4 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from fire and add the bread bits to soak a bit of the tomato juice. Finally add the bacon bits and mix all together. Place in a bowl, add the 2/3 of the mozzarella and mix.
  • Remove the zucchini from the oven and evenly add the filling in to each half. Place the rest of the sliced mozzarella on top and put it back in the oven near the top broiler for about 15 minutes and serve hot.