Borlotti Bean and Aubergine Salad

Borlotti Bean and Aubergine Salad This is the kind of dish I love making for myself in summer. Continue reading

First my dog is not trying to get a piece of it because there is no meat and secondly I cannot do it when my boyfriend is home because he cannot eat aubergines. Did I just put my dog in front of my boyfriend? Apparently I did, but then , I only see him about once a week (my boyfriend, not the dog) and this leaves me the freedom to make all recipes I enjoy. Since it was some time I had not made any dish with beans, I thought it would be a good idea. When I don’t plan meals I end up using the canned form but when I do I always feel a little guilty because of the bisphenol-A. This time my conscience was clean as I went all the way and soaked my beans and cooked them the following day. For this recipe I combined ingredients I enjoy (I especially like the aubergine walnut combination) and the end result turned out to be a real treat.

Borlotti Bean and Aubergine Salad

 

Borlotti Bean and Aubergine Salad

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients

450 g cooked borlotti (the canned ones will also do the trick)

6-7cherry tomatoes

1 large aubergine

2 tbsp chopped basil

7-8 dry roasted walnut kernels

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1 spring onion

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 240°

Cut the aubergine into cubes of about 1.5 cm. With the blade of a knife crush the garlic. Place both ingredients in a baking dish with two tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Toss and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables half way through the roasting process.

Meanwhile chop the spring onion and the walnut kernels and quarter the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl make the vinaigrette bay combining the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove the aubergines from the oven and add them to the salad dressing bowl with the borlotti beans, the basil and the walnut kernels and the tomatoes. Toss and on top add the chopped spring onions. Serve.

 

Polenta Gratin with Bell Peppers

Polenta Gratin with Bell PeppersWhat I love when I travel with my mother, besides her company is that she always has at least two if not more cooking magazines. This time too she didn’t miss out on them. During our return after a humongous chicken mayo sandwich we both made ourselves comfortable in our train seat and began flipping through those pages filled with recipes. Every little while one of us would go:

“Uh, nice. Look at this.”

“I’ve gotta try this one.”

“This looks nice, we could make a spicy version of this one.”

Well, you got the idea. One of the recipes that received a comment was in the magazine Cuisine Actuelle (I think that’s the name) which contained today’s recipe. A few days later, it was on my dining table. The original recipe called for olives but I wanted to make it different so I used bell peppers instead and also, instead of mozzarella I used burrata. The rest of the recipe I kept it the same and the result was a really tasty.

 

Polenta Gratin with Bell Peppers

 

Polenta Gratin with Bell Peppers

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

 

Ingredients

 

3 red bell peppers

2 tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes

1 garlic clove

3 tbsp olive oil

½ dl white wine

Paprika

1 garlic clove

200 g fine grain polenta

Stock about 9,5 dl (or check package instructions)

1 burrata

100 g grated Parmesan

1,5 dl crème fraiche

Butter to grease

Salt and pepper

 

 

Recipe

 

Heat oven at 210°C.

Grease with butter four individual gratin dishes (mine measure 15.5 cm diameter) or use one large one.

Cut the bell peppers into thin strips about 4 cm long. Dice the tomatoes or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Crush the garlic with a garlic crusher.

In a pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add the bell peppers to soften for 4-5 min on a medium fire. Now add the garlic and after a couple of minutes add the tomatoes, season with paprika, salt and pepper and cook for another 4-5 min. Pour in the white wine and let it cook off. Once done set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle in the polenta and cook while stirring for a couple of minutes. Once the mass has become more solid and detaches itself from the edges add 2/3 of the Parmesan, the crème fraiche and pepper. Stir well.

Pour half of the polenta in the gratin dish(es), scatter half of the bell peppers and tomatoes, add the rest of the polenta then the rest of the vegetables with the rest of the Parmesan. Cut the burrata into slices and evenly distribute it on top of the rest. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, remove from heat and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

 

Arugula and Walnut Dip

Arugula and Walnut Dip Last week my friend Simo went for a quick visit to her brother and when she came back, along with a bottle of Dolcetto d’Avola she brought along a large pack of artisanal grissini made by her brother who is a baker back in Italy. Thank you Simo. With the heat of the summer I don’t always feel too hungry so I ended up eating this dip with the grissini as a meal with a small glass of white wine. I sat on the terrace overlooking my garden and while I was munching on these treats I watched a tutorial on how to do my make up in a different way as on Friday I’m attending the opening party for the Ascona Jazz Festival. I admit it, make up isn’t my strong point.

To make this dip I looked up in my Flavour Thesaurus book which always has great ideas for combining different kinds of food. Since arugula comes from the same family as watercress I told myself I’d try this combination. Come to think of the end result I guess this creamy dip could also work well as a dressing for a salad, maybe with tomatoes…

Arugula and Walnut Dip

 

Arugula and Walnut Dip

 

Prep time: 5 min

 

Ingredients

 

30 g arugula

150 g Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

2 tbsp olive oil (+ more to drizzle on top at the end)

4-5 dry roasted walnut kernels

1 spring onion (white part only)

Salt and Pepper

 

Recipe

 

Cut the spring onion into chunks.

In a food processor finely blend the walnuts first, then add the arugula, the spring onion and the olive oil.

Mix the whole with the Greek yoghurt add the grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh bread, raw veggies or grissini (like I did)

Summer Quiche

Summer Quiche I can really say that this recipe has served me well. I made this quiche on Saturday; I had a little for lunch and stored the rest for later. In the evening I went out to the “White Night” in Locarno, we hung around quite a lot and in the end we had more wine than food. By the time I got back I relished myself with what I had previously stored and this quiche was the perfect two o’clock snack. This easy recipe is great for receiving as it can be made in advance and you can serve it either warm or cold, as an appetizer of as a main meal with a crunchy salad.

 

Summer Quiche

 

For a 26 cm diameter quiche

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 40-45 min

 

Ingredients

1 onion

1 zucchini

1 small fennel

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

3 eggs

100 g crème fraiche

90 g grated goat cheese

4-5 cherry tomatoes

2 tbsp chopped basil

Paprika

Salt and pepper

1 round shaped piecrust pastry of about 32 cm diameter

 

Recipe

 

Heat the oven at 210°C.

Cut the onion, the zucchini and the bell pepper into strips. Pass the fennel through a mandolin and crush the garlic with a garlic crusher. Slice the cherry tomatoes and set these aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions to cook on a medium fire for a couple of minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables (except the tomatoes) to cook for 7-8 min. While the vegetables are cooking season with salt pepper and paprika to taste; at the end add the basil. Once done set aside to cool a little.

In a bowl mix the eggs, the crème fraiche and the goat cheese and a little pepper.

Take a pie dish of about 26 cm diameter and cover it with the piecrust pastry. Make little incisions at the bottom with a fork. Add the vegetables and spread them out evenly. Now add the egg, cream and cheese mixture. The dough might run over the edges, either cut it off or fold it in like I did. Place the sliced tomatoes on top. Cook in the lower part of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Summer Quiche

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta When I saw this recipe I knew I would soon be trying it out. I thought that using summery vegetables such as zucchini would work well with this dish. Continue reading

This past week, besides going out for dinners and events, I have been cooking a lot for myself so I can just go ahead and please myself. This zucchini stuffed pasta makes an nice impression but in the same time it’s quite straight forward to put together so I guess it’s something I will put on the table during my next dinner party. This recipe comes from a Betty Bossy cookbook my mother gave me recently. The recipe originally used spinach but I love zucchini so I stuck with that. Also, the recipe said to turn the heat of the oven at 220°C but I found it to be slightly too high as the cheese was still in the melting process while the pasta was browning too quickly. I would advise to turn the heat down to 200-210°C. Enjoy!

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta

 

Zucchini Stuffed Pasta

 

Recipe for 4 pieces

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 17 min

 

Ingredients

 

16 strips of about 16×4 cm fresh pasta – lasagne sheets are perfect for this

2 zucchini

1 garlic clove

1 onion

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 tsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme

2x100g cheese tommes

8 slices bresaola

 

Recipe

Heat the oven at 210°C.

Thinly dice the zucchini and the onion. Piece should be about half a cm by side (brunoise). Crush the garlic clove with a garlic crusher.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the vegetables to brown for 5 min. Add paprika and pepper. Stir occasionally and once ready remove from fire and set aside to cool. Add salt according to taste.

Bring water to a boil and add the sheets of pasta for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse under cool water and place them separately on a damp towel or kitchen paper.

Cut the tommes in half by their height.

Take an individual soufflé dish (mine measures 10 cm of diameter) and grease it with olive oil. Place four pasta strips in the middle of the soufflé dish in a star shape. At the bottom place the bresaola, then add the cut ½ tomme (optionally with a little pepper), finally spoon in the zucchini and gently press down the whole thing. Now gently fold the pasta strips oven to close the packet. Repeat for the other three packets and place in the oven for 10 min and serve.

 

Gusta il Parco – 07.06.2014

Last Saturday I participated to my second enogastronomic walk and I can tell you I was looking forward to it. Continue reading

Beside the great produce you get to taste it’s the friendly environment I’m really fond of. This walk was a little different from the Gusta il Borgo as the different stages of tasting spots are not in any set precise order. In addition to the different tasting stages, there was also the possibility to visit/see spots of natural, cultural or historical interest. Late in the morning I met up with my two most usual adventure companions in Ponte Brolla where we had a coffee and soon enough we would inaugurate the day with a glass of wine while watching the amazing landscape around us.Gusta il Parco

We first headed to Verscio which was one of the two possible starting points and got our bracelets along with the first produces which were different artisanal beers and a few nibbles. With the heat rising I was happy to begin the walk with a cold beer (the white one being my favourite). I just want to mention that I tasted a Merlot bread sandwich, which I found to be just delicious. I absolutely want to try to make this at home.

Soon we were on the road heading towards the next tasting spot where we had some wine and a soup made with a local product I have already mentioned: the Farina Bona (basically it’s pop corn flour). This particular flour is very flavourful and it can be used in infinity of products from sweet to savoury. The other great thing about this flour is it doesn’t need cooking to be consumed.

Back on the road, our next chosen tasting spot was under the trees where the “grottoes of Tegna” are. On out way there we passed in front of one of the historical spots we could visit during the day which was a bomb shelter dating back to WW II. Now I know we were not in the war but in case of need we would be prepared.Gusta il Parco

Once we reached the grottoes it was like entering a fairy tale. These places have something magical about them and whenever I find myself there my imagination starts running. The sunlight going through the forest trees contrasting with the shadows, these entrances in the mountain that seem to hide secrets and legends… well, you have to see it to feel it. Our ancestors used grottoes to store their food and wine; they didn’t have electricity but I can assure you about the efficiency of such places. In fact we enjoyed a little bit of the energy-free coolness before we got down to tasting the scheduled cheese platter with some honey and wine.

Next our expedition of three made an unplanned coffee stop before we continued. Okay, I admit we also had a platter of cured meat and a little water and some more wine. After this we walked spontaneously without really following the map and in fact, since none of us has a good sense of orientation, we sort of lost our way. Soon we would be on the right track again but lost some time in the guessing. Along the river and through the forest and vineyards we reached what would be our last tasting spot. I say ours because unfortunately time was going by and we didn’t manage to reach the last two tasting stages. The two main reasons were that our unplanned “coffee” stop took longer than planned and since I had been walking barefoot on the super hot asphalt I earned myself the two largest blisters I have ever had and they were both on my heels. I really regret not going through all the stages. I promise next time I shall not make the same shoe mistake. I still have an unaccomplished feeling about Gusta il Parco I’ll wait for the return match.

Finally I want to congratulate all the team of the Amis da la Forcheta for their great job in finding original ideas and the way they manage to get though them. Thank you guys and keep up the great work!

General information:

What: Gusta il Parco: an enogastronomic walk made up of 6 stages + 7 stages with either a cultural, historical or natural interest.

Why: to promote the project for the National Parc of the Locarnese

Where: Switzerland – Ticino- Terre di Pedemonte

When: 07.06.2014

For who: Everyone as long as you have walking proof shoes (I speak from personal experience)

Links:

– amisdalaforcheta.ch (here you can see more pictures of the event, if they are not posted yet they will soon be there)

– parconazionale.ch

Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad

Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad I just wanted to begin by saying that this is my 100th post! Continue reading

It’s been a while since I last made a Carpaccio so this week I felt the timing was good: it’s getting warmer and this type of dish goes well with the weather. I chose these ingredients because they remind me of Spain. Despite the fact that I love Spanish food, we have recently decided we’ll spend our summer holiday there. First stop will be in Barcelona and then we’ll travel down to Marbella. Like most of the time the first part of the holiday is about cultural visits and the second one is about exposing our pale legs to the sun (and mine in the bars at night).

This is a simple recipe; the only lengthy part is the cooking of the bell pepper. To save some time, the pepper can be made the day ahead so that the rest of the recipe is ready in no time.

Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad

 

Carpaccio Style Chicken and Bell Pepper Salad

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 40 min

Ingredients

 

4 chicken breasts

4 Red Bell Peppers

2 tbsp dry roasted slivered almonds

1-1,5 tsp paprika (sweet or spicy or a combination of the two)

½ tsp granulated garlic

Lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

4 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp for frying the chicken

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1-2 spring onions

2 tbsp chopped parsley

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 200°C.

On a baking tray lined with tin foil and then with baking paper place the bell peppers. Cook in the oven for about 40 min turning the vegetables after 20 min.

Meanwhile take the chicken breasts dry them with a piece of kitchen paper and rub them with the paprika and granulated garlic, add the lemon juice, cover and set aside for 15-20 min.

Prepare the dressing with the 2 tbsp olive oil, the tbsp of sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Thinly slice the spring onion. Set all aside.

Take the chicken breasts, tap them dry with kitchen paper, add salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan and place the chicken on a high heat to sear on both sides. If you have an oven proof pan, after searing the meat place it in the oven until cooked though (for about 4 min), if not, continue cooking on the stove at a lower heat until done. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Once the bell peppers are done remove the stem (with the seeds) and the skin and cut them into pieces of about 3-4 cm per side. Cut the chicken at an angle making slices that are around 4mm thick.

On each serving plate, place in a round shape alternating between two slices of chicken and one of bell pepper. Now sprinkle on the slivered almonds, spring onions and parsley. Finish by drizzling the dressing on top.

 

Red Lentil Aubergine and Goat Cheese Bites

Red Lentil Aubergine and Goat Cheese Bites I really like meat when I go out but after three days of consecutive meat packed meals it felt really good to go back to vegetarian food. Continue reading

Last Thursday we went to an Indian restaurant I absolutely love and where on that day there is a buffet which always displays different dishes and I felt compelled to taste a little of everything. On Friday I was with old friends I have been hanging out for almost 20 years and we had salami and cheese as an appetizer and spare ribs, skewers and sausages as a main meal. Finally on Saturday we went to the opening of a restaurant and ended up having a beef filet after a whole bunch of freshly made Italian appetizers. I would qualify these three days as delicious but on Sunday it felt great to replace meat and wine with these lentil bites, a salad and water or tea. In this recipe I used a bunch of ingredients I truly enjoy and that work well together. The only thing to watch out is not to go for an aubergine that is too large or you might end up having a lentil mix that is too watery.

Red Lentil Aubergine and Goat Cheese Bites Red Lentil Aubergine and Goat Cheese Bites

 

Red Lentil Aubergine and Goat Cheese Bites

 

For about 20 units

Prep time: 35 min

Cook time: 45-50 min

 

180 g red lentils

1 small aubergine

8 sun dried tomato filets in olive oil

80 g hard goat cheese grated

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 tsp dried chilies

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped basil

2 tbsp chopped spring onion

Zest of one lemon

Salt and pepper

1 large egg

2-3 tbsp water

8-9 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tbsp olive oil

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 200°C.

Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise. Incise the inside with a knife making a few horizontal and vertical cuts. Brush cut side with olive oil and place on baking paper face side down. Cook in the oven for 35-40 min.

Meanwhile cook the lentils according to package instructions and set aside to cool.

Finely chop the sun dried tomatoes, the garlic, the parsley and the basil.

When the aubergines are done remove the inside meat with the help of a spoon. Place the pulp in a bowl along with the lentils and mash them. Add the sun dried tomatoes, herbs, chillies, goat cheese, lemon zest, spring onion salt, pepper and mix well.

Take a tbsp of the lentil preparation and form little balls of about 3,5-4 cm. Beat the egg in a bowl and add the water. In another bowl place the breadcrumbs. Take one ball and pass it first in the egg wash, then roll it in the bread crumbs.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the balls to brown on a medium fire (about 8-10 min). Serve warm either as an appetizer or as a meal, maybe with a salad with balsamic dressing.