Friar’s Spaghetti

Friar's Spaghetti When I read about recipes I am always interested in knowing where the name or history of such or such recipe comes from. Continue reading

The names and the ingredients that make up the traditional dishes of my canton Ticino, many times come from two strands of our past society: the first are the peasants and second are the friars/monks.

As I read today’s recipe I began wandering through this book and found 6 recipes that contain the word peasant or shepherd (Peasant’s Soup, Peasant’s Polenta, Peasant’s Rabbit…) and almost as many containing the word friar/monk (Friar’s Spaghetti, Friar’s Pie or the liquor called Nocino which is allegedly attributed to the monks’ savoir faire, this drink is also very common in Northern Italy). These two categories of our past society reflect a humble lifestyle, in fact the recipes are usually simple and the ingredients used are the most common ones (pasta, polenta, tomatoes, spinach, cheese, herbs, garlic…)

I’m a true history fan and when it comes to my places of origin (canton Ticino and canton Vaud) I can’t seem to get enough. That said I am enthusiastic to say that I’m gently going back to writing the novel I began a couple of years ago. The story I have in mind takes in consideration the historical facts about Ticino and my Maggia Valley so as I get a grip on new curiosities I want to share them with you. Today as we’re on the religious subject, I remember reading that during the witch burning times, which were regulated and controlled by the catholic Church, in Ticino people were such fanatics about burning people (mostly women) at the stake that even the authorities in Milan at a certain point in time recommended to calm down the fires. And if I remember well the name of the last woman sentenced to be burned at the stake in Ticino was Barbara Fontana in about 1704.

Today’s recipe is the Friar’s Spaghetti, in fact the ingredients used for the pasta are incredibly simple but nonetheless delicious: tomatoes, chillies, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil. My twist to this recipe is that instead of using canned tomatoes I used fresh cherry tomatoes and I added the chives, besides these the procedure is basically the same.

Friar's Spaghetti Friar's Spaghetti Friar's Spaghetti

 

Friar’s Spaghetti

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 13-15 min

 

Ingredients

400 g spaghetti (I used wholemeal ones)

400 g cherry tomatoes

2 heaped tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 garlic cloves

¼ tsp. dried chillies (if you like it more spicy just increase the amount)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped chives

 

Recipe

 

Halve the cherry tomatoes and finely chop the garlic.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and add the breadcrumbs, garlic and chillies. Cook for 3-4 minutes on a low-medium fire, until the bread becomes crisp. Add a couple tbsp.. olive oil and the cherry tomatoes and leave them to cook until they have coloured and are starting to break down. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Once you have removed the water, add them to the sauce. Mix well and sprinkle with the chopped chives before serving.

 

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls 2Here is my first recipe since my return from my trip in Spain. Continue reading

It was the first time I really travelled through that country and I enjoyed it so much. We first go to Barcelona and I loved the general vibe of the place with its museums and shops. As always, when I travel with my boyfriend, we walk a lot but this time I sprained my ankle the day before leaving so walking was a little harder than usual but I was determined not to show my pain. The biggest frustration in this merit was that for two weeks I couldn’t even consider the idea of wearing high heels and I had three pairs in my suitcase (plus one I bought over there). While we were in Barcelona we went to Sitges for a day to visit a former roommate of mine from when I was in boarding school as a teenager. I wanted to mention this because it was four years since we saw each other last time and we always have a great time together. Besides the great laughs I also met her adorable son and daughter, which were not there yet last time we met and yes, I felt a little like I was their aunt. From Barcelona we flew to Seville for a couple of days, we walked around and saw the inquisition museum (where the entrance was free but I would rather have paid and gotten something more out of the experience). There we also celebrated my birthday on another rooftop bar right in front of the cathedral where the view was just breath taking. The following day we moved to Cordoba just for one night and in the short time we were there we realized one day was a little short so, we’ll get back there one day or another. Our last two stops were in Granada, where we visited the Alhambra and went shopping a little more for my joy but not so much my boyfriend’s. Finally we reached a place near Marbella where we relaxed for a few days in my mother’s holiday home: sun, drinks and pool. Once we got to our final stage we realized we were really a little tired and we enjoyed the sun and water. I also enjoyed the kitchen because halfway though the holiday I began to miss my cooking sessions. Here are a few pictures from our vacation.

This was our holiday and now, back to today’s recipe I thought of making something easy, friendly and a little different. I had the idea for this recipe trotting in my head for a while so I went for it and it turned out well. For the dough I used this quick pizza dough recipe; the only change I made to it is that I reduced the amount of sugar. Easy and quickly ready this recipe works well as an appetizer or why not served with a salad?

 

 

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls

Recipe for 8 pieces

Prep time: 20 min (+15 min rest)

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients

250 g flour (if you can use the “00” type)

1 bag (7gr) dry instant yeast

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp salt + more to sprinkle on top of the bread rolls

1.5 dl lukewarm water (32-36°C)

2 tbsp finely chopped basil

8 pieces hard goat’s cheese cut into 2 cm cubes – about 100 g

Olive oil to brush the bread rolls

 

Recipe

In a bowl combine half of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and start kneading while gradually adding the rest of the flour. Add the chopped basil and knead further to uniformly blend the green into the dough. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 min.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Divide the dough into 8 parts. Take one part, lightly flatten it and place a cube of cheese in the middle. Close the dough around the cheese cube and form a ball. Make sure the dough is nicely sealed or the cheese might run out during the cooking process. Repeat with the other seven parts of cheese and dough. Brush the bread rolls with olive oil and sprinkle over some salt on top (use coarse salt if you have it).

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 min before serving.

 

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers On Saturday I’m leaving to travel through Spain, starting from Barcelona we will then visit Seville, Cordoba, Granada and finally Marbella. Continue reading

I am really excited about this trip and so, for this post, I though I’d use ingredients that remind me of this beautiful and interesting country. I browsed a little through the Internet and here; I found this chicken recipe I wanted to try out. I prepared this for my mother and I and besides the nice moment we really enjoyed it. What I particularly always like is that with baked dishes, you just slide them in the oven and enjoy your time while you are waiting for the meal to be ready. Yesterday I really needed that moment to chat with my mother, I have no words to describe how much her support means to me in this moment of change. I will never forget all that she does for me, I feel so lucky to have her. Thank you Mum and thank you Swiss chickens for making this moment even better! I’ll be off for the next couple of weeks so I hope you all have a great time and see you very soon!

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time

Cook time

 

Ingredients

 

8 chicken thighs

1 lemon (juice and zest)

1 tbsp. dried basil

4 bell peppers

2 onions

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe

 

Heat oven at 220°C.

In a bowl combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, dried basil, 1 tbsp. olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Mix together.

Make three incisions on each chicken thigh and coat it with the marinade (if you want more flavour leave the chicken to marinate for up to a day).

Take the bell peppers and cut them into strips. Cut the onions in half and quarter each half. Place the vegetables in a baking tin with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. On top place a rack with the chicken on it. Bake the whole thing in the oven for about 30-35 min or until the chicken has browned and the bell peppers are soft. Serve by itself or with some rice or potatoes.

 

Individual Apricot Tarts

Individual Apricot Tarts This week when I went to do my groceries I bought some beautiful Swiss apricots and very soon I knew I would make something with them. Continue reading

I remembered this recipe (from a book I don’t even have anymore) which was so easy that I wanted to re-try it out. The main difference between my version and the one form the cookbook is that in the other recipe they called for canned apricots; but really, for me there is no comparison with the taste and consistence of a beautiful fresh fruit. I decided to only make four of them and my idea was to keep them and enjoy them throughout the day, well, they ended up being my lunch (fortunately I run every day so I didn’t feel too guilty). These tarts work well as a dessert (maybe with some ice cream or whipped cream) or as part of a brunch or for tea time. My initial plan was to enjoy them last weekend with my boyfriend but since we are leaving to Spain in a few days he woke up early to got to work.

 

 

Individual Apricot Tarts

 

Recipe for 8 pieces

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients

8 apricots

8 puff pastry rectangles about 8×13 cm (if you can, always go for the pure butter kind)

20-30 g melted butter

2-3 tbsp. icing sugar

40 g dark chocolate

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 210°C.

In a pan bring water to a boil and place the apricots in it. Depending on ripeness leave the to cook for about 1 min (if they are not too ripe leave them a little longer) them move them to a cold bath. Once they have cooled down remove the skin and cut them in half removing the pit.

Line a baking tray with oven paper and place the puff pastry pieces on top. Brush them with the butter and place two apricot halves on top of each puff pastry rectangle. With the help of a sieve, sprinkle over the icing sugar. Bake for about 10-12 min in the oven, once the pastry has browned remove the tray and place the individual tarts on a rack to cool.

In a bain-marie slowly melt the chocolate (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl with the chocolate). Place some oven paper under the rack with the tarts this way it’ll be much less messy. Dip the tip of a teaspoon in the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the tarts going for left to right or the other way round. Leave the chocolate to harden and if you want serve these individual tarts with some whipped cream or/and ice cream.

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Rosti

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Rosti I have a thousand thoughts running through my mind lately, Continue reading

I don’t know whether it’s the holidays approaching or the different things I’m setting straight in my life but I don’t seem to be much able to concentrate. This week for example, I was dry roasting some almonds and I managed to burn them not once, not twice but three times; I forgot the cheese I bought at the supermarket and when I wanted to make myself some chicken, I forgot to buy it despite it being on my grocery list. Hopefully it will get better next week, come to think of it, this situation can only get better. In order to avoid any more food messes, I thought I’d make something extremely easy which couldn’t go wrong so I made these oven baked rosti but I replaced the potatoes with sweet potatoes and zucchini. This recipe is based on the first rosti I made last year that is so easy to make and it goes well as a vegetarian main meal or as a side dish, maybe with chicken (like the one I forgot to buy…)

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Rosti Sweet Potato and Zucchini Rosti

 

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Rosti

 

Recipe for 2 as a main meal or for 4 as a side dish

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 55-60 min

Ingredients

 

2 sweet potatoes

2 zucchini

1 onion

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp flour

30 g melted butter + more to place on top of the patty

30 g grated cheese (I used Gruyere but any other choice is fine too, goat’s cheese is a great option)

about 7 basil leaves

 

Recipe

 

Heat oven at 200°C

In a bowl grate the sweet potatoes, the zucchini and the onion using a large holed grater.

Take clean a tea towel, place the grated vegetables at the centre. Take the four corners to close the towel and above your sink, squeeze out the moisture. Add salt, pepper and flour; mix and add the melted butter and mix again.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper; place the vegetable mix on top and form a round patty that is about 4 cm thick. On top, add a few more bits of butter and place in the oven for 50-55 min. Leaving the rosti in the oven, sprinkle the grated cheese on top and cook for another 3-5 min. Place the basil leaves on top as a final touch and serve warm.

 

Blueberry and Almond Muffins

Blueberry and Almond Muffins I was really looking forward to making something with the blueberries form my garden. Continue reading

It’s my favourite fruit and last year I couldn’t eve take advantage of them since the birds seem to have gotten to them before me. This year at least, they are leaving them a bit more alone. For this recipe I had a look at Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio and adapted my recipe from that: I added the ground almonds and the blueberries. I also wanted to wanted to try adding a crumble top so online I found this recipe allrecipes.com but since I don’t really like food that is too sweet I reduced the amount to be placed on the muffins. Enjoy!

Blueberry and Almond Muffins   Blueberry and Almond Muffins

 

Blueberry and Almond Muffins

 

Recipe for 12 muffins

Preo time: 15 min

Cook time: 25-30 min

 

Ingredients

100g blueberries

180 g flour + more for dusting

50 g ground almonds

100 g sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

100 g butter + more for greasing the pan

2 dl milk

 

For crumble topping:

20 g butter

35 g flour

40 g sugar

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 200°C. Grease the muffin tins and dust them with some flour.

Place the ground almonds in a non stick pan and cook until lightly browned, toss regularly. Once done set aside.

In a bowl mix the flour, ground almonds, the sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix the eggs with the butter and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones until just combined together

In a third bowl lightly dust the blueberries with flour and mix them into the batter.

Prepare the crumble topping by placing all the ingredients in a bold and work the with either a for or with your hands (I used both) until the mix is fine and even.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter till the edge. On top sprinkle the crumble topping and quickly place in the oven to cook for 20-25 min.

Remove from the oven and wait five minutes before removing them from their mould and placing them on a rack to cool.