Lunch at Kauppatori, Helsinki

It’s our first day of holiday and the sun is shining, it’s the perfect day for a visit to Suomenlinna, the little island in front of Helsinki and a UNESCO world heritage site. We leave the hotel headed to the harbour to take the boat that will bring us there in about 20 minutes, I was feeling very excited about the idea of spending an whole day out, walking and cycling in the nature, but as soon as we approached the harbour my attention was totally caught by something completely different: the Kauppatori (which is the Finnish for the Market Square). I was still determined to visit Suomenlinna first though, so I had to wait a few hours to go and explore the market properly (but I promise that the temptation to stop just there and dive into the food was really huge!).

What is nice about this market is that you can actually stop there and have some warm delicious food! It’s (obviously) mainly fish, so if you are not a fish lover you might not understand all my enthusiasm and might not enjoy the experience fully. On the other hand, if you do love fish, then you’d better go there soon!

I tried an amazing salmon and dill soup, then (more) salmon cooked with cream and potatoes, then some mixed fried fish/calamari/prawn…mmmh mouthwatering! All of this sitting in front of the sea and ended with some fresh cherries also from the market.

The day went on and we had a lovely walk in the city (so extremely tidy and clean), but this is a food blog, so I should stop here and leave you with a few pictures! 🙂

Salmon and veg

Salmon and veg

Fish, veg and dill soup!

Fish, veg and dill soup!

Home made pasta: first (successful) attempt!

I gave ravioli a try a while ago and I must say the result was not really impressive!
Yesterday I felt inspired again, or more simply, the weather was so miserable that I felt like doing nothing else than staying at home and treat myself with some nice food and a movie.

I tried to make “sagne” a kind of pasta typical from the Abruzzo region in Italy and whose main feature is the total lack of eggs – it is in fact one of those everyday “poor dishes”, but still so incredibly tasty, not to mention the fact that making and eating them was a sort of trip down to memory lane.

All you need is some plain white flour (the version with rye flavour is also very good though), salt and water: mix all the ingredients until the dough is not too sticky anymore and you can start using a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circle. The thickness can vary depending on your tastes, I personally prefer it a bit thicker so that when you cook it it stays more crunchy and al dente.

Once it is rolled out and you reach the preferred thickness, leave it to dry for about 1 hour (or more, it depends on how dry is the room) – make sure it is quite dry before rolling and cut it or it will just get a super messy and sticky result!

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You can now start folding it (as if you would like to make a pasta tube) and cut it into stripes – I cut mine around 1.5 cm wide. Then put it in a tray and let it rest for another 30 minutes, making sure to sprinkle some flour so that the pasta stripes do not stick to each other.

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Time to cook it and enjoy it: bring water to the boil, add salt and then the pasta. It will cook very quickly, as soon as it starts floating you can drain the water and dress the pasta (be quick, or it will stick!).

I dressed mine with some garlic and chilli tomato sauce and percorino cheese sprinkled on top, YUMMY!

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Spaghetti alla gricia recipe

Today I want to share with you one of the most famous dish of the Roman culinary tradition: pasta alla gricia.
When it was first invented it was considered a “poor” dish, which was generally prepared by shepherds which were simply using the ingredients that were easier for them to find.

It could be considered the ancestor of pasta alla amatriciana, in fact it has all the ingredients in common except for the tomato sauce (probably because pasta alla gricia was invented much earlier, when tomatoes were still unknown in Europe!).

Easy and quick to prepare but incredibly tasty.
All you need is some bacon (better if guanciale, but in case you don’t have it, bacon can do! well, sort of…), grated pecorino cheese, olive oil, pepper and of course spaghetti!

In terms of quantity, I would suggest around 70-80 gr of bacon per 100 gr of pasta. The amount of pecorino it really depends on your tastes, but the more you put, the creamer and tastier the pasta will be.

pasta griciaHow to prepare it: cut the bacon in small stripes or cubes and let it cook in a pan with some olive oil until it is crunchy and golden (once it is cook, you can throw away some of the cooking oil. I like to do so because the pasta will be less greasy!).

Boil the spaghetti and once they are ready add them to the bacon, sprinkle the pecorino and some pepper all over. Make sure spaghetti are “al dente” or they will get all sticky once you will try to mix them with bacon and pecorino.
Tip: in order to have a creamy result, add some of the pasta cooking water.

That’s all! Quick and easy as I promised.
Try it and let me know what you think! 🙂

Chocolate & coconut cookies

Yet another week as started and to be honest I was quite happy to go back to work after a cozy and relaxing weekend at home. London was all white and snowy and I absolutely loved it!

How did you spend your weekend? Did you have a nice one?

Yesterday it snowed the whole day, so it was just the perfect day for some baking and here it is the result:

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The recipe is super easy and I love the cookie cutter, it’s so cool being able to carry around your mug and your cookies so easily! I bought mine last year in a Christmas market in Germany, but I have seen similar ones here in the UK as well.

Ingredients:

  • 350g self rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 200g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • one egg
  • 350g dark chocolate
  • 2 spoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 spoons of grated coconut
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, mix well until they are well blended together.
Add the egg and mix it with the dry mix. Add the melted chocolate and repeat the process.
You should now have a crumbly mixture. Cut the butter into little cubes and add them to the mix. Now use your hands to get everything together and get a smooth dough.
Once the dough is ready you can flatten it in a 1.5 cm layer and start cutting your cookies.
Bake for about 15 minutes (more or less, this really depends on how strong is your oven!) and you are done! 🙂
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Pumpkin soup

Just a few days to Christmas, this means lots of food on the way!
I am going back to Italy for a week and I have already given my mum a list of things I want to eat 🙂 …so I am trying to keep myself light these days…

Today is such a rainy and cold day, haven’t done much other than start packing and some online shopping.

Since I am going away for a few days, I am trying to empty my fridge and use all that could go off. Luckily enough I had a beautiful pumpkin, perfect to make some warm soup!

This dish is so incredibly easy, but yet tasty and can make you feel really full even with just a few calories.

All you need is a pumpkin, a little bit of onion, salt, pepper and if you like some nutmeg.
I personally think that pumpkin and nutmeg are a perfect match, but this really depends on your taste.

Cut the pumpkin in small cube and cook them in a pot with some olive oil and water for about 20 minutes.

When it is all tender and you can mash in with a fork, put it in a blender and mix it for a few minutes until you get a smooth creamy mix.
Pour the soup back into the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the grounded nutmeg,pepper and salt.

Mix well, remove from heat and serve immediately.
I have garnished mine with blue cheese croutons (if you don’t like blue cheese you can replace it with some cheddar).

Little tip: if you get a too thick mix, you can add some warm water.

I know some people like to add some cream, but I prefer this lighter version, and I assure you it tastes great!

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Halloween themed afternoon

I love autumn and I particularly love October…why you may wonder, one simple reason: Halloween! 🙂
Maybe it’s due to the fact that I have never celebrated it as a child (no, it’s not because I had a sad childhood, but simply because in Italy was not so popular 15-20 years ago), or simply because it is just another excuse to be creative, to dress up and to organise parties.
Falling the 31st on a Wednesday, we all took the chance to double the celebrations and party for two weekend! That was cool! 🙂 A Mexican friend of mine organised a Dia de los muertos themed party and it was amazing how everyone made the effort of showing up properly dressed and made up! And let me tell you…crossing London with that skull make up on has been an experience! 🙂

I thought of organising something slightly different and unusual…well at least for a late twenties/early thirties bunch of people: a Halloween themed afternoon on a Sunday. I think the last time I had some sort of party on a Sunday afternoon was for my 10th birthday or so. When I sent out the invitation for a “pumpkin carving and Halloween-ish food afternoon” I wasn’t sure how my friends would have reacted to this, but surprisingly everyone was quite excited about it.

It was a very pleasant afternoon, we all showed our childish side and this is the result:

Carved pepper with guacamole!

Nutella crostata with marzipan decorations

White chocolate ghosts popsicles

my carved pumpkin with feather eyelashes! 🙂

Halloween table

A few carved pumpkins

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza with onions

This is an easy pizza recipe that you can quickly make at home as a substitute of bread.
The other day I realized that I ran out of bread, but it was too late and cold to go outside and get some, plus I am not a big fan of the bread you find in supermarkets in the evening, far too dry after an whole day on the shelf.

Fortunately in my cupboard there are always some flour and yeast for emergencies like this and I was able to prepare some fresh home made pizza. I didn’t make bread as I am not always happy with the result you get with an electric oven (maybe I am too spoiled as  I am used to my mum’s wood oven bread!), pizza is easier to make and you can get good results with any kind of oven.

Anyway…this is what I prepared:

The process to make this pizza is very similar to the one for the focaccia whose recipe I have already posted a while ago and you can find here.

I think I don’t need to tell you exactly the quantities I have used, as it depends of course on how much pizza you need to prepare, and most importantly, you will understand when the dough is ready from its consistence.
Mix the flour, yeast and water till you are happy with the result. It should not be too hard, but should not stick to your hands either while kneading it. You just need a bit of practice and a couple of trials and you will get the perfect dough.
I find that adding a glass of warm milk really improves the quality of the dough and makes it very soft, give it a try and let me know if you agree!

Let the dough rise for good 1-2 hours, then add the topping right before you put it in the oven. For the topping I used some very thin sliced onions and black pepper (you can add some sea salt if you like it a bit more salty).

You then need to bake it for about 20 mins at 180°C (but please keep an eye on it, depending on how strong is your oven!).

Easy, fresh and light tagliatelle recipe

Perfect for a summer day. This recipe is easy and super quick, but the taste is still rich and awesome. I really love this kind of pasta, the only little problem is that it tends to get cold quite quickly, so make sure you serve it immediately when it is ready.

I am not going to specify the quantities for each ingredients because it really depends on the amount of pasta you are preparing.

For the sauce you will need:
a few cherry tomatoes;
a few portobello mushrooms;
olive oil;
a bit of onion finely chopped.

For the topping:
parmesan cheese;
wild rocket;
black pepper.

Pour the oil and the onion in a pan and stir fry gently for a few seconds. Then add the chopped mushrooms and when they are almost ready add the tomatoes cut in halves. Don’t overcook them or the mushrooms will turn too dark and the tomatoes will mash. You should also make sure it doesn’t get too dry or the whole dish will be just sticky and impossible to eat. Add some salt according to tastes.

In the meantime cook the tagliatelle. Drain them when they are still al dente and make sure you save part of the cooking water, because you might need it later when mixing the pasta with the sauce in case it is all too dry. Put the tagliatelle in the pan and mix together for a few second on a low heath.

Once the pasta is well mixed with the sauce, add the parmesan, pepper and finish with some rocket on the top.

Enjoy! 🙂

Sunday lunch in Brick Lane

Brick Lane is one of my favourite London’s area: vintage shops, street markets, trendy people, food markets, clubs, bars…the list could go on and on.
You can literally go there at any time of the day and find something cool to do, or something tasty to eat.

It’s famous for its delicious Indian restaurants (which are really nice, although so far my super uber favourite one is Tayyabs, which is not exactly in Brick Lane, but not far away either), however if you go there during the weekend (especially on Sunday) you will also have a wide range of ethnic delicacies to choose in the food markets.

Last Sunday we woke up late, still feeling slightly knackered from the night before…we were hungry but couldn’t be bothered to cook…we were tired and wanted to stay home, but it was sunny and hey, we all know this is not something usual in London, so Brick Lane suddenly sounded like the place to go.

We met with some friends, walked a bit around the food stalls just to have a look and try to decide what to get (you have so much choice that it is really hard to pick one thing!), and once we made our minds we sat outside and enjoyed our meals.

Needless to say that it was lovely…the food, the company and just the possibility to sit outside in the sun (after such a rainy summer we do deserve some sun!). 🙂

This time I gave Ethiopian food a try…despite all those curries, burritos and tempura were so appealing, I really felt like having something light and healthy and those Ethiopian dishes were just what I was looking for: injera (Ethiopian soft pancake) with three sauces, chick peas, beet root salad, olives, and those little bright green pearls whose name I don’t remember (help me if you know it!). 🙂

Ethiopian meal

Ethiopian meal

Here below you can find a few other pictures from the food market.

Aren’t you hungry now? 😉

Snickers muffins

Easy and tasty!

After a lot of unsuccessful attempts, I have finally learned how to make muffins. I love muffins and I had tried to make them a lot of times in the past, but for one reason or another, the results were always very disappointing.

Things changed when I tried the recipe suggested on this blog (if you understand Italian, have a look at it, it is fab!). I have just modified a few small things (as I always do!) and the result was great.

For about 12-14 muffins you will need:
Butter 180 gr
Self raising flour 380 gr
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Sugar 200 gr
1 teaspoon of baking powder (I like to use Pane degli Angeli brand, as I find it is the best one!)
3-4 bars of Snickers (the more the merrier!)

Preparation:
Combine the softened butter and the sugar and whisk until you get a smooth texture.
Add the vanilla extract and the eggs and keep mixing.
Cut the snickers bars and add them t the mix (tip: if you leave the bars in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes it will be much easier to cut them).
Add the flour and keep mixing to avoid lumps and make sure than all the flour is well blended. If the mix appears too dry, you can add some milk.
Once ready, scoop the dough into the muffins tins and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.

Et voilà…