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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Couscous with peppers and poached egg on top

Another easy and quick recipe!

Cut some red, green and yellow bell peppers into small stripes (about 1 cm wide or little less) and put them in a pan with some onion and olive oil.

Let it cook for a few minutes then add some tomato sauce, not too much, you don’t want to give a too tomato-ish flavour.I added it mostly to give some colour and to add some liquid.

After a few minutes turn the heat off and add the couscous, salt, freshly grounded black pepper and some rosemarine. Then cover the pan with its lid and let it cook in its own steam for about 5 minutes (this really depends on what kind of couscous you are using though…if you are using big couscous this might take longer and vice-versa).
If it is all too dry add some boiling water but make sure to do so little by little and be careful not to add too much or your couscous will become a big sticky ball.

In the meantime boil some water, when it is all bubbly, stir it quickly with a spoon and poach  your egg in. You want to make sure that the yolk is still running (as it will be delicious with the rest of the dish) so don’t overcook.

Et voilà!

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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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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! 🙂

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…

Easy and tasty lunch idea!

This weekend has been pretty hardcore in terms of partying, so today I really feel like doing nothing. So, what’s the best way to spend a nice and relaxing Sunday? For me it is cooking something easy, then relaxing either watching a movie or doing some nice DIY…still have to decide which of the two I am going to do 🙂

I didn’t have much in the fridge, but after a quick look I came up with some ideas and this is the result:

Wheat with mushrooms and leak, and asparagus with egg.
It might look plain and boring, but it all tastes very nice and it will leave you full but not heavily full, if you know what I mean (you don’t want to eat too much, since you are most probably going to spend the rest of the day on the sofa!). 🙂

I have just boiled some wheat, and once it was done I mixed it with some leaks and mushrooms that I cooked separately in a pan with some olive oil.
The asparagus just need to boil for no more than 3-4 mins, then you can put them in a pan and cook the egg on top of them. Add some salt and pepper as per your taste and enjoy!

I think that some green salad on the side would have finished the dish nicely, but I didn’t have any…and the supermarket if faaaaaar awaaaaaaay! (HelloLazySunday!) 🙂

What about you? How are you spending your Sunday afternoon?

Homemade Pretzels recipe!

We all love Pretzels, don’t we?
You will be happy to hear that it is super easy to bake them at home, you only need to follow a few easy steps.

This is a recipe I tried a few months ago after a trip to Germany, and it made me very happy with the final results.

All you need is:

  • One cup of warm water
  • a pinch of salt (the amount really depends on how salty you want them!)
  • 1 package of dry yeast
  • around 4/5 cups of plain white flour (just see how sticky is the dough and if needed add some more flour)
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • sesame, poppy flowers seed, salt (to decorate the top of your pretzels)

How to make the dough:

Sprinkle the yeast in the warm water cup and stir to dissolve.
Add the mixture to the flour, add the salt and start kneading until you get a smooth and elastic dough. Let it rise for about 1 hour.

When the dough is ready divide it into bits and roll into a long rope and shape. When done, prepare the boiling water and baking soda solution and deep one pretzel at time for about 30 secs. Place the pretzel on a tray, sprinkle them with your favourite toppers (I used sesame, poppy flowers seeds and salt) and they are now ready for the oven!

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden et voilà:

Pretzel