THE FRIDAY NIGHT “SNACK”: POP CORN PISTACHIOS&PAPRIKA

Hello!I can’t believe how much time I spent away from the blog, but don’t worry, I’m alive! I went throughout a particularly sensitive time, an emotional rollercoaster with big joy and happiness, but also some unpleasant moments. So I choosed to keep some distance from the blog, give me time to be confortable again and now … I’m back with new ideas and travels! However, I’m still a bit in a hurry, so as you can see “The Friday Night Recipe” for this week becomes “The Friday Night Snack”… (hoping a snack’ll be enough to bring to Fiesta Friday)
Checking out sites like this gave me a nice (and yummy) idea: to personalize a pop-corn recipe. Let me say first that in Italy we don’t have such a large choice of flavoured pop-corn, if so I think I’ll try all of those! Personally, pop-corn reminds to my childhood afternoon snacks, or to the winter nights when my father made pop-corn before watching a movie. Here in Italy we do have sweet-flavoured pop-corn, but generally we eat the salted ones. I do love the salted version, so I thinked about a personal salty version.

When I’ve some time, I prefere to make them in a frypan with extra-virgin olive oil, not in the microwave. I just love to “shake” lightly the frypan and hear the familiar popping sound, while inspiring the sweet corn scent.
This time I was lucky because Maryam, a dear friend, brought me fabulous iranian pistachios, so I thought about a “mix” of ingredients!

FLAVORED POP-CORN PISTACHIOS&PAPRIKA

INGREDIENTS: (4 people)

– 3/4 fistful of corn grains;
– extra-virgin olive oil;
– 100 gr pistachios;
– some pinches of sweet paprika
– some pinches of salt

PREPARATION:

Just prepare pop-corn in a frypan: when the oil is warmed-up, put the corn grains in the frypan and cover it with a pot lid; shake the frypan from time to time and wait till the pop-corn are ready; then chop the pistachios in tiny pieces (I often use a meat mallet), and put them on the pop-corn.


Transfer the pop-corn and the chopped pistachios in a freezer bag, and then add some pinches of paprika. Shake several times the bag and then pop-corn are ready to be served!
This is my combo, but I would like to know what kind of pop-corn do you prefer, salted or not, and flavored with?

See You soon!Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: PASTA WITH ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

Hello! Finally a bit of time to write about yummy recipes!Rarely I can cook and post the recipe right away, so this is the dish of last Friday : I remake it twice just to participate to Fiesta Friday!This is the first time for me trying this combination of ingredients, and i totally love it, I saved the recipe for other times.

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INGREDIENTS (4 persons):

– 350/400 gr pasta (any kind)
– 18-20 zucchini blossoms
– 1 zucchini
– 1 carrot
– Tropea onion (some slices)
– 6-8 thin slices pancetta (or bacon)
– extra-virgin olive oil
– salt&pepper
– sweet paprika (optional)

PREPARATION:

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Start the preparation washing and cutting the vegetables: once you have washed the zucchini blossom, let them dry on paper towel; in the meanwhile, cut into small pieces the carrot and the zucchini.
At the same time, in a large frypan put some extra virgin-olive oil and the slices of Tropea onion, and let it warm up a bit (without overburning the onions); then put the carrot and the zucchini already chopped into the frypan; add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sweet paprika if you like it, and let them cook for a while on low heat. In another small frypan, put the slices of pancetta and let them go till they become crunchy: then remove them from the stove and put the roasted slices on paper towel.

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In the meanwhile, you can start cooking the pasta putting it in a capacious pot till boiling; now cut the zucchini blossom, previously drained, in slices and add them to the other vegetables.
When pasta is ready, transfer it in the frypan together with the vegetables, melting very well for a few minutes. As final touch, add the crispy pancetta/bacon (I crumbled it to distribute it better).

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Buon Appetito!Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: SBRISOLONA WHITE CHOCOLATE&RASPBERRIES

Hello! This is a first attempt for me on making this recipe, and we liked it so much, so I decided to bring it to Fiesta Friday this week. What’s “sbrisolona“? It’s a type of cake widely spreaded in my region, in northern Italy, and it’s made basically by two type of flour, butter, almonds, and eggs: at this base, you can add several ingredients, like white chocolate and berries, but also dried fruit and so on. The texture of this cake is sand-like, not uniform: the name “sbrisolona” means infact that “it crumbles easily”. Here the recipe:

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INGREDIENTS:

– 250 gr. flour 00
– 150 gr cornmeal
– 200 gr granulated sugar
– 200 gr butter (room temperature)
– 2 egg yolks
– 150 gr white chocolate
– 130 gr raspberries
– 130 gr chopped and stripped almond
– 1 vanilla pod
– grated lemon (or orange) rind
– a pinch of salt

PREPARATION: 

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Put the flour 00 and the cornmeal in a big bowl. Add a pinch of salt, the sugar, the butter – previously chopped in cubes – and two egg yolks, then start mixing the ingredients, melting them by hands. I suggest not to use the mixer for this recipe or you’ll obtain the right consistence.

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When the ingredients are well amalgamated, add the chopped almonds, the vanilla pod, the grated lemon rind and finally, the white chocolate and the raspberries. (if you wash the berries, then dry them with paper before adding to the mixture)
Put the mixture in a round baking tray (diameter 26 cm) covered with wax paper and spread out the mixture, pressing on its surface to compact it.

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Cook the cake in pre-heated oven at 180°C for 45-50 minutes. When the cake it’s done, let it cool down on a grill for a while. Then sprinkle it with powdered sugar.

Buon appetito!Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Happy December to you all my dear bloggers! Another year together, isn’t it amazing? Today I opened my blog page and I got all excited founding the snow falling: I’ve missed it!Last Friday I made a classic recipe for FiestaFriday, the chocolate chip cookies, probably one of my favourite type of biscuits. Here my recipe:

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INGREDIENTS: (55-60 cookies)

– Butter 230 gr (room temperature)
– Baking soda 5 gr
– Powdered sugar 200 gr
– Vanilla extract 2 gr
– Eggs 3
– Flour 00, 360 g (sifted)
– Granulated sugar 100 gr
– Dark chocolate chips  300-350 gr
– Cooking salt 10 gr (optional)

PREPARATION:

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To start the preparation, the first thing to do is to mingle the butter and the two type of sugar into the mixer. Cut the butter into pieces, then add the powdered sugar and the granulated sugar, and work them till you’ll obtain a smooth, dense and homogeneous mixture. If you don’t own a mixer, you can use the wisks. Add, always into the mixer, the cooking salt, the vanilla extract and the eggs; at this point it’s essential to keep on mixing at least for 5 minutes.
In the meanwhile, sift the flour in a big bowl, and add the baking soda. At this point, you can incorporate the flour to the mixture little by little, helping yourself with a spatula, and mixing until the flour will be totally absorbed.

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The final touch is to add the dark chocolate chips, trying to  blend in well. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of wax paper, and put a teaspoon of mixture for each cookie on it. Be careful to maintain separated the small balls of dough. while shaping the cookies. Cook them in pre-heated oven at 180 °C for 15 minutes: the cookies must become soft in the center and golden on the edges. When they’re ready, put them on a grill to cool down.

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Buon Appetito! Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: TORTELLI RICOTTA&SPINACI

Hello! This Friday is “Handmade Pasta Time” so I prepared a classic version of tortelli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach. Do you like pasta? To me is one of my favourite dish!Let’s start the preparation…

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INGREDIENTS: (35-40 tortelli)

FOR THE PASTA:
– Flour 00: 250 g
– 2 big eggs and 1 yolk
– Salt

FOR THE FILLING:
– Spinach: 250 gr
– Ricotta: 125 gr
– Parmigiano Reggiano cheese: 50 gr
– Nutmeg:  1/4 teaspoon
– Salt
– Pepper

PREPARATION:

First start with the preparation of the pasta. Sift the flour and make a fountain with it on a wooden worktop. To make a fountain means make a hole in the center of the flour to add the eggs in the center: now you can start knead, melting the eggs and the flour with a fork initially, then by hands. Add also a pinch of salt. Be careful to amalgamate all the flour. If  you notice that the dough doesn’t collect well all the flour, or if it remains slightly tough, add one or two spoon of lukewarm water, then keep kneading till the dough will became smooth and compact. Roll up the obtained pasta in the plastic wrap and let it rest in a cool and dry place for 50-60 minutes.

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In the meanwhile, you can prepare the filling: first of all, cook the spinach in hot water and salt. Pour the ricotta and the parmigiano cheese in the mixer, together with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. When the spinach are boiled, squeeze them to eliminate the excess water, and put them too in the mixer. You’ll obtain a green, homogenized mixture.
After an hour, the pasta will be more soft and elastic: now you can start to spread out the dough. Put some flour on the wooden worktop and use a rolling pin to work the pasta. This operation made only by hands is a bit hard to achieve, especially if it’s your first time. You can help yourself using a pasta-maker (the famous “nonna papera” here, in Italy) to obtain a pastry sheet of 0,5 mm depth.

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To make the tortelli, you cut the pasta sheet in stripes of 10 cm width, putting small quantities of filling on it – help yourself with a teasppon – well separated one from another. Then put another stripe of pasta on the filled one and press well on the edges to eliminate the air bubbles. Now you cut the filled pasta in squares of 4×4 cm. – I made instead an half moon cut, as you can see. – You can cook them right after the preparation or freeze them on a tray, putting them wide apart. I served them with chopped carrots, zucchini and green celery, cooked in a frypan with onion and extra-virgin olive oil. I added as final touch some roasted chopped bacon.

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Buon Appetito!Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: BROWNIES

Hello! I’ve been absent for a while, I know. So, when I find some free time to cook other things than ordinary, I’m really happy. And this week I’m part of Fiesta Friday me too! This week I felt like eating chocolate… so brownies was an inevitable choice. During years, I read about so many versions of brownies, but this one remains one of my favourite. They’re just perfect for the autumn afternoons, what do you think?

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INGREDIENTS: (12 pieces)

– 170 gr butter
– 150 gr granulated sugar
– 200 gr dark chocolate
– 20 gr unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 eggs (cold)
– 100 gr flour 00
– 50 gr chopped hazelnuts
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 5 gr baking powder for dessert

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PREPARATION: 

First of all, cut the chocolate in pieces, then cook the butter in bain-marie. When the butter is almost liquefied, add the pieces of dark chocolate.
Add the cocoa – previously sifted – and blend with a spatula to amalgamate all the ingredients, then turn off the stove and let them cool down. In the meanwhile, with the mixer (or with electric whisks) whisk the eggs together with the sugar, to obtain a soft and light-coloured mixture.

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Drizzle in the mix of chocolate and butter into the whisked eggs, and keep mixing. In another bowl, put together the flour with the baking powder and the pinch of salt, and sift together all the ingredients.
The last step is to add the “powders” to the other ingredients – one spoon after another – and frequently amalgamate to incorporate well all the ingredients. Chop the hazelnuts and add them finally to the mixture.

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Pour the mix in a rectangular baking tray – mine is 20×28 cm – and equally distribute the dough. You may use also a round tray diameter 24 cm. However, it’s important to cover the tray with wax paper before. Cook in preheated oven at 180º for 30-35 minutes: when ready, let the mixture cool down for 10 minutes and then take it out of the baking tray. When the dough is cool, cut it in squares and …brownies are ready to be enjoyed!Yum!

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THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: INSALATA DI RISO

Hello! So hot here in these summer days, we need something refreshing also to eat. I’ve been very busy in these last two weeks, so no Fiesta Friday at all. Then, few days ago, i read about Selma’s Table. I couldn’t believe it. Even now I can’t believe that I will not see ever again her kind comments to my recipes. Learn about her recipes. She was always encouraging, especially when i start my blog. I really don’t have an episode related to her, i wasn’t so familiar with her – I didn’t have the time -. But she impressed me, and today I want to commemorate her bringing to you a simple and tasty dish: a rice salad. You can add and remove ingredients as you wish – a great classic – isn’t it? But somewhat it reminds me of her, with her authenticity. Goodbye Selma, this Fiesta Friday is for you.

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INGREDIENTS: (4 persons)

– 350 gr Carnaroli rice (or similar)
– 1 big zucchini
– 140 gr peas
– 70-80 gr prosciutto cotto (slices or cubes)
– 70-80 gr salame strolghino (or salami)
– 1 can tuna fish (70-100 gr)
– black taggiasche olives (or other types)
– extra virgin olive oil
– salt&pepper

PREPARATION:

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To start, put some water on the stove till the boil, then add all the rice and wait until it’s done. Let the rice cool down for a bit. In the meanwhile, cut in slices the zucchini, and put them in a pan together with the peas, flavour with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook them for a while.

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When they’re done, put them in the rice and melt them a bit. After that, cut the salami and the prosciutto cotto in cubes/slices and add them to the salad. At the end, you can add the tuna (previously drained) and the black olives. – only now i can see that i took the photos without adding olives …ouch – But like Selma said “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful”, so … it’s okay.

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Now you can serve the rice salad. You could also prepare it previously, and then put it in the fridge for 1-2 days maximum.

Buon Appetito. Cris

EXPO MILANO 2015

Hello!Finally Friday we were in Milano for EXPO 2015: i was really looking forward to go ’cause I heard a lot about this universal exposition about food and nutrition, so i had no clear idea of what I would’ve seen. What’s Expo 2015? A universal exhibition about food. Good. That is, what is it?
With Milan selected as the host-city for the Universal Exposition, Italy then chose “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” as its central theme. Expo Milano 2015 will talk about the problems of nutrition and the resources of our planet. The idea is to open up a dialogue between international players, and to exchange views on these major challenges which impact everyone. Expo Milano 2015 will provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and seek solutions to, the contradictions of our world. Nowadays, there are still the hungry and, on the one hand, there are those who die for poor nutrition or too much food. In addition, tons of foods are wasted every year. For these reasons, we need to make conscious political choices, develop sustainable lifestyles, and use the best technology to create a balance between the availability and the consumption of resources.

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This is only the “introduction”: something that you could easily find everywhere using internet: but for me, Expo 2015 is also:
– Architecture: at first glance, you could see, standing in the middle of the Decumano – the principal street of Expo – thousand of outstanding pavilions: designed by internationally-renowned architects, the site comprises an area of 1.1 million square meters, easily accessible from Milan and the surrounding area. Reflecting the signature urban-planning style of the ancient Romans, the site is based on two wide avenues, the Cardo and the Decumano, which intersect at Piazza Italia. On these avenues stand the pavilions of the participating countries, the public squares and the areas dedicated to events and catering. Constructed to be energy-efficient and sustainable, the buildings are designed to be removed and reused after the event concludes.

– Digital technology: each country provides visitors with digital media and apps to download: all major pavilions have a dedicated mobile app. And also, technology is all over during the visit of the pavilions: multimedia presentations, light play, interactive screens: visitors are invited to participate in many ways.

– Sensory experience: every country will fascinate you with its colours, shapes, traditions, scents. Food is a powerful way to stimulate senses.DSC00528

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And these are some practical information to move in the big area of the Expo, especially if you have only one day like the two of us:

– Get yourself a map of the area before starting the visit: you could find it on the site of Expo 2015 or you could download the mobile application.

– In only one day it’s impossible to see everything: decide previously which pavilions you wish to visit (maximum 15-16 pavillon a day); with so many exhibitors, you must prepare your visit in advance, because for the main pavillons there are often queues and this will delay your itinerary, especially during week-ends.

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And now, let’s explore a bit some of the most remarkable pavilions: – not too much, I leave to you the opportunity to discover them better alone –

– Morocco: a warm atmosphere with a light scent of orange and almond. The theme of Morocco is the water, source of life: the idea is the preservation of this precious element, that allows the fruits of the earth – olives, oranges, almonds, – to grow lush.

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– Japan: prepare yourself for a quite long wait before enter the pavilion, about 40 minutes/1 hour, but Japanese are really well organized, so the waiting will not seem so long. Japan has made a reflection between the past and the future: in the first part of the visit, you’ll find yourself in feudal rural Japan, with the importance of field work, that must be protected, especially nowadays.

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Regarding the future, I found the experience of the “virtual restaurant” really amazing: it’s a short show in which the visitors will learn about some typical dishes of the Japanese Cuisine, but using the chopsticks …on a screen!Really original.

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– Cile: “El amor de Chile” will fascinate you, with its beautiful landscapes and the strong link between population and the Earth. They will give you their feeling thanks to musics and poetry. We felt really welcome by the staff: if you visit it, don’t miss the chance to taste their great empanadas.

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– China:at first sight an imponent pavilion. Wooden curved rooftops, and thousand of yellow flowers will welcome you at the entrance. The theme choosen by China is the respect and cooperation between the people: as farmers take care of the earth, so people should treat about our planet.

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Hoping that you liked my first glimpse of Expo, I must say that it’s a worthy experience, and I hope to be back soon at least one other time. Stay tuned for other shots from the pavilions! Cris