Saturday 24 October 2020

Making life tasty during the pandemic: new recipes

 Tasty food helps in dull moments. I kept on growing pasta madre (sourdough) in the fridge throughout summer and in autumn too and I am still using it in my weekly pizza. I also add a sachet of dry yeast now that it’s back on the supermarket shelves. Using both yeast and sourdough makes my pizza dough softer and it rises better. Cooking also helps me chill out after a busy day at school or in the transition from weekly days and the weekend.

I experimented different pasta seasonings and savoury recipes but also a few cakes that I distributed in tiny pieces in my neighbourhood. Some of the recipes are from newspapers and online magazines but I simplified them and adapted the ingredients to my family’s taste. I find that sometimes online recipes are over complicated, there are too many ingredients and above all they feature great amounts of sugar and fat, especially butter. In the UK there is an emergency of overweight and obese people apparently, so we should follow a healthier diet and hopefully lose weight. For this reason I reduced the doses of fats and sugars in my versions and used instead sunflower oil and/or added the herbs from my trug vegetable garden. For example, I prepared rich frittata with courgettes and courgette flowers adding Majorana and Greek parsley, fantastic roast pork belly with apple vinegar, pink lady apples and thyme and Spanish omelette with plenty of potatoes and onions plus basil lemon and lavender grosso leaves. The vegetable garden also produced a great deal of cherry tomatoes and lettuce and, when the weather turned colder, green tomatoes didn’t seem to turn red, so I used them to season pasta adding olive oil, pecorino and parmigiano.

Here are my achievements:  

Spaghetti with lemon sauce and olives  

You need: 300 g of spaghetti, two lemons, 10 green olives and 10 black olives pitted and roughly chopped, 50 g of butter, olive oil, a clove of garlic, lemon basil, parsley, salt and white pepper, parmigiano.   

Cut the lemons in slices and cook them in a large frying pan with butter and oil. Remove the lemon slices and add the herbs and the olives. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Prepare the spaghetti and when they are ready toss them in the pan adding a few slices of lemon. Serve with plenty of parmigiano and some fresh parsley.  

Rice with lemon sauce  

You need: 300 of arborio rice, half an onion, vegetable stock, 50 g of butter, olive oil, celery stick, one egg, one lemon, salt and white pepper.  

Prepare a soffritto with butter, olive oil, celery and onion thinly cut, add the rice, the lemon grated zest and the lemon juice. Beat the egg in a bowl and add it too. Pour the vegetable stock little by little and stir until the rice is ready. Serve with parmigiano and fresh parsley leaves.  

Spaghetti with burrata  

I found some excellent burrata at the Italian Deli and at the supermarket too. Here is an easy delicious recipe:  

You need: 300 g of spaghetti or linguine, chopped tomatoes, a clove of garlic, olive oil, chilli, fresh basil leaves and burrata.  

Simmer the chopped tomatoes with olive oil, salt, white pepper, garlic chilli and half a tsp of sugar for about half an hour-forty-five minutes. When it is ready add the basil leaves and let it cool. Cook the spaghetti, drain them and mix in the tomato sauce. Serve the spaghetti on a plate with burrata on top and enjoy!  

Spanish omelette  

You need: olive oil, spring onions, two big potatoes peeled and cut in slices, six eggs, basil lemon, majorana and lavender grosso leaves, salt and white pepper.  

Cook the potatoes in a frying pan with olive oil together with the chopped onions. Remove them from the pan and set them on a plate. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper and pour them in the pan then add the potatoes, onions and herbs. Cook until ready covering it with a lid.   

Here are two recipes my mum’s carer, Tania, sent me:  

Moldavian involtini (Sarmale)  

You need: two carrots, an onion, celery, olive oil, some minced beef, tomato passata, salt and pepper, rice, lettuce leaves.   

Cut the carrots, celery and onions thinly and fry them slightly in olive oil (soffritto), then add two tbsp of tomato passata, the meat, salt and pepper. Prepare the rice too cooking and draining it. Slightly cook the lettuce leaves in boiling water then wrap the mixture of meat and rice in the lettuce leaves. Cook the involtini (meat rolls) in a sauce pan covering them with some water. Let it simmer until the water evaporates.  

Moldavian pancakes  

You can mix any kind of vegetables with the dough: courgette, cucumbers, spinach, onions and/or potatoes. You need to cut the vegetables in small pieces first and boil or fry them.  

For the dough you need: 150 g of self-raising flour, two eggs, 50 ml of milk, half a tbsp. of oil, salt.  

Mix all the ingredients together and add the vegetables of your choice. Knead the dough and let it rest for one hour. Form small pancakes and fry them in oil or bake them at 180° C for half an hour.  

Plum cake with orange  

You need: 300 g of flour, 150 g of golden granulated sugar, four eggs, four tbsp of sunflower oil, 100 g of cut mixed peel, the grated zest and the juice of an orange, one and a half tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.   
Beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the oil and the flour plus baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Grate the zest of the orange and add the juice of the orange as well. Pour the mixture in a greased plum cake mould and bake at 180° C for half an hour or forty-five minutes.   

Cake with lemon cream   

For the cake you need: 300 g of flour, 150 g of white granulated sugar, 70 g of melted butter, two eggs, two tbsp. of milk, one and a half tsp of baking powder, one tsp of bicarbonate of soda.  

For the cream you need: the grated zest and the juice of one lemon, two eggs, 20 g of melted butter, 100 g of sugar. Some parchment paper to line the tin and icing sugar to dust the top.  

Prepare the cream mixing all the ingredients with a blender then cook it in a pan until it thickens. For the cake, mix all the ingredients and divide the dough in two parts. Line a springform tin cake with parchment paper then roll out half of the dough and set the disk at the base of the tin cake. Spread the cream on the cake and roll out the other part of the dough. Set the second disk of dough on top of the cream and bake at 180° C for half an hour or forty-five minutes. When it is cool dust the top with icing sugar.  

Lime cheese cake  

This is a recipe my daughter in law gave me. She made this cake for my son’s birthday in July; it is very tasty and different from the common cheese cakes:  

You need: the grated zest and the juice of two limes, 500 g of mascarpone, 40 g of icing sugar, 200 g of ginger biscuits, 50 g of melted butter, two tbsp of golden syrup.  

Grind the biscuits and mix them with the melted butter. Make the base of the cake using the biscuit mixture. Make sure that the cake tin has a removable bottom. Whisk the mascarpone with the zest and the juice of the limes, add the icing sugar and the syrup using an electric whisker. Set the cream on top of the biscuits and chill for two hours before serving.

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