Saturday 29 October 2016

Savoury Recipes

Here are some savoury recipes my mum and I experimented with during summer. Most of them are simple, traditional Italian dishes.

Rice with lentils
You need: 100 g of lentils (soaked overnight if needed), one carrot, half an onion, 300 g of rice, salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Cook the lentils in one litre of water with one peeled carrot, half an onion and salt. When they are ready, take the carrot and onion and add the rice together with some extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tbsp). Stir the risotto and let it simmer till ready.

Pasta with gorgonzola
You need: 100 g of gorgonzola, 500 g of pasta (penne) and extra virgin olive oil.
Cook the pasta in boiling water with salt, in the meantime melt the gorgonzola in a small bowl using the water of the pasta. Drain the pasta when ready and add some extra virgin olive oil. Finally pour in the melted gorgonzola and mix.

Zucchini trifolati
You need: extra virgin olive oil, three courgettes, half an onion and salt.
Pour some extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan, cut half an onion into thin pieces and let it fry slowly. Add the courgettes cut into cubes and let them cook covered with a lid. Add salt and turn them over from time to time. They are an ideal side dish, or can be mixed with five or six beaten eggs and fried to make a fantastic frittata.

Zucchini rolls
This is a recipe I found on Youtube but I changed it according to my taste.
For the dough you need: 500 g of self raising flour, 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, 200 ml of warm water, one tsp of salt and 2 eggs.

For the filling you need: zucchini trifolati (see above) and 200 g of grated mozzarella.

Prepare the zucchini trifolati and let them cool. Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead it for ten minutes. Roll out the dough and spread the courgettes on it, then the grated mozzarella. Roll the dough up forming a sort of roulade. Cut slices of half an inch with a sharp knife and set them flat on a greased tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180° C.

If you are not fond of courgettes, a good alternative is having spinach instead. You can boil 250 g of spinach till ready, drain it, season with extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano before spreading it on the dough.

Stuzzichini (nibbles)
You need: 500 g of self raising flour, 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, 200 ml of warm water, one tsp of salt, 2 eggs, finally some rosemary, oregano, pepper, fennel seeds or chilli.
This is the same dough we prepared for the zucchini rolls. Once you roll it out, cut it in squares using a pastry wheel cutter. Spread some olive oil on an oven tray and turn the squares of pastry in turn to grease both sides. Sprinkle some salt and oregano or rosemary (or one of the other spices mentioned above) as well. Finally bake for 30 minutes at 180° C.

Taralli (little doughnuts from Puglia)
This is a recipe I found on Giallo Zafferano and it is just right.
You need: 500 g of flour, 200 ml of dry white wine, 125 g of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp of salt, rosemary, fennel seeds, chilli or oregano.

Prepare the dough by mixing the flour, wine, olive oil and salt (also add one of the other ingredients, e.g. rosemary). Knead unit till smooth. Form pastry sticks of about three inches and cross the ends in the shape of little doughnuts. Cook the doughnuts in boiling water and drain them using a strainer when they float up. Set the doughnuts on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake them for 30-40 minutes (or till slightly brown) at 180° C.

Beware: they’re quite hard so you need good teeth to chew them.

Saturday 8 October 2016

What I made in summer

I spent my summer at home with my mum and part of the family so I could indulge in what I usually haven’t time to do during my busy school year, like cooking extensively and creating new stuff: poems, clothes and drawings.

My mum and I experimented with new recipes and renewed old ones. Traditional dishes like caponata, lentil risotto, courgettes omelette, or desserts like Sicilian cannoli, meringues and sorbetto were reinvented and improved to the whole family’s delight. We also tried new recipes, like pasta with gorgonzola, water melon cheese cake, dark chocolate semifreddo, almond biscuits and courgette rolls. We didn’t always agree on everything (she tends to stick to the way she has always done things, which is sometimes the right way) but always ended with delicious results.

Some of the recipes are originally from youtube or magazines but I change them considerably as I find that experts are not always right, at least in cooking, especially regarding doses and the choice of some ingredients. I’ll post the recipes shortly on this blog in two issues: savoury and pudding. I hope you enjoy them.

The other thing I did with my mum was making clothes. I had some fabrics I bought at the market in Doha, Qatar, and really wished to make some garments out of them. I had some paper patterns for blouses and dresses but the pieces of fabric I had did not seem enough for what I had in mind initially. We finally made up our minds for a long skirt using a brightly coloured brocade piece, a long blouse (or short dress) for a green kind of light cotton fabric and a dress with a flower patterned cotton piece. It was my mum who mainly worked on them, which kept her busy. My daughter helped as well from time to time as she is studying Fashion Design at University. In the end three beautiful outfits came out and I proudly modelled them.

During my summer holidays I also went back to writing poetry. I never actually stopped but I’d slowed it down in the past two years. This time I took my time in writing, re-writing and editing new and old poems. I submitted some of them to competitions but I haven’t had any good news so far. I also contacted the Poetry School and enrolled in a course, which gives me hope for improvement in my writing and achieving better results in the future.

Last but not least, I am working on a PhD proposal about a project on Comparative Literature centred on the works of Margaret Atwood. The project should include fiction, music, visual arts, and study some masterpieces of western literature. I hope it will be accepted, fingers crossed.
It was a thriving summer on the whole.