Round courgettes stuffed with tuna. Our secret is in good hands.

aprile 14, 2014

Zucchini ripieni

Grandma uses a deep pot, always the same. I have a memory of that pot since the first time I tasted her stuffed round courgettes. Over the years it has lost a handle, but it remains, in her opinion, the perfect pot to use if you want to cook her stuffed courgettes. It has a thick bottom and you can easily fit in two courgettes per person, plus one which has to be left aside for when my dad comes back home from work in the evening. Because grandma knows what he likes, and he ha sa soft spot for stuffed vegetables.

Even though she tries to hide the pot, hoping to make it go unnoticed behind other pots on the stove, I am always able to find it and recognize the food hidden inside, well before I am captured by the mouthwatering smell. As soon as the courgettes are ready, I stealthy approach to the stove with a fork in my hand and I try to steal little morsels of stuffing from the top of each courgette, how can she notice it? Then I drizzle some sauce over each courgette, trying to hide the theft.

When Grandma brings the zucchini to the table she always looks at me with complicity. I am sure that our secret is in good hands.

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Artichoke and stale bread cake. Make room in your Easter picnic basket for this!

aprile 7, 2014

Artichoke and stale bread cake

We have a saying in Italy: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi, that can be roughly translated into stay with your family for Christmas and choose your company for Easter. Christmas is a family institution, you don’t even ask yourself what you will do, because you know that you’ll spend that special day with your relatives. Don’t even try to arrange other plans.

Easter is a different matter: you are almost free to choose where and how you will spend that day. With the help of the warm season, it’s easy to opt for friends and picnics. On Pasquetta, Easter Monday, you start arranging time and place with your friends. Pot luck lunches or barbecues, walks in the countryside or in the nearby mountains are often on the list. This is quite a new habit for me, a grown up habit, and I enjoy every single aspect of the planning of Pasquetta. Needless to say that my favourite moment is deciding what to put into the picnic basket!

Today with the other girls of the Italian Table Talk we’ll see which food Italians usually put into that picnic basket: simple, seasonal and easy to be packed, spring vegetables from artichokes to fava beans are a must, along with good cheese, salame and prosciutto and bread, declined in all its shapes. In Tuscany raw fava beans, pecorino and salame are always present.

Emiko made a torta salata di carciofi, Valeria is using the delicate white asparagus with eggs for a seasonal preparation and Jasmine gathered all the favourite ingredients of a picnic to make a rice salad with spring veggies and cheese.

I was talking about recipes with Lucia, my boyfriend’s mum, and she told me I had to make this recipe from Puglia, focaccia di carciofi. It is not what you would expect form a focaccia: don’t look for a flat bread, since it is a typical savoury cake made with stale bread and artichokes. Read the rest of this entry »

Artusi’s ricotta pudding. My shelter in times of trouble.

aprile 3, 2014

Artusi's ricotta puddingThe kitchen has always been my refuge. I still remember too clearly when I used to come back home tired or demoralized from the office: there was no other place in the world I’d rather be but within the four walls of mum’s kitchen. Usually I didn’t even take time to change my office clothes. I would jump directly into the kitchen, open the fridge and search for calmness there, wrapped by a thin cold light. It had the same effect of a steaming cup of black tea in a rainy afternoon, a warm hug from inside. I could finally think again with my own rhythm, my values.

I was suddenly waken up by mum, who would ask me to please wear at least my home clothes before starting to cook, otherwise she would have to fight to remove the grease stains from my good shirt or pullover. You know, I’ve always been clumsy in the kitchen.

So, defeated, I would run to my bedroom to wear comfortable clothes, often directly my pyjamas, and then back in the kitchen, my realm, to move reality as I wanted. There everything was possible. I was finally able to direct the events, just as I was doing with fresh pasta and risotto, nothing could scare me.

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