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Cappelletti with Parmesan and breadcrumbs… I’m a fresh pasta maniac!

Cappelletti di magro

Tuesday the 1st of February was Juls’ Kitchen second blogiversary.

In these two years I discovered how essential is to blog for me – I would say almost vital – although I had never written a diary before, except for brief moments while I was suffering from a mild form of graphomania.

I discovered that, along sophisticated recipes made with unusual ingredients and preparations, I wanted to find my culinary roots in Tuscany and Lucania, with the help of my family.

I found out that I like photography, as well as cooking: time to confess a deep fondness for colourful paper napkins and white dishes and bowls, along with a primitive, almost pagan, reverence for light.

I discovered that I love writing more than I remembered, both in Italian and in English: it is my favourite manner to to fix not only recipes, but also moments, thoughts, stories and memories, myself into words.

I discovered that through these pages you can make true and very important friendships, because a shared passion gets people together and deletes distance (and RyanAir helps, too!)

I discovered that my favourite thing to make, being it early morning in a kitchen softened by the first daylight or a slow drowsy afternoon, is fresh pasta. Grandma taught me the basics, the movements and the patience. Grandma lent me indefinitely the pasta maker to roll out pasta, the very same pasta maker that my grandad gave her more than twenty years ago. Now, grandma looks at me proudly when I roll out the fresh pasta and says: you’re very good in making fresh pasta, dear! but now it’s time for you to learn how to make cream puffs as well. You’re not yet good enough in baking them!

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DB Challenge: Biscuit Joconde Imprime and an Entremets dessert

 Biscuit Joconde Imprime

This has been a real challenge, a double, triple challenge. The first time the pattern was perfect, elegant, a real designer masterpiece! But the filling was definitely too liquid, so the external biscuit mould got soggy in a few hours, loosing its perfect and regular shape. Beside this, I decides to use two different fillings in the same time, a brandy & vanilla Bavarian cream in the bottom and a coffee and cardamom Bavarian cream on the top. Giulia, aren’t there too many flavours in the same time? But my answer was nothing else but disdainful: Mum, com’on! I’m a foodblogger, I have to experiment, I took the oath over the sacred Nigella’s book! Silenced, she went away shaking her head.

I kept on adding elements and ingredients. A layer of whipped cream, spread on the top, to cover the soggy biscuit and the way too liquid Bavarian cream. Uhm, what else? Got it! I need something fanciful to capture the eye and conceal the flaws. I melted some sugar to make a hazelnut brittle, like an elegant stained glass. My idea was to decorate with refinement the top of the Entremet, diverting the attention from the melting bottom. As soon as I brought it to the table, my guests asked: what are them? broken glasses?? We need a spoon to serve the dessert? Mmh, sweet, but, which is the main flavour here? Total failure! My mistake? Exaggeration! So I decided to keep it simple with my second attempt and the result was definitely a huge success!

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Cappelletti. Fresh filled pasta


A yawn, the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen, my eyes opening slowly on the new day and the new year begins. No fireworks, pin-wheels and spangles, this new year begins quiet, slow, curious, reflective and happy. This brand new year makes its first steps with sunny days and a new dress for Juls’ Kitchen, tailored again by Kia‘s magical hands in her haute couture tailor’s shop, a brighter and easier dress. I don’t know if it will be the final design, or whether it will evolve again, but I know that this dress it’s me, it is the 2011 Giulia, and it is a great achievement for me!

I’ve been thinking about the recipe that would have opened the 2011 and the new blog design and I finally chose the recipe that has had the leading role in my Christmas lunch and New Year’s Eve dinner, Cappelletti (fresh home-made pasta filled with a meat mixture typical of Emilia Romagna).  I tasted the real Caplèt (how they call cappelletti in Emilia Romagna) years ago at Valli’s, one of my best friends, and since then I’ve dreamt of making them again. In our daily email exchange she kept telling us of the epic deeds of thousands of folded (and eaten) cappelletti, of the heavenly cappelletti filling scent that follows her from home to office, of the festive meals based on dishes full of cappelletti… I could not wait any longer, I had to have that recipe!

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Potatoes and mozzarella casserole

This was my letter to Santa Claus more or less 20 years ago, when 9-year-old girls were still 9 year old girls.

Dear Santa, I’ve been a good girl this year, so would you mind bringing me some cute dishes and bowls to play in my small kitchen? Marta and I have so much fun pretending to cook in my granny’s shed, I would love some pretty dishes and a few small bowls with little cute flowers, or maybe a tray with lovely tea cups, so we can play the ladies! Thank you Santa Claus! Ah! If you have still room on your sleigh, can you bring me a Barbie doll as well? the one with long blond hair I keep looking at in Aunt Lella’s shop window! and, do not forget, bring also a little gift for Claudia, even though she is still a little tiny baby!

Nowadays, little girls write letters to Santa, asking for mobile phones, interactive games or mp3 players. I was an old style little woman, and, to be honest, I fear I’m still an old-fashioned girl! If I had to write my letter to Santa now, I believe it would have the same tone of voice and I would likely ask for pots and pans again! Ok, maybe now I would call them props, or cocottes, but in conclusion nothing has changed much. I still have so much fun cooking, and I still need cute flowery pots and dished to do that!

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Macaroni & Cheese, from "Home Alone"

It’s December. So let the celebrations begin! My Christmas imagination is made up with movies and songs, just as my ideas of love and friendship. There are movies that, seen billions of times since my childhood, during Sunday mornings in pajamas, or during long afternoons spent in front of the fireplace, have helped to create my own Christmas atmosphere. Speaking about songs, the first that comes to my mind is Wham!’s Last Christmas (1984), closely followed by All I want for Christmas is you (1994) by Mariah Carey. Just two notes of one of these songs and I’m thrown into my snowy dreamy Christmas.

Speaking about movies instead, there is a scene that is etched in my memory, the best scene in terms of romance and Christmas spirit. The film is Untamed Heart (1993). The scene? Marisa Tomei wakes up and finds a beautiful Christmas tree in her room, at night surprise staged for her by the sweet Christian Slater. And then, since I was a child, if I have to find another movie that for me represents Christmas, I can not think of at anything else but Home Alone (1990). Inexplicably, since then, I really want to taste a properly done dish of macaroni and cheese, Kevin McCallister’s lonely Christmas Eve dinner, celebrated with one of the most famous quote from the movie:

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Smoked duck breast & pomegranate salad

The Middle Ages is one of my favorite periods in history. I still remember that my high school Italian teacher used to tell us that was absolutely wrong to define dark that era, because it was in that very period that the culture was reborn, in abbeys, castles, and the first markets where trading resumed slowly.

Now you would consider me a crazy person, but suspend for a moment any judgments, especially the historical ones… when I saw the pictures and the colours of this pomegranate and smoked duck salad – a magret de canard fumé that comes straight from Paris, a gift from my parents – I thought: this looks like a medieval dish! There is meat and fruit (it is a medieval habit to mix them into the same dish), there is a sense of long nights in dark castles in front of a fireplace, the wind blowing outside, the Lady of the manor housing a pilgrim, seasons going by…

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Raw Salmon and the praise of lightness

I am back from the swimming pool, I feel good, I feel light, I feel satisfied. I walk with a more confident step, lighter than usual, the  swimming bag on my side holding me back with its weight, bringing me back to earth and, by contrast, making me appreciate more the lively dash I feel in my legs. I get into the car, turn on the radio and on the way back home I search for a song to inspire me, something cheerful, light, not to burden my mood but to put wings to my thoughts and my dreams.

Everything I do brings me back to this word, a concept that goes far beyond its literal meaning: lightness. Vague memories from high school bring back from the mists of time the first chapter of Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Calvino*, Lightness.

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Food, wine & friendship in Tuscany

I have no left words to describe the past weekend, spent between food (a lot, either eating out and cooked together at home), wine (a lot, tasted and appreciated in its very place of origin and production) and friendship (even more valuable, the greatest gift, the secret ingredient of the weekend). These three days were infused with laughter, fun, discovery and growth, showered by a persistent rainstorm that forced us indoors for most of the time … but you are aware that four foodbloggers forced for long hours into the same kitchen know perfectly how to spend their time, aren’t you?! So, to cut a long story short, let me tell you the story of these three days through a few pictures to depict the fun and the joy of the time spent with Sarka and Pavel, Beth and Chris and Tiina and BeeGee.

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