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Ricotta, ham and parsley ravioli

Ravioli prosciutto prezzemolo

Every promise is a promise: after the first Juls’ Kitchen on demand I posted the spring-like recipes for buttercream cupcakes to comply with the majority, but I said as well that fresh pasta would have come soon, and here we are.

A few days after my confessions of a fresh pasta maniac I found Elena’s recipe in my mailbox, written with her usual sweetness and freshness. I met Elena just once more than one year ago when I was on a business journey, then we met again here by chance, and we got to know each other better. Usually I share with Elena food recipes, she gets back to me with life recipes, weaving the words of her e-mails with the brightness and cheerfulness of her land, the Campania.

Among the ingredients of her recipe, ravioli filled with ricotta and ham, there is parsley: I’m used to green into fresh pasta filling, just think of spinach, chard or even pesto… but the parsley! A very unusual ingredient that threw me out to comb through my potties in search of the fresh leaves of this poor herb, usually so mistreated.

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Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake – Are you a cook or eat person?

YEASTED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE

Girls’ night out. We are heading to the cinema and, as every time, we are sharing the car. This is my turn to drive to the nearby town to go to the movies, so is Laura to enter my car. As soon as she opens the door she is overwhelmed by a sweet and tropical smell, mixed with the fairy icing sugar lingering in the air. Right on the dashboard there’s a parcel wrapped in aluminium foil, reflecting the night lights. She looks at me, than at the parcel, then stares back at me: what’s that?

It was her part of my Yeasted Meringue Coffee cake.

Would you rather cook or eat? If you had to choose, in an hypothetical and apocalyptic end of the world as we know it today, just one thing to do, cook for someone or eat what someone else has cooked for you, what would you choose? The voluptuous and satisfying eating or the mind-blowing and rewarding cooking? Despite my sweet tooth, I assume I would choose cook for someone, because when I’m not able to throw myself into the kitchen even for a short period of time, I start to feel a physical urge pushing me toward the stove. Are you a cooking or an eating person? Quite hard to single out, I admit.

For the moment, since there’s no need to pick from cook and eat, every time I can, I cook or bake a double portion. A helping is to be eaten by my family and me, a helping is for my friend. How to kill two birds with one stone!

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

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My Canelés de Bordeaux and my Carnival fancy dresses

Today is the last day of Carnival, Mardi Gras. In my own julsian calendar (that is the calendar made in my image and likeness) this means that there are just a few hours to go before I can say with granitic confidence that Spring is here! Yes, methinks Carnival has always been the last obstacle that stands between me and the spring, the flowers, the warm and scented air, the picnics in the garden and the nice walking in the Florence city centre, when the air takes that indefinable colour that makes you say that, yes, there we are, we’re living the sweetest time of the year.

Although I’ve not been celebrating Carnival in the last few years, I can still remember that time when I used to come back from San Gimignano Carnival parade or kid disco dance with confetti everywhere, even in my underwear! Looking back, nine times out of ten I was sick at home instead of wearing fancy dresses, but I can still draw my own personal top five memorable Carnival fancy dresses.

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Lemon & Honey Pannacotta

Today is the 5th Global Day of Slow Living and, to start with the right step, this post comes a little later than the usual time. I am a woman of her word, so let it be a slow day. A slow living day gives you the chance to regain your time, your natural rhythm, your spaces. A slow day makes you appreciate the small joys of life, those moments you usually take for granted but that make a difference. A slow day is a quality day.

So let’s start with a mea culpa. For some months now I do not know what a slow day is. I got the bad habit of making at least two things together. I answer to an e-mail while reading an article I am interested in. I attend my hydrobike class while thinking about my upcoming post or, still worst, about what I’ll be cooking in the next month. I watch the TV while reading a magazine, or while updating my blog, or maybe even while cooking something.

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Chicken and spinach patties

There is a moment of my working day that I particularly like. I realized it in these days when I traveled to Rimini, when this moment expanded itself from a few minutes to several hours: I’m talking about the road trip – whether to or back – I’m doing almost every day with my colleague and friend, Romina. We meet at the usual place at the usual time, then we do the transfer from one car to the other in a state of trance, choosing on day mine and one day her car. Car sharing is the new black!

Romina gets off the car with a smooth, continuous movement, grabs her bags, locks her car and with the same agility she sits next to me. Time required: 5 seconds. I’m clumsy even in getting off the car: usually I stumble in my scarf (I like long scarves which you wrap a thousand times around your neck, not my fault…), I open and close the door several times before I have taken everything – from my bag to my lunch box. I check the radio, the keys and finally sit beside her, buried under more bags than those ladies sitting on the bus with only their nose peeping out from their shopping bags. Time required: one minute…

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Véronique’s crêpes with salted butter and raspberries

Today I’m loving myself. A lot, indeed! I’ve carefully combed my hair – despite the fact that I look like Marge Simpson as soon as I wake up -, I’ve put on a little make up, a touch of mascara and lip gloss, I’ve chose the clothes that I usually save for my special occasions. I didn’t want to talk about Valentine’s Day today, I admit it. Why? um, because I feared to resemble a sad martyr (anybody loves me, I won’t find anybody to share my life with, I will be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians*…) or, on the opposite side, I was afraid to sound false speaking of love when love is not here.

Wait! Wait! a bell rang, or rather it was a gong! Of course love is here! I love myself, I really love this little Juls who decided to live her life following the LOVE! Which love? Whatever! Love for what she does, love for her family, love for her friends.. isn’t it just another shape of love? It’s so nice to be in love with love!

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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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