I’ve been chatting and laughing with Rossella since the beginning, when we almost simultaneously had the first step into the new blog world, still shy and searching for our identity. We have had just a few occasions to meet in real life, a walk in a Roman park, a weekend in London at the Food Blogger Connect and a lunch break with a soup and a carrot juice.
These brief chances turned our virtual friendship into something real, helped also by common interests and a rare harmony, amplified by a dense exchange of messages often resulting in a phone call in which words and laughter chase each other in the air.
Rossella has been able to preserve the same spontaneity of her first posts, with her crazy stream of words, her deep thoughts and her practical approach to cooking. You can recognize how she loves and respects seasonal ingredients: she cooks with a soothing candor and takes pictures with an equal ease, capturing moments of perfect light, where shadows and out of focus play an important role to communicate a sense of full relax.
All’ombra dei mandorli in fiore, her second cookbook, is pervaded by Rossella’s personality, her name is inscribed in every photo and recipe. It is a poetic cookbook, permeated by the smell of bitter almonds, which recalls the boundless beauty of Mediterranean landscapes. It’s dreamy and light, it takes you by hand on a journey among the most beautiful views of Italy, in a path dotted with warm and inviting recipes.
But Rosella has another side, rational, stubborn, organized. Her recipes are therefore dreamy, yet precise, with methodic explanations. It tells you the cooking and resting time, she even gives you a schedule for baking complex brioches, but at the same time she tells you in vivid colours how the dough should look, which are the tricks to get a good result, how to serve the food at its best.
You do not feel alone in the kitchen, you can almost see her at the other side of the table, tireless chatting and checking your movements, as she doesn’t want you to make a mistake. She really cares about your result.
She organized the recipes in a brilliant way, taking into account, in the four chapters of the book, the time required and the mind disposition with which we can approach cooking.
- Simple savoury things to prepare in a moment. From savoury toasted almonds with rosemary to melted caciocavallo cheese with almonds. You have no excuses, these recipes are suitable for everyone, at any time.
- Savoury dishes to cook without haste. Take all the time you deserve and have a relaxed lunch with asparagus and almond flan or roll up your sleeves and knead some fresh pasta to make chitarrine with squid ink.
- Simple sweet things to make without thinking. Almond milk, almond butter and almond granita. Start from scratch and get dizzy with the intense almond smell.
- Sweet recipes to cook without haste. From a loaf cake with almonds, apricots and chocolate to her famous panettone with olive oil, citrus and Grand Marnier. Rossella gives you foolproof recipes that will soon become a family favorite.
Rossella’s recipe for black kale, ricotta and almond tartlets
I won’t make it longer, I know you want to learn more about this recipe. After the first frozen days it’s time to harvest our Tuscan black kale, its dark green leaves are ready to be used in the kitchen, from our hearty bean soup to crostoni with cavolo nero with good olive oil. I chose this Tuscan recipe because, although Rossella and I share the same Souther origins, we have also Tuscany in common, as a loved part of her family lives between Lucca and Arezzo.
These savoury tartlets burst with a rough winter Tuscan spirit, from the wholewheat and almond crust to the black kale and ricotta filling. Try them, they are a starter to keep in mind for those winter evenings, if you pay attention for a while you can almost smell the good fireplace aroma in the air.
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For the dough
- 50 g of all purpose flour
- 50 g of almond flour + 4 tablespoons
- 100 g of wholewheat flour
- 1 large pinch of salt
- 100 g of soft butter
- 4 tablespoons of cold water
For the filling
- 240 g of black kale
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 red chili pepper
- 100 g of fresh ricotta cheese from cow's milk
- Almond slivers
For the dough
- Combine the threes flour in a bowl, keeping aside the 4 tablespoons of almond flour, you'll need them later. Add a generous pinch of salt and the diced butter. Mix all the ingredients with your fingertips.
- Pour in the cold water and knead until you get a smooth and homogeneous dough.
- Divide the dough into 8 parts and roll them out in 3 mm thick, 15 cm wide disks.
- Arrange the disks on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, prick them with a fork and sprinkle with almond flour.
For the filling
- Wash the kale leaves, pat them dry and discard any hard part. Slice them thinly.
- In a frying pan lightly brown the garlic and chopped chilli in olive oil. Remove the garlic, add the kale and cook for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Keep cooking for 10-15 minutes, adding occasionally a drop of water. Cover with a lid if the kale gets too try.
- Remove from the heat and add the ricotta. Stir to mix. Season with salt and let it cool down.
- Meanwhile heat oven to 180°C.
Assemble the tartlets
- Arrange one or two tablespoons of filling on each disk, taking care to leave a few empty centimeters all around, then fold the edges toward the centre to prevent the filling from coming out while baking.
- Decorate with some almonds slivers and bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden.