Thursday, 9 June 2011


   I hang my head in shame and apologize profusely!  The problem is well known to me and to those who know me well: once again I put myself in a sticky position, with self-imposed chores I don't have the time nor strength to fulfill.

   When I opened my blog in February I did so on the spur of the moment. I had no idea of the dedication and work implied, nor for that of the satisfactions I would have achieved. My original idea was quite simple (in theory, as it turned out!): I am a sort neither here nor there Anglo-Italian, so lets have a bilingual blog! 

   Yes, simple idea. But get down to it, and you discover that every single post and all it involves (thinking, cooking, snapping, writing, publishing), takes up so much of your time and energies that translating and re-publishing it on your English page is just beyond you - well, me, in any case.

   So I am forced to face facts, and put this English page on stand by. I will not kill it. It's a baby of mine after all. Time might come in the future when I'll be able to feed it more regularly. In the meantime, please, please, refer to my Italian page. All you need to do is to click on the Italian flag at the top on your right. My apologies go particularly to those who will not be able to cope with the untranslated ingredients and methods of recipies. However, I have come to realize that language barriers are but relative amongst true foodies !

Thank you, and see you on the other page.



    Eh si! Ancora una volta ho peccato di presunzione. Quando a febbraio ho aperto questo blog l'ho fatto sull'onda dell'entusiasmo di un momento. Non avevo la più pallida idea né del lavoro e dell'impegno che questo avrebbe comportato né, devo ammettere, delle soddisfazioni. E' stato immediato pensare di fare un blog bilingue, a specchio del mio confusissimo background. Ma tra il dire e il fare ... ci sta la scoperta che il tempo non basta!

   Così sono costretta a malincuore a mettere questa versione inglese della mia pagina in stand-by. Non la chiuderò ma non prevedo di aggiornarla, almeno per ora. Nel frattempo la mia pagina italiana cresce e si moltiplica, anche grazie ai miei lettori che si stanno dimostrando di grande supporto. Se quindi capitate su questa pagina, vi prego di reindirizzarvi a quella in italiano. La trovate semplicemente clickando sulla bandiera in alto a destra. Grazie e vi aspetto di là.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Ricotta and onion pie


    It is finally spring and in the market have just appeared those fresh, sweet, and flat white onions, that I love to cook in  this season. In Italy they are sometimes called may onions, or else Pompei onions. I am not really sure ever remember seeing  them in UK. However, any sweet variety would do, the fleshiest and freshest the better.  This pie, with its sweet and savoury, rather Middle Eastern taste, is one of my favourite way of cooking them.

1.5 kg of white sweet onions
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dry thyme
70g raisins
2 tbs honey
2 tsp English Mixed Spices
500g fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 roll of puff pastry


    For the filling, clean and thinly slice the ​​onions. Put them in a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, the thyme and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer over medium heat. After about 10 minutes the onions will have released their liquid. Add the honey, raisins and mixed spices. Remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce. The onions should look blonde and glazed. Allow to cool and strain any extra liquid. 
In a bowl, place the ricotta, drained of its liquid, and mash with a fork. Mix in a lightly beaten egg and the cooked onions.
Meanwhile, divide the pastry into two halves, one slightly bigger the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry, returning both portions to a round shape. Use the biggest half to line a 24 cm hinged round tin, rest the other on a baking sheet and refrigerate both for about 20 minutes. Handle with care because the pastry will be very thin.
Pour the onion and cheese mixture into the pastry lined tin, leveling the surface and carefully filling in at the edges. Cover with the second sheet of pastry, seal theedges, then brush the top with a little milk and prick all over with a fork. Bake in a preheated oven at 230C° for about 30-35 minutes or until the pie looks nicely golden.
Perfect for a brunch in the conservatory ... (?)

This recipe is my entry for the contest 'Dimmi che fai... ti dirò Qui-CHEi'

Sunday, 3 April 2011

English mixed spices

Another of those little things made of habit: 

    with English mixed spices one means a mixture of spices very common, of course, in Britain. Unfortunately, in Italy where I live it is very hard if not impossible to find. I don't really know whether it is know in the rest of Europe or in the States, but for sure there is plenty of English traditional recipes that ask for them.
  It's much used, mostly but not only, in the preparation of desserts. I, for one, use it often in vegetable dishes, such as with carrots or onions. It has the great advantage of being a very well balanced mixture, and ready to use.    I overcome its unavailability by mixing it myself. Also, this gives me the important additional advantage of always having a fresh supply, as I make sure of never mixing a large quantity at once.
   The quantities mentioned below are therefore indicative. Naturally, what matters is the 
proportion between the various ingredients. 

Ingredients: 1 cinnamon stick, 5cm long 1 tbs allspice (a.k.a. Jamaican pepper) 2 tsp cloves 2 tsp coriander seeds 1 nutmeg, crushed
Place all ingredients in an electric coffee grinder. Run in short bursts so as not to heat up the spices until you've obtained a  fine powder. Store in an airtight jar.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The holiday home kitchen.

    Viva l'Italia. The Italy that goes to work but also that which takes a holiday !   And it is more or less after this cry that we took advantage of the 150th national commemoration holiday to enjoy a long week-end, with it taking the opportunity to reopen our summer house after it'd been shut the whole winter. 

   The kind of house - really I should say 'tiny-winy little house' - where everything, starting from the kitchen, is scaled down in size, just as one would expect of a second home...

    (but no compromises on spices, herbs, and the one essential tool of all self respecting chefs: a good set of knives!)

...and where, whenever you go, you bring the entire contents of your home fridge with you. Then improvise...
So, off you go with a Minestrone soup (perfect for throwing in all that's available, and by definition always surprise because never twice the same).

Lightly cooked, no frying or anything, just a little fresh parsley and  tarragon (my trade-mark) added at the end togheter with a little olive oil to dress it. Of course,  the oil is that made by Erica's mum, whose olive trees I can see from the terrace and check whether they've already been pruned or not....

Other perishables in the home fridge? 
Well, there's always the tortilla solution, another dish that's a perfect excuse to use up lots of veggies. In this case I had a fridge load of artichokes and so here is a tortilla with potatoes and artichokes. 
little green side salad makes it a wonderful lunch. Especially when eaten out in the sun after a whole winter indoors!

If there's something else that just can not bear being left for too many days it's bananas. But then a long weekend also requires some form of cake, particularly for those wonderfully slooooow breakfasts that during ordinary days are no more than a dream. 
Hence, very quickly whilst packing, I baked one of my all time classics,  ready to take with us, then maybe eaten lightly toasted and buttered: my banana loaf, a never let down...

Then there's Sunday, and Sunday is still Sunday - just as in the end we'll always remain part-Brits - so ... Sunday Roast it must be:
roast leg of lamb,  inevitably served, at this time of the year, with sautéed artichokesBecause traditions matter. And the difficulties encountered in northern Italy in finding a properly raised lamb are null compared to the final result and pleasure ...

It goes without saying that in between breakfast, lunch and the occasional snack, there was plenty of time for a stroll through the narrow streets of our beautiful village. And if someone has been wondering where our magic little house is, here are some pictures of Perinaldounspoiled tiny village perched high on the hills above Sanremo.

(this is a slightly unusual post, just so as to share where I go when I disappear ...)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A fish that's not really a fish ...?!

    April’s Fool ahead of schedule? Well, actually this might be an idea for that date since the content of this dish is a bit of a surprise… 

In fact, when I brought it out to the table everybody thought they were being presented with a fish en croute. In reality, it is a cod and potato fish pie, much loved by children. A recipe born by chance that I share gladly.

Ingredients for 4-6 people
200g fresh cod
200g salt cod soaked
400g peeled potatoes
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
3 shallots
1 cup milk
1 knob of butter
1 tbs flour
2 tbs pitted black olives
1 tbs capers
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg yolk

a little 'patience and creativity!

   Simmer the fish and potatoes in salted water, with the bay leaf and cloves. Chop the capers and olives. With a slotted spoon, remove the fish when still slightly undercooked, definitely before it begins to fall apart! Transfer to a bowl, remove skin and bones and flake into large pieces. When soft, drain and mash the potatoes, then add to the fish together with the olives, capers and parsley.
   Meanwhile, slice the shallots and simmer them in the milk. Drain, adding the shallots to the mixture and reserving the liquid. Use the latter to make 3-4 tablespoons of bechamel sauce, which you will also incorporate into the fish mixture. Mix gently to avoid breaking up the fish and check for salt.
Allow to cool.
   Roll out a sheet of puff pastry on a baking sheet. Place the mixture in the center in an oval shape (the body of your 'fish'). Cover with another sheet of pastry and press the edges to seal (brush them with a bit of water so that they stick better). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  Remove from the fridge, cut the pastry in the shape of your fish, after which brush the surface with the egg yolk beaten with a little milk.
  With the tip of a knife draw the fish scales, the eye and any other detail, according to your imagination. The nicks are to be superficial and not go through the pastry. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C° for about 25 minutes or until the fish is nicely colored.

p.s. if you wish, and have even more time and patience, you can make lots of individual small fishes, perhaps in different shapes.