Monthly Archives: September 2009

Pasta al forno

Recipe 136: And after the besciamella recipe, you are now ready for the “Pasta al forno”.

This is normally something you can prepare also with some pasta “al sugo” leftovers…and maybe that is also the better version.

However here is the recipe i cooked from scratch on Monday for another guest.

For 4 people you will need:

350gr of short pasta (but if you have leftovers of long pasta you can try anyway) – 1 mozzarella – 20/30 gr of Parmesan – salt + Tomato sauce (2 tomato sauce can – 1 carrot – 1 celery – 1 onion) and Besciamella ( 50 gr flour – 50 gr butter – 500 ml milk – nutmeg)

pasta forno 1

I would start from preparing the tomato sauce as usual: oil in a pan until hot and add onion in little pieces.Wait until became gold and add the tomato sauce from the cans, carrot, celery and salt. Cook on a low fire and wait until the sauce is a bit thick (at least 20/30 minutes).

In the meantime prepare the besciamella as i explained here.

When both sauces are ready or are finishing to cook, boil the pasta with the salt, but be careful to don’t cook it until the end as written on the bag. Taste it before and if it’s just a little bit hard, you can take it off.

Pasta forno 2

At this point, i use to mix the pasta with the tomato sauce until it became all red and then I add the besciamella mixing a bit more. Put a layer of the pasta in a baking tin, add the mozzarella cut in little little pieces and close with a second layer of pasta. Finally cover all with a generous quantity of Parmesan and put it in the oven with the grill until the mozzarella inside is melted and you have a colorful crust on the top.

Cut it, serve it in a plate and buon appetito!

PS: Mamy ho seguito proprio il tuo metodo. Anche se la besciamella si puo’ mettere a parte sulla pasta prima di infornarla, per me e’ meglio mischiarla con il sugo, almeno arriva proprio su tutta la pasta! Era buonissima, ma visto le poche pentole che abbiamo, ho dovuto cucinare il sugo in un pentolino piccolo e non mi si e’ rappreso bene. Forse meglio cosi, ma preferivo la pasta un po’ piu’ asciutta e abbrustolita. Comunque che mangiata!


besciamellaRecipe 137: And here i know i will make someone happy!

This is my favourite sauce and, after a long time that i didn’t eat it, i have to say i was really missing it. Ok it’s not the most dietetic sauce you can prepare, but i tried my best using skimmed milk to cook it … and it was really good also like this.

So here are the ingredients:

500 ml of milk (almost 1 pint) – 50 gr of butter – 50 gr of flour – salt – a bit of grated nutmeg.

Put the butter in a pan on a very low fire and then start to add the flour little by little. Mix quietly and start to add also some milk if you see some clots take form. Keep on adding all the flour and the milk and if you still have some clots, continue to mix quietly until the sauce starts to be thicker. The clots will go anyway adding some more milk. Don’t forget to put a bit of salt and nutmeg too, but I suggest you to taste it to regulate the quantities.

As you can see it’s quite easy and very quick but the secret is all in being careful with the fire and the mixing.


PS. Mamy questa ricetta e’ spaziale e finalmente ieri mi e’ riuscita proprio bene senza neanche troppa fatica. Ho fatto tutto sul fuoco basso e anche se prima mi si sono formati un po di grumi, continuando a mischiare e aggiungendo il latte e’ andato tutto per il meglio. Che buona! quasi me l’ero dimenticata!

Polpette “al sugo” and “in bianco” (-69 weeks)

Let's start

Recipe 138: As i promised, here is the recipes for the “polpette” or meatballs, as my mum use to cook them.

On friday my guests tried the tomatoes sauce and the white sauce version and they will tell you their opinion and favorite.

Ingredients for 3-4 person:

500gr mince meat – fresh parsley flay leaves – a bit of parmisan (20-30 gr) – a bit of milk – 3 slice of bread – salt – garlic in powder – bread crumbs and 3 whole eggs.

For the sauces:

2 cans of tomato sauce – 1 carrot – 1 celery – 1 little onion – a glass of white wine – butter (2-3 slices) – oil – 1 vegetable stock.

I suggest you to start from the tomatoes sauce because it takes a bit of time to cook:

Put oil in a pan, and cut the onion in little pieces. When the oil is hot put the onion and wait until it take a bit of color. This in italian is called “soffritto” and it’s the base of a good sauce. Then add the 2 tomato cans, the carrot without skin and a good piece of celery. Cook on a low fire for at least 20 minutes.

In the meantime you can prepare the “polpette”:

Take the 3 bread slice, cut the dark crust and put them in a cup of milk, until they don’t get really dump. Cut the parsley in very little pieces and put them with the mince meat, add the 3 whole eggs, the Parmisan, a bit of garlic and salt, and finally the bread already squeezed from the milk.

Mix everything very well and start to prepare all the little balls. You will then pass them in the bread crumbs and they will be ready to be cooked.

When the tomato sauce is ready you can put some of the meatballs in the sauce and let them cook, turning them a bit sometimes.

almost ready!At this point you can also prepare the white sauce for the remaining meatballs:

Put the vegetable stock to cook in some hot water. Instead in another pan you will put a bit of oil, butter and after a bit you will add a bit of white wine. This sauce is very quick and when you think is ready you can start to fried the other meatballs. Because the meat will take a bit to cook, you will add constantly the “brodo” from the vegetable stock. This will maintain enough liquid to fried the polpette and will give a nice test to the sauce.

Turn often the meatballs and when (at least after 20 minutes) you see the tomato sauce quite thick and the meatballs in the white sauce quite colored, you can serve them.

I cooked them with some roast potatoes but you can choose any other side order.

Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy ho fatto le polpette ed erano buonissime!!!! che te ne pare delle foto?Anche Anna ha detto che le ricordavano un sacco quelle della sua mamma. Grazie tante e alla prossima ricetta.

Patate al forno – Roast potatoes


Recipe 139: This is a basic dish that in my family we use to cook almost every time we invite someone. It’s very easy to do and everyone loves it. On top of that, this is a side order that goes well with any meat or fish you cook.

Here is my recipe:

– Peel the quantity of potatoes you decided to cook and then boil them. You need to take them out of the fire before they get too cooked. I would check after 25 minute trying to insert a fork in them. If this goes, they are ready.

– Then pass them under cold water and cut them in pieces.

– Put them in the oven at 160-180 to finish to cook with oil, salt and fresh rosemary…but also with thyme they are really good.

– If you can, put the grill in your oven and after other 10 -15 minute they will be ready and crunchy. If they are already quite cooked, just put the grill.


PS. Mamy prima di dare la ricetta delle tue polpette ho pensato di inserire la ricetta per le mitiche patate al forno che fai tu. Visto che qui i forni funzionano un po’ come gli pare, ho pensato di aggiustare la ricetta facendo bollire le patate prima. In questo modo dovrebbero venire croccanti ma non secche e magari ci mettono anche un po’ meno tempo a farsi. Che te ne pare?

Finally good english food… and maybe light?


Yesterday night i was invited in a gastro pub where my host said the food was really good and the place simple and cosy… so ok let’s go!

Knowing that I’m trying to be very careful in what i eat, thanks to the challenge i set up with this blog, i studied carefully the menu and i have to say i had a nice surprise: the food was english, different and presented in very interesting combination of tastes and ingredients.

Now i will tell you what i ordered:

– Rasberry and prosecco cocktail – with the drinks they offered bread and butter too, and i couldn’t resist: almost “casareccio” a typical italian bread, very soft but with a nice and strong crust. (not too light but finally i need carbohydrates in my diet :P)

Oysters with lemon and tabasco (light)

Fish gratin with cream and Parmesan – i know i’m terrible with names, but this was too complicate and i couldn’t steal a menu. (Not too light but the portion wasn’t big)

– A side dish of cabbage (very light and without condiments)

– and i tried a spoon of a Muscadet Creme Caramel (i was good…just a little spoon)

At the end i was without words: the fish gratin was delicious and the caramel one of the best i never tried…so rich!


On top of that all the dishes were amazing, really tasty and absolutely fresh and well cooked. I was missing a good english dinner and finally i have something to suggest when someone will ask me where eat proper english and nice food.

I also finally understood that i love the mix of fish and cream. Another time i ate a plate in a belgium restaurant, here in London, with mussels, spinach, bacon and cream, all gratin… for how much it sounds crazy, it was just amazing.

I will try to find an italian recipes with these ingredients and maybe the gratin final touch too.

PS. Mamy, ieri sono stata a mangiare in un gastro pub inglese dove finalmente ho trovato del cibo buonissimo, un po’ caro naturalmente ma ne valeva la pena. Tra i vari piatti buonissimi mi hanno servito un gratin di pesce cucinato con la panna ed il parmigiano. Tu hai mai sentito di una ricetta italiana che contenga ingredienti del genere? a parte la pasta al salmone? Insomma l’accostamento pesce e panna mi piace tantissimo ed ero curiosa di vedere se non abbiamo ricette simili in Italia. Fammi sapere!

Do you prefer “al sugo” or “in bianco”?

This is the big question.

I think everyone is part of one of the 2 categories… no one can say that is the same. All of us has a favorite.

Trying to decide which recipes do next, i found one that give you the option “al sugo” (in tomato sauce) or “in bianco” (without tomato). If you speak about meat you will have a white sauce, while if you are speaking of pasta, in the majority of the cases you are meaning pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese.

red and white

As i was telling you before, everyone have to prefer one of the 2 and i’m more for the white sauce and pasta with butter and Parmesan. Since i’m little i love these ingredients, but for diet reasons I always try to choose the tomato sauces.

What my guests will prefer on friday?

Because i couldn’t choose, i decided that i will cook both of them one day after the other, so you will have the full version of the recipes and maybe some comments from my guests.

And what do you prefer?

PS. Mamy se non mi sbaglio tu sei piu’ per il sugo vero? Papa’ ed io invece sempre piu’ per la roba in bianco. Vediamo un po’ cosa ne uscira’ da questa piccola votazione tra la gente che conosco. A presto con le foto dei miei piatti!

My latest dietetic addiction: marshmallows (-10kg)


Enough sweet to eat them as a little treat after lunch of dinner, but absolutely low in calories. Two or three of them per day can’t be so dangerous!

Tilt loves marshmallows!

Ps: Mamy continua con la tua cioccolata, tu che puoi e che riesci a fermarti dopo uno o due quadratini. Io passo a questo che e’ meno pericoloso!