Monthly Archives: October 2009

Tilt Halloween!

This is the menu’ for tonight… so let’s go to cook now!

In the next days i will show you the dishes but in the meantime Good Halloween to everyone!

halloween menu'

PS. Ciao mamy, ti piace il mio menu’??? poi nei giorni succssivi spieghero’ le varie portate. Io penso faro’ la streghetta questa sera…se trovo un cappello adeguato! e voi godetevi la cena e salutatemi tutti!

Risotto zafferano e funghi porcini + quick starter

zafferano e funghi 1

Recipe 128: Another italian typical dish in autumn is this risotto made with Porcini mushroom and Saffron. I discovered here in London they don’t sell fresh Porcini mushroom so i will need to use again dried mushrooms but you can use the fresh ones too.

Here are the ingredients for 4 people: 350gr Arborio rice (you can find it in Waitrose) – 60gr dried mushroom – a little bag of Saffron – 1 onion – oil – 2 little spoons of balsamic vinegar – 50gr butter – 2 glasses of white dry wine – 1 vegetable stock – 40gr Parmesan – salt.

And because we were having some special guests for dinner, i have also prepared a quick starter with: 250gr of Houmous – oil – carrots in slices – cucumber – cherry tomatoes.

zafferano e porcini 2

First thing you will need to put the dried mushrooms in warm water for half an hour. Waiting for them to get ready, you can prepare the starter cutting the carrots and the cucumber and serving them in a plate with cherry tomatoes and houmous. If you can add some olive oil to the houmous, the taste will be better.

When the mushrooms are soft, drain them, but use a kitchen cloth to strain the water and conserve it to cook the sauce. Put the mushroom in a pan with some olive oil and let them cook a bit on a middle fire. To give more flavor to the dish, put 2 little spoons of balsamic vinegar on them and keep on cooking them for another bit.

zafferano e porcini 3Cut the onion in little pieces and cook them in another sauce pan with the 50gr butter. In the meantime, in a little sauce pan with boiling water put the vegetable stock to create the “brodo”. When the onion become goldish, you can add the rice and let it toast in the sauce pan for two minutes. Then add 1 glass and half of white wine and mix the rice. When the wine is totally evaporate, add some of the brodo prepared.

In a little bowl instead put the saffron with a bit of brodo and stir it. The water need to became a nice yellow color.

zafferano e porcini 4

Add to the rice the rest of the brodo and the water from the mushrooms always mixing, otherwise the rice will stick to the pan. Then add the mushroom and after a bit the saffron and let it cook. Try the rice to see if it’s done and add other water or brodo until is ready.

At this point just serve it with Parmesan and enjoy!

PS. Mamy cucinando questo piatto mi sono ricordata di quanto piaccia il risotto a papa’. Poi quando ho fatto la spesa e ho visto che avevano il riso arborio non ho resistito… dice che e’ il tipo che ci vuole per i risotti alla milanese ed infatti e’ venuto buonissimo e bello cremoso. Avevamo per ospite un mio amico inglese che ha parenti italiani e mi ha detto che gli ricordava un sacco il risotto di sua nonna. Che soddisfazione!

Halloween or not Halloween?

Halloween Snoopy And here we are again… it’s almost the 31st of October, so what you are going to do this year?

Are you planning to dress up and go to an amazing party? or are you just going to ask sweets door by door?

In Italy Halloween and its celebration wasn’t really famous until we started to be absorbed in the traditions of all the TV series and american scary movies arrived in our country. Then, of course, the economic potential of Halloween it was discovered and, on top of that, in Italy we can’t say no to parties, occasions to go out, have fun and maybe leave also some scary experience.

So welcome to Halloween parties everywhere!

But what are you going to do this year? Party or not party? Fancy dress or just a scary movie at home? have you already made a decision?

Be quick, the midnight it’s near!

PS: Mamy e voi che farete? nessuno dei vostri amici organizza una festa di Halloween per il 31 Ottobre. Lo so che a voi queste cose proprio non interessano e tanto voi non vi mascherereste mai, ma io invece ci sto pensando! vabbe’ sono cosi’ pigra che una maschera intera non me la farei mai, ma qualche piccolo accessorio magari… Vi faro’ sapere che decidero’.

Busaba: a cheap and very good thai in London!

Busaba Eathai is a Thai chain in London very famous for the nice dishes, the very good food and the quite cheap price. So finally is a place i love and I’m always happy to go back. For our friend coming from Paris we thought could be a nice place to eat a different kind of cuisine.

Busaba logo

I discovered it 2 years ago, when we went there with my boss and colleagues to celebrate some new project. The one i will speak about is near my old office, in Store Street (Goodge street station). It’s always quite busy and you can’t reserve, but they are also quite quick in serve and you don’t normally cue for long.

We were finally in 5 and we ordered 3 different starters and a main course each. I tried the plate you can see in the pictures (thanks for these to tehbus, catty and darkrostedblend).

1) Padan chicken are little pieces of chicken cooked in garlic and coriander, covered in this padan leaf and served with a very nice soy based sauce. Really tasty! 2) Prawn pomelo is a more mysterious dish. There are prawns of course and peanuts but we can’t identify the rest and each portion is served on a betel leaf that you will need to eat with the rest (not eat instead the leaf from the other dish).It’s really a nice new taste. 3) Finally my main dish was Pad thai: a generous portion of rice noodle with prawns, shrimp, tofu, peanuts and beansprout. Just an amazing combination…i just added lots of soy sauce because I’m addicted to it!

Do you know how much we spent each of us, considering we also had a drink each? 15,50£ and it was GOOD! I also think the dinner there is not so fatty considering that you can choose a wok noodle instead of stir-fried!

Busaba dishes final

And then i love Busaba’s general atmosphere: from the light to the friendly waiters and easy going mood, to the decoration of the place absolutely elegant and modern, to the bathrooms and their particular signs…every time i need to stop and think!

busaba atmosphere

So please go and let me know if you think I’m wrong!

PS: Mamy la prossima volta vi ci porto anche a voi! Sono andata a mangiare in un ristorate che cucina tailandese e che conoscevo gia’. E’ buonissimo, non costa quasi nulla ed il locale e’ molto accogliente. Dai tanto lo so che ormai voi sperimentate tutte le cucine e questa sono sicura piacera’ anche a voi!

I found my favourite trainer!!!

Patrick, this is the name !! He is my idol and he will really be my “friend of diet”.

So yesterday i came back to the gym to give another chance to the Aerobiking. OK, the idea to meet again the crazy teacher was scary, but maybe knowing a bit more the class, i thought i could have survived. On top of that i had a terrible day and i needed to push everything out.

Patrick pandaAnd instead ….surprise, surprise… i found the most amazing teacher ever!

He is a big man, not super fit really and in his age, but absolutely funny, entertaining and really passionate for biking. He put a very nice music, he made us doing exercises finally FOLLOWING the music (not like the other teacher, just worried about velocity and strength) and the 45 minutes class was just a nice, distressing and powerful class. He pushed us to maintain the rhythm and finish all the exercises just with all his energy and …his fantastic voice. Yes, he sang with his strong black voice during all the whole lesson!!!

It was exactly what i needed: the music was driving us and i gave all the energy i had without not even realizing we were at the end of the class. I loved it!

So now it’s sure: everything depends by your gym trainer! Thank you Patrick! this was an aerobiking class!

PS. Mamy ieri sono tornata in palestra per provare di nuovo quella classe di cyclette di cui ho gia’ parlato. Ebbene, questa volta mi sono divertita un sacco. Il maestro e’ un omone con una super voce, che ha cantato tutto il tempo, per farci mantenere il ritmo e farci tirare fuori tutta la nostra energia! Divertentissimo! Ora che ho scoperto lui, ci tornero’ sempre!

Pasta alla burina (-65 weeks)

burina 1Recipe 129: For our french friend coming on friday night i wanted to cook something special and i did one of my mum best recipe for pasta. I have to say i found online lots of “pasta alla burina” recipes and all quite different between them. Let’s just say this is my family’s one.

And because in this season mushrooms are the main ingredients, i though this dish could be the right one…the only problem was the preparation: it was a bit long and we were starving!

However these are the ingredients for 3 people: 350 gr. of short pasta (the real recipe is with “mezze maniche” but in London i had to use “rigatoni”) – 30gr of dried Porcini mushrooms – 60 gr pancetta – 30 gr ham – 50 gr butter – Parmesan – salt – a bit of chillies – oil.

burina 2

Start putting the dried mushrooms in a bowl with warm water for about an hour. In the meantime cut the pancetta and the ham. Put them in a pan with a bit of oil and cook them.

When the mushroom are soft, drain them, but use a kitchen cloth to strain the water and conserve it to cook the sauce. This water will give the most of the taste to the dish. Then cut the mushroom in little pieces and put them in the pan with pancetta and ham. Add the butter in pieces, salt and some chillies. Cook a bit and then start to add the water from the mushroom too.

Let evaporate the water and then add a bit more until the end of it. You can also leave the pan covered on a low fire and check it time by time, adding the water when needed. This sauce will take at least half an hour to be ready.

Burina 3

When the water will be almost finished and the sauce is almost done ( not make it too dry) you can put the pasta in salted boiled water following the time written on the bag…normally around 10 minutes. When ready, put the pasta in the pan with the sauce, mix until the pasta absorb it a bit and become a nice brownish color and serve it with a lot of Parmesan.

Buon appetito!

PS. A parte il tempo necessario per ammorbidire i funghi e far assorbire l’acqua del sugo, la ricetta e’ facile e mi piace ancora di piu’ perche’ non usa la panna, ma che fame che avevamo!!! Me la sono finita senza nenache essermela goduta…ma il sapore era proprio come quella che fai tu! La prossima volta che la faro’ mi prendero’ un po’ piu’ di tempo per cucinarla e mangiarmela!

Pizza in London: Zizzi and the “Trentino”

Pizza is the only thing we have never cooked in my house: outside it’s so cheap and good, thanks to the wooden ovens, that is better to buy it than prepare it at home.

Anyway here in London i miss pizza like crazy…even more than ice creams! So if I go out and especially if i go in a, so called, “Italian restaurant”, i always look for pizza! I also think is a quite equilibrate dish, with a bit of everything but in a light way. Often it’s better than a plate of pasta. So I’m also convinced that a pizza sometimes (without starters and desserts) can be eaten also during a diet.

However here I will start my series of posts about the pizza you can find in London with prices, ingredients and my personal opinion.

ZizziOn wednesday we went to Zizzi, a chain of restaurants in London that claims to cook italian food. It’s not very expensive and they have a medium quality of food but it’s still a chain and the recipes are not really italian.

I’m against the classic pizzas, so i asked something new: Pizza Trentino. When i say they don’t follow italian recipes, i mean that, for instance, on a pizza called Trentino, you expect ingredients from the mountains, because Trentino is a region in the north of Italy , where the Alps are: so you can think about mushrooms, a nice reach cheese, truffle and speak. Instead the pizza was made with rocket salad, cherry tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and finally, just to remain in line with the name of the pizza, a smoked ham, similar to the speak but milder.

Pizza Trentino

I have to admit that the pizza was fine: the base and the tomato sauce weren’t great, but the other ingredients were very good (not so usual here in London) and the combination was tasty. The price for this is 9,50 £ (a basic Margarita pizza is around 5,50 £) and it is the most interesting pizza between the few choices they have. (thanks to trusted-gourmet for the picture)

PS: Mamy ho deciso di aprire una serie di posts sulle pizze di Londra, con tutte quelle che trovo e provo qui nei vari ristoranti. Capita spesso infatti di andare a mangiare pizza, anche se non cosi tanto come in italia. E’ piu’ caro ed essendoci qui tante cucine differenti, molte volte proviamo anche altro. Comunque l’ultima che ho mangiato e’ questa pizza chiamata Trentina, in cui l’unica cosa che poteva richiamare un po’ la regione era un prosciutto simile allo speak che hanno messo sopra a fettine. Comunque alla fine era abbastanza buona!

End of the week gym update (-8 kg)

And just to let you know that I’m still fighting to reach my target and win my challenge, here is a quick update on the courses I tried this week: Salsa aerobic and R&B dance.

OK, i love salsa, so it was quite clear that i was going to try this class: I liked it and i think that for the sunday lunch time is just the perfect solution. A bit of movement to fight the weekend laziness but having fun. The R&B instead wasn’t a great success: i love the music but i feel always a bit stupid when i try to copy the choreography. So ok it was fun and the teacher was very good, but it wasn’t so exciting as i was expecting it.

blk_20cat20dancingFinally none of these classes can be really considered enough to loose weight, but they are fine to keep the line, having fun and enjoying the music; sometimes having fun gives you more strength to be constant in the exercises. Then, considering the cold i took this week, I’m anyway quite proud of my achievements in the gym! 🙂

PS: Mamy questa settimana in palestra mi sono dedicata anche io alla danza ed ho provato altre 2 lezioni, una a base di salsa e una di musica rap. Simpatiche, non particolarmente difficili o faticose, ma almeno divertenti. Non sono ancora molto convinta, ma per cambiare e comunque continuare a muoversi un po’ non sono male.

Surprise Birthday Party: french dinner and italian cake!

Last saturday a friend of mine decided to give a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend inviting us to eat a typical french dish: Raclette.

It was a long time i was waiting to try it, but i also though that was going to be a good occasion to cook a nice birthday cake. The problem is that Raclette is mainly a plate based on melted cheese. This means the dinner was going to be quite heavy and the cake needed to be kind of light. This is the reason why i made the fruit Crostata.


But let’s speak about the “Raclette”: the name of this dish comes from a french verb “racler” that means “to scrape”. Originally in fact, they used to take the melted cheese from a big piece of cheese, scraping it. The cheese we used was a specific one made exactly for this dish and that we found in “La Fromagerie” here in London (Marylebone High street). It’s all about melting the cheese and eating it accompanied by potatoes, salad, tomatoes, ham or dried meat, gherkins and pickled onions.

To prepare the cheese there is a specific little machine that allows you to choose a portion and melt it, as you can see it in the pictures. So finally it’s an easy and quick plate to make, but good, fulfilling and the most of the fun is to prepare it and eat it with your friends all together. Then, of course, a good french red wine is a must to complete the dinner! Thank you Morgan and Guillaume!

The italian cake instead is just an optional!

Birthday crostata

PS. Mamy, sabato per il compleanno del nostro amico, io mi sono incaricata della torta, mentre loro hanno preparato la cena, ovviamente francese. Hanno cucinato “Raclette” che non e’ altro che un particolare formaggio francese che si fa fondere (ma non e’ da confondere con la fondue) e si mangia accompagnato da altre “delicattessen”. Insomma non una cosa proprio leggera, ma pensa che per farla hanno proprio una macchina apposita. Assurdo! Comunque ci siamo divertiti un sacco preparando i nostri piattini e la festa e’ uscita molto bene.

And after the cream… Crostata di frutta!

crostata 1

Recipe 130: This is one of the most classic cakes in Italy. It’s the one that almost every grandmother can make and it’s always good, any kind of filling you will choose. It’s normally more famous the jam crostata, or crostata con la marmellata, but it’s also very well known this recipe with cream and fruit.

Now I will tell you how you can prepare it from the base.

Crostata 2

The ingredients for the “Pasta Frolla” (the base of the cake) are: 300gr flour – 150gr sugar – 150 gr butter (very cold) – a pinch of salt – 2 egg yolks – a bit of milk. For the ” Crema Pasticcera” or cream, please have a look here.

Then, to finish the cake, you will just need some fresh fruit. I used: 1 box of strawberries, 2 kiwis, 1 box of blueberries and then you could cover the cake with a bit of gelatin to make it more compact, but i didn’t use it and it was good anyway.

crostata 3

Let’s start from the pasta frolla mixing the flour, sugar, the pinch of salt, and the butter cut in pieces. Knead until the ingredients reach the consistency of the second series of pictures and then add the 2 egg yolks. At this point you will need to create an homogeneous dough so that you will be able to make a ball. The color have to be a very warm yellow and no clots have to be in the pasta. Add a bit of milk to help you to create the ball if the ingredients are too divided or flour if the dough it’s too sticky. After put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Crostata 3

Then prepare a baking pan with baking paper or just with butter and flour all around. Roll out the dough and put it in the pan, making sure is going to be quite thin everywhere. Just the border can be a bit thick. At this point make little holes in the pasta, because the base need to “breath” in the oven. I normally use a fork for these. If you don’t do so, the base will grow or will create bubbles. Put in the hot oven at 180 degree for at least half an hour. When you take it out the base have to be brownish but especially quite hard and dry.

At this point you can just add the crema pasticcera and the fruits cut in pieces. If you want, you can than add the gelatin too.

Buon appetito!

crostata 5

PS: Mamy guarda che bella che mi e’ venuta!!! ti piace? Pero’ che casino spiegare come fare la pasta frolla in inglese! Poi ho avuto un po’ di problemi a trovare della gelatina da metterci sopra. L’unica che ho visto diceva che ci voleva mezz’ora per prepararla… insomma alla fine c’ho rinunciato, ma era buonissima uguale anche se un po’ meno ferma.