Category Archives: Product testing

Starter: Tartine all’italiana (Product tasting)

Recipe 63: When i went to Identita’ in London, a festival of italian food already very famous in Milan, i had the pleasure to receive lots of products especially from Sicily and last weekend they came really handy. As i told you we organized a very quick dinner at the last moment for some friends and instead to buy the classic crisps as an aperitif, i thought to offer some “Tartina”, feta cheese and greek peppers! yummy!

Ingredients: Tartine are really easy to prepare because is just some bread cut in square and toasted where you can put whatever you want, from cream cheese and salmon, to pate’ or cheese and ham. This time i instead used this really nice Sicilian Sauces from Gli Aromi. One was made with cappers, one with black olives and finocchietto, but the best one was absolutely Finocchietto ragusano (plant from the fennel family).

I have also tried the same sauce with pasta and it’s even better. My guests loved the tartine, but the pasta was even more particular considering the very rare ingredients and taste.

Just put some water to boil and add the spaghetti when ready. In the meantime put some of the sauce in a bowl with some hot water from the pasta and when this is cooked just mix it all. Because the finocchietto has a very sweet taste, maybe with some pancetta or bacon as well i think it could be amazing.

PS. Mamy ci siamo fatti una mangiata lo scorso fine settimana. Io ero da poco tornata da un festival con vari prodotti tra cui queste salsine siciliane e non m’e’ parso vero di provarle con i miei amici. Percio’ un po’ e’ stato messo sul pane e servito come aperitivo e poi qualche giorno dopo le ho anche provate con la pasta e stanno benissimo. La migliore e’ una salsa fatta di finocchietto ragusano! Particolarissima!

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Asparagi alla salsa d’uovo – Asparagus with eggs sauce (Product testing)

Recipe 66: Today a quick recipe that i created looking for a way to use the egg yolks left from the previous recipe. So i found this easy and nice sauce, that can be used instead of mayonnaise and that is very good with asparagus… and maybe even a bit lighter!

Ingredients: asparagus, 2 egg yolks, white vinegar, a little spoon of english mustard or two of the dijon mustard, some cappers and finally some spoons of Olive Oil (i used an amazing sicilian extravegin olive oil “274“, thanks to Aprile brothers that i discovered in Identita’ London a festival about the good italian cuisine)

It’s very easy to make this sauce, especially if you have a mixer: while the asparagus are boiling for some minutes in salty hot water, place in the mixer 2 egg yolks, 1 spoon of vinegar, 5 spoons olive oil, a little spoon of mustard, some cappers. Mix it all and try, to know if it’s the case to add some salt and peppers.

When ready, drain the asparagus and place them in the plate with the sauce on the top and i hope you will enjoy them!

PS. Mamy, mi sono scoperta una vera appassionata di asparagi, sara’ per il sapore particolare e delicato … non so, ma per non mangiare sempre le stesse verdure, sono perfetti. E dato che stavo cercando di utilizzare il rosso delle uova che mi era rimasto dal dolce precedente, ho trovato questa salsina che dicono sta particolarmente bene con gli asparagi ed e’ vero! Una specie di mayonese piu’ leggera e saporita!

Pasta al sugo di carne – Pasta with the meat sauce (Product testing)

Recipe 70: After all the hard work with the veal and considering the good quantity of sauce it came with, i couldn’t resist to cook one classic italian recipe: pasta with the meat sauce… and when this is white, so without tomato sauce, i prefer it even more.

For the ingredients i can just tell you to follow the previews recipes and keep some sauce on a side in a container. The buy some good pasta, salt, Parmesan and the dish will be ready!

Speaking about pasta i just come back from Identita’ London, the International Chef Congress, and everyone was just speaking about this new shape of pasta called Calle, created by Pastificio dei Campi and the chef Gennaro Esposito… so i needed to try it!

It’s a very  high quality pasta made in Gragnano, following old traditions and with an high level of protein that maintain the pasta “al dente”. It’s also particularly rough, outside and inside, to keep better the sauce and give you a totally different experience.

The recipe it’s very easy: you will just need to boil the pasta for the time indicated, and hot up the meat sauce in a pan, waiting for it to become a bit thick and not too liquid.

Add the pasta to the sauce 2 minute before the cooking time, and finish to cook it in the pan. Here the pasta will have the time to suck the sauce and your dish will be ready.

Just add some Parmesan and Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy il tuo sugo di carne in bianco non lo supera nesuno, ma devo dire che anche quello che ho fatto con il vitel tonne’ non era niente male. Poi ho usato questa nuova pasta che ho scoperto in questi giorni, che oltre ad essere bella spessa e consistente ‘e anche particolarmente ruvida, e con il sugo di carne ci stava proprio bene. Che te ne pare?

Highlights from the Organic Food Exhibition

Last weekend i had the chance to visit the exhibition of natural and organic products organized here in London, in Olympia: the organic food you know is growing everyday more and especially here in UK, the care for natural and organic products is very high.

I was curious to know a bit more, meet the industries and the clients, but also the simple passionate: between infusions, beauty products, vitamins and healthy food, I was happy to find also a little italian group of stands. So let’s start from them.

The first stand to catch my attention was “il Panificio Zannella“, a little stand of salty natural bakery products. Maybe it’s because here there is not a big tradition of crackers and grissini, but i love all these crunchy salty snacks and these one where made in any kind of flavor.

Then i found the classic italian Olives, but this time made by an organic farm “Gaudiano” and these were very good. Moving to cheeses instead there was an amazing stand from Campania with Bufalo mozzarella, cheeses and the classic mozzarella. Thanks good they were there! The brand is “Ponte Reale“. Finally to help the sweet tooth there was the “Aiello” brand with the tozzetti biscuits and nuts covered in chocolate or almonds in sugar and chocolate. Too good!

After that i went a bit around and i discovered lots of interesting things:  first of all a new brand of infusions invented by Mr Scruff, Dj and cartoonist in life and now also producer of this “make us a brew“. Go and check their website… this tea is too funny! And coming back to the past instead, i found the Dragonfly Tea stand with also the well known TickTock brand … so vintage but always good!

Speaking about famous brands here are two protagonist of the scene: “Eat natural” with their delicious bars (I’m addicted) and known also in Italy and “Montezumas“, an organic chocolate english brand that presented, in this occasion, a new flavor: chilli and lime. I can swear it was really good, the ingredients were really well mixed with chocolate, the taste was good not too strong and i could feel the hot of the chilli and the sour of the lime. Impressive! finally i was captured by the Booja Booja Stand, where they served amazing chocolate truffles and organic ice cream!

Then i came across the stand from Ecuador and there i lost my mind: they offered me creackers with exotic organic jams! Banano, papaya, mango…delicious! and then i tried the platano crisps called “Plantain chips” and they were super tasty!

Finally i will spend two words for some new products i tested there and that i want to recommend: from Hungary i discovered some organic salty or sweet snack made by millet and produced by “I love bio“. Then a brand for children “Ella’s kitchen“: it’s a family of organic products for babies from juices to food, but really really nice… no one could resist to their stand!

I also discovered a nice brand for wheat and gluten free products. It was full of this kind of stands, but this is my choice after i tried some of their tasty products, Hale&Hearty. Last but not the least, i present you The Granola from Rude Healt. I love granola and this was really good: they serve it in little plastic glasses with some white yogurt.

I would like then to open a little chapter on Fruit Juice: i went there hoping to find my favorite one and classic in Italy, the pear juice but instead there wasn’t any not even here. However i found 2 nice juice organic brands that i can suggest: Organic Village where i tried a peach juice really reach in fruit and not just watery, and Elite Naturel from Turkey that use to do pear juice and other weird but very good fruit juices like Quince Juice. I never seen this fruit before!

PS. Mamy l’altra settimana sono andata ad un’altra fiera, questa volta era tutta di prodotti naturali e organici, da creme di bellezza a integratori a prodotti culinari. Anche questa volta ho trovato un gruppo di stands italiani, ma erano un po’ pochini! Diciamo che  ho soprattutto fatto un giro tra i prodotti organici che vanno di piu’ qui in Inghilterra: da quelli senza glutine, a prodotti naturali dall’ecuador o dal brasile, a famosi marchi inglesi che si trovano in ogni supermercato. Immagina che ho anche chiesto se ci fosse qualcuno specializzato in prodotti aproteici ma non ho trovato nulla! Comunque ha partecipato un numero incredibile di  persone. In Inghilterra c’e’ veramente la fissazione per l’organico!

Tortellini cream, ham and peas: product testing 3 Dolce vita event (-44 weeks)

Recipe 92: to finish with the products from the Dolce Vita event, i will propose you a classic recipe my mum used to cook often and that i love with all myself… and it’s really easy too.

For this dish for two people i used: Ricotta and spinach tortellini 250gr (kindly offered by Giovanni Rana, sponsor of the event), 100 gr of single cream, 50gr ham, 100 gr of frozen peas, half onion, some butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Put some butter in a pan with half of an onion chopped in little pieces. Let this cook and in the meantime defrost the peas in some boiling water and salt. When these are tender put them in the pan with the onion and the ham cut in little pieces.

At this point you can put the tortellini in some boiling water with salt and after just a minute they will be ready. Now I have also to admit that this brand is the one i normally use here like in Italy, if  I can’t find them fresh. The pasta is quite thick and this allows you to cook them without have mash tortellini, and the filling it’s really tasty.

In the meantime pour the single cream in the pan with the peas and the ham, and leave it until gets thick. Drain the tortellini and put them in the pan and mix it all.

When they have absorbed all the sauce, place the tortellini, peas and ham in a plate and add some Parmesan.

The dish is ready! Enjoy!

PS. Mamy ti ricordi questa ricetta??? quanto mi piace! L’ho riproposta con questi tortellini, anche se forse con quelli al prosciutto viene meglio! E come vedi fortunatamente abbiamo anche qui il buon Giovanni Rana che ci salva la cena!

Linguine pesto and prawns – product testing 2 Dolce vita event

Recipe 93: From the Dolce Vita event and Foodinthecity, i have the pleasure today to present you some new real high quality and truly original italian products: the pasta from Pastificio dei campi and the organic products from Sommariva.

I found this pasta really special: so traditional in the taste and in the consistency, but so innovative for the packaging and the blog they run. A real discovery! The Pesto from Sommariva instead is Bio and made with the best ingredients from Liguria, where the recipe comes from.

With these genuine products i could have done a simple pasta with pesto, sure of an amazing result, but to make it a bit special i decided to add some prawns, so… here are Linguine Pesto e Gamberetti.

The ingredients i used for 2 people are: 250 gr. of Linguine di Gargnano – Pastificio dei Campi (you can find them in Harvey Nicholson too), 150 gr. of peeled prowns, 100 gr. of Pesto Genovese Bio Sommariva, 1 red chili, a clove of  garlic, fresh parsley, Parmesan, olive oil, 25gr butter, a glass of white wine and salt.

Put some olive oil in a pan with a crashed clove of garlic and a sliced chili. Add some parsley leaves, prawns, let them cook a bit and then add some butter to let the prawns get a bit colored.

In the meantime put the linguine in some boiling water, add some salt and let them cook for around 8 minutes.

You will need to add some white wine to the prawn because they will be quite dry and the wine will give them a little twist in the taste.

At this point open the pesto, breath and prepare yourself to enjoy this plate! 🙂 if you will try a little spoon of the sauce, you will really taste the pine nuts and the basil. Fantastic! Put some of this in the plates where you will serve the pasta and add some hot water to make it less dense and easier to be absorbed by the pasta.

When the pasta is almost cooked, drain it and pass it in the pan with the prawns. Mix until the sauce is absorbed and then place it in the final plates.

Mix again the linguini until all the pesto is well absorbed and all the pasta has the same color.

Add some Parmesan and Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy non si che buoni questi prodotti: le linguine le fanno a Gragnano, mentre il pesto Biologico viene direttamente dalla Liguria. Li ho trovati alla Dolce Vita e ne sono rimasta entusiasta. Poi con i gamebretti insaporiti dal prezzemolo, peperoncino e una spruzzata di vino bianco, le linguine al pesto hanno fatto una riuscita fantastica!

The Italian Aperitif: product testing Dolce vita event

I will open my new “Product testing” category writing about some of the elements to prepare a good italian aperitif… that i miss sooo much.

At the Dolce Vita Event there were really too many things i could have bought, but here i have some selection: cheeses, olives and a drink of course.

Between the big variety of cheeses presented in the event i choose some Gorgonzola made with goat cheese, some Robbiola, some Toma from Piemonte, another very strong and tasty cheese similar to Pecorino and finally some Parmesan. It can never miss.

Here i need to thanks Lemons and Co, for their amazing Nero D’avola Cream that made the meal even richer and tastier. Lemon and Co, provides quality sicilian products like jam and sauces (i tried the olives and almonds one… very very good) and this innovative cream made from this quality of red wine grapes very characteristic in the island. It’s perfect with hard seasoned cheeses.

Then i need to admit it: i love olives and when i saw the Sapori D’Italia stand i couldn’t resist and i bought some marinated green pitted olives called Boscaiola (very big), and some marinated mixed vegetables called Antipasto!  They are a family-run business with shops here in UK and i was really happy to find all these traditional products there.

Unfortunately the only thing that was missing in the event, was a nice stand with Italian bread… i miss the Rosette and the Casareccio bread sooo much!Let’s see if someone will bring it in the next edition. I also hope in some Mortadella… please!

And to close the aperitif i have to mention another traditional protagonist of my italian Aperitivi in the local square: Il Bellini.

When i saw this little nice bottle between all the wines and liquor stands, it was emotion! Ok it’s not fresh made but do you know what it means to look for fresh white peaches with some taste here in London???

Produced by Canella, they have also a really nice blog.

So WELCOME to the Bellini Cocktail and good Aperitivo to everyone!

PS. Mamy questi sono alcuni dei prodotti che ho trovato all’evento di cui ti dicevo. Alcuni li abbiamo comprati ed altri mi sono stati regalati per testarli. Non sai che piattini con tutte queste delizie!