Category Archives: vegetables

Minestrone soup

Recipe 1: Considering I’m arrived at the end of my challenge, I needed to have a light recipe just to try to reach my target ( ok it’s impossible but why not try) and so the last recipe it’s minestrone. That’s something I always use to eat when my mum does it because is something hot, fullfilling and healty. With a bit of parmesan on top then is delicious!

I love also the blended version also called in french ‘potage’. That’s my favourite! It’s always good to have some of it in the fridge and take it out when you don’t really know what to eat.

The ingredients my mum uses for 3 people are:  a little piece of celery, 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, half onion, a quarter of cabbage, 1 potato, some parsley, a garlic clove, 150 gr beans 130gr chopped tomatoes, 1 stock and water.

The process is a bit long but easy: place some olive oil in a pan and hot it up. Then add the finely chopped onion, garlic cloves and parsley. When the onion starts to become goldish, add the peeled tomatoes sauce and the beans already drained by the water.

Mix it all and let it cook. In the meantime cut the cabbage in thin slices and then in half again. Add it to the saucepan and pour a good quantity of water. Mix all the ingredients every now and then to avoid them to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Wash and cut in cubes the courgettes, the carrots and the potato, and then add them too to the pan. Let it cook for around 20-30 minutes and then have a try to know if it’s missing some salt, pepper or anything else.
When the Borlotti are cooked, add the pasta if you want: the right pasta shape for this dish are little tubs but quite thick.

Let the pasta cook in the same pan with the soup so the starch released will give taste and thickness to the minestrone. When ready, serve it hot with some grated Parmesan, parsley or simply olive oil if you like it.

PS. Mamy il minestrone m’e’ venuto benissimo un po’ piu’ denso e meno verde del tuo, sospetto per la verza che era bella grossa e l’ho usata tutta… ah che bello finalmente posso fare anche io il minestrone qui!!! Come sono contenta!

Mousse di mele – Apple mousse with zabaione

Recipe 3:  when my mum did this dessert for the first time i was amused by the fact that was so good but not massively heavy. Being based on apple this is the perfect dessert after a quite heavy dinner with lots of courses.

Ingredients for 6 people: 1 kg. of  Golden apples, limon zest, 4ooml whip cream, 100 gr. of sugar. For the Zabaione: 3 eggs, 6 spoons of sugar and 100gr of whip cream, some spoons of Marsala or porto wine and cinnamon.

Start the preparation cutting all the apples in little pieces, taking of the skin e put them to cook with 2 spoons of  water, some lemon zest and the sugar. Leave it there until soft and keep on mixing until dry but take care to don’t let them stick to the pan. Add some more water if needed.

Let them cool down and pass all in a mixer. Then whip the cream and add it to the apple mix to create the mousse. When ready, just place it in the fridge.

Now you need to prepare the Zabaione :  Mix 3 egg yolks with sugar until creating a creme, add some marsala or porto wine and cook putting the recipient in another saucepan full of hot water and on the fire. We call this way to cook “bagno maria” so the fire is not in direct contact with the ingredients but they get cooked by the hot water.

Mix until getting thick and when ready leave it in a side to cool down. Then add the whipped cream and put in the fridge on top of the apple mousse.
Serve with some cinnamon on top and enjoy!

While the apples mix can be prepared the day before and put it in the fridge, the zabaione need to be prepared the same day that you are going to serve it and placed on top of the mousse and in the fridge. In this way, this recipe it’s perfect when you have guests and you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen or fight with the oven!

PS. Mamy, questo dessert ha battuto ogni aspettativa…anche da parte mia! a me che non piace molto lo zabaione, il misto con la mousse di mele e’ sembrato meraviglioso. Insomma addirittura meglio di cio’ che ricordassi! Buonissimo…io c’ho pure aggiunto una spruzzata di cannella all fine!

Roasted veal with mashroom and cheese sauce (-1 week)

Recipe 4: This is the last meat dish i miss of all my mum recipes. Of course there are more out there than these that i insert in the blog, but these for me are the best and the roasted veal with mushrooms and cheese sauce it couldn’t miss.

I cook this meat in a friends place and it was great to spend the cooking time with a chat and a glass of wine instead to be alone and waiting for the meat to be ready… and they simply loved the dish!

Ingredients for 4 people: 700gr of veal shoulder (i found it in Waitrose), 200gr mushroom, 125gr grated Emmenthal, 500ml milk, 3 spoons of flour, 4 spoons of butter, 1 spoon of olive oil.

Put some oil in a big sauce pan and place the meat in there to cook slowly for around 1hour, 1hour and half, turning the meat every now and then.  In another pan place a spoon of butter and the mushrooms finely chopped. Cook them for 15 minutes.

Then start preparing the besciamella like explained here, and put some spoons of besciamella in the mushrooms with all the grated Emmenthal and steer.

When the meat is all well colored, cut it in slices, so you can als check the state of the cooking. Place the meat on a baking pan with some alluminium foil. Put some of the mushroom and cheese sauce under the meat, betweek the slices and on top.

Place all in the oven already hot, but at a low temperature for a round one hour, but it also depends by the status of the meat if it’s already well coocked or not. I suggest you to cover it with alluminium paper  and then take it of the last 10-15 minutes before to serve it. In this way it will be crusty on top but not burn.

PS. Mamy questa carne e’ il massimo! Era proprio la ricetta mancante per completare il blog. La salsa poi e’ inresistibile …dovevi vedere le facce dei miei amici!

Patate gratinate – Grilled potato pie (-5 weeks)

Recipe 13:  This is a fantastic recipe for children or guests. It’s light, easy, quick, you can prepare it in advance and it’s perfect as a side dish for fish or meat. Finally everyone Love it!

I cooked it for Christmas to complete the fish dish and I thought it was the perfect treat for my family in this lovely day. Let’s don’t think too much about the line in Christmas! However everything was grilled and not fried… so we have not been so naughty!

The ingredients for 4 people are: 800gr potatoes, 50 gr Emmenthal, 60 gr butter, 10gr breadcrumbs, 200gr cream, a bit of salt and pepper.

Clean the potatoes from the skin and boil them until soft but not too much. Cut them in slices and prepare a baking pan with some baking paper or butter and flour. Grate the cheese and then place a first layer of potatoes in the pan with some of the cheese, salt and the butter.

Then create a second layer exactly in the sameway and then a third until you finish all the ingredients. At this point cover all with the cream and then add some breadcrumbs and the rest of the parmesan mixed together on top to let it create a nice crust all over.

Considering everything is already cooked you will need just 15minute and maybe a bit of grill at the end. Then serve hot it with your main dish and enjoy!

PS. E si sa che le patate in qualsiasi modo le cucini sono sempre un successo, ma tranne la crema eil formaggio che non sono proprio light, penso che questo sformatino valga proprio la pena…sempre meglio delle patate fritte ed un po’ piu’ raffinato delle patate al forno! Voi che dite v’e’ piaciuto?

Christmas menu’: it’s missing just one month at the end!

Now i will present you the Christmas menu i created with some of the last recipes I miss to include in this blog. You have to consider we don’t eat meat in Christmas Eve, so i needed to cook fish!

Starter: Crispy bread with Lobster pate’

Pasta: Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon and cream of courgettes

Main dish: Grouper fish fillets with Grilled potatoes pie

Dessert and fruit: Cinnamon apples, panettone, pandoro and classic Christmas nougats.

PS. Mamy direi che non ne e’ uscito un brutto menu’ no???

Carciofi alla romana – Artichokes in the roman way (-9 weeks)

Recipe 21: When i came back in Italy last week, my mum was already cooking Artichokes. I love them and this is one of the 2 season. In London it’s not so easy to find good artichokes, but i went in Portobello Market hoping to find some of them.

I have to say they were quite big and hairy, but fine…i just wanted to cook some. So here the recipe for the roman and my mum way to cook them: you will just need one big or 2 little artichokes for person, some parsley, garlic in powder i prefer, lemon, olive oil, pepper and salt.

Remove the toughest of the outer leaves. Snip off any sharp leaf tips. Snap the stalk off at the base and remove the tough fibres running into the base where possible. Pull out the central cone of thinner leaves to reveal the inedible fibrous ‘choke’ (this may not be present in smaller baby artichokes). Carefully scrape this out with a teaspoon, leaving the prized heart in place. Then put the artichoke in acidulated water (e.g. water with a good squeeze of lemon juice added) for around half an hour.

Place the garlic cloves or powder in a pan with some olive oil. When they starts to get goldish, take them out and add the artichokes and some finely chopped parsley. You can also put some parsley and garlic clove directly in each artichoke, like my mum uses to do, but i don’t like so much the taste of garlic and i prefer to put some garlic powder on top.

Add some simple water or stock water and leave it cook for about 40 minutes. Add other “brodo” or stock water if needed. Artichokes are cooked when you can easily pull out an inner leaf and the stem is tender. Or you can just insert a fork in the lateral side of the artichoke and feel the consistency of it. If tender, they are ready.

Now just place it on a plate and serve it hot with a bit of their sauce! Enjoy!

PS. Mamy certo non saranno mai i carciofi buoni di Roma, ma almeno ho capito come si fanno! Diciamo che questi erano un po’ troppo grossi, ma il cuore era buonissimo! C’ho fatto anche la pasta!

Fiori di zucca fritti – Fried courgettes’ flowers (- 10 weeks)

Recipe 23: This is a recipe that it’s quite difficult to realize in UK, just because it’s almost impossible to find the courgettes’ flowers in here. By the way it’s so typical, so good and i wanted to try to do it so much that i wait a week that i was back in Italy to try it. This as well couldn’t miss on my blog!

Ingredients: buy 2-3 courgette’s flower per person. Probably you can find them in spring in Borought Market also if they will be a bit more expensive than in Italy. Then buy 2 mozzarella cheeses, some anchovies under oil, salt, pepper, some flour and olive oil.

Wash the flowers and let them dry. Cut the mozzarella (my mum had bufalo mozzarella… just amazing) and the anchovies in pieces big enough to enter in the flowers.

Open them a bit, insert the cheese and the anchovies add some salt and pepper and close them as you can. Prepare now the Pastella, a mix of flour and water.

You will need the pastella to cover the flower before to fry them, so i can’t really give you teh quantity of flour and water. Just mix a big quantity and if it’s to liquid you can always add more flour or pass the flower in more flour after (as i did). However thicker it is and more crunchy and crispy are coming the flowers.

Then place them in boiling oil and wait for them to cook, turning them every now and then. When ready and colored, take them off and place them on an absorbing kitchen paper before to serve them still hot!

It will be a success! Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy che te ne pare? alla fine ci sono venuti benino no? Io avrei fatto la pastella piu’ corposa, ma era cosi tanto che no  li mangiavo che tra la mozzarella di bufala ed il fatto che in casa rimangono piu’ leggeri, me li sono proprio goduti!

Fiori di Zucca fritti

The witch’s Halloween souffle’ (-12 weeks)

Recipe 28:This Halloween i really didn’t have the time to organize a fancy dress party and not even a real Halloween menu, but i have still invited some friends at home. So i simply decided to stick to the orange as an Halloween theme and i made pasta with pumpkin and mushroom, and this double color souffle that i always loved.

Very delicate in the taste, it’s made by vegetables and besciamella sauce mixed together. Here are the ingredients: 500 gr. of frozen chopped spinach, 250 gr of carrots, 50 gr of butter, 3eggs, 30 gr Parmesan, 50 gr flour, 300ml of milk, salt, nutmeg.

Wash, peal and boil the carrots. When ready cut them finely and place it in a pan with 25gr of butter. In the meantime, boil also the chopped spinach and when ready, drain them and leave it in one side to cool down.

Add to the carrots 25gr of flour and 125ml of milk and mix it all for around 10 minutes, or until it gets thick. You will create in this way a light besciamella that you will need to let cool down after adding the 15gr Parmesan, the salt and nutmeg.

When the spinach are cold, add a yolk egg  and mix. In another pan you will prepare some more besciamella also for the spinach: 25gr butter with 25gr flour and around 150-200ml of milk. Stir all until it get thick and when a bit cold, add it to the spinach with 15gr Parmesan and some salt.

Add to egg yolk to the carrots too and put all the white parts of the egg to whip up in the mixer. 2 parts of this will need to go in the carrots and one part in the spinach.

Now let’s prepare the backing pan putting some butter on the inside, covered in flour to don’t make the souffle’ stick. Place the spinach mix first and then the carrots one.

At this point my mum use to cook this in teh oven but a “bagno maria” so in another conteiner with boiling water. In this way the souffle is not in direct contact with the hot. I didn’t have any other big container so i place it in the oven at 200 degree for one our with a bit of pieces of butter on the top. It was really good anyway…maybe a bit harder than a souffle’, but still easy and nice.


When the souffle’ is cooking, don’t open the oven or it will collapse. When you think is ready, try a tooth pick in the inside and if it’s dry, you can directly turn it on a plate and serve it. If you will wait it will collapse again.

So serve it hot straight away. I added some Parmesan but also without it’s very good. Enjoy!

PS. Beh  mamy non m’e’ venuto male anche se non l’ho cotto a bagno maria no? Il problema e’ che per farlo staccare dal recipiente ho aspettato e come volevasi dimostrare mi s’e’ ammosciato e la parte arancione quasi non si vede. Ma che buono!

Homemade mayonnaise and russian salad – Insalata russa

Recipe 29: In the office they decide to organize a little Halloween party and i wanted to help out with some food. But what i could cook considering we don’t have any oven? It also has to be something easy to bring. So because someone else was thinking about the desserts, and we were going to have cheese and wine all night, i decided to prepare some Insalata russa, that you can easily eat with bread and crackers.

Ingredients for a starter for 8 people: 3 big potatoes, 5 carrots, 150gr peas, 5 eggs, some anchovies in olive oil, some capers, half of a little spoon of mustard, a lemon, a glass of olive oil, a bit of vinegar, salt and pepper.

For the mayo i suggest you to use a mixer because otherwise it will be very hard to maintain always the same speed and strength. However add 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt and start to mix, better if with a wooden spoon and always in the same sense. At this point you will add the olive oil little by little and with some lemon juice drops too.

After a bit the mayonnaise will start to become thicker, so you can add the remaining lemon juice always mixing a bit.

Wash, peel, cut and  cook all the vegetables in different pans and when boiled, cut them in little pieces. mix this with the peas, the mayo the capers and the anchovies finely chopped, salt, pepper, a bit of vinegar and mustard.

Boil the other three eggs and place it on the salad as a decoration. Place everything in the fridge and enjoy after some hour. Cold it’s better!

Otherwise another good mix is Mascarpone with capers, anchovies and parsley! That’s really great.

PS. Mamy la tua insalata russa con la maionese fatta a casa e’ stata un successo! Diciamo che dopo avre provato una volta a farla  a mano sono subito andata sul robot da cucina perche non riuscivo piu’ a mescolare, ma il risultato comunque non ha nulla a che vedere con quella che compri! Se la sono finita tutta in ufficio!

Patate Duchesse – from France but always in my mum favourites!

Recipe 30: and not only in my mum favorites…in mine and in the majority of our guests too! This is a classic dish for party because everyone like potatoes and this can be made in big quantity and the frozen to have it always ready. It’s  a long time i wanted to do them but i was missing the main tool: the Piping Bag and now i finally have one!

Ingredients for 4-5 people: 1 kilo of potatoes, 100gr butter, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, some milk, 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks.

Let’s start from the potatoes. Clean them from the skin and place them in a big sauce pan with water and salt. Let the water boil and leave them there for around 20 minutes. They need to cook but without become to soft. In the meantime in a big container place the egg, the salt, the Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Mix a bit and add the butter.

This time i had some Gorgonzola cheese left too and i decided to add it to the mix. I though the taste could go well together.

Drain the potatoes and mash them, then add them to the mix and create a smooth mix. If too hard, add some milk enough to make the mash potatoes quite creamy, but not too liquid.

Taste it and add salt pepper or nutmeg if needed. When ready, place all the content in one or more piping bag and start to create your potatoes.

Place some baking paper on the baking tray and push the bag to make the first potato duchesse. Push in the center to make it more consistent, but don’t made them too big or little.If you have a pastry brush you can paint them with an egg, otherwise just place them in the oven at 180 degree for  around 15 minutes. Check in the meantime. It will be very easy to see them take color and get ready. When they look like the picture, simply take them out and serve it!

Enjoy!

PS: mamy hai visto il tuo cavallo di battaglia come m’e’ venuto bene? Il puree era fantastico perche’ c’ho aggiunto un po’ di latte e pure di gorgonzola, percio’ quandop le addenti fuori sono croccanti e dentro belle morbide! Buonissime!