Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zucchini flowers with anchovies and melty cheese

For the batter you'll need:
100 gr of beer (or water, ut beer's better, you get to drink the rest while cooking) 
150 gr of flower
2 eggs
a pinch of salt 
a pinch of pepper
(enough batter for 15 flowers, but you can use it for cauliflowers, zucchini, onions...) 
Wash the flowers thoroughly, taking out the stems and cutting off the leafstalk.  
Wash the salt off the anchovies , cut thin slices of the cheese you plan to stuff the flowers with. Mozzarella does fine.
Cover them in batter and have a pan full of boiling oil waiting. Better if frying oil. 
Stuff anchovies in flowers, (one each) and the cheese. Cover them in batter, carefully because they easily rip and let all the stuffing out while cooking. 
Fry them about 5/7 minutes.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Driving Miss Mommy

So I'm learning to drive. Why I don't have a driving licence at the age of ** (NOT telling!) is a long story, I'll make it short by telling why I've finally decided. I'm just so sick and tired of asking for rides, waiting for late people in the cold and need more independence. I've been doing just fine wih public transportation up to now, but trying to walk in high heels, with grocery, a school backpack and an umbrella on a ridiculous sidewalk, in the rain, holding your son's hand is just not fun anymore.
I passed the quizzes just fine, but now I gotta get driving practice. I always knew it wasn't easy to drive in Rome, and today I found out why. BigGuy decides he could spare some time this morning, so we headed off in the morning traffic. It was a stop-n'go every second. My leg hurts from the clutch pedal (I hope this driving stuff won't affect muscles only on one would be awful) but we got to destination ok. Ok means the car went off just a couple of times, and no one was harmed. Had a coffee, then BigGuy tells me he's running late for a business meeting so we gotta head back home and yes, I'll have to drive home too. Motorcycles everywhere, cops, ambulances, old folks on bikes...where is everyone going! Just stay home!
Maybe the amount of caffeine, the sun, wrong shoes or what ever it was, but at 2 minutes from home, I step on the brake to hard an a car crashes into us. Great. Out comes a short santa-look-a-like, with the whole beard thing going, a french beret and a little scarf around his neck. Clearly a painter. An old nice cute painter which just excused me, patted my arm and gave us his card. Come by for a coffee, he offered. Or chamomile.

Disposable Clothes

What's up with ironing anyway? Can we say we are modern people?
 We haven't even invented disposable wear-one-time clothes yet! How much fun would shopping be then? Every other week, shopping sprees galore!!
"Honey I have to buy something to wear... for Saturday Sunday and next Monday".  Ups... there's a spot on this. In the wash? No! In the bin...
Who needs space missions.... get down to earth and invent something really USEFUL!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumn In Rome part II

We call them simply "ottobrate",  those days in October when the  air is still warm, the sun is really hot around late morning, and you can count on those sunny  rays to dry at least a few loads of washes  you've stacked up during the rainy miserable days before.

Some one needed a good wash too.....Littleguy's fave comfort toy

First Month's UPS and downs...and codfish

My first month as a blogger. Sometimes I was into writing more than I had the time for. Sometimes I wouldn't even turn on my computer.
Sometimes I wanted to take pictures of thing I was cooking, but had already brought it  to the table. And started eating !
 Once I made a beautiful (and delicious!) cake. But couldn't find my camera. So it got eaten, no pics, no post. But a full tummy!
 It's not a job for me, but a fun moment in which I feel I want to share something I made, and for the only purpose of EATING it , or bringing it to friend's house for dinner.
Talking of which  I have to come up with some  really good cake or dessert  to bring over to my new friend's house, she's been talking about this dinner for a while. She's brazilian, and I found out that over there codfish is one of the important bases of meals. I just tried codfish this summer for the first time (OMG my mouth is watering... it's only 11,20 am!!) deep fried in batter and I must admit I adore it. In Italian calling someone  baccala' (codfish) is usually associated with not beeing very smart, or not knowing how to act in different occasions.... I know italians are wierd. So I never even  WANTED to eat this fish.
I've been missing out on a lot of things 'cause of their name. How silly is that? 
 Back to my friend L., she lured me into this dinner by promising codfish. Brazilian style. Can't wait.  Must find something yummy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.

And find your shoulder to light on.To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond".

(An Irish Blessing)

Thank you for these heartwarming words, 
The butterfly lover in me.


It's just one of those days... the sun never even showed up today and  it's so dark it's been looking like 6 pm since this morning. Everyone feels sleepy, sometimes bored or depressed.  But then you sit down and think about things that brighten up your day  just thinkin' about them ....and those for me today  are.....


1)  Littleguy's kisses and funny faces, and how proud he is of himself when he makes me laugh 'till I'm breathless. He'll keep at whatever funny thing he's doing and won't stop till I got tears in my eyes.

                                                                                    2) Getting an email from an old friend you haven't seen in ages....but you treasure in your heart, and find out she's doing well...

                                                                                          3) Making loads of pink icing, cover cupcakes in it and then, spoonful at a time, clean the bowl you've made it in.

4) Sleep till late on Sundays, and get a  good morning kiss  and breakfast in bed

                                                                                             5) Hang out with people you know so well, you can tell them what they're thinking.

6) A good fresh glass of white wine  for a summer aperitivo.

BigGuy enjoying the Mediterranean
7) Being rocked by the waves when you're sleeping on a boat and awaking in a new place.

                                                                                                                                                                    8)  Having someone taste something you've spent hours cooking, and LOVE it.

9) Smell baking bread on your early morning jog.

10)  Feel satisfied by what you have and what you're doing in life and don't give a damn of what all the world thinks.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fried Chicken Viennese and One-Person Potato Gateau (and peas)

So Friday  I recived the equivalent to "mastering the art of french cooking"  for the italian classic cooking.  A pass-me-down from my Mom, a book dated 1968, even if the author started writing her recipes in 1915.  It's called " Il Talismano della Felicita'"  a fat book of 1150 pages  which translates into " The Talisman of Happiness".  Reassuring title isn't? Except for the ugly guy on the cover...
At least two of my gf's have it and put it to use, regularly and with great results. My copy is pretty worn out, inside I found  leaflets of recipes, notes, and arrows all over. Can't wait to add some of my notes too.
 It's a  Sunday afternoon,  awful weather, LittleGuy's recovering from a small flu... Desperate Housewives season 7 has been downloaded, what is there more to do?  
Opening the fridge this big whole  chicken stares back at me from his beheaded neck...ookk I'll cook you ! Give the fat book some use!

I cut  up the chicken, divided it in 6 parts and let it marinate in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, salt and  chopped up  parsley.   For two hours.

I used: 
A whole lemon's juice
a pinch of salt
a spoonful of mixed pepper (pink, white, black)
30 gr of extra virgin olive oil
10/15 leaves of chopped up parsley
A whole chicken about 1 kg weight
one egg 
breadcrumbs enough to cover all the chicken parts
Frying oil

After having the meat marinate, pat it dry, dip in the egg you have previously beaten up, then cover it well in bread crumbs and deep fry it. 
I must say it was tasty. 

I also wanted to make an appetizer, so I vapor cooked 6 small potatoes for about 25 minutes,  then processed them a few seconds, added two eggs, 4 slices of  Spanish salami (oh so very tasty and  slightly smoked) cut up in small dices, parsley and 30 grams of grated  Parmesan.  I filled up three small baking tins (previously buttered) of this thick potato cream, and covered the top with breadcrumbs.  A little butter-flake and in the oven, 40 minutes at 180°. 

there's a pea in the picture too....That's what Littleguy had instead of Gateu... (No Mushy thing for me Mommy!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Country for young Women

Does it happen to you too?  Those mornings  when everything seems to start in the wrong way, you wake up late, you poke your eye real hard  while trying to slip your contacts lenses in, you mess up your son's sandwich for school, your kid takes ten (TEN!!) minutes to tie his shoe, you step in a puddle and wet your socks... But the worst part is looking into the mirror and this unknown face looks right back at you aghast. So I took a decision, my beautician center was going to see me real early that morning. It's a fancy place, all decorated in pink, with Marylin and butterfly pictures all over, pink feathers, pink curtains and a big pink sofa.

 But.. I forgot they don't open at 9, but at 9:30. So I sat out there, without a jacket, waiting, my butt freezing on the cold marble seat.
 I hate to be the first customer, the girls need a little time to get everything ready,but they're always so nice and welcoming, they let me right in and made me coffee.  I told them I felt like an old battered  shoe, I needed some pampering, so  started  out with a manicure and chatted away. They are my age, late twenties early thirties, and we always have a lot to chat about. Two of them come from far, one of these girls takes a train and a subway (2 hrs travel) to get to work. But when she worked closer to home, out of Rome, she earned 400 euros a month , working 8 hrs a day for  5 days a week. That's almost slavery!   Another one rides a bus for an hour, but  they both  live on their own, trying to make ends meet with  900 euros divided between 450 euros of rent, plus  food and  paying bills. They are worried to go out for a pizza with girlfriends, or to the movie's to see Clooney' s latest.  Everything costs soo much.  When they go on vacation in the summer ( a week, not much more) they have taken 100 euros a month out of their paycheck to be able to afford it. How can I blame them for saying they wish they found a rich old guy to marry?  How are they ever going to think about settling down and having  a family?  Italian government is getting always worse, and we always hear the news tell us "Italians don't have kids anymore" . How can we afford to? We don't want to have starving kids! Wanna be a mommy? Hope you get your job back once your child is in pre-school, or even worse, hope you don't get "mysteriously" fired once your bosses find out you're pregnant.  Or,  you can work all your life, slow down in your early forties, decide to have a kid and hope you get one by that age. I have nothing against moms in their 40's, I just can't figure out where they find their energy to run after a toddler. I get tired just thinking about it. They received a large platter of Choc chips....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forgot the FurryGuys!

I told you about BigGuy, LittleGuy, but I totally forgot my other two housemates! Part of our family since 2008, Grisman arrived as a small black hairball, two big bat-like ears and the  bad habit of sucking on your clothes. He probably didn't have enough time with his mommy, and came   from an animal shelter. He's know a six-kilo chubby guy. But he 'll still suck on your clothes.
If you're wondering, his name means nothing at all, Littleguy made it up, sounded good and  just stuck.

Second arrival to the family, Luna. She has a sad story, beaten 'till her tail broke, her kittens were taken away from her as soon as they were born, and she was thrown, in bad shape, into the same shelter Grisman came from. She's pretty, and loudmouthed.

Here they are just beeing basket cases.

Chocolate chips cookies the best 'Till now

My mom makes them, a tradition that comes from over the ocean. I've been eating the dough since I was a toddler, and my mom tried to bake some before I could eat the whole batch.   I don't think she learned them from her Mom, Grandma can't really cook or so say her kids. She can bake, or at least used to.  My Mom's cookies are kinda tall, fluffy, and never real hard or crunchy. They're wierd. I never could bake a batch like those. I always miss out on the extra fluffy. Mine are salty some times, burnt on other occasions (like when I tried o make a good impression/welcome treat for one of my dear friends new significant other: HI! Sooo happy to meet you. Have a BAD cookie!) but this time I adapted a recipe I found, made the best of my mistakes,  and got the best out of it. BigGuy just had his second breakfast wolfed down about 6, and a cappuccino.  When making ravioli at the market  just friday I bought manitoba flower. I think that may be the secret to the consistency I got today.

This is what you'll need:
100 gr of dark chocolate
100 gr of white chocolate with hazelnuts
230 gr of cake  flour
240 gr of manitoba flower
a small SMALL pinch of salt
280 gr of light brown sugar
230 gr of white sugar
100 gr of salted butter
130 gr of margarine
10 gr of vanilla extract
7 gr of baking powder
half a glass of milk
2 medium eggs

Coarsely chop up the chocolate an leave on a side. Process sugars and butters, I have a machine called BIMBY  ( which I adore, it does most of the job) which heats while processing. I heated it to 37° and had it process and fluff up the butter and sugar for 5 min.  Stir in the other ingredients, flower, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, till they look really sticky. Then add the milk, have it amalgamate into the other ingredients then add the chocolate.  Have the dough sit overnight, or about 12 hrs.

Heat the oven to 180° , in the meantime make small  meatball-like  balls, then flatten them in your palms, and spread over cooking sheet.  Put no more than 6 at a time, they will  widen and stick  to each other.
 Cook  for about 20 minutes.   These are mine on the breakfast table.

Buon appetito!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Home made ravioli di carne (meat ravioli)

Walkin around the local market today I was breathing in the delicious smells of hot bread, cakes, and much more (no, not the fish, it's unbearable in the morning) and walked in front of the cheese spot, where white, pure and fresh, sat a big ricotta cheesecloth.  Ricotta has a pretty neutral taste, so you can use it in cakes, or in ravioli.
I had a one moment thought, walked in and bought enough to make tortelli, then asked the shopowner if  at the market I could buy the shapes for making ravioli, bought it  and went home happy. 

I made the broth with: 
 chicken, one zucchina, one carrot and guanciale (wich is pig's cheeck, very similar  for taste to bacon...just fatter! )
I had that cook for an hour, then processed all that for about 30 seconds, added also the ricotta and put it aside for the stuffing. 
 For the pasta itself, for 3 people, I used 300 grams of flower and  10 grams of extravirgin olive oil, and 3 medium eggs.  Worked  it well for about 5 minutes. Then I opened the box with the  ravioli shape, inside there was also a small rolling pin.

 Wich broke, almost immediately.  Made a great deal did'nt I?

I layed the pasta on the shapes, stuck the stuffing in (not more than a teaspoon)  and then covered it up with more pasta.

Rolled the (broken) little rolling pin a few times, then took out the big, non-cut ravioli out of the shape. 

I'm not going to say they came perfect (  put too much stuffing in some) or that it was an easy afternoon  (Two fell on the floor and could not be saved) but the worst part was cleaning up. You do know how eggs stick, right?  Well my wooden kitchen counter needed a looong scrub to remove everything at the end. 

But they look cute. And hopefully good. 

I made a very simple sauce with olive oil, onion, tomato and cream.  Cooked the ravioli for 10 minutes, and then covered them in sauce. Didn't have time for a picture, the Guys wolfed them down! Will repeat the recipe!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Marmalade pies - chestnut and apricot

Tonight we're DAD-Less. He's out for work, and me and Littleguy have dinner very early whan he's not around. I had  Littleguy help me make two marmalade pies, one with apricot marmalade homemade from my friend's polish wife, and the other with cheastnut marmalade, wich I adore. And the guys hate, so I made a  one-man-pie.
 (crema di marroni in italian)
(Albicocche in italian)

The little stars  are stolen from Littleguy's favourite cereal,  I did not make those!
This is how I made the dough:
 Peel one lemon, processes it for  10 seconds real high, then add 80 gr of sugar, 130 gr of margerine, 300 gr of flower, 1 egg and one egg yolk,  and one spoonful of baking powder.  Littleguy made the "worms" as he called the dough stripes, in fact it looks like a woven basket, more than a pie.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Autumn In Rome

Despite the 26° we're having, for the leaves autumn has arrived, and the many parks in Rome start showing the signs of change.
 Green is slowly leaving place to yellow, light orange and dark red leaves all over.  

There is no better season for a walk in the park, savouring the last heat and watching the tutles bake in sun  and fish swimming away in the pond. Near my place there are two parks, one is mostly chosen for dog-walking, hasn't much to see but finally this summer hosted a nice jazz  festival, if you're in Rome in August you should try to spend an evening there... here's the link . The other park is just beautiful, that's were I went this morning, Villa Doria Pamphilj and as many parks in Italy used to be  country homes of wealthy families, now property of the Government.  
They actually had Gheddafi hang out there for a week  with catering, tents, and pretty girls. 

The oldest "palazzo" dates back to 1630. There are  hedge labyrinths, eleborated fountains, a jogging center, and a very modern bridge to cross from one side to the other.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BROCCOLI tonight!

Well yes, mea culpa, my 8yr old has NEVER eaten broccoli.  Maybe I'm concerned 'cause he's my first (and only, for now) child,  and I don't have a wide experience, or maybe   memories of my childhood  come back when he stares at his plate in disgust.  I remember sitting silently through  meals staring at veggies or moving them around in my plate hoping the zucchini  would  magically dissapear, or the peas would  evaporate if I rolled  them fast enough around the plate.

So I really never forced him, or in any case DID'NT HAVE TIME to sit through meals for hours trying to convince him he'd like them. And, we all know, you change your likings as you grow.

Here is Littleguy. Before the broccoli... taking a rest before facing broccoli for supper.
Well he actually DID like them,  steam cooked  with lemon, oil and salt.
 Liked them means he ate TWO.

Pasta alla Carlofortina (Sardegna)

This is  a simple sauce I learned from my  Sis (she's the cook, the seamstress  and the brain between the two of us).  She learned  it  on one of her adolecent summer trips (oh forgot to say she's the traveller too!) in  this small place in Sardegna called Carloforte, on the island of San Pietro where Genoans  exported their famous pesto!  Carlofortinians mixed it with tuna and tomato sauce, and ... there goes!

For 3 People 

  1.  250 grams of short  Pasta (pennette rigate, tortiglioni, sedanini) 
  2.  a jar of tomato sauce, better if fresh  (300 Gr) 
  3. three spoonfuls of pesto (I'll post the recipe to homemade later, promised) 
  4. two cans of tuna ( I use a large one and a small one, like it very FISHY!) 
  5. Pecorino Cheese, grated
  6. Pepper,  extra virgin olive oil. 

Let the tuna cook in the olive oil for about 5 min low flame, add the tomato sauce and mix for a while till the tuna "bumps"  dissapear into the sauce. I do not use salt, as I put  a spoon full in a litre 1\2 of    boiling water  for the pasta. Once the tuna and tomato are well mixed, add the pesto & stir till you can't see the green.  Drain the pasta a minute and a half  before the time written on the box, throw the pasta into the saucepan and mix for  a  minute, adding pecorino and pepper. 

Buon Appetito!