Monday, October 15, 2012

Rice Gnocchi - my style

It's been a long time since I've posted a recipe, I've been experimenting a lot lately, not only in the kitchen but also with paper and scissors and my son is turning into a crafty little man with his enthusiasm. He loves now to make things, mostly tridimensional things, with paper and glue and glitter and any object he can find loose around the house.
The main experiment in the kitchen has been in the bread compartment. I have succeeded using a US recipe posted by an Italian friend on facebook... That says it all. The recipe is super easy, especially for me. I cannot knead too much now, being 7 months pregnant and a bit short of breath at the moment. The bread made with this recipe came out very well, and I will definitely be posting it soon, because it is super easy and it worked so well for two times in a row, without any "first time failure".

Today I'll be posting about a special kind of gnocchi, Rice Gnocchi. In Italy, we used to have them often in the CHinese restaurant, however I've never seen them on any menu here in Ireland and I know my husband loves them. He didn't eat them for the past five years, but now I know how to make them myself so he's a very happy bunny :)

Ok, the word gnocchi is not too accurate, they look like slices of rice dough, but in the Italian Chinese restaurant that is what they are called, so we'll stick to that.


100 grams of rice flour for each person
50 grams of plain flour for each person
100 millilitres of water for each person.

Measure the flours.
And place them in a bowl.
Mix in the water and knead until you get a nice dough ball. If needed, add a bit of water.
Let the ball rest for 30 minutes or more in the fridge, so it firms up a bit. I left it for over an hour and it was a pleasure to work with when I took it out.
Cut a thin slice of the dough and press it down on a wooden board, then cut it in the desired shape. It should look like an ellipse, bit I didn't have any elliptical cookie cutter at hand so I just cut them in stripes.
Place all the stripes obtained on the side, and do not flour them  at all, otherwise the gnocchi might be a bit harder than what they are intended.
Prepare your condiment. For us it was chicken breast, slowly cooked with some olive oil and soy sauce, along with mushrooms, peppers and courgettes pieces. It is important that the condiment cooks slowly, so it can release the juices needed for the gnocchi.
Once the condiment is ready, put on some salted water and cook the gnocchi in batches of maximum 10 for two minutes in boiling water. 

Remove with a strainer after the 2 minutes and place over the condiment in the pan.
Once all the gnocchi are in the pan, stir fry everything for a few minutes turning and turning the contents so all the gnocchi get the chance to come in contact with the sauce.
Serve warm and enjoy. They are not heavy to digest and needless to say my 5 year old son loved them!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Filled Aubergines

It's been a long time since I last posted a recipe. We have been busy with the beginning of our son's school career :) and I have enjoyed playing with my sewing machine more than with pots and pans for last few weeks. We are also... well I am also preparing everything for the new baby that will complete our family, hopefully in December.

So, filled aubergines. I love aubergines, my son a bit less, but he needs to taste things before he can say he doesn't like them. So I tested the aubergine.


3 Aubergine's halves (I used a 4th half to cook Pasta alla Norma)
1 Breast of Chicken, cut in small cubes
1 Small Onion
10-15 Black Olives
1 glass of White Wine

Remove the inside of the Aubergines and cut is small pieces. Place them in a non stick pan with some Olive Oil and let them cook for about 5 minutes. You will see a bit of liquid will come out. Add the Chicken pieces and the sliced Onion and let the aubergine's water evaporate for a few minutes.

Add salt and pepper to your taste and make sure all sides of the chicken are white. At this stage, add the Black Olives and the glass of White Wine and let cook on medium heat, covered.

When you are satisfied the chicken is properly cooked, remove the pan from the heat and fill the Aubergines halves
Place the filled Aubergines in the same pan with the juice left from the filling cooking and let simmer on medium heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Check that the juice is still there from time to time. If it dries out during the cooking, add a bit of Wine or water.
Serve and enjoy! 
This is a very versatile recipe, meaning that you can cook any filling you like and the aubergines will still absorb the taste of it and be super yummy. You ca blend the filling so it becomes an even mixture, add cheese on top, tomato sauce instead of the wine... it's up to you, and the contents of your fridge :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Busy Weekend - Calzone

From now on, whenever I cook a pizza I will also throw in a Calzone... It's just a great way to use the pizza dough, but bear in mind it has to be a bit thinner when used to make Calzone, so to give the filling a chance to cook properly.

Now, what I found great about Calzone is that the filling keeps its moist and doesn't "burn" like the topping on a pizza.

The first and most important thing that I learned making pizza dough over the last couple of years is that it has to be quite sticky when you put it to raise. Once raised it becomes a light material in your hands and not too heavy on the digestive system.

The trick is to cover your hands in flour before "handling" it, so that it can be worked with ease.

In a non stick pan I placed some olive oil, some mushrooms, broccoli and ham pieces. When the oil started frying, I threw in some white wine and let that cook for about 10 minutes on low heat.
I placed the filling in the middle of the Calzone and topped with some pieces of Port Salut cheese.
I folded the Calzone on itself and rolled the sides up, so the cheese, melting in the oven, would not leak out of it. I also pressed the borders with a fork.
In the oven he goes at 200 degrees Celsius and out it comes in about 7 minutes.

The nose you see in the picture on the right is my son's, who suddenly was interested in broccoli and ate half of my Calzone last night :)

For a vegan version, just leave out the cheese and the ham. It tastes just as good.

A Busy Weekend - Cake of the Four Cups

On Thursday night, my son had a bad asthma crisis. My boy, he spent 10 weeks in the heath in Central Italy and just one week of Irish weather (quite dry, for a change) knocked him K.O. and we had to run to the doctor.

The worst has passed, but I had to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday inside the house, looking at the blue sky from the window. Well, it's always like that, whenever I am forced inside for some reason, there's nice weather.

So, instead of being depressed over my son's poor breathing, as soon as he started feeling better I marched to the kitchen and started cooking. It was a great way to spend the days at home; we have no TV, so I would be watching cartoons I've already watched beside my son, in and out of sleep the whole day... Nah, not my cup of tea!

So, to cheer him up I decided to make him a cake. He's allergic to eggs so I baked one without eggs. He liked it. Very much :)


1 Cup of Plain Flour
1 Cup of Corn or Potato Starch
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Milk
1 Sachet of Raising Powder for cakes

I added some chocolate pieces that I had lying around in the cupboard. You can actually add anything, raisins or other fruit chunks. The base is so simple I think it would be nice with anything.

Easy. And it actually worked for me as well, which sais a lot, because my cakes usually come out flat :)

Heat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Blend together everything :)

While it blends, butter and flour an oven safe dish. Mine is a square of about 25 centimeters and 4 centimeters deep.
 Place the mixture in it and straight into the oven.
Let cook for about 30 minutes. Then try sticking a toothpick in it. If it comes out dry, your cake is done.
I added some coating sugar on top to make it more attractive :)
Nice. No preservatives, no strange colorings, no eggs. Sick child and fussy husband enjoyed it. Give it a try. It's good for breakfast as well!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lemon Chicken Recipe - Easier than I thought...

No special ingredients, no fuss whatsoever, virtually fat-free... I just love this lemon chicken recipe. I found it on the internet yesterday and wanted to give it a try. However, it called for chicken broth, which I don't have, and yellow food coloring, which I never used and also to fry the chicken... nah, definitely too much!

So, in my version, there is nothing artificial at all, and all the ingredients are in your pantry already. Instead of a take out, why not give this a try?


1 Breast of Chicken for each person eating
Soy Sauce

For the Lemon Sauce:

1/3 of a cup of Sugar
2 tablespoons of Corn or Potato Starch
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder (it will make it nicely yellow!)
Olive Oil
2 sliced of lemon, peeled

First, turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
Then cut the chicken breasts in cubes and put it in a plate with some soy sauce to marinate.
 Now start making your Lemon Sauce.
In a small bowl place a cup of water, 1/3 of a cup of Sugar (white or brown, whatever you have at home), two tablespoons of Lemon Juice, one teaspoon of Salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder. Mix everything well and then dissolve in it the 2 tablespoons of Corn or Potato Starch and add the slices of Lemon.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil in a non stick pan and add the mixture to it, stirring.
Once you have a nice gelatinous consistency, remove from the heat and set aside, possibly covered.

Now that the oven has reached temperature, place the diced chicken in one layer in an oven dish.
Place it in the oven and let it bake nicely. Once ready, place the chicken in a bowl and add the Lemon Sauce to it, tossing well so it coats everything.

And here is what it looks like in the plate with some turmeric rice :)
By the time I took the picture I already ate half of it, my apologies. It was just super yummy ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna - One of the nicest things I've ever cooked

I'm back full blast, I was off to my parents' home in Central Italy for a week and my mother has been a huge inspiration to try new things and just cook more and more. She is the real leit-motiv behind everything, she always experimented with food;she canned tomatoes all her life, made marmalades and jams ever since I can remember, she tried to preserve all kind of fruits and vegetables by all possible means. She grows fruits and vegetables, she uses her own flour to make pasta and bread. She's an awesome woman and despite her back problems, she always did, and still does, everything she can to put together lunch and dinner everyday without going to the shop.

Yesterday during work a friend invited us to go to their place for dinner. I just wanted to try a vegetarian Lasagna recipe I had found on the internet so I told him I would be making it and bring it over so he only had to worry about the second and side dish.

You will excuse the pictures' quality; I put the Lasagna together and cooked it after work within 1 hour. I was under a bit of pressure :D


300 grams of Soft Cheese (Ricotta would be better)
1 and 1/2 jars of Pesto Sauce
1/2 pack of Lasagna Sheets (I let them boil a bit before laying them down... Again, I was in a hurry)
4 regular Mozzarellas
500 grams of Cherry Tomatoes

3 tablespoons of Flour, Olive Oil and 1 litre of Milk for the Besciamella Sauce

Ok, so first thing first, turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 

While the oven heats, wash and split in half the Cherry Tomatoes. Place them with a bit of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan on low heat with a pinch of Salt. Let them cook slowly while you do the other things.

Slice the Mozzarella in small medallions and set aside.

Mix the Soft Cheese with the Pesto Sauce in a bowl. Add a bit of Olive Oil if it seems too thick. Set this aside as well, right next to the Mozzarella.

Place some Olive Oil in a small pot, let it heat on low for a couple of minutes and then add 3 tablespoons of flour, do not stop stirring for any reason! Let the child make a mess with the crayons, the dog bark at the birds and the husband look for fresh socks as long as they please. You are making Besciamella Sauce! There is no interruption allowed. And then, after all, it's only for a few minutes!!!
Slowly add, in the small pot (stirring the whole time) the milk. Keep stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. The mixture will thicken in no time at all. Add a bit of Salt and grated Nutmeg if you like. It's Your Besciamella and it's important that it responds to Your Taste.
So, once the sauce it's done, so it's not thick nor liquid anymore, take it off the heat and keep stirring for a couple more minutes. Cover and set aside :)

Now, all the fillings are ready, so take your oven dish and put some Besciamella on the bottom. 

Then place a layer of Lasagna Sheets on it and one of Mozzarella, then Lasagna Sheets again and the Pesto-Cheese mixture. Proceed until you have the height you desire and the two fillings have been used up. On the very top place the Tomatoes and cover everything with the Besciamella sauce.

Place the Lasagna in the oven and let cook. The cooking time depends on the sheets used. Last night I was pressed for time, so, before placing the sheets in the dish, I let them boil a bit in salty water so the oven time was reduced to 20 minutes.

If you don't want to add this operation to the process and place the sheets in the dish as they are, the oven time has to be increased at least to 40 minutes.

Here is the Lasagna just out of the oven!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Turmeric Crackers - Love, love, love...

Yesterday I found a recipe for Turmeric Crackers on Facebook... I thought it was genius! We only eat turmeric - this wonder spice - when cooking oriental style rice dishes. It's not enough, because this spice is linked every day to new beneficial effects and, oh, it makes things taste good! Not to mention the interesting color :)
So, last night, after work and a bit of shopping my son and I made these crackers.


600 grams of Plain Flour
140 ml of Olive Oil
100 ml of Water
100 ml of White Wine
4 spoons of Turmeric
4 good pinches of Salt
2 pinches of Paprika

Mix everything together and you'll get something that looks like this:
Keep kneading for a few minutes until it looks like this:
Cut out a small piece and work it with your rolling pin:
Keep working until you obtain a nice thin sheet of this goodness-filled dough:
Cut as you please once on the baking paper:
Place in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes. Take them out:
With the ingredients above you'll get two of these boxes:
Total working time? About 30 minutes! They are virtually fat-free, totally yeast-free and absolutely good for you! Enjoy!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gnocchi - Picture Tutorial

I make gnocchi quite often, mainly for three very good reasons: they are super cheap to make; they are ready in no time; they only require two ingredients that I always have in the house.

Plain Flour

Now, the measurements here are quite difficult. Let's say that for 4 adults eating you will need 1 kilo of potatoes. The amount of flour I could really not tell, because you have to keep adding it to the mix until it feels right. The amount of flour mostly depends on the type of potatoes being used. So far, any potato has worked fine for me.

Now, here is the procedure step by step:

Boil the potatoes until cooked, just as you would do if making mash potatoes. If they are quite big, cut them in cubes before boiling.
Once ready, drain and place 2 cups of flour on your clean worktop. Don't worry, it won't stay that clean for too long :)
Place the potatoes on top of the flour:
Mash them with a fork:
This is what you have now:
Start folding in the flour, your hands will get stickier and stickier:
Keep kneading the mix until it becomes a ball like this. Also keep adding flour as needed.
Keep working and adding flour:
Add the flour until you can actually press with your fingers into the mix and this does not stick to them anymore:
Now that you have the mix ready, cut a piece from it and roll it into a long sausage, the thickness should be a bit more than your own finger.
Start cutting pieces out of it with a plain knife, and throw them in a tray with flour in it:
Make sure that you have all sides of each gnocco covered in flour so they don't stick to each other:
Have ready a tray where to cover them in flour and another tray where to settle them:
And this is the final result:

Now, gnocchi are easy to cook. Boil a big pot of water with salt, if you wish, and just toss them in. Turn them gently once or twice just to ensure they don't stick to each other. Once they start surfacing, they are ready to drain and dress with your favorite sauce.

A very simple option is to add butter on top of them and some sage in leaves or powder. They are magnificent this way.

Another option is to prepare a very simple tomato sauce, just basil and garlic and use that one. Make sure the sauce is quite liquid by adding water to it while it's cooking: gnocchi tend to absorb a lot of sauce.

Try it out, once done never forgotten, like the bicycle story. And it's not a lot of work at all.

If you want to make more than necessary, or if it just happens that you make more than necessary, they can be frozen. Place them well separate from each other on a tray, cover with a plastic bag and in the freezer. Once frozen, they can be "reunited" without any problem and kept for a good while.