Thursday, 10 October 2013

Arugula and roasted red grapes salad with shallot vinaigrette

I've always liked adding fruity notes to savoury dishes and you may find examples of this personal 'culinary trend' here, here and here.

I would now add another item to the list, inspired by a recipe I've recently found on Vegetarian Times. The salad here is a perfect example of the extra-ordinary result you can get combining fresh seasonal ingredients in a perfect balance of flavours.

The decadent sweetness of roasted grapes pairs well with the bitter tang of arugula salad and the tasty parmesan shavings. The scallion - mustard vianigrette adds an extra kick of flavour and turns a simple salad in an amazing starter or side dish.

If you are in the mood for 'fruity-savoury' recipes you can have a look at the following list, which I hope will satisfy both the italian and english speaking blogging community around the world:

by Alice Savorelli@Cotto  e  Crudo (IT/EN)

by Alice Savorelli@Cotto  e  Crudo (IT/EN)

by Katy@Girovegando in Cucina (IT)

by David and Louise@Green Kitchen Stories (EN)

by Aran@CannelleetVanille (EN)

by Caitlin@Roost (EN)

And you? Have you got a 'fruity-savoury' recipe to share?
Do autumn flavours inspire your day-to-day cooking?

Feel free to add a link or a recipe here below, I would be happy to try out your ideas! 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Hello, October.

Hello, October.

I have been missing your sober cloudy skies
and their quiet dripping rain

Longing for this cozy afternoon,
for the silence you bring in here.

I have been dreaming of this misty early afternoon
and its silent song of red falling leaves.
Thank you for being back.

 Welcome, October.


Friday, 30 August 2013

“Joy is being willing for things to be as they are.” 

Charlotte Joko Beck, "Nothing Special"

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Almond milk summer pudding

It has been a particularly hot summer, with temperatures rising quite above the seasonal average and my level of tolerance, which was put to the test for several days.

Don't get me wrong. I love summer:
popsicles and flip-flops
ice tea and orzata
flowery dresses and pinkie armbands

blackberries harvesting in the woods
lavander and watermelon
a path through the pine grove and...
the beach...

Unluckily, this is not the scenery that we find ourselves in most of the time.
We have the details, not the whole pictures - we do drink ice tea and orzata ( a traditional italian summer drink made with almond syrup), we do eat watermelon and blackberries, but the pine grove, the woods and the beach are not always close at hand, and instead we have heat waves, damp weather and weepy children...

and we find ourselves complaining, 
or daydreaming about cosy autumn days...
at least this is my case, to be honest with you.

But still, still.
There's something about summer I really enjoy.
Regardless the weather, regardless hot temperatures.
Regardless the kids' tantrums you have to face.

It is that moment in the early afternoon, those hours when everything seems to stop under the siege of the sun and surrender to the fierce peak of its beaming light.  

That moment when you have an idle chat around a table, sipping an espresso
Or a nap in the dim-light of a darkened room.
The time you have a rest under the shade of a tree.
Or the time you spend with your child, lulling her to sleep.

Those kinds of moments are still magical to me, and I perfectly agree with Henry James, as he says:

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two

most beautiful words in the English language.”

To sweeten your summer afternoon you can have a refreshing dessert for merenda (afternoon snack) and try this almond milk pudding: it is so easy to make that you can have the children help you out in almost every step of the process. 

I've found the recipe in Elle à Table May/June 2013 issue, and I was immediately drawn to it. I guess it is the almond milk, one of my favourite ingredients...hope you will enjoy this merenda too!

Monday, 12 August 2013

"All happens as if there is a mysterious power that creates and moves everything. Realise that you are not the mover, only the observer, and you will be at peace."

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,  "I Am That"

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Zucchini and smoked tofu soba noodles

I do apologize for this long hiatus, but sometimes life and blogging can't proceed at the same rhythm. 

Writing a blog and updating it frequently requires more time than you can imagine, and there are moments when you simply have to focus on your day to day routines, listen to your inner thoughts, inspirations and fears, or you just have to be one hundred per cent present for yourself and for the people you love.

I have spent the last months devoting myself to each task I had to undertake, just being there, as some buddhist monks suggest doing. 'Devoting' to the present moment, as it is, means you are just there for whatever happens to you, be it good or bad, hilariously funny or gloomily sad.

Though not easy at all to do - anyone would be happy to avoid bad times or skip unpleasant circumstances - this practice roots you in the present and allows you to feel more inner freedom compared to the ever-organizing fretful mind state that runs our life.

Being such a 'slow' blogger, I have long considered the idea of interrupting my blog activity, leaving you with this last post, but somehow I wished to experiment and share new recipes, ideas, and pictures.

Because this is a practice, too.

The practice of letting ideas and images come to you, through inspiration, and the practice of giving shape to those images and
ideas, through daily work.

The practice of making mistakes. The practice of learning.
The practice of just being happy for how it tastes in your mouth.

You need time and patience, but in the end, even considering it took me almost three months to develop this entry for the blog (trying out the recipe + shooting images + editing + writing) I am quite proud of the final result, and even more proud of myself for the process, for letting the time freely flow between one step and the other. 

As for the recipe, I could tell you that eating soba noodles is not a habit here at home, but since I have always been a great fan of japanese cooking, I just thought I could still make some noodles as an exotic alternative to our more traditional spaghetti

Aren't they close relatives?

I added smoked tofu to counter balance the sweet flavour of the vegetables in this recipes - zucchini and spring onions - sesame seeds for a nutty note and herbs - coriander or parsley (according to taste)- for a refreshing hint of flavour.

I have made this dish several times, slightly changing the ratio of these ingredients, but I think that in the future I will stick to the recipe you find here below.

From now on I will be writing - hopefully - on a more regular basis - but if not, please remember that behind this blog there's a quite ordinary human being, a woman, a mother and a wife, who knows life is ringing its bells and listening to them sometimes means to quit what we are up to, in order not to miss our appointment with life itself... right now.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

One Veggie Sandwich for the Road

 "May I bring Pippi's book and my colouring pages too, Mom?" - Maddalena, our daughter, asks me.

I nod.
She is excited.

We have planned a few days off, far from our madding hectic daily routines, in order to experience a slower and more relaxed pace.

We're heading North, towards the mountains, the forests, the lush green parks and the tinkling sounds of brooks and waterfalls.

We live close enough to the Alps to enjoy this kind of landscape at a two hours' car ride from where we live. The place we are going to is so easily reached that it takes less time to go there than to pack our stuff!

But you know, when you have kids, you tend to discard long-distance vacation destinations.

 While M. is packing her toys and books, carefully choosing what to bring with her on the journey to the mountains, I try to put together our snacks and sandwiches for the road trip.

I rely on a fresh loaf of bread, spread a few slices with roasted peanut butter and stuff them with baby spinach leaves, basil and cucumber. At the very last moment I add some sundried tomatoes, to boost the flavour.

As I already know Maddalena won't eat it, I cut some vegetables (carrots+cucumbers) and pick a few items she may like from the pantry: dried fruits (coconut, apples and raisins) and puffed cereals bars.

Our travel snack pack almost done, I get to collect the very last items we need to bring with us.

Though I have organized things properly this time, I now I will forget something at home - it's quite typical of me - but I don't bother too much. 

I know it will be ok. Even in the worst case - even if I actually forgot something REALLY important, our destination is so close I could even come back and get it...

Monday, 22 April 2013

"If you are angry or in pain, separate yourself from anger and pain and watch them.
Externalisation is the first step to liberation. 
Step away and look. 
The physical events will go on happening, but by themselves they have no importance. 
It is the mind alone that matters."

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,  "I Am That"

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sunday brunch yeast rolls

It's not unusual for me to be kneading some yeast bread in the kitchen. Since Maddalena takes some pleasure in joining in, this cooking activity has become one of our favourite rites on Sunday mornings.

Since we wake up pretty early – yes, even on Sunday mornings! – we've got plenty of time to enjoy every little step of the process, which starts around eight o'clock a.m. - soon after my first cup of coffee - and ends around midday, as this bread dough requires a long and slow rise.

The little patience you need during the preparation only enhances the pleasure of having freshly baked fluffy rolls ready for your sunday brunch. It's an effort worth making, I promise.

Being Italians our brunch includes mainly sweet baked goods, like 'crostate' and 'frollini', but we also like to eat some savory dish too, like this one, for example, or a healthy pinzimonio (fresh, raw vegtables chopped into bite-size pieces and served with citronette or other dressings).

Whenever I am looking for some inspiration though, I browse the net, collecting new ideas I like to share on Pinterest.

And what about you, what are your brunch menus like? 

Would you like to give me more brunch ideas? 
I would be happy to pin them on my Pinterest board.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

"Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

Lao Tzu

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Chickpea and broccoli salad with creamy tahini dressing

 It was not until I visited the States that I had the chance - and pleasure - of eating raw broccoli and cauliflowers 
And this came as a real surprise to me.

Until then in fact, I would boil or stew them, ignoring the fact that by doing this I was not only losing their vitaminic power supply, but their crunchiness and crispy texture too.

This is probably the reason why Heidi Swanson's 'Grilled Broccoli' recipe (which you can find in her wonderful and inspiring book) immediately drew my attention, as I was looking for an alternative way of cutting and cooking broccoli, keeping their bite and unique flavour.

As for the salad recipe I just wanted to prepare an energetic and healthy meal for our quick lunch-breaks at first, and I liked the idea of combining the earthy and nutty taste of chickpeas (gorbanzo beans) with the smoky flavour of grilled broccoli. As time passed by I experimented with other ingredients and I came up with many other variations (see recipe introductory note).

With this post I take part in the 'Salutiamoci project' (I've already told you something about this initiative here and here), hosted by 'Pappa e Cicci' this month.

Wow, I finally made it this time.

There is some nice news for the Italian readers too: I added the italian version of the recipe below the English one, so you may stop complaining... you just have to click on the last picture to open the word document.

Enjoy the salad, and have a nice week.

Friday, 22 March 2013

"the true teacher will always encourage us to be in touch with the teacher within us. If we take refuge in this teacher within us, we will never be disappointed. If a wave has faith in its nature of water, the wave will never be disappointed."

Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Art of Power"

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Spelt and millet pancakes with homemade applesauce

...I have long kept silent on this blog due to many reasons (time always slipping ayway, basically) but here I am again, sharing not only images, but little notes - this is how I like to call them - about the recipe (you can skip all this and click on the last photograph if you want to read the recipe first).

    I started working on this post two months ago, as I planned to take part in the Salutiamoci project. As I wrote in a previous post, this initiative challenges italian food-bloggers to develop a recipe using only healthy, super natural food. Millet was the key-ingredient for January, and I was more than happy to join in the game (though in the end I couldn't submit the post in due time !!!).

Sure enough, millet is not amongst the most popular grains, here in Italy. People consider it like 'something-you-feed-the birds-with' kind of food. We'd rather go for corn or spelt as an alternative to the all present wheat.

Millet, though, offers many nutritional benefits: it is rich in B-complex vitamins (including niacin, folacin, thiamin, and riboflavin) and in photochemicals including phytic acid, which is believed to lower cholesterol, and phytate, which is associated with reducing cancer risks. It also offers a good source of minerals, including magnesium,zinc, manganese and phosphorus.

The good news is that millet is also tasty and fun to cook with.
I already use its yellowish pearls to bake these delicious patties, but this time I wanted to try something different. As I browsed through my cookbooks and web pages this pancakes recipe really hooked me. I just changed a few of the ingredients and decided to top the pancakes with homemade applesauce. 

We loved them. So I cooked them. Again and again.
So tasty and packed with sweet, natural flavours.

Applesauce is a perfect topping for these pancakes. And you'll become easily addicted to it, since it is a great sweetener for breakfast cereals bowls and for porridge too. Besides, it can be used as a substitute for butter in some baked goods (scones, cookies,etc.) - and this way you'll cut calories and fat as well. As for the ratio, you have to experiment with the particular recipe you are cooking, but you can follow the tips you find here.

 Well, all I have to tell you now is to click on the photo below and read the recipe plus a few more notes you may find useful. Enjoy!

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