Bread, Veggies

Butternut Pumpkin and Blue Stilton Loaf

I would kill for a slice of Blue Stilton. No kidding. I absolutely adore the pungent flavor of this cheese, its color and how it combines with sweet ingredients. Honey, of course, pears or grapes. And how about fig marmalade? Orgasmic. BUT, have you ever tried it with butternut pumpkin?

If the answer is no, this is your lucky day. Here’s a recipe that will knock you out. It’s a simple loaf with pieces of butternut pumpkin and Blue Stilton, and you’ll need approximately 3 hours to make it.

This doesn’t mean it’s a difficult process. You only need time to make the dough raise and cook it in the oven. It could be a nice way to spend your Sunday morning… 🙂

Butternut Pumpkin and Blue Stilton Loaf

400 gr. butternut pumpkin, pealed and cut into small pieces (1 cm)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

a pinch of sea salt

a pinch of black pepper

200 gr. Blue Stilton, cut into small pieces

For the dough

500 gr. all-purpose flour

2 tsp caster sugar

2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp of chopped rosemary

2 eggs

1 onion, pealed and cut into small pieces

125 ml extra virgin olive oil

125 ml milk

2 tbsp active dry yeast

125 ml warm water

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Preheat the oven at 180° C (350°F). Peal and cut into cubes the butternut pumpkin. Season them

with extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

In the meantime, mix the dry yeast with warm water in a bowl, stir and let it rest for 10 minutes in a warm place. Put the onion, milk, oil, sugar, salt, rosemary and eggs in a food processor and wiz until smooth (you can also use an immersion blender).

Take a large bowl, add the flour, the liquid mixture and the yeast, then stir well to combine all the ingredients. The dough should be smooth. Cover it and let it rest for 1 hour and a half in a warm place.

At this point, add the butternut pumpkin cubes and the Blue Stilton to the dough. Stir well and pour the mixture into a lightly greased 2 liters loaf tin. If you don’t have this size, use two smaller tins. Bake for 1 hour and let it cool 10 minutes before serving it.

 

 

Bread

Buttermilk Sweet Cornbread Recipe

Southern American comfort food has always attracted me. Maybe because I was so fond (and I am still) of Southern Gothic literature. Or maybe because the so called “soul food” reminds me the way Italian people see and experience food. I’ve tried cooking fried green tomatoes, gravy and pecan pies. But I’m particularly proud of this buttermilk cornbread.

My friend Cara lives in San Diego, but she’s originally from Roanoke, Virginia. She still misses Southern cooking so much! And I mean family cooking. The cooking you instantly connect with memories and traditions from the past. Eating warm cornbread on the porch is definitely one of her dearest childhood memories. Spread with butter, of course!

I want to share this recipe for Cara, but also for me. Southern United States and the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy have never been closer. Two foodies, amazing comfort food and great cooking traditions to share.

Traditional Buttermilk Cornbread 

115 gr. unsalted butter

130 gr. caster sugar

2 eggs

250 ml. buttermilk

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

180 gr. corn flour

130 gr. all-purpose flour

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Preheat the oven at 175°C (375°F) and grease a 20 cm pan with some butter.

Melt the butter in a small casserole. When it’s completely melted, pour it into a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix, then add one egg at a time. Finally, pour the buttermilk and give it a gentle whisk. If you don’t have the buttermilk, add a tsp of lemon juice to simple whole milk. Rest for 30 minutes before using it.

At this point, add the flours, then the salt and the baking soda. Then, pour the mixture into the greased pan, then bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

You can cut the cornbread in squares. Better to serve it warm.

 

 

Bread, Lactose free

Homemade Traditional Istrian Bread

I came to know the Istrian region three years ago, when I met my future husband. He grew up in Pula, a beautiful town on the Croatian riviera surrounded by Roman ruins, woods and a breathtaking sea. Not bad at all. But you can’t discover Istria without losing yourself through its culinary traditions. The confluence of hills and coasts has set the foundations for an eclectic cooking of land and sea. Prsut (ham), great cheese, game and mushrooms, but also fish and vegetables. What connects all these fabulous ingredients is homemade Istrian bread.

You will find it in every konoba, pekara or house you’ll visit in Istria. Warm, soft and homemade. Istrian hosts generally serve it to welcome you at their table, with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. It’s simply delicious. You could go on eating it with Istrian Prsut, pickles, olives and cheese forever. And nothing would stop you, but the thought of all the other dishes that you really need to try!

This recipe comes from an old book on Istrian traditional cooking. The result is identical to the many loaves I’ve tasted in Pula and in the surrounding villages. Try it at home, and enjoy the taste of Istria!

Homemade Traditional Istrian Bread

1 kg. all-purpose flour

25 gr. brewer’s yeast

250 ml extra virgin olive oil

20 gr. caster sugar

15 gr. sea salt

600 ml. warm water

 

LET’S DO IT!

Mix the warm water, the oil, the sugar and the brewer’s yeast in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Let it rest for five minutes, or until the yeast is completely melted.

Add the liquid to the flour, then add the salt and gently mix. You will probably need more flour to knead the dough, but the quantity depends on the humidity of the ingredients. The dough should be very soft and smooth, with a good level of hydration. Knead vigorously for ten minutes, then let it rise in a large bowl for two hours, covered with a wet dishcloth.

At this point, knead the dough once again for one minute, then shape it in 4 loaves. Let them rise, covered, for one more hour.

Bake the loaves for 45 minutes at 200°C (392°F). To test if they’re ready, tap the bottom. If they sound hollow, they’re done!

Bread

Bacon, Peppers and Gruyère Cake

I know lots of people who dislike peppers, especially when raw. They could be stodgy and their skin is difficult to eliminate properly when cooked. But this wonderful, tasty cake has made me change my mind on peppers. And I have to say that I’m not the only one who fell in love with it!

Christmas holidays mean only one thing: a huge amount of left-overs. Small pieces of this and that linger in your refrigerator for days. No clue how to use them. Well, this cake is certainly a good way to give them a good ending! You only need some Swiss cheese – or gruyère -, bacon and red peppers, previously grilled.

The only rule to follow to obtain the best result is using top quality ingredients. This cake is so simple that it really needs the best bacon, peppers and cheese to become unforgettable. I’ve recently made it for a Masterchef-watching night with some friends, and they loved it. Just be sure to warm it a little bit before serving it cut into slices.

Bacon, Peppers and Gruyère Cake

4 eggs

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 glass of dry white wine

100 gr. grated gruyère

200 gr. all-purpose flour

16 gr. baking powder

3 red and yellow peppers

sea salt

black pepper

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Preheat the oven at 210° C (410°F). Put the peppers on a baking tray and let them roast for about 20 minutes, or until they are puffed up. Then take them out of the oven and put them in a plastic bag. Let them cool completely. This will help you peel them!

Cut the bacon into small cubes and roast them in a pan for 5 minutes. Stir the eggs, the wine and the oil in a large bowl. At this point add the grated cheese, salt, pepper, the flour and the baking powder. Gently mix, then add the bacon and the roasted peppers, cut into small pieces.

Grease a rectangular mold with butter and pour the mixture in. Bake for 45 minutes. Use a toothpick to test if the cake it’s done. Poke the top of the cake in the middle with it. If it comes up dry, your cake is ready!

Bread

Traditional Soda Bread with Oats and Pink Salt Crust

Christmas is finally here and I’m totally into its cozy atmosphere. The lights, the smell of pine branches in the garden and the right to add cinnamon pretty much everywhere I want. Ah! How I love all this! So today I’ve decided to make my legendary soda bread, basically for two reasons. First, to eat it in the morning with some cranberry jam. Second, to make my kitchen more “Christmasy” by adding some handmade bread smell.

This recipe is the result of a cut-and-copy process that has lasted for a long time. I ate soda bread in Ireland many years ago, and I fell completely in love with it. Sweet, soft and with a crunchy crust, it’s perfect for your breakfast table. But have you tried it with a cheese board? You should! So, considering my interest in foreign cooking traditions, I’ve started to try some recipes to duplicate the soda bread I cherished in my memories.

It didn’t work well at the beginning. Too hard, to sweet, and finding the buttermilk…well, it’s almost impossible in Italy! But after some attempts, I think I’ve found a recipe that actually works. So, here it is, my soda bread without buttermilk and a deliciously crusty crunch!

Soda Bread with Oats and Pink Salt Crust 

330 gr. whole wheat flour

230 gr. all-purpose flour

45 gr. oats

1 tsp. + 1/4 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

75 ml. granulated sugar

250 ml Greek yogurt

250 ml milk

1 tsp pink salt

some oil to grease the pan

 

LET’S DO IT!

Preheat the oven at 180 °C. Mix the milk with the yogurt to obtain a creamy liquid, without clumps. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the mixture of milk and yogurt and stir with a wood spoon. You don’t need to stir too much. The final result should be very sticky and a bit lumpy!

Now take a plum-cake mold and grease it with a bit of oil. With the help of a big spoon, put the mixture into the mold and don’t level it. The lumpier, the better for your crust! Now add some pink salt grains on top and cook for about 50-60 minutes. Use a wooden stick to check if it’s cooked inside.

The soda bread must be served right away, but you can slice it and freeze it. When you need it, you can simply warm it on a hot pan, without even defrost it in advance.