Lactose free, Rice, Veggies

Spelt Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme

I’m always looking for new ideas to use spelt, barley and other substitutes of rice, because I love their crunchy consistency and their flavor, that in some way reminds me of nuts. The spelt salad I’m going to tell you about is one of my favorites.

Take the smell and colors of summer in the Mediterranean, then add a pinch of rural home cooking, and you’ll obtain a simple dish, but full of flavors and nutrients that will give you the energy you need to live your day in the right way.

Of course, you need time to cook the spelt and roast the tomatoes and garlic, but I assure you that this spelt salad is worth it! Plus, you can also eat it cold, just adding some fresh extra virgin olive oil and some leaves of basil. Yes, cooking your lunch break can be THAT EASY.

If you don’t like spelt, you can use bargain or brown rice, the result will be awesome anyway! And if you’re wandering about the roasted garlic, don’t panic! Your social relationships will not be affected by it! The garlic cooked in this way loses its strong and – sometimes- unpleasant flavor, and it becomes a delicate and digestible cream that will make your spelt salad unforgettable!

Spelt Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme (4 servings)

1 kg mixed tomatoes

2 bulbs of garlic

400 gr. spelt

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

a bunch of thyme

1 tbsp of honey

zest of 1 lemon

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Preheat the oven at 180° C ( 356°F).

Take a baking tray and cover it with baking paper. Then cut the biggest tomatoes in half, and leave the small ones as they are. Also cut the bulbs of garlic in half, without peeling them.

Place the vegetables on the baking tray, and season them with thyme, sea salt, black pepper, the honey, the zest of lemon and a generous supply of extra virgin olive oil. Roast them for about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the spelt as suggested on the package. When it’s done, put it in a large pan and add some of the tomatoes (leave one or two of the big ones to decorate). Take the garlic and squeeze it on the spelt. The cloves will be creamy and very sweet. Now add the sauce you’ll find in the baking tray, then mix your spelt salad.

Decorate every bowl with a roasted tomato and, if you like, add some extra virgin olive oil and fresh leaves of basil.

 

Fish, Lactose free, Veggies

White Asparagus Soup with Scallops and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma

I’ve read an article on the Huffington Post titled “Everything you Need To Know About White Asparagus”. Now, the article wasn’t so thorough as it promised, but I liked the definition of this lovely spring ingredient as the “vampire of the vegetable world”. Not only it highlights its mysterious nature, but also its rarity.

As you may know, white asparagus are not white just because. They become white after a forced procedure where they are grown underground. The absence of sunlight prevents the formation of chlorophyll and ta-daa! No green color on them. But there’s more. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t explain how it happens, but they also become more tender and sweeter than normal asparagus.

Plus, they are SO fancy! White asparagus are certainly among the fanciest ingredients you can possibly eat during springtime. I’ve found an even fancier way to cook them. There’s a soup (dah..), but there’s also Prosciutto crudo di Parma (look here for another way to serve it) and sweet scallops. In a word, a real orgasmic food experience.

I’ve tried the combination white asparagus-prosciutto crudo in Berlin, three years ago. At the beginning of Spring, farmers markets proliferate with these delicacies. In the baskets, white asparagus are close to ready-made hollandaise sauce and already cut and packed prosciutto.

Apart from the dubious quality of the last two ingredients, the idea is very nice! Boiled asparagus served with high quality prosciutto and homemade hollandaise sauce is a fantastic recipe! So, try it too.

Now, here’s my soup. Very simple, very fancy, friends will love you AND this dish. Maybe, not in this order.

White Asparagus Soup with Scallops and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma (4 servings)

1 big bunch of white asparagus

2 spring onions

2 big potatoes

1/2 lt. of vegetable broth

150 gr. Prosciutto crudo di Parma

4 scallops

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Bring the broth to a boil. In the meantime, thinly cut the spring onions and the potatoes. Begin to cook them in a large casserole with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil. While they cook, cut the white asparagus into small pieces, then add them to the other vegetables and stir.

Add some salt and pepper, and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the broth and turn the stove down to a minimum. Let it cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Add salt if necessary, then blend the vegetables to obtain a creamy soup.

In a small pan, roast the prosciutto slices on both sides – they should become very crispy. Put the slices on a kitchen towel, then roast the scallops in the same pan. They will roast in the grease left by the prosciutto (yum!). Cook the scallops for 3 minutes on each side, until they’re nicely browned.

Time to serve! Pour the soup in small bowls, then add two or three slices of prosciutto, one scallop for each bowl and some black pepper on top. Lovely!

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!

Fish, Gluten free, Lactose free

Salmon Fillet with Pumpkin Red Rice, Arugula and Orange Vinaigrette

I’m always looking for ideas to make my lunch less solitary and monotonous. I love mixed salads, but they can become quite boring after a while. So today I’ve decided to lose myself through memories of last September, when I was traveling with my husband in the South of France. Camargue sea salt and wild red rice, salmon fillet, winter vegetables and lunch is ready on your plate! This recipe is light and healthy and it evokes the smell and sound of the ocean during winter. Something I’m obsessed with!

The Camargue is a national park in the South of France. Everyone knows it for its swamp flora, the typical white horses and the flocks of flamingos. There are also enchanting villages where you can wander around. Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, Aigues Mortes and Arles are only some of the places we’ve visited, and they’re all absolutely breathtaking. But I have to admit that I knew Camargue for, let’s say, more “culinary” reasons! Specifically, the sea salt and the red rice, two of the best products in the world.

For this recipe, I serve the red rice like they do in Camargue: as a side dish. Its crunchy texture combines perfectly with the creamy cubes of pumpkin. The sweetness of the salmon contrasts with the bitter flavor of the arugula and the salt flakes. One more touch? The orange juice, which gives freshness and balance to the whole dish. No need to wait now: get ready to cook!

 

Salmon Fillet with Pumpkin Red Rice, Arugula and Orange Vinaigrette (4 servings) 

4 salmon fillet (250 gr. each)

400 gr. pumpkin

320 gr. Camargue red rice

zest and juice of a half orange

Camargue sea salt

black pepper

rosemary

awesome extra virgin olive oil

100 gr. arugula

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Bring to boil water in a big casserole. For 320 gr. of red rice, you’ll need about 1 lt. and a half of water. When it’s boiling, add a tsp. of salt and the red rice. Cook it for 50 minutes. The rice will still be a bit crunchy, but don’t overcook it, otherwise it will lose its peculiar characteristic. In the meantime, cut the pumpkin into small cubes and fry them in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and some rosemary. Let it cook until tender and browned.

For the orange vinaigrette, use the juice of a half orange, some extra virgin olive oil and Camargue sea salt. Beat the mixture until it becomes a bit creamy. If it’s too liquid, simply add some more oil and beat until you have the desired consistency.

When the rice is cooked, drain it and mix it with the pumpkin cubes. Add a bit of oil if the final result is too dry. In the same pan where you’ve browned the pumpkin, cook the salmon fillets for 3 minutes, first on the skin side. Turn the fillets, cover and cook them for 2 more minutes. The interior should remain a bit raw.

Now you’re ready to serve! Put some arugula in a corner and season it simply with salt and oil. Then add the rice with the pumpkin cubes and the salmon fillets. Use the orange vinaigrette on all the elements and enjoy this wonderful mix of flavors!

 

Dessert, Gluten free, Lactose free

Coconut Macaroons with Raspberry Jam Filling for Tea Time

Macarons are difficult to make. Everyone knows it. Therefore I was skeptical when I found this recipe for coconut macarons written by hand in one of my mom’s notebooks. Especially because my mom keeps every recipe she finds attractive or “pretty”, no matter how difficult it is. How pretty can be the Pressed Duck recipe? Well, quite pretty, I’m sure. But is it really possible to make it at home, without the press specially-designed at La Tour d’Argent in the 19th century? I have some doubts. In conclusion she’s an optimist and that’s for sure!

But this time I was wrong, because these coconut macarons are super easy to make and very tasty! I’m sure you’re going to be a hundred per cent satisfied with the result. Moreover, if you’re lactose or gluten intolerant like my friend Paolo, these macarons are the perfect dessert for you, because they don’t contain a drop of milk or any other dairy product. Since they are so light and fancy I have served them for tea time. To exalt the raspberry jam, I have chosen the special blend Black Tea Bulgare by Dammann Frères. This is probably among the best ways to spend a Sunday afternoon in November with your besties. Chit chatting while drinking a cup of tea and eating some cookie: delicious!

Have a look at the amazing Dammann teas and get inspired: www.dammann.fr

 

Coconut Macarons with Raspberry Jam Filling (for about 20 macarons)

2 egg whites

100 gr. granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

50 gr. almond flour

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch baking soda

200 gr. grated coconut

100 gr. high quality raspberry jam

 

LET’S DO IT! 

First of all, preheat the oven at 150 °C (300°F). Then beat the egg whites while gradually adding the granulated sugar. They should turn into a fluffy and shiny mixture. At this point, gently mix all the other ingredients (not the raspberry jam) into the egg whites, moving your spoon from bottom to top. You will obtain a firm and sticky paste.

Using a teaspoon and your hands, shape about forty little balls the size of a nut and put them on a baking tray with baking paper on it. Cook them for about 10/12 minutes.

Let them cool completely and use some raspberry jam to stick them together. You can now arrange them on a nice dessert tray, with some fresh raspberries and little rose buds. Now you can enjoy the compliments!