Orange and fennel salad ( Insalata di arance e finocchi)

It's a very peculiar recipe, light and tasty, great to break the long series of heavy lunch and great dinners of the Christmas period.

It's a winter recipe because oranges and fennels are typical winter vegetables, it's most used in the South of Italy where citrus grown.

If you like the two main ingredients you'll love it!

I had a housemate at univeristy than used to eat it almost everyday...

For two persons:

2 oranges

2 fennels

salt and pepper

3 - 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Slice the oranges (peel them carefully and keep off the white part) and arrange them in a serving plate.

Clean the fennels, cut them very thin then transfer the fennels in a bowl to season them with oil salt and pepper.

Transfer the fennels on the oranges, dizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

If you like you can slice thin a little red onion too and add it to the salad.


Rosemary focaccia ( Focaccia al rosmarino)

Another Italian must where rosemary is protagonist, very popular as street food, a good treat for children douring school break, the delicious focaccia.
It seems a little bit demanding, the recipe is long but it's longer to read than to prepare!
If you have a bread machine or something similar you can prepare the dough with it then spread it in the pan and let it rise once again, it's even quicker.
You can eat it plain as snack or you can serve it diced in squares, warm, with salami, ham, cheese...
It could be a strong appetizer of an informal dinner if served with that sort of things or a great, cheap, quick idea for party buffets (even children party).

You need:

2 - 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 - 1/3 cups water lukewarm

6 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

3 - 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon coarse salt

2 - 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.
Set aside for a few minutes.
Add 3 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil to the mix.
In a large mixing bowl, add the 2 teaspoons salt to the flour.
Add the yeast-water mixture into the flour.
With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir vigorously stir to combine.
Knead with your hands until soft dough is obtained.
Lightly spread another large bowl with olive oil, transfer the dough into the bowl.
Rub the dough around the walls of the bowl to cover its surface with oil.
Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap, and place the pan in a warm corner of the kitchen (like the oven, turned off) to rise for about 1 hour, or until about doubled in size.
Spread extra-virgin olive oil lightly on a 12 x 16 inch baking pan.
Invert the dough from the bowl into the pan.
At this point the dough is very light and soft.
Avoid pressing or stretching it too much or it will not rise weel in the oven.
Flatten the dough with the point of the fingers until it reaches the edges, and the pan is fully covered.
Dimple the focaccia with your fingertips to create small depressions.
Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap, and place the pan in a warm corner of the kitchen to rise for 1 more hour.
Preheat oven to 450 F °, spread the remaining olive oil, the coarse salt, and the rosemary leaves uniformly on the surface of the focaccia.
Bake the focaccia on the lower shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the surface is golden and the bottom is gold.
Lift a corner of the focaccia to check readiness before removing it from the oven.


Grilled chicken breast (Petto di pollo grigliato)

Grilled chicken breast: anything easier than this recipe?
Or more banal?

No, but you can create a tasty dish if you take care of the preparation and of the ingredients, the preparation is quick and you can surely afford and recover the things you need.

It's a light second course, ideal for the ones on a diet: low fats, digestible.

You need:

2 chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil

salt and pepper

a stick of fresh rosemary

1 garlic clove

half a lemon

Slice each chicken breasts in 3 thin slices.

Pound the slices with a meat pounder to make them thin and tender.

Cook the chicken on a simple grille or even a non-stick pan.

Do not use any fat or oil to grease the pan, just rub the garlic clove on the whole pan few times to give a light garlic smell.

Season with the extravirgin olive oil, add salt and freshly grated pepper if you like then some rosemary needles and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve warm with plain fresh salad or with stirfried spinach.


Rosemary ( Rosmarino )

It's time to speak about another herb: Rosemary.

Frequently used in Italy, well known abroad too; it is a resistant plant, it growns especially in Mediterranean zones but it's acclimated to colder places.

You can cultivate it in the garden or even on terraces or just out of the window in small pots.

From flowers you can obtain good honey, Rosemary is famous for its medical properties ( it's a good tonic and purifyier).

Rosemary is great on roasted potadoes, on red meats (especially on roasts), with some kind of fish, on bruschetta, on borlottis' or chickpeas' soup.

Yesterday evening I ate a good appetizer: on a thick slice of bread there was a spoon of grated cheese (Parmesan ), then a spoon of porcini mushrooms stirfried in a pan with butter, then a generous sprinkle of Rosemary needles: the "crostino" was crisped in the oven.

I don't love the marriage mushrooms/Rosemary but with Parmesan and good bread it's really an happy mix.
You can also prepare a plain bruschetta and add some Rosemary on top.

So tasty!

Soon I'll post the many variations I know to make crostini and bruschetta: they're a must as appetizer in my zone you could be sourprised because of the variety!


Teryaki chicken with leeks (pollo teriyaki con porri)

Ok maybe it's not an Italian recipe, you can called it "fusion" but I use to cook with ingredients I discover during my travels.

I've been in Japan during my honeymoon and I loved it so much.

I've tried this recipe in a small food stand in the old part of the Kyoto's station, I loved it, my husband loved it and once at home we would like to eat it once again: it's not the very same of the japanese one but it's ok, tasty and quick to prepare.

It' really really easy: chop chicken breast in small pieces, put it in a bowl with teriyaki sauce, mix well and let it rest in fridge for about 2 hours.

Then prepare a pan, add extravirgin olive oil, leeks cutted round ( don't add the green part of course), salt and chicken with the sauce.

Stirfry untill leeks are tender and chicken is well cooked, if it dries add a little more teriyaki sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top.

You can serve it with white rice, it's perfect!


Homemade mascarpone cheese (Mascarpone fatto in casa)

This is a great thing to impress your friends when you serve Tiramisu' dessert or other dishes made with this creamy and yummy cheese.

"I did the mascarpone cheese too": oh yes, it's impressive!!

It's easier than you can think: for about 24 ounces of cheese just take 1.6 quart of fresh milk cream and half a teaspoon of citric acid (fresh lemon juice).

Put the citric acid into the cream then put on the stove: it must be hot but not to boiling point.

Turn off the fire then mix well, pour the mixture into a colander covered with a clean dishcloth and let the serum drains for about 12 hours.

Now you must store the cheese into the refrigerator, it has no preservatives so you must use it quite quickly, in about 3-4 days.

At least you can freeze it and then it's good for about 3 months.