Pasta with arugula and bacon (Pasta alla rucola e pancetta)

Today it's time for a quick firts course, perfect for mid-week meals.

You can substitute bacon with ham or sausage if you prefer or even anchovies if you like them!

For 4 persons you need:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup diced bacon

1 large clove of garlic, coarsely minced

salt and pepper

juice from 1 lemon

1 bunch fresh arugula well washed and chopped

1 pound spaghetti (or rigatoni as seen in the photo!)

freshly grate Parmesan

In a saucepan, heat the oil, and add the diced pancetta.

Cook until it is brown and starting to crisp.

Remove from the heat and add the garlic.

Season with salt and pepper (as often saind I don't love pepper very much so I avoid it).
Cook the pasta until it is "al dente".

Drain pasta and return it to the pot.

In the pasta pot, combine the hot pasta, the bacon and garlic, the lemon juice, and the chopped arugula.

Cook briefly over medium heat until it is well mixed, and the arugula has wilted.

Serve hot, topped with shaved parmesan cheese.



Risotto with Dry Porcini Mushrooms (Risotto ai funghi porcini secchi)

Risotto is surely a famous Italian preparation; it's not quick to prepare but often eaten here on Sundays or when people have time to prepare it and to taste it.

Abroad it seems to me it's considered a refined dish, so I suppose you can try this recipe when you have guests.

You need:

1/2 oz dry porcini mushrooms, soak in warm water funtil soft

5 cups broth (even canned broth), hot or at least warm

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 + 2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped (or even better 2 green onions)

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped (if you like)

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper

4 oz parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated

In a saucepan put the extra-virgin olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the butter.

Turn heat to medium.

When the butter starts foaming, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion becomes soft.

Add the mushrooms (well drained but keep their water apart) and half of the parsley, and sauté for few minutes.

Add the rice stir for about 2 minutes until well coated.

Add the wine and stir to evaporate it.

Add ¼ cup broth (more or less, no need to be very accurate), and salt and pepper.

Stir to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.

When the rice begins absorbing the liquid add more broth.

Repeat this step of adding the broth and stirring, keeping the rice at the consistency of a dense paste.

Also stir in half of the mushroom soaking water (filter it, sometimes dried mushrooms have got a little residue).

After about 18 minutes stir in the parmigiano reggiano cheese, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Continue stirring and adding a small quantity of broth.

The rice will be ready in about 2 more minutes, the grains must be firm but not too soft or overcooked.

Cooking time may vary, taste the rice now and then to adjust the salt and control the cooking.

When the risotto is ready, top with the rest of the chopped parsley.


Caramel milk pudding (Creme Caramel)

This is a tasty, sweet and nourishing dessert, quite common in Italian homes and family restaurants.
It's seemingly a recipes that comes even from ancient Rome where it wasn't sweet, then in Middle Age it was prepared with honey.

Cristoforo Colombo took this recipes douring his journeys: probably it's because of this that creme caramel, with different names and variations is common and prepared in Latin America.

For 8 persons you need:

3 cups whole fresh milk

1 3/4 cups fresh cream

1 lemon

10 ounces sugar

10 yolks

2 eggs

1 sprinkle salt

Put in a capacious pan the yellow part of the lemon peel, milk and 4 1/2 ounces sugar.

Let it gently boil then continue cooking with very light heat, untill milk will be reducted to the half of the initial quantity more or less.

Put eggs in a bowl, add yolks, the salt sprinkles and 3 1/2 ounces of sugar, mix well without whipping.

Add cream little by little, then milk without lemon peel (filter it) then mixing.

Put a little less than 2 ounces of sugar in a little pan, add a couple of drops of lemon juice and a spoon of water.

Cook the sugar untill you have an amber caramel.

Pour the caramel into a pudding mould, spread it well on the bottom and on the walls.

Pour the mixture in the mould then transfer it into a baking tin with tall edges filled with hot water.

Put everything in the owen, cook for 1 hour and halfat low heat (275 F°), let it get cold, cover with kitchen foil, put the pudding in fridge for about 12 hours then pull out of shape (really easier if you use that new silikon moulds!)


Veal escalopes Roman style (Saltimbocca alla romana)

This is a great classic of Roman cooking.

It's delicious, easy to prepare, children loves it.

Serve with a fresh plain salad or mashed potadoes.

If you prefer you can substitute white wine with Marsala wine or Brandy and veal meat with pork or turkey: everyone has his own version and recipe...

You need for 4:

14 ounces of veal in thin slices (about 1/4 inches each)

3 1/2 ounces Parma ham in thin slices

a handful of sage leaves

1/2 a glass of white dry wine

1 ounces butter

salt and pepper


Flour the veal slices, put on each one a slice of Parma ham (same size more or less, help yourself with a scissor if you need) and over the ham put a leaf of sage.

Fix everything with a toothpick.

Heat a large skillet, add butter, when it fries add the escalopes (if they're too many for the pan cook in more than one times: take the cooked ones in the warm on a plate near the stove), salt and pepper and the white wine.

Cook for 2 minutes on each side, serve hot with the side dish.


Swordfish with almonds sauce (Pesce spada con pesto di mandorle)

Quick recipe today because I'm always in a hurry.
I have so many things to do between work and housekeeping...
Today I made food shopping: I usually love it but when I run out of food at home and I have to buy tonz of things I go crazy!

You need:

4 slices of swordfish (about 7 ounces each)

2 1/2 ounces peeled almonds

1 ounces parsley

1 garlic clove

1/2 ounces breadcrumbs softened in a little vinegar

1 potado

salt and pepper

2/3 cups extravirgin olive oil

Mince into a mixer almonds, garlic, parsley, a little salt and pepper untill it has a smooth texture.

Boil the potado chopped in little cubes into salt water, mash it, put the sauce in a bowl, add the mashed potado and the breadcrumb well squeezed.

Mix very well, add oil little by little untill the sauce is well blended.

Cook the swordfish slices on a hot skillet two minutes per side, put the fish on each plate and add the sauce.

You can garnish with whole almonds and parsley wisps.


Noodles with Parma ham and Parmesan (Tagliatelle al crudo e Grana)

A different way to serve noodles, the proof that here in Bologna we don't only know Bolognese sauce ;)

According to me it's a very refined dish, perfect for a special dinner.

Remember to add salt to boiling water but not in the sauce: this is beacause sauteed ham and Parmesan are salted enought!

You need for 4:

18 ounces egg noodles

1 ounces butter

1 leek

4 spoons freshly grated Parmesan

3 1/2 ounces Parma ham in 2-3 thick slices

pepper if you like

Cut the ham in sticks of about 1/2 inches then clean the leek and cut it in very thin slices.

Put the ham in a pan with butter, brown it for 2-3 minutes then low fire, add leek and cook for other 4-5 minutes.

Boil noodles just slightly firm, drain them and take aside 3-4 spoons of cooking water: put noodles in the pan with sauce,light fire, add 2 spoons of Parmesan, pepper, cooking water and saute' for one minute.

Put in dishes , add the rest of Parmesan and serve.

You can garnish the plate with a wisp of parsley.


Italian style onions omelette ( Frittata alle cipolle)

It's an old old dish, often prepared in the past in the countries of Italy from North to South, it's made with simply and cheap ingredients that every family could afford.

Nowadays it could be a complete meal served with fresh salad and tomatoes or an informal appetizer if cutted in tiny blocks sticked on a toothpick.

you need:

6-8 egg for 6-8 for 4-5 persons

a nut of butter

salt and pepper

3 little red onions

2 tablespoons of water

2 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

Put in a pan the butter, turno on medium heat, cut in very thin slices the onions then put them in the pan.

Let them stir-fry, add a little water if needed, when they are soft and golden let them warm.

In a bowl beat eggs with salt, pepper and parmesan.

Put another pan on the fire with extravirgin olive oil, add onions to the bowl with eggs, mix then pour in the hot pan: shake a little to let the mixture spread, cover with a lid, turn the fire to light then wait.

When the omelette is solidified you have to turn it on the other side: how it's up to your ability...

If you're a good at you can rotate it in the pan with a good wrist movement, if you're like me (not so skilled in acrobatic cooking) put a dish on the omelette, keep it firmly then turn the pan.

Now the omelette is on the dish upside down, let it slip in the pan once again, add a little more oil if needed, finish the cooking.

If you want to cut the frittata let it get cold, if not you can serve it hot or warm, as you like.

Frittata, like omelette, is a versatile food: the one with onions is typical here but not the only one.

You can add mozzarella cheese cubes, chopped stirfried bacon or ham, stuffed broccoli, stirfried courgettes or leeks, sausage and everything you want.

If sometimes any pasta left from a lunch or a dinner, the next meal often present a "frittata di pasta " (pasta omelette): with the same procedure just add the pasta left (spaghetti are the best) mix well with the egg mixture then pour in the pan.

It's yummy!!



Here we are, the first day of a new year.
2008 brought many problems worldwide, I think everyone is hoping for something better this year and so I: then I wish you all the best for the next twelve months and a lot of fun and cooking training reading this blog!
With love, Claudia