Strascinati from Puglia




Cooking could be an outstanding experience. I often imagine myself in a middle of the swamp in Louisiana stirring my big pot with a long handmade spoon, as a warlock preparing food for the spirit of the forest. If cooking could be magic, making pasta could be sensual, you have just few ingredients and it’s enough to create pasta. Slowly you knead the dough, hugging it with your finger, then you start shaping the pasta and softly, repeating the same movements with your hands your creation come to life, in this case i did the “strascinati” every movement of your hand is thought and guided, trust me could be a meditative task.


Neapolitan Eggplant and Chocolate Cake



Chocolate eggplant cake from Napoli. This is a very healthy alternative for holiday festivities. This is a very rich chocolate dessert that doesn’t sit heavy on the stomach. There is no butter, cream or eggs! Just eggplant, cacao and almonds. A perfect dessert for health conscious gourmets!
1 or 2 eggplants
500 g sugar
200 g dark chocolate
100 cacao (bitter)
100 g pine nuts
550 ml water
100 g almonds
100 g candied citron (candied fruit)
50 g flour

Peel and slice the eggplants and place in a dish, and press them with a heavy weight (you can use a dish full of water). Leave them overnight. The next day, dry the eggplant slices and fry them in soy or peanut oil. Place them on a paper towel to absorb grease.
In a pot, melt the sugar with the water, and then add the dark chocolate to melt as well. In a bowl, mix the powdered cacao and 50 g of flour. Add to this the chocolate sauce. Mix well. Pour one half the chocolate mix into a flat cake pan or ceramic baking dish.
Cover this with a layer of eggplant slices. Add almonds and pine nuts. Do another layer of chocolate sauce, and another layer of eggplant, almonds and pine nuts.
Cover with crushed amaretti di saronno (almond cookies).
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 100 C.
Serve with ice cream. You can decorate with balsamic vinegar cream and more candied fruit.

emperor roast

Emperor’s roast



Nero’s favorite: Piadina of roasted chicken rolls stuffed with veal and ground beef on a bed of rocket salad and covered with fresh yoghurt sauce. That’s how they use to eat “roast” in the ancient Rome. Here the recipe step by step: Basil, parsley, almonds, garlic, one slice of chicken breast, one slice of veal, 50/60 gr. of minced beef, one kg of cooking salt. Arrange the slices of meat in the following order, chicken, herbs, garlic and almonds finely chopped, then a slice of veal, chopped herbs and the minced beef. Roll it up and close with pieces of uncooked spaghetti. Heat a cast iron skillet, add one kg. of salt, place the rolls on the salt with bell peppers cut into strips. Cook on fire for 12 minutes, slice the rolls and serve them on a home made flat-bread (piadina) with rocket salad and yoghurt sauce. The recipe for homemade flat-bread (piadina) at this link The recipe for the sauce will soon be on-line. Enjoy it!


Almond Pesto



Very easy to prepare, the secret to obtain a creamy and smooth pesto is using very cold water and ice cubes. Please your guest with a very nice sauce, slightly spicy thanks to the garlic, only one clove for one medium bunch of parsley. Add also two tbsp of parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt. it is perfect to serve it as dip sauce for carrots, celery in thick batons. Cut the vegetables into pieces 10 cm (4 inches) long. Then cut these pieces into batons with a width of anywhere from 4 mm to 10 mm wide (1/8th inch to .4 inches), then cut the batons down to their final width of anywhere from 2 to 5 mm. and strawberries. This sauce is a variation of the famous Italian pinzimonio, Italians used to dip the sliced vegetable in a sauce called bagnacauda, which is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy, but with numerous local variations made with olive oil, garlic and anchovies, in the past they used to add walnut or almond oil, i opted for a thicker and lighter sauce using the toasted almonds.



Pizza di pasta



Left over spaghetti are delicious, one of the Italian tradition is to prepare a “pizza di pasta” for picnic, my mother used to make it every day in summer. It’s easy to do. Ingredients are simple, left over spaghetti, any kind, better with tomato sauce, 2 eggs, 4 tbsp. parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and basil. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, heat the oil in a frying pan add the spaghetti and fry, turn over, and serve it. The “pizza di pasta” is tastier when is served cold. Enjoy it :)


Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi — Buckwheat Pasta with Potatoes, Spinach and Bitto


Pizzoccheri are a short and flat type of pasta from Valtellina region, Northern Italy. Pizzoccheri are made from buckwheat and flour. Pizzoccheri are surprisingly easy to make as they do not need to be rolled out as thinly as for other types of fresh pasta you could easily and quickly make them with a rolling pin. Pizzoccheri are traditionally served with cheese from Valtellina; bitto or valtellina casera. Some italians prefer to use taleggio, but i love to use bitto and spinach. The bitto it’s much lighter and once is melted with spinach gives the perfect balance of flavors. The right cheese, as much as other ingredients in italian cuisine, is the most important part in order to get “the authentic taste” but if you can’t find the bitto then use some fontina. Cook the pizzoccheri for at least 10/12 minutes, even though is a home made fresh pasta it’s better to cook them a little bit longer then usual because of the buckwheat, if pizzocheri are not perfectly cooked they will not taste good. to get a kick fry the spinach with garlic and boil the pizzoccheri with diced potatoes then mix all the ingredient and on a slow fire wait untile the cheese is well melted and serve it, it’s preferable to serve the pizzoccheri directly form the iron skillet but you can even prepare individual portion for your guests.
For the pasta:
2 cups (200 grams) of fine buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) of plain flour
two eggs
About 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water
Pinch of salt