Monday, November 22, 2010


I simply love gnocchi di semolino: they are the quintessence of confort food, the food I'd dream to plunge my fork in when I'm feeling cosy, on a freezing, rainy evening. It's something I'd definitely cook for my children on a feast day
Here's the super-easy recipe.

for 4-6 people

750 ml of milk
200 ml of semolina
3 egg yolks
120 g of butter
5 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

Heat the milk in a non-stick saucepan and, when it starts to boil, add salt and sprinkle in the semolina, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the semolina is very stiff and hard to stir. Take the pan off the heat and add 80 g of butter, 3 yolks and 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Mix well until the mixture becomes smooth and not sticky.
Now, this is how I cut the semolina rounds.
Place a sheet of baking paper on the table and on top of that lay your semolina mixture. Leave it there until it's cold. Switch on the oven at 200 degrees and grease a nice baking dish with a little butter.
When the semolina's cold you can start rolling it with the rolling pin to the thickness of 1 cm. Now cut the rounds with a glass or with a biscuits cutter.
Start to fill the baking dish with the scraps, and between a layer and the other sprinkle some parmesan cheese and few butter flakes. Last of all arrange the rounds of semolina overlapping them partially. Dust with more parmesan cheese, add the chunks of the remaining butter and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.
People sitting at your table today will adore you!

Friday, November 19, 2010


This dish brings me back to Dun Laoghaire and reminds me of its colours and perfume. The sunday market, the peaceful morning walking along the seaside and the cold wind messing people's hair.
It's happening again...I'm feeling homesick more than usual and I need a taste of HOME.

for 2 people

2 fresh salmon steaks
half a glass of white wine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
a teaspoon of dry terragon

a teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley leaves
ground black pepper

Put the salmon steaks into a large pan with the olive oil, add salt and cook until both surfaces are kind of crispy. Add the white wine, the terragon and let boil off for two to three minutes on a high flame, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with the lid.
Cook for about 20 minutes.
Turn the heat on again and add the parsley and the black pepper, cook for another 5 minutes and serve with boiled baby potatoes or peppers.


This is definitely the last minute frittata, I prepared with the external leaves of the puntarelle salad. they were so nice and  tender I couldn't possibly throw them away!

for 4-6 people

the external leaves of the puntarelle salad (more or less 200 g), thoroughly washed and drained.
3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
extravirgin olive oil
1 garlic clove

Cut the leaves in about 5 cm long segments then put then into a pan of 20 cm in diametreporle in una padellina with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a garlic clove. Fry on a high flame and remove the garlic clove before it gets brown. Cook for about 10 minutes, then take off the heat and let cool.
Apart, beat the eggs with the parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt, add the cooked leaves and transfer the batter into the same pan (cleaned out with kitchen paper) with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry until both surfaces of the frittata become crispy and golden.
The result is super especially for the sweetness of puntarelle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


 Chestnuts, mushrooms and pumkin.
Together with the warm shades of the leaves that cover our town's sidewalks and  wood's paths, these are for me fall's real tresure.
Yesterday night I prepared for a couple of friends a nice pasta with soft pumpkin, a delicate and easy-to-make primo piatto.
Here's the recipe.

for 4 people

400 g of pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 leek peeled and cut in thin rounds
1 teaspoon of fresh roughly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine
about 40 g of butter
black and white ground pepper

Put the diced pumpkin in a glass bowl with 80 ml of water, cover with a lid (suitable for microwave) and cook in the microwave for about 15 minutes at the maximum power.
Meanwhile bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan. When water's boiling add salt and the orecchiette.
Apart put the leek in a pan with butter and olive oil and cook on a high flame in order to soften the leek. Add the wine and let boil off.
Drain the pumpkin and add it to the leek in the pan, add salt, pepper and parsley and cook for about ten minutes or so.
Drain the orecchiette al dente and transfer into the pan with the pumpkin sauce, let cook for another minute, then serve topping with  parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is a fresh, crunchy italian style salad, ideal as a side dish - delicious with salmon but also with chicken and pork - and as a solution for a light lunch, when served with nice toasted brown bread.

for 4 people

1 puntarelle salad
6 anchovies fillets

for the vinaigrette
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
the juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
half a teaspoon of crushed dry chilli pepper
sea salt

Take the external leaves off *.
Cut the puntarelle into thin strips and put them into a salad bow.
Drain and chop the anchovies fillets and add them to the salad.
In a small bowl prepare the vinaigrette mixing together the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, salt and chilli peppers.
Top the salad with this sauce and serve...nothing easier!

* with the external leaves I made a great frittata...I'll post the recipe next!

Monday, November 15, 2010


There's nothing better than a muffin for breakfast. And what are the two things that children and grown up most loves? Without a doubt Nutella and chocolate!
Here's the delicious recipe for the muffins I've baked this afternoon. For the very first time I have weighed the ingredients in order to write down the exact quantities required.

240 g of flour
140 g of caster sugar
24 g of baking powder
half a teaspoon of baking soda80 g of dark chocolate chips
200 ml of lukewarm milk

60 g of melted butter    
2 eggs

1 good scoop of Nutella

for the icing

100 g of dark chocolate
120 g of icing sugar
2 tablespoon of water

a handful of chopped hazelnuts to garnish

Turn the oven on to the temperature of 180 degrees.
Put about 14 to 16 muffin cases on an oven tray.
In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate chips. In another bowl mix well the milk with the eggs, the butter and the scoop of Nutella. Then add the wet mixture to the dry one and blend with a spoon until you get a lumpy batter.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cases and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Take off the oven and allow to cool.
Apart prepare the chocolate icing, this is my way and it always work!
Put the chopped chocolate and the water into a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, allow to melt then take off the heat, let cool then add the icing sugar and stir carefully.
Spread the icing on the top of the muffins, then sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top of the icing and finally...enjoy your creation!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Have you ever taken a walk on a country road of Sardinia?
If you have then you've almost certainly smelled the sharp, sweet and sour essence of Helichrysum, aka Everlasting. It's one of the most characteristic herb of the Macchia Mediterranea and it's renowned for its antinflammatory properties.
But that's nothing new.
My aunt has always used it for cooking and, as scepctical as I was, I hardly believed it could work.
Well, I had to change my mind the day I tried it for the first time.
Since then, everytime I'm stewing pork or veal meat I sprinkle few dry leaves of everlasting and that makes a huge difference!

for 4 people

600 g of loin of pork, diced
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
half a glass of white wine
3 tablespoon of fresh cream
a little twig of everlasting
black pepper
fresh parsley and marjoram to garnish

Season the diced pork with salt and pepper, put it in a pan with the olive oil and cook on a high flame until the meat surfaces have picked a golden shade and the meat liquid has boiled off. Add now the white wine, soon after the cream and let boil off for a while, then add the twig of everlasting, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with the lid.
Cook for one hour.
Before taking the pan off the heat check that the juice is nice and thick. If it's not take the lid off and turn the heat up for few minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley and marjoram and serve with a fresh salad on a side.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Last night I really wanted to pamper my husband, who's feeling down because of chicken pox, so I created a very special pasta dish with the three ingredients he loves the best: veggies, hazelnuts and anchovies.
The result was amazing to look at because of the bright, shiny colours and mouthwatering for the crunchiness of  hazelnuts.

for 2 people

250 g of trenette or spaghetti
half a red pepper
half a green pepper
half a yellow pepper
1 small aubergine
1 courgette
1 garlic clove
8 anchovies fillets
1 handful of chopped hazelnuts
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
4-5 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
half a teaspoon of crushed dry chilli pepper

Wash and drain the vegetables.
Dice the aubergine, sprinkle sea salt all over the cubes then put them in a bowl with a weigh on (the salt and the weigh - it could be a smaller bowl filled with water - will allow the bitter fluid to come out the diced aubergine).
Apart bring water to boil in a large saucepan.
Cut the peppers in halves and remove all the seeds, rinse again and dice them. Cut the courgette in cubes too.
Drain the bitter fluid off the aubergine cubes, rinse and drain them and put them in a very large non-stick pan with the olive oil, the whole garlic clove and the other diced vegetables.
Fry over a high flame and remember to remove the garlic clove before it gets brown. Stir often to avoid burning.
The vegetables are ready when they become kind of crispy on the surfaces and quite soft on the inside. Add a little water if needed. Don't be rushy because it takes a while!
Meanwhile the water into the saucepan should be bubbling. Add about a tablespoon of salt then put the trenette into the boiling water.
Generally you wont' need to add salt in this dish because anchovies are quite salty and you've put salt in the aubergine before cooking them, but this is the moment to check if more salt is needed in your veggies sauce.
Before taking the pan off the heat add the chilli pepper, the chopped anchovies, chopped hazelnut and chopped basil leaves. Drain the trenette and transfer them into the pan together with the vegetables. Stir for about one minute then serve and...buon appetito!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This is a barley version of the italian risotto.
It was born yesterday as a result of a silly mistake.
I had in mind a risotto with pumpkin to celebrate Halloween, but when I went to check, there was no trace of any kind of rice in the cupboard, not even the cheapest one. So I picked a light yellow box hidden in the very bottom of the shelf and, there it was, just the right quantity of barley for the four of us, lucky me!

We enjoyed our Halloween Eve with a very simple but extremely nice dinner.

for 4 people

400 g of barley
400 g of pumpkin or butternut squash peeled and diced
3 shallots peeled and finely chopped 
1 litre of hot chicken stock
150 ml of nice white wine
40 g of butter
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
2 handfuls of freshly grated mature pecorino cheese
sea salt
ground black and white pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan together with the olive oil, add the shallots and pumpkin and slowly fry without colouring them, in other words, don't let them go brown but just soften them and let them pick a nice golden shade. This will take about 10 minutes.
Add the barley and turn the heat up, stir and add the white wine. Keep stirring until the barley has absorbed all the liquid then start adding little by little your chicken stock (it must be real hot so keep it in a pan with a lid on).
Now turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding the stock until the barley is nice and soft. Keep in mind though that barley tends to keep a crunchier texture compared to rice. It will take about 30 minutes to get a nice texture, so get yourself a nice glass of wine and enjoyed it chatting away with your guests.
Add salt if needed.
Take the orzotto off the heat and add the pecorino cheese and the ground black and white pepper, stir gently, then put a lid on and leave the orzotto to relax for 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve the orzotto tempting your guests to more pecorino cheese...
Buon appetito! 


This is a dish I created last year for a non conventional dinner with friends.
I took the inspiration from the indian cuisine that my husband and I love so much for its creamy texture and its abundance of spices and herbs.
I was trying to find the right combination between the simplicity of italian food and and the exotic note of eastern taste. The result was great!

for 4 people

4 chicken upper tighs
a tablespoon of french mustard
a teaspoon of mixed dried herbs (coriander, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and, last but not least, my best-loved “everlasting” if you’re so lucky to find some)
half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
half a glass of buttermilk
half a glass of white wine
4 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt
ground black pepper
crushed hot chilly pepper

Take the skin and the bone off the tighs, dice the meat or let the butcher do this for you if you are half as lazy as I am.
Season with olive oil (use a brush or do it with your hands if you like dirty jobs!), dried herbs, cumin, pepper and chilly pepper, then put the diced chicken in the fridge to get all the flavours. Leave it for about half an hour.
Put the olive oil into a large pan and cook the chicken until it becomes light brown on all the sides of the cubes. Add the wine and let evaporate for a while, then add salt, mustard and buttermilk (if you can find it use 150 g of natural yogurt), put the lid and let cook for about 45 minutes. It doesn’t take a long time to cook because the chicken is diced and, moreover, tighs meat is rather soft.
At the end of this time, if you reckon that the cooking juice is too watery, transfer the chicken cubes into a serving dish and let the juice boil off until it is nice and creamy, then pour it on top of the meat.
Serve with peas (cooked in a bit of oil and finely chopped parsley) on a side.


I simply love ricotta cheese, as it is, or in sweet preparations such as baked cheese cakes or filling creams for cupcakes and pastries but, moreover, in savoury dishes.
My father makes a gorgeous pasta with ricotta and safran, recipe which is quite reknown in Sardinia, where both ricotta and safran are widely used.
But Tagliatelle alla Fabia, my very own creation, were born from an idea I came up with few months ago when I had friends coming over for dinner and I really wanted to impress them with something unique and simple at the same time. Something that would have make them go "WOW!".

for 4 people

400 g of fresh tagliatelle
150 g of good quality fresh ricotta cheese
a handful of pine nuts
a handful of a mix of the following fresh herbs:
2 tablespoons of fresh cream
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
salt ground black pepper

Bring the water to the boil, add salt and cook tagliatelle for as long as the time indicated on the package.
Lightly roast the pine nuts in a non-stick pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil for no longer than 2 minutes, the tale off the heat.
Put in a mixer the ricotta together with the herbs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and blend until the cream is nice and smooth.
Add the obtained cream to the roasted pine nuts, add salt, pepper and the fresh cream then turn the heat up again for about 3 minutes.
When your tagliatelle are AL DENTE (remember to save a cup of the cooking water) drain them and transfer them in the pan together with the pine nuts and ricotta cream.
You may need to add the saved cooking water to your tagliatelle so that they look and taste nice and moist.
Season in the pan on moderate heat for about one minute then serve and...enjoy your meal!


Savoury muffins: I think they are absolutely gorgeous and mouth-watering. Just the right idea for parties!
I have used pecorino cheese, but don't get frustrated if you can't find it...cheddar would equally do a great job!

for 14 medium muffin cases

dry ingredients:

250 g  flour
50 g of grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
100 g of non smoked diced pancetta ( preferably diced non smoked bacon)
100 g of diced pecorino cheese (not the mature type)

wet ingredients:

200 ml of milk (room temperature)
60 g of melted butter
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the muffin cases on a large baking tin.
Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl and the wet ingredients into a jug.
Mix them all together until you get a lumpy but smooth batter.
Using a spoon put the batter into the muffin cases and pop in the oven.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Nothing easier and tastier!


This is one of the most popular pasta dishes, born in Amatrice, a town near the italian capital.
People from Rome, who love it very much, knocked the "A" off the name, so it became matriciana.
This is my own way of making it, hot and easy!

for 4 people

500 g of  caserecce
200 g of guanciale - sliced and chopped - or diced bacon
350 g of datterini tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
100 ml of white wine
very little salt if needed
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Put the tomatoes in a bowl with 100 mls of water, cover the bowl with a lid suitable for microwave oven and cook at the maximum power for 4 minutes.
Let cool off and when they're cool you'll be able to peel their skin off fairly easily, then chop them.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, when boiling add salt and caserecce.
Fry the shallot and bacon or the guanciale in a pan with olive oil and the crushed chillies. When the shallots are softened and the bacon has picked that gorgeous golden shade on all its sides it means you can add the wine. Keep the heat up and let the wine boil off.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and let simmer until the sauce has reduced. Taste the sauce and add a little salt only if needed. Generally you won't need to add it because bacon is quite salty...unless you want to spend the entire night going back and forth looking for some water!
When caserecce are cooked al dente drain them and transfer them into the simmering sauce, stir for a while then serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and...buon appetito!


No meat dish is as simple to prepare as straccetti and, despite this, these beef stripes are tasty and succulent and, on top of that, they work well as a base for more sofisticated dishes, depending on the ingredients you want to serve with them.
Here is the simplest way...

for 3-4 people

400 g of soft beef meat (you may ask your butcher to cut it extremely thin, in stripes about 3 cm wide, better if with a cutter)
2 tablespoons of wite wine
2 fresh sage leaves
1 clove of garlic
150 g of flakes of parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

Put the garlic clove into a large frying pan with the olive oil, when it starts to brown lightly discard it.
Add the sage leaves, then the beef stripes and cook them for no longer than 2 minutes per side (it could be shorter or longer depending on one's taste)
Just before taking the meat off the heat add the wine, salt and ground black pepper and let boil off quickly.
Take off the heat and lay on top of the straccetti the parmesan cheese flakes. You could also add some rocket salad or some thinly sliced mushrooms, they work really well together!
Serve hot and...buon appetito!


Great on its own or as a side dish, especially with tasty fishes such as salmon and tuna or with poultry.
My kids love this recipe and it's one good way to make veggies palatable for fussy mouths, only remember not to sprinkle hot chillies on the beans if your children are going to eat them!

for 3 - 4 people

500 g of flat green beans
250 g of very ripe plum tomatoes
1 garlic clove
4 - 5 fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoon of extravirgin olive oil
half a teaspoon of crushed dried chilly peppers

Chop the ends off the beans, wash them and drain them, put them into a large bowl with a lid suitable for microwave oven with 100 ml of water. Cook at maximum power for 10 minutes.
Apart wash the tomatoes, chop them, then transfer them into a large pan with olive oil and the garlic clove, turn the heat on and let the garlic fry for 2 minutes then discard it. When the beans are ready, drain them and add them to the tomatoes. Add half a teaspoon of salt and chillies and cover the pan with the lid. Let simmer for about 45 minutes then take the lid off and let the excess of liquid boil off.
When the sauce is thick enough turn the heat off and add the basil leaves.
Serve hot and...buon appetito!