Cream of pumpkin soup is one of my favorite soups. I know I say the same thing about almost every soup I try and I’m also aware of the fact that I might have a problem. I wouldn’t call it a problem, though. I would rather call it an affinity for everything that’s nutritious, delicious and hydrating.
Pumpkin-wise, this year has been extremely productive and rewarding. I harvested some huge pumpkins from my own veggie garden. And when I say huge, I mean huge-huge, that’s-the-biggest-vegetable-I’ve-ever-seen kind of huge. If last year I had two semi-decent looking pumpkins (who am I kidding, they were a cross between a melon and a tennis ball, to be more accurate), this year I had about a dozen giant ones. And they were so incredibly tasty! Sometimes I looked at them and I felt it would be a shame to cook them, and then I remembered their perfect flavor and their addictive sweetness. And that was the nudge I needed to get things going! Continue reading Cream of Pumpkin Soup
In a farm, the rooster has an extremely active life, from fertilizing the eggs, to mentaining the social order and chasing me like a crazy person whenever he’s in the mood for some action defending the chicken family from any potential predator and this active lifestyle must be sustained by a powerful muscular system. After the rooster meat is cooked, this muscular system (which is essential for the fulfilling daily attributions) often turns into a chewy, rubbery, uncomfortable, almost painful mess. To tenderize the meat and to make it juicy I pulled off some two simple and efficient tricks:
- Aging the meat. I learnt this trick from my grandmother. She used to wrap the rooster in parchment paper and refrigerate it for 2 – 4 days. And let me say, this trick really works. It is very important to wrap the meat in parchment paper, and not cling film, because the paper allows the meat to breathe.
- Slow-cooking the meat. I take the aged meat from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking and I let it get to room temperature. I pad dry it and I sear it, I deglaze the pan with wine, I cover the meat halfway with chicken broth and I slowcook it, covered, for about 1 hour, making sure I drizzle some juices from the pan every 15 minutes.
These two basic tricks allow me to get a tender and juicy steak each time. The taste is incredible, earthy, somehow buttery, with subtle notes of wine and sage. To conclude, if I didn’t manage to bust the “rooster is too rubbery” myth, at least I hope I made you curious! Continue reading Braised Rooster Legs with Wine and Sage Sauce
As soon as the first leaf turns brown, I immediately start preparing soups, creams, stews and other semi-liquid and preferably hot dishes. I simply love the idea of having a melting pot on a stove, a pot that simmers quietly and makes the entire kitchen smell like fall. On this chilly Saturday morning, I decided it’s suitable, if not perfect, to make a delicious Tuscan bean soup, a flavorful Italian cannellini bean and prosciutto soup. It is so easy to make, you just have to saute some prosciutto, onion, carrots and celery, you deglaze the pan with wine, you cover the ingredients with cubed tomatoes and broth and you let the soup simmer. Before serving you add the beans and some baby spinach and the soup is ready. Simple as one, two, thee! The most intriguing part of this dish, and the source of its complex flavor profile, if I may, it’s the addition of a parmesan rind. This element gives the soup an unbelievable flavor! Next time you’ll be tempted to throw away a parmesan rind, think again and let the rind elevate a Tuscan bean soup. You won’t regret it! Continue reading Tuscan Bean Soup
I remember watching Ratatouille (the movie, not the dish) when I was a senior in high school and I instantly knew that this veggie stew would become my favorite dish. I was wrong, but only by a few years. The very next day I did the groceries and I made my first Ratatouille, a blend, boring, half-decent stew. So I forgot about Ratatouille and its humble existence. But last year I decided it was about time to rewatch that delightful movie and the dish simply enchanted me. Again. So I did some research, I made the dish and I simply felt in love. Ratatouille is a rustic, almost an austere dish, that kind of dish that makes you fall in love with it over and over again.
There are so many recipes for Ratatouille, you can saute it, you can bake it, you can serve the veggies firm, almost raw or you can simmer them slowly, until tender and incredibly flavorful. My favorite version is so simple but it’s quite time-consuming. After you chop the veggies, you saute them in olive oil, one veggie at a time, until you caramelize them nicely and this creates an amazing depth of flavor. Of course you can saute them all together in a large pot, but the result would be a nice stew, and not a decadent Ratatouille! Continue reading Ratatouille
Today we’ll talk about tomato soup, a simple soup yet fascinating in its simplicity. I think tomatoes are the most versatile vegetables (or fruits, if we approach the problem in a scientific manner), they taste so good in so many combinations, this is why there are hundreds, even thousands of extremely tasty tomato soup recipes out there. I have two recipes, one suitable for cold weather, and one for hot weather. The first one is a tomato soup with homemade quadretti pasta, smoked sausage and poached egg. The second one is a tomato cream, flavored with roasted garlic and fresh basil and served with laced parmesan chips.
The cream of tomato soup is so welcomed during hot summer days, when the tomatoes are in season. It is a veritable flavor, color and texture symphony and it is so easy to make. I half or quarter the tomatoes, depending on their size, I drizzle them with olive oil and I roast them until they caramelize; this extra step augments the soup’s flavor. I serve this soup with adorable parmesan chips, which give the dish not only flavor, but also an elegant touch. Continue reading Creamy Tomato Soup with Parmesan Chips
I’ve finally found a recipe for cream of carrot soup that doesn’t taste like baby food. It is made from roasted carrots and fennel, two vegetables that go so well together. I must confess that I picked my carrots from my garden this morning, on a warm summer rain. It sounds enchanting, doesn’t it? So, I chopped the vegetables, I drizzled some olive oil and I roasted them in the oven, just to enhance their flavor. After they were nice and brown, I simmered them in vegetable soup, with red onion, wine and thyme. At the end I flavored the soup with some fragrant roasted garlic. The result was a delicious and hearty soup. The funny thing is that only long after I enjoyed this divine soup I realized that it was in fact vegan. My family never suspected! Continue reading Cream of Carrot Soup
I’ve always loved duck roast for its unmistakable flavor, its reach and exquisite taste and its mouth-watering crispy skin. But I’ve always felt discouraged to try to cook it. It seemed too technical and challenging to get the perfect seared duck breast. Last year I finally gave it a try and was the best decision ever. Little by little I managed to understand the meat, its physics and its chemistry. And it’s not difficult at all. If you pay attention to a couple of things, your seared duck will always turn out perfect.
I like my seared duck medium to well done, with a divine crunchy skin and a juicy, pinkish, flavorful meat. In order to get this finish I brown the breast in a cast iron skillet in its own fat, and I finish it in the oven for 6 minutes. After duck has rested for 5 minutes, I slice it and I serve it with a sweet and sour wine and cherry sauce. It is a wonderful combination! Continue reading Duck Breast with Wine-Cherry Sauce
I simply can’t figure out why people avoid tripe. When cleaned proper and cooked well, this humble cut magically becomes an exquisite dish. It is so inexpensive and it is a great source of protein, vitamins and enzymes. Continue reading Trippa alla Romana
This divine cake has two layers: a vanilla-flavored fluffy sponge and a buttery cinnamon topping. It is such a lovely cake, extremely easy to make and incredibly tasty. I served this amazing cake with a delicate and fragrant grape-walnut compote, which I prepared while the cake was in the oven. Continue reading Crumb Cake with Grape and Walnut Compote