Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My beloved Chilli Pepper....How Can I live without you?

I must be honest, I do use Chilli pepper, I can't live without it.. even if I cannot use anytime into all my dishes as like and as I desire..
A great advise for great cookers explains the following rule " Do not use all the time otherwise you will be not able to taste the real food flavors".
Maybe it's attractive and a bit masochist suffering for few minutes when you feel your mouth getting in fire (burning sensations)......but we love it and we can't live without "HIM"
Europeans were responsible for bringing chili peppers to countries renowned for their spicy cuisine(Korea, Thailand, etc) and now it's becoming always more famous and popular in our country!

Last year my father tried successfully to grown chilli peppers from seeds coming from Calabria and Molise Region so in September we just cleaned it up and chopped to pour them into jar with extravirgin olive oil. REmind do not use water just a paper to clean it softly. The power of their substances that gives chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and several related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the primary ingredient in pepper spray.When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are normally responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by the capsaicinoids, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and releasing the body's natural painkilling chemical, endorphin.
The chili pepper, chilli pepper, or more simply just "chili", is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Even though chilis may be thought of as a vegetable, their culinary usage is generally as a spice, the part of the plant that is usually harvested is the fruit, and botany considers the plant a berry shrub. The name, which is spelled differently in many regions (chili, chile, or chilli), comes from Nahuatl via the Spanish word chile. The term chili in most of the world refers exclusively to the smaller, hot types of capsicum. The mild larger types are called bell pepper in the United States, Canada (and sometimes the United Kingdom), sweet pepper in Britain and Ireland, capsicum in India and Australasia, and paprika in many European countries. Finally, bell peppers are often named simply by their colour (e.g. green or red pepper).

PENNE WITH CHILLI SAUCE,DRIED RICOTTA CHEESE, CRISPY EGGPLANTS and RUCOLA

Ingredients for 4 pax
500 gr Penne
5 tbs Extravirgin Oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 fresh red chilies, crumbled Salt & pepper
3 tb Parsley and rucola chopped gr 300 of Tomato sauce
2 medium eggplants
100 gr dried Ricotta Cheese

Warm chilis & garlic in olive oil until the garlic is fragrant. Turn off the flame and cut slice eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces. Sprinkle salt on eggplant and let site for 20 minutes. Rinse salt off and drain. Cut in little cubes. At that point add 1/2 eggplant into the sauce, let roast for 5 minutes and if you need to pur more oil just do it. Usually Eggplants absorbing lot of oil but please do not exceed.
Add the tomato sauce or passata along with the salt & pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
While sauce is cooking put the rest of the eggplant cubes into a tray with bit of oil , salt and black pepper and let roast and dry in the oven to make it more crispy( 10 minutes/200° C).

Boil water and Cook pasta till al dente & drain. Serve pasta tossed with sauce & sprinkled with parsley, rucola mixing all with ricotta cheese, still mixing adding on top crispy eggplants plus the rest of the cheese and rucola.
Enjoy your spicy pasta.....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Na tazzulella e cafè"


Tu fortunato che sorseggi in casa la tazzulella 'e cafè sgorgato dalla napoletana, e tu distratto che consumi il terzo espresso della giornata al bar, e tu tralignato che ti abbeveri alla macchinetta dell'ufficio. Ti rendi conto di quello che stai facendo? Hai sotto il naso un segno della Gerusalemme celeste. Stai ingoiando un analogo microcosmico. Forse partecipi addirittura a un riflesso dell'era messianica. (Torrefattore Gianni Frasi).

Ed ecco che portare alle labbra una tazzina di caffè fumante non è solo un gesto comune ma anche un rito al quale non ci può sottrarre.

La storia, la nascita e persino l’etimologia del caffè sono avvolte nel mistero ma la parola qahwah parola che in origine, nel linguaggio arabo classico, indicava una bevanda che, prodotta dal succo estratto da alcuni semi, veniva consumata come vino rosso scuro e poi quahvé, parola turca, il cui significato è "ciò che solleva in alto".

Questa definizione viene contestata da molti che sostengono che la parola caffè derivi dalla regione da dove si è originato cioè la Caffa o Kaffa in Etiopia.

Certo è che la scoperta e l’introduzione del caffè sono legate alla storia delle guerre, delle colonizzazioni. A Vienna, città in cui i turchi abbandonarono dopo l’assedio trecento preziosi sacchi di caffè, nacque nel 1683 il primo locale europeo che si ricordi: ‘Alla bottiglia blu’. Il successo fu immediato quando un certo Kolschitzky mescolò il caffè con miele e latte ottenendo una bevanda simile al cappuccino servendovi a fianco dei panini a forma di mezzaluna ( forse i futuri croissants).

In Italia invece furono i veneziani i primi ad usare il caffè. Infatti intorno al 1570, durante il periodo in cui i grandi velieri solcavano il mediterraneo, il caffè fece ingresso nel nostro paese. Ed ecco che nella Venezia di Giacomo Casanova corteggiatori e innamorati usavano inviare alle proprie elette vassoi traboccanti di cioccolata e caffè. Basti pensare che nel 1763 Venezia contava già 218 botteghe dedite alla vendita di questo splendido prodotto.

Ancora oggi il caffè rimane per eccellenza la bevanda energetica per eccellenza e possiamo anche dichiarare che è uno dei pochi prodotti che rimane in una fase di eterna ascesa.

Il mercato globale di settore consta di circa 90.000 milioni di dollari. Il Brasile da solo produce quasi un terzo della produzione mondiale. Tra i produttori, al secondo posto,troviamo il Vietnam che da poco tempo ha superato la Colombia ed in netta crescita produttori mondiali come il Messico, l’India e l’Etiopia.

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Il nome scientifico è Coffea Arabica, pianta della famiglia delle Rubiacee originaria della regione della Caffà in Etiopia.

Abbiamo anche altre tipologie oltre la “Coffea Arabica”, la Coffea Robusta, la Coffea Liberica e la Coffea Excelsa. .

È una pianta perenne che può raggiungere anche i 10 metri di altezza ma nelle piantagioni non supera i 2 metri e mezzo con più ramificazioni e fogliame ovale verde scuro.

I fiori stellati bianco crema sono profumatissimi ed il frutto rosso è una drupa molto simile ad una ciliegia contenente uno o due noccioli ciascuno dei quali avvolge un seme con una faccia dorsale convessa.

La raccolta viene effettuata quando il frutto del caffe' giunto alla giusta maturazione assume appunto un colore rosso.
Si evita sempre di cogliere bacche di diversa maturazione rischio che si incorre utilizzando i macchinari moderni .
Il caffè viene trattato ulteriormente asciugatura il caffè viene steso al sole e all'aria per una settimana con spazzolatura per rimuovere eventuali impurità .
I chicchi del caffè vengono separati per colore e grandezza e poi tostati affinché raddoppino la loro grandezza originale cambiando in colore e densità.
la Tostatura verrà effettuata per indunzione o a fuoco diretto ( metodo tradizionale)
Quando la temperatura interna raggiunge i 200° il chicco inizia ad assumere il colore marrone scuro ( tonaca di frate). Ed ecco il caffè pronto per la macinatura


Gianni Frasi torrefattore veronese che ha fatto del caffè la propria fede e forse uno dei più grandi esperti di caffè che ci sia in Italia afferma:

"Il caffè è l'unico frutto per uso alimentare di cui si butta via tutto: la buccia, la polpa, il pergamino che lo rende seme. La cosa inerte che rimane, la quale a sua volta sarà buttata via come fondo del caffè, è un osso di stupefacente resistenza che non si può utilizzare in nessuna maniera se non sottoponendolo a un battesimo del fuoco. L'immersione del chicco nella fiamma diretta è una vera purificazione. Per lavarlo col fuoco il margine d'errore varia da uno a tre secondi. Il che spiega perché la stragrande maggioranza dei torrefattori usi la fiamma indiretta e tosti il caffè per induzione"

“E’consono alla dignità di quest'opera, che prevede la freschezza senza eccezioni. Come ogni vita, anche quella del caffè comincia a decadere 36 ore dopo la tostatura e termina inesorabilmente dopo 60 giorni. Negli Anni 50 si consegnava il caffè ai bar tre volte la settimana per garantire al massimo grado questa freschezza”.




Riconoscere un buon caffè espresso basta dedicare attenzione all’esame della tazzina, sempre calda se non bollente perché il calore permette una maggiore concentrazione di sostanze odorose: la crema bella densa deve avere un bel colore nocciola e lo zucchero dovrà discendere molto lentamente. Il cucchiaino dello zucchero deve rigorosamente essere caldo per evitare che la temperatura interna si abbassi e che la crema scompaia nel giro di pochi secondi.Dal punto di vista nutrizionale il caffè è una bevanda dallo scarso apporto calorico che provoca effetti benefici sul nostro organismo. E’ sempre meglio non abusarne vista la sostanza nervina della caffeina che agisce sui nostri centri nervosi provocando un benessere generale, sollecitando i riflessi e mantenendoci attivi. Aiuta la concentrazione facilitando la percezione degli stimoli sensoriali allontanando la stanchezza psichica e fisica, la noia e gli stati depressivi. È anche un cardiotonico perché migliora il tono arterioso senza alterare la pressione sanguigna ma è da evitare per chi soffre di tachicardia e stati di ansia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Parma Ham & Cheese Muffins/ Lorianetti

Here a nice recipes for making little salted Muffins. These muffins were definitely moist and stayed that way for a few days so let's go in the kitchen and pepare it...
This is dedicated to Loriana this is the reason why I called them LORIANETTI.
I know she loves to prepare them home but this is a new light version!!!
Enjoy!

Here the ingredients for 12 medium muffins
3 whole eggs
salt and black pepper
350 gr of milk
280 gr of extravirgin olive oil
120 gr of grated dried ricotta cheese
70 gr Parma Ham
550 gr of "0" Flour
15 gr of instant yeast/please rememeber that Instant Yeast is a high potency, fast acting yeast that can be added directly at last to your dry ingredients without letting the dough rise up for hours.
In a large bowl put the eggs with oil, milk, salt and black pepper...slowly slowly add the rest of the ingredients in the same order given in the recipe.....
Remember the consistancy of the dough that has to be soft and thik at the same time. Stir the mix until just blended. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter into greased muffin pans, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008



Sashimi is thinly sliced, raw seafood. Many different kinds of fish (and other types of seafood) are served raw in the Japanese cuisine. Of course, the fish has to be as fresh as possible. Sashimi can be eaten just as sashimi or as nigiri zushi, in which case the sashimi piece is put on top of a small ball of sushi Making great sushi starts with making great rice. Sometimes called Pearl rice, Glutinous rice or Japanese rice, Sushi rice is the most important ingredient in your sushi. Without well-cooked and well-dressed grains of rice, the best-laid sushi plans can turn into a disaster. It is essential that you use the correct variety of rice when making sushi to ensure that perfect consistency and adhesive quality so integral to good sushi. When the rice is of high caliber, the sushi will be too.

High quality sushi rice will have very few (if any) broken rice grains, so avoid over-processing the rice. Broken grains lead to a "mushy sushi" that is very disappointing. The sticky consistency should NOT come from overcooked or overworked rice. The rice is sticky because of an indispensable starch content and the addition of a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt.

The Sushi Rice Recipe

3 cups Japanese Sushi Rice
3 1/4 Cups Cold Water
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt

Wash Rice in cold water until the water runs almost clear. This may take a few minutes. Once water runs semi-clear, drain rice of any excess water and add 3 1/4 cups water. Add enough water to cover the rice and so that the water comes up to the first knuckle on your index finger if your touching the rice with the tip of your finger
I recommend using a rice cooker at this point so that the rice comes out consistently. But if you choose to cook it on the stove then........ Bring the water and rice to a boil and cover with a lid. Once you put a lid on the pan reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes. It is VERY IMPORTANT not to lift the lid during this last 10 minutes. The rice is STILL COOKING, even though the heat is off.
While the rice is cooking heat the rice vinear, sugar and salt in a pan until dissolved. Remove from heat as soon as sugar and salt has dissolved.

When rice is done, put rice in large bowl. Slowly add the vinegar mixture in to the rice while mixing the rice with a wooden spoon or spatula. The goal is to fold the mixture into the rice. You DON'T want to make mushy rice. The rice should stay as individual rice grains and not a glutenous blob. Another tip for making sushi rice is to let the steam (water) come out of the rice fast by mixing near a fan or open window. The breeze will allow the water to come out of the rice while adding the flavor from the vinegar mixture. Store sushi rice at room temperature covered with a damp towel. This will keep the rice from drying out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Basic Store for a good plain cooking

This is a sort of memorandum for everyone loves italian cooking......


1) Flour 00 for making cakes and home made pasta or flour 0 for pizza, bread and panbrioche.

2) Semolino flour is not suitable for making home made pasta but it can help when your pasta is drying and you don't want to have a sticky working surface.

3) Fresh eggs if possible and at room temperature if you want to use it for making fresh pasta or cakes.

4) Extra-virgin olive oil..it's a must

5) Sage:Enhance pasta sauces or roasted meat with the subtle flavor of finely chopped fresh sage leaves…have you try pasta with butter and fresh sage?

6) Parsley is a great source of flavor and garnish.

7) Basil with his peppery flavour is suitable to tomato-based dishes and other dressing.

8) Thyme and Rosemary great for roasted meat, you can use it fresh or dried.

9) Oregano is often used to flavour pasta o meat sauces as other italian dishes.

10) Marjoram is strictly related to the oregano but has more delicate aroma to use alway fresh and not dried.

11) Salt to use with caution using your own taste to decide the right amount.

12) Black pepper is more pungent than white.

13) Juniper berries for roasted meat as lamb or wild boar but also for vegetable dishes.

14) Nutmeg contributes a distinctive flavor to milk based sauces as besciamella or meat.

15) Saffron provide colour and delicate flavour: is available as powder or strands (great for decoration).

16) Garlic and onions: red skinned onion, yellow onion, spring onion, leek and garlic are the stars of the italian cuisine.


17) The tomato, either fresh or in one of its many preserved forms, is often a vital ingredient in pasta recipes: cherry tomatoes, Plum tomato, sun dried tomatoes, tomato puree, chopped thinned tomatoes and whole tinned tomatoes.

18) Olives and capers for a simple pasta sauce: black olives that are in oil and vinegar can be kept at room temperature: add capers always at the end of cooking time as heat intensifies their strong and salty flavour.

19) Pine nuts, nuts and walnuts for pesto sauce and several recipes cakes.

20) Balsamic vinegar: the true balsamic vinegar, which is aged for several years: you can use for sauces and salads or grilled meat.

21) Ham and bacon: for many pasta dishes you can use ham and bacon to add flavors and texture to the sauces: pancetta, is another regional italian speciality, a type of bacon that is cured like ham.

22) Cheese: when you are buying hard cheese as parmesan, ask always for a piece to be cut from the whole cheese rather than choosing a pre-cut piece in plastic: keep it in the fridge or in the freezer if you think to buy more than one piece.
a) Mozzarella mild cheese melts well and it's great for pizza or pasta topping
b) Pecorino Romano: hard cheese made from sheep's milk and it has a sharper flavor, more peppery than parmesan cheese
c) Ricotta: frequently used for pasta filling, it's creamy and delicate
d) Gorgonzola: italian blue cheese with strong and sharp flavor
e) mascarpone: fresh double cream soft dessert cheese
f) Parmigiano reggiano: hard, grainy cheese, this is the correct name for parmesan cheese.
Then don't forget to have potatoes, zucchini, eggplants,fresh lettuce, radish, leak and other kind of vegetables….your fridge must be filled with everything is healthy and good for a mediterranean diet!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vinitaly 42° Edition/Speculation, dubbing the scandal "Brunellopoli”

I am not shocked at all about the new/ maybe old scandal surrounding Brunello di Montalcino. After the first day at the Vinitaly I have seen so many people interested on wine that nothing touched me even this scandal enveloping one of Italy's most prestigious wine: Brunello.
Reading on the main newspapers "Brunello under fire" "Brunello another big wine scandal" "Clandestin grapes in the mithical Brunello" I truly feel very sad.
Italy is the country of scandals starting by the politic world to the buffalo mozzarella....made in Italy is schecking for such a sort of bad news!
But I think there is more behind the brunellogate!

It was 7 years ago and during my first Course on Master of wine with Slow Food I remember very well a long discussion regarding blended wines and they were already talking and reporting that for sure few numbers of leading Tuscan producers were adding different kind of grapes in their wines.
Brunello wine must be 100% sangiovese grape and the scandal is based because many producers have been incriminated for adding merlot, cabernet sauvignon to their wines. WHY? So this is the question.....
Why would winemakers want to mess around with brunello?
Through the large number of Brunellos everyone can notice the diversity of Style and flavors under this denomination.
SANGIOVESE grape is pale ruby, fresh and acidic, austere, nervous with flavors of bitter cherry and smoky....but not dark, dense wine, plummy, mature, tasting like chocolate.
Some of those wines develop in that way aging in small french oak barrels but sometime they become so mild and ready to drink in few months which is not so regular for making BRUNELLO.
These wines surely need 10 if not 20 years of aging....but in this world where no one wants to wait this is the risk we run for asking too much to the market and to the nature....if this wine has to have particular tastes and no others we should accept it and maybe LEARN A NEW WAY TO DRINK. I am waiting!

Paccheri from Gragnano with Monkfish Ragout

Ingredients for 4 pax

500 gr (17.5 oz) Paccheri hard wheat pasta from Gragnano
2 cloves of garlic
6 TBS of extra virgin olive oil
20 medium cherry tomatoes/ squeeze out water & seeds
400 gr (14 oz.) Monkfish fillet ( boneless)
salt and bit of chilly pepper
Fresh Parsley

Put oil into a large pan with garlic cloves and a bit of chilly pepper and when garlic is browning ( don’t let it burn) add monkfisk well chopped, put salt and parsley.
The secret to successful monkfish cookery is to not overcook. Whichever of the following cooking methods you choose, your monkfish will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque but is still moist on the inside so Lets cook for 5/7 minutes as the fish cooks always very fast and then add cherry tomatoes and salt. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes and when the sauce is becoming thick turn down the flame.
Boil pasta for ten minutes, drain the pasta and pour it into the pan with monkfish ragout mixing on the range at medium flame with extra chopped parsley.


The monkfish is a bizarre-looking fish with a huge head and mouth. It uses an antenna sprouting from its head to attract little fish into biting range. The head is so ugly, French fishermen used to cut it off at sea for fear of frightening landlubbers. Monkfish live in East Coast waters and come to us as a by-catch in fishermen’s nets. Only the tail is eaten. Monkfish is known as “poor man’s lobster,” and though its lean texture resembles lobster, its mild taste is quite different.
Monkfish should smell like the ocean, without having a fishy odor.

Nutritional Highlights
Monkfish (cooked, dry heat), 3 oz. (84.9g)
Calories: 82.4
Protein: 15.8g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 1.6g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Selenium (39.8mcg)
*Good source of: Niacin (2.8mg), Vitamin B6 (0.23mg), and Vitamin B12 (0.88mcg)