Women’s bags are one of the many mysteries this world is built upon. Way before Hawking and Penrose discovered black holes, women’s bags attracted an unimaginable variety of objects without shedding light to none of them and absorbing the energy and patience of all people in the surroundings. I own several of these bags, but perhaps someone will award me with a Nobel prize for sharing another kind of black hole: my wallet. Continue reading
Tradition is what I miss the most of my Italian years. The Christmas feast with my family, for example, it was one of those events that was very hard to give up when I left. Nevertheless, traditions were created in my years in the Netherlands too and I am not ready to change them quite yet.
That is why my first Christmas eve in the Caribbean included 4 hours straight of Skype with my friends living in Rotterdam. They were having dinner, we were having lunch, but everyone had to bring a main course and a spoon. No worries, the idea of the spoon wasn’t clear to anyone. The only person who actually brought something on a spoon on the table was Derrick. The rest of us just made whatever they wanted to make, but in a small portion. Well, relatively small… Continue reading
In today’s post I won’t introduce you to a recipe like I’ve done in the past weeks and like I plan to do in the coming ones (you can find everything in my menu Cooking by the Sea).
I think it is time to give each other some space for bonding and you can only bond with someone if that someone is willing to show you what he or her is made of. In Italian I would say that I would like to show you ‘di che pasta sono fatta’ (which kind of pasta I’m made of). Well, me personally I’m made of pastina. Continue reading
Pesto has been an acquired taste for me. My father did not like it; my mother did not prepare it, and I ended up trying it for the first time in my university years. Even in Italy, students are not immune from falling into a sort of culinary Middle Age that pushes them to eat everything come from cans and jars, and possibly a weird combination of these. Here we go, my first pesto was a pesto from a jar. The worst possible introduction to pesto ever. A disastrous date, a missed opportunity, a big cross through the word pesto for more than 7 years. Until one day, possibly rainy, in Utrecht.
A friend of my not-yet-husband, asked me to prepare ‘real pesto’ for her. She accompanied her request with a caricature of a typical Italian gesture. I could not say no. I had to keep up with the reputation that any Italian abroad has of being some kind of food prophet.
It had to be perfect. I armed myself with a mortar and the best ingredients I could find. Plenty of fresh basil, pine nuts, coarse salt, parmigiano reggiano, garlic and two special guests gently provided by my parents from Italy with love: the glorious Pecorino d’Abruzzo and Extra Virgin Oil from Pianella that never let me down. The result paid back the effort. That day a great pesto was eaten and a new friendship was consolidated.
Although my parents still send me from time to time some saffron from L’Aquila by post, I cannot possibly hope to hug again my precious oil and pecorino any time soon. Therefore, the pesto I made in Sint Maarten had to do without. Still, homemade pesto confirmed to be unsurpassable. Ready to try it?
NB. There are several pesto variants, with potatoes and green beans or even red with tomatoes and ricotta. The one I prepared is Pesto alla Genovese.
INGREDIENTS for PESTO ALLA GENOVESE (2 people)
- 50 ml of good extra virgin olive oil;
- 1 small piece of garlic (very small if you don’t like garlic too much);
- Coarse salt;
- 8 g of pine nuts;
- 30 basil leaves (carefully washed and dried);
- 40 g of Parmigiano Reggiano;
- 15 g of Pecorino.
Clean and dry all your basil leaves and be careful not to bruise them in order to avoid oxidation (which might result in a bitter taste).
Mash the garlic with a mortar with the help of a few grains of course salt.
Add the basil leaves, a few at the time, and continue to mash until you get a bright green and smooth paste.
Add pine nuts and cheese, in this order, and continue to work on the paste. Finally, add the olive oil and mix it all together.
“Yes, but sometimes I don’t have time to prepare pesto in this way. I just need something already made to mix with my pasta!” I understand that. That is why I tell you that you can also freeze home made pesto.
Here another problem. You made pesto but your plan for the evening has changed. Just make sure you pour a layer of olive oil on top of your pesto paste and cover it with a transparent film. You can keep the pesto in the fridge and the day after it is going to be as good as just made.
Homemade Pesto is very easy to make and the result is ten times better than pesto from the store. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for the sake of these poor basil leaves sacrificed to that horrific end: Please, do no longer purchase pesto in jars!
I special thank for my friend and guest Humera for the photos of this post.
Last week I told you about my favourite dish – gnocchi – and how my father used to convince me to get out of bed with the infallible argument that my mother was preparing it. Well, my father never liked gnocchi. I know, that’s blasphemy, but I guess gnocchi’s consistency is too weird for his rather conservative palate. A palate that has been perfected through the years in recognising and enjoying only a limited repertoire of dishes rigorously made by my mother. And by my mother only. How did she use to solve this clash of tastes? Simply by also preparing due spaghetti all’uovo. Literally ‘two egg spaghetti’. Now, to prepare due spaghetti is a common Italian expression for a little bit of spaghetti. But do not let this expression fool you! In Italy there is no such a thing as a little bit when talking about food. And especially in Abruzzo, the region I’m from. So, beware of this expression and keep in mind that ‘two’ usually refers to an amount that varies between 200 g and 2 kg.
Let’s make things clear. I love cooking, but when it comes to traditional Italian/Abruzzese kitchen I’m nothing like my mother. Yet, you would be surprised how little time there’s needed to make a reasonable amount of fresh egg spaghetti for four people. (I used the word ‘reasonable’ but please consider what said before and that I’m still an Italian at heart). That is why I decided to make them today, honouring the tradition of my family according to which there are no gnocchi without due spaghetti.
Spaghetti all’uovo can be served with fresh tomato sauce and basil, but also with more elaborate ingredients. Lamb, crab, shrimp, mushroom and sausage are a few of my favourites. You will need a pasta machine to thin the dough to about 3 mm and cut it into spaghetti shape. Alternatively, you can use a more traditional rolling-pin and a typical Abruzzese tool called chitarra (like the music instrument, but than a bit different).
This photo is taken from the Internet. Unfortunately, I left my chitarra at home [sobbing], but I cannot recommend it to you enough. La chitarra is inexpensive, aesthetically appealing, and much easier to use than a pasta machine. The best way to get it is to go to Abruzzo, enjoy its fantastic nature and superb food, and bring a chitarra back home as a souvenir. The other way is Internet.
INGREDIENTS: 1 medium egg and 100 g of flour for each person at the dinner table. Count also the persons who say in advance they will not eat!
If you have questions about how to make spaghetti all’uovo or spaghetti alla chitarra just contact me!
“Svegliati che la mamma sta facendo gli gnocchi!” (Wake up! Your mother is making gnocchi). That is how my father used to convince me to get out of the bed on Sunday morning in that time of my life when my body seemed to need an indefinite amount of sleep. It is no secret in my family that I am crazy about this dish, but I’ve always also enjoyed to participate in the making process. In no time I would be from my bed to the side of the table where my mother was mixing up all the ingredients. The kitchen was already full of the sweet smell of boiled potatoes and flour. Often my grandmother, who used to live on the floor below, would come up to help. We where then all together. Three generation of women gathered around what for me was the one and only holy ritual on a Sunday.
It is Saturday morning. You could finally sleep in but your biological clock set on working time pushes you out of the bed at 6 am. What can you do? Well, I have two options. You can either stick to your horizontal position pretending to be asleep until you admit to yourself that this is pointless, or you get dressed and go to Marigot’s market. Continue reading