Archive for ‘Soups’

March 17, 2010

My daily soup

Did I already say how much I love this place? And how much I love this cookbook? I love it so much that I could not contemplate closing it in a box, and it is the only cookbook that made the move with me.

Their cooking can be summarized – their words, not mine – in ‘garlic and lemon’. Love it or hate it. I had a chance to try the cookbook because it was in the library, after reading this recension. I fell in love with the recipes, and obviously, first time I went to London for a trip, I basically choose the hotel because it was just a few meters away from their Notting Hill shop :). It was no disappointment, also on subsequent visits.

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January 22, 2010

The chef’s trick

Home made bouillon

Finally, I am equipped with a proper kitchen! The best part of it is that it is full of natural light. I have electric plates also for top stove cooking and the oven is a smallish, electric one, which I prefer to traditional gas ones (traditional in Italy, of course).  I managed to clean it just a couple of days ago, and have used it only for cooking the occasional squash or finishing off some busy week dinner. I promise some proper baking is coming back soon. I have been really missing it. Of course here it has been less of a pain than it would have been in the UK, as when I want a decent slice of cake, the difficult part is choosing between the dozens on offer in a cafe’; and bread is fantastic, as I told you. Nevertheless I use the oven a lot for many little finishes to dishes, for grating a pasta or rice dish, or as a healthy alternative for frying. My family has missed my homemade granola as well: I’ll have to source a good health food shop for nuts and seeds and the likes, and then it will be back.

In the meanwhile, one of the first things I did was trying this recipe.

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November 4, 2009

The colourful side of Autumn


Farmer market and posh shops are invaded by thousands of pumpkins and squashes. I’m not sure what German people do with squash foodwise, but for sure they love its rustic looks for decoration. One of my neighbours has displayed three carefully choses pumpkins on his doorsteps: they are lovely! And their  colour is very similar to the beautiful trees that line the sky in this region.

I love squashes because they are so flavourful and sweet, and so  poor in calories. I also love their colour. I usually roast them, cut into chunks (if you look into my oven, a good 70% of the times there is a squash roasting close to whatever else is there) before doing anything else. However, this being not possible, I am exploring other methods. A quite convenient one is to steam it, cut into largish chunks, using a basket in my pressure cooker. It takes about 10 minutes and the flavour and consistency are quite well-preserved if you don’t overcook it.

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August 15, 2009

Winter Warmer

(Originally posted on 29 November 2008)

It is not properly chilly here. It can get quite discomforting, thanks to the strong atlantic winds, but we seldom get ice in the night. Northern Italy is definitely colder – to me, winter means the damp, iced fog that makes every landscape, even the most urban one, gentler. Anyway, here almost anybody can control their house heating, so we can decide to keep the heating on as little as we like – I actually don’t stand overheated flats anymore, my head starts to hurt. Even if we do keep the heating on, our house is large enough and badly isolated enough to stay reasonably cold, a fact shared by most British houses – will they ever learn how to properly insulate a house, or, for what matters, how to build a straight wall? This being the situation, and since I am always looking for low cal comfort food, soups are a hit. Now in everyday food in Italy soups are nothing luscious, and in my family we don’t use them a lot. They remind of dieting and punishment eating. Of course some of them score in my favourite food ever, but they tend to be complex in preparation and flavour, calling for ‘exotic’ ingredients or lots of handwork: think of pasta e fagioli, a family favourite from Venezia with handmade tagliatelle, or pappa al pomodoro, that can go from distilled and concentrated Mediterranean essence flavours, with the right olive oil, tomatoes and of course wood oven baked bread, to a disgusting acidic slop. But recently any time I make a soup I am so pleased with the simplicity of preparation and cleaning, and the nice and filling results that I wonder why I don’t cook them more often. So yesterday I decided to go for a soup, and to give a go to a cupboard ingredient patiently waiting for its turn, something that apparently is a childhood favourite here in UK: split pea soup.

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