Making Spanish dishes often feels like taking a trip to the origin of my Sardinian heritage. As Sardinia was invaded by the Spanish for many years, I always look for similarities with their culture: from the syntax, to the societal constructs, to the ingredients we put on our table. Almonds are definitely a staple in both Spanish and Sardinian cuisines. In Sardinia we have bitter … Continue reading Pollo en Pepitoria – A Spanish Sunday Lunch
Aubergines, or eggplants, are amongst my favourite vegetables to cook, and I really enjoy finding new ways of presenting them at the table and giving them a new taste. This aubergines recipe is inspired by a dish I found in the book Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi, which was given to me as a present not so long ago. As you can imagine, in the land where baba ghanoush was created, aubergines have an essential place in the kitchen and perhaps aubergines are the reason why I lust so much over Levantine and Middle Eastern cuisine. The original recipe comes with a sauce made of chopped lemons, which I had to change because my other half doesn’t like lemon that much. Also, I had to change some of the spices compared to the original recipe, simply because I did not have the required ones in my cupboard. The result was still magnificent, I believe, thanks to the feta cheese, something I would have never dreamed of adding to fried onions. If you don’t believe it, please try this recipe, you won’t regret it!
Add mung beans to your diet, and you’ll have the blessings of nutritionists, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and Ayurvedic docs alike. This tiny green bean is so packed with goodness that simply makes everyone agree on its invaluable nutrition. Magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, proteins, folate, you name it! Unlike a few trendy super-foods, this legume is largely available in Asia, and you can still find it at honest prices! So I added it to my veggie-packed weekly meals, and cooked it like I do with lentils sometimes, dry and flavoured, ready to be added to salads.
I wish I had a magic realism story to tell you about Meatballs and life in the Sardinian countryside, but actually they are all about just-realism. Polpette, AKA meatballs, are probably one of the most common dishes throughout Italy: a dish that speaks about daily life, time spent in the kitchen with your nonna or mamma, crumbling dry bread with your hands. Also, meatballs are probably one of the first recipes one learns to cook, because it’s fun. I can tell you a story of dirty hands, trying to reproduce a perfect sphere of meat, and the only magic here is that my mother never fried the balls before putting them in the tomato sauce, but they never – well, almost never – broke.
Whatever the season, here’s a classic Italian veggie bake: Aubergine Parmigiana. As usual with typical dishes, this is a homemade tradition and every family has their own method and ingredients to make it. My friend Gianfranco from Puglia always says “You can be as beautiful as ever, but if you don’t know how to make parmigiana, you have no charm!” – this saying, applicable to men and women alike, illustrates how big a staple of the Italian kitchen this recipe is. Continue reading “Aubergine/Eggplants Parmigiana – a Classic Veggie Bake”
Stew is one of the best hearty and warming winter foods, and North-Eastern Chinese (Dongbei) cuisine is full of these. Luan Dun (cooked here with ribs and winter vegetables) literally means messy stew, so as you can imagine, the recipe is far from precise. It also involves ripping as many ingredients apart with your hands as possible (instead of cutting it neatly with your cleaver/kitchen knife), so it’s a great way to relieve stress!
In Italy, Halloween is often seen as the American festival that took over our culture, but only a few know that actually our pagan traditions are very similar to this spooky holiday. This Halloween recipe, in dialect called Ossus de Mottu, is representative of what Sardinians called Is Animeddas, a tradition that occurred during the night between All Saint’s and the Day of the Dead. During this night, in the villages of the island, people would keep the house door open, in order to let the souls of the Purgatory come in and help themselves to food and beverages. Also, furniture and drawers would be left open, for the souls to take anything they might need. Spooky uh? Continue reading “Halloween Recipe: Sardinian Dead Bones”
What do you do with left over minced meat? Try this Rou Gan recipe and turn your meat into a jerky-like snack! It’s saved a lot of expiring meat for me. I’m using minced pork here, but it also works for other types of meat, and of course if you have some leftover meat that’s not minced, you can always put it in a blender.
Bear in mind though that the end result is usually better if you have a cut with a high fat percentage, as the “drying” process will make the lean meat too hard. You can try and add a little vegetable oil to the mince mix if your meat is too lean – feel free to experiment, as this is more of a method than a recipe.
It’s Halloween, and while in most households families get busy carving and emptying pumpkins, we decided to stuff ours! This time, with very typical Italian flavours: we stuffed it with Bolognese sauce, probably the most famous pasta sauce in the world. Since the traditional recipe for Bolognese is very time consuming, we decided to make a lot so we could save several portions in the freezer – keep that in mind if you try this recipe, and adjust the quantity of the ingredients according to the amount of meat you will be using. Also, take into consideration that the sauce takes three and a half hours, so we suggest you prepare it the day before you decide to stuff your Halloween pumpkin with it.
I won’t dwell too much on the name origin of this Italian classic recipe, for which many are the presumed stories , but none of them sure. What is certain is that this classic recipe from Lazio was popular only after the Second World War, it is one of the most famous recipes in the world, and also one of the simplest pasta sauces there are to make. However, you still find some recipes that get it completely wrong, by adding extra ingredients that are not necessary at all for this recipe. It is definitely a winner at dinner parties with Anglo-Saxon friends – who will wonder at how magically you pulled together their favourite breakfast ingredients in a dinner dish. Serves two people.