recipe

Polenta panini

Cornmeal has been for generations the alternative flour option as opposed to the more refined wheat. Boil it into a porridge and you will get polenta, which has been for centuries the staple food of entire populations in north of Italy areas. A large dish of polenta accompanied by mushrooms and, in the holidays, by wonderfully sticky sausages, was very common in peasant tables. When white flour was hard to spot, for children's snacks, polenta was offered with the addition of milk and sugar. I love the idea of turning a huge traditional dish into a miniaturized heavenly version with an assured yummy effect. In this aperitivo snack that I created exclusively as part of my collaboration with Martini, which I previously talked about here, I combine the tastiness of cotechino Modena (a fresh sausage made from pork, fatback, and pork rind to be found in specialty stores) with Taleggio cheese's mountain piquancy. The mouthwatering result will be an instant success for your spring parties in #foodhappiness mode on. Want to give it a try?

Polenta Panini for Aperitivo time

Ingredients for 4 people:

• 1 Italian cotechino (500 gr.) • 350 gr. Polenta Valsugana type • 4 lt. plain water • 250 gr. taleggio cheese • 1 pinch of pink peppercorn •1 pinch of fine salt and a handful of rocky salt

In a large pot, boil 1.5 lt. of water at medium fire. When the water gets to a boiling, add  a handful of rocky salt, lower the heat and pour the polenta in. Stir carefully for about 8 minutes and always in the same direction, with a wooden spoon. Spread the polenta cooked on a large dish and let cool for about an hour.

In another saucepan, boil 2.5 lt. water. When the water gets to a boiling it's time to add the cotechino in. Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cut the cold polenta, cotechino and cheese into rounds using a small pastry round cutter. Divide the polenta slices, 2 by 2, and fill each sandwich with a slice of cotechino and one of taleggio cheese. Heat the polenta sandwich in the oven at 180 degrees for 3 minutes (enough to melt the cheese). To serve, place a stick on each sandwich and sprinkle with pink peppercorn.

With love and polenta,

Eleonora

polenta2

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella

It's away from the church bells ringing, in the secure retreat of a kitchen in Rome that this dish was born. I got to the market late in the morning, so I could get the best bargain before the fishmonger stall would shut down. What's gratifying about this fishy creation is the nutty pistachios contrasting with the crispy mortadella filling.  They say fish is good for you, but for me, it's the indulgent accompaniment with cream and mortadella that makes it excellent. The origins of Mortadella Bologna are to be found in the territories of the ancient Etruscan area (nearby Rome), rich with oak trees that provided piquant acorns to the many local wild pigs. The Bologna Archaeological Museum houses the first evidence of what is claimed to be a producer of mortadella : on a Roman pillar are depicted on the one hand seven grazing piglets and on the other a mortar with a pestle . The mortar was used by the Romans to pound and knead the pork with salt and spices. This suggests that the name of the sausage comes from mortarium. This dish is sweet succulence perfectly combined with salty freshness.

The video below was made in collaboration with a French production. Even though the instructions are in French, it wouldn't hurt to follow the video when making this recipe, especially for the step where the mortadella filling is involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1QGRFIribY

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella Ingredients: (serves 2 people)

  • 100 gr. creamy soft spreadable cheese
  • 30 gr. fresh whipping cream
  • 50 gr. dairy unsalted butter
  • a sprinkle of ground pepper
  • a sprinkle of fine salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr. mortadella Bologna
  • 50 gr. pistachio nut kernels
  • 200 gr. saithe or coley fillet
  • 50 gr. crispy babyleaf salad

In a bowl, place the creamy cheese, add the whipping cream, a hint of salt and the olive oil. Whisk until obtaining a smooth preparation.

Make an incision down the centre of the fish from the head to the tail, then make a cut in order to create a pocket for the filling. It is important that you don't break the fish, so take your time and do this process delicately.

Cut the mortadella into thin slices. Fill the fish with mortadella and cover it. Plant a pic to maintain it still. Dust with the pistachios and add the salt. In a pan, melt the butter and cook the stuffed fish 2 minutes per side. Serve it with bubbles of cream cheese and the salad.

With love and pistachios,

Eleonora

The End of the World in the Loire Valley

As an Italian person, one of my most developed senses is Smell. Oh yes, we like our aromatherapy in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, what I absolutely love about food shopping in any open market in Italy, is the herbal goodie bag that comes with it: gorgeous thyme, rosemary, curly persil or the inevitable basil, you name it. They'll all be part of the deal. The positive health effects of culinary herbs have been renowned ever since the dawn of civilization. It's common knowledge that Venice, for example, has for centuries been an authentic door of spices interchange between East and West. Lately, I've been wondering around the Loire Valley, and I came across the most exclusive botanical garden & restaurant. Located in Berthenay, near the wonderful Chateau of Villandry (one of the seven wonders of the world), this river estate is surrounded by a garden of aromatic and edible plants. While Benoist introduced me to the wide variety of culinary herbs from all over the world, Emmanuelle would be cooking up a storm inside the adjacent cute little cottage.

I discovered that each region has its own plants that bloom like a symphony depending on the climate. To activate digestion, best served in form of infusion or soup are : fennel, mint, lemon balm, sage (also used as an antiseptic). We went for a walk in the domain, and came upon the wild plants along the Loire: oregano, die, bay leaves, tansy, Moorish. The taste of these herbs is enhanced by sun or humidity. I've been lucky enough to get a full on description of a whole area dedicated to mints. The best flavouring herb? Marjolaine shell. In the workshops run by Benoist, one can learn how to grow these delicate plants in their own gardens or, for the more citizen-types, like me, on the balcony.

Just adding up one herb to an otherwise ordinary meal will bring a whole new meaning and character to it. So have fun, mix up, create, and try for yourself the art of combining herbs with the kitchen. Back in the cottage, Emmanuelle prepared an unforgettable nettle soup. No, it didn't itch.

On the contrary, it was the end of the world.

Consume without moderation.

With love and nettle,

Eleonora

Frittata rolls with courgettes and green sauce

"Ma parla come mangi!" In other words, speak the way you eat. Be simple. Don't be rethoric. In Italy we also use food as a cultural or social paradox. When I was a child, I would be served frittata (i.e. omelette) whenever at home everyone was too tired to cook. As simple as it is (ok, maybe harder than boiling an egg), there were few things at the time that made me happier than my grandmother calling me at the table: "The frittata is done"! Later in life I found out that, figuratively, this phrase is used when some huge mess occurs. Also, the act of "turning the omelette" (a stage of cooking) is associated with an alleged attempt to slip away from a discussion. It turns out, at home I should have watched my plate and watched my mouth, too.

But, nonetheless, a frittata can be so crunchy and delicious that I might as well just roll it. That's what I did for a French video production project. My other videos from this same adventure can be viewed here, here, or here, to name but a few. I love the idea of capturing the moist of the egg with the cirtusy green sauce. If you find watching the video tempting enough, then you'll be even more thrilled at the idea of reproducing it with the instructions below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhvSdfY4GL4

Frittata rolls with courgettes and green sauce

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 4 fresh free-range eggs
  • 1 courgette
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 gr. sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Pour the eggs into a bowl, add the salt, the pepper and the rosemary. Whisk them until fluffy. In a pan, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and splash the beaten eggs in. Let the egg dough curdle from 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat the operation on the other side and cook for the last 3 minutes. Place the obtained omelette on a plate.

Cut the courgette into slices. In a pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the vegetables at low heat for 15 minutes. In the meanwhile, cut the sundried tomatoes into strips.

Evenly place the slices of courgettes and tomatoes on the omelette. Roll the omelette and cut it into rolls of about 3 cm. each. Mildly prick each roller with a cocktail stick.

For the green sauce, finely chop the parsley and place it in a small bowl. Pour the remaining olive oil in and finally add the lemon juice. Mash the mixture  Add a teaspoon of green sauce on each roll before serving.

With love and eggs,

Eleonora

Healthy peas & asparagus soup

I've always been fascinated by fairytales, their moral turn being the ultimate measure of the do's and dont's in my childhood life, and later, holding the balance of power in my view of people and situations. I am one of those people who live life running through the same bewilderment I find in movies and books. Call me naive, but there's something terribly comforting in clichés. The Princess and the Pea is about a girl whose royal status is established by an assessment of her physical receptiveness by placing a pea in the bed she is offered for the night, covered by 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds. In the morning, the princess tells her hosts that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed.

Last night I've been kept awake too, by some love serenade under my balcony (addressed to the neighbour, of course), which kept me up and running all over the kitchen and, for courtesy reason, unable to complain: this morning I had two  bags under my eyes so big I'd go shopping with, and a brand new recipe to be conceived in my 8 m2 kitchen. Could I be considered a princess, too?

Pea and asparagus soup

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 250 gr. of split peas
  • 1 fresh carrot
  • 1 fresh celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 25 gr. fresh mint
  • 1 lt. vegetable broth
  • 100 gr. fresh asparagus tips
  • 50 gr. medium mature cheddar cheese/any aged cheese
  • 50 ml. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 gr. bacon cubes
  • a sprinkle of salt

Soak the split peas in cold water for at least 3 hours. Finely chop the carrot, the celery and the onion and put them to fry in a large saucepan with the garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add the peas and the asparagus tips to the pan, add a sprinkle of salt, stir to flavor and then cover the vegetables with the hot vegetable stock.

Cook over low heat until the peas and asparagus tips are tender and begin to unravel, it will take about 60 minutes. As a final touch, you can sprinkle it with some grated aged cheese. Once the soup is cooked, put the bacon in a pan and cook until crisp.

Serve the pea and asparagus soup with crispy bacon on top.

With love, pillows and peas

Eleonora

Honey glazed salmon fillet

In Roman habits, friday is a non-meat day. The tradition is linked with the Bible and the general precept of the Catholic Church that imposes not to eat meat on Fridays, the day of the Passion of Christ. Green light then to all kinds of fish and vegetables. When strolling around Roman's open air markets, such as the one in Campo dei Fiori or Testaccio, any respectable fishmonger on this day would scream out loud its generous supply of blessed cod with chickpeas (baccalà co' ceci). In order to grab attention, they would accompany it with a typical Roman stornello, an often emblematic folk song containing lyrics on a romantic and mockery tone, like these ones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k-S3onbVyk

Even if you're rolling on deadlines before the end of the week, believe me, this no-fuss recipe will only take 5 minutes to make. I love how the citrusy flavour tickle with the rich drops of balsamic vinegar. What's more, this sweet and sour salmon is easy & quick to perform and will give the impression of an elaborate dish. I worked on this video as a collaboration with a French production company, hence subtitles may be cryptic. However, images do speak for themselves, and if you want to give it a go, you will find below all the details.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWDd9KbkzX4

Honey glazed salmon fillet

Ingredients (serves 1 person):

  • 150 gr. salmon fillet
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 30gr. honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 gr. of fennel seeds
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

In a bowl, first press the orange and the lime. Pour the obtained juice into a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, the honey and the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grate the fennel seeds and add them to the mix.

Place the salmon fillet in the obtained marinade. Cover with foil and let rest in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.

Warm up a pan, then cook the fish fillet aller-retour, 1 minute each side. Next, lightly drizzle with the marinade and let the sauce reducing for a couple of minutes. Put the fish on a dish and pour the sauce on top with a brush before enjoying it with a side seasonal salad.

With love and salmon,

Eleonora

Kluger, Fabrique des Tartes

I love to meet and greet with likeminded people in the food sector, discover and learn from the places I go to. Honestly Paris never fails to impress, its vibrant food scene being a constant inspiration for me; I recently came across the very talented Catherine Kluger. A former lawyer turned tarte guru, Catherine decides to leave her legal job, in order to totally focus on the sweet & savoury art of French pies, initially thanks to the help of pâtisserie consultant Nicolas Bernardé. Whether quiche lorraine, carotte-citron confits or courgette-feta-crumble au parmesan, these tartes are a head turner, and her factory is a step into paradise. Why pies? "Because it's easy, useful and practical. Because they are part of French culinary heritage. Because, deep in our memory and our taste buds, lies the taste of a pie. Additionally, they can be easily adapted to urban nomadic life". Mrs. Kruger signed multiple deals over these past few years with French Marabout editions, publishing four books revealing the underside of her recipes, while keeping her store open and running and keep being a busy mom of three. What's more, she's been heading pop up restaurants, collaborating at hundreds of events, and she even managed to launch a Parisian food-truck. I call that the feminine French art of martyrdom.

This lady speaks to us through food, a language that we are all willing to learn. And the Tartes Kluger are, oh, so luscious. Flavour is deep, complex and utterly compelling. What's more their taste is an incredible barometer of the ingredients' authenticity. And the fact that it doesn't take any more than buying her latest book in order to reproduce some of these beauties, makes it a joy. I'm a huge fan of quiches, and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to interpret this traditional dish. For a picnic, a quick lunch, or a earthy party, these tartes are just the perfect fix. I love to have my cake and eat it too along with a warm, comforting soup. Catherine uses organic flours for the pie base and, I must admit, the overall taste does thanks for it.

For a few weeks more, until February 8th, as a result of a collaboration with natural store Sol Semilla, Katherine is snipping in her pies all kind of seeds @ her store at 15, rue Trousseau. The whole idea is to restore vitality and energy with a great powered menu. This, for me, is the magic ingredient here. We are in total healthy territory. Even if, it would be more accurate to say, superfoods heaven. And then there's the sweet version. Yes, I know we are still in the detox month for excellence, yet...every rule gets broken when things are brilliant. On with the dance.

Flan pâtissier*

For a flexible and elastic dough:

  • 250 gr. strong white bread wheat flour
  • 185 gr. very cold dairy unsalted butter
  • 25 cl. whole milk (warmed up)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar

For the cream:

  • 225 ml of whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 45 gr. caster sugar
  • 15 gr. of cornstarch
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Indian chai spices
  • 30 gr. dairy unsalted butter

Start with the dough: first of all, mix flour and salt, then add the vanilla sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces. With your fingertips, roll it delicately into the flour until it becomes nice and sandy. Keep your hands cool so not to heat up the butter: it should melt as little as possible. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and the milk with a fork. Dig a small well in the sandy mixture, pour the beaten egg in. With the flat of your hand, form a homogeneous dough by working the ingredients very cautiously.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap forming a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. After that, flatten the dough by tapping it with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and roll out the dough until greater than the size of the mold disc. Gently pick the dough with a fork. Generously butter the mold and let the dough stick to its entire perimeter. As it is, let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven at 170°. Line the pastry with baking paper, ideally cut into circle. Place on some dry beans and precook the pie for 35 minutes at 170°. Then free the pie from its shell. Brush it with some egg wash and put it in the oven for three further minutes, in order to dry the gilding and thus make it solid before garnishing it.

Preheat the oven at 210°. Realize the custard: heat the milk, then pour a small amount of whipped eggs with sugar, spices and cornstarch. Pour this mixture into the hot milk and stir until the cream thickens. Pour the custard in the precooked pie shell. Bake it for 10 minutes at 210°, just the time for it to color nicely. Let cool completely before serving. It's better to make this dessert ideally the day before.

With love and flan,

Eleonora

* This recipe is taken from the book "La Fabrique des Tartes" by Catherine Kluger.

PORT EN BASSIN – The cradle of Normandy Impressionism PART 2

There are the seagulls, the walks along the D-day beaches, the low tide, and then there's Port-en-Bassin, where coquilles Saint-Jacques meet shabby chic. A few weeks ago, I interrupted a tale on this post with a - to be continued - tag. Because half of the pleasure lies in the procrastination. Just like the preparation of a good meal, with several of the ingredients needing to be poached, resting, and rising well ahead of time. normandia1Port-en-Bassin is a small fishermen town, counting 2000 inhabitants only, located in Normandy, precisely in the area where apples abound, leading the way to Calvados ageing. There, I stayed at charming velvety house La Maison Matelot, all sailor motif, grey floors and decorative ring-shaped life savers. As I woke up in the early morning in order to head to the local bakery for my usual breakfast ritual, I couldn't help but grin at myself as I listened to the angelic music diffused around the tiny, stoney streets. The majority of the locals are fishermen, that's probably why the service was slightly slow at the local bar, since there seemed to be a crucial backgammon match going on. So I embraced a slow paced weekend. Just like the fishermen, I waited for the tide to be high again, and waved goodbye to them before finding these Popeye-styled boats all coming back to the port around 10 p.m. That's when the show really started. Hundreds, what am I saying, thousands of kilos of pink, perfectly round coquilles Saint-Jacques waiting to be dispatched and distributed all over Europe. The lucky ones coming from this charming shore are haloed Red Label, a French official guarantee of superior quality. When I was a kid, my grandmother used to let me listen to the rustling of the waves inside sea shells. On a plate, that's the most common way they're cooked there, as told by my good friend Astrid.

Coquilles Saint Jacques, Port-en-Bassin style

  • 16 Saint-Jacques shells
  • 100 gr. unsalted dairy butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a bunch of finely chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

In a pan, melt 50 gr. of butter with the oil at medium heat; once the mixture is well cooked (that is, the butter has melted, looking all white and creamy), cook the coquilles for 2 minutes only on each side, not more, in order to still feel their melting taste. May some molluscs be very thick, cut each one of them in two in the vertical direction, then proceed onto the cooking. Before serving, sprinkle them with half a teaspoon of both salt and ground pepper. At the same time, gently melt in a small pot 50 gr. of butter and eventually add the lemon juice. Pour this mixture into a serving dish and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Serve it while it's hot, along with a wintery soup.

normandia3

With love and coquilles,

Eleonora

On togetherness

It's freezing cold in Paris. As I was cycling through its streets to meet with clients this afternoon, I couldn't accompany the illuminating city sight with the usual humming of "Sous le ciel de Paris", simply because my voice wouldn't come out, my face being literally masked out by the cold. The nice news is, though, that it only takes a few pieces of the loveliest brown bread, a basic flower arrangement (or a bunch of fresh parsley, in my case today) and a warm dish to make it all flawlessly cozy again. Tonight, let's make something that warms our hearts. Suppertime sacred togetherness. I'm all about pumpkin tortelli these days, which I made on one of my pop up events lately.

As to its origins , it is thought that the these particular ravioli pasta have Renaissance origins and have seemingly been designed after the European conquest of America because of the large amount of pumpkin available back then, that is the main ingredient of tortelli. Its heart is filled with this soft vegetable, spiced up with mustard and finely chopped amaretti (artisanal biscuits made with almonds and egg whites).

The, I'll allow myself to say it, utterly liberating ritual tied to the handmaking of pasta is one of a kind: it demands to be nurtured, wrapped, massaged and scented, just like our tired bodies would need at the end of a long, cold day. Italian writer Elsa Morante who, amongst many things, has been recognized for being at the forefront of  magic realism (a wave I very much embrace in my totally dreamy, Mary Poppins like existence) in the Italian literature, once said: "The truest love sentence, and the only one, is: have you been eating?".

With love and tortelli,

Eleonora

Roman style artichoke

This artichoke recipe is a typical antipasti issued from the gastronomy of  Lazio and in particular of the city of Rome. The artichoke has always been a very popular vegetable used in the Roman cuisine, which, moreover, also has a special variety, the mammola, very suitable for the production of this type of recipe. Among different dishes of artichoke,  I also love the Jewish-style artichoke, another typical dish of the Roman cuisine that has that can be enjoyed uniquely in the very heart of the Jewish ghetto. The origins of the dish once again can be found in the ancient times when, when making food, farmers used what their land made available for them: in this case, artichoke, with its body cleansing properties, soooo beneficial after Christmas blowouts, is thus suggested in drainage diets. I particularly like this recipe for the direct contact you get with the vegetable, but be aware! Its colour could easily stick on your finger, so in order to save your weekend spotless manicure please make sure you pour your fingers deep in half a lemon's pulp before getting on with the cleaning of this remarkable vegetable. Roman-style artichokes

Ingredients for 8 people:

  • 8 artichokes
  • 50gr.breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp fresh finely cut parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh finely cut mint
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh unwaxed lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic

First, proceed with the artichokes cleaning: remove the hardest outer leaves, with a sharp box cutter, working it down with a spiral movement going from the bottom to the top of the artichoke and finally, cut a part of the stem leaving only 4 cm of it. Spread the artichoke's leaves with your hands so you can remove the inside beard and place the artichoke, now cleaned, in a basin with acidulated water in order to prevent the formation of black parts.

Let the artichokes soak for a few minutes, while waiting chop the garlic, the mint, the parsley, then the breadcrumbs, a little olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Using a teaspoon, fill the artichokes, broadening their heart, with crumb stuffing. Add salt to the surface and place the artichokes in a nonstick pan bathed in oil and let it burn for two minutes, then add water to two-thirds. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

To understand if they're well cooked, prick them with a fork to check they are ready. Sprinkle with the cooking sauce and serve them warm or room temperature.

With love and artichokes,

Eleonora

Shrimp cocktail, the spicy side

I've always been in awe for fish, first of all because it doesn't create as much of a hubbub as meat does (hence it's more convivial), and secondly because, when fresh, I'm personally on a verge of a lust for life. In range of my collaboration with DeliSnacky, which previous videos you can find here and here, I developed this shrimps cocktails recipe, which has then been turned in a video. The pitch is allusive to an antipasti which became popular in Italy over the '80s. This vintage snack is now ready for a comeback, but with a twist: avocado spicyness. The recipe video has got French subtitles, so please refer to the instructions below in order to make it at home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFVdj8o4esQ

Spicy shrimp cocktail

  • 150 gr mayonnaise
  • 1 fresh unwaxed lemon
  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  • a bunch of salad leaves
  • a few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 36 tiny shrimps

In a bowl, pour the mayonnaise, 5 or 6 Tabasco sauce drops, and the juice of one lemon. Mix well and put aside. Now prepare the avocado by cutting it in tiny dices. Mince the salad with the aid of a knife. Lay it in a big cocktail glass, starting from the salad on the bottom, then the avocado, followed by the shrimps and its sauce on top.

With love and avocado,

Eleonora

Septime, or the temple of gluttony

The wide royal blue door is distinctive of a certain Parisian trait which can be assimilated with a voracious joie de vivre, containing in itself a profound respect for the tradition as well as a versatile step towards the "now" (why looking towards the future when the present can be so captivating). Set in a neo-urban epicurean valley of the senses, no wonder why Septime - a trendy restaurant in the up and coming 11th arrondissement of Paris -  is right in the spotlight these days. I didn't know what exactly to expect as I inspectioned their website before my visit earlier this week; on the desktop, only a logo and an address provided. Poorly described, I thought. Well, I had to change idea: on the contrary, I was in for a treat, because the food, the drinks and the ambiance truly spoke for themselves.

As I entered, I was warmly welcomed by wine expert and restaurant associé Thèo Pourriat, who presented us with a very small list of truly exquisite wines. He emphasized on the personal relationships developed with the vignerons (wine growers), the identification of which I was already introduced to on the other side of the river, at the Ile Saint Louis celebrated cheesemonger. A real fan on fine wines but totally against getting dizzy in the middle of the working day, I also opted for an infusion fait maison. In Septime there's an actual barman dedicated to the making of these restoring potions made to accompany the daily proposed menus. For me, it was orange, clementine, tarragon, pear and Acacia honey, all raw in a boiling pot.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe lunch menu (uncommonly changing on a daily basis), is based on chef Bertrand Grébaut's inventiveness of the moment. I got lucky with a sumptuous Utah Beach (yes, the one of the Normandy D-day) clums soup with gourds and an undescribably refined Xeres vinegar aftertaste. The daikon - oh I dig those radishes -  was deliciously accompanied with mushrooms de la Maure along with exquisite black truffles from the Perigord area (duck and goose products paradise) which I shall absolutely visit soon.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetHaving recently taken part in the Cabinet de Curiosités of Thomas Herber, with showcases of visual artists, designers and chefs indeed, Grébaut now wants to focus entirely on his Parisian food scene, where he gives work and inspiration to an international, young and food-talented crowd. "There's an Argentinian, an American and a British, but we always speak français in the kitchen, that's mandatory" - explains Grébaut, a patriot at heart as all French admirably are, as I ask him about his producers, his rare food findings (like the radicchio from Treviso in the middle of Paris, a true gem) and his sources of creativity: "Sometimes it's the chromatic scale of a dish that grabs my attention first, but then it's the work on the affiliations to make it enjoyable that I have fun with". And that was, and surely will be again, a truly enjoyable experience.

With love and tarragon,

Eleonora

Pan di spagna with zabaglione

Zabaglione is better served warm on a cake. I remember those times long past by, when an utterly scrumptious cream would have been made possible with the aid of a big wooden spoon only ("olio di gomito", as we call the physical effort of the kitchen in days gone by). As part of my collaboration with DeliSnacky, here is my version of Pan di Spagna with Zabaglione. What is Pan di Spagna? An aerial and spongy Italian recipe. Traditionally created by an Italian marquee's chef as a twist to the Biscotto di Savoia exclusively for the Spanish King visiting, this recipe can be adapted to a number of occasions, since we can cut it with a different form (star for Christmas, egg for Easter, or heart for Saint Valentin'es, depending on the celebration). The video's subtitles are in French, please find below an English language thorough explanation of how to proceed; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODEGCuXykWk

Pan di Spagna with Zabaglione (serves 6 persons)

For the Pan di Spagna:

  • 75 gr. potato starch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 150 gr. caster sugar
  • 5 fresh free-range eggs
  • 75 gr. all purposes flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 125 gr. fresh red currants

For the Zabaglione

  • 160 gr. caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 100 ml. limoncello liqueur

Preheat the oven at 180°. Open the vanilla pod, take out the seeds and leave on the side; then in a pot break the eggs, add the salt, the sugar, the vanilla and mix vigorously; finally add the flour and the starch with the aid of a sieve. Mix well. Pour into a mold. Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.

To prepare the zabaglione, put the yolks in a pot, add the sugar and the limoncello, whisk well. Immerse the pot in a water bath and stir for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan di spagna from the oven; cut the cake in half, spread half of the zabaglione cream inside, cover it with the remaining cream.

With love and zabaglione,

Eleonora

Harry's Bar in Venice

It's an institution in Venice. Every smart-set occasion, it being the Cinema Festival or the Art Biennal, calls for a stop at this world-renowned bar & restaurant, a highly civil Venitian refuge and a place of rest. Women's rare fragrances and a certain ethereal aura fill up the place, at the counter the reassuring preparation of the most celebrated Venetian drink, synonimous of a decadent and stylish cocktail hour. Created in the '30s by Harry's bar founder Giuseppe Cipriani, he christened this white peach cocktail the Bellini (after Giovanni Bellini, the fifteenth century Venetian painter- on the occasion of the artist's exhibition in 1948). Marco, the chief barman today, probably stolen from a 007 movie scene starring Sean Connery, told me - with a decisively assertive yet uberdiscreet manner - many stories as I sipped one fragrant cocktail (which I duly accompanied with fresh water not to get my head turning too fast) and a cheese and ham tramezzino (a triangular sandwich constructed from two slices of soft white bread with the crusts removed) which bread had been cooked in scrumptious butter.

For example, the fact that, to start with, the bar's name had been coined after its founder, Arrigo, it being impossible to be called otherwise as prohibition time was in full swing. Marco told me how the bar counter is kept religiously as it once was, along with all the original paraphernalia, and how Mr. Cipriani decided not to serve beer after an accident occurred causing the cracking of the fine bar's marble in the late '40s and a total change in the clientele target - from then on nothing but the rich and famous, the so called crème de la crème. Ernest Hemingway used to sit at the corner table, its chair as the observatory of a universally glittering micro-dimension that seems to always keep its guard up while entering this timeless place.

As of the preparation of the Bellini, all the elements, starting from the glass, through to the Prosecco and the peach purée, should be as cold as possible.

  • 1/4 peach puree
  • 3/4 Prosecco wine

When the season calls for it, make plenty of white peach (only) purée ahead, but beware: never use a food processor as it aerates the fruit. As strange as it can seem, a cheese shredder might do the trick! Add 1/10 of white sugar to the peach mixture, and you'll have the original Harry's bar effect. Most off all, this is a drink which decoration is the horizon of your imagination, aka don't overdo with additional ingredients like peach schnapps or similar. Less is more.

With love and Bellini,

Eleonora

New Year's Lasagne resolutions

So back to work for us all. The best thing of this time of the year is that we all still feel pampered by cosy images of a long needed precious time spent with family and friends over these past festivities. All this cheerful togetherness, however, has brought along the other side of the coin, which is tangible enough (talking me sadly through my trousers size), and its removal on top of all our new year's resolutions. Undoubtedly no sacrifice can be fully adopted without an exception to the rule. That's why tonight I'm cooking the healthiest red cabbage based vegan lasagna version. Why, aren't you?

cavolirossi

Red Cabbage Lasagne (serves 6 persons)

  • 1 red cabbage (about 1 kg.)
  • 250 g. carrots
  • 125 g mozzarella cheese
  • 150 g cooked ham
  • 250 g fresh pasta lasagne sheets
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 ml bechamel sauce
  • 100 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30 g dairy butter
  • 6 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 50 gr. dairy butter
  • 50 gr. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 liter whole milk

Preheat the oven at 180°. Clean the red cabbage, removing the outer leaves (if damaged), then cut it into 4 pieces, wash it under running water and put it to boil in salted boiling water for approximately 10 minutes. Peel the carrots and put them to boil along with the red cabbage for the same amount of time. Once the vegetables aree cooked, drain and allow them to cool, then cut them into smaller pieces and put 2/3 of them in a blender together with 20 ml of oil, a pinch of salt and  some freshly ground pepper. Blend until you get a creamy consistency, if necessary adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of boiling water (preferably that previously used for cooking the vegetables).

Prepare a nice thick bechamel. To start with, heat the milk in a saucepan; apart, melt the butter over low heat, then turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Then put it back on low heat and stir until it becomes golden. You will have obtained what the French call roux; flavor the milk with nutmeg and a pinch of salt (you can do these operations even as the last step, when the sauce is ready); then join it gradually to the roux, stirring the whole thing vigorously with a whisk. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat until the sauce thickens and begins to boil.

Now you can compose the lasagna in a pyrex baking dish greased with butter. We start with a thin layer of bechamel sauce, then a sheet of lasagne, and then a layer of red cabbage and carrots cream, another sheet of lasagne, a layer of thin slices of mozzarella, carrots and cabbage, a tsp of oil, still a layer of pasta, one of ham, and so on continuing to alternate layers (each cycle calls for a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste). Finish off with a layer of red sauce, then sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese and some butter. Bake for 25 minutes at 180 ° C. Serve the piping hot lasagne garnished with sage leaves.

Happy new year with love and lasagne,

Eleonora

A stellar lunch

Pappardelle are an egg pasta shape typical of Tuscany. The land of hunt for excellence endorses this pasta with meat based sauces, such as hare, wild boar and the association of truffles and mushrooms. I love the fact that some products can only be found in certain locations at a certain time of the year, hence making them all the more appealing and their consumption celebratory. I remember going mushroom hunting, as a kid, in the Monte Amiata area, nearby Siena. Running free into the wild to then come back home and prepare all sorts of sauces and conserves. Whereas mushrooms can also be identified by amateurs, the white truffle hunting is a unique blend of heritage and expertise. Hunts are conducted with professionals of the sector, along with dogs endowed with a special nose for all things truffly.

An ingredient very difficult to find away from Italy, I was happy to be able to have it on my table for lunch this morning, thanks to the Tiberino products. What's amazing is that, since 2007, these products are at the forefront of the food supply for the austronautes on mission aboard the International Space Station with NASA. I wonder if they, like me, opt for a “scarpetta”: after overindulging in my pappardelle with mushrooms and white truffle oil, you take a piece of bread and clean the rest of the plate off the delicious leftover sauce. Strictly with your hands. Beware of all imitations.

With love and pappardelle,

Eleonora

Mind Le Zo(o)

In a time, the late '90s, when sushi in Paris could only be found at fakely high end Japanese restaurants that would even charge an addition for the wasabi sauce, entrepreneur Micael Memmi looked further. He decided to offer Japanese food in an otherwise French-food-only restaurant, Le Zo. And he was the first. Today, at the head of the Il Caffè as well, a chain of five restaurants disseminated around Paris serving Italian dishes fatti in casa, he's dazzling the city of lights.

zo1

I sat down in a room where eastern design meets western contemporary art, and had heart of burrata , beet duo and roasted yellow peppers. I couldn't believe that I found the same taste I did when travelling to my beloved Puglia this last summer on a cold December day in the middle of Paris. I literally melted for the crispy maki asparagus, a crunchy delicious starter. And I clapped my hands as I tasted a good affogato al caffè, which recipe I shared earlier this year with Anne Lataillade, author of the awarded blog Papilles & Pupilles. This guy knows his products, and knew what bistronomie (a contraction between "bistrot" and "gastronomy") is all about much before it was even a trend: "Fusion food is so '90s, we give our customers the possibility to choose whether going for a Japanese, a French or an Italian dish. In each serving, though, you'll find the beating heart of a country". And that's, simply, what my #foodhappiness is all about, too.

Restaurant Le Zo 13, rue Montalivet Paris (75008)

TEL: +33 1 42 65 18 18 SUBWAY: Madeleine, Concorde

Restaurant Il Caffè 5, av. Myron-Herrick Paris (75008)

TEL: +33 1 42 25 02 70 SUBWAY: Miromesnil, Saint-Philippe-du-Roule

 

With love and burrata,

Eleonora

LA FERME SAINT SIMEON – The cradle of Normandy Impressionism PART 1

It’s here in Honfleur, a romantic Normandy harbour, that the Impressionist painters met in the 19th century. Attracted by the light and a stunning view over the Seine estuary and the Channel, they chose to take up residency at “Mère Toutain’s” inn. This home, with timbered walls and thatched roofs, offered cheap lodging and a tasty cuisine to travellers. The mistress of the house, Mère Toutain, was to give the inn its renown. Very rapidly she was to welcome, charm and inspire artists of the such of Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and Charles Baudelaire. Today, passed down from family to family, this inn is the Ferme Saint-Siméon, a 5-star Relais & Châteaux. The panorama is sumptuous, and the light indefinable. As we checked in, we were welcomed in an oak walls and traditional tomettes floor decorated lobby to sip a delicious apple grog twisted with a minted infusion and indulge in the unique Normandy apple pie.  The atmosphere was luxurious yet homely, enticing me to linger and daydream. After a jump in the spa, we opted for the gastronomic restaurant in front of a warm fireplace, where we savoured the heritage with views over the Pigeonnier and the celebrated Normandy bridge, the longest in Europe, connecting the region of Calvados with the Seine one. The room, under the roof, was a timeless bubble where I could fully restore, in an harmonious blend of modern equipment and historical touches.

For those of you who know me by now, you are also aware of the fact that I basically worship breakfast time.

In a region that doesn’t particularly cultivate rice, It was such a surprise for me to find the rice-based teurgoule, a region culinary specialty. The reason is to be found in the naval transportation of goods from the rest of Europe to this Normandy port. The sailors would have their wives prepare this nourishing dish in traditional terracotta pots, which can be kept at room temperature for days, for them to face the hard days at sea.

la ferme st simeon-photo-christophe bielsa-facade nuit-03 bd

And I’m proud to be sharing this exclusive recipe dating 1860 with you today.

Teurgoule

  • 1 lt. whole milk
  • 80 gr. caster sugar
  • 5 gr. cinnamon powder
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 80 gr. Carnaroli or Vialone Italian Rice

Preheat the oven at 140°. Cut the vanilla pod in the middle with a sharpened knife, and get the dusty seeds with its tip. Bring the milk to a boil with the sugar, the cinnamon, the vanilla seeds and the salt.

Distribute the rice in two terracotta pots and equally pour the boiling milk in.  Put in the oven at 140° for roughly 2 hours. Verify the cooking process with the help of a knife. The tergoule needs to be firm, just like a crème caramel.

With love and seagulls,

Eleonora

Savoury Tarte Tatin

In case you were in search of  food ideas for this week's dinner time, the answer for you is only a click away. Just sit and enjoy the first extract from my collaboration with Deli'Snacky, a Youtube channel providing plenty of ideas for quick and effective meals! Did you know that the world famous Tarte Tatin, traditionally prepared with apples from Normandy, could also be turned into a savoury option? Well I didn't, until I run out of fresh fruits in my kitchen, and here is what I came up with instead! http://youtu.be/HRoqjgpNOd4?list=UUhmCpJRIGrcFnI-mtMbT4cA

Three Peppers Tarte Tatin

  • 3 peppers (yellow, green and red)
  • 1 red onion
  • 40 gr. pitted black olives
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 30 gr. fresh dairy butter
  • 30 gr. extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 gr. caster sugar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 40 gr. tap water

Remove the seeds from the peppers. Take a large pan and grill the peppers for about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile cut the onion in dices, and pour the olive in a pan with a little bit of butter. Let everything melt at low flame and eventually add the onions in. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then let cook gently for about 15 minutes. Now preheat the oven at 220°.

Once the peppers are ready, get them out of the pan and immediately in a bread bag. This way, the vegetables will naturally transpire and in a matter of minutes it will be far more easy to get rid of their skin. Once the skin is off, cut the peppers into large stripes. Cut the olives in little pieces too.

Warm up the sugar in a pan with half a glass of water, after a few minutes it should caramelise. In the meanwhile, have a cake mold ready and line its base with some parchment paper. Pour the caramelized sugar in the bottom of the mold, then spread the peppers and, on top of them, add the onions and the olives. Cover with the puff pastry sheet. Bite the cake with a fork and cook for 20 minutes in the oven at 220°.

With love and peppers,

Eleonora

Goûters du cœur @ Cafè de la Paix

I tweeted about going there, and Ines de la Fressange, arguably the most elegant woman in town (her Style Guide is a bible for most Parisian girls and beyond) and the ambassador for this charitable event, retweeted me. For the 4th consecutive year, the Café de la Paix shines more than ever the Parisian Place de l'Opera by continuing to actively support the association Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque with the "goûters du cœur" (snack of the heart).Every afternoon for two weeks from Tuesday 2 to Friday, December 12, 2014, from 16:00 to 18:00, the mythical restaurant of the Hotel InterContinental Paris Le Grand will offer a special taste (mulled wine or hot chocolate, gingerbread and cakes) at a price of 5 euros to eat in or take away and which all proceeds will be donated to give a child in need a new heart.

The mulled wine I tasted the other day was so delicious that I couldn't help but asking for its recipe, that I'm sharing with you today!

mulledwine

Christmas mulled wine from Alsace

Ingredients for 12 people:

  • 1.5 liters of red wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy or Pinot Noir)
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 1 untreated lemon zest
  • 1 untreated orange zest
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 pinch of grated nutmeg

Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil, very gently. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot in glasses by filtering with a colander. Place a slice of orange in each glass.

With love and warm wine,

Eleonora