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My tasty week... crumble with pears and berries

It's a wild wild autumn time. Last week I participated to an event which gathered together over 80 people. The whole idea was to conceive a thematic meal turning around the historical background of the major regional dishes in Italy. It goes without saying, I was all up for it, if it weren't for those 60 kilos of food shopping I had to carry all on my own to the venue. Yes I know what you're thinking, and yes I do get carried away when it comes to nourishing bodies and souls, #foodhappiness to me. It was so nice getting out of the house at 6 am, with the crisp air of the morning caressing my cheek and nothing but good resolutions for the evening to come. As I visited my beloved maraichers that, in my neighbourhood local market, treat their fruits and vegetables like human dear creatures (or most adored pets), I couldn't help but wonder how lucky I am to get to transfer this sense of belonging, this togetherness, through my job. Life has its ups and down in a matter of hours. I wasn't as thankful at the end of the evening, when I waited helplessly in the middle of the street for my taxi to take me back home. At 3 am and the first very chilli wintery night, my back devastated and my eyes soar, I told myself tomorrow would be a whole different story. And indeed it was. In the kitchen, that is. Waiting for my lovely art historian turned reflexology therapist to do miracles on my system, I indulged in this scrumptious crumble. An homage to my upcoming trip to London, which I talked about early this year. A few thin layers cover the essence of winter healthy food: red fruits and pears. Crumble with pears and berries

Serves 6 people

  • 6 filo pastry sheets
  • 250 gr. blueberries
  • 3 ripe but firm pears
  • 80 g. fresh dairy butter
  • 6 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven at 180°. Melt the butter over low heat and use half of it to brush the oven pan. Distruibute the blueberries on the bottom, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Peel the pears, cut them into cubes, place them over the blueberries by way of covering them with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the remaining 1/2 cinnamon teaspoon.

Brush with the remaining butter the sheets of filo pastry, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, wrinkle them with your hands and place over the fruits, covering them completely. Bake at 180 ° for 30 minutes. Serve the crumble warm.

With love and crumble,

Eleonora

Le thé goûter

Rumour has it that Parisian women always stay slim; this might be partly due to the eternal underground walking one has to do in order to get from one métro line to the other, but I also think this is greatly to do with another, crucial factor: they don't snack. It's kind of an authomatic rule everyone but me seems to be aware of (which is reminded to you with discreet megaphones on buses, radio and in groceries stores - talk about contradictions!). Whereas we all human - apart from the Brits - have three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner (alternated with casual snacks), the French have a further, gourmand one in which to fully indulge: the thé goûter. A ritual of its own, it's usually sublimated with loads of incredibly tasty cakes which origins can be found all over France. Gaufrettes Amusantes coming from the North, Calissons and Pâtes de fruits from blossoming Provence, Niniches from Quiberon, Madeleines from Commercy, Quernons d'ardoise from Angers, and the list goes on and on, filled with amazing anecdotes. Take the Financier aux amandes, for example; in the Middle Ages, the Visitation sisters were already making small almond flavoured oval cakes. Abandoned for a time, these monastic creations enjoyed a new scene in 1890 thanks to maître pâtissier Lasne. His store was located near the Paris stock exchange and so he decided to create a gold bar shaped cake which would be easy to eat and wouldn't embarassingly dirt one's hands. A cheeky wink to its clientele, the patissier called this cake "le financier".

The legend tells of a beautiful lady, the Marquise de Sable, who brought a little round biscuit at the court of Louis XIV. The king was conquered by the cuteness of this tiny sweet and decided to call it Petit Sablé, in tribute to the Marquise. Originally from the Sarthe valley, this shortbread has its own history, maison and museum even.

The Pope Clement V organized a banquet in Carpentras around 1313. During supper, the pâtissier poured a background of caramel, flavored with mint and lemon on a marble slab, formed a small pudding, and presented it still warm to the Pope. By cutting it with scissors, the Pope got an amber-colored, striped sweet with a unique taste. The berlingot was born and is still today the pride of all Provençal people.

I can't wait to go to Galerie Vivienne in Paris over the weekend, where the HQ of on-line sweet French delicacies store Jours Heureux are going to be for a pop-up event lasting until October 13th.

With love and sablés,

Eleonora

Sour cherry ricotta cake - a blog exchange for HautAppetit.com

We met on Instagram. We talked about sharing #foodhappiness together. We planned for a date. Here in Rome. We made it happen.

Elizabeth Minnett is a former model who also runs a deliciously fashionable baking blog, HautAppetit.com. Whether in Milan, London, Paris or New York, cities that she visits regularly in order to keep updated with the latest fashion trends, she made it a mission to translate fashion statements into food ones. Following the historical background behind Italian gastronomy, she wanted me to create a recipe that would embody the colour patterns and the texture of the eternal city. By keeping it light, of course ("feed the models" being her motto). Here is the amusing result of a foodie italo-american affair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUi3CBphaFCi0teFPDwLc2ZA&v=I4NNBI4TgD0

Have you missed any points? No worries, I wrote down the recipe for you.

SOUR CHERRY RICOTTA CAKE

* Eleonora Galasso’s recipe

120g sugar

4 eggs, plus 1 yolk

135g flour

100mL milk

250g Ricotta

150g sour cherry marmalade (jam)

2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

Directions:

Please watch the video for instructions!

With loads of love and cherries,

Eleonora

A day at the bakery

The morning was crispy and fragrant, like fresh bread, when I headed to one of the oldest bakeries in town in order to learn the secrets behind the Italian essential for excellence: il pane. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

5:30 a.m. A ray of light touches Piazza Del Pantheon and, as the breeze caresses my, brrrrrr!!!, too summary outfit (there’s still quite a temperature shift from night to day) giving me the shivers, I realized, once again, that Rome in the morning holds the most dazzling of secrets: it looks like it’s been built a moment ago, for your eyes only. Oh my, what a bliss.

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As I walked by the narrow roads, the Roman cobblestones, i sanpietrini, leaded me to the most sumptuous tiny squares, as greeting as a lively living room. I went through the Ponte Sisto and found myself in the bohemian Trastevere district. Having been an authentic Roman for my entire life, I still find it quite hilarious to get lost in the melting pot of side streets to the point that, after my first coffee and with my head clear enough, or so I thought, I still couldn’t’ quite find my way to the oldest baker in town, turning flour into bread with lievito madre (sourdough), which makes it fluffy and lasting for over a week.

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But then Gina appeared: imagine a lady dressed in black, all frowned and focused while peeling potatoes, who told me, unflappable: “You obviously got lost my dear, it’s the most wonderful thing I can tell you”, which only added to my feeling of inadequacy in front of Rome, a city where one always feels either too big or too small.

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Abandoning myself to that overindulging feeling, I finally found my way through the most iconic of senses: smell.

Dusty, floury, and oily, bread is usually to be found in every Italian table, a synonymous of hospitality and prosperity. Back in the old days the well to do families would consume nothing but white bread, as a symbol of their accomplished wealth, whereas the brown bread would be left for the agricultural working class.

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The head baker Giampiero is an institution at one of the very few last bakeries in town. He and the boys treated me like an equal for the entire shift, and that included handling packages of 25 Kg. flour and bite the pizza dough to make it flawless and crusty. I felt as happy as ever when I finally got my hands on my first filone (Roman style loaf of bread) ever, even though I burnt a finger in the process, since it was too irresistible and I simply couldn't resist. But that's part of the game, I guess.

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I brought a bunch of bread loaves on my basket, they look like a well decorated bouquet of flowers. I jumped on my bike, thinking about the millions sauces that will accompany it for brunch tomorrow. Let the weekend begin.

With bread and tulips,

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #3

The Tiber river flows at a speed of 876 litres per second. The human body is composed by water for more than 60%. Experts all agree in suggesting a daily intake of water of 2 litres. acqua5

No task could be easier when in Rome. Water in Rome is good for you; actually, it's the best you could find in Italy, due to the hygienic safety guaranteed by the absence of microbiological indices. In other words, it's filled with minerals and excellent for fastening up that methabolysm! acqua4

Water is an ever present element in many Fellini's movies scenes, celebrating La Dolce Vita, its excesses and its fragilities. For example, in the most celebrated 8 1/2 movie its protagonist, interpreted by Marcello Mastroianni, is looking for fountains all over Rome in a quest of lost purity.

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When it comes to private affairs and their disclosure, all Italians agree on one thing: you don't air your dirty laundry in public.

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There's nothing better, on a sunny sunday, than taking my bycicle and hop on a regional train with destination: the sea - il mare!

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When it comes to #romanity, acqua6

it's always best to combine together something old, something new, something borrowed. A fountain, a fabulous Fendi outfit, a bunch of grapes ( like Bacchus would have loved them). And just like that, it's #foodhappiness time!

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Happy sunday folks!

Eleonora

All pictures are taken by talented Cucina Digitale

Ecstatic Tuscan Food Revelations

A memorable food experience will fill you with pure joy and #foodhappiness whenever your mind casually crosses that smell again. IMG_3876

When I was a child, I used to spend many Easter holidays in the Tuscan countryside with my family. The latest international allure that this region has taken over the last decade recently left my real Italianness rather disappointed with the quality of the dishes.

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I felt that the usual care and that handmade "je ne sais quoi" were gone. For good. Until I entered Gli Attortellati, a family run farm and restaurant located just minutes from Grosseto.

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Literally, the term "attortellati" refers to those fellows who like to sit, eat, play and talk altogether... for hours. It certainly wasn't difficult for my friends and I to get completely overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the savoury dishes. About 12 of them, yep you hear me well, in authentic vintage Italian food tradition.

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All dishes were carefully crafted in front of our eyes. Lasagne, chestnut gnocchi and the queen of them all: tortelli. Filled with chard, fresh ricotta and nutmeg, these little pieces of heaven were served with an exceptional ragù sauce.

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It's great to know that these guys, having many hectares' worth of space, have opted for the plantation of the so-called lost fruits, that is those fruits which are in danger and are in need to be recuperated. Amongst those, the Scosciamonache (litterally, unveiling nuns), the most delicious quality of plum you could ever dare to dream of.

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Each year, at the end of the summertime, they make fruit preserves, which is exactly what I do too. I normally give them out as presents to my Cooking Workshops subscribers throughout the year.

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They make terrific wintery pies. But that's another story, and another blogpost. Talk to you soon,

Eleonora

My tasty week...Singing in the rain

It rained cats and dogs here in Rome, for the entire week. Hence I've been "singing in the rain", as Gene Kelly would have rightly put it. And amazing flowers blossomed just right. I purchased a bunch of parfumed buds to use them in some recipes over the next days. SingingInTheRain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

I was able to grasp a unique ray of light early yesterday afternoon, which gave my South Tyrol apples (which I talked about in a previous post) a glowing appeal.

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I'm trying to cleanse up my whole metabolysm by eating loads of seeds and veggies. Also Potassium Citrate tablets help. This fennel salad (pictured below) with parsley and almonds took no time at all to make and was incredibly delicious with its lemon and poppy-seeds vinaigrette.

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I couldn't maintain all my greens fresh for these long and rainy days if it wasn't thanks to the invaluable vacuum-sealing machine which keeps my food from going soft and soggy for over 5 days.

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I was lucky enough to enjoy a winter sea storm, which inevitably puts everything at its place, inside out. I couldn't refrain from purchasing a couple of tempting mullets. And then I asked myself: should I spoil their sparkling colour? No way! Still, I had to turn them into dinner...Therefore I cooked them plainly with extra virgin olive oil and let their gorgeous self be the protagonist of one of my clandestine dinners.

On the importance of chocolate. The picture of this handmade scrumptious cake talks for itself, and for all of our food cravings, which shall be indeed indulged during the coldest winter evenings.

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And, on this sweet note, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Eleonora

Genius Food Ideas

Researching makes a big part of my job. Whether I'm creating a recipe, testing a menu for a pop-up event or a workshop or writing the next story, the food sector implies a neverending joy that can be extended to many other domains, such as design, fashion, architecture, photography and, of course, lifestyle. I loved this food-meets-fashion photography idea by young and talented Catherine Losing, proving that, when it comes to food, there's no such thing as limitation in seeking life's pleasures.

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Technological innovation may start to affect the expiration of our foods. So what's next? A BBC article explains how computer chips might be used in future to assess whether food was passing its prime. This could be more efficient than expiry dates, which do not account for the food's storage temperatures.

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Don't mess around with that girl. Cherry Bombe is a brand new bi-annual magazine that celebrates women and food - those who grow it, make it, serve it, style it, enjoy it and everything in between. It can be found in all hip places such as concept store Colette in Paris or the design museum satellite Do You Read Me?! right in bohemian Berlin.

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A musical ever-green by Nancy Sinatra that I love listening to while creating in the kitchen. Press PLAY onto this image to see the many wonders of this funny creature and artist.

Nancy Sinatra in action

These boots are made for walking - Nancy Sinatra

Have a wonderful day !

Eleonora

Pantelleria - a Summer Food Memoir (Part 1)

I thought that the promised land was an utopistic idea. But then I went to Pantelleria. foto-54

With its perfumed caper bush plantations , its endless lines of tiny tomatoes and its blossoming oregan , I discovered an island full of sunkissed pearled fruits,  where glorious nature meets with the most secular traditions. And time   . Just.    Stops.

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Pantelleria's brown land looked like my morning black espresso coffee, a ritual which I couldn't possibly turn down. The islanders have a great sense of hospitality and sharing. So here I am, turning my car (the island has a surface of around 80 Km., so don't think of exploring it barefoot) at every given corner, usually highlighted by a handwritten sign saying "Da Pierina, prodotti locali" (translated, "Pierina's, local products") . Greatest of wonders, as I stepped out of the car, I would find myself in the informal conviviality of a household keen to food entertain me for not less than a good half hour and I would drive away with my car filled with every possible gastronomical goods the island can provide: capers, dried tomatoes and the most delicious sweet wine, Il Passito di Pantelleria.

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The ultimate joy, which made most of this trip to Pantelleria unforgettable, held in the secret recipes of the most ancient dishes confided to me by those authentic matrons during what should have been my food shopping visits which always turned in somehow unofficial cooking/culture/tradition classes. Manna from heaven.

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For example, have you ever heard of a dish called Chaki Chuka? I hadn't. Before long though, it became familiar to me. It's a delicious mix of vegetables in the season, of which I am going to give you my own twist just below. Try it out during one of these last summer days.

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Chaki Chuka (4 persons)

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 red onion
  • 300 gr. potates
  • 300 gr. yellow peppers
  • 150 gr. eggplants
  • 300 gr. zucchini
  • 20 gr. capers
  • 50 gr. walnuts
  • 30 gr. peanuts
  • 50 gr. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 slices of red hot chilli pepper
  • dried oregan
  • dried tomatoes

First slice the onion and put it in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil and a glass of water. Let it stir until the water will be absorbed. In the meanwhile, cut all of your vegetables in cubes and pour them into the pan. Don't forget to insert the red hot chilli pepper's slices and half of the walnuts at this point. Also add the capers at this stage, it will make for a great substitute of salt and so much more natural!  Cook the whole thing for about 30 minutes at medium flame and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Once cooked, let the vegetable mixture cool down at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then in the fridge for an hour before serving it decorated with a sprinkle of oregan, a few dried tomatoes on the sides, the remaining walnuts and peanuts on top.

Mini Cherries Clafoutis

At first there were cherries. Many of them. Did you know that this miraculous fruit contain an enormity of antioxidants? Antioxidants not only reduce the risk of cancer but they also reinforce our immunitary system and the youth of our skin. A little trick for those who, like me, look for the healthy side of food: berries, mulberries, blackberries, red/black currants, pomegranates... Basically any red fruit, you name it, because of its peculiar colour will contain antioxidants. And the bright side is, they are delicious, too. I got about a million of them from a guy that was selling fruits in the streets just outside his farm on the outskirts of Rome this morning. As they started rolling over the parquet from outside their box, I thought something should be done about it. Hence the clafoutis idea. To start with I weighed out about 600 gr. of the finest cherries.

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 To be easily edible though, I pitted them. Hard job, since you should make sure you use a lovely apron before entering the task or your favourite dress will end up in tears, but oh, so rewarding as of the beautiful allure your cherries will portray. The French, who seldom sustain the idea of "hard food" as in the concept of enjoying the delights of the present after opening a rough box, would suggest to put whole cherries inside the moulds. I opted for the pitted version though, to make it easily enjoyable for everyone of the guests attending my tea party.

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Ingredients for 12 Mini Cherries Clafoutis:

  • 4 Free Range Eggs
  • 160 gr. Sugar
  • 110 gr. Flour type "0"
  • 600 gr. Cherries
  • 250 ml. Milk
  • 30 ml. Cointreau
  • 1 Vanillin Bag
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 20 gr. cinnamon powder
  • 20 gr. Butter

It's a very quick recipe so make sure you heat the oven at 180° beforehand, so that it will have come to temperature by the time you've put your ingredients together. This French recipe has its origin in the 19th century in the south-west Limousin region and it comes from a latin word which means "to ram", with obvious reference to the cherries. To make this mini version of Clafoutis take your 12 tartellette moulds and butter them, then cover them generously with sugar (about 40 gr.).

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Cover the bottom of the moulds with the pitted cherries. I like to put some cinnamon powder on top of them in order to give it a rounder taste!

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Crack all the eggs in a bowl and add the remaining sugar. Mix well for about 5 minutes until the mixture gets fluffy enough. At this point, add the vanillin together with a pinch of salt and the sifted flour. Finally, add the milk and Cointreau while stirring well.

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Spread out the obtained batter on the 12 moulds. Put in the oven for 45 minutes at 180° and enjoy your Mini Cherries Clafoutis with caster sugar on top and some fresh cherries on the side.

Mad Men Yelp Event, Rome

It was July the 4th and I was invited to cook for Yelp, a worldwide review community. The theme was Mad Men, based on the well known American tv-series set in the '50s, all cigars and polka dots. Clearly, I had to play accordingly, so I pulled my hands together and started researching for some famous retrò American recipes that I could revisit.

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The event was hosted on the Albergo Cesari terrace within the beautiful surrounding of Roman rooftops, jazz music was in the air and everything seemed just perfect until a storm fell trying and discouraging us. Unsuccessfully though, since it only made the view of the eternal city all the more appealing.

On the menu for this stars and stripes event was a series of housewives classics such as sandwiches and cheesecakes, twisted for the occasion by mixing to the recipes the less used vegetables which Italy is so full of. For example, Puff Pastry filled with Roastbeef and Horseradish sauce.  This came as a surprise since people in Italy are used to eat the puff pastry as a dessert in the form of bignè. In the intervals to/from the kitchen, I foodtalked to a lovely crowd for the entire evening, thinking they are the most active members of a review community I took all of their positive comments about me posted on Yelp as an honour!

The Miniburger with Ginger Chicken and Amalfi Lemon Mayo were sitting by the side of some tiny Salmon Cheesecakes,  and the Zucchini and Fennel Muffins were shadowed by the Cigars with Brie & Beetroot. Undeniably, the mystic retro atmosphere played a huge role, but the best came when the band started playing "As Time Goes by" and the guests, in full Casablanca-like outfit, enjoyed my take on the Independence Day Cake, glazed in white chocolate and decorated with wild berries and raspberries.

DON DRAPER: Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new.” It creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion. He also talked about a deeper bond with a product: nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. Sweetheart. [starts slide show featuring photos of Draper's family.] Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a space ship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called a wheel, it’s called a carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Round and a round, and back home again. To a place where we know we are loved.