Monday, August 27, 2012

A Busy Weekend - Calzone

From now on, whenever I cook a pizza I will also throw in a Calzone... It's just a great way to use the pizza dough, but bear in mind it has to be a bit thinner when used to make Calzone, so to give the filling a chance to cook properly.

Now, what I found great about Calzone is that the filling keeps its moist and doesn't "burn" like the topping on a pizza.

The first and most important thing that I learned making pizza dough over the last couple of years is that it has to be quite sticky when you put it to raise. Once raised it becomes a light material in your hands and not too heavy on the digestive system.

The trick is to cover your hands in flour before "handling" it, so that it can be worked with ease.

In a non stick pan I placed some olive oil, some mushrooms, broccoli and ham pieces. When the oil started frying, I threw in some white wine and let that cook for about 10 minutes on low heat.
I placed the filling in the middle of the Calzone and topped with some pieces of Port Salut cheese.
I folded the Calzone on itself and rolled the sides up, so the cheese, melting in the oven, would not leak out of it. I also pressed the borders with a fork.
In the oven he goes at 200 degrees Celsius and out it comes in about 7 minutes.

The nose you see in the picture on the right is my son's, who suddenly was interested in broccoli and ate half of my Calzone last night :)

For a vegan version, just leave out the cheese and the ham. It tastes just as good.

A Busy Weekend - Cake of the Four Cups

On Thursday night, my son had a bad asthma crisis. My boy, he spent 10 weeks in the heath in Central Italy and just one week of Irish weather (quite dry, for a change) knocked him K.O. and we had to run to the doctor.

The worst has passed, but I had to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday inside the house, looking at the blue sky from the window. Well, it's always like that, whenever I am forced inside for some reason, there's nice weather.

So, instead of being depressed over my son's poor breathing, as soon as he started feeling better I marched to the kitchen and started cooking. It was a great way to spend the days at home; we have no TV, so I would be watching cartoons I've already watched beside my son, in and out of sleep the whole day... Nah, not my cup of tea!

So, to cheer him up I decided to make him a cake. He's allergic to eggs so I baked one without eggs. He liked it. Very much :)


1 Cup of Plain Flour
1 Cup of Corn or Potato Starch
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Milk
1 Sachet of Raising Powder for cakes

I added some chocolate pieces that I had lying around in the cupboard. You can actually add anything, raisins or other fruit chunks. The base is so simple I think it would be nice with anything.

Easy. And it actually worked for me as well, which sais a lot, because my cakes usually come out flat :)

Heat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Blend together everything :)

While it blends, butter and flour an oven safe dish. Mine is a square of about 25 centimeters and 4 centimeters deep.
 Place the mixture in it and straight into the oven.
Let cook for about 30 minutes. Then try sticking a toothpick in it. If it comes out dry, your cake is done.
I added some coating sugar on top to make it more attractive :)
Nice. No preservatives, no strange colorings, no eggs. Sick child and fussy husband enjoyed it. Give it a try. It's good for breakfast as well!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lemon Chicken Recipe - Easier than I thought...

No special ingredients, no fuss whatsoever, virtually fat-free... I just love this lemon chicken recipe. I found it on the internet yesterday and wanted to give it a try. However, it called for chicken broth, which I don't have, and yellow food coloring, which I never used and also to fry the chicken... nah, definitely too much!

So, in my version, there is nothing artificial at all, and all the ingredients are in your pantry already. Instead of a take out, why not give this a try?


1 Breast of Chicken for each person eating
Soy Sauce

For the Lemon Sauce:

1/3 of a cup of Sugar
2 tablespoons of Corn or Potato Starch
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder (it will make it nicely yellow!)
Olive Oil
2 sliced of lemon, peeled

First, turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
Then cut the chicken breasts in cubes and put it in a plate with some soy sauce to marinate.
 Now start making your Lemon Sauce.
In a small bowl place a cup of water, 1/3 of a cup of Sugar (white or brown, whatever you have at home), two tablespoons of Lemon Juice, one teaspoon of Salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder. Mix everything well and then dissolve in it the 2 tablespoons of Corn or Potato Starch and add the slices of Lemon.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil in a non stick pan and add the mixture to it, stirring.
Once you have a nice gelatinous consistency, remove from the heat and set aside, possibly covered.

Now that the oven has reached temperature, place the diced chicken in one layer in an oven dish.
Place it in the oven and let it bake nicely. Once ready, place the chicken in a bowl and add the Lemon Sauce to it, tossing well so it coats everything.

And here is what it looks like in the plate with some turmeric rice :)
By the time I took the picture I already ate half of it, my apologies. It was just super yummy ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna - One of the nicest things I've ever cooked

I'm back full blast, I was off to my parents' home in Central Italy for a week and my mother has been a huge inspiration to try new things and just cook more and more. She is the real leit-motiv behind everything, she always experimented with food;she canned tomatoes all her life, made marmalades and jams ever since I can remember, she tried to preserve all kind of fruits and vegetables by all possible means. She grows fruits and vegetables, she uses her own flour to make pasta and bread. She's an awesome woman and despite her back problems, she always did, and still does, everything she can to put together lunch and dinner everyday without going to the shop.

Yesterday during work a friend invited us to go to their place for dinner. I just wanted to try a vegetarian Lasagna recipe I had found on the internet so I told him I would be making it and bring it over so he only had to worry about the second and side dish.

You will excuse the pictures' quality; I put the Lasagna together and cooked it after work within 1 hour. I was under a bit of pressure :D


300 grams of Soft Cheese (Ricotta would be better)
1 and 1/2 jars of Pesto Sauce
1/2 pack of Lasagna Sheets (I let them boil a bit before laying them down... Again, I was in a hurry)
4 regular Mozzarellas
500 grams of Cherry Tomatoes

3 tablespoons of Flour, Olive Oil and 1 litre of Milk for the Besciamella Sauce

Ok, so first thing first, turn on the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 

While the oven heats, wash and split in half the Cherry Tomatoes. Place them with a bit of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan on low heat with a pinch of Salt. Let them cook slowly while you do the other things.

Slice the Mozzarella in small medallions and set aside.

Mix the Soft Cheese with the Pesto Sauce in a bowl. Add a bit of Olive Oil if it seems too thick. Set this aside as well, right next to the Mozzarella.

Place some Olive Oil in a small pot, let it heat on low for a couple of minutes and then add 3 tablespoons of flour, do not stop stirring for any reason! Let the child make a mess with the crayons, the dog bark at the birds and the husband look for fresh socks as long as they please. You are making Besciamella Sauce! There is no interruption allowed. And then, after all, it's only for a few minutes!!!
Slowly add, in the small pot (stirring the whole time) the milk. Keep stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. The mixture will thicken in no time at all. Add a bit of Salt and grated Nutmeg if you like. It's Your Besciamella and it's important that it responds to Your Taste.
So, once the sauce it's done, so it's not thick nor liquid anymore, take it off the heat and keep stirring for a couple more minutes. Cover and set aside :)

Now, all the fillings are ready, so take your oven dish and put some Besciamella on the bottom. 

Then place a layer of Lasagna Sheets on it and one of Mozzarella, then Lasagna Sheets again and the Pesto-Cheese mixture. Proceed until you have the height you desire and the two fillings have been used up. On the very top place the Tomatoes and cover everything with the Besciamella sauce.

Place the Lasagna in the oven and let cook. The cooking time depends on the sheets used. Last night I was pressed for time, so, before placing the sheets in the dish, I let them boil a bit in salty water so the oven time was reduced to 20 minutes.

If you don't want to add this operation to the process and place the sheets in the dish as they are, the oven time has to be increased at least to 40 minutes.

Here is the Lasagna just out of the oven!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Turmeric Crackers - Love, love, love...

Yesterday I found a recipe for Turmeric Crackers on Facebook... I thought it was genius! We only eat turmeric - this wonder spice - when cooking oriental style rice dishes. It's not enough, because this spice is linked every day to new beneficial effects and, oh, it makes things taste good! Not to mention the interesting color :)
So, last night, after work and a bit of shopping my son and I made these crackers.


600 grams of Plain Flour
140 ml of Olive Oil
100 ml of Water
100 ml of White Wine
4 spoons of Turmeric
4 good pinches of Salt
2 pinches of Paprika

Mix everything together and you'll get something that looks like this:
Keep kneading for a few minutes until it looks like this:
Cut out a small piece and work it with your rolling pin:
Keep working until you obtain a nice thin sheet of this goodness-filled dough:
Cut as you please once on the baking paper:
Place in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes. Take them out:
With the ingredients above you'll get two of these boxes:
Total working time? About 30 minutes! They are virtually fat-free, totally yeast-free and absolutely good for you! Enjoy!!!