Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hybrid Tacos Burritos Piadina...

What we made instead of enchiladas, two nights ago, was this:

I had some dough for naan bread already made:
I worked it in this way, dividing it into 2 and then 4 and then 8 and then 16 parts:

With the rolling pin, I have made it nice and round and very thin and then cooked it on both sides, on low heat, in my cast iron wok.

These are the first 3 of them, nicely cooked. I finished cooking the rest and there I was with 16 naan breads, ready to be filled.

Then I prepared a series of fillings:

About 800 grams of mince meat, cooked with just salt and a tiny bit of water

Shredded carrots

Shredded courgettes cooked with salt

A can of chickpeas cooked with a bit of green curry paste

A can of sweetcorn slightly cooked with a spoonful of butter

Then, everyone chose their fillings, topped it with some cheese and the hybrids were ready to go under the grill:

A few minutes for the cheese to melt and dinner for 7 was done :)

I had a great time cooking, trying to come up with filling ideas and obviously eating with friends and family...

Everyone was pleasantly surprised because nobody in the house knew exactly what to expect, including me!!!!

If you leave out the mince meat it becomes a vegetarian dish, fun to prepare and easy to put together.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Aubergine Parmigiana

Aubergine Parmigiana is simply a sort of Lasagna made with aubergine slices instead of pasta sheets.

It's easy and, when made at home, very very enjoyable.

I made one last night for dinner. The oven was already hot because I was baking focaccia, so it took less than 30 minutes to cook.

I have reduced the amount of time it takes to prepare it by not grilling nor frying the aubergines. No fried aubergines also means less calories and virtually no fat.

So, for the Ingredients:

2 good sized Aubergines, sliced
1/2 a kilo of Mince Meat
2/3 of a litre of Passata
1/2 a litre of Besciamella Sauce
2 Mozzarella balls
Olive Oil
1 clove of Garlic
Salt to taste

First thing first, place the garlic clove in a pot with some olive oil and let the oil take the flavour. Remove the clove and add the mince meat, along with just a tiny bit of water and let it cook.
At this stage, I usually salt the meat.
Once is browned, pour over the meat your passata and let boil on low heat for about 10 minutes. Here it is, your sauce.

Second, prepare the besciamella sauce.
Place some olive oil in a small pot, add a few spoons of flour and then pour over about 1/2 a litre of milk. I usually use a whisk for the besciamella, so no lumps of flour remain in the sauce.

Now that everything is ready, place a ladle of mince meat sauce at the bottom of your oven tray and start placing the aubergine slices:

After each layer of aubergines, place some besciamella sauce and continue alternating mince meat sauce, aubergine slices and besciamella sauce.

On the very top, before baking in the oven, grate or slice a
couple of mozzarella balls.

Keep the tray in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius and, voila'!
Here it is! At the back, another Moussaka I made on the side. 

Friday, April 10, 2015


I often stop and look at our lives: I find them full, interesting, rich, satisfying, dignified and happy.

A friend of mine always says happiness is a choice. And for all of us lucky enough to have food, safe shelter, electricity and clean running water every day, happiness is indeed a matter of choice.

I started thinking about enriching experiences when our first Au Pair, Giulia, joined our family. She was at the time 20 years of age, abroad on her own for the first time.
In a matter of days, we began regarding her as our daughter, although we are not much older than her, and certainly not old enough to be her parents.

However, and this is a big however, she brought a whole new set of feelings in our house. It was beautiful to realise how we started to love her almost immediately, how we were "warning" her before she went out at the weekends, how I worried when, at 3 am, she had not yet returned from the City.

We keep in touch; she would call and ask us for advice on her new job in Italy, ask our opinion on many things. Just like a younger family member who doesn't really want to discuss certain things with her parents... I can see her blossoming into a beautiful young woman and feel a certain pride. It is obviously not my place to do so, but I do!

Now a new Au Pair lives with us, Dalia. She is older, 28, so the relationship with her has been different from the beginning. I regard her more like a sister in my house, helping out with everything.

She carried with her all of her positive energy, her passion for movies and, of course, she is the reason behind my decision to take Tango lessons. We go to the lessons together and we love it!

At present, a very good friend is staying with us, looking for work. Him, too, meant a new wave of feelings kicking in.
He studied with me in college, and now that we have children, with him around, it feels like being back to that care-free life we used to live back then.
We do a lot of things together, we talk, we exchange opinions and experiences and, often, we cook.

He has the creativity and resourcefulness i appreciate in people. He will say: tomorrow I'll make Moussaka! Let me ask my Greek friend for the recipe.

And that's exactly what we (mostly him...) made! 

The original recipe called for fried potatoes and fried aubergines, but to make it lighter, we boiled the potatoes and grille the aubergine.


6 good sized Potatoes
1 clove of Garlic
1/4 of an Onion
1 Kg of Mince Meat
2/3 of a litre of Tomato Sauce, or Passata
1 Aubergine, sliced quite thick and briefly grilled
1/2 a litre of thick Besciamella Sauce (Made With: 5 tablespoons of Flour, Olive Oil and 1/2 litre of Milk)

First thing first, slightly boil the potatoes, peeled, adding a pinch of salt in the water. The potatoes should not be too soft, they should be hard enough to be sliced.

Next, Besciamella Sauce. 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, and gradually add the rest of the flour. Once you get a thick paste add the milk and keep stirring. It takes very little time to do it, so no distractions or you'll end up with a messy messy thing.
Keep it on low heat and stir until you have the right consistency.
Once that's done, set it aside, possibly covered.

Now, time to make the sauce.
Place some olive oil in another pot, on low heat, and place in a garlic clove, skin and all.

Chop up the onion and put in in the oil. Let the oil soak up the flavour and then remove the garlic.
Soften the onion and then add the mince meat.

Cook, always on low heat, until the meat is nice and brown.

Add now the tomato sauce and let it simmer on low. Add salt to this sauce according to your taste.
Once the sauce is ready, turn off the heat and you are ready to grill briefly the aubergines. We had them grilled from the day before, because we had a barbecue in the garden. But they can be successfully grilled on the stove as well.

All set! Cut the potatoes and place them on the bottom of your oven tray to make the first layer.

Now place the mince meat sauce as the second layer.
Now it's the turn of the aubergines and the third layer.

On top, the fourth and last layer will be the Besciamella sauce.
Now, place it in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, and when it comes out, it will look like this:

Slice it up and enjoy!

There is enough for 4 people in this recipe :) So invite a friend or two and have fun!!!