Gorgonzola and Mascarpone Tureen


Dear Blog-Followers … you might be interested in reading about a groovy recipe combining gorgonzola and mascarpone.  I wrote this recipe for the Giardini di Sole’s blog yesterday.   I was in Boston until last week and together with business partner Libby Morris, we cooked up a great menu for an event at the showroom there on November 18th.

Take a look at the recipe: http://www.giardinidisole.com/blog/2014/11/gorgonzola-and-mascarpone-tureen-with-mostarda/

And if you’d like to take a peep at the other food we prepared:


It might give you some ideas … all these foods had to be prepared at home and taken to the Showroom.  It was a lot of work but truly worthwhile and our guests went home happy which of course made us happy.

I know I am biased … but don’t you think our ceramics are gorgeous !

IMG_0479 IMG_0480 IMG_0482 IMG_0483 IMG_0484 IMG_0487 IMG_0491 IMG_0492

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Caciu all’argentera: Sicilian ‘rabbit’


I am reblogging this because it is such a good recipe for any leftover cheese …

Originally posted on My Home Food That's Amore:

Sunday evening, the day after you’ve hosted a Saturday night dinner which has, yes, been a lot of fun but which, also, bequeathed a lot of clearing and tidying up in its wake.  Amazingly, there are hardly any leftovers … and you think that you are not very hungry anyway, not after last night, so it doesn’t matter much, you don’t worry.   All you want to do is relax and have a quiet evening and maybe skip supper altogether.  And what happens instead?  At around 8:30 p.m. your tummy starts rumbling and intimating that it is expecting to be fed, and let’s not pretend otherwise!  What’s worse, you’re in no mood to rustle up a little bit of this and that … you just want to eat something quickly and be done with it.

Answer?  The Sicilian equivalent of Welsh Rabbit or to cheese on toast.

It should properly…

View original 1,132 more words

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Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage – Pasta Broccoli e Salsiccia

This is what I have come to label as a ‘default’ pasta, together with matriciana, arrabbiata and aglio, oglio e peperoncino (carbonara and cacio e pepe take a bit of thinking, for instance, and hence can’t quality).  It is a pasta sauce that somehow just comes together, naturally – it tastes good in a hearty fashion and hits the spot at lunchtime when you want to hush your appetite but not overeat.  Owing to its inherent rich and jubilant ingredients (sausage meat, pecorino romano cheese (parmesan if you prefer), garlic, evoo and not forgetting the broccolo romano itself  (‘romanesco’ some call it), it is a complete meal in itself.  If you can’t get hold of broccolo romano, use whatever will substitute best: e.g. rapini, broccoli rabe, or even Sicilian style broccoli.

1 This is one of my favourite pasta brands, it comes from Abbruzzo.  A good pasta does indeed make all the difference …  but that can be the topic for another post.2 I was using 500g of pasta and chose to use 3 Italian sausages, 1 large broccolo romano head and about 3 cloves of garlic (1 per sausage sort of thing).  By all means use less or more garlic, or none at all: it is a question of personal preference.2a Skin the sausages and set aside …3 Grate some pecorino romano cheese (or parmesan).  I hate grating and always try and trap some obliging soul to do it for me.  If you by any chance grate more than you require, place the leftovers in the freezer – it will keep better.4 After washing the broccoli, start unravelling it.  It is a nice thing to keep as many florets as intact as possible – they look so pretty – but do not be alarmed about cutting the larger ones in half.  Also, cut up the white part of the broccolo.5 Here is a closer look …6 Bring a pot of water to the boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and when the salt has dissolved, add the broccoli pieces.  The broccolo has to simmer for at least 15 minutes.  We are not after a stir-fry and it is quite all right to ‘overcook’ the broccoli, indeed it is an imperative.  Marcella Hazan wrote about this modern tendency of ours to ‘undercook’ vegetables because we think it is a healthier or trendier option when in point of fact, the vegetable is ‘done’ precisely when it is ‘done’ … when it ‘gives’ and releases the sweetness of its flavour without falling apart.

The pasta will cook in this very same water, a few minutes later.  Think of your cooking water as a kind of stock — it adds flavour to the final dish.

7While the broccoli pieces are simmering, we can forge ahead with cooking the garlic. I added a little bit of chilli.
8 When the garlic turns golden, add the sausage meat and cook until done.  Sprinkle some salt, and pepper too if you like it.9 When the broccoli is ready, use a sieve to remove it from the water …10 And drain it straight away into the saucepan with the sausage.11 Take your time, this transfer is done in batches … 12 Turn the heat up and combine all the ingredients, making sure that there is a little bit of liquid left, at all times (the sauce will taste ‘orrible if it goes too dry).  Again, taste to check whether it might need a little bit more salt.13 If you do noto have a sieve large enough to drain the pasta as shown above, and you therefore drain the pasta all in one go in a colander …do be sure to reserve some of the cooking water before doing so, as in the photo above for instance.14 Turn the heat off and add part of the pecorino and mix well.  Each diner can add more pecorino later at the table.15 Here we are … a nice serving.16 17Nice.  Very nice.  Perfect during the colder months.  Good for leftovers later on too … that’s if you have any !

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Making Porchetta for an Event in Boston at the Giardini di Sole Showroom

Just about this time last week, my friend and partner Libby and I were getting to grips with all the dishes we were preparing in her house to take to the showroom the next day.

One of the dishes was porchetta … here is the link if you are interested in the recipe:



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Spelt and Orange Salad – Farro con Arance

Whenever the word ‘salad’ gets drawn into conversation, I immediately think of lettuce, rocket/arugula and green, leafy ‘things’ and associate it with Summer – because that’s when salad used to get eaten, i.e. only during the Summer months when the clemency of the weather inspired their growth.  With the advent of modern agricultural techniques and the help of refrigerators, these kinds of salads can be enjoyed all year round.  That said, salads have now come to mean a dish that incorporates all kinds of ingredients that can include both cooked and uncooked ingredients, and the more colourful the better.  I hope you like this one, made simply with spelt (emmer wheat), oranges and/or lemon juice, and olive oil.

This is a version I made last September …

1 I had cooked the spelt and then drained it and allowed to cool.  Once in a bowl, I seasoned it with lots of orange juice, salt and olive oil (evoo).2 I cut up some oranges and seasoned them, also, with salt, evoo and a good sprinkle of oregano (this particular oregano came from Sicily – the aroma was just inspiring, let me tell you).3 3b And then, just recently for an Event in Boston, we repeated the recipe.4 This is the brand we used ….5Follow the cooking instructions on the packet.  Here it is, ready to be seasoned.
6We decided to add lemon juice as well as orange juice to the mix …
7And here you have the dressing … plenty of evoo, orange juice and lemon juice.  Sprinkle the salt directly over the cooked spelt.10655223_10152936245906320_2106872433141211681_oWe left some of the salad dressing aside and poured it over the salad just before serving it. We also added slithers of radicchio … radicchio and orange go so well together.  We did not use dry oregano because it would not have gone well with the radicchio.IMG_0503And there is this lovely, colourful, healthy, eye catching salad on the presentation table … just minutes before guests started to trickle in.

The salad can be cooked a day ahead, seasoned and kept refrigerated until the next day – so it’s a very handy one to include on any menu that requires freshness.  The slices of oranges are added only minutes before serving.


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Tagliatelle with Porcini Mushrooms

If you like mushrooms, you get to enjoy them in so many recipes.  Adding them to a pasta sauce (or indeed making them the centre of a pasta sauce) can only be a welcome addition to a mushroom lover’s repertoire.  If you like a particular mushroom known as ‘porcini’ in Italian and ‘cep’ in English, here is a recipe that you might warm to.

It does require the porcini to be fresh.  When fresh porcini mushrooms are not available, however, you can easily adapt this recipe and use a mixture of other mushrooms.  You could buy some dried porcini mushrooms and soak some in boiling water for at least 15 minutes.  You can then add the soaked porcini and the mushroom water to enrich your sauce.

On with the procedure then.

1 Soak some tomatoes in boiling water and then remove their skins.2 Cut up some pancetta or guanciale.  Have some parsley at the ready.  When you get a moment, mince it.3 Start by cooking the guanciale in a saucepan, so as to make it render its fat.4Then add the tomatoes, which you have skinned, deseeded and cut into fat slices.  Drizzle some olive oil at this point.
5 While that is going on, cook some sliced porcini mushrooms in another saucepan.  Make sure you use olive oil for this too.6 When the mushrooms have cooked and browned on either side, remove them from the saucepan and set aside.7 Cooking the mushrooms means that some nice-tasting liquid will be left over …8 Pour it into the other saucepan.9 When the sauce is ready (about 10 minutes in all), sprinkle with salt and pepper and add minced parsley.  Switch heat off for now.10 Think of your pasta water as a kind of ‘stock’ … in this case I added a sprig of rosemary to enrich it, as well as the usual salt.  I decided to use egg pasta for this recipe.  Just before the egg pasta is ready to be drained, turn the heat on for the saucepan with the sauce.11 The egg pasta cooks in no time at all … drain it straight into the pasta sauce.  Turn the heat well up, it must be strong.12 Add a tablespoon of butter to the sauce and combine all the ingredients.  Toss the saucepan if you can, otherwise use two forks, or a wooden spoon to help you do the trick.13 The pasta is glossy and well coated with the sauce … Switch heat off.14 The parmesan was grated only minutes before …15 16 17Serve the pasta on each dish and shower each dish with a large tablespoon of parmesan.

P.S.  If you were using a mixture of other mushrooms added to soaked dry porcini mushrooms, add the latter to the tomato sauce before you add the pasta and let it cook for at least 5 minutes.

P.P.S. You could use canned tomatoes instead of fresh.  You might have to add a little bit of sugar to the mix.

Posted in Basic Techniques, Herbs and plants, italian home food, Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Roast Pumpkin Stuffed with Cheese and Mushrooms – Zucca al Forno

With Thanksgiving and holiday season just around the corner, it is always useful to have an accessible pumpkin recipe to fall back on, with which to grace the table.

Pumpkin and squash are not relished in my family (except by yours truly) and so I rarely go to any great length in seeking out recipes.  However, since I was cooking for an event in Boston just a few days ago, at our Giardini di Sole showroom in SOWA (http://www.giardinidisole.com/blog/2014/11/a-roman-themed-spread-with-a-boston-flair-giardini-di-soles-boston-gathering-november-18th/), I looked to my North American partners Sandy and Libby for some advice.  With no cooking facilities within the showroom itself, the recipe had to be a) portable, b) Italian and c) crowd-pleasingly good.  With the usual flair that characterises Sandy’s problem-solving outlook, she came up with the idea of adapting Marlena di Blasi’s recipe for ‘Zucca al Forno’ (the link to this recipe is provided at the bottom).  It promised to be just as Sandy had predicted … very good indeed.  And I shall definitely make it again at home … and who knows, I might even convince other members of my family to re-think their reluctance to pumpkin.

Take a look at the adaptation of the original recipe.

Ingredients: 12oz of mushrooms and 12 ozemmenthaler cheese, 7 slices of firm textured day-old bread, 2 cups mascarpone, 4 oz freshly grated parmesan, 3 eggs, freshly grated nutmeg, 2 large onions.  Salt and pepper.  A pumpkin weighing between 2 and a half to 3 pounds.


1 2 Chopped onions need to be cooked in plenty of butter …3 Cut up mushrooms are then added to the onions after about 5 minutes …4 Trim the slices of bread of their crust ….5 6 7 The bread needs to be transformed into croutons: by frying it in plenty of butter.8 The cooked mushrooms, the grated emmenthaler, the parmesan, the freshly grated nutmeg, the mascarpone and the eggs … all need to be combined.  Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to preferred taste.9 Divide into three equal portions.  The pumpkin requires three layers of this mixture, plus two layers of the croutons.9a

I placed the knife in the middle to indicate that we are dividing the croutons in two portions, one for each layer.
11 Draw a ring around the top of the pumkin.  This will make it easier for you to cut the top of the pumkin off. You will need a sharp knife for this and lots of patience as well as strength.  Take your time and be safe.12 All the seeds and stringy bits have to be removed …13 And here is our emptied out pumpkin (well, yes, a few seeds were left … who cares), acting as a vessel for all the goodies that are now going to be filling it.14 The first layer goes in …. 15 Followed by the first layer of croutons.  Continue with the second layer of the mixture, followed by the second layer of the croutons and finish with the third and last layer of the mixture.16 Here it is just before the top was placed back on again.17 Pop the pumpkin into the preheated oven … and bake for 1 to 1 and a half hours.  Ovens are irritatingly quixotical in their design and so you will have to judge for yourself when the pumpkin is indeed ready. 18 We transported the pumpkin to the showroom, wrapped in plenty of aluminium paper.  Here I am about to ‘unveil’ this beauty (which had just been warmed up in a microwave oven) ….19

And here it is in all its glory.  And yes … nothing was left by the end of the evening !


Zucca al Forno Ripiena con Porcini e Tartufi
(Whole Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Porcini and Truffles)
Serves 8-10Ingredients100g/3½oz (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
350g/12oz fresh wild mushrooms (such as porcini, ceps, chanterelles, portobelli), rinsed, drained, dried and thinly sliced (or 115g/4oz dried porcini, softened in 125ml/4floz/½ cup warm water, stock or wine, drained and thinkly sliced)
2 whole black diamond truffles from Norcia (or 2 canned black truffles or 85g/3oz black truffle paste) (optional)
sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
750g/1 lb 10oz (3 cups) mascarpone cheese
350g/12oz Emmenthal cheese, grated
115g/4oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
8 slices firm-textured, day-old white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 2.5cm/1in squares
1 large pumpkin or squash, about 1.8-2.25kg (4-5 lb) in weight, its stalk end cut around to form a cap, seeds and string removed from the cavity (retain stalk end for later)MethodPreheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5. In a medium sauté pan, melt 40g/1/2oz (3 tablespoons) butter. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until both soften and the mushrooms give up their liquors (if using dried mushrooms, strain the soaking liquid and add it to the sauté pan). Add the truffles or truffle paste, if using, and mix well. Add salt and the pepper.In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, except the bread, remaining butter and pumpkin or squash; season with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. Beat until well combined, then stir in the onions, mushrooms and truffles. Melt the remaining butter in a sauté pan and brown the bread, tossing the pieces about in the pan until they are crisp.Place the pumpkin or squash in a large, heavy baking dish or on a baking sheet. Spoon one-third of the mushroom mixture into the pumpkin, add half the crisped bread, another third of the mushrooms, and the remaining bread, ending with the remaining mushrooms. Top off with the pumpkin cap and roast in the oven for about 1½ hours, or until the pumpkin flesh is very soft.Carry the pumpkin immediately to the table, remove its cap and spoon out portions of its flesh with the stuffing. The dish needs only a cool, flinty, dry white wine as accompaniment.Reproduced with the kind permission of Marlena di Blasi from her book, A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance, published by Virago Press
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