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The dying city – Civita di Bagnoregio

9 Jun

I just wanted to share this trip we made to Civita di Bagnoregio, a fairytale city in the midst of the Umbria hills between the lake of Bolsena and Orvieto. Our friends in Rome, David and Marcello, told us about this ‘dying city’ and when I saw the pictures I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked just out of a Lord of the Rings movie! We decided to go there, on a Saturday afternoon and when we arrived, we were amazed. The pictures we had seen did not even grasp what was there.

The city was founded by the Etruscans 2500 years ago (you can still visit on of their houses they built in the caves of the rock!) on a plateau of volcanic tuff stone. By the 16th century, the hillside of the city started to crumble because of an earthquake and parts with houses fell of the rock into the valley. In the years after that more and more of the city fell of and the mayor of the neighbour city Bagnoregio encouraged every citizen to leave Civita before the city was swallowed. A few people ignored this and the city was never abandoned totally. In these days only 21 people live in the city.

We climbed the road towards the city center and walked around the medieval streets. Afterwards we had a nice apiritivo. If you are in the area, please don’t forget to visit this beautiful medieval pearl!

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‘Long Live the Queen’ cupcakes

3 Feb

Tomorrow it will be exactly one week ago when the Dutch queen announced the abdication in favor of her son. Such an historical moment for us Dutch people! Inspired by this I decided to make something orange, which we use at special national occasions, such as football matches and queens day and which is in fact the last name of our royal family. At first I wanted to make the typical dutch treat ‘tompouce’ topped off with an orange glace, but then I found this wonderful recipe in Nigella Lawson’s book “How to become a domestic goddess”. Although the cupcakes are not exactly orange, they do require orange carrots. 🙂

Ingredients

Cupcakes: 100 g. brown sugar, 1,75 dl. sunflower oil, 2 large eggs, 225 g. flower, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda (‘zuiveringszout’ or ‘dubbelkoolzuur soda’ in Dutch), 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, a bit of salt, grated skin of 1/2 lemon, grated skin of 1/2 orange or a whole mandarin, 150 g. of carrots, 100 g. of walnuts. Glace: 125 g. of mascarpone, 250 g. of powdered sugar, 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 12 half walnuts.

Preparation

Preheat the oven on 200 degrees. Mix the brown sugar and the oil together and add the eggs one by one. Add the flower, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and citrus grate. Mix this and then add the grated carrots and mashed walnuts and mix it again. Add the mix in the cups and bake the cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can make the glace. Sieve the powdered sugar and mix this with the mascarpone and lemon juice. When the cupcakes are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool off for a while. If you think they are done, put the glace on the cakes and add a walnut on each. Mmmm 🙂 Buon appetito!

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Zucchini filopie with chickpeas and rice

13 Jan

For Christmas I got this wonderful Nigella Lawson book with the hilarious title: “How to become a domestic goddess”. The book features all kind of baking recipes like pastries, cookies, pies and flans. Many of the recipes need strange ingredients such as baking soda and I am very curious where I will be able to find these ingredients here in Rome.. I will keep you posted!

Today on this rainy Sunday afternoon I chose this nice recipe to try out. Again with no meat in it! Sorry Tom 😉 However if you’d ask me, you can easily add chicken to the pie.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon of cumin (large seeds), 1 small onion (finely diced), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder (‘kurkuma’ in Dutch), 1 teaspoon of diced coriander, 3 small courgette(s)/zucchini, 125 gram of basmati rice, 500 ml. of vegetable stock (or chicken if you’d prefer), 2 cans of chickpeas (about 460 gram drained), 100 gr. melted butter, 200 gr. of filo pastry (‘filodeeg’ in Dutch) and a Springform.

Preparation

Preheat the oven on 200 degrees. Cut the onion and the courgettes in small dices and let the chickpeas drain. Bake the onion dices together with the cumin seeds on high fire until they’ll soften. Add the coriander, tumeric powder and courgettes. When the courgette dices are softened, add the rice. Wait until the rice is well coated in the oil of the other ingredients. Add the stock 1 dl. at the time and stir until all the stock is absorbed by the rice. This is a sign that the rice is ready. Take the pan off the fire and add the chickpeas.

Let the butter melt in a pan and brush the insides of the Springform with the melted butter. Add a few layers of filo pastry and butter each layer carefully. Leave a little filo pastry overlapping the sides of the tin form. Add the cooled rice filling and fold the overlapping pastry to the middle. If the pie is not fully covered with pastry, add a layer on the top. Butter the last layers of pastry and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes until the filo is golden brown.

Buon appetit!

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Filled Speculaas

6 Dec

For today I thought it was fun to make filled Speculaas, a typical dutch treat that we all eat in the upcoming weeks of 5 december. I saw this perfect picture and additional recipe and thought this was ‘easy’ to make. However, when I made the dough, it did not mix together at all and I tried all sorts of things to save it that I can’t even remember which ingredients I added. Then, I let it too long in the fridge, so the ‘saved’ dough was as hard as a rock and as grand finale I let the thing almost burn in the oven.. So anyway, as you all might understand, i will not feature the recipe on this blog, because it didn’t make any sense at all. Luckily, when It got out of the oven, however looking terrible, it tasted delicious! So it does feel a little bit like Sinterklaas here in Rome :-). At first I did not want to write a blog about this experience, but then I remembered the subtitle of my blog ‘How do I become a good chef?’ and thought that also these things need to be written down.. So, here it is!

But please, don’t laugh about my speculaas picture..

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Peasoup with mint

29 Nov

Yesterday I made this delicious peasoup because we had a little bit too much meat and fat during our week in Czech Republic.. Although this Jamie Oliver recipe is a soup, it fills and is perfect as a supper! Don’t be frightened by the name of this soup, because this is definitely not the peasoup that we were all made to eat when we were younger and which you can buy during winter time with an Unox sausage. No! This is a delicious peasoup, so don’t hesitate to try it yourself.

Ingredients

500 gr. frozen peas, 2 large potatoes, 1 large onion, 1 litter of vegetable stock, 2 sprigs of fresh mint, 2 sticks of celery, 1 knob of butter, 150 gr. ciabatta, 100 ml. of cream (light if you prefer), 100 gr. of feta cheese, salt and pepper and olive oil.

Preparation

For this 4 person recipe, you will need a large pan. Put it on low heat and splash a bit of olive oil in it and the knob of butter. Meanwhile, you can chop the onion and celery into small parts. Put the vegetables into the pan with a splash of water and leave it on low fire for 10 minutes. Then, fill a medium pan with the vegetable stock and let it simmer on medium heat. Grate the two potatoes into the pan with stock and add half of the mint leaves. Meanwhile, you can heat up the oven to bake the ciabatta bread. After this, the vegetables will be softened and you can add the peas into the pan with vegetables. Let it cook for one minutes and add the stock mixture with potato and mint. Bring everything to boil, add the cream and cook for 5 minutes. Then take the pan of the fire and make the soup smooth with a hand blender. Taste the soup with salt and pepper. To serve the bowls you can add crumbled feta and the rest of the mint leaves. Serve it with the baked ciabatta. Buon appetito!

Pasta machine!

9 Nov

In this blog I just want to share my love for the pasta machine. We all know that it is very easy to make a pasta recipe and use dried pasta, but making your own with a pasta machine is just SO MUCH fun!! You can already buy a nice pasta machine from 50 euros or more. So, to make spaghetti, tagliatelle, lasagna layers or ravioli, use this recipe!

Ingredients

400 g. of flower, 4 eggs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Preparation

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until all of them cohere nicely. Then, get the dough out of the bowl and knead it until it is smooth. Fold the dough in a kitchen towel en leave it to rest for 30 minutes. After the dough is made ready, take 1/4 and start to roll it with a rolling pin. When the part is nicely flat, put it through the pasta machine, and see how it comes out!

If you want to make spaghetti or lasagna layers, it is okay to leave the pasta between kitchen foil to dry for a while. However, when you want to make ravioli, remember that you can not leave the ravioli layers for too long! They will eventually dry out and when you want to put the sauce in and fold them together, the dough will not stick. This is what happened to my pumpkin ravioli recipe idea… I did make a nice tagliatelle from the dried out ravioli layers though 🙂

Beefstew with beer and potatoes

7 Nov

Here is another great recipe that is perfect for a rainy autumn day! I have made it a couple of times when I was still in the Netherlands, but now I have also tried it here. To me this is a recipe with typical dutch ingredients and it feels good to make something dutch while I am abroad. The recipe asks for a typical Belgian beer Kasteelbier and I could not find this in the supermarkets. However, I did use something alike, called blond beer triple.

This recipe is easy, however it takes 2,5 hours to stew! So make sure you have the time to watch it once in a while.

Ingredients

2 onions, 1 kg. of beef meat, 2 tablespoons of flower, 75 gr. of butter, 1 winter carrot, 2 toes of garlic, 4 stems of celery, 1 small bottle (330 ml.) of Kasteelbier (or something alike), 2 leaves of laurel, 1 tablet of beef stock, 500 gr. of potatoes and salt and pepper.

Preparation

Cut the meat in small parts (cubes of 2 cm. or a bit larger) and sprinkle the flower on the meat. Use half of the butter and bake the meat on high fire in 3 minutes brown. After you have done this, take the meat out of the pan and keep it apart. Cut the onions (one in rings and the other one in small parts), the carrot, the celery and the garlic. Heat up the rest of the butter and bake the vegetables for 4 minutes. Then you can add the meat, the beer, the leaves of laurel, 500 ml of hot water and the tablet of beef stock. Leave the pan with the lid on, on low fire for 2,5 hours.

While the pan is on the fire, cut the potatoes in small cubes. You can add them after 2,5 hours. Leave the pan without the lid, on the fire for 30 more minutes until the potatoes are ready. If you want to, you can make this recipe one day before and leave it in the fridge. You just have to heat it the next day and it tastes great!

Buon appetito!

Robert Doisneau

16 Okt

“The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”

Last week I went to the Robert Doisneau exposition in Palazzo delle Esposizioni: Paris en Liberté. I think everyone recognizes the feeling of needing some Parisian nostalgia from time to time and Doisneau is the perfect photographer! I love his view on developing Paris in the 20th century; you can see that next to poverty, Paris was already classy and charming.

Until his death in 1994 he photographed the life on the streets of Paris.

“Le Baiser de l’hôtel de ville”

“Coco Chanel au miroir”

“Pont ‘Iéna”

“La Vitrie de Romi”