Love your discard

I have got a confession to make: I am one of those people that made sourdough during the lockdown.

Actually, I became obsessed with it, and I tried to follow as many recipes as possible with my lovely starter: pizza, bread, pancakes, pretzel; you name it, I have probably done it (hundreds of times, with a decent amount of successes and some “interesting”, less successful, results).

I attempted several “miraculous recipes” for sourdough starters, that promised me everything: an unbelievably bubbly bread, the crunchiest pizza ever, the most amazing fluffy pancakes, a new shiny car (spoiler alert: I still have my super old car and all the entartaining noises it makes).

All of these recipes had one thing in common, something that I could never accept in my life: at some point of the development of my starter, I had to discard half of it. I know, I don’t make the rules, but there was no way that I was going to put perfectly good starter in the bin. NO. WAY.

I had to come up with something that would give my discard the glory it deserved: it was just a small piece in the world of sourdough, a world that doesn’t show any mercy or compassion towards my half starter, but I couldn’t be just a spectator or even worse the perpetrator of such a horrific action. I had to do something. (Yes I know I am such a drama queen).

So I started a very long research process on google, all the baking books in my flat, youtube, instagram, my mum, and I came up with a super tasty recipe that I promise you, won’t let you put your discard in the bin ever again. These little snacks dont last more than 24 hours in the house, so I warn you: if you have guests around and you are planning to serve them these crackers, have some backup snacks because I am sure they will be all gone by the time your friends arrive!

Ingredients for one tray of crackers:

-unfed sourdough starter, 130g

-white strong flour, 130g

-olive oil, 60g

-melted butter, 35g

Ingredients for the topping:

-sea salt

-red onion, 1/4

Equipment you need:

-rolling pin

-greaseproof paper

-a tray

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° fan assisted
  2. Mix together the flour and sourdough starter
  3. In the meantime, melt the butter
  4. Mix the butter to your dough
  5. Add the oil and knead until you have a smooth texture
  6. Cut the onion finely
  7. Take the greaseproof paper you are going to use on the tray, cut as much as you need
  8. Put your dough in the centre of the paper and using a rolling pin, flatten your dough until you get a 3-4 mm width
  9. Spread the onion on your dough and gently push it
  10. Spread the salt evenly
  11. Cut the dough in squares
  12. Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden

Are you obsessed with sourdough as well? Did you come up with interesting recipes? Let me know!

And they say romance is dead

Have you ever heard of maritati pasta? It is a special pasta combination, made of orecchiette and maccheroni (also known as minchiareddi), particularly famous in Puglia, one of the most beautiful regions in Italy.

Maritati in italian means “married”, and this pasta basically represents the marriage between orecchiette pasta (the woman), and maccheroni (the man).

Fun fact: the other name used for maccheroni, “minchiareddi”, literally translate as “small penises”.

Historically, maritati pasta was served during weddings in Puglia, to wish a happy union to the newly weds. Today, it is the pasta choice for Sunday lunch, generally with ragu or tomato sauce.

The dough for the orecchiette and maccheroni is usually made of semolina flour and water, no eggs or additional ingredients: in the old days, pasta was food for the poor people, who couldn`t afford eggs or fancy ingredients, so we are going to stick to the original recipe! I am also uploading two videos to show you how to make orecchiette and maritati, it is a very relaxing process and I am sure you will love to have a go at it!

Ingredients for the dough – 4 people:

-400g semolina flour

-200ml water

-pinch of salt

Steps:

  1. combine the ingredients together, adding just half of the water at the beginning, and then incorporating it gradually while kneading
  2. if you feel the dough is very hard, put your hands under fresh water and dont dry them, just keep kneading with wet hands
  3. leave the dough to rest for 30 minute

How to make orecchiette:

  1. take 1/4 of the dough and roll it until you have a “sausege” of 1cm diameter
  2. cut the sausage in little squares of 1cm
  3. put a knife on one square and drag it towards you
  4. take the pasta off the knife, and put your finger in it to turn it inside out – video below
  5. you will need to repeat this process with another 1/4 of the pasta – you cant start just rolling 1/2 of the dough because by the time you finish, your squares will be too dry

How to make maccheroni:

1.take 1/4 of the dough and roll it until you have a “sausage” of 1cm diameter

2.cut the sausage in strings about 5cm long

3. using a thin wire (usually in Italy we use a wire called “paduro, but I couldnt find one, so I disassembled my cake syringe) press the strings against the wire and roll them, like in the video below

4. you will need to repeat this process with another 1/4 of the pasta – you cant start just rolling 1/2 of the dough because by the time you finish, your strings will be too dry

And here is the final result!!

I had them with a tomato and mushrooms sauce, topped with grated salted ricotta

No eggs? No problem!

Sundays for me are the treat day, there is no Sunday without a cake, cannoli or frolle!

Yesterday I found some beautiful lemons at the market, and I thought I could make a lovely lemon cake, like the ones I used to have in Italy.

So this morning I woke up, already thinking about my lovely treat: I started arranging my ingredients and guess what? No eggs! NOOO! I couldnt bear the thought of getting dressed, put the mask and gloves on, queue in the supermarket, swearing because there are no eggs, queue in another supermarket, finding only quail eggs, and so on until lunch time. So it was time to improvise!

I came up with a fantastic alternative that is going to replace my usual cake sponge forever, it is so fluffy, easy and full of flavours! Just a word of warning: while making it, you will think all the time “this is not looking right”, “this cant be right”, “this recipe is useless” etc…And that is perfectly normal because I thought my cake was going directly in the bin, where it belonged to. I uploaded a picture below, to show you what the cake looked like before the oven, it was basically very thick and hard to fold, I literally had to knead it to incorporate all the ingredients! So dont worry if yours looks the same, it is ok and it will taste lovely, promise!

Ingredients for a 18cm diameter tray:

-Flour, 290g

-yogurt, 300g

-sugar, 150g

-seed oil, 110g

-baking powder with vanillina, 16g (I used pane degli angeli)

-zest of one lemon

-icing sugar to decorate

Steps:

1.Preheat the oven to 170° fan assisted

2. Mix the flour, yogurt, oil, lemon zest and sugar together. The mixture will be super thick and hard to manipulate, I ended up kneading it as I would do for a pizza dough

3. once these ingredients are amalgamated, add the baking powder and keep kneading

4. line a tray (or grease it with butter if you prefer), and put your mixture, spreading it evenly with your hands

5. leave it in the oven for 45 minutes

And this is the cake before the oven, as you can see it doesnt look promising whatsoever!

Red onion focaccia

Baking is not my forte, I admit it, but focaccia is one of the few things that I can successfully bake.

For this recipe I used fast action yeast, so proving times are not too bad – you only need a couple of hours, so I usually make the dough and then I move on with my life: I watch an episode of my favourite programme, call a friend, question my life choices, as you can see the list is endless!

Ingredients for the focaccia- 8 people:

-strong flour, 500g

-fast action yeast, 1 sachet

-water, 370 ml

-salt, 3 teaspoons

-olive oil, 6 tablespoons plus abundant oil to grease a bowl

For the topping:

-red onion, 1/4

-flaky salt

-olive oil

Steps:

  1. Mix together all the focaccia ingredients, except the salt
  2. once you get a smooth texture, add the salt and keep kneading for 10 minutes
  3. the texture will be very sticky, dont worry about it
  4. grease a bowl with abundant oil, and put your dough in the bowl, covering with a damp towel, and leave it to prove 1 hour
  5. line a tray (or grease it with abundant oil) and transfer your focaccia there, spreading it evenly
  6. leave it for 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel
  7. preheat the oven to 200 fan
  8. chop the red onion finely
  9. take off the towel, make the dimples with your finger and spread oil evenly
  10. spread the red onion and the flaky salt evenly
  11. put it in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden

Apple cake

Apple cake is one of my favourite desserts, so easy and so full of flavours! It is perfect with some cream, gelato or just a cup of tea!

Ingredients:

  • Flour, 250g
  • Apples, 4
  • Sugar, 200g
  • Milk, 200ml
  • Lemon, 1
  • Fast action yeast, 1 sachet
  • Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs, 2

Recipe:

  1. Grate the lemon to get the zest
  2. Cut the lemon and squeeze it
  3. Peel the apples and cut them in little squares
  4. Put the squares in a bowl and add the lemon juice
  5. In a separate bowl, put the flour and yeast
  6. Add eggs and milk and mix
  7. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, lemon zest and mix
  8. Rinse the apples and add them in the mixture
  9. Preheat the oven at 160° fan assisted
  10. Grease a tray with some butter and add the mixture
  11. Leave it to cook for 40 minutes or until cooked

Orange cinnamon rolls with white chocolate icing

This is not the usual cinnamon rolls recipe, it has a lovely orange kick that gives even more flavour! I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Ingredients for the dough:

  • Flour, 500g
  • One sachet of fast action yeast
  • Orange zest, 1
  • Orange juice, 5 tablespoons
  • Egg, 1
  • Butter 75 mg plus some for the tray
  • 75 g of sugar
  • 175ml of milk

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 30mg butter
  • 30mg icing brown sugar
  • Orange juice, 2 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon, 1 tablespoon

Ingredients for the icing:

  • White chocolate, 200g
  • Icing sugar, 150g
  • Butter, 200g
  • Orange juice, 3 tablespoons

Recipe:

  1. Use the ingredients for the dough and mix together the flour, sugar and yeast
  2. Add the egg and stir
  3. Add the milk and stir
  4. Melt the butter and add it to the mixture
  5. Put some butter in a bowl, add the mixture and leave it to rise for one hour or until double in size
  6. Using a roll, flat the dough until it is 1.5 cm
  7. Cut the butter is little squares and spread them on the dough
  8. Spread the cinnamon
  9. Mix the sugar and the orange juice and spread it on the dough
  10. Roll the dough
  11. Cut the roll in slices of about 2cm
  12. Grease a tray with some butter
  13. Put the slices in the tray and let them rise until double in size
  14. Put the tray in the oven at 160° for 20 minutes or until golden
  15. Let it cool and prepare the icing: melt the white chocolate and the butter, mix them with the orange juice and the sugar
  16. Spread the icing on the rolls

Enjoy!

Artichoke risotto

Spring means artichokes! This recipe is very easy and simple, you can also add to your risotto anything you like: pancetta, shrimps, olives, etc…

Ingredients for the vegan option- for 3 people:

  • Artichokes, 3
  • Rice, 240g
  • White wine, half a glass
  • Vegetable stock, 1 litre
  • lemon, 1
  • White onion, 1
  • Salt
  • Pepper

If you don’t want the vegan option add the following:

  • Butter, 2 tablespoons
  • Grated parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons
  • Double cream, 3 tablespoons

Recipe:

  1. Prepare the artichokes: remove the external leaves, remove the top and the base
  2. Cut the artichokes in 4 pieces and place them in a bowl with water and lemon juice – leave them for 30 minutes
  3. Peel and cut the onion
  4. Warm some oil in a pan and add the onion
  5. Rinse the artichokes and put them in the pan, let them cook for 15 minutes
  6. Boil the vegetale stock
  7. Optional: If you want, add the butter
  8. Add the rice
  9. Add the wine and let it evaporate
  10. Add some stock and keep stirring until the stock doesn’t get absorbed
  11. Add stock any time the rice becomes dry and keep stirring all the time
  12. Add salt and pepper as you like
  13. Optional: when the rice is almost done, add the parmesan cheese and the cream

Enjoy!

Potato and red onion frittelle

This recipe is a delicious starter, easy to make and full of flavours!

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • Potatoes, 4
  • Red onion, 2
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour, 100g
  • Water 50ml
  • Rapeseed oil

Recipe:

  1. Wash and boil the potatoes
  2. Peel and cut the onion
  3. Warm some oil in a pan and add the onion
  4. Add some water and let them cook for 15-20 minutes until soft
  5. Peel and cut the potatoes in slices
  6. Make your pastella: mix the flour, water, salt and pepper until you have a thick not watery mixture
  7. Add flour or water if necessary
  8. Add the onions in the patella
  9. Add the potato slices in the pastella
  10. Warm the rapeseed oil in a pan
  11. With a spoon, take 1 potato slice and the onions covered in the pastella and put it in the pan (1 potato slice covered in pastella with some onions=1frittella)
  12. Add several tablespoons of the mixture in the pan to get several separate frittelle
  13. When they are golden, take them out and put them in a dish that has been covered with kitchen towel

Enjoy!

Pasta alla norma

Pasta alla Norma is a traditional recipe from Sicily, it takes its name from the Bellini masterpiece Norma 🙂 I am not surprised that such a lovely recipe has been compared to the perfection of this opera!

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • Pasta (rigatoni, sedani, mezze maniche, penne) 320g
  • Aubergine, 500g
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Salted ricotta to grate
  • Basil leaves
  • Vine tomatoes 800g

Recipe:

  1. Wash and chop the tomatoes
  2. Peel and cut the garlic
  3. Warm some oil in a pan and add the garlic
  4. When the garlic starts to bubble, add the tomatoes and let everything cook at very very low temperature for 30 minutes
  5. In the meantime, cut the aubergines in slices, put them in a colander and layer them covered in sea salt
  6. Put a pan with water on top of the aubergines so they release their bitter juice and leave them in the colander for at least half an hour
  7. When the tomatoes are cooked, blend everything together
  8. Put the sauce again in a pan and let it cook for 15 minutes until the sauce is more thick
  9. Add salt and pepper as you like
  10. Rinse the aubergines and dry them well with a towel
  11. Put some oil in a pan and fry the aubergines until golden
  12. Once they are fried, put them in a dish covered with kitchen towel to absorb the oil
  13. Cook the pasta
  14. When the pasta is done, mix it with the tomato sauce and add the aubergines slices on top of it
  15. Grate some salted ricotta and put it on top of the pasta
  16. Add the basil leaves

Enjoy!

Ciambellone Nutella e mascarpone

Do you love Nutella? Do you love mascarpone? Great! Because they are meant to be together and this recipe will be your favourite thing ever! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Eggs, 3
  • Flour, 250g
  • Milk, half a glass
  • Mascarpone, 250g
  • Sugar, 200g
  • Vanilla paste, 1 tablespoon
  • Nutella, one glass
  • Yeast, one bag
  • Butter for the tray

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven, 160° fan assisted – please do this at the beginning of your steps!
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and eggs
  3. Add the warm milk and the yeast
  4. Add the mascarpone
  5. Add the vanilla paste
  6. When the mixture is very creamy put the butter in the tray, spread it even so that the cake won’t stick
  7. Add 2/3 of the mixture in the tray
  8. Add tablespoons of nutella on the tray, it should “drown” when it cooks but I always give it a little push
  9. Try to just add tablespoons, do not spread it as a layer
  10. Add the remaining mixture to cover
  11. Cook for 30 minutes

Enjoy!