Nutty bread

Nutty Bread

I can’t resist good bread. If we have some at home I stuff myself to death until it’s all gone. Good bread is not that easy to make and especially to find, at least here in the UK. The national bread here is the white bread used for toasts and sandwiches, the industrial an highly chemical one, that stays soft and airy for weeks. I remember I called it “fake bread” when I was living in Italy. Luckily, we have found a couple of very good bakeries here in Oxford, which have become a usual stop during our grocery shopping.

Anyway, Michele is always tempted to try out some new bread recipes and his last experiment was this bread with nuts and fruits, which turned out to be perfect with cheese or prosciutto. The idea of this recipe comes from a food magazine that I bought in Australia, but we have modified it to make it quicker and similar to soda bread. In fact, to make this bread no proofing and rising times are needed, once the ingredients have been mixed the dough is ready to be baked.


For 2 medium loafs:

160 g bulghur
450 g plain flour
160 g wholemeal flour
2 tablespoon of honey
150 g mix nuts
150 g dried raisins
1 table spoon of mixed spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
600 ml butternut milk (or yogurt)
a pinch of salt 

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Cook the bulghur in a pan with 250 ml of water. Cover and leave it to soak. In a large bowl combine the flours with baking power, baking soda and a large pinch of salt and the spices. 

Grease two medium baking tins with some butter. Add the bulghur to the flours, mix and then mix in the butter milk. Finally add the nuts and raisins, mix and place the dough in the baking tins.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 160°C and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Posted in Bread, Fruit (Frutta), Vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Carbonara – the Italian one

Real Carbonara

Real Carbonara

I am a bit ashamed of writing on this blog again. Such a long time has gone from the last post and so many things have happened. The main news is that I changed my job, twice, I had been driving over two hours every day to go to work and back, but now, I have a job I like, closer to home and hopefully I will have more time to spend on my blog.

So, here I am with a new recipe, la carbonara, ma quella vera. So many times I have seen “strange dishes” called carbonara here in the UK and often the recipe doesn’t even contain the two main ingredients: eggs and pancetta. Instead the main ingredient in the English carbonara is cream, a loooot of cream, ah, and mushrooms! Generally you have spaghetti floating in a white sauce, squisito!

For the original carbonara you would need guanciale which is a sort of bacon prepared with  pig’s jowl or cheek. In fact, its name derives from guancia, Italian for cheek. The other main ingredients are fresh eggs and a good pecorino romano. Since we are in the UK (or somewhere else in the world), some ingredients can be quite difficult to find, therefore you can substitute guanciale with a good quality unsmoked bacon and the pecorino romano with a simpler pecorino. If you do not find the pecorino you can use some good Parmigiano, but it is not going to be a real carbonara!

The secret for a good carbonara is to be careful not to cook the eggs. The creamy sauce is simply due to the raw eggs and molten cheese and nothing else.


For 4:

400 g spaghetti
90 g guanciale
4 eggs
80 g pecorino romano, grated
salt and pepper

In a large pot bring to the boil enough water for cooking the pasta. Cut the guanciale into small cubes or strips and fry it in a small pan. Cook until it turns slightly gold and the fat is transparent, then set aside to cool down. In a large bowl whisk the eggs with half of the grated percorino, some of the fat released by the guanciale during cooking and a pinch of salt.

Once the water is boiling add a small handful of coarse sea salt followed by the pasta and cook for the required time (usually ~10 minutes for spaghetti). Drain the pasta and add it very quickly to the bowl with the egg mixture. Mix and add the guanciale and the remaining grated pecorino. Mix with a wooden spoon until the sauce is creamy and homogeneous. Serve with some grated back pepper.

Posted in Pasta, Primi | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Dairy free biscotti with cocoa and hazelnut

Cocoa and hazelnut dairy free biscuits

Autumn has certainly arrived and I am really looking forward to pumpkins, squash, chestnuts and all the typical seasonal fruit and vegetables. I love autumn colors and food. This is a very autumnal recipe perfect for celebrating the arrival of this season and another special occasion. In fact, today, 23rd of September is the autumn equinox which denotes the start of the new season and my sister birthday! Happy b-day sis!

The recipe I selected for today is a shortcrust pastry made using olive oil instead of butter. The inspiration for this recipe comes from Juls’ Kitchen, a fantastic Italian/English blog with lots of ideas and personal recipes. The first time I saw these biscuits I though that it was a fantastic idea but the thought of making a mayonnaise scared me a little. In reality, Juls’ instruction are perfect and easy and the result is impressive. In order to leave my mark and make the recipe a bit more autumnal I opted for a chocolate shortcrust biscuits topped with some fresh hazelnuts bought from a stall in our local farmers market.

If you decide to replace butter with olive oil in other recipes make sure to consider that olive oil is 99.9% fat while butter is made of 83% of fat, therefore you must take into account the percentage of water in the butter and remember that 100 g of butter are equal to 83g of olive oil plus 17g of water. 


For 4:

56 g egg yolks (about 3 medium yolks)
230 g 00 flour
75 g potato starch
65 g fine corn flour
140 g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
175 g good quality extra virgin olive oil
35 g water
a handful of chopped hazelnuts

In the hand blender container pour the egg yolks and water and placing the hand blender to the bottom start blending. Slowly add the olive oil and keep blending until you have obtained the consistency of a mayonnaise, it should take 4-5 minutes. Sift the flours on a working surface and make a hole in the middle (i.e. the fountain). Place the sugar, salt, cocoa powder in the middle and then add the mayonnaise. Mix the mayonnaise first with the sugar and then with the flour using your fingers and knead the dough with your hands until you have obtain an homogeneous and smooth mixture. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour wrapped in a film sheet.

Heat the oven to 175°C. Take the shortcrust pastry out of the fridge and roll it on a lightly floured working surface until you have obtain a thickness of 5 mm. Cut using any cookie cutter shape you like. Place the cookies on a baking tin over a sheet of baking paper. Prick the cookies with a fork to give them a rustic appearance.

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffe.

Lo so non e’ una torta, ma questi biscottini sono molto intriganti e autunnali, perfetti per farti i miei auguri di buon compleanno! Un bacione sister!

Posted in Cookies, Tea Time | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments