29 February 2012

Baked Stuffed Apples || Mele Ripiene al Forno

Baked apples with dried fruit and nuts

These are days of big changes and anticipations. Hopes and novelties keep me excited during the day and awaken at night. It is a calm yet busy moment, in which most is done sitting in a room, answering emails and organizing information, writing down figures and numbers. Sometimes, the fear for the unknown overwhelms me, but I try to keep it down with positive and rational thinking, with self-motivation and an adventurous spirit. J helps a lot in this, as he teaches me to face things as they come, and to not create worst-case scenarios all the time only to scare myself more. I try to tackle issues when they appear, but it is not easy for me as I am a planner and need some certenties. Here, now, I have none, and I have no choice but to go with it, I just have to keep doing what I do regardless, because "what if it really happens? I have to be prepared". Positive thinking. I am learning this lesson.

red applesnuts

There are moments in which sitting at the computer becomes unbearable. I go for a run in the chilly night air to distract me some, and look at the moon as it shines bright and crisp in the starry sky. I like to do so, I like to be alone with her sometimes. I feel a little bit of a stranger in this place where I grew up, and I don't care for meeting or seeing anyone. Besides my family, nothing links me to here, not even the affection for the land. However, the calming effect  I receive from this lonely night walks is unbelievable to me, too. I come back refreshed and relaxed.

One night, I came back with a strong desire for baked apples. I needed some comfort, and I wished to find it in a warm, spiced dessert to eat with a good book and far from the computer screen. It is a good think that there is never apple shortage in this house. So I picked four, one for each of us, and turned on the oven. Cracked nuts and soaked raising, spooned cinnamon and brown sugar. Then, I laid on the sofa just thinking, smelling the scent of cooked sugar, waiting for them to be ready.


26 February 2012

Spelt Banana Bread with Dates || Banana Bread con Farro e Datteri

Spelt Banana Bread

Sooner or later I will create a saga, a project, a collection of all the banana breads I liked and posted in this blog. 

I don't know about you, but I have more fun testing new banana bread recipes than finding the ultimate pie crust or chocolate chip cookie. It is even more interesting that trying different apple cakes

The best thing about this process is that I will never find the ultimate recipe. I will find those that I like more than others, but my curiosity will always push me forward, I will always ache for a new version of my favorite breakfast sweet bread. Variables are infinite: with more or less bananas; with or without eggs; with different combinations of flours, nuts, seeds; sweetened with maple syrup, honey, raw sugar or agave; with or without added fats; with applesauce or yogurt. The quest for perfection will never end as perfection is not of this world, but at least I can't say I didn't try. 

24 February 2012

Butternut Squash: Soup and Salad || Insalata e Zuppa di Zucca

Butternut Squash

"I should better use that butternut squash, before temperature reaches a more acceptable level and it goes bad."

I am always surprised about how long squashes can last. This little butternut was purchased at an impromptu farmers' market that J and I encountered in Val di Susa, near Avigliana, when we were still living in Piedmont. Almost three months ago now. I was so happy about this find, as this squash varietal is very hard to find in Italy, let alone organic.

For some reason, I kept it like a little treasure until now. I didn't want to waste it --so precious to my eyes. In the end, though, I go back to the basics. In this I will always be deeply, stubbornly Italian. I like basic preparations with good ingredients where you can taste it to the fullest, without mixing it with too many ingredients but only with flavor boosters such as spices and herbs.

Red Rice and LentilsRoasted Butternut Squash

So, in the end, I made a soup and a salad (for two, as its small size allows). The former for a rainy day, the latter for a sunny one. One with other wintery ingredients, the other with fresh greens. Because you never know what might happen --a sudden drop in temperature or some unexpected warmth.

Pumpkin Chestnut Soup

10 February 2012

Carrot Greens Pesto | Pesto di Foglie di Carota


I have already talked carrots. I forgot something crucial: what to do with the green leaves that come with them? I decided to make a pesto, and to use it in pasta but also into a pretty tasty sandwich.
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