Friday, October 12, 2012

Pumpkin risotto

A classic from Northern Italy: risotto di zucca (that is, pumpkin)...with some minor change caused by my fridge...

Ingredients (serves 2):
50 - 75 cl vegetable brooth
1/2 shallot
250-300 g pumpkin
1/4 glass red wine (I'll tell you why later)
rice for 2 (4 good handfuls)
Parmesan and butter as needed
Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

How to cook the pumpkin?
Peel it and cut it into dices (they don't need to be too small). Cook it by steaming it in the pressure cooker, i.e., put it into the basket with a "fingerful" of water (how much is that? say 1.5 cm) for 10 minutes. Once ready, put the pumkin in a tall beaker and blend it to a cream with the immersion blender.

Now yes, the risotto! First of all, warm up the broth or make it with half a dice of vegetable broth. If you like, you can also use the cooking water of the pumpkin. Chop the half shallot and sauté it with two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Add the pumpkin and the rice. Let it toast and then pour in the wine...

Ok, now I'll tell you the secret of the red wine...while preparing the risotto this morning,  I went to the fridge to get some white wine and OMG THERE WAS NONE.
After a few moments of despair and frustration, I poured in a bit of red wine (1/4 glass) and then waited, lurking in silence and watching out for any possible strange smell...but no!! The truth is that, unexpectedly, the red wine fits well!

To summarize, back to the directions, when the wine has evaporated, lower the heat and cook the rice by adding the broth little by little and stirring continuously. When the rice is almost done, add a pinch of salt (no more) and turn the heat up a bit to let the excess water evaporate. Do the mantecatura with grated parmesan to taste and a knob of butter. Finally, sprinkle with a bit of ground black pepper.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkins time


If you walk around for some shopping at this time of the year, you'll see pumpkins everywhere: from real and edible ones, to the fake ones, decorated and ready to be taken out for Halloween...
So, I saw so many of them, and they were so attractive that I couldn't help but look for a good tutorial to make a fabric one...what a pity, huh? ;)

Here is my pumpkin and the good tutorial:

It's very easy and rather quick to make. For my pumpkin I used a 1m square of orange fabric, and for the filling I used cotton. The final diameter is about 30cm.

One more thing...from the fabric that was left over, I cut another square of about 15cm, and I made a mini-pumpkin pin cute:

I hope you liked it! Cheers!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Felt flowers


Time has come to tell you about these cute roses...back in 2011 I found a couple of very easy tuorials to make these flowers in a snap...and, since then, between presents for my friends...and for me hehe, I have never stopped! Really they are very versatile: depending on what you put on the base, they can be used as brooches, hair bobbles, clips, decoration for a belt or a pair of shoes, or whatever your imagination can suggest!

Here are the links to the tutorials:

For the big flower: the small one:

 For any doubt you might have on the tutorials or the materials, you can post a comment here below, if you like!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

More owls

I know what you are thinking...more animals??!!! Well, I said previously, my home is full of them, but this is not premeditated, believe me...
It's because of the internet, sure enough...there's too many ideas and too many attractive tutorials not to take advantage of them...I know that someone will understand me =)

Talking about tutorials, I found the one about these owls on this page (Moonstitches' blog) back at a time I still did not own a sewing machine, so I stored it in a safe place, until the sewing machine arrived, together with the new home to be decorated ;-)

I just changed two small things with respect to the original tutorial:
  •  I did not use fusible web (I felt it was not necessary).
  • For the body of the owls, instead of wool I used fabric, as wool seemed to me too much wintry, whereas I wanted something that could fit all year round.
  • Finally, as I didn't find the alphabet tags very attractive, I preferred to stitch the letters with a back stitch directly on the belly of each owl.

    Here is a link to a very interesting tutorial that explains how to transfer some letters printed on paper to the fabric, so that you can then stitch them easily and with no fear.

I hope that you find this useful! Ciao!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zucchini and ham risotto


While I am trying to figure out what to cook today, I will tell you what I cooked yesterday ;)

Ingredients (serves 2 people):
50 - 75 cl vegetable broth
1/2 white onion
1 zucchini
ham (or speck) shavings
1/2 glass white wine
rice for 2 people (I put 4 good handfuls)
Parmesan and butter for the mantecatura
olive oil, salt and pepper

Warm up the broth (in case you stored it in the freezer) or prepare it with half a vegetable broth dice. Chop the onion and sauté the onion with two spoonfuls of olive oil. While the onion sautés,  grate the zucchini with a grater with big holes, and add it to the onion. Leave it cooking for a few minutes, add the rice, toast it and then pour in the wine. When the wine has evaporated, turn the heat down, add some broth and stir...and stir...add a bit more broth and stir...etc. etc., until the rice is almost ready. Now add salt and pepper, and turn the heat up a bit to remove the excess water. Do the mantecatura with some butter and grated Parmesan to your taste and, finally, add the ham/speck shavings.

That's it, buon appetito! ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autumn biscuits


Today I have some new tools to try out: the new leaf-shaped molds, the icing bottle, the white sugar pearls...

However, the recipe for the biscuits is not new; when I was a child and I was starting doing things in the kitchen, I found it in the "Recipe book of Grandma Duck", and since then I have always been using the same recipe for this type of buiscuits... in italian they are called "frollini" as they are made of "pasta frolla".

Let's go on with the ingredients (for the dough):
300g flour
130g butter (at room temperature)
1 pinch of salt
1 egg and 2 yolks (don't throw away the egg whites)
50g sugar
1/2 grated lemon peel

With a fork, mix all the ingredients, and, as quickly as possible, knead with your hands till you obtain a smooth and uniform dough; make a ball with it, wrap it with cellophane, and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes have elapsed, turn on the oven to... uff, each oven is different... I set mine to 155º-160º. Take a tray with a baking sheet where you will place the biscuits. Roll out the dough with the rolling pin until it is about 5mm thick. Cut the shapes that you prefer, and place them on the tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they golden (but be careful, not brown, otherwise they will come out too hard!).

Once cold, you can decorate the biscuits with powdered sugar, water icing or, as I did this time, with royal icing.

Here is the recipe that was successful for me... even though I have to improve a bit the drawing with the pastry bag =)

450g powdered sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
2 egg whites (the ones that were left before)

Sieve the powdered sugar and put it in a bowl. Add the beaten egg whites and the lemon juice; beat for 10 minutes.

Once ready and while you are using a part of the icing with a pastry bag or icing bottle, I suggest you to cover the icing in the bowl with a wet towel, to avoid that it dries... if this happens, it's a disaster... this is my personal experience.

About the techniques for icing, here are a few links that explain it all, well, almost all of it ;)

To conclude, aside from the decoration of questionable beauty, I definitely recommend you the recipe of grandma duck!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Zucchini, ham and cheese rolls

Nothing is better than a picture to introduce them:

Ingredients (for 9 rolls):
1 sheet of puff pastry
100g approx. of medium-hard cheese (if it already comes in slices, you'll save time)
a few slices of ham or (if you can find it) speck
1 zucchini
1/4 onion or, alternatively, 1 shallot
salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil


Chop finely the onion, and put it into a pan with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Grate the zucchini with a grater with big holes, and sauté it together with the onion for some 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

While the zucchini is cooling down, cut some cheese in thin slices (if not already cut) and cut the ham or speck in smaller slices. Unroll the puff pastry on a baking sheet, and distribute the zucchini, the ham/speck and the cheese over it. It needs to be well distributed to be tasty, but you do not need to cover every corner of the puff pastry!! Roll it as tight as possible, and cut the resulting roll in cylinders approx 4cm thick.
Put each cylinder in a muffin mold, and bake at 170ºC for 30 minutes, or until they are golden (the temperature and the minutes are at the discretion of your oven).