Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

ZUCCHINI CAKE (TORTA DOLCE DI ZUCCHINE)

This zucchini cake recipe has the perfect, moist, cinnamon flavor and is basically the best.

The recipe uses both brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Not only do I like the combination for the flavor the brown sugar gives, but the brown sugar helps keep the zucchini cake soft.  



INGREDIENTS

 ½ cup/100 grams unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

3 ½ cups/400 grams all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

 ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg)

4 large eggs

 ¾ cup/160 grams light brown sugar

 ¾ cup/150 grams sugar

 ¾ cup/180 milliliters canola oil

1 ½ pounds zucchini, unpeeled and grated on a box grater (about 3 medium zucchini)

                 

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the pan with softened butter.

 Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally.

 Whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Whisk together eggs, light brown sugar, sugar and canola oil in a medium bowl until no lumps remain and eggs are well blended.

 Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible from the zucchini. Add zucchini and melted butter to the egg mixture, whisking to blend.

 Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Use a spatula to slowly incorporate.

 Place batter in pan, smoothing the top and place in oven. Bake until cake is golden brown on top and springs back lightly when pressed at the top, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.



Friday, July 22, 2022

CLAM CHOWDER with FRESH CLAMS



 

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 celery stalks, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch crushed red pepper

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 potatoes, diced

5 cups clam juice obtained from fresh clams 

One can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), chopped

1-1/2 cups chopped clams

1 tablespoon salt (if needed)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish


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I have been given 20 medium to large clams.


First “purge” the clams, to remove any sand that might be inside of them.  Place them in a pot with water and some salt.  Let them sit for 30 minutes and repeat again.

When ready to make the chowder, begin by steaming the clams.

Place the clams in a large sauce pot and add about a cup of water. 

Place the stock pot on your stove top over medium heat. Cover the pot and let it quickly come up to a boil. The clams need to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the shells begin to pop open.

Once they all open, remove the meat from the shells and save the liquid in the pot.  Chop the clams with scissors.



Directions:


 Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more then add the potatoes. 


Pour in the clam juice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the clams. Cover and bring to a low simmer. Season with pepper to taste. 


Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. 



Wednesday, July 20, 2022

COMPOST AT HOME

We all know that compost is "gold" for any garden.  It fertilizes and improves the soil. 

I simply transform our table waste into a natural fertilizer. The materials I use include leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen garbage: fruits, vegetable peels, eggshells and coffee grounds.


Our compost pile is in a hidden corner of the garden. The organic matter is piled up and left around 6 months.

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Last year, I used the compost as mulch along our sunny driveway.  After few weeks, we saw melons growing along our driveway.  I guess seeds can survive in a passive composting pile.


Cantaloupes




What a delicious surprise!


Sunday, May 1, 2022

EGGS: Most versatile food

 We all know that eggs are a food appreciated by everyone and very versatile. 

 Here are few ways I use them in delicious recipes.


Eggs with peppers and onions

Frittata with asparagus




Boiled eggs in salad



Pasta with eggs and cheese




Lamb stew with cheese and eggs



Crepes





Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

It's Time to Bring Shrubs Back to Life

YES,  now it's the ideal time to prune shrubs and trees.

Snow weighed heavily on our trees



Pruning in late winter, just before spring growth starts, leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short length of time before new growth begins the wound sealing process. Another advantage of dormant pruning is that it’s easier to make pruning decisions without leaves obscuring plant branch structure.







In general, a shrub that blooms prior to the Fourth of July should be pruned as soon as it finishes flowering to prevent losing next year's blooms.  However, since it is easier to see the plants' structure this time of the year before leafing out, it may benefit the shrub to do some pruning and sacrificing few blooms. 
Be careful, not to over-prune.

                                                                                      




This is also the best time to prune summer-flowering shrubs.

Now, it's also a good time to reshape the evergreens.

Since fertilizing can be tricky, a slow-release fertilizer is recommended.

During the summer months, mulching with organic materials is the best one can do for the shrubs and trees.  Organic material breaks down and improves the soil structure, add nutrients and improves root development.





When autumn rolls around, some shrubs and trees should be tied and protected with burlap.  This helps prevent snow buildup and wind damage.




Sunday, February 13, 2022

Marmellata D'uva Nera (Misticotto Abruzzese)

        This recipe of misticotto is an old Abruzzese version made strictly with black grapes.


Sangiovese grapes from California

 Shell the grapes and rinse them under running water.

Put the washed berries in a pot with a thick bottom.
Place the pot on the stove and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the boiling phase is reached, lower the heat and continue stirring from time to time to obtain a fairly homogeneous mixture. After about two hours, turn off the heat and let it cool. When the mixture is cold, it is necessary to carry it out with a hand-cranked vegetable mill that has holes of medium size.

The purée is carried out to remove the seeds and some peels that have not disintegrated.

Put the pureed mixture back into the pot and put it back on the heat.
Cook again, stirring very often until it shrinks and becomes a jam. It has to cook a lot around 1 hour or more.

To make sure that the jam is ready, try the saucer: pour a teaspoon of jam on the saucer, tilt the saucer and see how much the jam drips. If the jam runs too much then it must cook again, if it runs little it's ready, if it doesn't run at all it's overcooked.

                     

When the grape jam is ready, immediately pour it into the sterile jars, close the jars with the lid and turn them upside down. Cool the grape jam in the jars upside down in order to create the vacuum. Pasteurizing the jam is important to ensure that the jam can then be stored in the pantry for a long time. Pasteurizing the jam is very simple. Just put the jars of jam in a pot, pour cold water over them until they are completely covered, turn on the heat and cook everything for 15-20 minutes starting from the moment of boiling.



Once you have misticotto on hand, it's time to make tarallucci.

Friday, February 11, 2022

ANTIPASTO DI VONGOLE - Clam Antipasto


Clams, in my opinion, are the perfect starter to an Italian meal.


Ingredients:

2 doz. clams (the smaller the better)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red peperoncino

Procedure:

Place the clams in a pot and cover with water and salt for a minimum of 2 hours in order to remove the sand.
Prepare chopped garlic, parsley and peperoncino.

At this point, rinse the clams well under running water.




Place the oil, garlic, parsley and peperoncino in a pan.
Add the clams in the pan, raise the heat and cover with lid.  
Turn the clams few times so that the clams open and flavor blends better.
Turn off the heat as soon as the clams have opened (otherwise they harden).
Bring to the table after sprinkling with more freshly chopped parsley and black pepper.