Category Archives: How to

How To Poach An Egg

Poached eggs are truly a special dish with their lovely creamy texture and wonderful delicate flavour. The low-fat cooking method used to prepare these eggs can be a little difficult to get right at first, but after a few tries your poached eggs will be cooked to perfection!

how to poach an egg

A few things to keep in mind.
1. It is very important to use really fresh eggs.
2. You have to check the consistency of the egg after 3-5 minutes of cooking time in order to get a soft but cooked egg. Remember to keep an eye on the clock because it is quite easy to overcook the egg.
3. If you cook more than one egg at a time use a large pan filled with plenty of water and just drop 4-5 eggs in it (quite quickly) without stirring the water. Just remember to remove each egg with the slotted spoon in the same sequence in which you added them into the water, so that they cook evenly.
4. You can add a few drops of white wine vinegar to the simmering water before cooking the egg…. The vinegar will make the egg white a little firmer and this will help the cooking process, however this step is totally optional. I like the natural softness and flavour of the egg, therefore I tend not to use vinegar.

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Poached eggs are great served with salmon, steamed vegetables, beans and toast. You can be really creative with this preparation and add a poached egg to a pizza, a baked potatoes, a creamy soup or a bruschetta!

I hope you enjoy this how-to recipe and have some fun with it! X

How to poach an egg.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time 3-5 minutes

What you need.
1 egg
1 medium pan, filled with water
a slotted spoon
kitchen paper
a tablespoon
a ramekin
a pinch of sea salt
Method.
1. Simmer the water gently over a medium heat and add some sea salt crystals.
2. Carefully crack the egg into a ramekin.

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3. Using a tablespoon, make a whirlpool in the water by stirring quite quickly for a few seconds.

4. Drop (with one quick movement) the egg into the center of the whirlpool. Now let the egg poach without stirring.

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5. After a few minutes, check the consistency of the egg (it should be soft and with the egg white slightly firmer around the edges). When the egg is ready drain it with a slotted spoon. I usually place the egg and the slotted spoon on a strainer for a minute, in order to allow the excess water to drain completely.

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6. Serve your poached eggs straight away.

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How To Make Gnocchi (The Easy Way)

In this recipe it’s really really important to use the right kind of potatoes…The best potatoes to use are old floury potatoes, as they contain less water compared to new potatoes and therefore mix well with flour without making a mess. You can also add an egg when you prepare the dough, because the egg helps keep the ingredients together when you cook the gnocchi….Keep in mind that the dough shouldn’t stick to your hands, so if you think the dough is too wet and the potatoes are not floury enough you can add an egg and a little more flour in order to get the right consistency.

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I strongly recommend you use a good stainless steel potato masher, like the one with two handles that you can hold and press with both hands. We normally use this kind of potato masher because it makes a really fluffy mashed potato with no effort and you can also use it to make various fruit juices…Therefore, it not only works really well, but is also a versatile gadget to keep in the kitchen.

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Potato gnocchi.

4 Servings

Ingredients

1,200 kg potatoes

300 g plain flour

sea salt

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Method.

1. Wash and then steam (or boil) the potatoes until tender.

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2. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.

3. Dust a working board, make a well with 300 g of flour and place the mashed potatoes in the centre with a pinch of salt. Mix everything and work the mixture until you get a smooth dough.

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4. Dust the working board again and cut the dough into 8 small pieces. Roll out each piece to make 8 ropes (approximately 1,5 cm thick), then cut each rope into small equal pieces.

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5. Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil, then add the gnocchi with a tablespoon of sea salt. Cook the gnocchi until they all rise from the bottom of the pan, then drain and serve with the sauce of your choice.

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See also the rocket (arugula) pesto and the traditional pesto recipe.

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Gnocchi di patate

4 persone

Ingredienti

1.200 kg di patate farinose

300 g di farina 00

sale marino

Preparazione.

1. Lavate bene le patate e fatele cuocere a vapore (oppure fatele bollire) finché saranno tenere (ma non sfatte).

2. Schiacciate tutte le patate con lo schiacciapatate.

3. Infarinate bene il piano di lavoro e impastate delicatamente la farina con le patate, aggiungendo un pizzico di sale fino.

4. Infarinate nuovamente il piano di lavoro e tagliate la pasta in 8 pezzi. Fate rotolare la pasta con il palmo delle mani per create 8 cilindri lunghi e sottili (circa 1,5 cm di spessore). Tagliate ogni cilindro in piccoli pezzi uguali.

5. Cuocete gli gnocchi in acqua bollente con un cucchiaio di sale grosso. Scolare gli gnocchi non appena salgono in superficie e servite.

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Vedi anche pesto di rucola e pesto alla genovese.

Genoese Sage Focaccia! (more a tutorial than a recipe)

This focaccia alla salvia, a typical Genoese focaccia, is very aromatic, wonderful served with cheese, soups and cold cuts. To make this focaccia you follow the focaccia recipe method and then you add the fresh sage at the end. You have to chop the sage really finely, in order to blend it nicely with the dough. The focaccia dough also needs to rise for several hours, so we are going to make a starter that you can make in advance, in order to make the preparation method a little more manageable.

The longer the dough rises, the better the focaccia will become, so don’t rush it! This is why in the traditional method we repeat the leavening process a few times…However you can shorten the process by skipping the second leavening (step 3) and mixing all the flour together straight away, if you don’t have much time.

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I suggest you make the focaccia during the weekends (or in your spare time), as it needs to be looked after during the preparation method…It is a long process but it’s worth it!!!

Note. To make the starter there are two options: you can use normal yeast or you can use sourdough.

All you need (for the entire method).
250-300 g plain flour (depending if you use sourdough or yeast)
250 g durum wheat semolina flour
12 g yeast (or 50 g of sourdough)
a big bunch of fresh sage, very finally chopped
fine sea salt
lots of extra virgin olive oil
water
a little sugar
baking sheet
a baking tray (24 cm x 28 cm)
a bowl
cling film

Note. I am going to divide the ingredients and the preparation method into 4 main steps.

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HOW TO MAKE SAGE FOCACCIA.

Step 1. Make the starter

For the starter with yeast

Ingredients

100 g plain flour

12 g yeast

water

a little sugar

Method with yeast.

Mix the yeast with a few spoons of warm water, a little flour and a little sugar. When it forms some bubbles add the rest of the flour, more water and work it until you get a small dough (keep it quite moist). Put the dough into a small bowl, then cover it with cling film and let rise overnight at room temperature.

For the starter with sourdough (natural yeast).

Ingredients

50 g plain flour

50 g sourdough

water

a little sugar

Method with sourdough.

Mix the flour, a pinch of sugar and the sourdough with some water, until you get a soft and moist dough. Place in a small bowl, then cover it with cling film and let rise overnight.

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Step 2. The first leavening.

Ingredients

the starter we prepared earlier (with yeast or sourdough)

100 g of plain flour

100 g of durum wheat semolina flour

water

a little sugar (to help the leavening process)

Method.

In the morning, mix the starter with 100 g of plain flour, 100 g of durum wheat semolina flour and a little sugar, then add enough water to make a soft dough. Work well, then place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a cling film and let rise until it doubles in volume.

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Step 3. The second leavening.

Ingredients

the dough we prepared earlier

100 g plain flour

100 g durum wheat semolina four

water

a little sugar

Method.

Take the dough and add the flour with a little sugar, then mix with enough water and work well. Cover with cling film and let rise until it doubles in volume.

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Step 4. Adding all the ingredients and baking.

Ingredients

the dough we prepared earlier

50 g of durum wheat semolina flour

a big bunch of fresh sage, very finely chopped

fine sea salt

50 ml extra virgin olive oil (and you’ll need some more to drizzle before baking)

100 ml of water

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Method.

1. This is the final step! Take the dough and mix it with 50 g durum wheat semolina flour, finally chopped fresh sage leaves, some fine sea salt (but we are going to add more later) and mix just enough to blend the ingredients. Add 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, previously mixed with 100 ml of water. Mix everything (just enough, don’t overwork it or you’ll lose the leavening strength of the dough).

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2. Take a baking tray, line with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and place the dough so that it covers the tray. Let rise for about an hour.

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3. Once it has risen, press the dough with the tip of your fingers in order to create wells. Drizzle with more olive oil mixed with water, season with plenty of salt and bake at 200° C (392 °F) for 30-35 minutes.

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Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten-free, High in fibre)

Rich in flavour and fibre, buckwheat crepes are incredibly delicious, healthy and can make a simple meal look quite impressive! You can be a little intimidated when you first make crepes….Well, I was when I made crepes for the first time! It is not so difficult to make nice crepes, as long as you remember to occasionally grease the frying pan during the preparation method, you move quickly when you shape the crepes and you cook the crepes over a low heat.

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Tips.
It might take a little bit of practice at first, however the best way to shape the crepes is to quickly move the pan around, in order to spread and flatten the batter evenly. During this process the frying pan shouldn’t be too hot, otherwise the batter will cook too quickly, leaving you with thick and uneven crepes.
During the cooking time, the crepes will start curling around the edges and lifting up from the pan; at this point the crepes are ready to be flipped around, to cook both sides.

You can be very creative with this dish and serve your crepes with lots of savoury or sweet fillings, experimenting with a great variety of ingredients, textures and flavour combinations.
Enjoy the recipe and have fun with it!

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Buckwheat crepes

Ingredients

For 10 crepes

2 eggs

300 g of buckwheat flour

400 ml of milk

100 ml of water

extra virgin olive oil

salt or sugar (depending if you are making a sweet or savoury recipe)

extra virgin olive oil

Method.

1. In a bowl, gradually mix the flour with milk, water and salt (or sugar). Separately, beat the eggs and then make the batter incorporating the eggs and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the flour mixture. Place the batter to cool for two hours in the refrigerator.

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2. Heat a large frying pan over a low heat, then grease the base with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

3. Using a ladle, pour the batter in centre of the pan, then spread evenly and let cook for a few minutes.

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4. When the crepe starts curling around the edges, turn it around and cook the other side.

Repeat the process until you have made all the crepes, occasionally greasing the pan with a little extra virgin olive oil.

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Also see the Gluten-free Béchamel sauce recipe and the Crepes with swiss chard and borage filling recipe.

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Crepes di grano saraceno

Ingredienti

Per 10 crepes

2 uova

300 g di farina di grano saraceno

400 ml di latte

100 ml di acqua

olio extra vergine d’oliva

zucchero o sale (dipende se la ricetta è dolce o salata)

Preparazione.

1. Amalgamate la farina e il sale (o zucchero) con il latte mischiato all’acqua. A parte, sbattete le uova e incorporatele al composto con un cucchiaio d’olio extra vergine d’oliva. Lasciate riposare la pastella nel frigorifero per almeno due ore.

2. Fate scaldare, a fuoco moderato, una padella con un cucchiaio d’olio extra vergine d’oliva.

3. Usando un mestolo, versate il composto al centro della padella, poi muovete energicamente la pentola per stendere uniformemente la pastella.

4. Lasciate cuocere per qualche minuto. Quando la crepe incomincia ad arricciarsi sui bordi potete girarla per cuocerla su entrambi i lati.

Preparate tutte le crepes, ricordandovi di ungere ogni tanto la padella con un filo d’olio.

Guardate anche la ricetta della Besciamella con amido di mais e la ricetta delle Crepes con ripieno di bietole e borragine.

How To Make (Almost) Perfect Meringues

The basics.
A meringue is basically made with two ingredients: sugar and egg whites.
In Italian cuisine we often use three types of meringue: the classic, the French or Italian meringue.
While the classic and French meringues are both baked, the Italian meringue is usually pasteurised (“cooked” at a very low temperature) by adding hot sugar syrup during the preparation process and it is generally used in creamy desserts or cake decorations/ fillings.

How to make perfect meringues

Classic or French meringue?
The main difference between French and classic meringues is in the preparation methods. In fact, both these meringues are made with the same ingredients and cooking methods, but they differ in the way in which the sugar is added to the recipe and (slightly) in their final consistency. In the classic meringue the sugar is added at the end of the process, incorporating the sugar with a spatula when the egg whites are firmly whipped; while in the French meringue the sugar is added gradually during the whipping process.

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In this article we will see the preparation process for the French meringue, which is quite light and crispy.

How to make perfect meringues

…And yes, it’s hard to get it right, but not impossible!

Basic French meringue recipe.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 3 hours

Ingredients

For 25 meringues (two oven trays)

100 g egg whites

200 g granulated sugar (use icing sugar for a finer grain)

How to make perfect meringues

Method.

1. Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites with 1/3 of sugar (about 66 g) starting with a medium-low power.

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2. Once the egg whites have doubled in volume, add another 1/3 of sugar and beat at a medium-high power.

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3. When the egg whites are almost stiff, add the rest of the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy.

How to make perfect meringues

How to make perfect meringues

4. Line the base of an oven tray with baking paper, then, using a piping bag, make the meringues (5 cm wide x 3 cm thick).

How to make perfect meringues

How to make perfect meringues

5. Bake at 85-100° C ( 185- 212°F) for 3 hours (the cooking time depends also on the oven you use). Let cool completely on wire rack and then place in a airtight container.

How to make perfect meringues

How to make perfect meringues

How to make perfect meringues

A few things to keep in mind…

About the ingredients.

1. As a basic rule, the weight of the sugar must be double compared to that of the egg whites.

2. You can add something a little acidic, like lemon juice, to help the whipping process. The doses: use 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon juice for 100 g of egg whites.

3. It is possible to add a little cornstarch in order to better maintain the shape of the meringues during the cooking process.

4. Don’t add any salt because it won’t help the whipping process. Some recipes might suggest the opposite, but it is not correct.

About the preparation method.

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks well, even small traces of egg yolk will compromise the end result.

2. The equipment used during the whipping process should have been properly cleaned, dried and possibly quite cold. All these elements will help you to achieve the perfect meringue!

About the cooking method.

1. Cook the meringues at a very low temperature to avoid any changes in colour or cracks on the surface (basically the meringues have to dry out slowly in the oven). Best cooking temperature: 85 -100 ° C ( 185- 212°F).

2. If you want to dry the meringues completely, to preserve them for longer, you can leave them in the oven (turned off) for a few hours, after the cooking process.

How to make perfect meringues

Ricetta base per la meringa francese.

Tempo di preparazione: 10 minuti

Tempo di cottura: 3 ore

Ingredienti

Per 25 meringhe (per 2 teglie rettangolari)

100 g di albumi

200 g di zucchero semolato (potete usare zucchero a velo per una meringa con grana più fine)

Preparazione.

1. Con uno sbattitore elettrico (utilizzando una potenza medio-bassa), incominciate a montare gli albumi con 1/3 di zucchero (circa 66 g).

2. Quando gli albumi saranno raddoppiati di volume, aggiungete ancora 1/3 di zucchero e aumentate la potenza.

3. Ad albumi quasi montati a neve, aggiungere il resto dello zucchero e continuare a montare fino ad ottenere un composto denso e lucido.

4. Ricoprite la base di una teglia con carta da forno, poi, utilizzando un sac à poche, date la forma alle meringhe (5 cm di larghezza x 3 cm di altezza).

5. Infornare a 85-100 ° C per 3 ore (il tempo di cottura però dipende dal forno utilizzato). Fate raffreddare bene, poi conservate le meringhe in un contenitore a chiusura ermetica.

Note.

Per gli ingredienti.

1. Come regola generale, il peso dello zucchero deve essere il doppio di quello degli albumi.

2. Si può utilizzare del succo di limone per far montare meglio gli albumi. Dosi consigliate: 1/2 cucchiaino di succo di limone per 100 g di albumi.

3. Aggiungendo un po ‘ di amido di mais le meringhe manterranno meglio la forma durante la cottura.

4. Il sale non aiuta a montare meglio gli albumi, se potete non utilizzatelo.

Per la preparazione.

1. Separate bene gli albumi dai i tuorli, perché piccole tracce di tuorlo possono compromettere il risultato finale.

2. L’ attrezzatura deve essere pulita, asciugata e possibilmente fredda.

Per la cottura.

1. Le meringhe devono cuocere a temperatura molto bassa per evitare un cambiamento di colore o la formazione di piccole crepe sulla superficie. La temperatura di cottura più indicata è tra 85-100 ° C.

2. Le meringhe si conservano a lungo quando sono molto asciutte. A cottura terminata, potete lasciare le meringhe nel forno per qualche ora  per farle asciugare completamente.

How to make perfect meringues

How To Make Amazing Roasted Chestnuts In Your Own Home!

This is the right season to enjoy some crunchy roasted chestnuts! Golden and crunchy, roasted chestnuts are simply delicious!! When my brother and I were kids, my father used to make some roasted chestnuts before bed time….We loved it!

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In this post I’ll share the method to prepare amazing roasted chestnuts directly on the stove, just like my father used to do, but make sure you follow the instructions and you protect yourself with the proper equipment, in order to avoid disasters! :-). If you carefully follow all the steps this method is fairly easy and safe.

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Tip. During the cooking time keep away from the fire as much as possible and wear oven gloves for extra safety.

How to make roasted chestnuts 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time:15-20 minutes

Ingredients

500 g of fresh chestnuts

just a small splash good quality white wine (avoid putting the bottle close to the fire when you cook and use it)

What you need.

a gas stove

a frying pan with holes to cook chestnuts (you can buy it or you can make your own, by piercing an old frying pan with a large nail, using a hammer)

a long stainless steel kitchen utensil (don’t use anything with plastic or wood)

Good oven gloves

Preparation.

1. Check, wash and dry the chestnuts.

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2. Using a sharp knife, cut the chestnuts one by one, making a 2cm long incision on the round side (make an X or 1 long cut horizontally, either way it should be fine!).

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This operation is necessary to release the steam from the nuts while they are cooking and it will also make them easier to peel (If you skip this step the chestnuts will explode during the cooking process, so make sure you cut them properly).

Cooking Method (on the stove).

1. Put the pierced pan with the chestnuts directly on the gas stove over a moderate-high heat. Stir constantly with a long stainless steel kitchen utensil.

2. Roast the chestnuts for about 10 minutes, then add a small splash of white wine (try to keep yourself and the bottle of wine away from the heat, while you do that) and continue to roast and stir for at least 5 more minutes.

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3. Turn off the eat and put the chestnuts in a brown paper bag for a few minutes (this will keep them hot and moist). Peel the chestnuts while they are still hot, because once they are cool they become much more difficult to peel.

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Tip. You can bake the chestnuts at 220° C (428° F) for about 20 minutes, instead of cooking them on the stove top; it’s probably a safer cooking method…However, I prefer the method above, because the chestnuts are much tastier and crunchier, when cooked directly over the flame!

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Roasted chestnuts with roasting pan.

Come preparare ottime caldarroste a casa.

In questo articolo vedremo insieme come preparare delle ottime caldarroste, cotte direttamente sul fornello, proprio come mio padre era solito fare, quando io e mio fratello eravamo bambini.

Seguite attentamente le istruzioni indicate e vedrete che questo è un metodo abbastanza semplice e sicuro.

Nota. Durante la cottura delle caldarroste, per quanto possibile, cercate di stare lontano dal fuoco e indossate dei guanti da forno per protezione.

Preparazione delle caldarroste.

Tempo di preparazione: 5 minuti

Tempo di cottura: 15-20 minuti

Ingredienti

500 g di castagne fresche

un dito di vino bianco di buona qualità (fate attenzione a non avvicinare troppo la bottiglia di vino al fuoco)

L’attrezzatura

un fornello a gas

una padella forata per caldarroste (potete farne una voi forando più volte una vecchia padella, con un chiodo grosso e un martello).

un cucchiaio grande di acciaio con manico lungo (non utilizzate plastica o legno)

guanti da forno

Preparazione.

1. Controllate, lavate e asciugate le castagne.

2. Utilizzando un coltello molto affilato, tagliate le castagne, una ad una, facendo un’ incisione di circa 2 cm sulla parte bombata. Questa operazione è necessaria per fare evaporare l’acqua dai frutti durante la cottura, se no le castagne col calore possono esplodere.

Metodo di cottura (sul fornello)

1. Mettete la padella forata, con le castagne, direttamente sul fornello a fuoco medio. Mescolate spesso, utilizzando un grosso cucchiaio di acciaio con il manico lungo.

2. Fate arrostire le castagne per circa 10 minuti, quindi insaporite con una piccola spruzzata di vino bianco (cercate di tenere la bottiglia di vino lontana dal fuoco). Continuate a cuocere le castagne per almeno altri 5 minuti.

3. Spegnete il fuoco e mettere le castagne in un sacchetto di carta per alcuni minuti (serve a mantenerle calde e umide). Sbucciate le castagne mentre sono ancora calde perché, una volta raffreddate, sbucciarle diventa molto più difficile.

Nota. È possibile cuocere le castagne nel forno a 220 °  C per circa 20 minuti, invece di utilizzare il fornello. Io preferisco cuocerle direttamente sulla fiamma perché, in questo modo, le castagne risultano molto più croccanti e saporite

Traditional Recipe: Crema Pasticciera (Italian Custard Cream)

La Crema Pasticciera is a thick and rich custard cream used in Italian patisserie as a filling or ingredient for pastries, cakes and various desserts. Often aromatised with lemon or vanilla, this custard is so popular because it is extremely pleasing to the eye and palate, with its wonderful flavour and velvety creamy texture.

It is possible to aromatise la Crema Pasticciera in various ways, for example using chocolate or coffee, but also liqueurs and the zest of different citrus fruits. In uncooked desserts, it is often mixed with whipped cream to obtain a lighter and more delicate custard.

Crema Pasticciera.

1 litre whole milk

8 egg yolks

160 g caster sugar

80 g sifted flour

1 vanilla pod, or the grated zest of 1 organic lemon

Method.

1. In a pan, bring the milk with the vanilla pod (opened and emptied into the milk) to a boil, or add the lemon zest (the aromas you use will depend on your personal taste). Then sieve the milk.

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2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy.

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3.. Add the flour to the egg mixture and gently stir from the bottom upwards.

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4. Gently pour the hot milk into the mixture and stir. Put the custard onto a low heat to thicken for about 5 minutes (stirring constantly, but gently).

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5. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and put the cream in a bowl (stirring occasionally) to cool.

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6. Cover with a sheet of cling film, to prevent the skin from forming on the top and put in the refrigerator. Stir the custard vigorously before using.

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Notes.

1 It’s important to mix the egg yolks with the sugar straight away, to prevent crystals from forming.

2. Cook over a medium-low heat and use a thick bottom sauce pan to avoid burning the custard cream.

3. kept in a refrigerator, the cream should be used within 3 days.

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Crema Pasticciera (ricetta base)

1 litro di latte intero

8 tuorli d’uova

160 g di zucchero

80 g di farina 00, setacciata

1 baccello di vaniglia, oppure la scorza grattugiata di un limone non trattato

Preparazione.

1. In un tegame, portate ad ebollizione il latte con il baccello di vaniglia (aperto e svuotato nel latte), oppure aggiungete la scorza di limone. Filtrate il latte usando un colino fine.

2. In una terrina grande, montate i tuorli con lo zucchero, fino ad ottenere una crema spumosa.

3. Unite la farina alle uova e mescolate delicatamente dal basso verso l’alto.

4. Versate il latte caldo a filo nel composto e mescolate delicatamente con una frusta. Mettete la crema sul fuoco ad addensare per almeno 5 minuti, continuando a mescolare delicatamente.

5. Spegnete il fuoco, mettete la crema a raffreddare in una ciotola e mescolate ogni tanto.

6. Ricoprite con la pellicola per alimenti, per evitare che si formi la pellicina in superficie e mettete in frigorifero. Mescolate la crema energicamente prima di utilizzarla.

Note.

1. E’ importante mescolare subito i tuorli con lo zucchero per evitare che si formino dei cristalli.

2. Cuocete a fiamma medio-bassa per evitare che la crema si attacchi al fondo della pentola. E’ consigliabile usare una pentola con il fondo spesso.

3. Conservata in frigorifero, la crema va utilizzata entro 3 giorni.

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Cooking Method: Shortcrust Pastry Tart Case

If you are making a tart, it’s possible to cook shortcrust pastry either with the filling or without. Today we will look at all the steps required in order to make a wonderful shortcrust tart case, without the filling and cooked to perfection.

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For the ingredients see this Shortcrust Basic Recipe.

Method. 

1. Take a cake tin (with the dimensions required by the recipe), grease with butter and dust with flour (the butter will help to cook the tart case more evenly).

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2. Roll out the dough (3-5 mm thickness), than wrap it loosely around the rolling pin and place it gently into the cake tin.

3. Using a pastry cutter, cut off the excess dough. With a fork, pierce the base of the dough a few times (this operation helps to avoid air bubbles while cooking).

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4. Place a sheet of aluminium foil on the dough and press it down lightly with your hands (this prevents the dough from collapsing during the cooking process).

5. Fill with dried beans (we use borlotti beans, you can also use rice) and bake at 180 ° C ( 356°F ) for 15-20 minutes (the cooking time will vary depending on the recipe and thickness of the pastry). When the pastry is perfectly cooked remove the foil with the beans and let cool.

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Cottura in bianco della pasta frolla.

La pasta frolla si può cuocere in bianco (cioè senza ripieno) oppure con il ripieno (ad esempio per le ricette della crostata con la confettura di frutta). Oggi vedremo come si fa la cottura in bianco, per preparare crostate con il ripieno che non richiede cottura.

Per gli ingredienti vedere Ricetta base della pasta frolla.

Preparazione.

1. Prendete una teglia delle dimensioni consigliate dalla ricetta, ungetela bene con il burro e spolveratela con la farina (il burro conduce il calore e aiuta ad ottenere una cottura più uniforme).

2. Stendete l’impasto, arrotolatelo sul matterello e poi sistematelo sulla teglia con delicatezza.

3. Con una rotella tagliate la pasta in eccesso. Usando una forchetta, create alcuni fori sulla base della pasta (questa operazione serve per evitare che si formino delle bolle d’aria, quando la base si cuoce).

4. Prendete un foglio di alluminio e sistematelo sulla pasta in modo che aderisca alla forma (questo serve ad evitare che la pasta si abbassi durante la cottura, quando il burro si scioglie).

5. Riempite con dei fagioli secchi e infornate a 180° C per 15-20 minuti (il tempo di cottura dipenderà dalla ricetta e dallo spessore della pasta). A cottura terminata, togliete il foglio di alluminio con i fagioli e fate raffreddare.

How To Make Perfect Pastry (Basic Shortcrust Pastry Recipe).

A perfect shortcrust should have a light crumbly texture which melts in the mouth when you bite into it and tastes heavenly! This is why shortcrust pastry is the most popular when it comes to home-made desserts. Today we are going to look at the basics of the preparation method, including some possible variations.

This is a fairly simple method, but there are some important steps to follow in order to get it right. To obtain a crumbly and light pastry it is important to handle the butter and flour as little as possible, to avoid warming the pastry up with your hand. If the butter melts too much during the preparation method the pastry will change consistency and the result will be heavier than it should be.

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Tips.

1. If the dough is too dry you can add 1/2 egg white or a few tablespoons of water.

2. The ideal thickness for the base of a tart is about 3-5 mm, while 1/2 cm is the ideal thickness for a cookie dough.

3. It is possible to freeze the pastry and use it within a month.

Shortcrust Pastry Basic Recipe.

Medium difficulty

Ingredients

for a 24 cm in diameter cake tin (for 6 servings)

250 g plain flour, sifted

125 g butter, cut into small pieces

100 g sugar

3 egg yolks

aromas (lemon zest or orange zest, vanilla seeds, vanilla extract etc. ..)

a pinch of salt

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Method. 

1. On a board, using a spatula, mix the butter with the sugar.

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2. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.

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3. Add the sifted flour and the aromas. Knead well using a spatula and your hands (this operation should require as little time as possible).

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4. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking paper, cover with a second sheet, then fold it and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

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5. After the required amount of time, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Beat the dough with a rolling pin to soften its consistency and proceed with your recipe.

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Basic variations.

For a more crumbly pastry:
Use hard-boiled yolks instead of raw and/ or add more butter to the recipe. If you add butter remember that you can add up to 80% of the total weight of the flour (e.i. if you use 500 g of flour, you can use up to 400 g of butter).

For a lighter pastry:
You can decrease the butter down to a minimum of 30% of the total weight of the flour used in the recipe.

For a crunchier pastry:
Increase the dose of sugar, bearing in mind that the dough will be sweeter.

For a finer pastry:
Use icing sugar instead of caster sugar. You can also use Italian flour 00, which is finer than plain flour.

For a drier pastry (e.g. to make cookies):
Use whole eggs (whites and yolks), adding 25 g of sugar and 25 g of butter.

For a taller pastry (for example to make cookies):
Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the dough.

Also see Cooking Method: Shortcrust Pastry Tart Case

Preparazione Base Della Pasta Frolla (Metodo A Mano).
Oggi vedremo insieme la preparazione base per fare la pasta frolla, la pasta più utilizzata per i dolci fatti in casa. E’ un metodo abbastanza semplice, che però comporta un minimo di attenzione nella preparazione e nella cottura, specialmente se si fanno delle crostate che richiedono una cottura in bianco, cioè senza il ripieno.
Per ottenere una buona pasta frolla, friabile e leggera al punto giusto, è importante che si proceda con gli ingredienti ancora freddi e si eviti di maneggiare troppo il burro e la farina durante la lavorazione, per non riscaldarli.

Note.

1. Nel caso l’impasto risultasse troppo asciutto si può aggiungere 1/2 albume oppure qualche cucchiaio d’acqua, per dare più elasticità.

2. E’ possibile surgelare la pasta frolla e utilizzarla entro un mese dal congelamento.

3. Se volete prepare la base di una crostata lo spessore ideale è di 3-5 mm e invece 1/2 cm è lo spessore ideale per i biscotti.

Ricetta base per la pasta frolla.

Media difficoltà

Ingredienti

per foderare uno stampo 24 cm di diametro (per 6 persone)

250 g di farina 00

125 g di burro a pezzetti

100 g di zucchero

3 tuorli d’uova

aromi (la buccia di limone o arancia grattugiata, i semi di vaniglia ecc..)

un pizzico di sale

Preparazione.

1. Su una spianatoia e utilizzando una spatola, per non riscaldare l’impasto, tagliate e amalgamate il burro con lo zucchero.

2. Aggiungete i tuorli, uno alla volta, al resto degli ingredienti.

3. Aggiungete gli aromi e la farina. Lavorate bene tutti gli ingredienti, sempre con la spatola e aiutandovi con le mani solo se necessario.

4. Stendete l’impasto su un foglio di carta da forno e ricopritelo con un secondo foglio. Piegate l’impasto a portafoglio e mettetelo nel frigo per almeno 30 minuti.

5. Passato il tempo necessario, togliete l’impasto dal frigorifero, battetelo con un matterello per ammorbidirlo e procedete con la vostra ricetta.

Possibili varianti nella consistenza.

1. Per una pasta frolla più friabile:
Utilizzate nell’impasto i tuorli delle uova sode, invece che crude e (oppure) aumentate la dose di burro. Se aggiungete il burro, non bisogna superare l’80% del peso della farina (cioè su 500 g di farina si possono utilizzare fino a 400 g di burro).

2. Per una pasta frolla più leggera:
Si può diminuire il burro fino al 30% dell’intero peso della farina utilizzata nella ricetta.

3. Per una pasta frolla più croccante:
Aumentate la dose di zucchero, tenendo presente che l’impasto sarà più dolce.

4. Per una pasta frolla più fine:
Utilizzate lo zucchero a velo al posto di quello semolato.

5. Per una pasta frolla più secca (ad esempio per fare i biscotti):
Utilizzate le uova intere (albumi e tuorli), aggiungendo 25 g di zucchero e 25 g di burro all’impasto.

6. Per una pasta frolla più gonfia (ad esempio per fare i biscotti):
Aggiungete 1 cucchiaino di lievito per dolci all’impasto.

Vedere anche Cottura in bianco della pasta frolla

How To Make A Perfect Risotto

Risotto is one of the finest Italian dishes and is appreciated all over the world. There are endless variations. Each region has its own traditional risotto recipes made with seafood, meat or vegetables. Today we are going to explore the method to make a perfect risotto, the Italian way!

Four important steps.

To make a good risotto it is important to follow each recipe step by step. There are 4 basic steps in the preparation process of each risotto:

1. Sauté the onions

2. Fry the rice

3. Cook the risotto

4. Let the risotto rest

Today we are going to see each of these steps in depth.

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A few notes on the preparation process.

1. The preparation time and the ingredients will vary depending on the recipe.

2. During the whole process you have to constantly stir the risotto, therefore it’s important to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking.

3. Don’t reheat the risotto because the rice will become chewy and dry. Prepare the risotto and serve it.

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Method.

1. Sauté the onions. Sauté the onions in butter over a very low heat, until they are very tender and almost transparent.

Notes. The onions have to dissolve in your mouth when you taste the risotto. You can replace the onions with shallots, spring onions or garlic, depending on the recipe.

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2. Fry the rice. When the onions are ready, add the rice and then fry it over a medium heat for a few minutes (stir constantly).

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3. Cook the risotto. After frying the rice, add the wine.  Once the wine flavour is absorbed and the alcohol evaporated, add the hot broth (usually a full ladle at a time) and cover the rice with it. Continue cooking and stirring. Once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add more broth until you reach the ideal cooking consistency.

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Notes. Use hot broth, because a cold broth will lower the temperature and compromise the cooking process.

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4. Let the risotto rest. When the risotto is creamy and properly cooked, add the final ingredients (usually butter and cheese), stir well, cover with a lid and let the rice rest for a few minutes. Now the risotto is ready to be served.

Note. This will make the risotto very creamy and tasty.

Also see Traditional Recipe: Saffron Risotto

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