Stealing beauty by Bernardo Bertolucci is one of these movies that leaves you with a very strong desire to travel. The warmth of Tuscan landscape captured in the film triggers all your senses and makes you want to teleport yourself to Italy immediately. Even though I saw this movie over 10 years ago, I can still recall the sensation of colours and places that stayed with me long after the end credits faded away.
This July I spent couple of days near Florence, in a rural cottage with an endless view of grapevines and olive trees fields. I would never guess that finding a location so similar to the one from the movie would be that easy, but that’s just Tuscany — the vivid mixture of sunny and green hills. Coming back home wasn’t easy. Luckily, I came back with a recipe that helps me overcome the end-of-summer-nostalgia.
It’s very basic. All you need are literally 2 ingredients: chickpea flour and water. The original seasoning of Italian chickpea pancake – torta di ceci, also known as cecina, socca or farinata — is pure minimalist and consists of salt, pepper and olive oil. It’s usually served plain as a dish or in a sandwich with roasted eggplant. Ever since I came back, I have been trying many different variations of torta di ceci — in sandwiches, as a pizza base or just as a snack — and believe me, they are all great. Just remember to always have chickpea flour at home and improvise with the rest.
When preparing torta di ceci, make sure to put this playlist on and enjoy.
Continue reading TORTA DI CECI
Let’s talk about praise of simplicity. As few weeks ago the season for local farmers started, for the first time this year we got a veggie basket from our favourite local farming project. We were pretty amazed by both the amount and variety of lettuce and herbs that we have received. At first we had some doubts, what to do with all these greens — lettuce, arugula, colorful chard, variation of nettles, fresh parsley and dill — and we are talking about the whole basket of it. As we got home and packed out all the crispy leaves, the choice was obvious: lettuce, just as it is, with some amazing salad dressing. That was the beginning of the search for new ideas.
And if you also sometimes like just to keep it simple, you should definitely try flavoured olive oils. It only takes a couple of minutes to prepare them at home: place the ingredients in a bottle, pour your favourite olive oil and leave in a dark and cool place for a couple of days, and voilá: the new star is born!
Our favourites are orange and rosemary, lemon and garlic and of course the spicy chilli version we can’t imagine pizza without: olio di peperoncino. Weather for pasta, pizza, salad or just freshly baked bread — you will be amazed how this detail can change the simplest dish.
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Continue reading FROM LETTUCE WITH LOVE
Did you know there are more than 920 species of salvia? Their violet and white flowers start blooming in June, but the soft and hairy leaves we know so well are ready to be picked already in April. Salvia is a real sun lover. And so am I. I really like this moment, when the spring comes to the city, and for the first time of the year I take a blanket and go to the Tempelhofer Feld (a former airport which is now a really cool green space in Berlin). And how the city changes. Suddenly everyone is crawling out of their holes filling up every meter of lawn in the park, and you just can’t stop wondering, how many people are living in your city.
But back to the food. I eat totally differently in winter – hot heavy soups, lots of potatoes, all kinds of vegetarian gratins, whereas in summer I could live only on salads, juices and green smoothies. This recipe makes for me a good transition between these two practices. The main ingredients of the soup are celery, parsnip and apple, so it is very fresh and light. And the salvia pesto with pistachios is just the right enrichment. When the weather can’t really decide whether to be cold and rainy, or to let the sun in, it is a good choice that still keeps you warm.
Anyway, when all is said and done, this soup will get you definitely in the mood for the first spring shine.
Continue reading CELERY SOUP WITH SALVIA PESTO
Last year I started buying organic vegetables from a local farmer. The reason why I chose this particular one over all the others was his veggie-abstract sense of humor. To give you an example, he announced the upcoming romanesco season as the “arrival of psychedelic cauliflower brother”. Who wouldn’t go with that, right?
Romanesco’s appearances might put it in the same basket with broccoli and cauliflower, but it has a slightly different “personality”. It’s texture is far more crunchy and it has an amazingly delicate, yet nutty flavor. As we are currently transitioning from Winter to Spring, I was craving some quick salad recipe that would combine these both seasons. Black lentils and roasted hazelnuts remind my tastebuds of the snowy weather, and the raw romanesco prepares me for the fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits yet to come.
The secret star here, however, are dried golden berries, also known as Inca berries or amour en cage (“love in cage” in French) – a superfood grown in Peru and Ecuador. These are a great alternative to raisins and cranberries, if you’re looking for a defining twist to your salad. With a balanced mix of sweetness and sourness, they make it refreshing and complete.
Continue reading RAW ROMANESCO SALAD
Mazurek is a very sweet and flat cake decorated with dried fruits and nuts, which is baked in Poland for Easter. And although it is supposedly a unique Polish shortcrust pastry, it has most likely eastern origins and came to Poland via the spice-trade route from Turkey. But no one seems to remember that nowadays. Just for the record.
My grandmother makes one each year, my mum hates it and I fell in love with it just now. The thing with me baking is that I tend to read the first half of a recipe and then get disappointed if it doesn’t work out. This kind of flexibility (a.k.a not following the recipe) works really well with savoury dishes, but is a no-go when it comes to baking. I learned this basic truth by repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And yet, I mastered this recipe which is super easy to make for all kinds of bakers out there.
I have to admit, I was trying to make it fully vegan, but the crust was so far away from the original that I just converted it to surprisingly delicious pralines (head to our instagram account to see the result). So for now, I have just used spelt flour to add a healthy tweak to the pastry and I will continue optimizing the vegan version for the next Easter. I promise.
Whether you celebrate Easter or not – doesn’t matter. It’s always good to try out a new cake recipe, especially with a whisky twist. Long story short: Enjoy your holidays guys and see you soon!
Continue reading WHISKY AND SALTED DATES ORANGE CARAMEL MAZUREK
I read once that our taste buds change every seven years. And although this theory sounds a bit fishy, there are indeed some things (besides movies) which I rediscovered after many years. As a child for sure there were some things that landed on your plate which made you cry. Was it broccoli? Was it brussels sprouts? Well, for me it was butter. And look at me now – I simply adore butter. When I recently visited London, I tried brown butter for the very first time. Now I use it with pasta, vegetables, cakes, desserts… the smell is amazing and even though I cook mostly vegan, butter is now one of the few things I can’t imagine cooking without.
Jerusalem artichokes also met my taste buds in London for the first time. I was expecting something more in the taste like the traditional artichokes, but, to my big surprise, I got brown tubers on the plate that looked more like petite potatoes with a great nutty flavour. So, as I came back home I just had to try them my way and now I think they are one of my favourite vegetables. Also, they are so easy to prepare. So here it is: Jerusalem artichoke – tender and nutty, pear – fresh and sweet, caramelized walnuts, goat cheese, coriander and lemon zest for the perfect finish. Because life is too short to wait another seven years…
Continue reading JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES WITH PEAR, CARAMELIZED WALNUTS AND BROWN BUTTER