Sweet or savory? An Intriguing Créme Caramel

When you eat this flan you get a peculiar feeling: together with the pumpkin cream, the sweetness of sugar arrives first while the saltiness of the parmesan comes at the end,  leaving your senses a little disoriented.  Then all flavors magically balance themselves in a spectacular result which will make you very, very happy.

Serves 4
300 gr pumpkin (peeled and deseeded)
170 ml double cream
80 gr parmesan, grated
100 gr caster sugar
3 free range eggs
30 gr corn starch
12 sage leaves, washed and drained

Heat the double cream with the sage leaves in a small saucepan over a low heat and remove from heat before coming to a boil. Cover with a lid and let cool at room temperature.
Dice the pumpkin and steam for 10 minutes, or until soft, let cool and reduce to a purée using a stick blender.


Beat 2 whole eggs and one egg yolk in a small bowl, add the parmesan, pumpkin purée, corn starch and the double cream (leaves removed and filtered).
Caramelize the sugar and thoroughly coat a cake tin of your choice. When the caramel is set pour the mixture in the mold and prepare a bain-marie. Place the cake tin in the hot bain-marie, that you will have prepared in a large pan that fits your tin, and bake in the oven, static, at 150° for one hour.

Rest in the fridge for 12 hours before serving: unmold the crème caramel on a serving plate and voilà, let your senses be surprised.

 

Mediterranean Tempeh

Today my goal is to create a perfect union between a typical Indonesian food like Tempeh and a savoury Mediterranean flavour to achieve a balanced and tasty result. As you might know, Tempeh is the final product of fermented yellow soya beans. Central in the vegan cuisine, Tempeh is a healthy high protein food which can well substitute meat, specially when served together with sauces, vegetabled and dips. Its flavour is slightly acid, which compliments the sweetness of the carrot and onion.

Serves 2

  • 1 double pack natural Tempeh (about 150 gr)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 fresh chilli pepper
  • 100 black olives (I normally use Taggiasche)
  • 100 ml extravirgin olive oil + extra 4 tbsp
  • 20 basil leaves, whashed, drained and tap dried
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce

Place the basil leaves in a small food processor together with the olive oil and puls until homogenous and creamy. Pour in a bottle and set aside. This is a simple way to make your own basil oil -you can use it whenever you want to add some flavour to any of your dishes. Just remember to shake it well before using. This will keep up to 2 weeks when correctely stored in the fridge.

In a heavy-based saucepan, or wok, heat 2 tbsp oil and cook the Tempeh, thinly sliced, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until soft and a pale caramel colour. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.

Peel and thinly shave the carrots with the help of a peeler. Slice the onions and chop the red chilli pepper.

In the same saucepan, or wok, in which you cooked the Tempeh saute the onion and red chilli pepper in the remaining 2 tbsp oil until soft and still white. Add the carrots, fry for 40 seconds, the add the olives and Tempeh. Pour in 2 tbsp soya sauce, season with some sea salt according to your taste and let cook for a few more seconds, until thickened. Serve hot.

To complete you dish, place the Tempeh and vegetables in the centre of your plate and drizzle some of the basil oil around it. Enjoy!

 

Marinated Egg with Agretti in Caper Sauce

Agretti are now in season and this recipe enhances their peculiarly earthy and mineral flavour through the delicacy and sweetness of egg yolks. Seemingly simple, this dish instead features an intriguing complexity that balances all the ingredients’s properties.

Serves 4

  • 4 free range eggs (prepare extra to leave room for error)
  • 160 gr sea salt
  • 40 gr brown sugar
  • 4 bundles agretti
  • 2 tbsp salted capers
  • 6 anchovies in oil
  • 6 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon

Eliminate the hard stalks from the agretti, thoroughly wash and boil in slightly salted water for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with running water to keep the colour.

In a food processor place the capers after rinsing well, anchovies, oil, lemon juice, two stripes of zest and whizz until smooth.

Season the agretti with the sauce (keep some for the decoration) then form 4 nests on 4 individual plates.

Mix the salt and sugar, put on a plate and even the surface. Very carefully lay the egg yolks over the mixture and leave to set around 30 minutes. Using your hands, very gently take the egg yolks from the mixture, shortly rinse under running water and lay on the center of the agretti nests. Decorate with a glug of sauce and serve.

 

 

 

Hazelnut and Ginger Pak Choi

Serves

This recipe is the result of a melting pot between a Chinese vegetable like Pak Choi and a very typical North Italian ingredient like hazelnut. I hope you appreciate the flavour as well as the easy and extremely quick cooking.

Serves 3

  • 1 tbsp  fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped as well
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil, or whatever oil you like
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts, skin on
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 medium pak choi, washed, well drained and cut into stripes of 1 cm

In a small pan roast the hazelnuts, let cool to room temperature and reduce to a medium crumble. Set aside.

In a wok or a large, heavy-based pan heat the oil and gently fry the ginger and garlic.

Place the pak choi in the pan, stir well, add the soy sauce and let cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes, frequently stirring. Scatter with the hazelnut crumble and serve hot.