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.
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.
Make the most of the plump fennels Mother Nature offers in this time of the year! This recipe is a luxurious version of the humble roasted fennel and boasts the bulbs with an explosion of colour and flavour from the Middle East.
- 4 medium fennels, trimmed
- 3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 2/3 tbsp tahini sauce
- bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
Divide each fennel bulb in 8 wedges, steam for 8 minutes and line on the baking tray covered with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and mix well.
Brush the fennels wedges with the emulsion, heat the oven at 160°C and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature at 140°C and continue baking for further 40 minutes: you should leave the fennels in the oven until a second before they get burnt.
Transfer the baked fennel on a plate, season with some sea salt and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and parsley. Drizzle the tahini on top and serve.
No milk, no eggs, no fats: if you are sceptical like I am when trying “healthier” versions of consolidated myths, you will be stunned by these low cal brownies, which use the creamy consistency of the apple sauce to become as good as the classic type. It really is an option for the weight watchers.
- 800 gr Golden Delicious apples
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- juice of a half lemon
- 40 gr cocoa powder
- 100 gr self raising flour
- 1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 60 gr caster or brown sugar
- 100 gr dark chocolate, knife sliced
- 70 gr walnuts, chopped
- 250 ml coconut milk
Prepare the applesauce: peel, deseed and quarter the apples, place in a heavy-based pot with the lemon juice, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of water. Cover with a lid and let cook over low heat for around 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. When the apples are almost reduced to a puréè the apple sauce is ready. Let it cool to room temperature, then weigh 250 gr and transfer in a bowl.
Spinkle over the flour and cocoa powder (using a sieve), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, chocolate, walnuts and coconut milk.
The mix should be on the running side; if you have a particularly thick apple sauce, add some water or extra coconut milk. Be careful to not overwork the dough, or the brownies will be tough once ready.
Line a square cake tin with non-stick baking paper and spoon in the mixture. Bake in the oven at 180° for 15-18 minutes until the surface is set but the inner is still a little soft. Let cool on a rack, then cut into squares and serve.
Please do not hold a grudge on me, my Roman friends, but let’s admit that the Roman cuisine is essentially oriented to the “basics” and to a rusticity that I often do not appreciate. Yet, give credit where credit is due: there are excellent recipes among the Roman ones too, and what I am describing today is exactly one of them, a very easy pasta, though rich in taste and flavour. The must is the ricotta cheese: it has to be the best you can afford.
- 400 gr rigatoni
- 300 gr ricotta cheese
- 80 gr parmesan, freshly grated
- 14 date or cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 5 tbsp extravirgin olive oil of extra good quality, plus extra to garnish
- black pepper, freshly ground, to your taste
In a large bowl whisk by hand the ricotta, parmesan and pepper until creamy. Dice the tomatoes to super tiny cubes and add to the ricotta mixture, together with the basil leaves, washed, drained, pat-dried and cut by hand into small stripes. Season with the oil and let rest for 2 hours at room temperature. Add some sea salt only before serving.
Boil the rigatoni in salted water (keep 1 cup of water in case the sauce is too thick), transfer to the bowl with the sauce and toss everything together. Add a further glug of oil, salt to your taste, some extra pepper and serve.
Kings of the summer, peppers like these are very simple to prepare yet feature a delicious Middle Eastern flavour which will make you dream of pleasantly being away from home.
- 4 bell peppers
- 100 gr hazelnuts
- 50 gr white sesame seeds
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp vinegar, any kind
- 1 garlic clove
- bread crumbs
Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds separately. Let them cool to room temperature, then add the cumin and coriander and reduce to a powder with a food processor. This mix is called Duqqah and it is very common in the Middle East, where they are used to eating it over slices of bread previously dipped in olive oil.
Wash the peppers, eliminate the white part and seeds and quarter them regularly.
In a small food processor, or using a hand blender, emulsify the oil with the vinegar and garlic.
Place the peppers on an oven tray covered with parchment paper, coat with the sauce using a kitchen brush, sprinkle over 3 tbsp of Duqqah (keep the rest in a glass jar up to 1 month) and the same quantity of bread crumbs.
Spray with extra oil.
Bake in the oven, 150° C fan, for around 50 minutes, until brown and crispy.
Season with salt and pepper and serve lukewarm.