Thursday, 23 December 2010

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

The Buddha
"Be the change you want to see in the world"

Mahatma Gandhi

Homemade granola

And so this is Christmas... this year I gave a couple of friends a really unexpected gift, ie a tiny jar of homemade granola. Common as it may be to Americans, in Italy granola is almost unknown, so it is quite an exotic gift. Below you can find my own version of the recipe, as I don't know the original one.



quick cooking oat flakes (small flakes): 200 gr
almonds (coursely chopped and toasted): 80 gr
unsalted butter: 30 gr
almond butter: 1 spoonful
rice malt syrup: 2 spoonfuls
a few pinces of cinnamon powder

Preheat the oven at 180°.
In a large bowl mix oats, almonds and cinnamon.
In a small sauce pan combine butter, almond butter and  rice malt syrup.
Stir and bring to boil over  medium-low heat. Let it simmer for 1-2 minutes or until all the butter and syrup are melted.
Remove from the heat. Pour the hot, liquid mixture over the oats mixture. Mix well. Spread the granola on a baking tray covered with baking sheet.
Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

"It is the mind that is dull or restless, not you. Look, all kinds of things happen in this room. Do I cause them to happen? They just happen. So it is with you -- the roll of destiny unfolds itself and actualises the inevitable. You cannot change the course of events, but you can change your attitude and what really matters is the attitude and not the bare event. The world is the abode of desires and fears. You cannot find peace in it. For peace you must go beyond the world."

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, "I Am That"

Pumpkin gnocchi with tahina, pine nuts and marjoram pesto

Heavy rains have been falling for the last weeks, and then, all of a sudden, white fluffy flocks started dancing in the sky. We spent most of the time indoors, and the kitchen table turned into a messy cooking playground for my daughter Maddalena and I.
Sticky fingers in the air, we celebrated this cold but cosy time of the year in a playful and tasty way...

So.. here is a vegan recipe for the traditional italian gnocchi, more often served with brown butter and fried sage. Hope you like this one too...enjoy!

Ingredients for the gnocchi (dumplings):
pumpkin: 1000 kg (about 600/700 gr of pumpkin flesh)
potato: 1 big or 2 small potatoes (about 160 gr )
potato or tapioca starch: 1 teaspoon
white wheat flour: 250 gr

Ingredients for the pesto sauce:
fresh marjoram: 8 sprigs of marjoram
garlic: ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic clove
tahina: 2 and ½ spoonfuls
pine nuts: 30 gr
sesam seeds

Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, remove the skin; chop and place the pieces face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 180° C until soft, for about 45 min to an hour. Let them cool for a few minutes. Puree into a large bowl with a food mill. Meanwhile steam the potato/es until tender. Then puree the potato in the same bowl. Mix with a fork.
Add the flour, the potato or tapioca starch, salt and nutmeg. Mix quickly with a fork as the dough gets very sticky.

Dust a wooden board with some flour, take a small part of the dough and roll into a log of approximately 15-20 cm. Cut this log into small dumplings (gnocchi) of approx. 2-3 cm length and roll each one onto a fork to create indentations, then place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat until you have cut all the dough. Add more flour on the wooden board if necessary.

Toast the pine nuts in a pan for few minutes, let them cool down while you mince the marjoram leaves with a chopper. In a food processor mix together garlic, marjoram, pine nuts and salt. Add the tahina and blend until you get a soft but thick pesto sauce. Add a spoonful of cooking water if necessary.

In a large sauce pan bring water to boil, add salt and cook approx. a handful of gnocchi at a time. Cooking time is very short: they'll be ready as soon as they float back to the surface. Sieve them using a skimming ladle.

Serve with the tahina and marjoram pesto, sprinkle with sesame seeds and a few sprigs of marjoram to decorate.

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