RAINY DAYS IN LONDON

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Rainy days remember me about London: after my first few days in the city two years ago, I understood that boots, coat and umbrella were the elementary equipment I needed to survive without sneezing all the time. After that, I found out that the capital of the queen is lovely with the rain, and started to appreciate it.

Water washes away dirt from the streets, it lows down the pollution and cleans the air, while it nourishes those wonderful plants that adorn parks and gardens. It makes people socialize when taking refuge at a bus stop, under a roofing or in a bar. It can also be romantic, if you have someone to share the umbrella with, and fun for any kid who loves to get wet. I love it because it leaves inspiring puddles everywhere, generous pools that double the world and change perspectives for a while.

I remember one day in spring, when I was walking down the street towards Maida Vale in West London, and the sun was warming my face. After something like ten minutes, a storm arrived and my little umbrella couldn’t face the wind. I had to wait at a bus stop until the clouds passed and the sun came out again, with a rainbow.

An incredibly beautiful setting, but next time, I wish I could walk in the rain despite the violence of nature. Here’s what I need: I found a special umbrella which never breaks and can withstand 100 km/h wind, much more that my body can do without starting to fly, I guess.

The umbrella is called Senz, and its aerodynamic weird shape, besides being a design job, protects against all weather conditions: it doesn’t go inside-out, poke you in the eye, limits your visibility, and also protects your back. Plus, there’s a nice story. Senz was created from the smart idea of a Dutch guy, who made a graduation project about it in 2004, then founded a company with two friends, and now has a worldwide known brand with different collections and colors. I absolutely want one, and it would be a perfect excuse to fly to London for a weekend, and test it.

Foto web

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GREEN LASAGNE

Here’s one of my favourite dishes, delicious and perfect for a dinner with hungry friends. The original recipe is typical of my hometown – my grandma’s makes superb lasagne with freshly homemade green pesto – and this is an easier version for dummies like me.

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What you need

A 500g box of pasta lasagna
Pesto sauce (160-200g)
3-4 mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese
A glass of milk
Extra virgin olive oil

 

How to prepare

Turn on the oven at the maximum temperature and prepare an oven-pan with oven-paper on it and a sprinkle of oil. Cut the mozzarella cheese in little cubes and put it in a bowl at one side.

Boil water in a pot, add salt like you’ve learned to do for any king of pasta. When water is boiling, sear the pieces of pasta one by one, and place them in the oven-pan, covering all he surface. When you’ve completed one layer, cover it with the pesto sauce (in this picture I didn’t put a lot of it to show you the layers, but you should put more sauce, don’t be stingy), add a spoon of milk, some cubes of mozzarella and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on it. Continue with the other layers making the same procedure, until you’ve finished the pasta and put only parmesan cheese and oil on the last layer.

Now put your composition in the oven and wait around 15 minutes. When the upper and lateral side is turning bronze and you smell the incredible smell of basil mixed with cheese, your green lasagne is ready. Call your friends and wait a moment before eating it. you don’t want to burn your tongue, don’t you?

COOKING TIPS: FRESH FILLED TOMATOES

One of my favourites vegetables when the temperature is too hot is tomatoes. Remember the Filled tomatoes recipe I’ve already published? Here’s the summer version, a fresh and easy recipe for a finger food that will suit every garden or beach party.

Pomodori ripieni – summer version

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What you need

7 red tomatoes (San Marzano, the long ones)

150 g of tuna in olive oil

2 eggs

1 handful of capers

Mayo

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

 

How to prepare

Boil some water in a small pan and cook two hard eggs. Wash well the tomatoes and cut them in two parts for the long side. With a little spoon remove the interior part of the tomato and put in on a side. You should have 14 red boats: dispose them on a large dish with the round side downwards. Now it’s the time of the filling. Drain the tuna and put in a bowl with the interior part of the tomatoes. Add the hard-cooked eggs cut in small pieces, a handful of mince capers, salt and some mayo (just a little bit, a couple of spoons). Mix with a fork and fill the tomatoes. Put it in the fridge for half an hour and your finger food is ready.

 

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VALENCIA: TE GUSTA LA PAELLA?

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Valencia è la patria della paella, una specialità culinaria diventata famosa in tutto il mondo come sinonimo di Spagna e allegria. Si tratta di un’invitante e profumata preparazione a base di riso, zafferano e olio d’oliva, cui si aggiungono carne e verdure. Ne esistono ormai numerose varianti, tra cui quella vegetariana e quella con frutti di mare, ma la ricetta tradizionale è condita con pollo, coniglio, pomodoro e fagiolini.

Ingredienti:

500 g di arroz di Valencia o riso per risotti

800 g di petto di pollo tagliato a bocconcini

600 g di polpa di coniglio tagliato a bocconcini

250 g di fagiolini verdi piatti

200 g di fagioli bianchi di Valencia

100 g di pomodori freschi

olio extra vergine d’oliva

1 bustina di zafferano

1 cucchiaio di paprika

rosmarino

brodo vegetale

 

Preparazione:

Scaldate l’olio in una grande padella e fate rosolare la carne mescolando bene perché non si attacchi. Quando la carne è dorata a sufficienza, spostatela verso l’esterno della padella e al centro mettete le verdure, sempre girando bene. Aggiungete poi tutti gli altri ingredienti, i pomodori sminuzzati, il rosmarino, il sale e la paprika. Sfumate con il brodo vegetale fino a ricoprire tutta la carne e le verdure, aggiungete zafferano, sale, pepe nero e mescolate bene. Quando il brodo bolle, incorporate il riso, abbassate il fuoco e lasciate cuocere per 40 minuti, girando spesso finché il brodo si sarà assorbito completamente, lasciando il riso cotto ma croccante e la carne e le verdure tenere.

 

GRANDMA’S APPLE PIE

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What you need:

350 g flour

190 g brown sugar

4 big apples

2 eggs

70 g (1/2 glass) extra virgin olive oil)

1/2 sachet yeast

125 g whole milk yogurt

cinnamon

How to prepare:

Pre-heat the oven at the maximum leve. Peel the apples and cut into small irregular parts (like little triangles) and put the pieces in a bowl.

Take another bowl and put the ingredients into it: flour, sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs and yeast. Mix with a spoon until it’s uniformly blended. Add the apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and mix again.

Cover a casserole with oven paper and fill it with the mixture you’ve just prepared. Cut the exceeding paper and put in the pre-heated oven at 180° for 1 hour.

Check it sometimes, never trust recipes timings 🙂

Anyway, you should smell the parfume when it’s ready. When the surface is golden and the borders are almost brown (not burnt), remove the casserole from the oven. Wait until it’s cool, call your friends and serve.

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