Mini Cheeseburgers

mini cheeseburgers 1

A casa tenim una tradició sagrada, i és que el dia del teu aniversari esculls el sopar. No és que la resta de sopars de l’any siguin gaire dictatorials, de fet normalment es fan a quatre mans i sempre s’accepten propostes, però aquell dia pots menjar el que et vingui més de gust. No et cal pensar que estigui equilibrat amb el dinar, ni que tingui més part de verdura que d’hidrats de carboni, ni res semblant. Que vols pizza? Doncs pizza. Que ja has menjat pasta per dinar i després de sopar aniràs a dormir i la pizza t’anirà directament al cul? És completament igual.

Això ara pot no semblar gaire estimulant, perquè habitualment ja penses en què fer per sopar, però si ets petit i estàs acostumat a arribar a casa i trobar-te el plat de verdura al davant, tenir carta blanca per un dia és tot un esdeveniment. Tant, que aquest any la meva germana ha decidit que pel seu sant volia repetir el privilegi. De fet, més d’un mes abans ja tenia el menú pensat i clar, amb la il·lusió que li feia el seu sopar, pobreta, no li diràs que no, oi?

I ha demanat un menú festiu absolutament caòtic: figuretes de peix arrebossat (de les que són conglomerat pur i tenen forma d’estrella i de peixet i de cavallet de mar), brandada de bacallà amb torradetes i mini hamburgueses.

Sí, no pega ni per casualitat, però què esperàveu d’un menú ideat per un cervellet supercreatiu de 9 anys?

I jo, l’encarregada de preparar aquest sopar, per intentar salvar la situació i donar una mica de glamour a la diada de Sant Jordi, he transformat la seva petició de mini hamburgueses en tres mini cheeseburgers d’autor.

mini cheeseburgers 2

Swiss cheeseburger

  • Mustard
  • Emmental
  • Mushrooms

swiss cheeseburger

Honey Goat Cheeseburger

  • Goat cheese
  • Honey
  • Oregano

honey goat cheeseburger

Parmesan Pesto Burger

  • Pesto sauce (made of basil, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil)
  • Parmesan slices (or Grana Padano, if your budget is reduced, as mine is)

parmesan pesto burger

There’s no need to explain how to put it all together, right? Just cook, assemble, melt and eat.

Enjoy! 🙂

Annie

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 5

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” -Federico Fellini

So, pasta. Specifically, gnocchi. I love that stuff. They’re like pasta, but better than pasta. They’re like riotous balls of glorious Italian sunshine. They’re endlessly versatile. You can make them out of cheese.

Gnocchi are the food of the gods. Forget nectar and ambrosia. When no one was looking, or while the Spartans and the Athenians and the Persians where killing each other, or while the Greeks were hiding in their wooden horse at the gates of Troy, or while – well, you get the picture – while their worshippers were busy elsewhere, the gods were stuffing their faces with gnocchi. No, seriously, I’ve been reading into it. Prometheus was chained to that stone not for stealing fire, but for stealing the secret recipe for gnocchi. There’s been a massive mistranslation throughout history. Not fire – gnocchi.

OK, I may or may not have made up that last bit.

But they’re seriously good.

And this recipe is seriously easy. And you end up with crispy-soft gnocchi, a creamy sauce, and even vegetables, to keep the health-nut in you happy.

Life doesn’t get much better than this.

One year ago on May the Cheese Be With You: Strawberry-Almond-Brie Salad

Other Parmesan recipes: Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Parmesan Potato Wedges, Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna, Parmesan Poppy Seed Twists, Date Bacon Parmesan Salad, Parmesan Lollipops, Rosemary Parmesan Butter

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 7

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi

Servings: 4

Prep time: 30 minutes

You will need:

  • 1/2lb, or 300gr, fresh gnocchi
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4oz, or 100gr corn
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons Parmesan
  • basil, fresh or dried, to taste
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the gnocchi and leave unstirred for about 4 minutes, until the bottom is nicely browned and crispy. Toss the gnocchi and continue cooking until browned all around. Set aside.

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 3

In another skilled, cook the zucchini and corn, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly browned.

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 2

While the vegetables are cooking, beat the Parmesan cheese into the cream until well combined.

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 4

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi

Remove the vegetables from the heat and stir in the cream and cheese mixture. Finally, add the gnocchi to the vegetable skilled, season with salt, pepper and basil to taste, and serve hot from the pan.

Enjoy!

Clara

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Gnocchi 6

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 7

Yes, you read that right. Three cheeses. Three different types of Italian cheese. In one dish. One glorious, comforting, soul-warming dish. One pan, minimal preparation, no need to throw on the oven, 30 minutes and you’re set. This is a bit too easy for our own good.

And it has three cheeses.

Have I mentioned the three cheeses?

I love this lasagna. I mean, take a look, three cheeses.

It doesn’t get much easier than this.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Why, even Cicero swooned over this. Well, maybe not excatly this, but man did the guy love his lasagna (go on, google that). I’m telling ya, the man was wise. He wore a toga.

Plus, there is a chance the word originates from the Greek lasana, or lasanon, meaning “chamber pot”, which the Romans borrowed as lasanum. Something got lost in translation, though, because the Romans, despite wearing togas, firmly believed the word to mean “cooking pots”.

I find this the most hilarious story ever. We’ve been eating chamber pots for millennia.

Personally, I need no other reason to cook this every day this week. In case you do: Have I told you yet that this has three cheeses?

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 8

One year ago on May the Cheese Be With You: Braised French Onion Chicken

Other Parmesan dishes: Parmesan Potato Wedges, Parmesan Poppy Seed Twists, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Parmesan Lollipops, Date Bacon Parmesan Salad, Rosemary Parmesan Butter

Other Ricotta dishes: Lemon Ricotta Pasta, Vegetable Ricotta Pasta

Other Mozzarella dishes: Pistachio Mozzarella Salad, Vegetable Cannelloni, Potato Dauphinoise, Caprese Bread, Veggi Mozzarella Turnovers, Ultra fast Pasta with Mozzarella

 

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna

Servings: 4

Prep time: 30 minutes

You will need:

  • 250gr, or 1/2lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • 2 cups, tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4-6 lasagna noodles, depending on the size of your pot, soaked in warm water
  • 8oz, or 250 gr grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 2oz, or 60gr Parmesan cheese
  • 15oz, or 400gr Ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil to garnish, optional

First off, heat some olive oil in a deep pan or pot, and cook the ground meat until no pink bits remain. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, basil and chili, and stir well to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 30 second.

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 1

Stir in about a third of the tomato sauce and water, then top with the lasagna noodles, taking care to cover the meat as evenly as possible. Break up the noodles if it helps.

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna

Pour the remaining sauce and water over the noodles, and whisk a bit to combine the liquids. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Once the noodles are nice and tender, uncover and sprinkle with half the Parmesan and Mozzarella. Place dollops of Ricotta all over the top, and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella on top of that.

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 2-side

Cheese heaven.

Cover and cook for a few more minutes until the cheeses melt.

We definitely want the cheese to melt.

Garnish with basil, if desired (I didn’t), dish up, and enjoy!

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 6

Dig in. I did 🙂

Three Cheese Stovetop Lasagna 9

 

Clara

A cheese-laden birthday feast!

Happy birthday to us!

We’ve been cheesing it for a year now, and we have been celebrating.

With cheese.

Of course.

So today we bring to you not one, not two, not three, but four recipes to put together an entire scrumptious meal orbiting around cheese.

We begin with an appetiser, featuring Feta cheese and ground walnuts, which technically make these little taste-bomb healthy. Almost. Be that as it may, these were absolutely, totally, like, awesome.

Our first course starred creamy pasta with Ricotta, paired with the freshness of lemon. The sheer simplicity of this dish belies the wonderful taste, which manages to transport you straight back into summer.

We chose chicken for our main course, and of course Parmesan, which simply had to make the cut. Dried tomatoes and basil rounded up this lovely, comforting one-skillet dish. We do, however, apologise for the pictures, but this was so good we literally forgot to take any more… You’ll just have to trust us on this one. Have we ever led you astray? 🙂

And last, but indeed not least, you cannot have a birthday without a cake. A cheesecake, of course. Scroll down and find out more about this little crowning jewel of today’s feast…

How can you say no?

Walnut Feta Cookies

Walnut Feta Cookies 6

Servings: about 40 cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 40 g ground or chopped walnuts
  • 120 g, or 1/2 cup flour
  • 120 g butter
  • 120 g feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Walnut Feta Cookies 7

Let’s start out with the walnut. If you couldn’t find them ground, you can use a pestle and mortar to do the job. (We did 🙂 )

Walnut Feta Cookies 1

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until you obtain a homogeneous dough, then roll it out to a thickness of roughly 1,5 cm.

Walnut Feta Cookies 2

Cut them out in any desired shape. We used a round cutter, but any shape will do, really.

Walnut Feta Cookies 3

Place on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Leave a little space between them, but not much is needed, since they really don’t grow at all. You can brush them them with a slightly beaten egg, or even milk, at this point, but this really isn’t necessary.

Walnut Feta Cookies 4

Place in a low oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until light golden.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 5

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Lemon Ricotta Pasta 5

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes (seriously)

You will need:

  • 350gr short pasta
  • 200gr fresh Ricotta cheese
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons dried, or 10 leaves fresh basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Lemon Ricotta Pasta 3

Cook the pasta as per package instructions.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Reserve two cups of pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, beat together the cheese, lemon zest and basil until thoroughly combined.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta 2

Thin out with pasta water until fairly liquid, but still creamy. Return the drained pasta to the pot and mix in the Ricotta mixture.

Serve garnished with Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta 6

Creamy Parmesan Basil Chicken

Creamy Parmesan Basil Chicken 2

Servings: 4

Prep time: 30 mintues

You will need:

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 bread crumbs
  • olive oil to cook the chicken
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup minced dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a large skillet on low heat with the olive oil. Salt and pepper both side of the chicken breasts. Dip in the milk, then coat with bread crumbs and place in the pan. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (times may vary here depending on the thickness of the breast).

Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken 1

Remove from the pan, and add the broth to the same pan. When it boils, stir in cream and tomatoes and give it a good stir. Add the remaining ingredients and give it a few minutes to cook through.

Return the chicken to the pan.

Eat up. 🙂

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 10

Servings: 8

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 50 minutes baking time, plus 2 hours chilling

You will need:

For the cheesecake:

  • 1 cup shortbread cookies, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate, cut into squares and melted
  • 2/3 cup sugar (optional; I didn’t think it was necessary)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs

For the raspberry sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 8

Combine the crushed cookies with the ground almonds.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 11-side

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 13

Mix in the melted butter until it forms a crumbly paste. Press into the bottom of a greased pan.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 16

Combine the cream cheese with the melted chocolate.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 15

Add the sour cream, sugar and eggs. Pour on top of the cookie crust.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 14-side

Bake on medium high for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and centre is still slightly wobbly, but set. It will firm up as it cools.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 1

Place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 4-side

Meanwhile, place the raspberry jam in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it melts down. Add the raspberries and bring to a simmer. Cover and chill until serving time.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 7

Spoon the raspberry sauce over the cheesecake slices as you serve.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 9

Enjoy! 🙂

Gorgonzola Herb Butter & Rosemary Parmesan Butter

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 9

Let me be completely honest with you. This start of term has been rough. It always is. Exchanging endless, lazy summer days and strolls in the mountains for dark, hectic early mornings and long, long, days on your feet trying to pound English and German into teenage brains, just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Every September, on the clock, procrastination gets the better of me. There just are no limits to what you can accomplish when you are supposed to be doing something else. I can’t get out of bed. These blankets have accepted me as one of their own and if I leave them I might lose their trust.

It takes me about a month to get things under control again. But during the up-hill month of September, things like changing into actual clothes before dashing to the grocery store don’t seem quite as urgent as they may any other month of the year.

That is, of course, the day you run into every single person you know. And you’re all “I’m usually beautiful and glamorous… but today is my day off”, and all they do is stare at your bunny slippers and hair, which chooses this precise moment to display its unique ability to defy the laws of gravity. I’m betting Newton had some bad-ass anti-frizz shampoo, or he wouldn’t have postulated such a debatable theory.

But to the point. As I announced two weeks ago, we’ll be trying our hand on butter today. These recipes are perfect for September procrastinators and start of term franticness (That is an actual word. I checked.). They’re quick, useful, delicious, and the perfect comfort food for those first crisp fall nights. Slather these butters on toast, savoury scones, English muffins or American biscuits. Place a pad on red meat or chicken, or melt it into a boring pasta dish. Trust me, this stuff is golden.

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 2

Gorgonzola Herb Butter and Rosemary Parmesan Butter

Servings: about 1 cups each

Prep time: 10 minutes

You will need:

For the Gorgonzola Herb Butter:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, softened butter
  • 1/2 cup softened Gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons fresh, or 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 pine nuts
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Rosemary Parmesan Butter:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary flowers, if you can get them, otherwise 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • quality salt of choice, to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

Let the festivities begin.

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 6

For the Gorgonzola Herb Butter, place the thyme, rosemary, parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a mortar and grind with a pestle until roughly combined and pine nuts are broken up into little bits and pieces.

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 7

Place the butter and Gorgonzola cheese in a bowl and mix with a fork until creamy and well combined.

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 5

Add the herb-pine nut mixture and incorporate.

Gorgonzola Herb Butter 10

For the Rosemary Parmesan Butter, combine the softened butter with the Parmesan cheese until well incorporated, then mix in your salt.

Rosemary Parmesan Butter 3

I used about 1/2 a teaspoon, as the Parmesan is already plenty salty, but the level of saltiness is entirely up to you. Do use good quality salt here, though, as the taste shines out quite clearly. I used a fancy red Hawaiian salt I had on hand, but any other good sea or mineral salt.

Rosemary Parmesan Butter 2.JPG5732

Fold in the rosemary flowers carefully. If not using flowers, forget the “carefully” and just beat the daylights outta that butter.

Rosemary Parmesan Butter 4

These little butters freeze nicely if need be. I placed mine in an ice cube tray and stored them in the freezer for quick meals or snacks.

They’re best, in my humble opinion, simply slathered on hot toast.

Herb and Cheese Butter 2

Enjoy!

Clara

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 8

I know what you’re thinking. Not Parmesan again. And salad, again? I know, I know. But you must understand, it’s Parmesan. The king of all cheeses. And this ain’t just any salad. It’s the best kind of salad. You know, the kind of salad loaded with cheese and bacon.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 2

Also, Parmesan features in Boccaccio’s Decameron tale about an imaginary gourmet paradise. I’m talking XV century Italian literature here, guys. The passion for Parmesan has been around for longer than most modern countries. I mean, the man writes about mountains of Parmesan cheese. Like, mountains.

I’ve been looking for that place for a couple of years now. I’ll let you know if I get lucky. I won’t tell you were it is, though. I’ll just sent a postcard.

Anyway, this rich history is of course the main reason why I made this salad. Duh.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 9

That, and I was so sleepy this morning it took about ten minutes for me to realize I was trying to fit both my legs into one leg of my pants. So this is all I could manage in the state I’m in.

But try it. You won’t regret it. The play of textures and the blend of sweet, salty and crispy ingredients is, in a word, heavenly. Did you hear angels sing? Because they did. And if you listen very closely, you’ll hear their silver voices chanting one word in a trance-like rhythm:

Parmesan…

And then of course there’s the celestial heavy metal band bellowing Bacooon!! at the top of their lungs in the background. They never miss a beat, those little rascals.

Let’s get the show on the road:

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 7

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad

Sevings: it’s completely up to you and how much cheese and bacon you can eat

Prep time: 30 minutes tops

You will need:

  • Baby greens
  • Arugula
  • Parmegiano Reggiano
  • Bacon, cut into cubes or strips
  • Pitted dates, cut into quarters
  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, to dress the salad

Note: This salad is super easy and super tasty, perfect for those sultry summer days, and good enough to impress your guests. If you need more salad recipes, check out our Strawberry Almond Brie Salad, Provolone Salad, and Pistachio Mozzarella Salad.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 1

First off, wash your salad greens and arugula and place them in a large bowl. The amount of each depends on how much you like baby greens and arugula. In fact, you could just as well make this salad using only arugula, if you really like it. Plus, you will look like a goat whilst eating, which is always a perk.

Now cook your bacon in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until nice and crispy, then place on a paper-towel-lined plate to catch any extra grease. Again, the amount is up to you, but don’t skimp. The bacon and date pairing is one of the best flavor combos ever.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 5

Allow to cool.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 3

Cut your Parmesan cheese into small, fine slices, until you feel you have enough to transport yourself or your guests to Parmesan Paradise, and add to the greens.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 4

Now, you are absolutely entitled to eat this like this, and no one will judge you. At least I know I won’t, because, you know, been there, done that.

But bear with me if you can, the final result will definitely be worth your while.

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 6

Cut up your dates and add to the salad. Don’t be to heavy handed with these; a little goes a long way, and they’ll overpower the bacon and cheese, which we most certainly do not want happening. Ever.

Last, but not least, top the salad with the cooled bacon. Add a drizzle of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That’s seriously all the dressing you’ll need.

Now, eat, drink and be merry. You’ll thank me later 🙂

Clara

Date Bacon Parmesan Salad 10

Parmesan Lollipops

Parmesan Lollipops

No, jo encara no estic de vacances. Molt maques les vostres fotos en bikini a llocs súper guais tots ultramorenos i tal, però jo segueixo tan blanca com sempre amb encara una setmana per endavant tancada al laboratori. I a l’agost, que tinc vacances, passaré d’estar tancada al laboratori a estar tancada a casa redactant la tesi de màster. Genial. Per això he decidit que aquest estiu, ja que jo no viatjo, us organitzo viatges a vosaltres. Seran els “viatges gastronòmics virtuals de l’Annie” (evidentment, gastronòmic en el meu cas serà sinònim de formatge, però això de viatges formatjosos, formatgils o formàtgics no quedava tan bé…).

La nostra primera destinació serà el bressol d’un dels formatges més coneguts (i sovint maltractats i falsificats) del món: sa majestat el Parmesà.

Parmigiano_reggiano_piece

Diu la llegenda (en forma de vikipedia, en aquest cas) que el parmesà va néixer durant l’Edat Mitjana a Bibbiano, un municipi que pertany a la província de Reggio Emilia però que formava part de la diocesi de Parma, i d’aquí li ve el nom. Es veu que sobre el 1200-1300 ja es produïa, i que la recepta era molt semblant a la del formatge Lodi de l’època romana (la propera vegada que el malgasteu sobre una vulgar salsa de tomàquet de pot, penseu que esteu tirant per la finestra milers d’anys d’història).

Actualment es produeix a Parma (en vermell al mapa), evidentment, i també a les províncies veïnes de Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Mantova i Placenza (en blau). Tot i que pugui semblar que això de menjar-se un parmesà que no ve de Parma és una mica una estafa, en realitat la DOP Parmigiano-Reggiano és molt estricta, per tant no patiu, vingui o no de Parma si té DOP és Parmesà autèntic.

mapa italia

Però alerta! Sovint ens venen formatges tipus parmesà com si ho fossin i no ho són! La falsificació més coneguda és el Grana Padano, que moltes vegades en comprem i li diem parmesà i no ho és, o també hi ha els típics sobrets de “Parmesan Cheese”, sobretot a Estats Units, que de parmesà no en tenen absolutament res.

Aquest formatge es fa amb llet de vaca crua (crua la llet, no la vaca, la vaca normalment és viva quan fa llet), i es deixa madurar entre 1 i 4 anys. En teoria els del Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspeccionen amb molt de carinyo cada un dels formatges passats el primers 12 mesos de maduració i si compleixen els requisits els marquen amb el segell de la DOP i llavors ja pot ser venut com a autèntic formatge parmesà, que és el protagonista de la recepta d’avui.

Parmesan Lollipops 2

Parmesan Lollipops

Servings: about 20 lollipops

Prep time: 10 min

You will need:

  • About 150g grated parmesan
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Thyme, black pepper, sesame seeds or any spice you like (optional)

This recipe is really really easy. Like 5-year-old level of difficulty.

First of all, preheat your oven to 200ºC and line a baking sheet with baking paper. If you want fancy lollipops, take a round cookie cutter and place it on the baking paper. Now place a spoonful of parmesan inside the ring making sure the cheese covers the whole surface. Carefully remove the mold, put a bamboo skewer in the center of the cheese-circle and cover it with some cheese to prevent the lollipop from falling apart when cooked. Finally sprinkle each lollipop with the spices you want (I did some with paprika, some with black pepper and some with oregano).

Parmesan Lollipops Prep 1

Only 6 minutes in the oven and that’s all, deliciously crunchy parmesan lollipops ready to go.

Parmesan Lollipops Prep 2

Enjoy!

Annie

Parmesan Lollipops 3

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Carbonara 9

Carbonara: pasta, Parmesan, bacon and black pepper. The stuff of legends. Need I say more?

Yet the origins of this legendary dish and its name are obscure. Its genesis has perplexed and eluded gastronomers for over five decades. Avid debates are tearing entire countries apart. The slow implosion of black holes is triggered by the mystery that is Carbonara.

First discovered after WWII, one popular theory speaks of the valiant carbonari, or charcoalmen. Since the dish really only has 5 ingredients, this does seem a plausible explanation. Note, though, that during the 19th century, the carbonari were also members of a Neapolitan secret revolutionary society, not unlike the Free Masons, called the Carboneria. The  group took their name from a fifteenth-century Scottish group of rebels who masked their subversive activities by pretending to be colliers. Thus, alla carbonara, by association, also means “in a secretive or subversive fashion”.

It’s riveting. Imagine an entire underground movement devoted to eating Spaghetti alla carbonara (in the associative sense) in remote caves and crumbling safehouses all across the country. Imagine doors stamped with a C, leading to hidden tunnels and ancient treasures. Imagine secret rites and initiation rituals involving the consumption of inordinate amounts of Parmesan cheese and bacon.

Oh, dear carbonari, please please let me into your secret society. I’m the person you are looking for. I was born to work for you. I am a bacon-and-Parmesan-cheese-devouring fiend. I hace been looking for you. I will find you. I will eat all your Parmesan and bacon and pasta.

On a side note, there is also a rumor that the Carbonara might get it’s name from the word carbonata, a term widely used in Renaissance Italy to denote a type of salt-cured and smoked pork, which is, of course, an ingredient in today’s dish, or even that it refers to the pepper we sprinkle on it, which resembles charcoal.

All of these are, of course, ludicrous. The theory involving pasta-adoring revoltionary independence fighters, surreptitous culinary orgies in the dead of night, and, quite possibly, witchcraft drawing from the power of Parmesan eaten at the stroke of midnight, is so much more appealing. Oh, the possibilities. My imagination has put some fruit on its head and is dancing a conga.

The more perceptive amongst you will have noticed, however, that I have not once uttered the sacrilegious word, banned from all Carbonara-related conversations: cream. I did my research. Carbonara does not include cream. Eggs, and plenty of cheese, yes. When beaten and mixed with the pasta they transform into a gloriously creamy goo. Yes. Cream? No. It’s unnecessary, grossly irreverent and utterly superfluous. Extra cheese and bacon? Yes. Cream? No.

I guess you catch my drift.

Carbonara º0

 

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Servings: 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

You will need:

  • 400gr Spaghetti
  • 200-300gr bacon, prosciutto, pancetta, or similar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1cup grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • freshly cracked black pepper


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Cook the Spaghetti in generously salted water until al dente, or according to package instructions. Before you drain them, remember to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

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While the pasta is cooking, sauté the bacon/pancetta/whatever you used  in a large skillet until nicely browned and crisp. Leave in the skillet.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and the Parmesan until nicely blended.

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Reheat the bacon-skillet (oh yes… bacon grease), add the reserved pasta water, toss in the drained spaghetti and agitate the pan over the heat for a few seconds, until the bubbling subsides.

Now comes the part where you need to work fast. You need to cook the egg, but not over direct hear or it will scramble. It might scramble anyway, so go ahead and reach into that hidden-superhero-part of you that lurks at the bottom of your mind. Now is the moment to step forth and man up.

Back to cooking. To achieve the creamy-not-scrambled egg texture, remove the skillet from the heat source, pour in the egg mixture and stir quickly and thoroughly until the eggs thicken. Remember, you need to work quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If the sauce seems to thick, thin it out with pasta water.

Dish up, season generously with black pepper and extra Parmesan, if so inclined. If you find you are not so inclined, I recommend that you find that inclination. Fast 🙂

Enjoy!

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Parmesan Poppy Seed Twists

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Si una cosa bona té la primavera és que és l’època perfecta per a fer excursions. Ja no fa fred, així que no et cal carregar deu mil peces d’abric i complements protectors diversos a la motxilla, però encara no fa la calor matadora de l’estiu, que et deixa escalivat al primer revolt (però no us deixeu enganyar per l’airet i la relativa falta de calor! El sol ja és fort, així que poseu-vos crema solar d’aquella hardcore 50+ com si fóssiu a ple mes d’agost si no voleu acabar com jo: sent una autèntica gamba de muntanya).

M’agrada caminar aquests dies perquè a primera hora del matí encara fa una fresqueta que és molt benvinguda en els trams de pujada inicials, i la calor calor, la que pica, és només al migdia, quan, si t’ho has muntat bé, ja pots estar de baixada. A més, els camps estan florits i és tot com molt bucòlic i romàntic (fins que t’adones que la remor de fons que fa estona que sents és en realitat el brunzit dels centenars d’abelles que poblen els matolls de romaní que t’envolten en la part més estreta del camí, moment en què maleeixes la primavera amb tot el seu esplendor i desitjaries tornar a ser al mes de gener, quan aquests animalons estan reposant als seus nius i pots empotrar-te tranquil·lament contra totes les plantes que et trobis pel camí sense por de ser picat per cap ésser malèfic).

Sí, això de llevar-se ben d’hora ben d’hora i agafar un entrepà i una cantimplora (i la crema, feu-me cas!), calçar-se les botes i anar a gaudir de la natura és molt bonic, però encara ho és més si quan arribes a casa t’espera una dutxa, una ampolla de litre d’after sun i una nit de barbacoa i mojitos amb amics.

Doncs bé, d’aquí neix la recepta que avui us proposo, de l’aperitiu d’una d’aquestes barbacoes nocturnes primaverals. És molt senzilla, molt ràpida i molt fàcilment multiplicable, característica especialment interessant si, com jo, després de la caminada sentiu que us menjaríeu un búfal.

Endavant! Camineu molt, feu moltes barbacoes amb els vostres amics (i amb els corresponents mojitos, això que no falti) i gaudiu del que queda de la Setmana Santa!!

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Parmesan Poppy Seed Twists

Servings: it depends on the size of your puff pastry sheet

Prep time: 20 min

You will need:

  • Puff pastry
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Poppy seeds
  • Salt (I used a herb salt, but it’s really up to you)
  • 1 egg

Start by preheating your oven to about 200ºC and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Clean a large surface (or the only unoccupied surface in your kitchen if your house is as caotic as mine)  and sprinkle some flour on it to prevent the dough from sticking. Then grab the puff pastry and roll it out as thin as you can, making sure to maintain the initial square shape.

Now, prepare your parmesan cheese and poppy seeds, beat the egg and get ready to party!

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 Using a cooking brush, paint all your puff pastry with the beaten egg (here you can have a Da Vinci moment if you need to, or you can simply cover all the dough with no extra imagination). Make sure the entire surface is nice and sticky, if not, we will irreversibly lose the cheese!

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 Sprinkle the cheese, poppy seeds and salt over the puff pastry.

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 Now, my secret (and essential) step: fix all the ingredients with the rolling pin by pressing it gently over the pastry. If not, part of the cheese and seeds will fall off during the baking phase and we’ll only get some sad, half-heartedly cheesy breadsticks. And trust me when I tell you, no one wants sad, half-heartedly cheese breadsticks.  People want full on hardcore death-by-cheese breadsticks. That is what people want.

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 Cut the puff pastry into 2 cm wide strips using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. Take each strip with both hands, twist it gracefully, artistically, or otherwise whimsically and place it on the baking sheet.

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 Bake it for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown. You can eat them warm or cool, or you can do what I did and eat them both warm and cool because you wanted to allow them to cool for a while but then the temptation was too strong for your weak soul to resist. And who wants to resist temptation anyway?

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 Enjoy!

Parmesan Potato Wedges

parmesan potato wedges

Ara us faré una pregunta existencial, i en funció del que respongueu podreu seguir endavant o us demanarem molt amablement que abandoneu aquesta pàgina.

Pareu atenció! La pregunta és: t’agraden les patates fregides?

Si la resposta és un sí rotund, felicitats! Seguiu llegint, que aquesta recepta és especial per a vosaltres. Si la resposta és que no, o bé sou una aranyeta de google que heu caigut a aquesta pàgina per indexar-la (en aquest cas, endavant! com si fossis a casa teva!), o bé sou un àlien. De fet no, jo crec que fins i tot un àlien respondria que sí. A no ser que fos un àlien fet bàsicament de patata; en aquest cas seria canibalisme, i això sol estar socialment poc acceptat. Així que, si sou àliens de patata com cal, que no voleu ser rebutjats per la vostra societat feculosa i patatil, sisplau deixeu de llegir aquesta pàgina. En tenim d’altres que no feriran els vostres sentiments ni els de la vostra comunitat. Moltes gràcies i disculpeu les molèsties.

La resta, tornarem a la qüestió que ens ocupava: les patates fregides. Hem quedat que a tots els que estem llegint això ens agraden les patates fregides. Tinguin la forma que tinguin, en qualsevol moment del dia, acompanyant qualsevol cosa. Sí, acceptem-ho, fins i tot com a plat únic. Són un valor segur per a sopars amb amics, sessions de cine, partits de futbol, reunions familiars i festes diverses, però, com tot, tenen un inconvenient: els qui n’hagueu fet per algun d’aquests esdeveniments més o menys multitudinaris haureu descobert que pelar, rentar, tallar i fregir patates per a molta gent, si no tens una fregidora industrial i un exèrcit d’ajudants, és un martiri.

Doncs bé, per alliberar-vos d’aquest suplici avui us proposo una manera més original, menys oliosa i, sobretot, mooolt més còmoda d’oferir als vostres convidats unes patates amb glamour.

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Parmesan Potato Wedges

Servings: difficult to say. No matter what quantity you make, they’ll always want more! It’s like a magician’s vanishing act: Now there’s a truck load of potato wedges. No there isn’t. Houdini would be proud.

Prep time: about 1 hour

You will need:

  • 6 potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat your oven to 230ºC. Wash your potatoes (the skin is staying on, so make sure you scrub them well) and cut them into wedges. Actually, the exact shape makes no difference whatsoever, so go ahead and cut them into any shape you like. Half moons, match sticks, orchids, panda bears, anything will do. Mine ended up looking like this:

parmesan potato wedges prep 1

Now place your cut up potatoes in a bowl and cover them with cold water. Let them stand for 15 min, then strain and dry with paper towels.

Place the salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper into a large ziplock bag. Add potatoes and shake them like it’s 2013. You know the drill; Harlem Shake and all that.

 

Now add the olive oil to the bag and shake it all over again. You want your potatoes to be all nice and coated in spice and olive oil goodness.

 

Line a baking sheet with baking paper, then place the potatoes on it and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until they are all brown and cripsy. Because there really is nothing better than brown and crispy potatoes. Right? Wrong. Just wait for it.

While the potatoes are baking to brown and crispy perfection, place the chopped parsley and Parmesan in a large mixing bowl.

Now the magic begins. Place the potato wedges in the parsley-Parmesan mixing bowl and gently fold them in. You want the Parmesan to coat the potatoes. You know you do.

Serve it with ketchup, barbecue sauce, some homemade-style tomato sauce or whatever you want. Or you can do what I did: ditch sauces, just eat them on their own and let Parmesan be the king of the party!

Enjoy!

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