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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Bechamel sauce

100 gr butter
100 gr flour
1 l milk


Step1:-melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour making it cook for few minutes (Figure 1&2)
Figure 1
Figure 2

-at this point you got what the French call "roux".
-remove the pan from heat, add milk mixing with a whisk or a wooden spoon (Figure 3)
Figure 3
Step2:-return the pan on low fire and cook the sauce for 10-15 min or the time to thicken the sauce stirring from time to time (Fig 4)
Figure 4

Lasagna alla Bolognese

Lasagna is known at this point as an icon of Italian cuisine. This recipe is the epitome of the richness of the traditional Bolognese sauce and is loved by children and adults as well. 


500 gr Lasagna fresh sheets
300 gr minced beef 
250 gr minced pork
1 carrot
1 onion
1 celery stack
1 cup red wine
1 tin of tomatoes and tomato paste concentrate
100 gr bacon 
olive oil, Salt&Pepper
500 gr Bechamel sauce*(see the preparation of it on 


Step1:-preparing the BOLOGNESE SAUCE by adding the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a oiled hot pan
-try to mix for few minutes until soft and then add the finely chopped bacon, followed by minced meats and fry together for few minutes over high heat to brown the meat (Fig 1)
Figure 1
-add the red wine and let to evaporate the alcohol while maintaining the high flame
-add the tinned tomatoes and the tomato paste concentrate the pepper and a pinch of salt and stir continuously for 5 min (Fig 2)
Figure 2
-add 250 ml of stock or water 
-let simmer at medium heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and more add more stock if needed
When the Bolognese sauce is ready preheat the oven to 160*C and start assemble the Lasagna
Step2:-spread little butter in a rectangular pan and spread couple of tablespoons of sauce on the bottom 
-lay 2/3 Lasagna sheets over it and now add plenty of sauce to spread over the pasta sheets. (Fig 3)
Figure 3
 Step3:-sprinkle some grated Parmesan and add also few tablespoons of Bechamel sauce 
-cover again with pasta and proceed the same way to achieve few layers in the baking pan until exhausting  all the sauce, but save a bit of Bolognese sauce to mix with the Bechamel to spread over the last layer of pasta(Fig 4&5)
Figure 4
Figure 5

Step4:-sprinkle your Lasagna with plenty Parmesan cheese and bake all for at least 30-90 min (Figure 6)

Figure 6

The Lasagna will be ready once you see a golden crust on top. Remove from oven and let to cool for 5-10 minutes, then cut and serve until still hot. (Fig 7)

Figure 7

Cream of Mushrooms Soup

Figure 1

The cream of mushrooms soup (Fig 1) is a very simple and fast recipe to prepare. The mushrooms will give the lovely velvety and unique flavor.


500gr mixed mushrooms 
700 ml chicken or vegetable stock
250 gr diced potatoes
1 medium onion (or 2 shallots) 
1 clove of garlic
1 spring pf parsley 


Step1:-start by cleaning the mushrooms with a damp cloth, remove the earth base of the steams
-slice them in order to preserve if possible the shape of the mushrooms (Fig3)
-peel the potatoes and cut them in small cubes (Fig 2) and finely slice or dice the onions (shallots)
Figure 2
Figure 3

Step2:-add a splash of olive oil to a hot pan and throw a knob of butter.  
-add the onions (shallots), the garlic and let to brown gently for a couple of minutes
-now add the mushrooms and let it cook for about 10 min at medium heat before adding the potatoes. (Fig 4)
Figure 4
! here I like using potatoes to thicken the soup, but often flour will do the same. That`s your call! 
Step3:-season slightly with salt&pepper and add the stock
-simmer for about 15 min until the potatoes are soft 
-remove from the heat and save some nice shaped mushrooms slices for decorating the soup later (Fig 5)
Figure 5
Step4:-blend the soup (Fig 6)and finally add the cream and some chopped parsley.
Figure 6
Figure 7

Serve hot with croutons, grated Parmesan and decorate with the mushrooms slices you saved.
In addition, to enhance the flavor add couple drops of truffle flavored oil.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cream of Carrot Soup


450 gr sliced carrots
300 ml chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 clove of garlic
1 chopped celery stick
1 chopped onion
1 potato (peeled and chopped)


Step1:-in a sauce pan melt butter and saute the onion, garlic,chopped celery and the carrots for 5 min (Fig 1)
Figure 1

-add the potato and the broth and cook for 20-30 mins until the veges are tender (Fig 2)
Figure 2
-remove from heat and let cool (Fig 3)
Figure 3
Step2:-transfer the soup into a food processor and blend (Fig 4)
-add salt&pepper to taste (Fig 5)
Figure 4

Figure 5

Serve with a dash of cream and grated Parmesan!  

Cannelloni with Spinach&Ricotta

Figure 1
Cannelloni are a typical first course of Italian tradition, very tasty and easy to cook. Cannelloni are made by rectangles of pasta rolled with filling of ricotta and spinach. (fig 1)


200 gr fresh lasagna pasta sheets
2 eggs
400 gr ricotta
500 gr spinach
100 gr Parmesan cheese
1 large pinch grated nutmeg
500 ml Bechamel sauce*
(See how to prepare it on )


Step1:-for FILLING, wash the spinach and boil in very little water and salt
-drain and squeeze them in order to remove more water as possible
-chop with a knife or a food processor and place them in a bowl with Ricotta crumbled, the nutmeg, the egg, the ground pepper and grated cheese. (fig 2) 
-mix well and stir evenly all,then season with salt.
Figure 2
Step2:-put your fresh rectangular sheets of pasta in boiled water for 1-2 min and dry them on a clean towel
-put at the center of each a spoon full of filling and roll the dough to form cylinders (fig3&4)

Figure 3

Figure 4

Step3:-oil or butter a large pan enough to hold all Cannelloni forming a single layer and spread 2-3 table spoons of Bechamel  sauce on the bottom (fig5)
Figure 5
-immediately after add the Canneloni and then cover them with Parmesan and bake at 200*C for 25 min using the grill for the last 5 min to brown the top. (fig 6)
Figure 6

Pasta ai Broccoli


300 gr Broccoli florets and trimmed stalks 
pasta Linguine (in my case, but any other kind of paste works fine)
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil


Step 1:- add approx 1-2 l water, season with salt and bring to boil into a deep pan
Step 2:- add the broccoli and pasta together and cook till the pasta aldente
          -while broccoli and pasta is cooking, into a saute pan add olive oil and gently fry the finely chopped garlic
Step 3:-drain the pasta and broccoli through a sieve and save one cup of that starchy water to add later in your sauce 
Step 4:-toss to combine well and if needed add a bit of starchy water if the sauce is too dry 
Serve with grated Parmesan.  

Roasted Tomato Cream Soup


1kg mixed tomatoes (cherry tomatoes+plum tomatoes+vine tomatoes)
1 or 2 onions
1 head or couple of clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 celery stick
300 ml vegetables stock 
pinch of salt&pepper


Step 1 -turn the oven on to 200*C/400*F/gas6
-put all ingredients in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt flakes(Fig 1) 
Figure 1
-leave to roast till the tomatoes are starting to peel and the rest of the vegetables are nicely roasted.(Fig 2) 
Figure 2
Step 2 - chuck the tomatoes and the veg in a pan (Fig 3) and add the vegetables stock  (Fig 4)
Figure 3
Figure 4

-simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes (Figure 5&6)
Figure 5

Figure 6

-discard the vines from tomatoes.
-blend everything and pass through a sieve (Fig 7)
Figure 7
Step 3- add salt and pepper and serve with cream and croutons!(Fig 10)

Step4- Preparation of Mozzarella topped croutons:

Figure 8
-cut Ciabatta in 2 cm thick slices
-drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt flakes
-rip a Mozzarella Bocconcino and put over the Ciabatta slices (Fig 8)
-bash the garlic head and scatter around the tray with some rosemary and thyme sprigs
-roast in oven for around 10-15 min until croutons are lovely golden and the mozzarella melted nicely (Fig 9)
Figure 9

Figure 10

Broccoli and Stilton Cream Soup


350 gr broccoli, florets and stalks
1 onion finely diced 
1 celery stalk
50 gr Stilton
pinch of grated nutmeg 
salt&ground black pepper
50 gr butter 


Step 1:-heat the butter in a pan and gently fry the diced onion and the chopped celery stalk till soft
           -add to the mixture the broccoli florets and the stalk which you peeled and chopped 
           -stir well and add the broth and let simmer for 10-15 min
Step 2:-add the Stilton and the grated nutmeg, season to taste with salt&pepper
           -allow to cool slightly then blend the soup 
Step 3 serve with croutons and top with cream and grated Parmesan 


Minestrone soup is a light and healthy dish, simple but quite long and laborious to prepare because of cleaning and cutting of the many veges that compose it. Even so, believe me that it will worth it!

1 clove of garlic
1 large onion
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
50 gr cauliflower
1 small courgette
1 medium potato
100 gr frozen peas
50 gr leeks
100 gr beans
40 gr smoked bacon
100 gr small pasta


Step1:- bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the small pasta until al dente. 
-drain and save it for later.
Step2:-start preparing your veges by washing, peeling and dice finely the onion and chop the carrot, celery,and the courgette 
-put them to gently fry in a large pot with olive oil 
-add the cauliflower florets and the sliced bacon on saute all until soft
-after 10 min add also the peas and beans then cover all with cold water and bring to boil
-add some Parmesan rinds for flavor and season with salt
-cover the soup and let simmer until the vegetables are cooked 
Step3:-add your cooked pasta, parsley and chopped basil and complete with a round of olive oil and ground pepper (if you like)

Serve hot and top with grated Parmesan!      

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Peas and Ham Creamy Soup

Figure 1

(4 portions)

...a lovely tasty soup with the simplest ingredients.


500 gr frozen peas 
250 gr ham cubes 
1/2 l chicken stock
1 large chopped onion
1 celery stick, chopped
1 chopped carrot 


Step1:- heat butter in a large sauce pan and add chopped onion, carrot and celery and let to soften
-add the chicken stock and let to simmer gently for 10-15 min
Step 2:-in a heated pan add the ham cubes and let fry for 2-3 min and set aside
Step 3:-back to the soup, check if the veges are cooked to your likely and add the peas 
-let to simmer for another 5 min just to slightly soften the peas but keep the lovely green color
Step 4:-let to cool a bit and liquidize the soup and strain all through a sieve 
-to finish add the browned bacon cubes to the soup and serve with croutons and grated Parmesan. (fig 1)