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Melon Gazpacho with Prosciutto and Mint

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Melon Gazpacho

What can I say? We can talk about figs as much as you like, but in my opinion nothing beats the pairing melon&prosciutto. It's an invention so brilliant that I wish I had thought of it myself, one of those things so peacefully just that make you stop looking for reasons. A perfect match, like popcorn at the movies, snow on Christmas Day, or pizza by the slice in an afternoon by the sea. Like Ovaltine before a ski race. And if that were not enough, melon&prosciutto has the scent of summer, but of the one yet to come, that summer of the mind that's always full of dreams and expectations, with all its shooting stars, its trips to the north of the world, and its love stories stolen to the logic.
And I hope you already know all this from experience, because really... raise your hand if you've ever eaten melon&prosciutto, stark as it was invented, without feeling at peace with the world.

And I wanted to. I'm serious. I really wanted to stay calm and eat two slices of melon in peace, wrapped in so much goodness just as God intended. But for the benefit of the blog and of the whole humanity, I decided it was my duty to make an exception. So I gave in, and I started smashing and blending the melon with great fun, and messing up prosciutto with as much pain. Yet if they call us foodbloggers there must be a reason.
Tested for you. And now don't put up any resistance.

Melon Gazpacho
with Prosciutto and Mint

for 4 people
melon, net 1 kg approx.
yellow peaches 3
lemon 1
shallot, small 1/2
balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons
Parma prosciutto 3-4 thin slices
salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh mint as needed


Cut melon and peaches in pieces, and blend them with great fun along with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, a small piece of shallot, a pinch of salt, and a little bit of water. Keep the gazpacho in the fridge until ready to serve.
Meanwhile heat some extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy skillet, and despite the great pain add the prosciutto slices, cut in pieces, cooking them on both sides until they are crisp. Dry them on paper towels, then chop them as small as you like.
Serve the gazpacho, garnishing each plate with some of the prosciutto, chopped fresh mint, and a sprinkling of black pepper.


Roasted Figs with Prosciutto and Walnuts

Thursday, August 16, 2012
Roasted Figs with Prosciutto and Walnuts

Wrap me in prosciutto
& love me for ever

Roasted Figs
with Prosciutto and Walnuts

for 4 people

figs, black and green 8
Parma prosciutto 3-4 thin slices
walnut halves 8-10
fresh thyme 4-5 sprigs
honey, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper as needed


Wash figs and carefully pat them dry with paper towel. Remove the stems, then cut the figs crosswise from the top, about halfway down the fruit. Gently push them down so that they flatten a bit and will remain straight while baking.
Stuff figs with some coarsely chopped walnuts and one or two thyme sprigs, cut in half. Cut each slice of prosciutto lengthwise into two or three strips, and wrap each fig with one of them.
In a separate bowl, mix two tablespoons of honey with a little balsamic vinegar. Season the figs with salt and pepper, and a few drops of the balsamic emulsion.
Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, until prosciutto is slightly crisp and figs are soft. Serve them warm with the juice released while roasting.

No need to unwrap to enjoy...

Figs, Walnuts, and Thyme

Blistered Padrón Peppers

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Blistered Padrón Peppers

Los pimientos de Padrón,
unos pican y outros non.

No offense, but I can certainly say I am lucky.
I realize it all of a sudden a Sunday morning in the middle of summer, while I walk around the stalls of a neighborhood farmers' market, still sleepy, and, between endless varieties of tomatoes - pink (!!!!!!), black, and cherry red - among Korean melons, Thai basil, tomatillos and lemongrass, between Chinese spinach and sweet potatoes, in the hands of a Mexican teenage boy to my own surprise I find these peppers, which I happened to taste for the first time spread on top of a deliciously sweet pizza, and then again cheesely lying on a bed of almond cream during one of those romantic evenings that smell of strawberries, basil, and illusions.
These pimientos de Padrón are a variety of small green chilies, typical of the region of Galicia. They are commonly served as a tapa in the local taverns, usually accompanied by a nice and refreshing cold beer. The characteristic that makes them appealing as well as famous, is the fact that some of them are harmless and sweet, others are intense and spicy, but it's impossible to know, since from the outside the two varieties look exactly the same.
For this reason, someone said that our peppers are like a Russian roulette, sweet or pungent, you never know what will happen. Any bite could be fatal, and hit you like a super hot puncture.
Me, I'd rather think that they are just like the Alpine sky on an August afternoon, mysterious and unpredictable, a minute before it's warm and blue, and then suddenly it becomes arrogant, brash, and stormy.
Or, if you excuse me, I'd rather say that these small pimientos are just like the night, like all those sleepless nights that are sometimes sweet, sometimes bold and violent. Not sure what to prefer, but in the end you don't even have to choose.
Why try to prefer one over the other when you can have both? Just let yourself go with trust, surrender to their temptress and illusory tenderness, and let each bite surprise you with such elusive goodness.

Blistered Padrón Peppers
quantities are variable, depending on the hunger of diners

Padrón peppers
extra-virgin olive oil
fleur de sel
lemon juice

Shamelessly and blatantly a non-recipe. But trust me, the best way to enjoy these adorable pimientos - lucky me - is also the simplest in the world.
Heat some extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy skillet, wash the peppers, pat them dry, and add them to the pan, whole. Let them cook thoroughly over medium-high heat until they soften and darken on both sides.
Pull out from the back of your pantry your most precious salt, and use a generous handful to flavor the pimientos. If you like - I do, for sure - add also some fresh lemon juice.
Accessorize with a glass of beer and possibly with a nice and sunny afternoon.

Padrón Peppers

Lemon Olive-Oil Cake

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Lemon Olive-Oil Cake

...I'm back to my world
And we're back to being friends
Wait and see me,
Tonight let's do this thing...

(Dave Matthews Band, Say Goodbye)

Yes I'm back to my world. For one day, for one night, or who knows. Because there's nothing to do, despite the laziness, the hot weather, the cold weather, the tiny kitchen, the empty fridge, despite vacations, work, the ticking of time, the sleepless nights, love that comes and go, removals, birthdays, Christmas and mid-summer holidays, despite the road trips - with an RV or a sidecar -, new boots and vintage shopping, licorice candies, sunglasses, bathing suits and cowboy hats, that happy moment always comes, when you decide to bake yet another cake. And maybe it's one of those simple and reasonable cakes, those who ask nothing but surprise you with their supersoft deliciousness. And they make you think you are inside a slice of peace.
So tonight let's do this thing, and tomorrow... who knows.

Lemon Olive-Oil Cake
for a springform pan of 9" diameter

flour 250 gr
sugar 150 gr
eggs 4
lemons 2
extra virgin olive oil 180 ml
baking powder 7 gr
buttermilk 100 gr
salt a pinch

Grate the zest of the lemons and mix it with flour and baking powder. Whisk the egg yolks with 100 grams of sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, then add juice of one lemon, olive oil and buttermilk, and beat. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until the batter is combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt, then add 50 grams of sugar and keep beating until stiff. Gently mix the egg whites into the rest of the batter, folding them in from top to bottom, taking care not to deflate them.
Transfer batter into a springform pan greased with oil and lined with parchment paper at the bottom. Sprinkle the surface with a tablespoon of sugar and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool off in the pan, then remove the parchment paper and transfer it to a serving plate.