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Baked Churros

Sunday, December 1, 2013

l'America era un angolo, l'America era un'ombra, nebbia sottile,
l'America era un'ernia, un gioco di quei tanti che fa la vita...

America was a corner, America was a shadow, a fine mist,
America was a hernia, a game of the many that life plays...
~ Francesco Guccini, Amerigo

He was selling churros with cinnamon from a cart on 16th Str., behind the stairs at the exit of the subway; his name was Francisco but for his friends and in the neighborhood and he was only and ever Pancho. He was as old as Jesus, black hair over the shoulders and hands stained with sugar and fatigue. He spoke slowly in a language foreign to him, masking his stubborn and unyielding southern accent against his will. His underground America was that street corner, a t-shirt Yes We Can, and a dream never faded.
He was a sinner, an innocent outlaw with his breath always on the alert: his mistake without fault was to be born beyond, in a country with no moon, torn apart by knives, white powder and misery.
He had arrived at night, clinging to the dark wind of a train still in the running. They say he had a girl, too young to still remember him, too beautiful to stop loving her. He had left behind his heart in love, closed his eyes to the sadness and left for his quest.
He ended up in the city that bore his name, greeting and hope for a better future, witness and accomplice of a present without glory. 12 hours a day, 300 churros at sunset and one Sunday for beer and freedom every month.

TWO FOR $ 1.
TWO FOR $ 1.

A hand-written sign was selling his sweetness for him, filled with memories and the warm scent of melancholy. A handshake, a smile, a buenos dias: two churros to the gluttons for a dollar of his youth.
He was always there, Pancho, smiling and generous in front of us who asked no questions. He was always there, safe and cozy, with his eyes fixed on the future.
Until one morning when we couldn't find him anymore: they say they were stationed, an unhappy call, the forced supervision of a mockery of fate.
Everybody liked him, them also, Francisco Pancho Juarez, Francisco Pancho fabricante de churros.


Baked Churros
for approx. 15 pieces

flour 140 gr
sugar 50 gr
butter 100 gr
salt 1 pinch
water 200 gr
egg 1
vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon
sugar and cinnamon to finish as needed


Heat water with salt and then dissolve in the sugar. Add butter and when it's completely melted, add flour and mix. Cook until the dough is smooth and has no lumps, and gathers into a shiny ball (it'll take about 1 minute). Remove from heat and let cool. Add the egg, at room temperature, vanilla extract and mix well.
Put the dough into a pastry bag with a star tip, form several strips about 3-4" long and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until churros are golden.
Roll them still hot in sugar mixed with cinnamon.
Churros, traditional Mexican sweets, should be fried in hot oil; this is my so-called light version.
Light but not vegan, for the first sin of the year.


Black Bean Soup

Monday, October 28, 2013
Black Bean Soup

It was a midsummer evening, last summer, the postcard from a trip to Costa Rica half an exile and half a vacation.
I remember that green like a proud hug in the midst of impossible roads, among a tangle of rocks and puddles, a bright and shiny emerald, nourished by a beneficial rain, on time every day at six o'clock.
I remember the guys on their bicycle and the couples holding into each other's arms, tight on the seat of damaged scooters; their lean bodies, tanned, dusted with love and smiling.
There was the chaos of the streets in downtown, and then the suburbs, violated by the arrogance of fast food chains, seduced by the illusion of a wealth coming from the north. Scattered everywhere biting your liver, there were Coke vending machines, and innocent-looking signs, mean and intrusive, almost an insult to the poverty of people.
I remember the villages, slow, quiet and sunny, those pueblos made only of temporary churches, outdoor schools and improbable soccer fields: a narrow and wet meadow and two poles as the goal.
There was Costa Rica going to the World Cup, the TVs turned on in the bars, two cold Imperial and happiness.
I remember the ripe fruit, sweet and seductive, bought on the corners of the streets along with the pure water of a young coconut that had fallen down.
The darkest nights began early in the jungle, on the highest hill lying on a bed of leaves.
I remember men and women who were different, who had escaped from our dizziness to chase a dream with no comfort.
I met a taxi driver and mechanic who had no shoes, an instant friend who they called El Che. He told me where are you going, why, where are you running, you people of the north? You're fool, deluded to believe you can buy our reality.
We split one jugo helado, and this spicy soup during an afternoon of solidarity.
Pura vida.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
for 4 people

dried black beans 250 gr
white onion, large 1
garlic 2 cloves
carrot 1
red bell pepper 1
tomatoes 3
lime 1
vegetable bouillon cube 1
olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and allspice as needed
fresh cilantro, tomatoes and cucumber to serve as needed

Soak beans overnight for at least 8 hours.
Chop the onion and the garlic cloves, sauté them for a few minutes in a little olive oil, then add diced carrot and bell pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes, add the beans, drained and rinsed, spices (if using seeds, grind them fine), vegetable bouillon, salt and pepper. Cover with water, bring to boil and cook over medium heat for about two hours.
Half an hour before beans are ready, add the juice and zest of lime, and the tomatoes, peeled (dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then peel) and cut into pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Puree the soup with a blender only for a few seconds, so that it gets creamy but visible pieces still remain.
To serve, garnish with fresh diced tomato and cucumber, and chopped cilantro to taste.

Black Beans

Vegan Jam Tart with Spelt Flour

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Vegan Jam Tart

Living here day by day, you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything's changed. The thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time... many years... before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But now, no. It's not possible. Right now you're blinder than I am.
~ Philippe Noiret, Cinema Paradiso

Always yours is that friendship, the new one and the eternal one of the past; yours is the taste of bread and the red color of autumn. Yours are the people who get older, the solitude of the forest, the gloom and silence of the night; still yours are the stones, the trails and the comfort of the moon; yours is the soft kindness of the meadows, the sunset and the darkness of those days.
And the words, withered between the cracks of indifferent walls, the frozen phrases, tired by now, the angry and unexploded thoughts, more and more faded with time.
Coming back makes everything a bit nicer; you blow the dust away and discover how much tenderness there was in the innocent dreams of distant dawns. Mornings are still cold, but beautiful in October; things, slow and always the same, speak a familiar language yet a different one.
Coming back you wonder how long it took you to figure it out, or if it's true that we've all changed a little.

Vegan Jam Tart

Vegan Jam Tart
with Spelt Flour

for a round baking pan of 9" diameter

spelt flour 250 gr
type O flour 210 gr
corn starch 50 gr
baking powder 12 gr
lemon 1
cane sugar 200 gr
olive oil 60 gr
rice bran oil 60 gr
rice milk 125 gr
salt 1 pinch
jam as needed
powdered sugar to serve as needed

In a bowl mix the flours with cornstarch, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Make a well in the center and add sugar, olive oil, rice oil and milk. Start mixing the ingredients with a fork, and then knead with your hands until you get a homogeneous ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
Roll out 3/4 of the dough and place it in a round baking dish, greased with oil or lined with parchment paper. Prick the surface with a fork, then spread the jam over it (for me this one here, thankyouverymuch) and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until the tart crust gets golden brown. Allow to cool, and if you like, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Vegan Jam Tart

Chana Masala

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Chana Masala

They're chickpeas. Cooked.
Cooked and then sauteed in a sauce that's vaguely tomatoish and super-extra-hot.
But then let me tell you, these are the Kings of chickpeas, inimitably pleasure-giving, humble sailors on a red sea of spices, luxurious, deep, and blissfully stormy.
Embellished with a long list of spices, from here to Porbandar, these chickpeas become an alternate reality, a mysterious and welcoming world, a refuge for the heart and the palate.
My advice is this: do not be intimidated. Ok, the powders are many and perhaps hard to find, maybe they'll make you run from one side of the city to the other, you'll probably lose patience and maybe even half a day; but perhaps they'll also make you explore hidden corners, discover the magic of new colors bursting with life, or understand the beauty disguised within our conundrums.
If you're in doubt, but even not, just do it. Buy them all. Because it's worth it. Because some like it hot.
Just do it. And tell them I sent you.


Chana Masala
for 4-5 people

dried chickpeas 300 gr
onion, large 1
ginger garlic paste 3-4 tablespoons
fresh jalapeño 1
cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
coriander powder 1 tablespoon
mango powder 1 tablespoon
cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon
turmeric 1 teaspoon
paprika 2 teaspoons
cumin powder 2 teaspoons
garam masala 1 teaspoon
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
lemon 1
olive oil, salt, fresh cilantro to taste

Soak chickpeas for about 6-8 hours. Rinse, cover with water and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour and a half or 2 hours, until they are tender. Drain, keeping aside a cup of their cooking water.
In a large pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, toast the cumin seeds for a few minutes, then add the ginger garlic paste (if you can't find it, you can use 2 garlic cloves and a lot of ginger, minced; however, if you're lucky enough to have an Indian store, full of spices and traditional products close to home, or even at a 45-minute ride from you, I recommend this alternative), onion and jalapeño, finely chopped, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the spices, the reserved chickpea water and the tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes. If necessary, adjust the flavor.
Add the chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes; finally add the lemon juice and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
If you wish, serve with basmati rice. Or maybe not.

Chana Masala

Focaccia with Figs, Onion and Walnuts

Thursday, September 19, 2013
Focaccia with Figs, Onion and Walnuts

This is my alternative to darkness, fear, nostalgia, pride, sadness with no destination, the rain, the uncertainty, unanswered questions, expired passports, grammar mistakes, Texas, the camping out for the latest iPhone, the latest iPhone, songs by Pupo, headache, heartache, knee bruises, tight shoes, high-heeled shoes, fur-lined shoes, November, answering machines, pale tomatoes, sauce stains, cold feet, watered down coffee, overcooked pasta, withered flowers, Wi-Fi with password, train strikes, pizza with pineapple, D in the report card, a sold out show, the end of the book, queues at the supermarket, rosé wine.
Two figs and a focaccia and let's not talk about it anymore.

Figs, Onions and Walnuts

Focaccia with Figs, Onion and Walnuts
for two baking dishes of 8x12 inches

For the dough
type O flour 500 gr
lukewarm water approx. 275 gr
fresh brewer's yeast 10 gr
salt 10 gr
olive oil 1 tablespoon

For the toping
red onion 1
sugar 1 tablespoon
walnuts 1 handful
fresh figs 10-12
salt, pepper, olive oil as needed

The dough is the same that I used here, the recipe comes from the Simili sisters, do I need to add anything else?
In a bowl, dissolve the yeast with some of the water, add a little bit of flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and then the remaining flour and the rest of the water in two batches, alternating them and always beating the dough. Place it on the work surface and knead for 7-8 minutes, put it back in the bowl greased with oil, and let it double in size (it'll take about two hours).
Place it back on the work surface, divide the dough in half, form two loaves and place them on the baking dishes lined with parchment paper. Let them rest for another 15 minutes, then flatten them with a short rolling pin and the palm of your hand until they cover the bottom of the pan almost completely. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the onions, slice them thin, season with a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of sugar, salt and pepper, and roast them for a few minutes under the grill. Cut figs in half and coarsely chop the walnuts.
Spread the figs and the onion on the surface of the focaccias. Push the tip of your fingers into the dough, forming deep imprints until you touch the pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil beaten with 3 tablespoons of water, and plenty of salt. Let them double again (this will require about an hour and a half). Bake at 390 for 25-30 minutes. Ten minutes before they're ready, sprinkle with the walnuts kept aside.

Focaccia with Figs, Onion and Walnuts

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

Sunday, September 8, 2013
Focaccia with Grapes

A wise man once to the question "Who or what are we?", answered: we are the sum of everything that has happened before us, everything that has happened before our eyes, everything that has been done to us; we are every person, every little thing whose existence has influenced us or which we have influenced with our lives; we are everything that happens after we no longer exist, and what would not have happened if we had never existed.
~ From the movie Almanya - My family goes to Germany
Yasemin Şamdereli, Germany 2011

When was the last time I saw you passing by, tanned and seductive, wearing those freckles and the wonder for life? I still remember your black hair, tied together against the wind, your colorful floral dress, fresh of summer and ingenuity, and your sandals already tight and from other times.
I was leaving towards the North, to chase a wealth that we had never had: a job that would last tomorrow, the security of a future, warm hands, two pennies and fatigue. I was looking for you in my mind, so beautiful in your twenties, while I slowly savored the sadness, so heavy and shiny, that September day that I left.
Two generations consumed among people who didn't really belong to us, who were looking at us awry and indifferent, between cold and foreign colors and horizons, strong perfumes yet devoid of memories. My father, locked up in his pride, never talked about it; the past was almost a shame that he seemed to have left behind, and yet it was all still there, asleep in the silence of his dark and sad eyes: the carts pushed by hand during harvest, the rise with the baskets on the shoulders, the grape must, the barrels, the bare feet and the cheer.
To me, sunsets and long summer days were enough: I'd close my eyes and I'd find the faces, I'd listen to those voices already distant and I'd feel alive again within the memory of their warm smiles. But tell me now, girl of that time, tell me now how your life went. I came back today among my poor people, hunting for what I can't find anymore. Roads, trees, houses and streams, everything always the same, and then, why so different? The stones, the streets, the names and the squares, I've cradled them inside, I've polished, protected and loved them in the sweet shell of my fantasies; I pretended they were my happiness, yet now that I'm so close, I don't recognize them anymore.
I brought you this flower as a gift, the red rose that I'd never given you. Only you, girl of that time, now that you're gone forever, only you are here for me to stay, that laugh with the eyes open and that life that was not.

Schiacciata all'Uva

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary
for 8 people

flour 400 gr
fresh brewer's yeaast 20 gr
water approx. 225 gr
salt 1 pinch
Concord grapes 1 kg
sugar, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary as needed

Focaccia with Grapes

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and knead with flour, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil until you get an elastic ball, smooth and homogeneous. Place in a bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise for about 1 hour and a half.
In the meantime, arm yourself with holy, holy patience, rinse the grapes and remove the seeds. (Yes, sorry).
Spread 2/3 of the dough on a greased pan lined with parchment paper, spread 2/3 of the grapes on top, sprinkle with sugar and finely chopped rosemary, and then drizzle with a little oil. Cover with the rest of the dough, fold and seal the edges, and then spread the rest of the grapes on the surface, dress with 2 tablespoons of sugar and a little oil. Bake at 360 for about 45 minutes.
If you wish, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Focaccia with Grapes

California Quinoa Salad

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
California Quinoa Salad

The paradox.
So beloved, idolized, so desired, idealized, yet so vilified.
The imperialist America, the lonely, arrogant, bigot, militaristic. So contradictory, intrusive, nosy, a policeman, interventionist.
America so rude, liberistic, oppressive, insensitive and racist.
Stubborn, arrogant, capitalist; warmongering, too armed and a little fascist.

Say what you want.
But there is New York.
And there is San Francisco.
And if you put your foot in there, like a traitor lover you can forgive her everything, and love her nonetheless.

Quinoa Salad Ingredients

California Quinoa Salad*
for 4-5 people

quinoa 220 gr
water or vegetable stock 400 gr
red bell pepper, small 1
red onion, small 1/2
mango 1
edamame, net approx. 1 glass
sliced almonds 1 handful
cranberries 1 handful
lime 2
balsamic vinegar 4 tablespoons
cilantro, dried coconut flakes, salt, pepper to taste


Put water (or stock) and quinoa in a pot, bring to boil and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Cook edamame in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain, shell and set aside. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and cut bell pepper and mango into small cubes. Mix everything with the quinoa, adding the juice and zest of limes, almonds, cranberries (you can substitute them with raisins or dried cherries), balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, minced fresh cilantro and a generous sprinkling of coconut flakes. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.

*I put together this recipe inspired by a similar thing that I spotted at Whole Foods. I looked at the color, peeked at the ingredient list, and voila, my serenade to California.

California Quinoa Salad

Prune Blueberry Jam with Rosemary

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Prunes, Blueberry and Jam

Above us only sky
~ John Lennon, Imagine

Somewhere I read that if we lay down on the grass every night for ten minutes to really contemplate the sky and the stars, many of our problems would vanish like soap bubbles burst in the air, and the whole world would take little by little a different turn.
This has little or nothing to do with the jam, but it seemed too beautiful to not say it. And then I thought for real about this thing, and the first occasion in which I found a meadow with stars in my hands, I wanted to try it for myself, and I decided to share it like this, in my own way.

Prune Blueberry Jam

Prune Blueberry Jam
with Rosemary

for 6-7 medium size jars
prunes, net 1 kg e 1/2
blueberries 1 kg
sugar 850 gr
lemons 3
rosemary 2 sprigs

Wash the prunes, remove the pit and cut in pieces. Add 500 gr of sugar, the juice of two lemons and mix well. Rinse blueberries and mix them with the rest of the sugar and the juice of one lemon. Cover and let macerate the fruit separately overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, cook over medium heat, separately, until the jams reach the desired consistency (blueberries may need less time than prunes, especially if the latter are a bit watery).
About half an hour before they're set, mix the jams together and add the sprigs of rosemary, whole. Finally, discard rosemary and pour the jam when still hot into previously sterilized glass jars. Seal them with their lid and boil in water for about 20 minutes to form the vacuum.

Prune Blueberry Jam2

Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato Bread Soup) with Grilled Eggplants, Black Olives (and Feta)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Pappa al Pomodoro

ma è meglio poi un giorno solo da ricordare
che ricadere in una nuova realtà sempre identica...

but it's better a single day to remember
than falling into a new reality that's always the same...

~ Francesco Guccini, Sirocco

It was a warm evening in August, the wet and deserted city populated only by tourists in love, tired old men and cats in search of masters. The two of us sat on the river bank to fiddle with our gaze; we were waiting for the wind and for something to change.
You had asked me to go back there, to that outdoor table where I looked at you the first time, tanned and shy with your veil of lipstick. Stifled by useless memories and legitimate fears, words and sentences remained suspended, motionless in the air dense of silence that had been gathering between us. There were one man and one woman too many, two lives already started and too big of a morality.
It was a warm evening in August, that night when we let ourselves grow up. We were still in love with each other in our own way, yet we no longer loved each other.

Pappa al Pomodoro*
with Eggplant, Black Olives (and Feta)

for 4
day old Tuscan bread 200 gr
ripe tomatoes 800 gr
garlic 4 cloves
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
eggplant, small 1
black olives 1 handful
crumbled feta 2-3 tablespoons
salt, pepper, olive olio, vegetable broth, basil as needed

Baby Eggplants

Slice a shallow cross into the bottom of the tomatoes and place them in boiling water for a few minutes. Peel them and pass them through the mill. Cut bread into cubes. Sauté garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed, in a little olive oil, add a few basil leaves, and then the bread. Sauté for about 10 minutes until it takes on a beautiful amber color. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste (optional), salt, pepper and stir well. Cover with broth and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until the bread is reduced to a puree.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant into slices, grill them on both sides and cut into small cubes. Pit and coarsely chop the olives. Serve the pappa al pomodoro garnishing each bowl with grilled eggplant cubes, a handful of chopped olives and a sprinkle of crumbled feta.
It goes without saying that feta is not approved by the vegan police. So then just forget it, and voila, wv <3, lunch is served.

*Room for a small self-celebration: the recipe above was published this month in the Corriere della Sera, in the section Racconti di Cucina (Tales from the Kitchen), along with three others of my recipes with tomatoes as the main star.
If you're curious, you can find the link to the newspaper's archive and read the main article of that page here. And in this regard, as if it were the night of the Oscars, I want to thank all those who have shown me great affection and who have posted and reposted the photo of the page on my facebook wall. Thank you!

Tomato Peach Bruschetta

Monday, August 12, 2013
Tomato Peach Bruschetta

summer's here to stay
and those sweet summer girls
will dance forever...

~ DMB, Dive In

What could be better than bread and tomato under the sunlight?
Bread, peaches and tomatoes.
Trust me, I take full responsibility.


Tomato Peach Bruschetta
for 4

yellow peaches 2
cherry tomatoes 10-15
balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons
garlic 3-4 cloves
salt, pepper, fresh basil to taste
country bread slices

Peaches and Tomatoes

Peel the peaches and cut them in small cubes. Mix them with the cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut into quarters, season with salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh basil. Cover and let rest for at least an hour.
Toast the bread in the oven for a few minutes, and then brush it still warm with the peeled garlic cloves. Spread bruschetta over the bread slices, sprinkle again with some basil and serve immediately.

Bread and Bruschetta

Tuscan Bread

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Tuscan Bread

Negli angoli di casa cerchi il mondo
nei libri e nei poeti cerchi te...

In the corners of the house you're looking for the world
in the books and the poets you're looking for yourself...

~ Francesco Guccini, Another Day Went By

Take a summer afternoon. Fresh and quirky as the afternoons hooded with fog on the North Pacific, or those pissed off with rain in August up in the mountains. Take a dough of ancient times, lazy but exciting as a poker match on a wrinkled, flowered tablecloth. Add the tenderness of a freshly baked loaf, and that scent so similar to the loaf that they used to give you at the corner, in those fantastic sunny mornings when you had the time to slide in front of the counter for 100 Liras worth of Coke-shaped candies.
Fresh bread, jam and a violent layer of butter were the perfect world, when you really believed in God, and you imagined Him smiling and walking around the clouds, although maybe He got a bit sad if He happened to look down here. You were able to inhabit the stars and the planets with your imagination, arguing with your classmates over the ownership of Alpha, Beta, and the Pole Star, as well as a share of Saturn and the absolute dominion over Jupiter. And everything would last forever, the house on a tree, the daisies, the board games, bread&nutella and the afternoon tea. Because it was easy to take each other by hand and slip into the night, without thinking what it will be, where it will be, tomorrow.

Short note: I'm pleased to announce that this recipe is part of the August 2013 issue of Threef, a photography & food magazine; it's a special issue dedicated to Time, the time that passes, that stops or that you dream of, and also the time that never comes back.
If you weren't judge me biased, I'd recommend you browse it, because it's really worth it. But I won't say anything, because I'm not biased.

Tuscan Bread and Jam

Tuscan Bread*
for 1 loaf

fine ground flour 300 gr
water 180 gr
fresh brewer's yeast 5 gr

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until the dough is well blended, but working as little as possible. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 20-24 hours.

Second Rise 105 gr
fine ground flour 100 gr
water 50 gr
fresh brewer's yeast 2 gr

Dissolve the starter and the yeast with the water and knead briefly with the flour, then cover again and let rise for another 20-24 hours.

fine ground flour 250 gr
water 150 gr ca
fresh brewer's yeast 2 gr


Place the flour on the work surface, make a well in the middle, then crumble in the center the fresh yeast and the starter. Dissolve with water and when you get a well-blended mixture, add the flour and knead by hand, working as little as possible. Shape the dough into a loaf, push it down and lay it vertically in front of you. Lift one edge and fold it toward the center, place your thumbs on the folded part and press until you reach the surface of the table below. Keep folding in the same direction until you completely roll the dough. Place it on a kitchen towel, well dusted with flour, with the fold underneath, dust with more flour, wrap it with the cloth, squeezing a little and sealing it as if it were a package, and let it rise for at least half hour. When ready, there will be cracks all over the surface. Sprinkle some flour on the back of a tray, grab the towel and position the bread on your forearm, then transfer it on the tray placing the fold underneath without any abrupt movement. Slide it on a baking stone or a baking sheet already hot, bake it in a preheated oven at 430 for 10 minutes, then lower to 350-375 approximately for 40 minutes.

*I took the recipe from the infallible bible of the Simili Sisters, Pane e Roba Dolce (Bread and Sweet Things). A must-have for all food fanatics and food bloggers out there, bakers and not, since the dawn of time.

Bread and Jam

Grilled Peach Panzanella

Sunday, August 4, 2013
Grilled Peach Panzanella style=

... tanto doveva prima o poi finire lì
ridevi e forse avevi un fiore
ti ho capita, non mi hai capito mai

... sooner or later it had to end there
you were laughing and maybe you had a flower
I understood you, you've never understood me

~ Roberto Vecchioni, Lights at San Siro

Do you remember? Remember when we were twenty? I know what you'll say, with that slow, misty stroke of sadness that has been hitting us for hours: you'll say that now you're feeling it as well, all that nostalgia that you didn't understand back then and yet easily blamed me for. Do you realize instead, today, the way it makes your voice shiver and your gaze drop? And the way it makes you smile a little, because this whole encounter looks like a tedious cliché, an honest déjà vu, a movie that is narrated by others, that's already been lived, suffered and sung.
And you knew, I'm sure, that our talking now would go into reverse gear. Because what you're doing now, what you did yesterday or how was your life ten months ago, that doesn't matter to me, and I already know it. I imagined it all well back then, in our time together: to you everything seemed already written, in your words, in your studies and in the clippings you were accumulating from newspapers; you, so determined to stalk reality, while, with my uncertain future, I'd waste days interrogating mirrors, looking in vain for a response at the intersections and inside the pockets of randomness.
But remember? Remember when we walked together that night at the end of summer, drunk just right? From the boredom of a party we found ourselves in a dream, holding hands, walking around those reflections amidst the scent of an unexplored lake, forever ours. And then, all those times when you kept laughing at me when I said I'd rather die like Francesca, sinful and in love, rather than find myself one day trapped in the spectrum of everyday life.
Remember? Remember when you said that's enough, and the illusion of eight years crumbling between our hands, one love slipping away and a mystery still open. We've often asked ourselves what's left of what we had, and perhaps we can grasp the answer only tonight, in a slow and silent hug, hidden in the fog of a new, far-off city.
I was walking by; I know, it's been so long, how are you? I, yes, sorry, I thought that maybe we could... dinner, a walk, only a coffee; just like that, to talk a little.
It's eight o'clock, it's still light outside of this bistro. I'll make the order, trust me for once. You go ahead, I'll listen.

Grilled Peach Panzanella

Grilled Peach Panzanella
for 4 people

yellow peaches 2
rustic bread 2 thick slices
cherry tomatoes 600 gr
arugula as needed
shallot 1
lemon 1
honey 3 tablespoons
olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, basil as needed

Bread, Peaches and Tomatoes

Brush bread slices with olive oil and grill them on both sides. Mix honey with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, drizzle over sliced peaches and cook them on the grill about a minute each side. Cut bread in pieces, mix them with cherry tomatoes, cut in half, and thinly sliced shallots. Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chopped basil, and let stand at least one hour. Before serving, add arugula and grilled peach slices.

Summer Basket