Home About me All the recipes. More or less organized Inspiration Wanna send me a note? Italian version

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