Zola loves pear

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We agree that there is no need to find a special occasion to celebrate love and as usual at every St. Valentine’s day this whispered leitmotiv becomes louder and louder.

Happy unconventional couples intentionally ignore this day, pretending to have “forgotten” about it (which it must be quite hard considering the giant amount of messages we get from the media).

Single people claim they do not care and they do not want to care.

A few romantics around buy flowers, the bravest do not even worry about going around with big chocolate boxes and whistling love songs.

But the truth is that no one of them must be blamed.

When talking about love, there is of course no rule, due dates nor conventional way to get to it. There is no right or wrong. We got no recipe for love and that is sometimes hard to accept, but its unpredictability is a great source of happines.

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Thursday, gnocchi!

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The number of dishes from the italian tradition is nearly infinite. Today one of us is playing at home, and from Rome we present you a quite simple, yet impressive and incredibly delicious main dish which we are sure is new to many of you: gnocchi alla romana (or gnocchi di semolino). On thursdays you will find it as the “plat du jour” in the typical “trattorie”, on Christmas eve is the first dish in many households in Rome and the course that everyone in Camilla’s family loves. But don’t think of it as too special or complicated: is the perfect meal for any schoolday lunch and dinner.

The base of this is just semolina cooked in boiling milk, which will be then mixed with couple of egg yolks and baked in the oven with some parmigiano and a knob of butter. Real easy.

You need to trust us and believe that this is a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves it. It’s the dish that your grandma prepares and makes everyone happy, that cuddles you on a warm winter night and surprises your friend because “how good is this! I never eat something like that!”.

It’s surprising because is SO simple.

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Salame di cioccolata

No wonder that chocolate salami is one of those recipes you find in children’s cookbooks (did you have Grandma Duck’s one?)! This dessert, very common in Italy and Portugal,  is as a matter of fact “childproof”, meaning both that kids really love it but also that they can easily prepare it on their own: there is no need to bake, to knead nor to use any mixer or grinder. But despite its simplicity, you can be 100% sure that once it’s on the table all your guests will be very happy to eat it, no matter their age. Maybe the reason of its sure success is because it brings us back to our childhood, but it could also be because of its delicious taste of chocolate and smell of butter… who knows, give yourself a try and let us know!

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Kale Chips

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaKVy-FlaUA” color=”blue”]We are listening to: TV on the Radio- Happy Idiot [/button]

THE HEALTHiest SNACK, ever.

Ready for one of the easiest recipes ever? Perhaps it will take you longer to read the post than to actually prepare these crispy chips! Moreover, you’ll be blown to know that they are also very good for your health.

How can a snack possibly be healthy? It seems like a contradiction in terms as we have been raised with the absolute certainty that snacks are meant to be greasy and “bad”. NO WAY! That is not true at all! (and we already proven it to you here)

Take a good handful of fresh kale (which is no doubt one of the stars among green leafy vegetables and the favourite of the juicing community), some good olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt: problem solved!

But before letting you go and test this super easy recipe, just a small piece of information for those that are not so familiar with kale. This vegetable belongs to the same family of broccoli, cauliflowers and brussels sprouts (genus Brassica) and it’s very popular in Northern countries, where usually cooked in soups. According to TCM it is very helpful to nourish Blood, to tonify QI and to solve stasis of energy of Liver. Its energy is warmer than the broccoli and so on, being therefore very good in winter (its natural season). Don’t forget the high amount of vitamin A and K. Now, go ahead!

Easy– Prep time: 20 minutes

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You will need: 

  • Kale;
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • salt.

kale chips (1 of 2) copyHow to:

  1. Wash the kale leaves;
  2. cut out the thick stem in the middle of the leaves;
  3. line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper;
  4. spread the kale on a single layer on the baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and salt;
  5. bake at 180 C  for 10-15′. Keep an eye on your chips to make sure they won’t burn!

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Red Risotto

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBGy0Q-UgHk” color=”blue”]We are listening to: Daniele Silvestri-Monetine[/button]

When talking about comfort food, risotto wins it all. Take one of these cold winter evening, pick the right ingredients and make yourself a bit time to slow down. Follow carefully the steps described here and you will discover that what seems a fancy Italian dish is indeed very easy to prepare. Just please remember to never leave your risotto alone, he loves to be cuddled

Now, let’s talk about the ingredients you need, and how to get the best out of your risotto.

First of all, the rice.

Not any kind will do: you need to buy a rice with a high amount of starch that will make you achieve the characteristic creamy texture of risotto. You can choose between either carnaroli, vialone nano or arborio. Also, don’t forget to toast the rice before adding the broth: this way it will better absorb the flavors and tastes and stay firm after cooked.

Second, what do you want your risotto to be with?

Here we suggest you to add a classic winter vegetable such as radicchio, which has a strong and rather bitter taste. If possible, prefer the variety from Treviso which is generally sweeter, unfortunately we couldn’t find any…

Finally, open a bottle of wine.

Throw a dash on it on the rice after toasting it (as they say, rice was born in water and dies in wine), it will enhance the flavors and keep you good company while cooking and stirring.

Keep on stirring gently your risotto, and don’t forget to finish off with a knob of butter after you turn off the fire. Because risotto needs to ‘mantecare’ (cook until creamy) and to be served “all’onda”, making a kind of small “wave” when laid on the dish.

A lot of practical advices for this recipe, so we won’t get into the details of the energetically analysis of this dish according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. We just want you to know that whenever we take time to cook ourselves something so nice and delicious, with care and love, we are nourishing our spirit along with our body. And that’s more than enough.

Serves 2 –Medium difficulty– Prep time: 30 minutes

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You will need:

  • ½ Red chicory (radicchio);
  • 800 ml of vegetable broth;
  • 4 tbsp of red wine;
  • 250 gr of arborio rice;
  • 2 tbsp of etra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or a small onion or a shallot);
  • a pinch of salt;
  • a pinch of pepper.

How to:

  1. Wash the radicchio leaves, dry and chop them into strings;
  2. bring to boil 800 ml of water in a pot and add a stock cube (or make it with fresh vegetables such as onion, celery, carrots..). Keep the broth warm over light heat;
  3. sautèe the garlic (or the chopped onion/shallot) with the olive oil over medium-high heat, until it becomes soft and brownish;
  4. add the chopped radicchio and stir;
  5. pour the rice and stir it for 3-4 minutes (this is when you are toasting the rice), until translucent and you’ll smell the mild-toasted aroma. If possible, do this using a wooden spoon to not damage the rice grains;
  6. turn up the flame, add the red wine in the pan and simmer until the wine has completely evaporated;
  7. start adding the warm vegetable broth one (or two) ladles at the time and keep stirring the rice. Whenever the liquid has completely absorbed, add another ladle of broth. This step is crucial to get the rice to release its starch and help creating its own creamy sauce;
  8. After 12-13 minutes taste the rice, it should be cooked al dente, it means it should has a bit of chew. If the rise is not cooked yet add one last ladle of broth;
  9. when the rice is cooked, adjust of salt and pepper, stir in knob of butter and leave it rest (mantecare) with the lid on or better covered with a linen/cotton towel for couple of minutes.
  10. Dust it with some grated parmesan cheese and serve warm.

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Kuai Momos: Tapas with Chopsticks

Kuai Momos is a restaurant in a quite alley of Gracia (Barcelona), with the concept of a tapas-style meal with Asian food. Jordi Brau opened this place in his hometown after travelling for 7 years all around Asia working in restoration, and souvenirs from his trip decorate the interiors of the place. The result is just a delight. The atmosphere is cozy and pleasant, you’ll find a good selection of local wines of an affordable price-range, and the food is exquisite. The place will work if you are either vegetarian or a meat/fish lover. We came back several times, and it has been the perfect place for a quite dinner with friends, to bring family visiting town, our significant other s or for just the three of us together.

Keep in mind that Kuai Momos is not a place for “selfish” eaters: food here is meant to be shared, which is great as you’ll be able to taste more dishes from the rich and tasty selection. Don’t miss the dumplings (called Momos in the region of Nepal), which are definitely worth the 15’ waiting, as they are made fresh. The Tom-Yum soup makes you think you are dining in one of the finest restaurant in Thailand itself (the best we tried in Barcelona), and if you are lucky and in the off-the-card specials you are offered the fresh coconut shrimp risotto, please have it! Desserts are good too, most of them, again, convenient for sharing.

Price range is around 20-25 euros per person, inclusive of wine and water. Closed on Sundays.

If you would like to know more:

https://www.momosbcn.com/

Momos

More than porridge

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvxtfjJiSi0″ color=”blue”]We are listening to: Gabrielle Aplin – More Than Friends[/button]

It warms up your belly, fills your stomach and gives energy to your head

What about a warm bowl of porridge this morning?

Forget your initial reluctance for this baby/hospital looking food and give it a chance, you won’t regret it. We promise that it won’t make you late for work, as it is ready in a couple of minutes (we successfully tried in several difficult occasions): so no worries and no excuses!

If you have a bit of patience we are also going to explain you why such a simple recipe can be the perfect winter everyday breakfast.

Quite obvious but first of all it is a merely thermic issue: when it’s cold it’s usually better to eat something warm, especially in the morning. If the ingredients themselves have a warm kind of energy it’s even better, and here we couldn’t get a better mix by using oatmeal together with walnuts. Oatmeal is a highly energetic cereal, recommended for convalescent people, and walnuts are high in unsaturated fats and provide a lot of good energy in such a small volume. Moreover these nuts give extra strength to Lung and Kidneys, which are both fatigued in season.

A pinch of cinnamon adds a more specific direction to this dish as this is THE anti-inner-COLD spice par excellence. And finally, if you want to be really good add some sliced apple, and you will already start getting one of the 3 daily recommended portions of fruit!

See? That’s more than porridge.

Serves 2- Easy– Prep time: 5’

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You will need:

  • 80 g of oatmeal
  • 1 small chopped apple
  • 400 ml of water/ milk or any vegetal milk
  • 6-8 chopped walnuts
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a small pinch of salt
  • a knob of butter

How to:

  1. put the milk and the oatmeal in a saucepan on the fire, start stirring;
  2. keep on the fire mixing with a spoon until hot;
  3. add a knob of butter, and stir until molten;
  4. add the cinnamon, the sugar, a pinch of salt, the chopped walnuts and apple;
  5. eat warm.

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Veggie sticks

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Crjnz3YeiEo” color=”blue”]We are listening to:Best Muppet Rap Ever- House of Kermit – Jump Around Muppet Rap [/button]

One of the reasons why we are more and more enthusiastic about our incuQIna project is the fact it is always a good excuse to throw a party and to invite friends over (or cook at their place) anywhere we go, to test new recipes. A small reunion has just happened in Berlin. Below a grey but really vast sky, this city is a continuous source of inspiration, filled with energy and vibrant of innovative ideas. This small recipe is just the perfect example: wandering around the Mitte area, we found ourselves in a nice cute little bar: a coffee, a magazine randomly opened on the table, and an article about party snacks gave us the hint.

One of us incuQIna girl (Anna) is going to spend some time in this city. Do you have any suggestion for her? We’d love to know your favorite places in town! And stay tuned for more Berlin-inspired recipes.

(btw, if you want to know some interesting facts about carrots, check out this old post).

Serves some friends –Easy– Prep time: 45’ (15’ to prepare, 30’ to bake)

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You will need:

  • some carrots (take also some violet ones if you find them);
  • some parsnip;
  • breadcrumbs;
  • rosemary;
  • a pinch of salt;
  • olive oil.

How to:

  1. Wash the carrots well, leaving their skin to preserve the nice color, peel and wash the parsnip;
  2. cut all the vegetables in sticks of an equal dimension;
  3. mix the breadcrubs, the rosemary and the salt;
  4. pre-heat the oven at 180°C, line a tin with baking paper;
  5. coat the veggie sticks with the breadcrumb mix, then place them on the baking tin and drizzle with some olive oil;
  6. bake for 20’ (until soft), then leave in the oven with the grill for 2 extra minutes;
  7. serve warm.

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Mushaboom spelt gnocchi

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcClmuCneDM” color=”blue”]We are listening to:Feist- Mushaboom (Postal Service remix) [/button]

Do you feel reinvigorated by these winter holidays and feel like testing yourself with a more “physical” recipe? Roll up your sleeves then because you are going to use your own hands to prepare gnocchi!

Very few ingredients needed for the dough: spelt flour, water, a pinch of salt plus a good amount of strength to knead the dough and that’s it. You will discover how funny and liberating it is to create all these tiny gnocchi out of so simple stuff.

Choose the sauce you prefer or try the one we suggest here and use some fresh champignon mushrooms. Despite being a typical product of fall season, we find them around all year long, because they are widely cultivated. According to TCM, they are fresh/cold in energy and sweet in flavor (as most of mushrooms are), reinforce Spleen/ Stomach and moisten Lungs (i.e. very useful in case of dryness/ dry cough). Don’t forget to sprinkle some fresh parsley, that warms up the dish a bit, and adds a bit of color!

 Serves 6, about 1,5 kg of gnocchi –Medium– Prep time: 45 min

You will need:

-for the gnocchi:

  • 400 g spelt flour;
  • 400 g of water;
  • 150 g of white flour;
  • some extra white flour for kneading;
  • a pinch of salt.

-for the sauce:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ kg mushrooms (champignones)
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • parsley

How to-the gnocchi:

  1. place the spelt and white flour in a bowl or on wooden board, add a pinch of salt;
  2. add water little by little and start mixing with a fork;
  3. when the mix will have acquired a solid consistency put it on a work surface and knead to obtain a homogeneous, smooth and firm dough. The more you knead, the more you’ll develop gluten;
  4. spread on the table a little bit of flour and lay on top the dough;
  5. cut a small piece of dough and form a roll the size of a finger and cut the length of  1 cm (or 2 cm);
  6. cover the fresh made gnocchi with flour. The gnocchi are ready to be boiled, but if you want to give it a touch of perfection you can make the scratches on gnocchi using a fork or a grater;
  7. this will produce gnocchi with a rough surface and thus they can retain more sauce;
  8. Place the gnocchi on a tray and and cover them with a bit of  flour to prevent sticking;
  9. Bring to boil two liters of water,  add 2 tablespoons of cooking salt;
  10. Dive the gnocchi into the water. They will surface, and this generally indicates that they are ready and you can drain them, but for spelt-flour gnocchi we recommend cooking them for about 10 minutes.

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How to-the sauce:

  1. Place the olive oil in a frying pan with a clove of garlic;
  2. let the garlic panfry on a low fire for couple of minutes until golden brown;
  3. meanwhile clean the mushrooms;
  4. cut them in pieces and put them in the pan;
  5. let cook for about 10 minutes;
  6. to give a more creamy consistency to the sauce, use hand mixer to blend half of the sauce with a little bit of extra water. Mix back in the pan with the rest of the mushrooms;
  7. mix with the cooked gnocchi and sprinkle with a little fresh parsley, finely chopped.

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Cauliflower power

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Even though you are not a big fan of cauliflowers, we are pretty sure that you are going to enjoy them here, in one of our favorite winter side dish.

Forget the usual-drab steamed cauliflowers and give them some more power and taste by adding the right secret ingredients.

Cauliflowers are fresh in energy and have a mild action on the digestive system, where they contribute to solve stasis. On the other hand capers and anchovies are both warm in energy and very good at tonifying YANG, contributing to the overall balance of the dish with their heating function. Spread with crunchy bread crumbs and bake them a while to get a better texture and an enchanting final taste. And here you haveanother incuQIna trick!

 Serves 2 –Easy– Prep time: 40 min

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You will need:

  • A medium cauliflower;
  • 3 anchovy fillets;
  • 1 tbs of capers;
  • bread crunches;
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • a pinch of salt.

How to:

  1. Trim the cauliflower into florets, wash it then steam it for about 10 minutes;
  2. place the steamed cauliflower into a baking pan, add the (chopped) anchovies and capers;
  3. cover with bread crumbs, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add salt
  4. bake at 180 degrees for about 10′, then 2′ with the grill mode until it makes a crispy crust.

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