Friday, May 23, 2008

Mint flavored raw sugar

When I have some spare time I like to prepare spiced salts, aromatic sugars and spicy oils.
I will use them to add flavor to some dishes or just to add to a simple salad.
Sometimes I put them in small jars and I offer them as gifts.

Recently I had a love at first sight for fresh mint and so I decided to prepare the Mint flavored raw sugar, which I use for evening infusions.
Mint is really wonderful: cool, refresh, digestive and colorful! It has also an intriguing explication according to Greek Mythology.

This sugar can also be used as decoration for other desserts, or to prepare a tasty and refreshing ice tea.

In the photo the sugar is accompanying a hot herbal tea, and is presented with the glass marker "Cheers spirals" that I created a few months ago after a little party I did with friends trying to solve a big problem: " Francesca, Where is my glass?."
During the party my guests continued to ask: '"Is this my glass?" or "I lost my glass" or "I thought that I put my glass on the shelf but I'm wrong, where is it?"and so on...
A glass marker is always a great idea also if you do a cheers with 4 friends!

"Cheers spirals" is a set of 6 glass markers made with copper thread.
They're easy to put on glasses and easy to remember and your guests will absolutely appreciate their utility; at the same time they'll add a decoration touch to your reception. If you like them or simply need them click here to shop, or have a look at this different model.

So if you want to prepare this special sugar you will need:

- two large bunches of fresh mint.
- 100 g (3.5 oz) of raw sugar (don't mix it up with brown sugar!)

*wash thoroughly the mint leaves and dry them well.
* put the sugar and mint leaves in a mixer and mix for 3 minutes
* put the sugar on a sheet of absorbent paper and allow the sugar to dry (at least 48 hours).
* store the sugar in an airtight jar

Now you have your special sugar ready for the summer when it's the right time to have a fresh drink!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Finally the sunny weather is arrived on the French Riviera, we began to have our meals on the terrace and the first hot weather gave me the wish to eat something fresh and light.

Gorgonzola salad makes me cheerful: the crunchy vegetables, the strong colors and the
gourmand taste of Gorgonzola cheese are so perfect.

They combine so well with my creation STONE, a name holder for your table made with the pebbles that I find on the beach where I live.
STONE is made with copper thread and pearls.
They are inspired by the calm and the zen atmosphere during a winter day on the beach playing with my son.

They can give a design and fresh touch to your table, you can use them to place a card or as name holder for your special dinner with friends.
If you like them, click here to shop.

I am a great lover of cheese and living in France gives me the chance to have a large choice of different wonderful varieties.

Occasionally my heart goes back to Italy to my favorite ones: mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) and Gorgonzola dolce.

Gorgonzola dolce (sweet) is something special: creamy, spicy, pungent...
If you leave it at room temperature, it will reach its peak of perfection: the creamy texture envelops the palate and it's a real delight.

You can also use Gorgonzola piccante (hot and spicy): it has a greener colour, a more compact texture and a more strong and decisive taste, but obviously the choise depends on whether you prefer mild or spicy food.

I think that this recipe is a different way to approach gorgonzola. It's usually considered a cheese for winter dishes, but in my opinion it makes wonders with the mixed salad.

About the presentation: I suggest to stay "in color". If you eat in the garden or on the terrace try to use a bright tablecloth that will help to think of sunny days. Increase the impact by adding a bouquet of chives as I have done, or placing a flower in a flower holder like this.

preparation: 15 minutes
kcal per person: 300
about kcal of this salad: Attention the number of kcal can be very different if you put a lot of olive oil!

For 4 people you will need:
- green salad
-16 cherry tomatoes
-some chives
- 1 apple
-100 g (3,5 oz) soy sprouts
-some pine nuts
-4 slices of bread
-200g (7 oz) of gorgonzola dolce cheese
-olive oil and balsamic vinegar
-salt and pepper

Compose carefully your plate: a beautifully looking plate makes the food even better!

*compose the salad in a big bowl or in 4 bowls as I did, adding the green salad, the cherry tomatoes, the apple (peeled and diced), the soy sprouts.
*spread the cheese on the 4 slices of bread
*sprinkle with small pieces of chives and some pine nuts
*place the slices of bread in a corner of the bowl
*add a pinch of salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Salted hearts and I love you

I really like to receive friends for a drink.
Salted hearts is ideal to be served as an amuse bouche but also as a dinner entrée during the summer.

Thinking about the heart, I created the napkin ring I LOVE YOU. It's handmade with copper thread and it will be a perfect match for lots of occasion.

You can use them as napkin rings and as placeholder too: you can slide in the small spiral a note with the name of your guest, or a special sentence for your beloved during a tête-a-tête. If you like click here to shop for them.

The presentation of the dish requires calm, attention and manual ability, but in the end, the satisfaction and taste is guaranteed!
If you do not want to be nervous, help yourself using a heart-shaped cutter for biscuits.
A white or light colored plate will add value to the colors and form of the food.

preparation: 40 minutes
kcal 80 per person

For 8 persons you need:

-3 Medium carrots peeled and grated
-3 Eggs
- 3/4 cup (20 cl) of milk
-1 Zucchini grated
-Salt and pepper and cumin powder

* carrot hearts: cook the grated carrots with salt, pepper and cumin powder in a wok for 20 minutes adding a little water to prevent sticking.

* zucchini hearts (omelette):
** beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper
** combine the grated zucchini and the eggs, then pour in a pan with 1/2 teaspoon of butter
** cook 3 minutes, turn the omelette and finish to cook the other side.

* Using a heart-shaped cutter model 8 shapes with carrots and then 8 shapes with the omelette
* place two hearts per plate and sprinkle with ground pepper

Monday, May 5, 2008

Strawberry risotto

This recipe is for the strawberries' lovers like myself. During the season (and yes, now it's the season!) I would like to eat them every day.

Strawberry risotto is a good occasion to taste them differently and at the same time it will open your mind to something really particular: at the same time very fragrant and light.

The basic recipe of risotto fits in very different combinations, so why not strawberries!?

I find the napkin ring "DANCING DAYS" to be the perfect match for the presentation of strawberry risotto. Dancing days is handmade with copper thread and pearls (imitation), it's inspired by the dancing beat of the wings of butterflies during summer time. Click here to shop for them.

Regarding the preparation of risotto I can say that, generally, it's very easy, but its success will depend mostly on the taste of the strawberries and on the type of rice (arborio or carnaroli rice are the two best qualities for risotto. They absorb lots of water and the grains remain firm giving at the same time a creamy consistency).

I like to prepare it for my friends: at first sight they are amazed and show an initial hesitation but after a few bites... they become enthusiastic!

Children fall in love with this risotto: they're excited to have the possibility to eat strawberries in a main dish, not to mention the pink color, that will attract their attention immediately.

Regarding the presentation: to be honest, every time I prepare the risotto I tend to present it in a different way. This time, as you can see from the picture, I have chosen a pale green plate, since I wanted to give an airy and carefree touch. In addition I find the flower shaped plate in perfect harmony with the pink of the risotto.

Time 40 minutes
320 kcal per person

For 4 people you'll need:
-1 basket of strawberries (250 g - 8.5 oz).
-250 g rice (8.5 oz) arborio or carnaroli
-12 cl (1/2 cup) red wine
-1 l (1 quarter) of vegetable broth (prepare it by boiling 1 small carrot, onion and a piece of celery for about 30 minutes)
-50 g (1.8 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano (real Parmesan) cheese
-1 teaspoon of butter
-2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

* put a pot on the heat, add and melt the butter, add the rice and about 200g (7 oz) of strawberries (washed and diced), mix well and add the red wine
* when the wine is absorbed you can begin to add the broth, and you continue to mix until the complete absorption of all the broth (so after about 20- 25 minutes)
* remove the pot from the heat, add the Parmigiano cheese, a pinch of salt, the remaining strawberries cut into small pieces and ricotta cheese.
* mix well, prepare your presentation and serve immediately!