Monthly Archives: November 2012

Fall and the scent of Paris

November 27, 2012

chestnut tree-CF050008The scent of roasted chestnuts always makes me think of the first winter I lived in Paris. I was 20 years old, a student, and it was the first time that I lived abroad.
Paris was in every way magnificent- the food, the people, the cafés and restaurants, the art museums, and, of course, the clubs where went dancing. At that time Le Bains was the number one place to go, and we didn´t miss many nights.

I also recall the joy of just walking the streets, taking in all of the Parisian atmosphere and that scent of roasted chestnuts that were sold on the street corners. That winter my two friends and I shared an apartment on Rue des Archives in the quartiere Le Marais. We were poor but thrilled by all the adventures that our new city had to offer.

Now when the chestnut season arrives I want to roast them and eat them with butter and salt as an appetizer or as a night snack in front of the fireplace with a glass of red wine.

chestnuts on salt-CF056259

roasted chestnuts CF056501

Oven roasted chestnuts
Serves 4

50-60 chestnuts
1 lbl (450 grams) of coarse salt

Preheat the oven at 425F ( 225 C).Cut a large cross about 1/8-inch deep through each chestnut shell, just into the flesh of the nut.Spread out an even layer with the coarse salt on an oven tray and place the chestnuts facing with the cross up. Bake the chestnut for about 25 minutes.Serve with butter and salt or make a thyme and lemon butter that will go excellent with your roasted chestnuts.

whipped thyme butter-CF056611

Lemon and thyme butter
2 shallots
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of white wine
7 ounces (200 grams) of butter (at room temperature or softened)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs or dried
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon peel
salt and pepper


Chop the shallots finely and brush them in a small saucepan with the olive oil, until they are soft and golden. Add the wine and cook for another minute.
Pour the shallots in with the soft butter and beat the butter airy by using a hand whisk. Then add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Olive oil cake

November 25, 2012

Since I got paid for my time picking with some of this beautiful extra virgin, cold pressed and fruity oil, I made what I have been wanting to try to make for a long time: an olive oil cake.
The first recipe I used was a disaster. It tasted too eggy and the olive oil flavor didn’t come through. Only Igor the dog was happy to eat it.
The second recipe has good flavor, but it came out too flat. This version was definitely not something you want to see in a photo. The third time is often the charm. It came out perfectly. It was moist and well balanced between the fine flavor of the olive oil and the lemon.

olive oil cake- CF060141

Olive oil cake
8 -10 pieces
For the baking pan:
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour

For the cake:
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup (3.5 dl) sugar
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup (2,4 dl) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup (3.5 dl) flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (I prefer Maldon)
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
3 tablespoons of pine nuts

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) lemon juice
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of water
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) sugar
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) lemon zest
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350F (175 C)
Butter and flour a 9 inch ( 24 cm) baking pan.
Beat the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy, pour in the lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkle the sea salt. Continue whisking for another minute.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, lemon zest, pine nuts.
Mix the ingredients from both bowls and pour into the baking tin.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 min in 350F ( 175C).

Use a small saucepan, cook the lemon juice with water and sugar until sugar is melted and fluid is reduced to half. Dry roast the pine nuts in a clean frying pan.
Add the lemon zest and the rosemary to the lemon syrup and set it aside to cool down.

Before serving the cake drizzle the syrup and spread the toasted pine nuts on the top.

All about the olives

November 23, 2012

olivskord-CF058270November is all about the olives in Pantelleria. Two weeks ago I was helping out picking. We had a day of beautiful weather. The olive trees that climb up the hills of Ghirlanda were packed with big olives ready to be picked. In Pantelleria the olive trees grow very low to the ground, so using machines to pick is out of the question. All olives are picked by hand. There are a variety of olive species, but the most common is Biancolilla. It takes about 7-8 kilos (15-17 lb) of olives to make 1 liter ( 33.8 oz) of oil. During this period friends and families help each other out, taking turns in each other’s land to pick. Gathering the olives is also a social event- it’s about simply being together and having a good time while the job gets done. Pantelleria does not export its olive oil. People here on the island are just making enough olive oil for the family to use in the household for the upcoming year.

Thanks to Andrea, Vincenzo, Diego, Raffaele and Salvatore.

The rain brought back the arugula

November 13, 2012

arugula-CF056099This arugula in was planted just before the summer and came in beautifully by the beginning of June. But in August we were ready to give up on it. Although we had been watering and pampering the leaves continuously, it looked burnt, brown, dried and hopelessly dead. I was convinced that this was the end for this little salad. Then suddenly 3 weeks ago it started to rain in Pantelleria. Four days of rain and there is now new fresh strong arugula spreading. It’s the beginning of November, we now have more arugula than we can eat, and it looks and tastes better than ever. Usually I would just eat the arugula as a salad, mixed with tomatoes and some buffalo mozzarella seasoned with olive oil, basil and sea salt or just with other mixed greens and olive oil, but since we now have so much of it I decided to make a pesto. With this arugula I didn’t have to add any pepper because of its strong, naturally spiciness, but this you have to try for your own taste what suites you. This pesto is great as a bread spread or to make a pasta like this spaghetti below.arugula pesto-CF055795 Arugula pesto
5 oz (150 grams) arugula
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon peel
1 tablespoon of sea salt ( I used Maldon sea salt)
1 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup (40 gram) of pine nuts
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
5 oz (150 grams) of parmesan cheese
Optional (if it’s needed, a little black pepper)
Rinse the arugula and mix with all the other ingredients using a hand mixer or a food processor.
Taste to see if you want to add more sea salt.
The flavor of arugula differs a lot so if you thinks it’s a little pale in taste,  just add some fresh grounded black pepper.

spaghetti with arugula pesto-CF055984 Spaghetti with arugula pesto
Serves 4
1 cup (2.4 dl) of arugula pesto
14 oz (400 grams) of spaghetti
Boil pasta water with salt. Cook the spaghetti according to the time on the package.
In a large bowl on the side, put 1 cup or more of the arugula pesto.
When there is 1 minute left on the cooking time for the spaghetti, take 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water and add with the pesto, stir the water in the pesto, this will heat up the temperature in the pesto sauce a little bit.
When the pasta is ready, mix it with the pesto and serve with some extra parmesan cheese.
Ceramic bowl and dinner plate from NEW KAM MAN



November 8, 2012

Caponata is a traditional Sicilian course.
The recipes vary but should contain eggplant, celery and have a sweet and sourness. In some parts of Sicily seafood is included. The ingredients I used for this Caponata are all local products from the island of Pantelleria. Serve the Caponata as an antipasto with bread, or as a side course to go with fish or meat. The Caponata can be saved in the fridge for up to 7 days.caponata-CF008660

1/2 cup (1.2 dl) olive oil
3 aubergine, cut in large chunks
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped in bigger pieces
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, cut in pieces
8 large ripe tomatoes, cut in pieces and remove the seeds
2 tablespoons capers from Pantelleria (rinsed, soaked and drained)
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) of black olives (preferably sun or oven dried)
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) of almonds (dry toasted and chopped in the pan)
5 tablespoons of tomato puree or concentrate
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Optional:1 table spoon of fresh parsley to serve

Use a large pan pour some olive oil, and place on the heat. Add the aubergine chunks and oregano, season with a little salt and toss around so the aubergine is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat until the aubergines are golden, then add the onion, garlic and celery stalks and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Add a more oil to the pan when it’s getting dry. Throw in the drained capers, olives, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes or until its tender. At last stir in the toasted almonds.Taste and season if you need with more salt, pepper, vinegar or sugar. Serve the Caponata room temperature sprinkled with almonds and parsley.

Dinner plate Anthropologie
Capperi di Pantelleria
Origano di Pantelleria