Salt & Starch Cookbook

I have been putting off posting this for a while but I think the time has come where I can comfortably see the finish line on this project. For the past few years I have done a fair amount of cooking & learning in the kitchen. I’ve attempted to document much of my cooking adventures along the way, highlighting some on this food blog from time to time. A while back I began sifting thru some of the saved images and articles I jotted down during the process. I had to smile because many of these memories were made with family while learning about traditions and recipes that go back many years. The notion of compiling an actual cookbook never really occurred to me until just a couple years ago.

Fast forward to today and it’s been a very slow process. In particular because I didn’t want to publish just another cookbook or book of recipes. I wanted the book to be more personal. It needed to act as sort of self-preservation, recording the memories and lessons I’ve learned from my family and the joy that cooking has brought into my life.

The very first draft of this labor of love project is almost completed. The book highlights easy-to-follow recipes I have learned, notes and memories from my life as well as (I hope) some really inspiring food photography throughout.

Stay tuned for updates and the official release date!

grazie a tutti

Torta di farina di cocco – {Coconut Flour Cake}

Recently I was thumbing thru one of my many cookbooks that span the variety of cuisines across Italy. A recipe in Acquacotta from Emiko Davies cookbook caught my eye.

The recipe is a simple bunt cake make from chestnut flour, apparently used within the Tuscany region for this recipe. After realizing I could not find chestnut flour anywhere I decided to improvise and see how things turned out.

I made the cake using coconut flour. The result was a beautiful dense cake that surprisingly was simple to make and even simpler to eat!

Here’s what you’ll need:

5.5 oz of room temperature butter (unsalted)

7 oz of sugar

Zest of 1 orange

6 eggs (the recipe called for 4 but I found adding two more worked better)

1 – 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 – 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 cup milk (the recipe called for 1/2 cup but I found 1 full cup worked better)

2 tablespoons of rum

Start by taking your butter,coconut flour, all-purpose flour & baking powder, mixing them in a mixer until well incorporated. It’s important that your butter is room temperature – having it cold or just out of the fridge will cause you problems.

Add in 1 egg at a time to your mix, allowing your stand mixer to get the mix to a nice, smooth and almost pastel color. Slowly add in your milk until well incorporated.

Zest 1 full orange and add in the mix along with your choice of rum.

Allow your stand mixer to run on slow for about 1 – 2 minutes until you have a thick & dense batter. The batter should not be runny like a cake batter, it should stand on its own and be thick.

Liberally grease a bunt pan. Pour your batter into the pan and go over with a spatula so the batter sits evenly on the bottom.

Set your over to 350 degrees and allow to bake for roughly 20 minutes, or until you can stick a knife thru and have it come out cleanly.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool.

In a small sauce pan put 1 cup of sugar, a teaspoon or two of confectioners sugar and 2 teaspoons of water. Put on the stove on low until you notice the sugar is caramelizing. Carefully pour over top your now cooled cake. Add a slice of orange and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary & some powdered sugar to finish the cake off nicely.

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Sarde a Beccafico – {Sicilian Stuffed Sardines}

A while back I came across one of the many food & travel docs-series on Netflix. It just so happened to be Ainsley Eats the Streets. I had never known of him before or seen his shows in Britain. After devouring the entire series he quickly became one of my most favorite television chefs. He exudes joy and it shows both in his television programs and in his cooking.

One of the episodes in the series was his visit to Sicily. During the show he prepared a fairly easy recipe of sardines stuffed with a variety of ingredients. I did a little research on the recipe and it’s fairly straightforward and easy to compose. I am not entirely positive there is a single traditional recipe for these sardines so I took the basic elements of what I could find online and on the show.

Here’s how I did it:

Before you do anything you need to find fresh local sardines. Obviously you probably won’t find them as fresh as in Sicily but local farmers markets should suffice. Fresh ingredients is the key here!

For an appetizer suitable for 2-4 people:

1.5lbs – 2 lbs of fresh sardines (Ask you fish monger or farmers market to scale them – It will save you a lot of extra work at home.)

Start off by cleaning your sardines, removing the head and innards along with the small back bone that runs thru the entire length of the small fish. An easy way to do this is make a small cut underneath the tip of the backbone and use your fingers to pull it out.

You will notice sardines have a lot of small little bones that run alongside the backbone as well. It’s up to you if you want to spend the time to remove each one but most are small enough that they will dissolve in the cooking process by itself.

Once your sardines are cleaned, half them with a sharp knife and set aside. I like to run them under cold water again after I cut them in half.

In a non-stick pan you want to lightly toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts along with a 1.5 cup of bread crumbs (preferably seasoned). Add in 1/2 cup of raisins along with another 1/2 cup of finely chopped parsley. Mix together until warm.

In a large bowl add 1.5 cups of EVOO and the juice of 1 lemon. Slowly add your dry ingredients, mixing slowly to incorporate well.

Take roughly 1 spoonful of the mixture and stuff each sardine. Carefully roll each one up securing it with a toothpick placing it carefully in an oiled glass dish. I’ve found small square glass dishes work the best. Once your dish is full drizzle some EVOO on top and add in a few springs of fresh rosemary and bay leaves. (No salt – remember the sardines have enough saltiness to them already naturally.)

Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. (Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!)

You can add a dash of balsamic vinegar for that extra little kick to this lovely little delight from the sea.

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