Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Traditional Tuscan Cookies: Befanini - Real Italian Kitchen



Befanini are a traditional cookie that we usually make around Christmas time, they get their name from the holiday of Befana, which is celebrated in Italy on January 6th.

The recipe is very simple but the cookie is extremely tasty and rich in many layers of flavors: you'll be able to taste the milk, the lemon zest, and the sugar sprinkles make them fun to look at!

Ingredients for a large batch (about 80 cookies)

500gr flour (5 cups plus more for rolling pin)

300gr sugar (3 cups)

150gr butter (10tbsp)

16gr baking powder (2 tsp)

pinch of salt

3 eggs + 1 egg

1/2 cup milk

lemon zest

sugar sprinkles

Utensils:

Baking sheet, rolling pin, cookie molds

Step by Step:


1. Put all the dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk well. If you're using a Kitchen Aid or similar robot, you may also already add the butter and the 3 eggs.

2. If you haven't done so already, add the butter and the 3 whole eggs.

3. Zest a lemon, add the zest to the dough along with the 1/2 cup of milk.

4. Cover the dough with cellophane and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours (yes, baking takes patience and time, get over it)

5. Cover your work station with flour, if you love baking I suggest investing in a silicone mat like the one I use in the video. Split the dough in half and with a well floured rolling pin lay it down to 4 mm (if you don't know what a millimiter is go look it up on google and get with the metric system for God's sake).

6. Flour your cookie molds and make all those fun shapes that are traditional around Christmas time: stars, bells, befani...

7. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl and with a brush gloss the top of the cookies with the egg wash.

8. Decorate with sprinkles :-) Best part of the recipe!

9. Bake at 180 C (350F) for 8-10 minutes

10. Share your cookies with your friends and family, cause good things are meant to be shared. I hope you enjoy them!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Xperts Flame Culinary Torch Product Review

I got this product for free in exchange for my honest review.




First of all call me naive but I thought that it came with it's own fuel, or it came filled up and you had to buy just a recharge. Ok I was wrong, it took a long time for Amazon to deliver the butane fuel.

I bought the one by "Zippo", the Xperts flame says to use only high grade butane, which I don't think that one is, and I can assure you that it works anyway.

Filling it up is a mess and the butane spills everywhere, it's not really easy to understand how you do it, and the "full" line on the handle of the torch isn't accurate.

The culinary torch works well,  I like the way it feels in my hand and the way it sits on the counter thanks to it's cute stand. The packaging in comes with it's really nice and totally reusable, once you're done with the torch you can store it back in it.

I was really excited to finally have my own culinary torch, I've used one before but it was the giant size one from my parent's restaurant, the one I almost burned the house down with...!!!

This one is really safe: it has a "safety" button on the side, the knob to turn the stream of gas on is actually hard and you have to apply a bit of strength, which is good, you don't want a loose knob. You light the flame with a trigger that can be released after it's done doing it's job (don't take this feature for granted), and it produces a nice, steady, reliable stream of FIRE!!

I realize I'm getting way too excited about this, I don't want you to think that I'm a pyromaniac.

I just really love creme brule and the one I made came out beautifully.

So all in all I liked the product, I'd be curious to try a different brand to see if the filling experience is different or it's pretty much the same for every torch.

I hope this was helpful!




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Traditional Italian Frittata with TECHEF Frittata pan





Follow the step by step in the video to create a quick and easy meal that's going to please everybody in the family!



Frittata is traditionally something you prepare with leftover bits and pieces you have in the fridge. Today for me it was:



Red Peppers

Onions

Spinach

Cheddar Cheese

and of course 4 Eggs



You could cook it in a regular pan, but if you find yourself making this particular dish often like I do, you'll love the TECHEF frittata pan. I hate flipping the frittata so much in fact that I had to transition to baked frittata. The TECHEF pan makes life easy, it has a nice little handle that you hold on to and that helps you flip the pan, so you can cook your Frittata on both sides.



If I may point out one small fault of the pan is that it's too small,  it fits max 4 eggs, so it can feed max 2 people. But I do like how practical it is and I'm going to buy one for my Nonna for Christmas, she loves making Frittatas and I think she will love the flippable pan.



Enjoy the video and if you decide to acquire the TECHEF pan let me know  how it works out for you!



Valentina

RealItalianKitchen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Natural Remedies to Improve your Skin. PART 1: Inside going Out

  • Quite some time ago now my dear friend Anne, wrote to me on Facebook and said to me:
    "I'm having skin issues, do you know anything about what kind of essential oils and herbs are good for your skin and if there are any natural remedies that I should be looking into?"
    The following post is what came of that conversation, just a little bit more organized for your reading pleasure! 
    So imagine a wheel turning like a computer trying to load up all the informations stored in my memory after Anne asked me this questions. I had to pull up years of research and saved articles (yes, I save interesting articles, you're welcome).

    I mean, it's a big question..!

    "Tell me everything you know about essential oils and skin--GO!"

    The beauty of your skin is first of all an inside towards outside kind of thing.


    FATS, ESSENTIAL FATS (must be read as in BOND, JAMES BOND)

    Let's start by talking about foods that will improve dry skin, if you suffer of greasy skin, just read this backwards, meaning this are the foods you might want to cut down!

Essential fatty acids, or Omega 3, are "essential", duh, to achieving a natural skin glow, they are natural anti-wrinkle and will improve the elasticity of your skin. Here are some suggestions of foods that contain such fatty acids and how you can incorporate them in what you should already be eating:


    1. Seeds and nuts: Enjoy some sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in your salad, add 5 cashews or walnuts or pecans or brazilian nuts or a table spoon of pine nuts or hemp in your yogurt, blend 1 tbsp of flax seeds in your smoothies (this is also great for your gut health). The combinations are endless and you can create so many yummy salads and snacks with these!

    2. Flax seed oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Rich in vitamin E and has antioxidant properties. Choose cold press and organic. Add 1tbsp of either to your salad or choice of veggies before serving. Remember that heating them up is not good for the oils, so consume them "raw". 

3. Eggs: good percentage of Zinc and vitamins from the B group, you can eat them for breakfast or make yourself some yummy quiches or frittata, here are some recipes right here!

4. Legumes (beans and lentils): they have a good amount of vitamin B and fiber, which drags toxins away from your body and nourish the skin. Add a couple of tbsp in your salad, soup or eat as a side or as a main, tossed with a little garlic and olive oil. Check out my video on how to rehydrate them yourself for better tasting beans. 

5. The right kind of Proteins: prefer the ones coming from fresh cheese (cottage, ricotta, mozzarella) and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies) which are great for keeping your skin elastic. TAKE SOME IDEAS FROM MY RECIPE BOOK

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES


No matter your skin type, eating more fresh fruits and veggies will make you glow and rejuvenate your epidermis. 

1. Fresh berries: rich in bioflavonoid, which are believed to fight the free radicals responsible for early aging. Plus whatever, berries are delicious! Make smoothies with them, add them to yogurt, make a daiquiri with fresh strawberries. Ok maybe not the last one, but all the other suggestions are great. 

2. Fresh fruit: fresh, seasonal fruit is rich in liquids, it will keep your skin hydrated. Make a fruit salad, add them to your regular savory salad, learn how to pair it with cheese. Combine them with some of the nuts from earlier. Fruit is so much fun! 

3. Leafy greens: anything from kale to watercress, from parsley to mint, spinach and brussels sprouts. Here you'll find Omega 3, fiber, vitamin C, iron and minerals! Great for improving circulation (unless you're already taking blood thinning medications..), they will rejuvenate you and take away inflammation. Enjoy them raw or steamed, check this recipe out! If you sauté them, don't overcook, 5 minutes is more then enough, or you'll loose most of their properties. 

4. Other foods rich in Vitamin C: root vegetables (like turnip, carrots, rutabaga), plus the famous ones like oranges, strawberries, peppers, cantaloupe. Eat them as a snack between meals, far from everything else for improved digestion and minimize fermentation in the gut. 

HERBAL TEAS


For more serious skin conditions, before you resort to medications, try this naturopathic remedy.

Enjoy some BURDOCK TEA 3 times a day, far from main meals possibly: 50g of dried leaves soaked in 1l of boiling water for 10 minutes. If you can't find loose dried burdock leaves check out this tea made by Yogi

Remember that any diet related remedy will take some time. It's going to be at least 3 weeks to a month before you start seeing improvements, but don't give up! I promise it will improve your health all around! 

Now that we adjusted what goes in your body, let's talk about what you can do for your exterior to feel radiant right away. 

Natural Remedies to Improve your Skin - PART 2: Outside going in

(to read the previous article about "Natural Remedies To Improve your Skin - PART 1: Inside Going Out" click here)

Now that we've covered what goes into your body let's talk about what you can do to your exterior to look radiant right away!

SCRUBS

                                          

I make my own because I'm poor. Here are a few alternatives that are great for the whole body, safe to use in the shower because sugar and salt base. I suggest scrubbing your face and body after a hot steamy shower, so that your pores will be nice and open (yeah baby, open those pores!) and you'll achieve a really deep peeling.

FOR DRY/DELICATE SKIN:


Sugar scrubs are better for you. Mix a tbsp of cane sugar with a little of flax seed oil (enough to get the sugar a little wet) and massage it into your face. It should feel a little scratchy but not uncomfortable. 

FOR COMBINATION SKIN:


Salt scrub (my personal favorite). You can use fine salt or course salt, depending on the level of scrub you want to achieve (bigger salt = mild scrub / fine salt = heavy scrubbing experience). I like to mix it with Jojoba oil and vitamin E oil, keep reading to learn more about these oils.  

FOR THICK RESILIENT SKIN


Combine the salt with a few lemon drops, it's astringent, will cleanse your pores and then close them forever. Well maybe not forever, but for a week or so for sure.

Try this recipe:



WHY SALT?

1. It brightens the skin color

2. It's rich in minerals

3. Combined with oil, it leaves your skin feeling soft

DO NOT ABUSE THE POWER OF THE FACE SCRUB!!! Or else... your skin will get overly sensitive and you don't want to strip it of all the good oils that it naturally creates to lubricate itself. Shiny skin is good, it means it's healthy. Fuck powder. Let your skin shine! 

FACE MASKS


Two words: clay powder. I started using this 10 years ago to make my own face masks and I never went back to buying a pre-made mask. Invest in some high quality one, cause a little goes a long way. I prefer green clay, I buy it in bulks (500gr at the time) and it lasts me about two years. It doesn't spoil. It's dry powder, why would it? 

Here are some recipes. Add the liquids little by little, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Here's a demonstration of that:


HYDRATING MASK


1tbsp clay powder, yogurt, vitamin E oil. 

MILD HYDRATING MASK


1tbsp clay powder, jojoba oil, water  

SUPERSTRONG ASTRINGENT MASK


1tbsp clay powder, lemon juice, water

I'M FEELING LAZY MASK


1tbsp clay powder, water.

Apply on freshly scrubbed skin and let it sit until it dries out. Then wash it with warm water, one of those little face sponges usually helps. 

Other ingredients you can use for a scrub or a mask: coffee grounds, leftovers from juicer.

DAILY FACE ROUTINE


This is a delicate topic because every person has different needs and I don't feel comfortable making  a blanket recommendation. 

But I can tell you what I use! 

I'm allergic to EVERYTHING (soap, alcohol, scents, parabens, dies) so I have to invest in a face cream that has basically nothing in it. 

For body and face soap I use Seba  Med, free of everything, works very well as a make up remover as well. For tougher make up and lipstick I put some coconut oil on a cotton swab and finish cleaning my face with that. 

For face cream I use a brand called La Roche Posay, it's not the cheapest but it works for me. 

I don't use any toners, makeup removers, eye creams or anti wrinkle creams (yet). When I need a little extra moister I mix a drop of my vitamin E oil with my moisturizer before I go to bed. 

BODY OILS, BODY BUTTERS


Here are some body oils that I recommend using instead of body lotions. 

Jojoba Oil (has the same PH as the skin and has been used for centuries to cure skin irritations)
Almond Oil (great emollient, known to prevent stretch marks even during pregnancy)
Coconut Oil (anti microbial and it smells so good!)
Raw Shea Butter (super hydrating, I use this for dry heals, cuticles and as lip balm)

You can also make your own blend, try following this recipe:



As for something that's already blended try New York Biology ANTI-CELLULITE Massage oil

I buy everything organic and fair trade, in bulks, to save some money, cause as I was saying before I'm poor.

ESSENTIAL OILS


Beside the wonderful scent that they provide, essential oils can be very powerful both on the mind and on the body. 
I buy mine from Amazon, my favorite brand right now is NEW YORK BIOLOGY.

Here are just a few suggestions, for more infos check out this chart.

GERANIUM, TEA TREE: antimicrobial, antibacterial, controls oil production, clears out acne.

ROSE: great for dry aging skin

LAVANDER: the smell of lavender is believed to relieve stress, which is one of the main causes of bad skin. 

SANDALWOOD, YLING YLANG: Anti aging, regulate the PH (so great for any skin type).

So experiment and let me know how it goes. 

Have you been using any of these methods? Anything in particular that you have been doing that has made your skin look amazing? 

Feel free to leave a comment below or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram..

I hope this was helpful! 

Valentina
RealItalianKitchen

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mayonnaise in 30 seconds - Real Italian Kitchen - Episode 109

I bet most of you who are researching how to make Mayonnaise at home have never made it before, and after watching this video recipe you'll never want to buy it again.

It takes longer to tell you what the ingredients are then it takes to actually make it.

You can feel good about this Mayonnaise because you can choose the quality of the ingredients you are putting in it (Remember my slogan? "You made it, so you know what's in it!").

I chose pasture raised locally sourced eggs, organic lemon, organic sunflower seed oil, sea salt. I ate a lot of it, and I know it's full of fat, but at least it's PRESERVATIVES FREE and it doesn't have any weird ingredients in it that I can't pronounce..!




For the visual aid watch the video I linked above!

Here's a list of the ingredients with the conversion in grams and cups. 


-250ml (3/4cup) Peanut or Sunflower seed oil
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-1tbsp or freshly squeezed lemon
-1 whole egg, at room temperature.

Utensils:

-Some kind of immersion blender/hand blender. Mine is a Cuisinart Smart Stick, sometimes they are called "wands".
-You'll also need a container with tall walls, what you usually use for whipping cream should work fine.

For the step-by-step just watch the video, skip to the 1:00 minute mark and watch the 30 seconds it takes me to whip this thing together!

Please remember that since the egg is raw, the life of your homemade Mayo will be short, even if kept in the fridge. Consume within 2 or 3 days. If it smells funky or tastes acidic, throw it out.

When I make mine, I usually share it with my neighbors, cause my husband and I are not big sandwich eaters anymore (you know, cause I had to go gluten free..).

I hope you'll try this and if you do please feel free to share some pictures on the Real Italian Kitchen FB, twitter or Instagram page, tag me or #realitaliankitchen




Enjoy!
Valentina
RealItalianKitchen




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Seafood Soup Recipe + #ReadyChefGo Review - Real Italian Kitchen - Episo...

Ahhh... to steam in the oven. Wait. Say what?

That's what I thought when I first found out about the cooking bags by Ready Chef Go. Why would I steam in the oven? Well they have their reasons for thinking it's a good idea. Watch the video and find out!



Ok. Now that you've watched it, what do you think? Will this be a useful novelty to add to your cooking utensils or will it be another half used box that sits on your shelf?

I will definitely use this for soups and stocks, but not in the microwave and not to save time, that's for sure.

And to be honest, another thing that bothers me about this is the one time use of the bags. You know I don't like to waste, and this is a lot of plastic (or whatever these bags are made out of) that they are releasing in the environment!

So I'll give it a solid 2/5, because the quality of the steamed food is outstanding, but it looses stars when it comes to being environmentally friendly and for daily use.

I hope this was helpful!

Valentina
RealItalianKitchen