Pasta e fagioli


Borlotti in a podA simple bowl of beans floating in a steaming vegetable broth, accompanied by the occasional tube-shaped pasta served in ceramic bowls meant for caffè latte in the morning. . . . . .

These are the comforts of home in a season where blankets of grey clouds cover the almost forgotten blue-summer skies.  As the morning mist lingers for hours above the rivers and canals, I stay tucked away inside in the luxury of grey woollen socks. Compositions of candles and spices on worn silver trays go hand in hand with rearranging the pantry shelves to fit in glass jars filled with grains, beans and chestnut flour.  Continue reading

Beet Bourguignon

Beets and mushroomsIt’s official. Autumn has arrived. As the hours from sunrise to sunset are divided equally between day and night,l I find myself unwilling to accept the changing of the seasons.  Holding on to summer’s bounty for a little while longer, loads of late harvest fruits and vegetables from the farmers market are making their way into my kitchen. Chutneys simmer on the stove and homemade tomato sauce is simultaneously in the making with no time to spare. It’s a rush holding on to the last days of summer, especially because I know stopping September in its tracks is simply impossible.

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Sweet polenta blueberry cake

Fresh blueberries bring back memories of making Finnish style pancakes with my Mom and picking wild berries in the woods in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Whenever I happen upon carton boxes overflowing with my favorite berries I take them home and bake a cake. Blueberries symbolize American summers and the following recipe is my down-home version of  traditional shortcake. Cornmeal is beautifully yellow in contrast to the midnight blue fruit. A touch of rosemary and lemon give this cake an Italian attitude.

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Watermelon infused water

Watermelon water III feel the end of summer vacation coming on. It feels like curled toes at the edge of a cold swimming pool I am not quite ready to jump into. The month of August is the Sunday of summer and I have promised myself to prolong the sense of freedom that goes with loose-fitting timetables indefinitely. My plan is to outrun the seasons by intermingling spontaneity with life’s daily necessities.

Throughout the warm summer I have assembled  foods rather than cooking. Weekends have been luxuriously filled with visits to farmers markets and taking home baskets full of new harvest fruits and vegetables.

In the midst of making watermelon granita one lazy afternoon, I marveled at the amount of rind left on the countertop. Rather than discarding them I decided to conduct a kitchen experiment by putting the rinds in a big pan of water to chill in the refrigerator. Continue reading

Cherries and homemade mascarpone

Cherries on a plate and in a crateMaking homemade mascarpone has been on my “to do” kitchen list for some time. Although I must admit this has no particular relationship to bright red cherries. I was inspired to combine both after a weekend shopping trip to the farmers market. A crate of red stone fruits and a few glass jars of organic cream were the spark for a perfect pair. Just how easy making mascarpone turned out to be was quite a surprise. Like so many “old-fashioned” cooking methods, the key to success is to following a few simple steps. The results unfold after an effortless wait. Homemade mascarpone is infinitely creamier and most definitely lighter than the store-bought version. From now on, I am making my own. Just like ricotta, any kind of fresh cream will do — whether from a goat, a cow or a sheep. I poured my pale yellow homemade mascarpone over hibiscus-soaked cherries while thinking of a classic”clafoutis”. Did I already mention I hope summer is forever?

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Nectarine sorbet

Peaches on golden platesSummer  is the best of all seasons — bringing loads of melons, even more berries,  crates full of peaches, nectarines and baskets and baskets of blueberries. The abundance of reds, purples and pinks inspire to simple salads and heavenly desserts. Fruit macedonia for breakfast or lunch makes way for brightly colored frozen fruits after supper. I like to fill frosty caffè’ latte bowls with homemade fruit sorbet and top them with chopped fruits for an effortless dessert.

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Strawberry and lime tomato gazpacho

Tomatoes and strawberries with lime

I love strawberries. At the moment my interest in this ruby-red fruit is more accurately described as an obsession. With the heat of the summer weighing heavily on my mind, the only thing that lingers is the sweet aroma of strawberries. It would seem that this luscious red fruit is even starting to compete with my favorite of all time — the tomato. This is quite a statement, since not only do I love tomatoes, I would even consider wearing a perfume made from the oven-roasted version. Continue reading


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