Cakes & Bakes: Piadina

Piadina with olives, hummus and rocket | H is for Home

Prior to making these flatbreads, I’d never heard of piadina. That’s strange really, seeing as flatbreads from other countries are so well known – pitta, tortilla, chapati, roti…

Ball of piadina dough | H is for Home

Piadina is from the Emilia-Romagna region of north eastern Italy. It’s an area renowned for its food; the same area that produces Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and the origin of pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle.

Stack of freshly-made piadina | H is for Home

This basic flatbread is traditionally made of plain white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water and served as a street food. It’s eaten as an accompaniment to cheeses, cold meats and vegetables or with sweet fillings such as jam or chocolate spread.

These are quick, easy and delicious – devour them while they’re still warm with a selection of dips!

Piadina
Yields 4
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz plain flour
  2. 1tsp salt
  3. 15ml/1tbsp olive oil
  4. 105ml/7tbsp lukewarm waterHome-made piadina ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl; make a well in the centre
  2. Add the oil and water to the centre of the flour and gradually mix in to form a dough
  3. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oild cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes
  5. Heat a griddle over a medium heat
  6. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each into 18cm/7-inch round
  7. Cover until ready to cook
  8. Lightly oil the hot griddle, add one or two piadine and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are starting to brown
  9. Turn the piadine over and cook for a further 1-1½ minutes
  10. Serve warm
Notes
  1. If you don't have a griddle, a large heavy frying pan will work just as well
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Adapted from Bread
Adapted from Bread
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Piadina recipe | H is for Home

How to add a touch of Italy to your home

Tuscan villa against a bright blue cloudless skycredit

When one thinks of Italian interiors, a sense of timeless style, quality and perhaps opulence comes to mind. From grand interiors with richly carved furniture, luxurious fabrics, ornate mirrors, decorated tiles and lavish gold detailing – right up to the clean lines of contemporary urban design – full of space & light, designer furniture and modern artwork. Or perhaps what could be termed as classic Tuscan style says Italy to you – the faded charm of country houses and villas with all their character and romance – antique country furniture, exposed stone, wooden beams and baked terracotta.

Perhaps you’ve been inspired after a trip to the country or while scouring magazines or Pinterest – here’s how to add a touch of Italy to your home:

Tuscan villa interior with red L-shaped sofa and stone sculpturecredit

Old World Italian vs modern Italian

As we’ve mentioned, Italian interiors come in various forms from minimalist urban chic to traditional country rustic. Before you start introducing that touch of Italy to your space, decide which you prefer and which style your home suits best. Perhaps develop an eclectic look where styles are fused – sleek and luxurious with ornate additions such as a grand chandelier, ornate carved antique furniture or fine art sculpture introduced to a room. Or perhaps a grander, luxurious and lavish overall feel with touches of modernity in the form of a cutting edge designer chair or piece of modern art.

Marble kitchen island and counter-top giving a touch of Italycredit

Invest in stone

When it comes to adding a touch of Italy to your space, you can’t make a better start than investing in some good quality stone. Perhaps heavy-duty limestone floor tiles to create a clean, timeless look. Marble or marble-effect worktops are ideal in kitchens. Or incorporate stone accessories – marble chopping boards and pestle & mortars, for example. Small mosaic tiles are perfect for kitchen or bathroom splash backs. And decorative stone sculptures and pillars introduce an atmosphere of classical antiquity.

Luxe bedroom with gilt chandelier, mirrors and furniturecredit

Go ornate

If you’re going for the opulent look then the more ornate the better when it comes to creating the Italian feel in the home. Look for mirrors with intricately designed frames and carved furniture reminiscent of that you’d see in a stately home or grand villa. Opt for large rugs with elaborate designs, opulent chandeliers and decorative handles to doors & drawers.

Marble floored hallway with bright blue furniture and accessories in a Tuscan villacredit

Add some colour

When it comes to colour a neutral backdrop with striking golds, rich blues and reds work perfectly for adding a touch of grand Italy to your home – we love this combination of a bold chandelier, ornate gold mirror and the sumptuous sofa design. If you’re thinking country rustic, then it will be a palette of creams and terracotta with subtle natural tones introduced through stone, wicker and wood.

Renaissance-inspired bedroom suitecredit

Take inspiration from famous Italian periods

The Renaissance and Baroque periods are strong influences when it comes to Italian interior design. Craftsmanship is of great importance. Take inspiration from this principal and purchase the highest quality that budget will allow. When it comes to furniture and accessories, luxury and opulence is important when replicating Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Cypress trees in a Tuscan garden

Don’t forget your outdoor space

Outside is as just as important as the inside when it comes to creating a home that transports you to Italy. Structure is important with stone paths, trimmed hedges and sculpture offering a strong backdrop. Olive trees, figs, citrus plants or perhaps tall Italian cypress trees can be planted in pots at the entrance to your home or garden. These particular trees are very distinctive and classic Italy. They can thrive in the UK because they are a hardy, evergreen and drought resistant too.

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Cakes & Bakes: Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base

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Slice of home-made Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base | H is for Home

Lidl had a ‘Taste of Italy‘ special this week so I stocked up on a few Mediterranean bits & bobs when I popped in. I bought a couple of tubs of ricotta, not quite knowing what I was going to do with them. Of course… Italian Cheesecake!

Ground almonds, sugar and butter in a saucepan

I fancied making it with a crunchy base using amaretti biscuits but I couldn’t find any in the shops. No need to panic, I improvised and made my own almond crumb base.

Almond crumb cheesecake base

ricotta and sugar mixture

I’ve made a fair few different cheesecakes in the past. I think this is almost up there with the all-time favourite Gordon Ramsey version.

making Italian cheesecake mixture

uncooked Italian cheesecake

It’s best served cold, straight from the fridge, perhaps with an after-dinner espresso.

Italian cheesecake straight from the oven

Home-made Italian cheesecake

Fancy giving it a try? Pin the recipe for later!

Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base
Serves 6
Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
For the base
  1. 40g/1½oz butter
  2. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  3. 30g/1oz caster sugar
  4. pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. 500g/1lb 2oz ricotta cheese
  2. 150g/5oz caster sugar
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. juice from ½ lemon
  6. 25g/1oz plain flour
  7. 15g/½oz flaked almonds, toasted (optional)Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF
  2. Grease an 18cm/7-inch loose-bottomed cake tin
  3. In a medium saucepan, add the butter and put over a low heat until melted
  4. Remove from the heat add the almonds and sugar and combine well
  5. Tip the mix out into the cake tin and press uniformly into the base using the back of a spoon
  6. Bake the base for 10 minutes, set aside and allow to cool
  7. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta and caster sugar until smooth
  8. Gently beat the eggs in a measuring jug before adding gradually to the cheese & sugar mix. Stir well after each addition
  9. Mix in the vanilla extract and then the lemon juice
  10. Sift the flour into the mix and combine well
  11. Pour the mixture on to the almond crumb base and bake for a hour
  12. After the hour, turn the oven off and leave the door ajar allowing the cake to cool in the oven
  13. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds over the top
  14. Allow to cool in the tin completely before removing
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Italian glass jars

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row of vintage Italian glass jars

I’m always on the look out for nice kitchen storage jars – well, to be honest, it’s usually Justin who’s keeping an eye out on my behalf at the various auctions & markets he visits.

vintage Italian glass jar

He brought these beauties home last week – very superior in quality to my normal offerings! I know they were quite expensive, but he’s not divulged the exact figure as yet.

vintage Italian glass jar on its side

They’re Italian and date from the first half of the 20th century – 1920s to 1940s kind of era.

vintage Italian glass jar showing its paper label

They’re a fabulous shape – quite modernist. Remember that early black & white Flash Gordon series? They remind us of Zarkov’s rocket ship from that… or something out of the film Metropolis.

gold coloured lid of vintage Italian glass jar

We’re not sure what exactly they were used for, although we’re certain that they were on display in a shop or café. They’re large enough to hold a wide variety of products. Coffee beans maybe – or luxury chocolates. Perhaps even cigars?? They don’t smell of anything, but the lid interiors have a distinct staining – it looks a bit like coffee or tobacco.

gold coloured lids of vintage Italian glass jars

Let us know if you have the definitive answer!

22 Apr 15 | update: We think we’ve got the answer. The paper sticker is a tax certificate indicating that tax has been paid on the products inside – this manufacturing tax on spirits was introduced in 1926. The jars probably contained something preserved in alcohol. This would most likely be fruit such as peaches & cherries.  Thanks to Peter, one of our regular readers, for his information.

Cakes & Bakes: Pizza

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Home-made pizza sliced | H is for Home

It’s pizza for this week’s Cakes & Bakes. We’ve got a great pizzeria here in Todmorden – and we certainly can’t match their huge, wood fired oven… but we like to eat it in the house sometimes too!

There’s a very simple list of ingredients for the dough – flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, water.

yeast mixture yeast mixture next to the fire

With sub zero temperatures outside, the yeast mixture found the perfect place to come to life beside the fire.

pizza dough

The dough is simple to make and easy to work with.

risen pizza dough

Size and thickness is a matter of personal choice. In this house, Adelle has deep pan tendencies – Justin is a more thin & crispy kinda guy!

shaped pizza base

We rustled up a lovely tomato sauce. Olive oil, garlic, tomatoes & basil – cooked through, seasoned, reduced and strained.

tomato sauce being added to pizza base

This sauce was spread evenly over the pizza dough. Adelle then added roast aubergine, mozzarella and olives. Justin very similar, but he substituted Gruyère cheese for the mozzarella and also added red onion.

Adelle's pizza before being cooked Justin's pizza before being cooked

Both turned out very well – delicious in fact. We’ll continue experimenting with dough thickness, toppings and oven temperatures ’til we have absolute perfection!

Easy pizza base
Yields 3
Ingredients
  1. 2 tbsp fast acting yeast
  2. 1 tsp sugar
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 300ml lukewarm water
  5. 500g strong flour
  6. ½ tsp sea saltEasy pizza base ingredients
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If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. In a measuring jug mix the oil, lukewarm water, sugar and fast acting yeast
  2. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes for the yeast to begin foaming
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and make a well in the middle
  4. Add the yeast mixture and combine to a smooth, firm dough
  5. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes and form into a ball
  6. Put the ball into the large mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until it doubles in size - about an hour
  7. Tip the dough back out on to the floured work surface, divide into 3 equal parts and flatten each into 1cm circles
  8. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before adding toppings and cooking
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Quick panna cotta

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Quick panna cotta with blackcurrant preserve | H is for Home

This panna cotta recipe has a very good effort versus reward ratio – it’s quick, easy and utterly delicious.

Pouring hot liquid mixture into glass bowls

We once read a great quote – “panna cotta is just blancmange with a fancy accent”. That’s kind of true, but panna cotta does sound better doesn’t it? It’s the perfect dessert, particularly if you have to make something at short notice – or if you’re super busy with other jobs – Christmas week for example!!

blackcurrant preserve

You can eat it plain – but a quick fruit coulis, caramel sauce or chocolate shavings add a delicious extra dimension. For this batch we made a lovely topping from blackcurrants that we’d preserved in the summer. Honey can also be added to the cream mix which is a classic method in Italy.

Quick panna cotta
Yields 6
Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 600ml double cream
  2. 1tsp Vege-gel (or any other agar agar powder)
  3. 50g caster sugarpanna cotta ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Pour the double cream into a medium-sized saucepan
  2. Before heating, add the Vege-gel/agar agar powder and combine well with a whisk
  3. Add the sugar and heat on a medium flame stirring until the sugar has dissolved
  4. Bring to simmering and pour into heat proof glass coups or bowls
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before covering with cling film/Saran wrap and putting into the fridge for at least 2 hours
  6. Serve cold with fruit compote, preserve or coulis
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/