Twinkle Michelin Star – Fondente al Cioccolato Speziato con Gelato di More E Zenzero

I don’t understand what happened with Christmas this year.

I do know that it has a tendency to sneak up on you but this time it seems as if it was even slier than usual and very quietly crept behind my back and then suddenly yelled loudly “Hello – here I am again!!!” only a few days ago.

I had all these big plans for this Christmas season. I was going to send all those Christmas cards that I always forget to send. And this time even on time. I was going to clean my floors so spotless and shiny that they would serve as spare mirrors if needed. And obviously I was going to cook all sorts of Italian Christmas dishes and write very expertly about them.

But then something unexplainable happened and as a result, the quantity of Christmas cards sent and Italian Christmas dishes tested is now zero whereas the amount of spots on my floors is not currently publicly disclosable.

However, although I hence don’t currently have any Italian Christmas classics – such as panettone – at my disposal for blogging, I do have a very worthy substitute recipe with fittingly Christmassy flavours. The recipe is also related to stars – even though in this case they are Michelin (and TV) ones.

It orignates from another Italian cookbook “Via Emilia, via da casa” I recently bought. It is authored by an Italian celebrity chef called Bruno Barbieri. His restaurants earlier earned seven Michelin stars in total. More recently he has been starring in many TV cooking shows (such as MasterChef Italia).

Many of Bruno’s recipes in the book look fabulous but unfortunately many of them are also too challenging to test in Helsinki due to their very special ingredients. However, this dessert was a fantastic exception with the Christmassy twist as I mentioned. There are quite a few flavours in it but they work superbly together!

So I suppose all the remains to be written this time (accompanied by a solid intention to investigate different Italian traditions for New Year next week…) is:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Spiced Dark Chocolate with Blackberry Ice Cream And Ginger

Serves 4

For the chocolate:

100 g dark chocolate

1 tbsp sugar

100 ml milk

100 ml cream

1 small dried red chilli

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

2 seeds of cardamom

fresh ginger

For the ice cream:

ice cream (home made or not)

2 punnets of blackberries

1 glass of sweet Lambrusco wine

2 tbsp sugar

zest of one orange

For the chocolate: In a kettle, gently heat the milk without boiling it and add the sugar and all the spices. Mix and remove the kettle from the heat. Leave to infuse for 3-4 hours. After that, filter the spiced milk through a strainer. Move the milk back to the kettle with the cream. Heat well, then switch off the heat and add the crumbled chocolate. Remove the kettle from the heat and stir well until the chocolate has melted into the mixture. Cool the sauce down in the room temperature.

For the ice cream: Rinse and clean the blackberries. Move them to a pan with the Lambrusco wine, sugar and orange zest and cook for 7-8 minutes. Filter the sauce and let it cool down. Combine the sauce with the ice cream.

Presentation: Spoon some chocolate sauce into a glass. Add a scoop of the blackberry ice cream on top and sprinkle with grated fresh ginger.

The Ancient Couple – Minestra di Zucca alla Milanese

The ancient Finns probably knew how to fight a bear with their bare hands, how to survive a freezing dark winter lasting 7 months (I have no idea how without the modern technology) and which berries and mushrooms are not poisonous to eat.

The ancient Italians – on the other hand – knew how to write a piece of literature classics, how to compose an opera and that a strong cheese and pumpkins make a fantastic culinary couple. I already concluded the same thing about pumpkins and cheese based on this Giorgione’s recipe a few months ago, and this traditional soup is another example why this love affair has been able to solidly withstand the lures of different foodie trends for centuries.

Another neat thing about this recipe is cooking pasta with (pumpkin) milk instead of water. The end result combined with parmesan and butter is a delicious, hearty soup fabulous during the colder months of the year. In fact, it would have also also a very fitting dish for those poor shivering Finns to warm up their hands still cold from the bear fight…

Milanese Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

200 g pasta (small & short)

600 g pumpkin

600 ml whole milk

100 g grated parmesan

40 g butter salt (to your taste)

Peel the pumpkin, remove its seeds and slice it. Cook the pumpkin slices in a small amount of water until soft. Drain the pumpkins and blend them into a purée. In a kettle, bring the milk to a boil and add the pumpkin purée. Stir and season with salt. Add the pasta and cook the soup on a moderate heat (stirring frequently) until the pasta is cooked. Mix the butter and half of the parmesan into the soup. Serve immediately on soup dishes and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese on top.