03 May 2009

Our fridge was essentially empty… That’s one of those situations where you need to look at the ingredients and invent something good with what you have…

Cooking with nothing…

So it happened that this long weekend we arrived late in Civitella and we forgot to go shopping before leaving Pisa. This means that our fridge was essentially empty… That’s one of those situations where you need to look at the ingredients and invent something good with what you have.

I opened our sad fridge and I found a couple of lemons and cream, and I always keep a small piece of salame or prosciutto, flour and yeast or baking powder in the house. I decided to go to my parents’ hen-house and sure enough I was lucky and I found 6 fresh eggs there!

With these ingredients, I decided to prepare fresh pasta with a lemon cream sauce for lunch and small “fake focaccine” with prosciutto and spicy salame for dinner. So here are the recipes!

Fresh pasta (for 2 people)

  • 1 egg
  • 100gr of flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • water

Preparing fresh pasta is very simple once you learn how dry your dough should be.

Make a small “volcano” with the flour, add a pinch of salt and the egg in the centre. With a fork start beating the egg in your flour volcano, slowly incorporating flour. When the mix starts to look like pasta rather than a liquid mess, powder your hands with flour and start using your fingers to knead the dough, finishing incorporating all the flour. You can also buy a small spatula which you can use to mix flour and egg without using your hands, but where is the fun then!?  When all the flour is incorporated and you have a nice dough, you leave it for a couple of minutes and then you can either use a pasta machine or a rolling-pin to make the dough as thin as you like it. I am lazy and I cut slices of pasta and I use a machine!

Remember to put your finished pasta to dry on a thin layer of corn flour immediately after you have cut it also mixing it with the corn flour. If you don’t do this, it might become sticky and you might find yourself with an inextricable bundle of tagliolini!

Lemon cream sauce

  • cream
  • 2 lemons
  • butter
  • marjoram
  • pepper
  • salt

Nothing is easier. Grate the outer skin of the two lemons (better if organic of course, and obviously wash them very well before doing this). Only the yellow part should be used: the white one is too bitter. Melt some butter in a pan big enough to contain the pasta that you will cook later, so don’t choose a very small one. Put the lemon skin in the butter and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add some marjoram and pepper but not too much, otherwise they will cover the lemon flavour. When the butter is well flavoured, add the cream and mix well, until you have uniform and smooth cream.

Cut the lemon that you have used for the skin and squeeze half of it in the sauce. Mix well.

In the meanwhile, cook your fresh pasta. Put it in boiling, salted water and wait for it to come to the surface, stirring every once in a while so that the pasta does not stick. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Generally when it floats it is ready. Taste a bite to make sure.

When it’s ready, drain the pasta and after shaking it for a couple of seconds to make sure it is well drained, put it in the sauce and mix well, so that it does not stick.

“Fake Focaccine”

  • 300gr of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag of instantaneous baking powder
  • if you have some: some grated cheese
  • 1 glass of milk
  • some aromatic herbs
  • 50gr of seed or olive oil
  • salt

Preheat the oven at 180°C  (about 350°F).

Whip the eggs in a bowl, and keep mixing to incorporate the sieved flour and the baking powder, then cheese, milk, salt and the herbs and the oil which needs to be poured while mixing.

You should end up with a thick but still liquid mix. Grease a baking tin with butter and dust with flour (or avoid all the fuss and use some greaseproof paper) and pour small round portions of the mix on the tin with a spoon.

Put in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot with cold cuts!

Buon appetito!

By the way… we give cooking classes so if you are in the area of Siena or the Maremma, you can contact us!


  1. That’s one of the most romantic stories I’ve heard in a while! Forgot your groceries? Just check in the fridge, hop over to the hen house and pick up some eggs…. and voila, you’ve got fresh psta with lemon cream sauce, and focaccine! The simple things in life can be so enchanting! Especially when you describe it that way.

    Well done, great post!

    Best regards,

  2. I wish to live like this one day… It does sound idyllic to be collecting your own eggs for lunch and making your own pasta. The recipes sound yummy, I’ve never made my own pasta but would love to give it a try.


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