E’ pronto! Tutti a tavola means Lunch is ready! How many times have we heard this sentence? For me this is a marvellous memory of when I was a child, which I now live again with my children, but also on 12 TV Parma, every day before and after the TV news: many easy recipes for the whole family to prepare in few minutes.

The recipes for mums intended for children

How many times have we asked ourselves: what can I cook for lunch today? So, here are some ideas for quick recipes to prepare for the most demanding guests at home, i.e. our children.

The star ingredients in many of these recipes are the products of the Ortolina range, in particular Ortolina Kids, the tomato products containing only organic ingredients, plenty of vegetables and designed by the Rodolfi company for the wellbeing of our young family members.

è pronto tutti a tavola

Lunch is ready: Every day before and after the TV news

Are you ready to say: Lunch is ready! Then don’t miss my recipes. Every day, before and after the TV news on 12 TV Parma (channel 16 on digital TV, channel 5016 on Sky decoder), live streaming and on demand. Your children will be happy to taste something new every day and always with tasty and healthy recipes.

Would you like some spoilers? Spinach and ricotta gnocchi, Sicilian style rolls, Potato and courgette patties with tomato sauce  and much, much more.

Buon appetito!


Starting from 13 January, the day celebrating the Saint Patron of Parma, Saint Ilario (also my name-day) do not miss the weekly appointment with Uno chef per tutti, my TV programme dedicated to recipes for all the people who cannot eat gluten, but also other allergens that I will specify from time to time.

Live on Fridays

To watch the programme live, the appointment is every Friday at 7pm (Rome time) on QuBìTV, but if you do not manage to follow the streaming live, don’t worry because you will find the recording online and on the Youtube channel of the tv platform.

And since we start in a cold month, the first recipe is going to be a fantastic Onion soup au gratin to get a full energy charge and to warm up with the flavour of a great classic of peasant foods.

My “field kitchen” at CUBO

Uno chef per tutti is a fantastic live adventure from what I like defining “my field kitchen”: indeed, cooking at CUBO, the multi-purpose venue in Parma, is evidence of the fact that you just need an induction plate and an oven to prepare many tasty recipes ranging from starter to dessert, and that we can all cook in less than 30 minutes, just allowing some extra cooking time.

So, the programme is a celebration of “free from” dishes with taste, fun and especially the joy of cooking and sharing.

Also watch my video recipes available on the blog!

E’ arrivato il Calendario corsi di cucina gennaio-giugno 2023 con i corsi in presenza, ma anche con gli amati corsi online su grande richiesta di molti di voi che vivono lontani da Parma o semplicemente che amano cucinare sapendo che avranno la cena pronta da gustarsi in famiglia.

Sul calendario trovi pertanto tutti i corsi con specificato il luogo, fisico o virtuale, in cui si terranno.

Calendario corsi di cucina gennaio-giugno 2023

Leggi il Calendario e clicca sui link riportati sotto per accedere a tutti i dettagli di ciascun corso e per poterti iscrivere ai corsi a cui sei interessato oppure utilizza i buoni corso che hai ricevuto in regalo scrivendomi via e-mail a illybertinelli@gmail.com

NB: I buoni corso online NON sono utilizzabili per le attività in presenza.


Dettagli sui corsi e iscrizioni


18 FEBBRAIO ORE 15 | Corso con la dietista Alessandra Bosetti | Sede: I love my house – Parma | SALVA IL GUSTO CON MENO CALORIE


11 MARZO ORE 15 | Corso con la dietista Alessandra Bosetti | Sede: I love my house – Parma | PROTEINE: QUALI E QUANTE


15 APRILE ORE 15 | Corso con la dietista Alessandra Bosetti | Sede: I love my house – Parma | METTITI A DIETA E MANGIA I DOLCI





Are you looking for more ideas for your out-of-home lunch? Eating out is indispensable not only for those who work, but also for those who study, so the time has come to share some recipes for your lunch box or for what Japanese people call “bento“… Well, many ideas for lunch boxes that are complete, balanced and tasty to take with you on every occasion.

So, for our young ones going to university and having to eat gluten free and to count carbohydrates easily, the lunch box is a faithful travel mate that contributes to turning the lunch break into a joyful moment.

We found the perfect lunch box for our needs at our friend’s store “I love my house” whom I always ask for help when I am looking for equipment and kitchen solutions: here is where you can find our LUNCH BOX.

This is the beginning of a project that is very dear to me because lunch is a key meal, especially for out kids and we cannot allow ourselves to run short of ideas!

Stay tuned for many more fantastic recipes! Meanwhile, have a look at my Coronation pasta salad.

Pasta with chickpea cream and broccoli

85.91g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 110g broccoli florets
  • 100g boiled chickpeas
  • 70g Massimo Zero Organic Pipe**
  • 15g dried apricots
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley
  • salt

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (in Italy they may be listed on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Boil pasta al dente in salted boiling water, drain and dress it with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil leaving the pasta to cool down.
  2. Blend 70g chickpeas with about 50g water, lemon juice, salt and pepper and a dribble of oil to obtain a cream.
  3. Dress the remaining chickpeas with paprika, pepper and oil to taste, together with blanched broccoli florets.
  4. Season the pasta with the chickpea and broccoli mixture, then add the dried apricots cut in pieces and pour everything in the lunch box.
  5. Put the chickpea cream in the second container or on the pasta completing with a dusting of chopped parsley and a dribble of oil.  Mix well before eating.

Version with gluten of Pasta with chickpea cream and broccoli 

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten; however, if you want, you can replace Massimo Zero corn and rice pasta with a durum wheat alternative.

If a historical company like Pastificio Berruto asks you to think of a nutritionally balanced one-dish meal for young consumers to be published in the middle of summer, I immediately thought of my kids, of what they would be able to cook on their own and, above all, of what would make them and their friends happy for a summer lunch. Here is my Coronation Pasta Salad.

My recipe draws inspiration from Coronation chicken, a cold chicken dish that was invented by the two women who ran the London Cordon Bleu cooking school for the banquet organised for Queen Elizabeth‘s coronation in 1953. The name is therefore a clear tribute to the event for which it was intended.

In addition to boiled chicken left to cool, the recipe called for dried apricots, curry, mayonnaise and sour cream, as well as other ingredients in smaller amounts. The two ingredients I took the liberty of making changes to are mayonnaise, the amount of which I have drastically reduced, and sour cream, which I have replaced with zero-fat Greek yoghurt. Furthermore, I turned the recipe into a delicious pasta salad.

So, I enriched the chicken with pasta as a source of carbohydrates and cherry tomatoes as a source of fibre and a touch of freshness. In short, a riot of aromas, flavours and colours for a truly royal summer!

Gli ingredienti principali dell'Insalata di pasta Coronation

The main ingredients of the Coronation Pasta Salad

Coronation pasta salad

22.16g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4-6 servings

  • 600g chicken
  • 300g gluten-free Penne Berruto**
  • 150g water used for boiling the chicken
  • 85g dried apricots
  • 75g fat-free Greek yoghurt
  • 75g mayonnaise*
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 teaspoons curry*
  • 1 level tablespoon of tomato paste
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 peppercorns
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Boil the chicken breasts in a large pan with the bay leaf, onion and carrot. Add half a tablespoon of salt and the peppercorns; bring to the boil over medium heat and cook for about 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the cooking juices.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the finely chopped shallots in a non-stick pan with a little oil; add the curry and continue cooking for one minute. Add the tomato paste dissolved in the chicken stock, the lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Remove the chicken from the broth and cut it into fairly even pieces.
  4. Mix together mayonnaise, yoghurt and curry sauce; add chopped apricots and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Season the chicken with the sauce and stir, making sure that it is completely covered by it. Leave it to rest.
  6. Cook the penne al dente in plenty of salted water, drain and dress with the chicken salad. Complete with a few chopped cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Serve the salad warm or cold to taste: it is simply irresistible!

Pasta coronation

Version with gluten of Coronation salad

Replace the gluten-free Penne Berruto with standard Penne Berruto, while the sauce contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no changes are necessary.

When kids ask you for a savoury snack that has to combine several needs, the choice becomes difficult, and if you add a colour game, in my case green, the request turns into a real challenge: the answer is my Pea protein pancakes.

The first request, this time from my son Nicolò, is for protein pancakes because his protein requirement is imposed by daily basketball practice. I turned to a source of vegetable protein and looked for a soy flour with the label gluten-free.

The second request, again from Nicolò, was to include legumes in the preparation, again to better cope with sporting activity having glucose levels as stable as possible.

And finally the game: thanks to theItalian Food Bloggers Association I became aware of a fun initiative entitled Chefs in Colouran online event by Federchimica Ceramicolor dedicated to colour in the kitchen, and since painting is one of my hobbies, I couldn’t help but jump into the fray! My task? Making a green dish, so my pea protein pancakes were just perfect.

And the taste? Delicious and with the sweet and irresistible touch of peas, teased by the saltiness of Greek feta… in short, challenges are like spices for cooking: they add flavour to everything. If you love pancakes, also try these made with chickpea flour.

Protein pea pancakes

8.6g carbohydrates per 100g 

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 250g peas
  • 100g vegetable stock
  • 100g milk
  • 60g white soy yoghurt*
  • 45g soy flour*
  • 1 egg
  • 20g wholemeal rice flour*
  • 20g leek
  • 4g cake yeast*
  • Greek feta cheese to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Mix soy and rice flour with milk, soy yoghurt and egg in a bowl using a whisk or blend in a food processor; add baking powder, a pinch of salt and pepper and 50g peas.
  2. Take a steel ring of the desired diameter (I used a 10cm one) and place it on a non-stick pan; pour a little oil inside the ring, then pour in enough batter with the peas to form a pancake. As soon as it has solidified slightly on one side, remove the ring, turn the pancake over and cook it on the other side as well. Continue until all ingredients are used up.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pea cream. Slice the leek thinly, fry it in a small pan with a little oil, then add the remaining peas and the vegetable stock; bring to the boil. Transfer everything into a blender or use an immersion blender to obtain a cream; season with salt and pepper.
  4. At this point, serve the pancakes accompanied by the cream of peas and crumble Greek feta cheese on top to give a savoury touch.

pancake proteici ai piselli

Version with gluten of Protein pea pancakes

This recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptations are necessary.

The new book by my blogger friend Raffaella Fenoglio of the blog Tre civette sul comò  entitled ’50 Shades of Coffee‘ has been published and I would share some of its mouth-watering recipes in the section of my blog dedicated to‘Friends’ recipes‘, so here is the first one: Coffee-flavoured ricotta Gnudi with Parmesan fondue

50 Shades of Coffee is a rich guide to this iconic beverage where you will find:

  • 50 curiosities
  • 50 ways to order it
  • 50 works that immortalised him
  • 50 aphorisms
  • 50 places to enjoy it (and how to say it in all the languages of the world)
  • 50 gastronomic-cultural itineraries that combine a recipe (not just sweet!) with a song, a film and a book
  • Infographics, interviews with experts, the reading of coffee grounds, etiquette for savouring coffee, the incredible range of aromas, the most suitable type for each zodiac sign, tell me how you drink it and I’ll tell you who you are: in short, a rich and entertaining dive into this chocolate-coloured world.

Copertina del libro 50 sfumature di caffè

Book cover 50 Shades of Coffee

A few words about Raffaella Fenoglio

With Raffaella I have shared many adventures over the years. Among the first experiences shared, there is certainly the splendid Contest dedicated to the Egyptian onion which I recounted on the pages of my blog during which I was a guest in the beautiful city of Sanremo, but there were many more occasion to meet in my virtual kitchen for cooking courses of which Raffaella herself wrote on her blog.

Besides being a blogger, Raffaella Fenoglio is the author of several books:

  • Abbasso l’indice glicemico 50+4 ricette per contenere l’IG mangiando bene
  • Indice GliceAmico
  • Gala Cox e i misteri del viaggio nel tempo
  • Storia degli strani animali della fattoria dei Monaci Templari e del coraggio della piccola Nicole (e di Claude)
  • Un tè con Mr Darcy
  • Christmas Love. Di biscotti, amore e fortuna

She collaborated on the culinary part of the novel Il gusto speziato dell’amore (The Spicy Taste of Love ) by Silvia Casini Fanucci, and on the L’Astro Narrante series by the same author

In 2021 the following books were published: Il taccuino delle parole perdute, La cucina incantata, ricette tratte dalle anime di Hayao Miiyazaki and 50 sfumature di caffè, segreti, curiosità e ricette sulla bevanda più amata al mondo. Co-authors Casini and Pasqua. 

She is also the creator and coauthor of Upside Down Magazine- Film, Book & Food Love. and with a group of friends in 2007, she founded P.E.N.E.L.O.P.E. odv, an active association for gender equality.

At this point, I think you will be excited to try the recipe I have chosen for you, which is associated with one of my favourite films, Pulp Fiction! Naturally, I have adapted Raffealla’s recipe to the needs of diabetes and celiac disease.

Coffee-flavoured Ricotta Gnudi with Parmesan fondue

11.53g carbohydrates per 100g


Ingredients for Gnudi

  • 350g buffalo’s or cow’s milk Ricotta cheese
  • 80g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 80g potato starch*
  • 30g brown rice flour* to flour the Gnudi
  • 15g coffee powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Parmesan fondue

  • 250g heavy cream
  • 120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. In a bowl, mix Ricotta with Parmesan, coffee, potato starch, egg whites, salt and pepper. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  2. Form balls with 30-40g of the mixture and roll them in rice flour.
  3. For the fondue, place the cream in a small saucepan, bring it to the boil, then remove it from the heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese, stirring well so that it mixes well. Season with pepper and place a few spoonfuls on the plates where you serve the Gnudi.
  4. Put a pot of water on the stove, bring it to the boil, salt it and throw the Gnudi, cooking them for about 2 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Drain them with a slotted spoon and arrange them directly on plates, then top them with more Parmesan fondue.

gnudi di ricotta al caffè

Version of gluten of Coffee-flavoured ricotta Gnudi with Parmesan fondue

Prepare Gnudi with 100g wheat flour instead of potato starch and use wheat flour instead of rice flour to flour them.


If the adventures of the Mystery Box received for the Talent for Food contest were surprising, even more surprising was the news that I was one of the three finalists, so I would like to tell you about my adventure from a slightly different perspective than a mere report: how to try to make the impossible possible.

My Talent For Food 2019 adventure and my Lentil flour dumplings

Let’s start with the fact that in my day-to-day life I am a conference interpreter and CEO of a language service company, Interconsul srl – Benefit Company, based in Parma, so on Friday 11 October, duty called as it does every other day, and at 7.45 a.m., after the kids’ hectic school drop-off, I was expected to review the translations to be sent to customers before the weekend. Oh yes, because convinced that I would never be among the finalists of the Talent from the Veneto region, my schedule continued, ineluctable, so I had to switch to weekend mode at 3.30 p.m. that Friday by picking up my friend and food blogger Cristiana Curri at the station (https://blog.giallozafferano.it/chicchecris/) with whom I had organised a cooking class dedicated to the great pasta classics in Roman cuisine on Saturday 12 October in the afternoon. Also, because I like challenges (this is the conclusion I came to), at 9 a.m. on the same day I had a nice course dedicated to savoury recipes using alternative flours to wheat.

A message on WhatsApp: panic!

So what happens when you get a congratulatory message on WhatsApp on a Sunday afternoon as you are driving to Rimini (about 220 km from home) to work as an interpreter at a conference? You wonder what you are being congratulated for, you run through your head what has happened in the last few days, you give up and ask your interpreter colleague sitting in the car with you to answer: “For what?” Return message: “You are in the finals at Talent for Food. Panic. Yes, literally panic, but not because of the competition as cooking competitions always put me in a good mood, but because of the Rubik’s puzzle I managed to create. In my head it is a succession of thoughts to put the coloured boxes of the magic cube into place, and in the end it comes out like a risk-taking game plan: I calculate the Parma-Valdobbiadene journey time on Google Maps (3 hours), I beg Cristiana to change the train ticket so that I can get there before noon to accompany me to Valdobbiadene, and I ask AIFB if it is possible to give up (the most painful part) the discovery programme planned for Saturday morning. You know what? In the end it all seemed… almost simple!

A Friday afternoon in Valdobbiadene for Talent For Food

So I find myself on a Friday afternoon at the DIEFFE Academy of Professions in Valdobbiadene (Treviso) with 50 minutes to prepare, cook and serve a recipe using the ingredients provided by 29 companies from Treviso and Padua that have supplied ‘mystery boxes’ with products from the Veneto region. While cooking with Daniela Boscariolo (blog.giallozafferano.it/timoelenticchie the winner) and Daniela Pennisi (www.laboulangeriepatisserie.it), Angela Frenda – Editor-in-Chief of the monthly magazine ‘Cook’ (Corriere della Sera), writer and cooking teacher – gives the floor to Giovanni Taliana and Armando Serena, Presidents of the Food Group and the Wine and Spirits Group of Assindustria Venetocentro, to Anna Maria Pellegrino, President of AIFB, to Innocente Nardi, President of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg and to Alessandro Marzotto, Hospitality Wine Shop Manager of Santa Margherita Wine Group. Le tre finaliste alle prese con le preparazioni The three finalists whilst cookingFaithful to one of the guiding principles of the contest, in my recipe I combine the culinary tradition of Emilia with products from the Veneto region, which is why I prepare the ever-present stuffed pasta, but this time with Vicenza-style salt cod and artichokes inside, saffron in the dough and sautéed mushrooms as a dressing. What was missing on my plate? A crispy part, but I don’t like fritters, so I couldn’t think of any alternative… I’ll be ready for next time!

I tre piatti presentati

The three dishes presented


Impiattamento dei miei ravioli

My ravioli

After judgement, ritual photos, hugs and kisses between new friends and new acquaintances, we headed back to Parma, a stop at a gas station for a hot drink and a super, but brief sleep before a second day of challenges with two cooking classes and… this recipe prepared on the fly on Saturday evening for my super-helpful guest and dear friend Cristiana, naturally cooked with Talent for Food 2019 products!

Lentil flour dumplings with artichoke cream and stracchino cheese

13.32g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the dumplings

  • 270g milk
  • 90g potato starch*
  • 60g lentil flour*
  • 40g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 35g organic sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • nutmeg, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Gnocchi sauce

  • 250g cream of artichoke*
  • 100g Stracchino cheese or another cream cheese
  • pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs *Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Put 270g of milk in a saucepan together with oil, a grinding of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add starch and lentil flour in one go, stirring well so that no lumps form. Let cool, then add the grated cheese and one egg at a time, mixing well. Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag with a round tip, approximately 1.5-2 cm in diameter.
  2. Put a pot of water on the stove, bring it to the boil and salt it. With a pastry bag, drop small cylinders 2-3 cm long with the help of a knife (although the dough is very soft, so the knife is only needed to interrupt the flow of mixture) into boiling water and when they rise to the surface, let them cook 1-2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl with the stracchino cheese and artichoke cream.  Stir well to melt the cheese.
  3. Serve the Gnocchi hot with a grinding of black pepper.
I miei gnocchetti alla farina di lenticchie con crema di carciofi e stracchino

My lentil flour gnocchi with artichoke cream and stracchino cheese

We have returned from the Merano Wine Festival full of enthusiasm and happy with the wonderful experience. Needless to say, being at one of the nation’s most important food and wine events had an invigorating effect. I was accompanied by Luca Puzzuoli,  the promoter of  Risate e Risotti .

Simply Red: a risotto for the Merano Wine Festival


I delighted the audience with a risotto that pays homage to taste, Italy and the pleasure of savouring a simple yet tasty and refined dish.

What did I prepare at the Merano Wine Festival?

The Simply Red Ristotto with Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, Infinito extra virgin olive oil, raspberry compote with Monti Cimini chilli and Ciro Flagella tomatoes.

Since I do not only want to make you curious, but I would also love you to try this treat, here is the recipe to prepare it!



Simply Red Risotto at the Merano Wine Festival

carbohydrates 31.5g per 100g without raspberry compote

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • approx. 2 litres of previously prepared vegetable stock
  • 360g Carnaroli rice
  • 120g fresh cherry tomatoes or Ciro Flagella cherry tomatoes
  • 80g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 60g Parma ham, more than 15 months’ maturation
  • 30g butter
  • 30g onions
  • 10g brown sugar
  • raspberry compote from Monti Cimini with chilli, Infinito extra virgin olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper


  1. Slice the ham into rather thick slices, about 1-2 mm, then put them in the freezer for at least 3 hours: you will see that they will not freeze, but, thanks to the salt content, they will simply become very cold and rather stiff.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, place them on a baking tin covered with parchment paper with the cut side down and sprinkle with brown sugar, oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves.
  3. Put them in a convection oven preheated to 180°C for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Take a rather large non-stick pan and sprinkle it with 20 g of grated Parmesan cheese so that it covers the entire surface. Place the pan on the heat and allow the cheese to melt without burning, then remove the pan from the heat and allow the cheese to cool: you have your cheese crisp.
  5. For the risotto, put about 20 g of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped onion. Allow the mince to soften and brown, then add the rice and toast it on a high heat (it took me 3 minutes to get the grains nice and transparent with a white kernel in the centre). Start adding the boiling stock and continue stirring, adding more stock only when the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid.
  6. In the meantime, place the ‘frozen’ ham in a very sharp food processor and blend it into a kind of coarse flour.
  7. When the rice is cooked, but still al dente, turn off the heat, add the blended ham and mix well. At this point, stir in the very cold butter and the remaining grated Parmesan cheese. Let the risotto rest for at least 1 minute covered with a dish towel. Serve and complete each plate with some confit tomatoes, a piece of Parmesan crisp and a few pinches of chilli raspberry compote.

The adventure of the Rice Food Blogger Contest of Risate&Risotti continues we are very happy to announce that we will participate in the final on 2 July in Lucignano, in the province of Arezzo!

But before we think about the next appointment, let’s go back a few days to discover how this incredible weekend went during the semifinal that took place at the Campus Etoile Academy in Tuscania!

The semifinal at Campus Etoile Academy

“When you drive along the road to Tuscania, you have the feeling of being lost in a silent countryside where only fields and olive trees speak. Then, suddenly, St Peter’s cathedral looms at the horizon with, a few metres away, a corner of paradise for those who, like me, love food and what it means: the Campus Etoile Academy.


Here, young people come to learn the art of what the school’s founder, Chef Rossano Boscolo, calls ‘the most beautiful job in the world’, that of a chef or pastry chef. And here, driven by the affection for an event that has won me over (Risate&Risotti), and curiosity for something I had never done before in my life, I landed to participate in the semi-final of the Rice Food Blogger Contest, launched by the organisation that makes rice and fun its flag.

Gaia and I arrive tired and unaware of what awaits us, but happy for the simple fact of spending two days just us, away from the world and daily commitments. In addition to the overwhelming scent of jasmine, we are greeted by beautiful smiles and pieces of pastry history that bring the tuff walls of the former 16th-century convent to life. And this is only the beginning.

At 6.30 p.m. the appointment is with the host, chef Rossano Boscolo, who overwhelms us with his passion, his strength and his infinite knowledge: leafing through the pages of Bartolomeo Scappi’s 16th-century work that is the Bible of Italian cuisine, he is moved and, while he tells us its value and meaning, his hands delicately caress those words and drawings.

The chefs’ school gives us great emotions

The classrooms of the school are not just any classrooms, they are jewels of technology and antiquity that smell sweet. Yes, because the smell of pastry is too strong to contain it within the walls. The vegetable garden, the room in which to enjoy a glass of wine in company, a basketball court between the tuff walls of what should become (bureaucracy and all-Italian paradoxes permitting) the school’s main entrance, lead us to the final destination of the evening: the demonstration room where the brigade led by Chefs Francesco Triscornia and Antonio Paolino is waiting to amaze the eyes and palate.

For Gaia, sitting at the table with all the other semi-finalists and enjoying the same food is such an immense gift that she confesses to me: “You know, I could live here!”

Cena con showcooking (41)

The technique and creativity taking shape before our eyes is such that I wonder if I will still have the courage to cook the next morning! But the greatness of art is that, through its beauty, it makes you grow and learn, and so this dinner has earned a permanent place in my heart.

Cena con showcooking (30)

On Saturday morning, we are all ready, as excited as before an exam, but I have a special nourishment: Gaia, who is the real and only reason why I am here. Armed with a camera and excited as only kids can be, she is always in the front row.

When everyone is at their cooking station, the chef sets out the rules: you can choose the ingredients you personally want but, in addition to the taste of the dish, he will judge also food waste, cleanliness, orderly execution and presentation.

And then the decision: with all these ingredients I could make at least 30 different risottos, so which one should I make to meet the judges’ taste?

Gaia looks at me nervously because she reads my uncertainty, but it is her worried little face that removes any doubt: which risotto would I have cooked at home today for lunch? Yes, because Saturday lunches are our rendezvous with risotto, a kind of reward, since for Gaia’s diabetes, rice, which we all love but which has a high glycaemic index, is best eaten at lunchtime. When I left home yesterday, beautiful courgette flowers were shining in my garden – that’s what I would have used if I had been home!

I decide to prepare two heart-shaped Parmesan crisps because Parmesan cheese is where I come from and the little heart is my children’s favourite decorative element (because you have to remind yourself often that you love each other: it’s good for your health!). I am also thinking of adding another seasonal vegetable, peas, but I want to make a cream with these, because Gaia does not like them when they are whole. However, I would like my sauce to be a little sour because the courgette flowers are rather sweet, so a hint of contrast will help to liven up the dish; among the ingredients, I have my eye on yoghurt, which is just right for me.

Due to the strange combinations of workstation sequences, I will be the last one to submit the dish to the judges and I find myself alone with Gaia cooking my risotto. I adjust salt, stir to the best of my ability and serve our ‘May and cheese’, because the name of the risotto already sums up its ingredients.

As I climb the stairs to reach the three chefs who will taste what I have prepared, my legs shake and all the doubts assail me, leaving me with bated breath until Chef Boscolo states in a firm tone: “Good, really good!” That’s enough for me, if it is good for him, it would also be good for my family.

The rest of the race was a bit like when you are asleep: you hear your name and Gaia cheering, you make arrangements about the final, you say goodbye, then you find yourself awake driving the car home, back to the real world. This time, however, even our pesky guests, called diabetes and celiac disease, decided to play the part of the good guys in our beautiful dream, giving us wonderful food and perfect blood sugar levels.

At this point, we will be in the final in Lucignanoin the province of Arezzo, on 2 July 2016, hoping to live another beautiful dream.”

And now here is our recipe to try!

May and cheese risotto

21.23g carbohydrates per 100g


  • approx. 1.3 litres of previously prepared vegetable stock
  • 320g Carnaroli rice
  • 140g courgette flowers
  • 100g fresh peas
  • 60g grated Parmesan cheese (plus the one for the heart crisps)
  • 40g plain yoghurt
  • 30g leek
  • 30g butter
  • 20g shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil, mint leaves, salt and pepper


  1. First of all prepare the pea cream. Put a little oil in a saucepan with the thinly sliced shallot and garlic clove. Let the shallots and garlic soften and brown, then add the peas and a ladle of stock; let it cook and add chopped mint to taste. If necessary, add more stock to cook the peas.
  2. Once ready, remove the garlic and blend everything with an immersion blender. If there are any chunks left, pass the cream through a fine sieve. Then, adjust the flavour by adding yoghurt, salt and a pinch of pepper. The cream is now ready and you can set it aside.


  1. If you want to prepare cheese crisps, it is worth proceeding before making risotto.
    Put a non-stick pan on the stove and form a light layer of grated cheese: I tried to give it a heart shape!
  2. When the cheese starts to melt and become crispy on one side, turn it over and let it melt slightly on the second side as well. Remove the crisp from the pan and allow it to cool.


  1. Start preparing risotto. Put a little oil in a pan and sweat the thinly sliced leek in it. After about 15 minutes, add the rice and toast it on a high heat (it took me 3 minutes to have transparent rice grains with a white core in the centre).
  2. Add the chopped courgette flowers after removing the pistils, stir and start adding the hot stock. Continue stirring and add stock only when the rice has absorbed almost all of it. When the rice is al dente, remove from the heat, cover the pan with a tea towel, let it rest for 1 minute and then cream it.


  1. Add 30 grams of butter, stirring well to release the starch so that a nice cream forms, add the grated cheese and continue stirring until it is completely incorporated.
  2. Let the pea cream cool down and put it in a piping bag with a very thin tip.
    Serve the risotto on hot plates and spread a small amount of pea cream on the surface, forming a spiral pattern from the centre outwards.
    Finally, put the Parmesan hearts and a few mint leaves in the centre.



This recipe participates in the “Rice Food Blogger 2016 – Chef Giuseppina Carboni” contest

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