I was born 33 years ago on Babbo Luciano’s (my father) birthday in Florence Italy . One of his and my mother’s first memories of my childhood is discovering that it was not some strange animal eating all the peas from the pea bush in our orto (the vegetable garden), it was their daughter. One of my first memories is of finding these green pebbles of delight that I could help myself to without restriction or impediment…until they finally found me!
My life is marked by memories of eating and cooking and on this day I have decided to share them.
On my birthday I spent the afternoon with my daughter Coco, my son Felix and some of their little friends. We had a chocolate cake I cooked with Coco (she chose the recipe) and all of them helped me blow out the candles.
In the evening I had a special dinner with my husband, spaghetti alla bottarga, something I used to share with my father. The velvety, rich texture of the dish with hints of lemon was the perfect way to celebrate a taste of the years to come and remember the flavours of my past.
The chocolate birthday cake is from a book my friend Mel gave Coco titled:
“ What shall we cook today?”.
There’s lots of ingredients but its really simple, moist and lovely.
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
100g good dark chocolate
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
100ml water, very hot but not boiling
175 unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
3 large eggs
200ml natural yoghurt (low fat or full fat)
For The Icing:
100ml double cream
100g good dark chocolate
Use a spring form cake tin, greased. If you like, cut out grease proof paper and place it in the bottom of the cake tin.
heat the oven to 160C (325F) Gas3.
Dip the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in to a sieve and sift in to a bowl and set aside.
Break up the dark chocolate and put it into a large heatproof mixing bowl. Mix in the cocoa powder. Pour on the very hot water and stir till the mixture is smooth.
Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat well.
Break the eggs in to a small bowl and gradually add to the butter and sugar.
Then pour the melted chocolate and mix well.
Add the yoghurt and the flour mixture and mix well.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 55 minutes.
Once the cake is ready, let it rest.
In the meantime heat the cream until it is hot but not boiling and then add in the chocolate and mix. Let it rest. Once it thickens (5 minutes) spread it all over the cake, decorate and enjoy!
Spaghetti alla Bottarga.
This is how we make it:
For 4 people use about 350g of pasta:
Grate about 150g of bottarga with a cheese grater/ zester.
Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons and some zest.
Mix the lemon juice and zest to the bottarga and mix until a cream forms, then slowly poor in olive oil (don’t be shy!), then taste. Once there is a balance between the acidity of the lemon and the olive oil, and you like it, it’s done!
Cook the pasta, then add the bottarga mixture in & season with salt & pepper.