One year of Lab Noon, the Virtual Birthday Party, Friuty Birthday Cake for Summer & a GIVE-AWAY!

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -3Lab Noon officially turned one on June 19th. I remember how very confused, extremely tired and incredibly excited I was to launch the blog after many months of work. The blog was supposed to be written three languages, English, Italian and Persian. I decided to omit Persian after a short while. My first ever recipe quickly became an all time hit! Though now looking back I see many things that I would’ve done differently. Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -9

It’s been an amazing year. I have said long thanks to all supporters in the invitation to this virtual birthday party. Here I want to thank all these lovely and talented food bloggers, who have accepted my invitation and prepared lovely cakes/dessert to share with you for #LabNoonsBirthdayParty. Some of these bloggers have been inspirational to me even before I started blogging and some I discovered in this one of year blogging. Some of them I have met in person or know them more personally in some way, some were pure strangers that reached me and joined the party. I am so glad I’ve known you all. Big, acclaimed ones, and new comers. I wish I could hug you one by one, and taste your cakes. Thank you everyone, really. 

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -11Bellow you will find a list of all the food bloggers who have taken part in Lab Noon’s vitual birthday party and their recipes. (I have tried my best to be organized and get the right link to everyone, but if you get a error please let me know and I’ll fix it). Lab Noon's (virtual) Birthday Party-1-2

Secondly, I want to thank once more Paola from Pauta Pot who generously gives these two beautiful, handmade, birdy cups as a give-away for our party. You can win these cups simply by writing a comment under this post, about the recipes and Lab Noon’s birthday. Then I will extract a name randomly and we will send you those cups! Please remember that  free shipping is available only in Europe.

The Recipes of the Guest Food Bloggers for Lab Noon’s Birthday Party (in alphabetical order)

Lab Noon’s Fruity Birthday Cake for Summer

Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -16
Lab Noon's Fruity Birthday Cake | Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon -18

My idea of home made cake is something simple and rustic. Of course I would love a proper, nice & fancy cake (like many of the recipes above really put me to shame for how beautiful and perfect they are). But cakes that I like to make are simple, and very homy, filled with nutrient ingredient, so that with a sweet treat you can more than just empty calories. Recently I am always using more fruit in the batter and on topping of cakes that I make. Inspired by some natural jams and confections that use apples or apple juice as sweeteners, I have reduced the amount of sugar in my cakes dramatically and I have substitute it with apples! Both apple puree or grated apple work. Apple puree is cooked (so more time need), more smooth, but can also be much more watery. Grated apples brown easily (no matter how much lemon juice you add), some pieces could be bigger than others, but it gives a very nice texture and moistness to the cake. Continue reading

Tips for Summer Picnic Food and Three Vegan Dips/Spreads

Three Vegan Spreads | Tre Creme Spalmabile Vegane | Lab Noon-33
I don’t know why they always say “Summer’s short”. If you ask me Spring is much shorter; One moment there are new sprouts on the trees, the other they’re filled with green leaves and in a blink of an eye you need a fan whenever you walk, you’re drenched with sweat under the hot sun and going out without a strong sunscreen (and maybe even a shade?) would be considered madness.

Well at least that’s how it feels like in Rome. The Roman summer always arrives in a rush. And oh this city looks so good in her early warm evenings, still lit by the pink & orange light of late summer sunsets. Magical hues as if they were copied and pasted right from Impressionist paintings, leaving long shadows of the typical Roman street lamps on the ochre, old buildings. It’s a splendid season.

Three Vegan Spreads | Tre Creme Spalmabile Vegane | Lab Noon-26
Three Vegan Spreads | Tre Creme Spalmabile Vegane | Lab Noon-29

The warm season in Rome (and around) is quite long. So it’s no wonder that people have picnics in parks and by the beach from April even until October. The picnic season in Italy officially inaugurates in Easter Monday, where the tradition demands having lunch all’aperto. But So often rain and cold get in the way. In a very similar way, and almost in the same period (early April) the Persian “Sizdeh-beh-Dar“, or the thirteenth day after Norouz, the Persian new year, or the last day of holidays must be spent in nature otherwise it would bring bad luck. But I believe we Iranians are not very practical picnic people. On Sideh-beh-dar we drag our heavy pots of herby pilafs (for the whole extended family) and lots of marinated Kabab meat to barbecue later, all the way from home to the green areas out of the city. We need to figure out light and practical picnic food. 

Three Vegan Spreads | Tre Creme Spalmabile Vegane | Lab Noon-1

1. The Big Tuscan Picnic AKA the Fettunta Party

My first picnic of the year was on my birthday; a lucky day I’d say. April 3rd was surprisingly sunny & warm this year, but it didn’t last until Easter Monday which was only a couple of days later. Another classic Italian picnic date is April 25th, The Liberation Day, or when the Facio-Nazi occupation ended at the end of WWII. This year on this holiday, Juls’ Kitchen‘s Giulia invited food bloggers, friends and family to her beautiful home in the faiy-talish Tuscan country side for a Fettunta Party and I was more than happy to attend. Giulia and her lovely family were extremely kind and hospital. I can’t even begin to describe the amount and the variety of food that there was. Apart from the endless quiches and dessert that guests had brought, Giulia and her family also prepared pizza from scratch and baked in the wooden oven. Such a wonderful day spent in the hills of Tuscany. Watch all of my photos of Juls’ Fettunta Party here

#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-48
#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-31
#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-42
#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-15

#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-47
#FettuntaParty 2015 at Juls' Kitchen's | Lab Noon-52

Traveling all the way from Rome, I needed to think about a food simple and easy to transport, that wouldn’t lose its shape and consistence during the not-so-short journey. I came up with the ideas simple dips and spreads, that would work perfectly not only for the fettunta (which means bruschettas or grilled bread in the Florentine dialect), but also for pieces of crunchy vegetable. These three recipes of vegan dips I’m sharing here with you —my special hummus, fresh pea & mint dip and roasted carrot and ginger dip— are exactly the ones I took the party, and I’m really happy people seemed to love them. 

Three Vegan Spreads | Tre Creme Spalmabile Vegane | Lab Noon-28

2. The Creative Roman Picnic

Somewhere towards the end of May I attended a very particular picnic. A creative one, in which I got to know three very talented girls. Veronica, the owner of WE Factory, who creates events and experiences based on food and design (crazy cool, isn’t it?), came all the way from her home in Veneto to Rome, to be interviewed for a podcast by Muse Radio. Muse Radio, which interviews creative people and talks about creative living, is hosted by two lovely and young women based in Rome; Kat, a video and photography creative, and Marta, a florist (whom I had been following for a long time on Instagram actually).

We first went to the market to pick up some fresh picnic food. It was just the right moment for some raw Fava beans and Roman Pecorino cheese (a classic snack for the Labour Day picnic here in Rome). We found fragrant local strawberries and crunchy bread from a traditional bakery. I had also whipped up a healthy, no-butter pound cake the night before, and Kat & Marta had brought Churchkhela, a typical fruity candy from Georgia. We gathered in a national muesum in the heart of Rome, I made some infused water with strawberries and basil, Veronica and I took care of styling the table, Marta arranged the flowers and Kat shot us, while we styled, chatted, ate & drank. Another amazing day, focused on creativity, beautiful things and good food. 

Watch the beautiful video Kat has made of our beautiful and creative picnic and expect to hear more of these girls on this blog. Continue reading