Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yule log or Buche de Noel

The Yule log or Buche de Noel is part of the traditional Christmas dessert, especially in North Europe. It's not certain when and who created this cake for the first time. But, based on the ignredients used, for sure is around the 1850's.

One popular story behind the creation of this dessert is that Napoleon I of France issued a proclamation requiring households in Paris to keep their chimneys closed during the winter. So some French bakers invented this dessert as a symbolic replacement around which the family could gather for story-telling and other holiday merriment.

Traditionally this dessert is made of spongencake and chocolate buttercream, but since then, so many variations came up. My recipe calls for a luxurious cheesecake filling! The only thing: I've bought it already done!!!! Yeah, I know it's not 100% homemade, but  after I saw this filling in a supermarket, I've decided to try it and see how it would have work into a yule log (it worked really well!!!!). But, my New Year's resolution will be to try to replicate that by scratch!!!!

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Spongecake:

6 eggs, separated

¼ + ½ cup sugar

⅓ cup dark cocoa powder

3 tablespoons flour

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

24 oz no-bake cheesecake filling

sour cherry in light syrup  as needed

Topping:

10 oz heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar to taste and 3-4 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper. Sift together flour and cocoa. Beat together sugar and egg yolks at high speed until light and fluffy. At low speed, alternately beat milk and flour mixture into egg mixture. Using clean beaters, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold one third of beaten whites into batter. Fold in remaining whites. Spread batter in prepared pan; smooth top. Bake cake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until set, 15 minutes. Dust a clean cloth with confectioners' sugar. Turn cake out onto prepared cloth. Remove paper. Starting with a long side, roll up cake, jelly-roll style. Transfer, seam-side down, to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Unroll cake; remove cloth. Spread filling over cake. Re-roll cake. Place, seam-side down, on serving plate.

Assembly: Cut the two side on bias and attach the on the side of the yule log. Then spread the topping all around the yule log. With a fork make some line all over. Decorate (optional) with mushrooms meringues.

Mushroom meringues:

2 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

 

Preheat oven at 200 F. Beat the egg whites until foamy.Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Continue beating (increasing speed to high), gradually adding the sugar, until the whites are very stiff and glossy. Pipe the meringue into round (to make to the head of a mushroom) and into a cone-shape (to make the bottom part) on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. 

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Dears friend, who is close and who is far away, this is that time of the year where the little things seems to count the most and you realize what's really precious and what's not.

That's why I wish you, from the bottom of my hearth, to have a peaceful and happy Christmas with the people you love the most (it doesn't matter if it's two of you or hundred!!!), enjoying any single moment.

Have a Merry Christmas and don't eat too much. I'll wait you here with new recipes!!!!

auguri di natale 2007-08

Sweet Christmas to you all !!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Carousel Torte

This cake represent for me the idea of having fun in the kitchen. I come up with  this design thinking of everything that can means, actually smells of Christmas: candy cane, gingerman cookies, chocolate, mint, cinnamon... And actually, my main idea was to recreate a sort of carousel, using instead of little horses... gingermen cookies!

This cake is whimsical, fun, sweet. This is my homage to Christmas!

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1 cup dark cocoa powder plus more for dusting

¾ cup hot strong coffee

1 cup milk, room temperature

¾ cups cake flour (not self-rising)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

2 ½ cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

 

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Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.   Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting.  

 

Ultimate Chocolate frosting

 IMG_0073

 

3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar

1 cup dark cocoa powder

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

 

In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Whip the butter until smooth and fluffy; stir in, gradually, sugar and cocoa. Flavor with the  butter, milk, and vanilla; stir until smooth and free of lumps.

 

Note: both the recipe for the cake and for the frosting are Martha Stewart's.

Family portrait

While I was decorating the cookies, without realizing, I made a whole family of "gingermen" ! Here they are:

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I will use them for a project I'm working on and it's not a gingerbread house!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Everything is ready...

... The tortellini pasta for the consomme' have been made.

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The meat is ready to become a wonderful "Bollito" ( a traditional Italian recipe from Piedmont)

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I'm not sure how or if it will come out correctly, because I'm a girl from the South and this dish is the King of the Northern Italian tables. And... I've never cooked it before!

So, let's wait what will happen this evening...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sweet potato donuts

It's always fun for me going to the supermarket, although some people could find that pretty boring. I will always find some new or unknown ingredients to experiment with, such as  cranberries, Brussels sprouts, yams, green beans (since it's that time of the year). Usually, when you think about those ingredients, the first thing that jump at your mind is Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. But, with a little twist to a traditional recipe, something good and new could come up.

So I've decided "to play around" a family donut's recipe that I used to eat as a child, using yams instead of regular potatoes and adding a touch of cranberry sauce to fill the inside. They smell and taste as Christmas, believe me!!!!

IMG_0211

1 tbsp. yeast

1/2 c. lukewarm milk

2 large mashed yams

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs, well beaten

3 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 cups flour, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon lemon extract or lemon zest

 

To finish: granulated sugar and cinnamon mixed together.

 

Mix all ingredients. Knead and let rise to double in size. Then roll out and cut circles.

In half of the circle make a hole in the middle (and fry it, you'll get the fried donut's holes!!!)

The remaining dough, make other circle and in half put some cranberry sauce in the center and cover with another circle of dough. Let rise again and deep-fry in corn oil.

Roll the hot donuts into the sugar and cinnamon mixture and serve them.

 

Pomegranate sangria

I've made this wonderful sangria for the Christmas  party I've talked before. After I saw it in TV, made from chef Bobby Flay, I couldn't resist. and since my blogger friend are organizing a virtual Christmas luncheon, inviting everybody to participate, bringing in something, I thought that this one could be perfect for an appetizer, to be served with all the wonderful food my blogger friend have already prepared and also for a midnight toast.

And careful everybody: you won't realize immediately, but it hit your head as you couldn't believe!!!!

Salute to you'll!!!!

 pomegranate sangria (3)

 

 

1 bottle fruity red wine (I've used Rjoia 2004, Spain)
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 large orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 green apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in 1/2

 

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving. Serve over ice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A really special thank you!

Few day ago it has been my birthday. I got some beautiful present (it always nice receiving them!!!), but I got some more!

This year I didn't feel to celebrate, that's way I didn't bake any cake. And still I got a beautiful cake on Saturday morning (my birthday day): my good neighbor and friend Lisa, who openly declare her non-passion for cooking and who's idea for dinner is a pbj sandwich, bake me a wonderful chocolate cake with chocolate frosting... to die for. And even though she used the cake mix She didn't even use the cake box (it was a huge misunderstanding from my part!!!!) and  that cake for me is the best ever. She really touched my heart doing that, because I understand how much effort she put into it.

Thank you Lisa so much!!!!

 

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas party menu

Few days ago we celebrated the Christmas party of my husband's office at our house. It was so much fun!!! And that's because I had to caterer the party too! And that was the fun for me: you know, planning the food, the decoration, setting the mood in the room, thinking of a tablescape...There've been few days of pure panick at the beginning of the week, because we decided to paint the house during the previous week-end and we didn't finish quite in time. But thanks to my wonderful husband - that worked late after work - the house was homey, warm and ready to have our guests.The idea behind this menu is an Italian wedding reception,with an international touch. Here the menu and some pictures!


Menu

- Falafel in mini pita bread with tahini sauce
- Antipasto platter
- Roast beeef crostini with watercress and horseradish cream
- Goat cheese stuffed dates
- Asparagus and hazelnut Mousse Tartlets- Salmon mousse tartlets
- Chili empanadas
- Zucchini rolls
- Spinach and artichoke dip
- Artichoke and port wine cheddar dip
- Brie en croute with orange jelly and hazelnut
-Canap├ęs (salmon – egg and candied tomatoes)
- Blue cheese Stuffed mushrooms

Dessert IMG_0244
Baba au rhum and cranberry cream tart
Chocolate fountain with strawberries, divinities, dried fruits
Struffoli (fried cookies covered in honey)

Drink

pomegranate sangria

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mustard crusted rack of lamb

It hard for me to believe that I've felt in love with the lamb!!! I don't know if it was because I've tasted it for the first time in a very special occasion or because the chef cooked it so gooooood....!!!!
Anyway, considering that I've grown up in a family (I'm talkin the all clan of 50 people: cousin, aunts, uncles etc) where lamb wasn't really present on our table (except for an uncle who' s from Puglia, an Italian southern region, where is common to consume lamb), for me it's has been harder to even think to cook it!!! Actually everybody raised their own pigs, turkeys, rabbit, hens for the eggs and rooster, while we use to get the beef from our friendly farmer; so we were used to eat whatever we produced. And lamb wasn't included!
Anyway, yesterday, while I was wandering among the aisles of the grocery store, my eyes went on this beautiful rack of lamb, perfect size to handle and really inviting!
So I said to myself "why not, let's give it a try!!!" and remembering a preparation that I saw in tv few days agos (what a coincidence!!!) I've finally cooked my first lamb!!!
This recipe is really easy, no messy at all and elegant, perfect for a formal dinner (of course, the guest should like the lamb!!!)



Ingredients for 2:

1 lb rack of lamb
2 big tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat oven at 425 F.
Mix the mustarl, garlic and rosemary together (for a less grainy paste, blend the igredients together.
Season the rack with salt and rub with the mustard; put the rach bone down in a pan that can go in the oven and roast the rack for 40 minute (medium rare). Remove from oven, cover with aluminu foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes (to allow the juices to redistribuite inside the meat). Slice it and serve!

I've serve the lamb with 1 purple cauliflower sautee' in few tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon anchovies paste, 1 handful of sliced kalamata olives amnd 1 teaspoon minced garlic.

Enjoy it!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Best Halloween Costumes 2007

Come on, you still have 7 hours to vote the best costumes. If you still didn't do it, go ahead and vote! We are going to start the count down prestty soon! Who will be the winner????
To vote, just go here and follow the instructions!




Nurse and Patient



Rodeo Clowns


Backwood Man



Hugh Hefner and Playmate of the Year



Whitetrash and Little Butterfly





Pirates 1


Baseball Man

Cleveland Fans


Pirates 2

Hippies

Sexy Attendant and Pilot




Iowa Cowboys


Darkman
Braveheart Movie Characters


Surgeon and Nurse

Bikers






Flinstones









Vampires

Big LoserTeams

THE BEST WIN!!!

WORK IN PROGRESS


To make things easier for me and all the friends are reading this blog in English, I've decide to create an English version of my original blog caffeine for two. It will contains the same recipes and the same pictures, but it will have is own space and personality!

At this moment, it will containe only the latest posts, but I'll try to adjorny as fast as I can, bringing over this side the recipe from the other blog. You will still find the recipe in English under the older posts, but not anymore under the newest.

Thank you for you patience and I hope you will like it!

Trout amandine on cedar plank


Few days ago, my husband came back from a fishing trip, bringing with him few nice trout's fillets.
My unconditioned love for the bbq would have like grill the fish the way it was, but my innate passion for experimentation tells me differently. So, I've decided to try a recipe that I've recently tasted in a restaurant, but in the grilled version. I'm talking about the trout amandine, a French dish very famous in Louisiana due to the Creole population. Originally, the recipe includes few ingredients: flour (that in my case I didn’t use), lemon juice, parsley and trout (or sole) of course. The procedure is quite simple, but I’ve decide to give it a twist: cooking it on a cedar plank.

For this recipe I don’t have a precise amount of the ingredients, since is really to personal taste the flavoring. So just follows these simple directories:
  • Wash the fillets and pat them dry. Season them with salt and pepper, brush with butter and drizzled with lemon juice.
  • In the meantime, melt more butter in a pan with few tablespoon of lemon juice; stir in the sliced almond and let them get toasted.

  • Place 2 fillet on a cedar plank (previously soaked in water for at least 1 hour). Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top and top each fillet with some almonds and butter.

  • Cook the fish on the grill – with the lid on – for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

  • I've served the fish with grilled white asparagus and bok choy and I've accompanied with a French white wine, the Fleur de Bernon.

    Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Spooky Halloween


    It's almost Halloween.
    Everybody in my neighbourn is busy decorating the houses for the occasion: pumpkins, ghost, witches, purple and orange lights, every scary thing you can think of, is there hanging from trees or from windows.
    For the children is a feast almost as big as Christmas, since they are going hunting treats all over!
    But also for the adults, if they can take part of a party such the one we - my husband and I - went yesterday evening. It has been organized by the company for which my husband works and they took good care of everything: live music with an awesome band, playing classic rock; the margarita distributor machine; Mexican food a la carte, a table for children with games and activities. It was so much fun. And the costumes? Amazing! But this is a different story!
    So could we miss the dessert? Absolutlely no!.. so cupcakes for everybody!!!!



    Ingredients
    for 43 mini-muffin size cupcakes and 12 regular muffin

    For the cake:

    6 eggs
    325 gr sugar
    300 gr flour
    50 gr unsweetened cocoa
    1 1/2tablespoon baking powder
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup oil
    1 cup buttermilk

    Beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour with cocoa,cinnamon and baking powder. Mix buttermilk and oil.
    Stir in the egg batter 1/3 of the flour and mix well. Stir in half of the liquids. Continue with 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the liquids and the last flour, mixing well between each addition. Pour the batter in the muffin paper cups and bake at 350F for 10 minutes the smalls and 15 minutes the regular. Check after the first 8 minutes for the small ones. Remeber time varies depending on oven's temperature. Let them cool, frost them and decorate.

    Frosting (adapted from Country Living October 2007)
    8 oz cream cheese, softened
    1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    2 1/4 teaspoon cocoa
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon orange extract
    ***
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
    orange food colorind as needed

    Beat the cream with the sugar and the food coloring to soft peek. Keep refrigerated.Beat the cream chease until fluffy. Add gradually the rest of ingredients until well combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream until well combined. Use to fill o frost cake and cupcakes.


    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Behind a recipe...

    Any recipe is made by words, numbers, maybe pictures. They can taste or smell, but still... they get their own life only when they have a story behind. Nothing special: maybe the recipe was created for a special person or in a particular moment; or it is the one that your grandmother used to make so often...ricetta del marchese

    This recipe- the one featured in the picture - has prestigious and noble roots, though. It was created by the Marquis Antonio Altoviti Avila, of the illustrious Altoviti's family and also son-in-law of the Italian General Pietro Badoglio.

    The Altoviti family goes back to the XIII century; it is well known to protect the most famous artists of the Renaissance, such as Vasari, Cellini, Raffaello. And even when the times became tougher, they kept protecting artists and poets. This until the first World War, when the belle epoque ended.This recipe  is the simbol of that generation of people, with no more luxury, but with so much flair.


    Marquis’ Cold Pasta

     

    300 gr rigatoni pasta

    15-20 black olives

    2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

    1 tablespoon chives, chopped

    100 gr white fish caviar (if you can afford it, use the real deal!!!)

    150 gr marinated tuna in olive oil

    1/2 tablespoon anchiovies paste

     

    Melt the anchiovies paste in a pan; add olives and tuna and cook for few minutes. Cook the pasta al dente, drain it and dress it with the tuna sauce. Let cool. When is cold, stir in the caviar and the chopped herb. Stir well and enjoy it!

     

     pasta del marchese

    A special thanks to Luvi that gave me  the material to work with!

     
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