Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crab cheesecake on pecan gougeres

It looks like the Seven Fish Feast on Christmas's Eve is a big deal here in America. And it also looks like it very Italian. But for me, at the beginning, it was hard to make the connection with the Italian counterpart. Then I finally realized that is "just" the Christmas Eve dinner the way is celebrated in the South Italy. Actually, the dinner based on the seafood should means a modest dinner (cena di magro), before the big luncheon on Christmas day. But here it has become a real feast.

So Maryann - from the blog Finding la dolce vita - and Joe - from Italyville - have organized a new contest based on seafood and shellfish recipes. This is really exciting, considering how much I love seafood!!!

I've realized the recipe that I'm entering few years ago. The idea was to create an elegant appetizer for a Louisiana theme based dinner, something that had the flavor from there, but a certain appeal.

  crab cheesecake (2)

Ingredients for 20:

Crab cheesecake

  • 1 ¼ each onion, finely diced
  • 10 ounces lump crabmeat
  • 20 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons sour cream
  • 3 ¾ teaspoons plain yogurt
  • 5 each eggs
  • salt, to taste
  • white pepper, to taste
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

Sweat the onions a little bit and add the crabmeat until heated through.

Blend the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, yogurt, eggs (one at a time). Blend until smooth, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally.

Fold in the crabmeat mixture.

Pour into forms, such as mini-muffin pan -  and bake at 350 degrees until barely set.

Pecan Gougers

Servings: 20

  • 4 oz flour
  • 3 ½ oz butter
  • 4 egg
  • ½ cup chopped pecan, toasted
  • 5 oz water
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper

Bring water and butter to a boil.

Add flower to boiling water/butter. Whisk vigorously.

Remove from heat and let cool it down. add the eggs, one at the time, whisking vigorously.

Beat until a smooth paste is formed. Add the pecan.

Pipe into shapes and bake for the first 10 minutes at 425- 450 degrees until puffy; then low the oven temperature at 350 and let cook the gougers until golden brown. To be sure that they are done, tap the bottom and if they sound empty.. they're done!

Enjoy it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marquis' pasta salad

Any recipe is made by words, numbers, maybe pictures. pasta del marcheseThey 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...

This recipe 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 - see the picture above - is the symbol of that generation of people, with no more luxury, but with so much flair.

Marquis’ Pasta Salad

 pasta del marchese (6)

  • 300 gr rigatoni pasta
  • 15-20 black olives
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 100 gr white fish caviar (you can use the real deal, if you can afford it!)
  • 150 gr marinated tuna in olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon anchiovies paste

Melt the anchovies 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


A special thanks to Luvi who shared her story and material with me!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spicy Chocolate "Salami"

I was only ten years old, but cooking was already in my blood.  So, after watching a show for kids in tv, I decided to try the recipe that they were doing (I still have the piece of paper where I listed the ingredients). It looked so easy!!! But the result was a disaster!

Today, years later and wiser, I've made a different one and I was influenced from the Latino culture. The name is chocolate salami, because of  that look that reminds of a salami. But it tastes delicious and, in this case, sweet and spicy at the same time. You know what they say: cayenne pepper and chocolate are both aphrodisiacs.. so be careful!

 


Ingredienti:

180 gr mexican chocolate, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon grounded cinnamon

75 ml heavy cream

75 ml milk

50 gr cocoa powder, unsweetened

350 gr cookies, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon rum liquor, optional

almond flour

icing sugar

 

Put the chocolate, cayenne and cinnamon in a bowl.

Bring cream and milk to boil, then pour on the chocolate e mix, until melted. Stir in cocoa and cookies e mix well.

Lay a piece of foil and  sprinkle with almond flour. Put the chocolate mix on top of the foil and shape it like a salami. Roll and tight the foil. Refrigerate for few hours. When is firm, sprinkle the salami with powder sugar and with your hand "massage" the sugar so it will give the appearance of a real salami!

To serve, slice it thin and ... enjoy it!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pasta party !!!

Few days ago I've asked my friend bloggers for help: I needed recipes for pasta dishes to be used in a pasta party.

I've received a lot of recipe and it was really hard for me to choose. At the beginning, I was supposed to choose only three recipe, but since I've got so many delightful ideas, I've decided to pick 5 recipes. Plus, I made the mac and cheese for the children at the party.

The choice has been based on easy accessibility to the ingredients, easy to prepare in advance and, most of all, the ones more close to the knowledge of Italian food among my American friend. So something familiar to them, but with a twist and very close to the Italian tradition.

 presentazione party pasta

Recipes

To get the recipe, simply follow the link. In case you don't have a translator and you need help with a translation, please feel free to write to me and I'll send it to you!

Involtini di melanzane ripieni di Ema - Nonsisamai

Eggplant parmesan rolls stuffed with rigatoni pasta

There is no link for this recipe, but just the comment left from the author:

Slice the eggplant, flour them and wash in beaten eggs and fry. Let cool down. Cook "al dente'" rigatoni pasta and dress them with a simple tomato sauce. Put 4-5 rigatoni on each slice of fried eggplant and roll it. Layer them on a greased baking pan. Top each with a slice of mozzarella cheese; then cover everything with the rest of the tomatoes sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and fresh basil and bake until the mozzarella cheese will melt.

Lasagna al forno di Elga- Semi di papavero

This is the original recipe for the Italian lasagna.

Gnocchi 'ncaciati di Cuochetta - Un diavolo per fornello

Baked potatoes dumpling with broccoli and sheep cheese.

I've made few changes: I've used gnocchi instead of orecchiette pasta and I've used a greek sheep cheese, called myzithra.

Mac & cheese

Crostata di tagliatelle di Unika - I piaceri della vita

Tagliatelle pie with ham and peas

I've used a package of spinach tagliatelle (similar to fettuccine) and one of simple egg tagliatelle to create a visual effect!

Spaghetti alla carbonara di Aiuolik - Trattoria Muvara

I've used a light beer instead of white wine.

 

Thank you for sharing your recipe with me!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Orange and rosemary jelly

Perfect for breakfast on bread, with your oatmeal or cereal; but also for pork or game. Try it. You'll be surprise!

orange and rosemary jelly (5)

 

750 ml unsweetened apple juice
50 gr fresh rosemary
2 oranges, juiced and zested
400 gr granulated sugar
35 gr (1 package 1 1/3oz) fruit pectine

Bring to boil the apple juice with the rosemary. Let rest 15-20 minute so the rosemary will infuse the juice.
After this time train it through a cheesecloth and squeeze it so to release all the flavor and juice.
Pour the aromatized apple juice with the pectin and the orange juice and zest in a pan and bring to full boil. At this point, stir in the sugar in once and let it cook for other 5 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Immediately ladle jelly into sterilized jars.
Let rest few weeks before consuming.

 

Note: I've served it on toasted crostini and brie. Yummy!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cinnamon "Angelica"

This is an old and traditional Italian recipe. It quite simple: it just a bread dough, enriched with sugar, butter, egg and few other ingredients. But its presentation is quite stunning in its simplicity!

The recipe comes from an Italian book "Pane e roba dolce" (Bread and sweet things) of Margherita e Valeria Simili, two sisters that dedicated their life to teach the best of Italian cuisine worldwide.

I made some variation, though, because I love experimenting with the recipe. In this case I add some cinnamon to the dough and I made a richer filling using an almond cream instead of simple butter.

It takes a while to make it, because the dough as to rest and raise. But it's truly worthy!

 angelica alla cannella

Starter:

135 gr bread flour

5 gr di active dry yeast

75 gr warm water

Mix all the ingredients and let rest until doubles in volume.

Dough:

200 gr bread flour

200 gr all purpose flour

75 gr granulated sugar

5 gr cinnamon

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon salt

120 gr butter, softened

120 gr  warm milk

Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer and with the hook mix very well, until the dough will pull off from the bowl.Pour the dough on a slightly floured board and incorporate the starter, kneading well so that the two will mix together. Put this dough into a greased bowl and let raise, again, until double in volume.

Filling:

150 gr almond cream

75 gr di drunken cherries

75 gr di chocolates chunks (or chips), any kind (I prefer bittersweet)

When the dough is well double, roll it out thin, trying to obtain a rectangular shape. Spread the almond cream all over the dough; sprinkle the cherries and the chocolate chunks e roll it pretty tightly from the longest side. At this point, make a cut in the center of the roll lengthwise, obtaining two long stripe. Braid the two stripes, keeping the cut side on the outside, and then put them together so to have a "wreath".

Put the shaped dough onto a baking sheet (covered with silpat or parchment paper) and let raise again for 30-40 minutes, no longer!!!! Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. If after this time is not cooked yet, reduce the oven temperature and bake it longer.

Remove it from oven and sprinkle immediately with powdered sugar or a simple icing or glaze.

 Note: click here to see how this bread is made!

 

festa italiana

 

This recipe participate to the wonderful initiative of Festa Italiana

 

Monday, March 3, 2008

Almond Cream

This is a rich and still delicate filling, that needs to be cooked, though. It perfect to be used to fill pie, croissant, bread pudding... It just up to your creativity!!! Anyway you need to try it!!!

almond cream croissant detail

 

125 gr butter, softened

250 gr sugar

3 eggs

80 gr flour, sifted

180 gr almond finely grounded

 

Whip the butter until becomes light in color; stir in the sugar and beat well. Add the eggs, one at the time, and mix well. Stir in the flour and the grounded almond and mix well.

Note: it keeps refrigerated up to 3 weeks.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

SFOGLIATELLA RICCIA

... aka shell-shaped Flaky Ricotta Pastries, a specialty dessert from Naples (Italy). You have probably heard this pastry mentioned on The Sopranos, but if you ever have tasted it, you'll remember forever!!!

The sfogliatella's history is intriguing, because there are a lot of versions about who, when and where it was created. One legend says that it was born in the 1700’s in the kitchens of the monastery of the Croce di Lucca as a welcome cake offered to the visiting prelates. It was, in fact, a strip of very thin puff pastry - more likely like a phyllo dough - which was wound around itself to enclose a filling of ricotta, sugar and small pieces of citrus and which took on the appearance of a seashell. Later on or, according to another legend, the sfogliatella was reintroduced (or created) in a slightly larger size by the nuns of the convent of Santa Rosa who enriched the filling with patisserie cream and fruit jam.

We know for sure the official date of when the first sfogliatella was produced outside the convents: it was in 1818, when Pasquale Pintauro, innkeeper of a tavern in via Toledo, decided to produce a continual stream of sfogliatelle, thus serving them to his customers still hot. This had an enormous success, with people cueing up along the street, waiting their turn. All the pastry shops in Naples imitated Pintauro, but he remains, however, the king of the sfogliatella.

The making of this pastry is quite elaborate, but it's so worthy!!!

sfogliatella riccia (29)

Dough:

500 gr bread flour

200 gr water

20 gr honey

5 gr salt

150 gr sugna (rendered pork fat) to brush the dough (you can substitute it with butter)

In a stand mixer, with a hook, mix all the ingredients. Wrap the dough in transparent paper and let rest overnight (DON'T SKIP THIS PASSAGE!).

Filling

175 gr ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

125 gr sugar

150 gr candied fruit

125 gr di semolina flour

1 egg

Bring 375 ml water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and pour in the semolina, stirring so as not to form lumps. Cook, stirring for about 8 minutes. stirring constantly. Let cool. Sift the ricotta; mix with the semolina,and the rest of the ingredients. Let rest. If you make it ahead, such as the night before, it will be better.

collage[3]

Procedure:

Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin to obtain a 25x18-in. rectangle, 1/16-in. thick. Cut the pastry vertically into 4 strips and place one on top of the other, brushing each one with melted "sugna". Let rest for half an hour, and then roll up the stack of dough. Slice the roll into 10 equal pieces with a very sharp, floured knife. Place each slice on palm of left hand. With right thumb on center of roll, gently press through slice so that it forms a ribbed cone; make sure that ribs do not become entirely separated. Carefully work around cone with thumb and index finger until it is well shaped, 3-inches across mouth and 1/2-inch at tip. Press tip together. Fill each cone with 1 heaping tablespoonful of filling. Flatten cones slightly between palms of hands; place on lightly buttered cookie sheet; Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425ºF for 20 minutes or until cakes are golden color and crisp and filling is firm. Remove from oven, cool, dust with confectioners sugar. Serve.

Warm pasta salad with ratatouille

This recipe is perfect for the summer season: fast to make and fresh to taste. It can be done in 30 minutes: from the beginning to the end. It can also be modify, changing the vegetables or adding some feta cheese, if you like.


200 gr tubetti pasta
1 zucchina squash, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
6 baby carrots, diced
2 green bell pepper, diced
100 gr mushroom, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
fresh basil, chopped, to taste
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil


Cook the pasta al dente in salty water. Drain and let cool down. Heat some olive oil in a pan and when is hot, add the diced vegetable, except for the tomatoes. Let cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cool pasta. Mix well. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Serve warm or wait until it will be totally cold. Serve it at room temperature.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A heart of passion

Happy Valentine's Day to you'll !!!

 

 IMG_0731

Chocolate mousse:

11 ounces Bitter or semi-sweet chocolate
10 Egg yolks
2 Whole eggs
4 ounces Granulated sugar
16 fluid ounces Heavy cream, whipped
10 gelatin sheets, softened in cold water

 

Melt the chocolate and set aside.

Place the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in a mixer bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until the mixture reaches 158°F (70°C) and is thickened. Add the softened gelatin and let it melt.

Let this mixture cool down, whipping it into the mixer.

Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the warm chocolate. Using a balloon whisk gently fold in the remaining cream and whipped mixture.

Pour the mousse in a heart shaped ring. Freeze it.

 

Strawberry gelee


2 lb strawberry puree
8 oz sugar
10 gelatin sheets, softened in cold water

 

Combine the purée and sugar in a non-reactive saucepan and heat the mixture until it reaches 110°F (43°C).

Add the softened sheet gelatin to the purée. Stir until the gelatin dissolves completely. Let it cool slightly and Immediately pour half of the mixture on top of the frozen mousse. Chill or freeze until firm. slice the fresh strawberries very thin and make a layer on top of the frozen heart. cover with the remaining gelee (if in the meantime it has became too hard, reheat it). Put it in the freezer until firm.

 

 

A heart for your Valentine

This recipe participate to the sweet initiative of Zorra "A heart for Valentine". You'll find more information here.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ciambella Sorrento

Everything I cooked in Italy (should I say baked, since I was only allowed to bake a long list of desserts, that my father gave me!!!) come from very simple ingredients, the ones that I've found in my mother's pantry  or in the garden that my father take care with such love and passion, or from familiar and friends that generously donated us products from their garden (the same way we do with them).

In a way, this lifestyle is still simple and "natural" as it was in the past. Here we don't find trendy and expensive ingredients or the wonder of the electric appliances.

Here prevail ingredients with good smells (I mean a lemon that smell like a lemon!!!), strong colors. Have you ever seen a egg orange like a sunset? Look at this picture: this is a egg from an hen in my parents' garden. I almost forgot the look of it and the result that it gives to everything you cook!!!!

IMG_0252

That's why for this cake I've decided to use the best ingredients I could find in my family's garden: lemons, oranges, tangerines and olives, the best of the Mediterranean area and what makes Sorrento proud in the world.

 collage1

Here it is my simple cake, made just for my cousin Rossella and her little angel Maria Rosaria. 

 

IMG_0256

Procedure and ingredients:

In a food processor, grind finely the zest of 1 lemon, 1 orange and 1 tangerine (if you can, the citrus have to be just picked from the trees) with 200 gr of granulated sugar.

Add 3 eggs, 1 glass of milk, 1 glass of extra-virgin olive oil, 250 gr all purpose flour and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Blend well and pour into a greased and floured bundt cake pan  and bake, in a preheated oven, at 350 F per 30-40 minutes, checking with a toothpick  to be sure is properly cooked.

Remove from oven and after few minutes from the baking pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and, if you like, serve it with hot chocolate!!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Here I am... again!!!!

IMG_0655

 

Hi everybody!!!

After a full month abroad the Continent I'm finally back. Even though, coming back is always sad and every time harder and harder. It is tough to leave behind the world I grew up in, not knowing when I'm going back.

And at the same time, when I'm there is like I'm an outsider: the children are grown up and they don't recognize me anymore; the adults have more white hair; the neighbors have a different face and  people I've known for long time  smile at me, but I barely remember their name. and still.. my heart is always there!

This time I really saw a lot of friends, I have partied a lot, I've met new friend and, since this blog is about cooking, I had to make big sacrifices and taste a lot of food (the more, the better!!!).

I've also made few new recipes, that I'll post soon, as soon I'll finish to adjourn myself about the news on Internet, on my friends' blogs and on the forum I read everyday.

Thank you for your comments, that I couldn't read by myself because in Italy I don't have Internet; but I have a special friend - Carmen - that has read for me, by phone, everything so I couldn't miss a word!!!!

Talk to you soon, then... with a lot of good recipes and, as usual, with more chatting!!!

 

Monday, January 21, 2008

Taste of home

Hello everybody!

I've managed to put my hands on a pc and I'm taking the opportunity to say ''hi'' to you guys who take the time to read about my little daily things.
After a long and tiring flight, I've finally reached my town home. And immediately I've been put k.o. from a bad flu's virus, called Pacific. I don't know who was the stupid that gave that name to this virus, because it is everything, but pacific!!!!
Anyway, even though I've been sick for almost two weeks, during which I even lost my voice (unbelieveble!!!!), I still managed to cook something.


My first approach has been a sort of rustic cookies, that remind me of the smell and the flavors of the just past Christmas, but also the view of the white Alps that I've enioyed from the plane.
So, here they are my

White cookies with dates and tangerine


Ingredients:

200 gr all purpose flour
3 egg whites
50 gr butter
80 gr sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
150 gr finely chopped dates
50 gr candied tangerine or orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar as needed

Mix all the ingredients, except the powdered sugar, and get a smooth dough. Cover with pelicula and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Take a small piece of dough, roll it out and shape it in a small cilinder and then fold it in a halfmoon shape. Roll the cookies in abundant powdered sugar and bake it (on baking sheet covered with parchment paper) at 350 F until nice golden.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Home sweet home

Dear online friends

My baggage are ready. It's time for me to go on vacation. It will be a long one, one whole month. That's why I really would like say goodbye to you, since you keep me company visiting my blog every day, even though in silence, without living any comment.

I'll miss surfing through blogs and websites of my friends, who tell me their stories through their recipes!

During my vacation I won't have the opportunity to connect to Internet, but I'll have all the time to be on a long gastronomic tour and I'll try to make more culinary experiments at my parent's house. And when I'll come back I will have a lot to tell about!

So goodbye and I'll talk to you alter!!!

By the way, this is my destination

 

Picture 021

 

The picture has been taken from my house in Italy. The shadow behind the mountain is Napoli below the Mt. Vesuvius.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Spicy chocolate "salami"

The chocolate salami, even though may sounds gross, is the most delicious dessert ever! In fact, we are not talking about the same salami that you put in sandwich or pizza, but an Italian traditional dessert that look alike it (that's why it's called "salami"), made of chocolate sugar and cookies. How gross can it be? Actually it sounds delightful!!!
This is the first recipe I've posted on my Italian blog few months ago. And there is a precise reason why I choose just this recipe: it has been my first esperiment in the kitchen!
I was 10 and I saw this recipe on tv, in a show for kids. I decided to try it and I invited over few friends to share it with.
How was it? A disaster!!!
But don't worry, the recipe I'm giving you now is bulletproof and deliciuos!!!! I made few change to the traditional recipe, eliminating the raw eggs and using mexican chocolate. And I've added a little kick...

Ingredients for 1 salami:

180 gram mexican chocolate

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon grounded cinnamon

75 ml heavy cream

75 ml milk

50 gr dark cocoa powder

350 gr wafer cookies or sugar cookies (grounded, not perfectly fine)

1 tablespoon rhum liquor (optional)

almond flour (or very finely grounded almonds)

powdered sugar


Chop the chocolate and put it in a bow with cayenne pepepr and cinnamon.Bring to a boil cream and milk and pour it on top of the chocolate e let rest few minutes. Then stir well.Stir in the cocoa (sifted) and the grounded cookies and mix well.Take a large piece of foil. Sprinkle with almond flour and put the chocolate mixture on top and shape it in a long roll, helping it with the foil. Refrigerate for few hours.Remove from the foil, sprinkle with powdered sugar and with the hands press the sugar onto the salmi. Slice it (thin) on bias and serve it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008 !


Happy New Year Wish

My Happy New Year wish for you
Is for your best year yet,
A year where life is peaceful,
And what you want, you get.
A year in which you cherish
The past year’s memories,
And live your life each new day
Full of bright expectancies.
I wish for you a holiday
With happiness galore;
And when it’s done,
I wish you
Happy New Year, and many more.
By Joanna Fuchs
 
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