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Immagine 078I usually try to stay away from chocolate during the summer, and prefer fruity things.But this time I just couldn’t help it.I baked with chocolate  for a reason : rainy weather and a little nostalgia of childhood memories. When with my dad and my brother we would go blackeberries picking in Fondi, our summertime vacations location. At night us kids would make the weirdest desserts for the grown ups, and other nights we’d just put our blackberries in our chocolate filled doughnuts. They were the best treat ever, and today I really needed to make something “oh so decadent and nostalgic”.

 Chocolate blackberry comfort cake

170gr unsalted soft butter

85 gr brown sugar

100 gr sugar

2 eggs ( 120 gr)

165 gr all purpose flour

70 gr buttermilk

70 gr cocoa

130 gr hazelnuts ground in a fine meal

70 gr chocolate chips

100 gr blackberries

2   teaspoons of baking powder

pinch of salt

 

In a bowl whip the butter with sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and whip 3 more minutes. Add the cocoa folding with a spatula, do not overmix. Add half of the flour, mix well. Then half of the buttermilk and hazelnuts. The other half of the flour and end with the buttermilk. Add in baking powder and mix well. Now add the chocolate chips, and fold in the blackberries. Pour the batch in a cake pan covered with parchment, cook  at 360° (180°) for about 40 minutes, but do the toothpick try ;) Let it cool down and dust it with powdered sugar.

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Immagine 001I love milk buns, the ones that are a little sweet but get along  soo well with ham and cheese too as well as fruit jams or custard. Well, actually i wouldn’t eat this specific one with ham, but i’d like to put some butter and jam on it. They have a thin crunchy crust, and the softest and heavenly inside ever. The fresh smell of lemon and the little crunchiness added by the poppy seeds make it the perfect treat to serve for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. These buns are easy as pie too, and don’t take as long as regular bread.

To make about 20 buns you’ll need. 

2 1/2 cups (550 gr) manitoba flour

2 1/2 tbsps fresh yeasts ( 30 gr)

2 tbsps sugar

1 3/4 cups milk ( 2,5 dl)

6 tbsps unsalted butter ( 80 gr)

1tsp salt

1 tbsp poppy seeds

grated zest of one big ORGANIC lemon

Place the yeasts in a bowl, add one tbsp of sugar and two of slightly warm milk. Mix well, cover and set aside for about 20 minutes.

In a bigger bowl sift the flour, add the sugar and salt. In a pan heat half of the milk and allow the butter to melt in it. Once it’s melted turn the heat of and add the remaining milk.

Mix the yeasts dough into the flour, add the milk and butter mixture ( careful, it needs to be slightly warm, too warm you’d kill the yeasts). Mix well with your hands ( adding some more flour if needed), and make a ball. Make a cross cut on it, cover with a kitchen towel , put in a warm place and allow it to rise for about one hour or until the volume is doubled.

Take the dough and work it a little, then add the lemon zests and the poppy seeds. Divide it in two parts and make 10 buns out of each part. Place them on two sheetpans lined with parchment. Cover them with a lightly wet kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm place for othe 20 minutes.

Heat the oven at 380°, put a small pan filled with water on the bottom to keed humid the oven.

Brush the buns with the egg yolk lightly beaten with 2 tbsp of water and sprinkle some poppy seeds on top if you’d like to. 

Put in the oven and let cook for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

I made a braid bun with half of the dough, what do you think? ;) 

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Until saturday, I’ve never had tofu. But, shopping at an organic food store, i ran into a box of it, and just couldn’t resist. I had to buy it. At home the question was : what do I do with it now? I tried the simple recipe wrote on it’s box : grill it, sprinkle with some salt and olive oil and eat it. Chewy. Very Chewy. And not so tasty, not at all. My first approach to it was pretty negative. But I had to turn things around, and so I did. 

Tofu, cherry tomatoes, basil and pine nuts  savoury tarts.

Makes 4  3 inch tarts

a recipe of puff pastry (or a box of frozen one, or some pie crust dough)

2 eggs

6 tbsps of heavy cream

1 tblsp of Pesto sauce ( or Finely chopped fresh basil)

2 tbsps grated parmesan cheese

6 tbsps of finely chopped tofu

4  tsps of pine nuts

8 cherry tomatoes

pinch of salt

Preheat oven at 360 degrees.

Fill the tart rings with the puff pastry (or unsweetened pie crust dough) , dock the bottom lightly, and place them on a sheetpan lined with parchment.

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs with  cream,  parmesan cheese, salt, Pesto sauce (or chopped basil), and salt.Add the tofu. Fill the dough shells about halfway with the eggs and tofu mixture. Put on top some slices of cherry tomatoes and the pine nuts. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm or room temperature.

It makes a great summery meal served with a salad!

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Immagine 011It’s been a while since the last entry on this blog, but I’ve been very busy . The good news is that starting from september I will officially be a Gastronomic Sciences student. That’s exciting! I can’t wait to start the rest of my life, I’m so ready for it! Ok, Today’s recipes are two no fail great ideas for breakfast, afternoon tea or after dinner treats. The pound cake is soft and moist, a little crumbly. It has no baking powder in it and it has a fantastic taste of butter and almonds. The sun dried apricots give it a litttle sweet and sourish taste that’s just the right kick, and gets along soooo wonderfully with the delicate taste and smell of almond paste. After a few days, the cake may dry up , so just cut a slice, throw it in the oven or the toaster,  wait till it’s nice and golden, spread it with some good butter,maybe some jam, and…it tastes even better than just made ! The lemon marmalade is my grandma’s no fail recipe, just make sure to use fresh organic lemons., but this will be in a next post!

 

Apricot & Almond pound cake

1 cup GOOD QUALITY unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1/4 tsp of salt

grated zest of one organic lemon

3 tbsps of almond paste ( if it’s the sugared kind you may want to reduce the sugar above from 1 cup to 3/4 cup)

2 tbsps almond meal

15 dried apricots ( or as much as you want ;) )

almonds to top the cake

 

Pre-heat  oven at 360°. Line a pound cake tin with paper or butter and flour.

 

In a little bowl put the dried apricots and cover them with hot water ( or half water and half  liquor of your choice), and let them sink . In an other small bowl mix the almond paste with a few drops of hot milk until it has a creamy consistence.

In a bowl whip the butter with the sugar  and salt for several minutes unitil it’s light and fluffy. Now add the almond paste and keep whipping. ( An alectric beater works best). Now add the eggs one at a time, don’t add an other egg until the other one is fully mixed in the batch. Once you’ve added all the eggs, whip for an other 5 minutes, then add the lemon zests, the almond meal and the flour mixing carefully with a spatula. Do not overmix. Take the apricots out of the water, dry them up with a paper towel, chop them into pieces and sprinkle them with some flour. Mix the apricots in the cake batch, put the all thing in the prepared tin, top with almond and it goes in the oven for 60 minutes. ( But afetr 55 minutes do the toothpick try ;) ). Let it cool on a rack.

Summer eggplants rolls

May 13, 2009

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An easy mediterranean appetizer, just right for warm summer dinners.  Just slice lenght side an eggplant , you will need thin slices ( 5 mm) . Generously sprinkle every slice with salt and put them  into a  bowl , so the bitter water in the eggplants will be drained away by the salt. After a couple hours rinse one by one the slices and line them on a kitchen towel. Roast the eggplants in a flat pan without oil or butter, about 5 minutes each side. Allow them to cool down. Now, let’s start making the rolls! Spread a slice of roasted eggplant with a little tomato sauce ( made by cooking  2 1/2 cups of crushed canned tomatoes with 4 tbsps of olive oil, a piece of garlic ,a few fresh basil leaves  and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes over medium heat and then 5 minutes over high heat), then some mozzarella cheese ( the shredded frozen one works just fine, i must say even better because it doesn’t release as much water as the fresh one does), a teaspoon of shredded parmisan cheese, and a basil leave. Now roll it on itself and close it with a toothpick. Repeat with the other roasted slices. Now put all the rolls in a oven pan, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. Cook them in the oven heated at 360° for about 8 minutes. They’re now ready to serve,maybe with a thin slice of parmisan cheese on top.Get ready to get applauses from you guests! ;)

wafflesMother’s day was on sunday, and there’s no better way to treat someone you love with a wonderful and colourful breakfast . I had fresh organic strawberries  and some Haiti vanilla beans, so i thought they would make a perfect compote to serve with fluffy made from scratch waffles.

Waffles (makes 5 servings)

1 and 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 beaten egg yolks

1 and 3/4 cups milk

3 egg whites – beaten stiffly

1 pinch of salt

Mix very well the egg yolks with flour, salt, baking powder and milk. Fold in the egg whites very gently. Cook in the waffles iron about 3-4 minutes.

Strawberry compote

2 cups of diced strawberries

4 tbsps of sugar

half vanilla bean

1/4 cup of freshly squezeed orange juice

Put in a pan the strawberries, the sugar, the orange juice and the vanilla bean split in half. Put over medium heat and allow it to cook 8 to 10 minutes from boiling point.

Serve the waffles with warm compote and a spponful of fresh whipped cream if you like it. Enjoy!

I opened this blog after I’ve had an italian one for a few months, to share my passion for cooking with all my american friends, and english language readers. I hope you’ll all enjoy the recipes I’ll post. I will work both on italian and american food, depending on my mood I guess. Can’t wait to get started! :)

Oh, if you have questions about the recipes just ask, i will be glad to answer!