Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring bakers Pizza & toppings

(I'm sorry I don't know how to turn it !)
This month thanks to Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums we baked pizza ! I was very curious to try a new recipe and we all liked it, the only problem is that you should plan a day earlier to have pizza. Rosa asked us to toss pizza like a real pizzaiolo (here in Rome I've never seen one doing it !!!) The kids and I had lots of fun watching the videos (they really believed I was going to be that good!).
But they were disappointed.
For the toppings we were very traditional :

tomato sauce and mozzarella,

potatoes and mozzarella,

anchovies and onions,

eggplants paste and cheese

and not traditional at all: pinapple muscovado sugar and caramel sauce !

Please visit the Daring Bakers blogroll for many wonderful creations !

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

This week's recipe was chosen by Clara of I Heart Food 4 Thought I enjoied the cupcakes a lot , having read that they could have been dry (and I had this problem with other TWD recipes) I took them out of the oven sooner and I think it worked out fine. We could decorate them for Halloween but I made them for my mum's birthday... I'll decorate later ! To check the wonderful creations of the other bakers please visit Tuesdays With Dorie.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bread Baking Babes Challah (the siamese twins)

I found this great group of bread baking and I hope i'll manage to bake with them all of their breads ! This must be the braided period for me ! I' m braiding also Anita's hair (and her doll's as well !). This recipe was very easy and great tasting (it is the first of my breads that even finnicky Carlo enjoied !) Actually I'm going to prepare it again as soon as I finish tis post ! The recipe was chosen by Sarah of I like to cook and not having read well enough her instructions I made her mistake covering the loaves with cling film durung proofing but they were beautiful even so ! Thank you Sarah !

from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook

Makes two loaves

5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
pinch powdered saffron
1 cup warm water (120-130'F)
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp cold water
1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves. Add a little at a time to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer and medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Blend the single egg white and the other 3 whole eggs into the batter. Reserve the single egg yolk. Stir 1/2 cup of flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board about 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (approximately one hour).

Flour a pastry board lightly and set the dough on it. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 2 pieces, using 1/3 of the dough for one piece, and 2/3 of the dough for the other. Divide the large piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes together tightly, using your fingers to press the dough together at the ends. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each of these into 10 inch ropes and braid tightly. Place the smaller braid on top of the larger one and seal the ends. Repeat this process to form the second loaf.

Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet. Mix the reserved single egg yolk with the 1 tsp of cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, and let the loaves rise until double in bulk in a warm draft free place (approximately one hour). Bake in a 400' over for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy unbirthday to us all ! (in italiano a seguire)

Few days ago Lori of Luscious food had a very nice idea : a big party for all the November babies crowded with cakes made also by cooks born in other months. I was born in February but my husband and brother were born in November, I love baking so here we go with a Rustic Bouquet to celebrate ! Happy Birthday !!!

Rustic bouquet

500 gr flour
100 gr sugar
80 gr peeled almonds chopped
140 gr butter, softened
1 envelope instant yeast
1 large egg
150 gr jam
1 lemon

Mix together 450 gr of flour with the yeast, sugar, salt, grated lemon rind , 100 gr butter, 1 egg and 6 Tbs scalded milk. Knead for a while until you get an elastic and soft dough. Let it raise for about an hour until doubled in size.
Turn on the oven at 400°.
Divide the dough in 50 gr pieces and roll them in thin rectangles then spread them with jam and almonds. Roll them and put them standing in a prepared round baking pan (10 inches).
Cover with a loose foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and keep cooking for 30 more minutes.

Ho voluto partecipare all'iniziativa di Lori per festeggiare i nati in Novembre con una ricetta di un dolce semplice come quello che piacerebbe ad Andrea ( del 27 nov).

500 gr farina
100 gr zucchero
80 gr mandorle tritate
140 gr burro a temperatura ambiente
1 bustina di lievito di birra
1 uovo grande
150 gr confettura
scorza di un limone

Unire 450 gr di farina con il lievito lo zucchero il sale la scorza, 100 gr di burro 1 uovo e 6 cucchiai di latte tiepido.Impastare fino ad ottenere una pasta soffice ed elastica.Far lievitare circa un ora fino al raddoppio.
Accendere il forno a 200°.
Dividere la pasta in pezzi da 50 gr e stenderli in sottili rettangoli, cospargerli di marmellata e mandorle, arrotolarli e metterli in piedi in una teglia rotonda imburrata.
Coprire con un foglio di alluminio e cuocere per 30 min, levarlo e far cuocere altri 30 min.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD Pumpkin Muffins

This week's recipe was chosen by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp .They have been really enjoyed ( even in other apartments !) The only problem I had was too much baking's powder's aftertaste, maybe it's a problem with the italian b. p., I 'll have to try them with less because for the rest they were great ! Enjoy more Pumpkin Muffins on Tuesdays With Dorie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ecco i gatti ! ( & co.)



As stated in my profile I am what in Rome is called a gattara, (usually an old lady feeding cats in the streets) well it's not really true, I've done it, but mostly I picked up many kittens from the street and then kept them with me. Now we have four cats (two black and shy).
Calvin is the patriarch : he is fifteen years old and I found it on top of a garbage mound and he has been a great cat since that day ( he was the best baby sitter for my kids ).
Cagliostro is the youngest of the group he is still two years old and of course very playful ! Not to mention that he loves to sit in front of the pc screen while I write, like now !

Carlo saw this post and said: why is Anita in your blog and not me ? So ...

Anita :

Next question: why is Anita there twice ?........

Thursday, October 16, 2008

World Bread Day : Tassajara Braided Bread

Today is the 3 rd World Bread Day and I decided to join the baker's group led by Zorra on her site 1x umruhren bitte
I 'met' Edward Espe Brown thanks to 'The Green's cookbook' and soon got his 'Tassajara Bread Book' , I really love his style of baking so when I started to think about a bread I got his book out and found this festive recipe ( it is intended for Christmas) . I hope you enjoy it as we've done in the last breakfasts !

BRAIDED CHRISTMAS BREAD (The Tassajara Bread Book page 61)

1/4 cup lukewarm water
3 packages yeast ( next time I'll put less)
1/2 cup sugar or honey
2 cups milk saclded
1/4 cup butter
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or almonds
1/2- 1 cup candied fruit peel or cherries (optional)
4 cups wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water with a little sugar added.
Combine the remaining sugar with the milk and the butter. When this mixture is cool enough add it to the yeast mixture.
Add the 3 1/2 cups of white flour to make a soft sponge, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Set aside to rise.
While the dough is raising, separate the eggs, and beat the yolks and the whites separately. Fold the yolks into the sponge and then the whites. Let it raise until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
Fold in the salt, mace, vanilla, raisins, nuts, and optional candied fruit. Fold in the wheat flor until a dough is formed, and knead well.
Place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled in size- about 50 minutes.
Place the dough on a floured board. Work it into a ball or cylinder and divide into 9 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a lenght of 14 inches. Pinch four lenghts together at one end and intertwine them. Place this braid on a well-greased baking sheet. Then braid three lengths and place them on top of the bottom layer. Finally twist together two lengths and place them on top of the second layer. Press the braided lengths together well, since they tend to topple over.
Straighten befor baking, and perhaps while baking.
Now beat up an extra egg, add a little coolish water, and brush the top of the braids all over. Let raise for about 20 minutes, while the oven is preheating at 300°.
Bake for an hour or a little longer until well browned.
Happy baking!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD Lenox Almond Biscotti

This week was Gretchen's from Canela & Comino to choose a recipe and I really liked her choice !
When I read cookbooks I enjoy very much the writer's stories before the actual recipe so I really appreciate Dorie Greenspan's "Baking from my home to yours" that's very rich in anecdotes !
Please visit Tuesdays With Dorie for many beautiful biscotti!
I had tryed this biscotti once before when I and my friend Cristina catered the wedding of a couple of friends (Piero and Fabrizia)

And after the mini muffins (zucchini feta and pine nuts, and pancetta and pecorino), the salmon gravlax on blinis and creme fraiche, the grape and gorgonzola rolled in almonds, the lasagne al brasato, barley salad with grilled vegetabled and shrimps, roasted veal with lemon caramel and fennel seeds, the salad with pommegranate seeds and granny smiths apples, the cake with pate feuillettee, custard, whipped cream, strawberries, pistachios meringue, lemon curd and so on ...............we thought the guest might still enjoy some biscotti ... and they actually did !

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

This week we have to thank Tammy of Wee Treats for her choice !
And here is the cake ! It certainly looks beautiful (for better results and photos check Tuesdays with Dorie , Dorie's site or 'Baking from my home to yours') maybe I would have liked it better with the caramel without peanuts, but I don't like them too much ! I had some problems melting the corn syrup in the eggs so I stirred it in the hot butter and chocolate mixture and it worked out fine, for the rest it was smooth as oil...(liscio come l'olio). Happy baking !

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Family's Recipe : Gnocchi di semolino

Ho avuto un papà molto simpatico e divertente, era un artista e lo era anche in cucina: non usava mai libri o bilance per le sue ricette che erano sempre nuove e speciali. A casa le cene con gli amici erano sempre un successo e anche con noi bambini inventava sempre ricette nuove e stuzzicanti. Le sue 'ricette' sono andate con lui ma a proposito di cibo una cosa che faceva con noi che io ancora faccio con i miei figli quando non vogliono mangiare qualcosa è trovare una rana ( un dolcetto, una banana o una caramella) che si avvicina con dei salti da rana a ogni boccone . Con noi funzionava meglio ma pazienza !

Così per trovare una ricetta dell'infanzia sono tornata con la memoria ai pranzi domenicali dai nonni e agli gnocchi alla romana che faceva sempre la nonna l'unica romana in una famiglia dalle più svariate origini.
La ricetta è classica:
Portare a bollore un litro di latte con un pò di sale, versarci a pioggia 250 gr. di semolino e continuare a mescolare per circa 10 minuti (io mi stanco prima! ) aggiungere 50 gr di burro, del parmigiano e due uova e stendere il composto su un ripiano di marmo inumidito; quando é freddo tagliarlo con uno stampino sovrapporre i dischetti e metterci sopra dei fiocchetti di burro e del parmigiano infornare in forno caldo per venti minuti, gratinare. Servire caldi.
Con questi niente rane: sono andati così !

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SSB Vanilla Apple Cake

This month we baked this wonderful apple cake. It 's moist, rich, full of flavor and very easy !
Thanks Rosie and Maria for all the sweet and simple bakes you find for us !

Vanilla Apple Cake

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g/9oz golden caster sugar (or normal caster sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds removed and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges (or any other type of cooking apple, if not apple of your choice)
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 20cm/8inch springform tin, then line the base with baking paper.

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla seeds, then beat together quickly to make a smooth batter. Tip into the prepared tin, then lay the apple wedges on top, poking them halfway into the mix. Don’t worry if the apples appear crowded – they’ll shrink as they cook. Sprinkle with the Demerara and cinnamon, then bake for 1 hour 5 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sponge is risen and golden.

Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

TWD Alternative recipe: Summer Fruit Galette

I'm sorry but I'm posting late ! This week we were supposed to make creme brulee and I really wanted to make it but as I don't own a blowtorch (but it is in my wish list) I decided to wait for it and try this galette. I think it is a wonderful dessert I'll try it with winter fruit also.
Check Dorie's 'Baking from my home to yours' for a much better photo !
And check Tuesdays with Dorie for wonderfully torched creme brulee !