Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge For the Love of Chocolate

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
And I'm very grateful to them because: the recipe is very good , it is easy, they managed to force me to get the ice cream maker out of the secret place I kept it , and I could reach the third floor (the celiac one) when sharing my baking.
I made a zabaione ice cream to go with the cake and served it along with my terrace's kumquats marmalade !

Gelato allo zabaione

4 yolks
80 gr. sugar
65 gr. Moscato di Pantelleria (or Marsala)
125 gr. skimmed milk
250 gr cream

Whisk together yolks and sugar until whitish, add Moscato and put on a water bath whisking until it makes a ribbon. Cool, add milk and cream and put it in an ice cream maker.

Friday, February 27, 2009

TFF Sweet Chile Tofu Fried Rice

I really must thank Nancy for discovering this nice group because I had never even heard of Tyler Florence and now that I'm getting to know him I think he is great ! He makes nice food but his recipes are simple to follow with good new ways and they are always a success at our home !! This week I chose this recipe it has a wonderful oriental flavour and is so simple and fast you can make it in minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bread Baking Day # 17 Bread with Potatoes

This is a wonderful Potatoes au Gratin Bread in honour of the Bread Baking Day #17 hosted by Lien , I found the recipe in an old book by Sharon Tyler Herbst called BREADS by HPBooks.
The bread is moist and rich of flavour ( I even eat it toasted spread with honey).

2 packages active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup half and half (I used whole milk)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 to 5 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 cups shredded peeled or unpeeled potatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese ( 4 oz.) (I used grated Pecorino and Parmigiano)
2 Tbsp butter melted

In large bowl of electric mixer, dissolve yest and sugar in water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add half and half, 3 Tbsp butter, salt, red pepper and 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer 2 minutes or, beat 200 strokes by hand. Stir in potatoes and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board. Clean and grease bowl. Knead dough 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Because of starch in the potatoes, dough will feel slighly sticky. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Grease and flour 2 round 9-inche cake pans. Punch down dough. Roll or pat to a rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle cheese over dough. Knead cheese into dough until evenly distributed. Divide dough in half. Shape into 2 round loaves; place into prepared pans. Butter 2 (12 inch) squares of waxed paper. Place over loaves. (I used oiled cling film) Let rise until doubled about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F . Slash tops of loaves as desired. Brush each loaf with 1 Tbsp melted butter. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until bread sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans. Cool on racks. Makes 2 loaves.

TFF February Challenge Potato Gnocchi with Peas Prosciutto and Ricotta

This Tyler Florence monthly challenge chosen by Megan was great !!
Being Italian I made and eat gnocchi very often !! And I had never heard of Tyler Florence's method for it : cooking the potatoes in the oven and adding baking powder, egg white and grated parmigiano in the dough.
But I'm very curious about new methods and recipes and so I tried it and I must admit it was a great success !
It was such a nice meal and even Andrea who doesn't like gnocchi too much, because they are often too dense, enjoyed it !
To get more informations please visit Tyler Florence Fridays.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD Crunchy Caramel Bars

This week Whitney of What's Left on the Table? chose the recipe and I'm starting to wonder how much butter I've been using lately !!! For us they were way too much ! I'm glad there are a few under 20 in our building who made the bars disappear in a few hours !!
We don't have the Toffee Bits so I made the English Toffee a few days ago. I had to make 2 batches because the fist one crystallized so...after desperation I found a nice website and the second batch came out well (I guess because I've never tried the real thing ). What helped was a bit of corn syrup and a low temperature.
Making the pastry base was easy (did you take the pastry out of the pan before putting the chocolate on ? I didn't) but my special feature was shaving the chocolate with my Kitchen Aid 'grater' so that I only had to evenly spoon it on skipping the spreading part.
I hope that your fitness allowed you to eat a whole batch of these sonful bars !!
Please visit Tuesdays with Dorie to see lots of bars !

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bread Baking Buddies Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Noci

This month is the Bread Baking Babes' anniversary and what would be nicer than a walnut loaf to celebrate ?

Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups chose as BBB Anniversary Bread Carol Field’s Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Noci (Five-Grain Bread with Walnuts). Adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field. I love this book: it's the second one I got on bread baking when I was living in Santa Barbara (CA) almost.......25 years ago (sob !) and I've never seen an Italian baking book so complete !!

I really enjoied this bread, the dough seemed so much that I divided it in three loaf pans so they didn't raise too much but the crunchiness it's not a problem with it !!

Friday, February 20, 2009

TFF Winter Panzanella

...I hope I made it in time !!! Since yesterday Carlo has a flu with very high fever (39.7°) and I didn't realize it was Friday !!! I found a very nice (and fast) recipe for a salad :winter panzanella .
We just had it and it was wonderful !! I'm the only one who had the beets , but Andrea and our friend Stefano really enjoied everything else !!
I chose the recipe because it was fast and I had everything it called for or almost :infact I substituted an onion for the shallots (I cut it in eights and cooked it in the oven) but I didn't change any other thing. I will have to find another Tyler Florence recipe that calls for dates for next Friday !!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TWD Devil's Food White Out Cake

February is a month of birthdays : first comes Carlo's on the 8th, and on the 23rd it will be mine.
So Carlo was the lucky guy to get this wondergful birthday cake !

But as you know when someone is happy there is always some other one whose day is THE WORST EVER !!!!!!

But some cake managed to bring a smile back on her face and not only on hers: this is the last slice ! I had to fight to get a picture of it !!

Please visit Tuesdays with Dorie for more cake.
Thanks to Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for choosing this wonderful cake for us to bake! You can find the recipe on her post, or on page 247-249 of Dorie's book Baking From My Home to Yours.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

WIP I finally made it !!!

As you can see my love-pillow for Anita is crooked but finished ! She is already checking if it works !!
Please visit Shel's WIP page to find out about all the others Love Bears !!
Thank you Shel !!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

TFF Brick Chicken with Apricot Couscous

This is the first time I partecipate to Tyler Florence Fridays an event hosted by Deb of Kahahai Kitchen, Megan of My Baking Adventures, and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies.
To collect all the information please visit the Tyler Florence Fridays Blog and soon you'll be able to join !! And please check all the others TFF recipes !!
I still didn't receive the Tyler Florence's book that I ordered but we can choose recipes on line as well so I chose the Brik Chicken with Apricot Couscous .
The recipe was a hit the chicken was deliciously flavored and not dry at all, the sauce was very nice and delicate and the couscous was great as well.

I did a few changes that are:
Apparently in Italy the chickens are cut on the breast so I just (tried) bone it.
It's kind of difficult to find cilantro here so I substituted it with parsley.
I knew I had some dried apricots somewhere but that evening I couldn't find them so I used dates instead.
I didn't realize until it was too late my pan was not oven proof so I turned the chicken and kept on cooking it on the stove for fifteen minutes (but it came out more then OK).

Blogger Aid Ravioli filled with Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplants and Tomatoes Sauce

These are the ravioli waiting to dive.
I'm submitting my original recipe to Blogger Aid for their cookbook.
I'm sorry to be writing so little but I have a lot of work waiting !!!

W.I.P. A Late Entry

I'm making a love bear pillow for Anita' s Valentine but, as you can see, I ' m a bit late !!!!
Please check Shel's WIP section for more craft !!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TWD Floating Islands

This week Shari of Whisk : a food blog chose this wonderful recipe .
'Why didn't you make this before ?' asked Andrea with dreaming eyes when he tried the first mouthful of the islands (or clouds as Cinzia called them). So if you never tried making them please do they are a breeze to make !!
Please visit the TWD blogroll to find put what all the other's did . You can find the recipe on page 401-402 of Dorie's book Baking From My Home to Yours. .

Friday, February 6, 2009

Focaccia Messinese con Indivia (italiano a seguire)

In my late craziness for starters I'm trying to convert every recipe from commercial yeast to starter. And I found a famous and very nice Italian Blogger calling for such recipes.
The recipe I'm making lately everytime I bake pizza at home is this focaccia, I saw it once on TV and fell in love with it ! Actually the first reason I liked it was because the organic vegetable pack we buy every week has lots of curly endive and I didn't have any recipe left for it but now we are hoocked !!

Focaccia Messinese

200 gr bread flour
200 gr semolina flour
200 gr starter
250 gr water (about)

Knead and let double in a warm spot.
Roll (or flatten it) in a oiled baking sheet.
Turn on the oven.
Then add little pieces of anchovies, cover totally with very thin layers of cheese (fresh caciotta) , lots of curly endive (rinsed and chopped), and top wit chopped fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle some olive oil and salt (depending on how many anchivies you used) and bake in a 400 oven until done. As you can see last time I added some boiled potatoes left from potato pizza.

Ho visto questa focaccia da qualche parte in TV e me ne sono innamorata ..è squisita !!

Focaccia messinese

200 gr Manitoba
200 gr farina di semola rimacinata
200 gr pasta madre
250 gr acqua (circa)

Impastare far raddoppiare e stendere in una teglia
Accendere il forno a 250°.
Aggiungere dei pezzettini di alici sott'olio, coprire interamente con sottili fette di caciotta fresca, coprire abbondantemente con indivia riccia lavata e tagliata e spargere dei pomodorini tagliati. Sale e olio a piacere e infornare.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Panini di BICE

I think you all now the magic blogging may do : sometimes you 'meet' someone and he/she becomes one of your friends even if you never met. The first time it was the great Enza who helped me open the blog (I don't know if I would have done it without her precious help). And some time ago I met Cinzia who is teaching me a lot about bread (pretending she doesn't know much).
These are the breads she made for the last Bread Baking Day, they were so tempting (and use lots of sourdough which I just can't trow away !!!) I had to try them !!
They are not very sweet and super soft: a great snack !

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TWD World Peace Cookies

Oh no ! I canceled that unique picture of the wonderful world peace cookies !! What will I do ? I'll never be able to shoot such a great photo !!! And I'll have to bake my secret frozen log of cookies before I can post so the kids will scold me (mamma but you are always on the computer ! BASTA !) .
But the picture (horrible or better 'the ugliest ever') was still in the camera and everybody is still asleep !! I almost made it !

Now the cookies (not their aspect) were great that salty hint coming from the fleur de sel really did it (even the monsters liked them !!!). Looking at the other's cookies I realized mine sperad while their didn't...why? I'll check when I bake the frozen ones.
Please notice the only beautiful thing in the photo : the cookie carrier given to me by Enza

The World Peace Cookies were chosen by Jess from Cookbook Habit. Thank you Jess and visit the Tuesday with Dorie blogroll

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bread Baking Buddies Croissants

This month The Bread Baking Babe in charge was Katie of Thyme for cooking
and being in France, even without an oven, she chose Croissants !!
I never dared to make croissants but many times I've read the recipes over and over and with the Buddies I finally did it !! The whole family appreciated them ( you can see the only two left above and even aliens trying to reach them !!)
Check all the baking buddies for wonderful results Bake My Day, I Like to Cook, Living on Bread and Water, Lucullian Delights, My Kitchen in Half Cups, Grain Doe, Notitie van Lien, The Sour Dough, Cookie Baker Lynn
And Katie for the recipe (that includes also a savory pesto roulade and pains au chocolate).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SSB Banana and Chocolate Loaf

This is the wonderful loaf we super easily baked this month with Sweet and Simple Bakes.
For me baking means relaxing but when it comes to SSB it's more than that: their recipes are so fast and with wonderful results that is magic !!
What I really loved was that subtle orange flavor coming from the zest.

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Serves 10-12


250g (9oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
150g (5oz) caster sugar
100g (3 ½ oz) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
475g (17oz) whole bananas (about 4 small ones), peeled
75g (3oz) dark chocolate chips

13 x 23cm (5x9in) loaf tin *I used a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin*


Preheat the oven to 170°C /325°F/ Gas mark 3. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with parchment paper. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar and butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest in another bowl. Add the bananas and mash very well with a potato masher. Add the chocolate chips. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture. Gently but thoroughly bring all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, and then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Please check Sweet and Simple Bakes to see all the loafes !!