Tuesday, March 31, 2009

no TWD this week !!

I'm sorry my friends but I'm working so hard I really can't make this time !!
My excuses also for not visiting your wonderful blogs !

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge Lasagne of Emilia Romagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I finally made it I !! In the last days I've been so busy that I hadn't realized the posting date had changed !!
I make lasagne a lot but, usually I use vegetables an
d what I have handy at the moment so This was a change for me.
But I had an angel beside me : Cinzia !
As I mentioned I got the conservation job on the beautifully embroidered liturgical vestment but

I must finish it by the 30th of April so I'm working very long hours and when Cinzia found out I was so late for the lasagne she made a wonderful vegetarian ragù for me !!!

Here is her recipe :

1 onion minced
2 small carrots minced
2 celery stalks minced
500 gr tofu minced
1,5 liters tomato puree
extra virgin olive oil

Sautee the vegetables in the oil, add the tofu and salt, pepper, nutmeg and a clove after 10 minutes add the tomato and cook for 20 minutes.

What can I say... GRAZIE !!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bread Baking Buddies Pane Francese

The Bread Baking Babes went French this month or better Francese ! Sara chose this recipe on 'The Village Baker' by Joe Ortiz who got this recipe in Milano from a famous baker.
I'm working so hard in these days that I adapted the times a little bit but I'm very pleased with the results : thank you Sara !!
We used our sourdough starter as a chef to get this loaf going. A piece from the resulting dough is now tucked away in the refrigerator, ready to use when we bake this loaf again. We thank Joe Ortiz and his wonderful book, "The Village Baker" for the inspiration that created this recipe.

Creating the Levain
chef (1/4 cup leftover dough, or 1/4 cup sourdough starter, unfed)
1/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

Let the chef soften in the warm water, then whisk out any lumps. Mix in the flour until yo8u've formed a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes. The chef (now called a levain) should be moist but firm. Place the levain in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place till doubled. This will take 5 to 6 hours.

Second-Stage Levain
All of the levain (from above)
1/2 cup warm, chlorine-free water
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

"Refresh" the levain by placing it in a medium-sized bowl, chopping it into small pieces, and adding the water and 1/2 cup of the flour, stirring till smooth. Add the remaining flour gradually to create a stiff dough. Knead the dough for several minutes, then return it to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 3 to 5 hours, till it doubles in size. Punch down the risen levain, and reserve 1/4 cup as your next chef. (Let the piece ferment at room temperature for 3 hours, then wrap it in plastic and store it in the fridge. It'll develop a hard crust; that's OK.)

all of the second-stage levain (from above)
3/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour (I used hard wheat flour)

Chop the levain into small pieces, and mix them with the water, stirring till they begin to dissolve. Add the salt, then 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured or lightly greased work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny, adding only enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking unbearably. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours.

Shaping: Cut the dough into 2 pieces, and shape each piece into a round or oval. Transfer the loaves to a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or to a floured banneton; cover with a heavily floured cloth, and allow them to rise for 2 to 3 hours, or until they're almost doubled in bulk.

Don't slash or glaze the loaves. Bake the bread in a preheated 450°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they're a deep, golden brown. Yield: 2 loaves.

TFF Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos

Each month on Tyler Florence Fridays Megan choses a special recipe and this month was this wonderful tacos.
I didn't use Mahi Mahi (I don't think I even knew it existed !) but plain cod's filets and I couldn't find the adobo sauce anywhere but , still, these tacos were really great ! The children loved them too so what could have been better ?
Tyler Florence is teaching me a lot on how to fry fish. I had never tried Panko but they are wonderful, much better than the usual 'crumbs' !!!!
Please check the blog tomorrow to see the round up !

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TWD Blueberry Crumb Cake

I know the picture is bad but I assure you the cake is so nice !! I used frozen raspberries who went a little too far down in the batter!
I thank Sihan of Befuddlement who chose Blueberry Crumb Cake on pages 192-193 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours cookbook. You can view the recipe by checking out Sihan's blog.
Please visit the better ones on the site

Monday, March 23, 2009

BBD # 18 Quick Breads

This month we are gently hosted by Mansi of Fun & Food Blog who chose Quick Breads for us.
I chose this wonderfully chocolatey bread from Rose Levy Berambaum's 'The Bread Bible'.
This bread is very quick to assemble and ...to finish even my husband, who doesn't appreciate sweets to much, couldn't stop eating it so next time I'll double the recipe !!

Chocolate Chocolate Chips Bread

Unsweetened Cocoa 21 gr
Boiling Water 44 gr
Pure Vanilla Extract 1/2 teaspoon
3 Large Eggs
Cake Flour 125 gr
Turbinado Sugar 175 gr
Baking Powder 3/4 teaspoon
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Unsalted Butter 184 gr
Chocolate, chopped 28 gr

Preheat the oven at 350 F.
Whisk together cocoa and water, cool, whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Add half the chocolate and the butter and mix well add the rest of the chocolate and the chocolate.
Scrape into a prepared loaf pan (5 cups) and bake 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Enjoy !

Friday, March 20, 2009

TFF Fish and Chips with Home made Tartare Sauce

This week we tried fish with Tyler and , as always, we weren't disappointed !!
The recipe was Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartare Sauce .
It is easy to make, the batter for the fried fish is really fantastic, I'll keep it for the future and I'll try it for vegetables too.
Please visit Tyler Florence Fridays for more wonderful recipes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Making of the Cake

Few days ago I got one of the liturgical vestments I showed you, to restore for an exibition in...May ! So I started to work as crazy in a church in Trastevere (a nice part of Rome once very pitoresque) hence I have not so much time to post and to make something postable !
But going back to the cake here is what I made : for the cakes I used two butter cake's recipes from Rose Levy Berambaum :All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake and (I didn't want to waste all the whites) the White Velvet Butter Cake and I confess that I loved both and wouldn't know which one I prefer.
For the frosting I sticked with the Cake Bible and chose the Silk Meringue Buttercream.
And I found the rolled fondant recipe on the same book.
To make the modeling paste I added gum tragananth to the fondant (1 teaspoon every 250 gr)

As you can see I even bought Crisco at a specialty store !!!

I followed the directions of the book closely to cut the cakes with the slope ( you cut the cake at an angle and you place the cut top under the cake the higher part under the higer part so that is really high)

Each cake was on a small cardboard round (slightly smaller than the base) and was placed on the next layer with the help of dowels. We didn't have time to look around for proper ones so we sacrifized some chopsticks !

Silvia (Bianca's mother) didn't trust the dowels alon so we put some long sticks in the top as well.

And here for the artistic part Silvia helped a lot luckily because it took longer than we tought !!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TWD French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

This week it was Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction who chose the recipe and I must tell you that is a very common recipe in Italy too ! Usually this recipe is the only one some people know because it's easy to remember if you use the yogurt 'cup' as a mesure ( 1 of yogurt 2 of sugar 3 of flour 1 of oil, 3 eggs, lemon zest and 1 envelope baking powder) the nice change Laurie made are the almond flour and the marmalade glaze .
Please visit Liliana for the recipe and all the others TWDers for more cake !

Sunday, March 15, 2009

100 Post and a Labor of Love

Having worked two days on this cake for the 14 th birthday of our very special friend Bianca I only wish I was already asleep but I realized I had reached the 100 th post so what could be better than this ?
If any of you are interested I'll post more about it tomorrow !! Buonanotte (I know it's only seven !) !!

Friday, March 13, 2009

TFF Pan-Roasted Salmon With Roasted Root Vegetables and Lentil Stew

I'm happy to say that Dear Tyler did it again !!! I wanted to make something Indian for this great idea but my mother in law came with some fresh salmon (in Rome it's almost impossible to have a different cut for it : fish mongers are lazy !) so I decided for this rich dish !
I really loved it , the lentils (I used the tiny ones from island of Pantelleria near Sicily) were so rich in flavour and the roasted root vegetables were nicely caramelized and with a hint of the apple vinegar. Actually both could stand even without the salmon that was the simplest one to make. I warmly suggest that you try this recipe or any third of it !!
Please visit the TFF blogroll to get many more ideas !!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Culinary Tour Around the World : India

BloggerAid is a community of bloggers trying to help relieve world famine and Joan’s event A Culinary Tour around the world is her great idea to make people sensitive to our world's biggest problem.
This week Joan is taking us to India and I chose a very simple recipe from 'The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors'by Jeff Smith a book I enjoy a lot reading .


1 caulyflower
2 small bunches of scallions
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds ( I know ! but I only found the yellow ones )
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Kosher salt to taste
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander or 8 fresh curry leaves (I used dries ones with the other spices)

Separate the caulyflower into 1 inch florets.
Trim the scallions an chop them including the green parts.
Mesure the spices and the water and keep near the stove.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat and when is hot add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds. Keep a lid handy since the seeds may splatter and sputter when added. When the seeds stop sputtering add the turmeric and the caulyflower.
Stir-fry the caulyflower until it is evenly coated with the oil.
Add the scallions, salt and water; mix and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat and toss a couple of times until the caulyflower is soft, about 10 minutes. Uncover, fold in the coriander, and continue stir-frying until excess moisture evaporates and the caulyflower looks glazed about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Buon appetito !

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TWD Lemon Cup Custard

Hi there !! We got to Lemon Cup Custard thanks to Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles . Last week I checked the P & Q and found out that many people found this dessert 'too eggy' and 'not lemony' so I thought to be clever and used half milk and half cream and used the zest of two big lemons !

But I must say the lemon wasn't almost there !! The taste it was very smooth and mild a bit like creme caramel (a dessert you find everywhere in old fashioned pizzerie and restaurants in Roma, actually I think its The Dessert before Tiramisù) but without the dark brown caramel at the bottom (or top if they are refined enough to invert it !). I don't think I'll make it again but ...you never know !!
Please check the TWD blogroll for more and more !

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #196

Finally Spring is coming but Cagliostro is not convinced yet and tries to catch every ray of sun !!!
Please leave a post for Othello here for new entries !

Friday, March 6, 2009

TFF Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon

I know it's not new for you but this week I tried the mac and cheese signed by 'our' Tyler.
The recipes comes together in minutes and is very tasty too !
My variations have been : using olive oil instead of butter in making the bechamel sauce to keep our animal fats a bit lower, using pancetta and changing the cheeses because I don't have a clue of wher I could find cheddar cheese in Italy !
As you can see I didn't put the nice peas and pancetta all over because Carlo still doesn't want 'pieces' around but the reviews were great (even Carlo's), Anita said it was 'buonissimissimissimo !'. So, as always with Tyler, a fantastic dinner !!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

TWD Chocolate Armagnac Cake

I thank LyB of And Then I Do The Dishes for selecting this week’s recipe. Check her blog for the recipe and be sure to take a look at the TWD blogroll to see how the other bakers fared with this cake. You can find the recipe also on page 279 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
This recipe is not difficult to prepare and has so many flavours coming to our tastebuds !! I love it !!
The changes I made were: using whiskey instead of cognac (we don't drink alcohol other than beer or wine and I didn't want to buy another forgotten bottle) and I used hazelnut's meal instead of pecan's.
Last year I went to a pastry class held by a famous Italian pastry chef called Maurizio Santin and one of the many things I learned from him is to divide the amount of sugar between the yolks and the whites (add after the fist bubbles appear) so that the whites have more structure ; it's really important in this case where the whites do all the work, in fact there are no leavening agents other than them !
As you can see the cake WAS so beautiful in the oven !!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival Let's make Cheese !

As I thought I wasn't partecipating in enough groups I joined a wonderful group born from a few Daring Bakers wanting some savoury challenges in their lifes.
This month Lauren chose ricotta making and each one could choose a savoury dish to make with it .
I chose Gnudi that means naked (nudi) in Tuscan dialect. They are like ravioli without the pasta clothing. The only problem I have now is how to tell you that we were so anxious to eat them that I didn't take a photo !! So you'll have to trust my words for it : they were great !!

The recipe:

500 gr ricotta
500 gr cooked spinach or squash (water squeezed out) (traditionally they are made with nettles)
100 gr grated Parmigiano
1 egg (I used all whites leftovers)
1 Tblsp breadcrumbs
nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

First thing cook your selected vegetable : quickly stir fry the spinach with a little salt and garlic, squeeze out the water and chop finely. If you are using squash cook it in the oven and squeeze the water out and chop finely.
Combine with the other ingredients and let it rest it in the fridge for about an hour.
Make some small balls without adding extra flour and cook in boiling water (like gnocchi) until they appear on top.
In a small saucepan melt butter and some sage and pour it on the gnudi along with some Parmigiano.

SSB Cherry Bakewell Cake

The monthly bake this time is this wonderful cherry/lemony cake which I haven't tried yet but soon will ! My cakes didn't rise close to the ones Maria and Rosie baked and my glaze came out transparent but I used less powdered sugar so maybe this is the reason.
Please visit Sweet and Simple Bakes to see other cherry cakes and to join next month !!