Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TWD: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

This week's was April of Short + Rose who chose the recipe, and I thought it was a strange combination of flavours starting from black pepper in the brownie but as all of us learned Dorie never fails so everybody was fighting over this wonderful cake !!

In Italy it's very difficult to find dried tart cherries so I substituted these cherries.
I think it would be very nice even without the topping for a faster treat , and speaking of fast I'm sorry my 2 minutes decoration wasn't really a beauty !!
Please visit April's blog for the recipe and the others TWDers for more !

Daring Baker's Challenge: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Well, this certaily was one successful challenge... I'll try again maybe changing recipe, but I really enjoy challenges this is why I'm part of the Daring Bakers !!
I was sure it would have been a failure so I just filled them with nutella and raspberries jam, but please visit all the others' wonderful creations around !!



Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Heart Cooking Clubs : Gorgonzola Crackers

For the 'Potluck' week I chose a very fast and yummy recipe you can whip up when friends are already at your doorbell (...almost).
It's from the book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess':


3/4 cup Cashel Blue (I used Gorgonzola Piccante)
scant 1/2 cup butter softened
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup blue cornmeal (I used polenta)

Preheat the oven to 400 ° F
Mix everything enough to get a soft dough, let it rest in the refrigerator.
Roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch cut in any shape you like and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TFF: The Ultimate Beef Stew

And here I come back to my dear Tyler ! This 'spezzatino' was a very conforting dish for the first cool nights.
I used veal instead of beef and onions instead of the pearl ones, and I didn't have the mushrooms but it was good anyway !! I didn't mention the horseradish either......!
Here is the recipe if it's nor enough visit the blog for more !!

BBA Slow and Steady: Raisin Pecan Bread

I'm finally posting this wonderful bread ! I was a bit tired of sweet breads but I really enjoied it and now that is ending, I'm cutting thinner slices !!
With the Slow and Steady Group ( Kayte, Nancy, Cathy, Audrey, Jessica, Melissa, Sarah,Di, Karen, Natalia, Tracey, and Leslie) we are happily baking along with the BBA Group (we see them from afar now !). You can find the recipe here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cake Slice : Cinnamon - Pecan Coffee Cake

I'm late .. I'm late ... I'm late !!! I know it's incredible but I was convinced the 20th was tomorrow !!
Here is the first recipe from the new book for The Cake Slice group and it was a very nice cinnamony treat.
My pan was slightly bigger than requested and maybe for this reason I didn't have enough batter so I quickly mixed half batch more.
I loved this coffe-cake but trying to reduce the calories I reduced the amount of sugar and butter a bit.


Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
From Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott
Makes one 9x13 sheet cake

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened (I used 3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
2 eggs
I made half batter more

Cinnamon Raisin Pecan Filling:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup butter, melted ( I used 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. (Mine is 9 1/2 x 14 )

To make the filling, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir with a fork to mix well. Combine the raisins and pecans in another bowl and toss to mix. Set cinnamon mixture, nut mixture and melted butter aside.

For the cake, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and beat 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary, until mixture is smooth and light.

Using a large spoon or spatula, pour 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir just till the flour is absorbed. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture and stir till combined. Repeat till all flour and milk has been incorporated. Mix batter till just smooth.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over top of the batter followed by half the melted butter. Scatter half the raisins and pecans over top. Spread the remaining batter over the filling and smooth to edges of pan. Top with remaining filling, covering the cake completely.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the cake is golden brown, fragrant and begins to pull away from the edges of the pan. Remove to wire rack and allow to cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving in squares directly from the pan. Can be served hot, warm or room temperature.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWD Sweet Potatoes Biscuits

This is how I started the TWD recipe this month and I hope I got the right root !! We call them American Potatoes (I know they are all American ...). No way we could find them canned so I steamed IT in the pressure cooker and mashed it well.

I confess these are the first biscuits I've ever made and eaten so I didn't know what to expect... I liked them warm (no butter please ! from my fattening body) but I tasted to much the metallic aftertaste of the Italian Baking Powder !
Thanks to Erin of Prudence Pennywise for introducing me to the world of biscuits (and of sweet potatoes!) . Please visit the site for many gorgeous biscuits !!

Friday, October 16, 2009

World Bread Day '09: Sourdough Cornetti

Today is the World Bread Day and I thought to post about these sweet buns shaped like croissants or cornetti as we call them in Rome (brioche in Milan and so on) I don't want to sound as Marie Antoinette though ! I wish in the future having a daily meal will not be a problem for anyone.
In Rome the typical breakfast you get in a Bar (coffe shop) is 'cappuccino e cornetto' the latter being a sweet croissant that obviously has as many versions as the Bars.
I found this great recipe using sourdough in the blog la buona cucina. You shouldn't expect a french style croissant because this recipe is much leaner, but I really liked them plain or with some filling.

I bake an entire batch and freeze the 'leftovers' so that even a monday morning can start with a smile !!

350 sourdough
150 gr milk
100 gr sugar (I doubled it)
1 large egg ( I doubled it)
1 Tbs barley malt
400 to 450 gr flour
50 gr butter (I doubled it)
1/2 tsp salt

I worked all the ingredients together let it rise until doubled, cut the dough in half, rolled each half in a circle, cut eight triangles , rolled them up from the large end ( I filled some with chocolate or jam) let them rise again and baked them in a warm oven (350°) until ready, about 15, 20 minutes. Easy, light and yummy !!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Presents and a Tarte

Lately I've been very lucky ! I won the blogoversary Marthe announced on her blog some time ago.
The wonderful Marthe had another nice idea : a gift exchange , and this is how I got this great package all the way from Utah !It was sent by Melinda and it's a wonderful salt coming from a prehistoric ocean ! The salt is so good I have to hide it from my kids: they keep eating it !!

Opening all the little packets Marthe patiently made was a real pleasure also because they contained Marthe's favorites treats that became ours in seconds !!

This is what I was making while they were nibbling : A wild berries lemon tart

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cook's Challenge : Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

This month we traveled to Vietnam thanks to Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. It was a wonderful recipe even if I never tried the real thing ! The stock was such a perfumed pleasure to prepare and i'm so happy I saved half of it for future use !I used the long recipe that is in Jaden's blog. The following recipe is the one in her book.
Please visit the other Daring Cooks !

Short Recipe:


• Frying pan
• Large stockpot
• Tongs
• Strainer, sieve or colander
• Bowls for serving

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings


For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Heart Cooking Clubs : Chocolate Pavlova

Well this is not my usual midnight snack as you might imagine but for a special midnight... why not ? The recipe you find here makes a BIG pavlova ! My guests (mostly children) had different views about the toppings so I sliced it and 'topped' each slice.
Visit the blog for more appropriate snacks !!!

TWD All Spice Crumb Muffins

Kayte from Grandma's Kitchen Table had the wonderful idea to choose these delicious muffins.
I really enjoied the nice all spice flavour ! The muffins came together in a few moments and, being very busy in these days, I appreciated them even more !!
Go and check the others' creations !

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Heart Cooking Clubs : Mughlai Chicken

This week's theme was 'One Pot Wonders' and here is mine : Mughlai Chicken obviously by Nigella ! This chicken is very nice and special even if it doesn't take a tremendous amount of time: I started it very late and made it in time for dinner. I'll definitely keep the recipe on hand !!
Please visit I heart cooking clubs for more wonders !

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TWD Split Level Pudding

We had it all this time, for all tastes ! I liked this pudding as it was even if I had to eat most of the chocolate because it was 'too bitter' for the kids.
This week it was Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla who chose the recipe ( and you can find the recipe on his site).

Friday, October 2, 2009

TFF: Fried Mozzarella and Zucchini and Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

As you know I 'use Tyler's recipe with what I have at home and this time even in a hurry with an unexpected and most welcome guest. in fact Andrea told me an hour before that our dear friend Maite from Bilbao was coming for lunch so I headed to my computer and sent him to get some mozzarella and here we are with a warm appetizer and a colorful pasta !!

I suggest you to eat the mozzarella bites when they are hot they are so good !! Tyler fries other items too but I didn't have them on hand !
As for the pasta I used zucchini and pumpkin we don't get summer squash in Italy and I really can't understand why, when I lived in Santa Barbara I ate them quite often , I shoul get some seeds and plant them !!

You will find the recipes here and here. Please visit the blog for much more !!

Recipes to Rival: Beef Bourguignonne

I'm running to Greccio at the Franciscan Convent to give a (short) lecture on textile conservation and showing a Franciscan habit dating from the 1300, Cristina and I restaured in the summer, but I wanted to share these pictures in time ! I'll add more tomorrow !!
I used these cipolline for the recipe, sometimes you can find peeled ones ( but not the frozen ones), luckily I remembered to boil them a couple of minutes before peeling !

Boeuf Bourguignon

Yield: For 6 people

A 6-ounce chunk of bacon
1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes (see Notes)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
The blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove bacon rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2½ to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About I5 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.