Naked fancies

I received an amazing recipes book about naked cakes (“naked cakes” by Hannah Miles) so I decided to try one called Naked fancies: I hope you enjoy this super natural recipe. I believe if you have a bit of practice this can be used for Weddings, b-days and any other occasion you have to celebrate.

What you need:

  • 115 g butter, softened
  • 115 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
  • 4o ml rose or violet liqueur

For the buttercream:

  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 30 g softened butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the glaze:

  • 280 g icing sugar
  • 50 ml rose or violet liqueur

How to make it
Mix the butter and the sugar with an electric whisk. Add the eggs to the mixture and continue to whisk. Sift in the flour and the baking powder, add the sour cream and work all the ingredients until incorporated.

Spoon the cake batter into a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180°C). Once the caked is ready let it cool down and start preparing the icing.

Mix the icing sugar and the butter adding little milk if the mixture is too stiff.

Cut the cake in half horizzontaly, drizzle in some liqueur (the original recipe says violet liqueur: I used rose liqueur) and spread a layer of buttercream. Top the cake with the second half of the cake and let refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut the cake in 16 mini cakes.

Make the glaze by heating the icing sugar in a saucepan with some liqueur and about 100 ml water until you obtain a translucent liquid. Spoon the icing over the cakes and decorate with some edible flower or anything your fantasy suggests.

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Panzanella

I love this recipe with all its freshness. The secret for a perfect result is the quality of the ingredients you will use: you don’t need many so make sure they are excellent. This is perfect for a spring pic-nic or it can also be an idea for your Easter vegetarian meal.

What you need:

  • ciabatta bread (250g)
  • 6 skimmed tomatoes (500g)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 25 g of capers
  • extra virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • basil Leaves (as desired)

Optional:

  • anchovies fillets
  • 1 cucumber

How to make it:
Cut the bread in small pieces and place them in a lined baking tray. Grill the bred until lightly browned and cut into chunks (to make it quicker you can use sliced bread and use a toaster; the flavour won’t be the same but it will work well)Cut into chunks). Drizzle with olive oil.
Chop the tomatoes, slice the onion (and if you want the cucumber!), then place them in a serving bowl.
Add the bread to the veggies and mix well with some extra virgin olive oil. At this stage you can add the basil, the capers and the anchovies, if you decide to use them.

Panzanella

TIP: you can prepare a small dressing with a garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For more taste you can prepare a small cup with the olive oil and let the garlic clove infuse all night.

Chocolate cookies

An evergreen: chocolate chips cookies!

What you need:

  • 420 g flour;
  • 250g butter;
  • 200 sugar;
  • 200 cane sugar;
  • 2 eggs;
  • vanilla extract;
  • chocolate chips (as much as desired);
  • 1 tsp of salt;
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda;

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C°. Soften the butter to room temperature, when softened beat it with the sugar (both sugars) until you get a light creamy result. Add the eggs, one at the time and then the vanilla extract. Add the sifted flour until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir them quickly. You should have now a quite thick dough.

Line a baking tray and distribute the dough by using a spoon: make sure to leave a bit of space between the cookies as they will grow while cooking. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure you do not over bake them (as I did with the first batch) as the cookies will burn!! Remove the tray from the oven and let the cookies rest for few minutes. Enjoy your amazing cookies!

 

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Blueberries and red wine risotto

As promised, a recipe for your St Valentine’s day. I hope you like it: lots of love eveyone.

What you need:

  • 120 g risotto (Vialone style)
  • 2 glasses of red wine (I used Refosco dal Peduncolo rosso)
  • 100 g blueberries
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 dl vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g fresh cream
  • parseley

How to make it:

In a medium pan over medium heat, brown the chopped red onion in the oil until tender. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, then add the wine and when all absorbed decrease the heating. Start adding the broth and the blueberries and keep stirring so the rice does not stick.
Keep adding the broth, a cup at a time, until the rice is tender: it should have an “al dente” look . At the very last minute add the fresh cream and the parseley so the risotto gets quite smooth and all the ingredients are melted together. Serve hot and if you like you can add some fresh parseley leaves. Enjoy!

 

Polenta and mushrooms

Another recipe for your Christmas table: polenta can be a very versatile dish and it is typical from Northern Italy. In this recipe I will explain how it is cooked in Friuli Venezia Giulia, or better how in my family used to be cooked.
Polenta is made with stone- grounded cornmeal and with a grainy texture. It can be cooked to be creamy and thick, or allowed to set and then sliced.
My grandmother takes 2 hours to cook the polenta over the fire – in this version I have used ready to use polenta and I decided to serve it with mushrooms. It is also perfect with meat, fish or poultry.

What you need:

• pack of ready to make polenta;
• water;
• salt;
• 200 g mushrooms;
• 1 medium onion,
• 1 dl vegetable stock;
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;

(Optional: parsley and cheese).

 

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How to make it:

Cook the polenta following the instructions on the package. This recipe can be done with thick or liquid polenta, it really depends on the taste.
When the polenta has reached a thick structure transfer it in a dish and let it cool down. In the meanwhile cook the mushrooms: wash them thouroughly, slice them and cook them in an hot pan with the olive oil and the sliced onion. Add the stock little by little until the mushrooms are tender and have browned.

While the mushrooms are cooking on a low fire you can cut your cooled polenta as desired: as it is Christmas I have shaped it as a snowflake using a cookies cut. Just remember to wash the cutter you are using so the polenta does not stick to it.

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Serve the mushrooms on the top of the polenta and add some parseley if you like.

Tip: you can also add some Emmenthal or pecorino cheese on top of it.

Christmas chocolate mousse

Ho ho ho, Christmas time is coming so it is time to start posting some recipes for the festive season. The first one is going to be a Dark Chocolate Mousse: DELICIOUS! Not only this recipe tastes good but you don’t need eggs or flour to make it so perfect in case of allergies. Hope you enjoy it!

What you need:
•250 g dark chocolate;
•300 ml double fresh cream;
• digestive biscuits (optional);

How to make it:
Before starting with the instructions I want to give you some recommandations: nr1) use extra dark chocolate (min 75% cocoa): I know not everybody loves dark chocolate however it is important for the good result of the recipe. Using a milk chocolate or any other type will not deliver the same result. The fresh cream is sweet enough on its own; nr 2) make sure the bowl where you will whip the cream is clean and non greasy otherwise you will not get a good result.
The first thing to do in this case is whipping the fresh cream: pour the fresh cream in a mixer and mix for about 2/3 minutes or until soft peak stage. Keep your cream in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate through the bain marie technique (it basically means melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water) so you don’t burn it out. Keep mixing your chocoalte until it is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the hob and let it cool down for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Gently add the melted chocolate to the cream and with movements from the centre to the outside of the bowl, keep mixing until you incorporate all the chocolate.

You can now serve in glasses or small cups and guarnish with biscuits and with the remained cream. This is the result:

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Few more tips:
– this mousse should be kept at room temparature. If you wish to prepare it the day before remember to take it out from the fridge at least 30 mins before eating it. If not, it will be still super tasty but a bit harder to eat;
– this mousse can be also used to cover any other dessert: cupcakes, cakes, croissants…feel free to use it as desired.

Pumpkin and mushroom soup

Now that cold weather has arrived nothing is better than a soup. This is also super easy so no excuses like “I don’t know how to cook it” 🙂

What you need:

  • 350g pumpkin or buttersquash;
  • 250g mushrooms;
  • 1 pint of water;
  • 1 onion;

How to make it:

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Heat the oven at 180C° and cook the chopped pumpkin until soft (around 25 mins). Slice the mushroom and boil them in the water together with the onion for 15 mins or until tender. Mix together all the ingredients in a food processor. You can add some fresh parsley and a pinch of salt or some paprika to spice it up. If you like it you can also add a spoon of fresh cream for an even more creamy result. I just added extra virgin olive oil.

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Homemade tortellini

Tortellini are a traditional pasta from Emilia Romagna, more specific from Emilia. I really recommend a visit to Emilia Romagna, it is a beautiful region with nice people, nice cities and landscapes. In my opinion it is also one the best regions in Italy for pasta. Making your own pasta might seem a bit daunting but I reassure you that the result is very satisfying.

Ingredients for the pasta:

  • 200g 00 flour;
  • 2 large free range eggs;

How to make it:

Tip the flour in a surface and make a well in the center, break the eggs into the the well and start mixing the flour and the eggs with a fork. Keep beating the eggs and blend the flour into them. You should obtain a crumbly mix and from now on you have to work with your hands.

When the eggs have thickened together with the flour work the mixture to a dough: work it with your hands to a smooth and yellow dough. If possible don’t push the dough against the work surface but try to pull it along the surface. When the dough is ready wrap it with film and set aside for 10 minutes.

You need now to roll out the dough. I suggest to use a pasta machine. I didn’t have it so I had to roll it by hand: that was a good workout for my arms! Run the dough through a pasta roller (or by hand) until you obtain a nice and smooth sheet of pasta.

Cut the sheet into squares, the measure here really depends on the filling. Roughly it would be 3 inches by 3 inches. Place some filling in the middle of each square, if unsure you can use a teaspoon. Dip your finger in some water and run it along the two edges of the square, then fold the square into a triangle, pressing the top together and then working your way along the sides. You need to form a kerchief shape by drawing the bottom two corners of the triangle together. Press to seal and sift with flour so they don’t stick to the working surface.

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How to cook tortellini:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon or two of salt. Add the tortellini to the water a few at a time with a slotted spoon. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 mins or until they come to the surface of the water.

You can now serve your tortellini: depending on the filling, you can decide the sauce. Below few examples:

FILLING: Ricotta and Spinach SAUCE: butter and grated parmesan

FILLING: pumpkin SAUCE: black pepper and grated smoked ricotta

FILLING: prosciutto SAUCE: mushrooms and parsley ragù.

 

 

 

 

The perfect sponge

I have just entered a competition at work to celebrate the International Baking Day and I have to bake a cake which is representative of my country, Italy. Now I will not yet provide any information about the actual cake but I am going to post the recipe to make the perfect sponge.

The sponge is a great base for many recipes and you need to know how to do it! There are different ways of making sponge  but here I will focus on the one which I consider the quickest (not the easiest). Before starting I would like to point out one important aspect about the sponge: there are so many recipes in the web which use butter, baking powder and other ingredients. Now the typical  sponge recipe does not include any fat or any baking powder: the air incorporated while beating the eggs will work as baking powder. You can trust me that if you follow the steps below your cake will be perfect!

What you need:

  • 150g sugar;
  • 150g flour (or 75g flour and 75g potato starch);
  • pinch of salt;
  • 5 eggs;

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC and line a baking tray:  a 24 cm baking tray is ok.

Using an electric whisk beat the eggs & sugar together till you obtain a nice and smooth mixture. Incorporate the salt. Be careful not to over beat the eggs otherwise your sponge will be crumbly and this is not what you want.

Sift the flour in the mixture. Little by little and starting from the centre of the bowl incorporate all the flour to the mixture. You need to incorporate the flour with delicate movements so the air bubbles remain in the mixture. As pointed out earlier on there is no baking powder in your sponge; the secret for a well risen sponge is to make sure the mixture incorporates enough air when beating the eggs.

Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and bake for 40 mins. Let the mixture cool down and then slice it in two layers. Before filling the cake remember to soak the internal part of the sponge with some liquid: it can be any type of spirit (I love with Amaretto or rum) or simply lemon juice or milk, depending on the topping. This type of cake is normally dryer than other cakes so you need to fix this aspect.

Buon appetito!