Sunday, November 25, 2012

Personalized tray






Hi all,

Today I propose you an easy work which is rather quick to make: a personalized tray, to serve coffee, tea or whatever you like.

What you need:
- a raw wood tray
- paper for scrapbooking or decoupage
- Mod Podge, or glue for decoupage + varnish.
- acrylic paint.
- a pair of paintbrushes.

Instructions:
Once you know which paper you are going to use, choose an acrylic color that matches well with the colors of the paper. Paint the tray with the chosen color. If you choose a dark paper (like mine, for example), you can avoid to paint the base of the tray, but, at least, paint 1cm on each side, so that when you put the paper into place you don't leave any "raw wood" spot. Let dry.

In the meanwhile, measure the base of the tray and cut the paper.


When the paint has dried, with a sufficiently large paintbrush paint a layer of Mod Podge (or decoupage glue) on the base and put the paper into place. Smooth the paper with your fingers, till no air bubble is left. Let dry for 20 minutes.


Finally, paint a pair of layers of Mod Podge or varnish on the whole surface of the tray.

That's all!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ham and leek pie

So you are going to a dinner party this week-end and you do not know what food to bring? Here is an idea: you can serve at room temperature if needed, and if you serve it warm then it's really tasty.



Ingredients:
1 puff pastry
2 medium-small leeks
100 g cooked ham (choose a good quality one, cut into thin slices)
70-80 g mid-ripe cheese
1 egg
1 knob of butter, salt and pepper

Directions:
Turn on the oven to 175-180º C.
Clean the leeks, cut the white and light-green part in thin slices, and  saute 10 minutes on a low flame with the knob of butter; add a bit of water if needed.
While the leeks merge with the butter in a tasty and perfumed combination, dice the chees and cut the ham in narrow strips. Beat the egg lightly with a fork and mix with the ham, the cheese and the leeks. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lay the puff pastry on a mold and perforate it with a fork, pour the mix in and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Soft pretzel bites




Hi,

When I was in Munich, I ate a delicious bread called pretzel (a.k.a. brezelpretzlbreze brezn)...how yummy...so, when I found this recipe for soft pretzel bites  and saw how good they looked, I could not resist and I started cooking! The result was extremely satisfactory, so the recipe really gets an A grade!

To make it, I changed the doses from cups and spoons to liters and grams, to make it more comfortable.

Ingredients:

Dough:
360 ml warm water
7 g honey
1 cube fresh yeast or a bag of dried yeast

360 g regular flour
360 g strong flour (for bread)
10 g salt
90 g melted butter

Baking soda solution:
1200 ml water
80 ml baking soda (yes, you have to measure it in a beaker).

To let the pretzel bites get their color:
1 egg yolk
10-12 ml water (that is, a tablespoon)

More stuff:
coarse salt, extra virgin olive oil


Directions:

The dough:
Pour the 360 ml of warm water in a bowl, with the honey and the yeast (the water shall not be hot, to avoid killing the poor yeast). If you use dry yeast, let it rest 5 minutes.
Add the flours, the melted butter and the salt; knead with your hands.
If it sticks too much to your fingers, add a little bit of flour and work for 5 minutes, or until you get a nice and elastic ball.

Grease a big bowl with a bit of olive oil and put the ball inside. Cover with film and let it rest for an hour.

Turn on the oven to 210º C.

Direction for the bites:
Overturn the dough on a clean surface, WITHOUT ADDING MORE FLOUR. Cut it into 6-8 pieces and, with the palms of your hands, roll them and form some cylinders  of about 3 cm of diameter (see pictures here).
With a pizza slicer or a knife cut the cylinders in small pieces.

Then:
Mix the egg yolk with the water and place it in the corner of your table. Keep within reach: a paintbrush, a slotted spoon, coarse salt, kitchen scissors and oven paper.

Now it's the turn of the baking soda! No, don't skip this step, it's necessary to get a good result. Put the water (1.200 ml) in a pot and, when it starts to boil, add the baking soda.
Throw 5 pieces of dough into the water and let cook for 30 seconds. Take the pieces out with the slotted spoon and put them on a sheet of oven paper. Do the same with the rest of the dough.

Into the oven:
Once done, paint with the mixture of egg yolk and water, dust with salt and, with the scissors, cut a + on each of the pieces. Carefully, lay the pieces on a tray with a clean sheet of oven paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they take a nice golden brown color.

Once ready and out of the oven, you have to resist the temptation of eating them immediatly, and let them dry over a grid for a few minutes.

Guten Appetit!!




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wedding ring pillow



Hi!


Recently a friend of mine got married and I wanted to give her a special present. Thinking about it and looking for ideas in magazines and on the internet, I liked a lot the wedding ring pillows and I saw that making one was not a mission impossible, so, let's get to work!

First of all, make a lot of drawings, to find a decoration and a layout of the elements that you like. To make a decoration like mine, make the flowers and the leaves out of white and green felt (see the tutorial about felt flowers).


For the base, cut two squares of fabric 15 cm wide, leaving 1.5 cm to sew.

In one of the squares I stitched the initials of my friends, though an alternative idea could be to put the date of the wedding.

Now is the moment to sew the two squares; do it on the reverse side and leave a small aperture in one of the sides, so that you can later turn it inside out.
The depression that you see in the pictures is necessary so that the rings won't slide to the sides; so, before doing everything else, place the ribbons (two pieces about 20 cm each) in the middle of the pillow and two buttons, one over the ribbons and the other on the bottom of the pillow. Sew through the pillow and the buttons, pressing well, using a doll needle (it will be easier than with a normal one).

Finally, glue the flowers and the leaves with hot glue and, if you like, decorate with a bow of the same color of the stitch.

I hope that you liked this tutorial, if you have any doubt or question just post a comment!

Cheers,

Giulia

Monday, October 22, 2012

Aunt's tartelettes

That is: crust pie with custard enriched with delicated pine nuts and icing sugar...delicious...



Here is the recipe, copied from a bag of baking powder:

Ingredients (for a single 26 cm pie or 5 tartelettes):

For the dough:
300 g flour
150 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg
150 g butter (at room temperature)
8 g baking powder
1 bag vanillin (or vanilla flavor)
grated lemon peel

For the custard and the decoration:
1/2 l milk
4 Tbsp corn or potato starch
6 Tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
icing sugar and pine nuts

Directions:
Mix the flour with the sugar, salt, egg, butter in small dices, grated lemon peel, vanillin and the sieved baking powder; knead it with your hands in the shortest time possible, shape into a ball, enroll it with film and let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

While you wait, prepare the custard: warm up the milk on a low heat setting, without letting it boil; beat the eggs with the sugar in a bowl, and then add the starch little by little. Pour the milk slowly and mix with a beater.
Put everything in a pot and cook on a low heat until a veil forms on the spoon (more or less two minutes since it starts to boil).

For the 26 cm pie:
take the dough out of the fridge, take 2/3 of it and store the rest. Roll it 1/2 cm thick, and put it on the mold (if you have one of those molds with the bottom that can be separated from the sides, you can roll the dough directly on the bottom). Leave a 3 cm tall border. Pierce the dough with a fork, pour the custard in, fold the border inwards and paint it with a bit of water to stick the cover of the pie.
Take the other 1/3 of the dough out of the fridge, roll it and, helping yourself with the roller, lay it carefully on the fop of the pie. Close the borders well, with a bit more of water if necessary. Pierce the surface and distribute some pine nuts on the top of it. Bake at 175º C for 30-35 minutes. When it has cooled down, dust it with icing sugar.

To make tartelettes, follow the same procedure, but divide the dough for the bottom and the top of the pie into 5 parts each. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 175º C.









Friday, October 19, 2012

Cream with pumpkin, potatoes and leeks



Hi,

with all this rain, changes of temperature and colds, a vegetable cream is just great. Moreover, a soup without pieces, for the joy of the kids.

Ingredients (serves 6):
500 g pumpkin
1 potato
2 leeks
1/2 shallot
70 cl water
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 dice of vegetable broth
steak spices, salt, pepper
(optional) sesame and rosemary for the decoration

Directions:
Clean the leeks, cut the white and light green part in slices, and sauté it in the pressure cooker with the olive oil and the chopped shallot.

Peel and cut the pumpkin and the potato in big dices. Add the diced vegetables to the pressure cooker, pour in the water, then add two pinches of steak spices and the half dice of vegetable broth and let cook for 10 minutes since the pressure cooker starts to whistle.

Once you open the pressure cooker, blend the vegetables with the immersion blender, and spice it with a pinch of salt and some ground pepper. Serve it and, if you like, decorate it with sesame and a bit of rosemary. And don't forget the croutons!

Enjoy!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Homemade sugar cubes



In the Internet you can find different ways to prepare homemade sugar cubes...I'll now describe you the one which, after many attempts, allowed me to obtain sugar cubes that don't crumble upon the lightest touch, but still dissolve rapidly in a warm drink.

What you need:
a small cup of sugar (white, brown, or a mix of the two)
water
an ice cube or chocolate mold
time and patience =)
Directions:
Soak a small cup with water. Don't leave water inside, but also make sure it does not dry. Then fill it with sugar. Stir a little bit, till you get the consistency of wet sand.

If you have a mold for very small ice cubes, like mine, fill in the mold with the mixture to the top, and then press the mixture down with your fingers. If the mold is bigger, fill only half of it.

And now be patient...you have to resist all night long without taking the cubes out of the mold...I know it's hard, but you'd rather wait rather than risk breaking them.

After several hours, you can take them out of the mold, and admire your lovely shiny little cubes!