Saturday, September 29, 2012

More owls

I know what you are thinking...more animals??!!! Well, I said previously, my home is full of them, but this is not premeditated, believe me...
It's because of the internet, sure enough...there's too many ideas and too many attractive tutorials not to take advantage of them...I know that someone will understand me =)

Talking about tutorials, I found the one about these owls on this page (Moonstitches' blog) back at a time I still did not own a sewing machine, so I stored it in a safe place, until the sewing machine arrived, together with the new home to be decorated ;-)

I just changed two small things with respect to the original tutorial:
  •  I did not use fusible web (I felt it was not necessary).
  • For the body of the owls, instead of wool I used fabric, as wool seemed to me too much wintry, whereas I wanted something that could fit all year round.
  • Finally, as I didn't find the alphabet tags very attractive, I preferred to stitch the letters with a back stitch directly on the belly of each owl.

    Here is a link to a very interesting tutorial that explains how to transfer some letters printed on paper to the fabric, so that you can then stitch them easily and with no fear.

I hope that you find this useful! Ciao!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zucchini and ham risotto


While I am trying to figure out what to cook today, I will tell you what I cooked yesterday ;)

Ingredients (serves 2 people):
50 - 75 cl vegetable broth
1/2 white onion
1 zucchini
ham (or speck) shavings
1/2 glass white wine
rice for 2 people (I put 4 good handfuls)
Parmesan and butter for the mantecatura
olive oil, salt and pepper

Warm up the broth (in case you stored it in the freezer) or prepare it with half a vegetable broth dice. Chop the onion and sauté the onion with two spoonfuls of olive oil. While the onion sautés,  grate the zucchini with a grater with big holes, and add it to the onion. Leave it cooking for a few minutes, add the rice, toast it and then pour in the wine. When the wine has evaporated, turn the heat down, add some broth and stir...and stir...add a bit more broth and stir...etc. etc., until the rice is almost ready. Now add salt and pepper, and turn the heat up a bit to remove the excess water. Do the mantecatura with some butter and grated Parmesan to your taste and, finally, add the ham/speck shavings.

That's it, buon appetito! ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autumn biscuits


Today I have some new tools to try out: the new leaf-shaped molds, the icing bottle, the white sugar pearls...

However, the recipe for the biscuits is not new; when I was a child and I was starting doing things in the kitchen, I found it in the "Recipe book of Grandma Duck", and since then I have always been using the same recipe for this type of buiscuits... in italian they are called "frollini" as they are made of "pasta frolla".

Let's go on with the ingredients (for the dough):
300g flour
130g butter (at room temperature)
1 pinch of salt
1 egg and 2 yolks (don't throw away the egg whites)
50g sugar
1/2 grated lemon peel

With a fork, mix all the ingredients, and, as quickly as possible, knead with your hands till you obtain a smooth and uniform dough; make a ball with it, wrap it with cellophane, and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes have elapsed, turn on the oven to... uff, each oven is different... I set mine to 155º-160º. Take a tray with a baking sheet where you will place the biscuits. Roll out the dough with the rolling pin until it is about 5mm thick. Cut the shapes that you prefer, and place them on the tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they golden (but be careful, not brown, otherwise they will come out too hard!).

Once cold, you can decorate the biscuits with powdered sugar, water icing or, as I did this time, with royal icing.

Here is the recipe that was successful for me... even though I have to improve a bit the drawing with the pastry bag =)

450g powdered sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
2 egg whites (the ones that were left before)

Sieve the powdered sugar and put it in a bowl. Add the beaten egg whites and the lemon juice; beat for 10 minutes.

Once ready and while you are using a part of the icing with a pastry bag or icing bottle, I suggest you to cover the icing in the bowl with a wet towel, to avoid that it dries... if this happens, it's a disaster... this is my personal experience.

About the techniques for icing, here are a few links that explain it all, well, almost all of it ;)

To conclude, aside from the decoration of questionable beauty, I definitely recommend you the recipe of grandma duck!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Zucchini, ham and cheese rolls

Nothing is better than a picture to introduce them:

Ingredients (for 9 rolls):
1 sheet of puff pastry
100g approx. of medium-hard cheese (if it already comes in slices, you'll save time)
a few slices of ham or (if you can find it) speck
1 zucchini
1/4 onion or, alternatively, 1 shallot
salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil


Chop finely the onion, and put it into a pan with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Grate the zucchini with a grater with big holes, and sauté it together with the onion for some 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

While the zucchini is cooling down, cut some cheese in thin slices (if not already cut) and cut the ham or speck in smaller slices. Unroll the puff pastry on a baking sheet, and distribute the zucchini, the ham/speck and the cheese over it. It needs to be well distributed to be tasty, but you do not need to cover every corner of the puff pastry!! Roll it as tight as possible, and cut the resulting roll in cylinders approx 4cm thick.
Put each cylinder in a muffin mold, and bake at 170ºC for 30 minutes, or until they are golden (the temperature and the minutes are at the discretion of your oven).

Chicken garland

My home is a farm.

I just realized... owls in the dining room, fishes in the bathroom, sheeps in the living room... and chickens in the kitchen! I guess it is because I miss the countryside... or maybe I just like creating all these animals...hmmm, I think that's both.

To conclude, I warmly recommend you to make this garland: these chickens will bring a lot of happiness in whatever room you will hang them.

So, what about the instructions?

First of all, click here to download the pattern and print it. Cut the pieces for the wings and the comb from some red felt, the beak from some orange felt, and the eyes and pupils from some white and black felt, respectively.
For the body I used some cotton fabric, but of course you could do it with felt as well! Cut two pieces, leaving approx 1 cm of margin for sewing.

Now... time to sew!
First, the small pieces: comb, beak, eyes and pupils. Remember to put some filling in the beak and in the comb. I decorated each wing with a simple running stitch; you can of  course customize it as you prefer.
For the  legs, I used some mouse tail ribbon. Cut a small piece, fold it and make a pair of knots for each leg.

Sew the body inside out, leaving a small opening so that you can reverse it and fill it with cotton. When you are done, close it with some stitches.

With some thread or some glue for fabric, put into place the other parts (comb, eyes, etc.).


Here are some more pictures so that you can see the details... please don't pay too much attention to the defects....

I hope you liked it! Cheers

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mini muffins with peach and "amaretti"

Here the  weather already started being a bit cold, or maybe it's because I am a bit like a reptile and feel cold as soon as the sun disappears... well, what matters is that I suddenly started feel like turning on the oven and baking something fun

Mini muffins with peach and amaretti

Ingredients (for about 50 mini muffins - or 10 regular muffins):
230g corn starch
25g amaretti (italian almond flavored buiscuits) + 3-4 more amaretti for the bottom of the muffins
2 eggs
100g sugar (I use 70g white sugar and 30g brown sugar)
120g butter (at room temperature)
100g (yes, grams) milk
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 big peach, or 2 small ones (mine weighted some 300g)
a pinch of salt

wash the peach and cut it into small dices. Crush the amaretti in a mortar (don't grind them so much that they become powder, make sure you leave some grains; of course it is also a matter of personal taste).
In a bowl, mix with your hands the corn starch with the butter and the crushed amaretti. Add sugar, bakind powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, and pour them on the first bowl with the amaretti compound. Mix well; finally, add in the diced peach, mix a bit more with a spoon, and you are ready to fill your muffin molds. Before pouring the compound in, crush 3-4 more amaretti (this time ground to powder) and put a bit in the bottom of each mold... it will make it more tasty!

Bake at 170ºC for 20 minutes (well, you should check with your own oven!).
Twenty minutes and...enjoy!!

Teddy bear

This was one of my favorite experiments! After several hours of work and in spite of errors and imperfections, the bear you have in your hand looks so cute that you forget of all those broken threads and needles and of all that mess of the patterns...

I remember that this time I broke the original needle of my sewing machine... and when I went looking for another one, I found out that there exist different kinds for different fabric thicknesses... so, if you are embarking on this venture, I recommend to avoid normal needles (number 12-14) and rather go for a 16 one, as you will sometimes find yourself sewing together 3 or 4 layers of fabric at a time.
By the way, I used the same fabric of the sheep pillow, which is synthetic and soft to the touch.

Here you can download the pattern and aaall the instructions, step by step, to create the bear:

In  addition to the color of the bear, I changed one more thing: instead of the set of animal eyes, I used a pair of flat black buttons.

I bet that now you'd like to make one by yourself =)