Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

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.

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

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.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Soft pretzel bites


When I was in Munich, I ate a delicious bread called pretzel (a.k.a. brezelpretzlbreze brezn), 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.


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


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.

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!!

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

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


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

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!


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)
an ice cube or chocolate mold
time and patience =)
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 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!

Pumpkin risotto

A classic from Northern Italy: risotto di zucca (that is, pumpkin)...with some minor change caused by my fridge...

Ingredients (serves 2):
50 - 75 cl vegetable brooth
1/2 shallot
250-300 g pumpkin
1/4 glass red wine (I'll tell you why later)
rice for 2 (4 good handfuls)
Parmesan and butter as needed
Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

How to cook the pumpkin?
Peel it and cut it into dices (they don't need to be too small). Cook it by steaming it in the pressure cooker, i.e., put it into the basket with a "fingerful" of water (how much is that? say 1.5 cm) for 10 minutes. Once ready, put the pumkin in a tall beaker and blend it to a cream with the immersion blender.

Now yes, the risotto! First of all, warm up the broth or make it with half a dice of vegetable broth. If you like, you can also use the cooking water of the pumpkin. Chop the half shallot and sauté it with two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Add the pumpkin and the rice. Let it toast and then pour in the wine...

Ok, now I'll tell you the secret of the red wine...while preparing the risotto this morning,  I went to the fridge to get some white wine and OMG THERE WAS NONE.
After a few moments of despair and frustration, I poured in a bit of red wine (1/4 glass) and then waited, lurking in silence and watching out for any possible strange smell...but no!! The truth is that, unexpectedly, the red wine fits well!

To summarize, back to the directions, when the wine has evaporated, lower the heat and cook the rice by adding the broth little by little and stirring continuously. When the rice is almost done, add a pinch of salt (no more) and turn the heat up a bit to let the excess water evaporate. Do the mantecatura with grated parmesan to taste and a knob of butter. Finally, sprinkle with a bit of ground black pepper.


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).

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!!