27 April, 2009

Deep in the hundred acres wood...



WINNIE THE POOH CAKE FOR SARA

Baking cakes has always been my passion, and whenever I have an opportunity to make something "special", I jump and do it. However, I don't do much decorating except in special occasions, like birthdays. Now, having two kids (5 and 2), gives me plenty of possibility to do it. But just a nicely decorated cake isn't what I want to do. If the cake doesn't taste well, then the effort to make it look nice is wasted.
That's why I always make my cakes from scratch and that's why I always try and look for new recipes. Here's a good one that I'm saving in my recipe box.
Recently I got so interested in working with Marshmellow fondant (MMF) that I even created a special food exchange with DD, a wonderful lady I met over on Bakespace,the most wonderful social network for people who like cooking and baking, and those who want to learn more. DD's the Fondant queen, fondant fairy, call her what you want, but she's the best, not only because her works are far beyond anything I hope I'll ever be able to make myself, but also because she shared all the secrets, tips and lot more on her blog. So if you haven't done it so far, go and VISIT her blog, DDpie's Slice and check what she's able to do with MMF and Gumpaste
I received my package with things I needed for fondant and couldn't find here in Italy just the day before Easter, and was as happy as my kids receiving chocolate Easter eggs. I soon started planning the birthday cake for my daughter Sara who turned two last Sunday, April 26.
I leave you now to admire or critisize my cake, and I'll be back soon with the recipe for the Hazelnut cake I used here.
RECIPE (part 1)


TORTA WINNIE THE POOH PER SARA

Recentemente ho conosciuto MMF (Marshmellow fondant) che si usa per decorare le torte e per fare varie decorazioni e oggetti. Mi sono subito appassionata all'idea e ho voluto provare a tutti i costi. Ma sono iniziati subito i problemi. Marshmellow che si usa dovrebbe essere quello bianco, ma in Italia si trova solo quello già colorato. I colori - chiunque abbia mai provato a decorare una torta sa che nei supermercati italiani si trovano solo i colori liquidi e si trovano in tre colori di base: giallo, rosso e blu. Ma per ottenere il risultato migliore con il MMF bisognerebbe usare i colori in gel o in pasta. Io qui non ho trovato nessun negozio specializzato in pasticceria, e sarei grata se qualcuno me lo indicasse, tranne qualche cosa che si trova su Internet, ed è spesso indisponibile. Siccome nel frattempo ho fatto amicizia con una simpatica signora americana, molto gentile, dalla quale ho imparato tutto quello che c’è da imparare sul fondant e pasta di zucchero (e se volete imparare anche voi visitate il suo blog
DDpie’s slice), le ho chiesto se poteva spedirmi alcune cose che non trovavo qui. Il giorno prima di Pasqua è arrivato il mio pacco, con tutto quello che occorre per preparare e lavorare fondant e la pasta di zucchero – i marshmellow piccoli bianchi, i colori in gel (giallo, arancione, rosso, rosa, viola, verde, blu, marrone, nero), alcuni attrezzi elementari per lavorare e formare le figurine di fondant, come fiori, foglie, nastri, ecc. Immaginate la mia felicità! Mi sono messa subito a progettare la torta per il compleanno di mia figlia Sara, che ha compiuto 2 anni domenica 26 aprile.
Vi lascio ora giudicare il risultato della mia dolce avventura.
Nei prossimi post parlerò in dettaglio della torta, per questa volta è tutto.

RICETTA (prima parte)

WINNIE THE POOH TORTA ZA SARU

U posljednje vrijeme počela sam se zanimati za rad s MMF-om (MMF je skraćenica za marshmellow fondant). Fondant se koristi za ukrašavanje torti i pravljenje figurica. U prošlosti sam koristila marcipan u istu svrhu, ali okus marcipana mi se nikad nije sviđao. Recept za pravljenje MMF-a je u biti jako jednostavan, ali nije bilo lako pronaći određene sastojke ovdje u Italiji. Marshmellow, oni mekani, gumirani slatkiši, trebali bi biti bijeli kako bi se poslije mogla dobiti bilo koja boja koju želite za svoju tortu, ali ovdje sam pronašla samo one već obojene (roza, žute i plave – pomiješane). Drugi su problem bile boje. U trgovina su na raspolaganju samo tekuće boje – žuta, plava i crvena, ali za bolji rezultat preporučuju se boje u gelu. Potraga za trgovinama specijaliziranim za slastičarsku opremu i sastojke bila je neuspješna. U međuvremenu sam preko interneta upoznala jednu jako dragu gospođu u Americi, koja je velikodušno i ljubazno pristala poslati mi neophodne sastojke i opremu za rad s fondantom. Želite li se diviti pravom majstoru posjetite njezin blog
Ddpie's slice. Moj paket je stigao dan prije Uskrsa, i možete zamisliti moju radost dok sam ga otvarala. Bila su ondje četiri paketa bijelog marshmellowa, paket od 9 boja u gelu – žuta, narandžasta, crvena, roza, zelena, plava, ljubičasta, smeđa i crna, kao i osnovni alat neophodan za oblikovanje cvjetova, listova i sličnih ukrasa za torte. Moja je mašta dobila krila, i odmah sam se bacila na posao. Prošle je nedjelje, 26. travnja bio rođendan moje kćeri Sare, koja je napunila 2 godine, a zaključit ćete i sami – najdraži joj je lik iz crtića medvjedić Winnie the Pooh.
Ostavljam vas sad da se divite ili da kritizirate moj prvi rad, a uskoro ću pisati i o samoj torti i kako sam je pripremila.

RECEPT (1. dio)

22 April, 2009

Leek in a tart - I love it!

Ricotta and leek tart

I need to cut on talking this time, because I’m way too busy and shouldn’t be posting at all. But our dinner last night was so delicious that I wanted to share it with all of you.
I found the recipe in an Italian food magazine (Cucina moderna), that I started buying recently and it’s full of simple tasty recipes, a quality I rarely find in other magazines. I’m happy if I find 1 recipe worth trying in most of the magazines .
Well, since both me and my husband LOVE leeks, I definitely had to try this one. And I wasn’t wrong.
A recipe to absolutely keep in mind and make often! Trust me. The smell coming out of the oven every time I opened it was killing me – I ate it with my nose first (!), then with my eyes, the rest finished you know where.

Ricotta and leek tart

RICOTTA AND LEEK TART


a sheet of pate brisèe
2 eggs
100 g smoked pancetta (or bacon)
200 g ricotta cheese
1 leek
20 g fresh dill
30 g of Parmigiano Reggiano


Clean and slice the leek.
Cook diced pancetta with 2 TB of oil in a skillet at medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add sliced leek and cook for 3-4 minutes at low heat.
Let it cool.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, eggs, dill, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, pancetta with leek, salt and pepper.
Line a tart form with pate brisèe and punch it with a fork. Pour in the ricotta mixture, level with a spoon.

Ricotta and leek tart Ricotta and leek tart

Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F) for about 40 minutes.
Serve warm.
Delicious taste, awesome smell! Husband’s approval! Yay!


Ricotta and leek tart

TORTA SALATA CON PORRI E RICOTTA


Ingredienti:
un rotolo di pasta brisèe pronta
2 uova
100 g di pancetta a dadini
200 g di ricotta
un porro
20 g di finocchietto
30 g di Grana o Parmigiano grattugiato
olio extravergine d’oliva
sale, pepe


Pulite il porro e tagliatelo a rondelle. Rosolate la pancetta in una padella con 2 cucchiai di olio su fuoco medio per 2-3 minuti. Abbassate la fiamma, unite il porro e cuocete ancora per 3-4 minuti, poi spegnete e lasciate raffreddare. Riunite in una ciotola la ricotta, le uova, il finocchietto tritato, il grana, la pancetta con i porri, sale e pepe.
Foderate uno stampo con la pasta, bucherellatela con una forchetta, copritela con il composto di ricotta e livellatelo con il dorso di un cucchiaio. Mettete nel forno caldo a 180°C e cuocete per circa 40 minuti. Servite la torta calda o tiepida.


Ricotta and leek tart

SLANA TORTA S PORILUKOM I SVJEŽIM SIROM


Sastojci:
list prhkog tijesta
2 jaja
100 g dimljene slanine narezane na kockice
200 g svježeg kravljeg sira
1 poriluk
30 g naribanog sira (Parmigiano Reggiano, odnosno parmenzan)
2 žlice maslinovog ulja
Sol i papar


Za prhko tijesto: 150 g brašna, 80 g maslaca, 2-3 žlice kiselog vrhnja.


Brašno i hladan maslac trljajte vršcima prstiju da dobijete jednolične mrvice. Zamijesite tijesto dodajući vrhnje. Oblikujte kuglu, omotajte prozirnom folijom i stavite u hladnjak 30 minuta (ili 1 sat).


Očistite poriluk i narežite na kolutiće. Popržite slaninu u tavi na ulju na srednjoj temperaturi 2-3 minute. Dodajte poriluk i dinstajte još 3-4 minute na laganoj vatri. Isključite i ostavite da se ohladi.
U zdjeli pomiješajte dobro ocijeđen sir s jajima i parmezanom, dodajte poriluk sa slaninom, posolite i pop aprite.
Rastanjite tijesto i utisnite u plitki okrugli kalup. Izbodite vilicom. Ulijte nadjev i pecite oko 40 minuta na 180°C (ili dok ne porumeni). Poslužite toplo ili mlako.

Ricotta and leek tart

20 April, 2009

Kinder for little and "big" children





I think there isn’t a single Ferrero product that I don’t like. I even learned to like Pocket Coffee and I hated it at first. I found this simple and delicious recipe for cupcakes on another blog, and I soon had a smile on my face, despite a rainy day. I had these two huge Easter chocolate eggs (Kinder Ferrero) lying around, since my kids, for some strange reason are eating MY dark chocolate egg. I changed the recipe very little – I added less sugar since I had only sweetened yogurt, and I used the chocolate from Kinder Easter Chocolate Egg instead of the chocolate bars. When I finished the cupcakes, I had a feeling something was missing so I decided to melt some more Kinder chocolate and pour it over the cupcakes – that was the perfect touch. I already know what I’m adding next time I make these!!! Can you guess?
And, finally, when I asked Francesca if they were good I got this answer.


They are simple, delicious, soft and moist, quick and easy to make – even a non-experienced baker would make these without trouble. Trust me.


KINDER CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
Ingredients:
250 g flour
100 g sugar
70 g butter
250 g yogurt
1 package of baking powder (4 teaspoons)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 + 100 g Kinder Ferrero chocolate

Mix softened butter with sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. These little hands you see in the picture are not mine!!!
Add eggs and mix well again.

Add flour sifted together with baking powder. Look how concentrated she is...

And in the end, add yogurt…

and 100 g of chopped chocolate.

Fill the paper cups to 2/3 and bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes.



Melt the rest of chocolate and pour over cooled cupcakes.



Enjoy.


MUFFIN CON CIOCCOLATO KINDER


È una ricetta semplicissima ma cosi buona che nessuno possa resistere (beh, tranne Gaetano, forse).

Ho “rubato” la ricetta (ammetto, sono colpevole), mi è piaciuta tantissimo e volevo non solo condividerla, ma anche invitarvi a visitare il sito dove l’ho trovata perché ci sono tante altre cose buone. Qui potete trovare la
ricetta originale, e questa è la mia, con piccolissimi cambiamenti:

Ingredienti: (per circa 18 muffin se usate i pirottini di carta)

250g farina
100 g zucchero
70 g burro
250 g di yogurt (ho usato lo yogurt bianco dolce)
1 bustina di lievito per i dolci
2 uova
1 fialetta di essenza di vaniglia
100 g di cioccolato (si consiglia il cioccolato Kinder ) + 100 g per decorare

In una terrina lavorate il burro ammorbidito con lo zucchero e vaniglia. Aggiungete le uova e mescolate il tutto. Unite la farina setacciata con il lievito. Aggiungete lo yogurt. Mescolate ed aggiungete il cioccolato spezzettato. Amalgamate il tutto e versate nei pirottini di carta o nei stampi per i muffin riempendoli per 2/3.
Cuocete i cupcakes nel forno preriscaldato a 180° per circa 20 minuti. Fatte comunque la prova dello stuzzicadenti (deve uscire asciutto). Lasciateli raffreddare.
Spezzettate altri 100 g di cioccolato e fatelo sciogliere a fuoco basso. Decorate i cupcake.

MUFFINI S ČOKOLADOM KINDER


Sastojci: (za otprilike 18 kolačića)

250 g brašna
100 g šećera
70 g maslaca
250 g jogurta
1 prašak za pecivo
1 vanilin šećer
100 g čokolade Kinder (ili slične) + 100 g za ukras

Miješajte omekšali maslac sa šećerom i vanilin šećerom. Dodajte jaja i dobro umutite. Dodajte brašno prosijano s praškom za pecivo, a potom i jogurt. Na kraju dodajte čokoladu iskidanu na komadiće.
Napunite papirne čašice za kolače do 2/3 i pecite u pećnici zagrijanoj na 180°C otprilike 20 minuta. Provjerite čačkalicom (kad ubodete u sredinu, čačkalica mora izaći suha).
Na pari otopite ostatak čokolade Kinder i ukrasite ispečene i ohlađene kolačiće.

19 April, 2009

Limoncello - a successful experiment






























I'm so happy to let you know that my experiment with Limoncello has been successfully completed.
It looks really great (the colour, I mean), we'll see about the taste. For now it's in the freezer, and I think we're supposed to wait a little bit before tasting it.
It all started almost two months ago in a forum on Bakespace, somehow Limocello came up in a conversation, and I think a few days later, Shane was making it.

Well, only a day or two later I was at the local supermarket, wondering if I could find all the ingredients (95% alcohol, good lemons) - and to my surprise, I did. I found everything, and, like a little child, grabbed everything and hurried home to peel the zest off my beautiful Sicilian lemons. They were twice as expensive as the "normal" lemons, but I think they were worth every cent. Don't you think? Just look at them!


They were really big and had such a thick skin that it was a piece of cake peeling all the zest (and the important thing is not to take any pith as that would add bitterness to limoncello).



So, the ingredients I used to make limoncello are following:
1 liter of 95% alcohol
7 big lemons

I peeled all the zest and placed it in a large jar with alcohol. The alcohol drew all the essence from lemon zest in no time, but I left it in infusion for almost 40 days anyway (actually I wanted to proceed after 30 days, but just had no time to dedicate to it, and I don't think there's any harm in leaving it longer than that).
















So, the other night I prepared the syrup: I put 1/2 liter of water and 1/2 kilo sugar in a sauce pan and warmed it up stirring constantly just till the sugar melted and the syrup became clear. I didn't bring it to boil. Then I left it to cool over night, and the next morning added lemon/alcohol infusion that I strained through a fine mesh. It was at this point that I realised that the amount of water should have been 1 liter (and I put only 1/2), so only one sip made me realise that my Limoncello was way to strong. I decided not to add any more sugar, but just water. The effect? See it for yourself.

BEFORE / AFTER ADDING COLD WATER:





Addition of cold water makes Limoncello become a little blurry. I think that's cool.
Well, now my Limoncello is ready to be drunk after dinner as a digestive, or added to fruit salads or strawberries, and why not, to my baking creations.
Remember to keep it in the freezer, even glasses should be cooled before serving Limoncello.
LIMONCELLO
Limoncello je talijanski liker od limuna. Izvrstan za probavu nakon (obilnog) objeda ako ga pijete ledenog. Da, obavezno ga držati u zamrzivaču, i ne brinite neće se zamrznuti koristite li dobar 95% alkohol kao osnovicu.
Za napraviti Limoncello kod kuće potrebno vam je (dobit ćete oko 3 litre gotovog likera):
1 l čistog alkohola (najbolje 95%)
7-8 velikih limuna
1l vode
1/2 kg šećera
Dobro operite limune četkom pod mlazom tople vode.
Skinite gornji dio kore limuna, narežite (izbjegavajte bijeli dio kore jer bi učinio liker gorkim) i stavite u staklenku s alkoholom. Ostavite na tamnom mjestu najmanje 15 dana (moj je ležao skoro 40, ali nije neophodno držati ga tako dugo). Nakon toga pripremite sirup: Stavite kuhati vodu i šećer. Miješajući, zagrijavajte dok se sav šećer ne otopi i sirup postane proziran, nije neophodno da provrije. Ostavite da se potpuno ohladi. Procijedite alkohol i odstranite korice. Pomiješajte alkohol i sirup pa sipajte u staklene boce. Dobro zatvorite i pričekajte barem još 15 dana prije kušanja. Možete odmah staviti boce u zamrzivač. Uživajte. Živjeli!
P.S. Limoncello možete dodati u voćnu salatu ili jagodama, napraviti koktel s dodatkom pjenušca, ali također dodati u razne kreme i kolače.

15 April, 2009

I call it French, they call it Russian, is it actually Olivier?

When I first came to Italy and saw Insalata Russa, I was a bit confused. Well, in Croatia we have both, Russian and French salad. I never asked why they were called that way. All I knew was the difference between the two: the Russian salad had boiled meat in it, French no.

Recently I read some comments in a forum by Russian girls living in Italy. Basically, they explained that in Russia they have this salad (with meat) and it's called Olivier, named after a chef who owned a French restaurant there. So, finally I know I wasn't completely wrong.

I never measure the ingredients for this salad, I just put approximately the following:

2 medium potatoes

2 carrots

a handful of frozen peas

2 hard boiled eggs

about 10 small pickled cucumbers

mayonnaise


Of course, you can adjust the quantity of each ingredient according to your taste, or increase the overall quantity according to your needs. You can also add onions and celery if you like. It is an excellent side dish with roast meat, ham, or served at a party. You can prepare it a day ahead and keep in the fridge until serving.

If you are boiling potatoes and carrots, you need to boil them separately without peeling them first, I prefer steaming them, so I peel them first and cook them together. Boil peas and eggs. Chop all ingredients into small cubes, place them in a bowl (a little bigger then the one you'd use for serving), salt and add just enough mayonnaise to combine all ingredients together.

Cover and leave in the fridge for a couple hours or over night before serving.

I prepared this salad for Easter lunch this year, and it kept well for three days. My advice is to use regular mayonnaise and not the yogurt or light one, as they tend to become liquid when mixed with vegetables.

10 April, 2009

Four times melting...







MELTING MOMENTS
Could you resist something called Melting moments? I absolutely, definitely, positively couldn't. And I'm glad. These cookies have conquered my family, my friends and everyone who's ever tried them. I'd like to give some credit to a book "Biscotti", from a Cordon Blue series, where this recipe comes from. I've tried several other recipes from this book, but neither was this good, and rarely made any of them twice. I have transformed the basic recipe into 4 different forms, so now everybody's happy, my husband included. Because I dared making them with jam only, once, and he was shaking his finger at me, "You weren't thinking about me." I was supposed to know that he'd eat only the Nutella filled ones.
Now before I proceed, I need to thank Shane from Culinary Alchemy, because it was reading his recipe, Berry White in a cookie, that I finally realised how to add Nutella to the center of my Melting Moments cookies. It was something I wanted to do for such a long time, because I had had similar cookies, but just couldn't figure it out for myself.




INGREDIENTS:

250 g butter (at room temperature)
100 g powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
310 g flour
1 lemon
Raspberry jam
Nutella


Place butter, sugar and the finely grated lemon zest in a mixing bowl, and either beat with an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.


Add the yolks and continue mixing.


Add flour and mix everything quickly. Do not work the dough much, as the butter will start melting.
Place your pastry bag in a tall glass (please don't use plastic bags, as they'll break) and fill with the dough (not more than half of the bag).


Twist the top of the bag to push the dough down,

and then fold.
Holding the pastry bag with both your hands form cookies like in this picture: swirls for bottom cookies and rings for top ones (line your baking tin with baking paper). It will be rather hard to squeeze the dough out, but after the first one or two cookies it will be much easier, so don't give up.
Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden.
Let them cool for a minute or two and then place on several layers of kitchen paper that will absord extra fat, and leave to cool completely.When all cookies are baked and cold you can fill them raspberry jam (I recommend it) or Nutella (Gaetano recommends it).


There you go.
But the story doesn't finish here. Take some dough apart and add 1 tablespoon Nutella, mix well.

With the original dough make rings as described before. When you have finished, fill the pastry bag with the Nutella dough and make little "roses" in the middle.
Bake in the same way as described previously.


I was saving the best part for the end. To make Melting moments with Nutella center, you need to start about two hours before you start baking actually. Chill Nutella in the fridge for a couple hours. Then scoop little balls and place them on a tray covered with plastic wrap, or if you have a silicone mould like mine, use that, and leave in the freezer for 2 hours.


Take a teaspoonfull of dough, form a ball and then flatten it, place nutella ball in the middle and then close the dough all around it. It won't be difficult as the dough is very soft.



Bake as before. I recommend not to make your cookies too big (mine were about 5 cm in diameter). What can I say, do not melt before your Melting Moments melt in your mouth!!!





MELTING MOMENTS



SASTOJCI:

250 g maslaca sobne temperature
100 g mljevenog šećera
2 žumanjka
310 g brašna
naribana korica 1 limuna
pekmez od malina
Nutella


Stavite maslac sa šećerom i limunovom koricom u zdjelu i miješajte mikserom dok ne postane pjenast. Dodajte žumanjke i miješajte da se sve sjedini, a onda dodajte brašno i izmiješajte dobro drvenom ili plastičnom žlicom.
Stavite platnenu vrećicu za ukrašavanje u visoku čašu pa je napunite smjesom do polovice. Uvrnite vrh vrećice tako da potisnete tijesto dolje, a potom preklopite rub. Držeći vrećicu s obje ruke oblikujte kekse kao na slikama gore. Prva dva će vjerojatno biti prilično teško istisnuti, ali onda se tijesto počne zagrijavati u rukama i bit će puno lakše.
Možete također dodati 1 žlicu nutelle u manji dio tijesto pa našpricati ružice usred prstenova da dobijete dvobojne kekse.Pecite u pećnici zagrijanoj na 180°, C 10-12 minuta, trebaju ostati svijetli. Spojite kekse tako da na puni krug stavite žličicu pekmeza ili Nutelle i onda preklopite prstenom.
Još jedan način da pripremite ove kekse, ako ste strasni ljubitelji Nutelle kao ja, je da rashladite Nutellu u hladnjaku nekoliko sati, potom žličicom napravite kuglice i stavite ih zamrzivač 2 sata. Potom uzmite tijesto (u veličini oraha), najprije napravite kuglicu, potom je stisnite na dlanu, stavite lopticu nutelle u sredinu i oblikujte ponovno kuglicu, pecite kao i ostale. Za prste polizati.




MELTING MOMENTS

INGREDIENTI:

250g burro a temperatura ambiente
100 g zucchero a velo
2 tuorli d' uovo
310 g farina
marmelata di lamponi
Nutella


Con uno sbattitore elettrico o con un cucchiaio di legno lavorate il burro con lo zucchero a velo e la scorza di limone in una crema soffice e leggera. Incorporate i tuorli, unite la farina e lavorate finché sarà tutto ben amalgamato in un impasto morbido. Trasferitelo in una tasca da pasticcere con beccuccio a stella di 8 mm. Su una piastra foderata con la carta da forno formate delle rosette e degli anelli. Potete anche prendere una parte dell'impasto e aggiungerci 1 cucchiaio di Nutella, e poi riempire i vostri anelli per ottenere dei biscotti bicolore. Cuocere per 10-12 minuti a 180°C. Lasciate raffreddare i biscotti sulla carta da cucina. Dividete i biscotti in coppie, spalmate di marmelata o Nutella sulla parte piatta della rosetta e coprite con un anello.
La variante dei stessi biscotti per i più golosi: raffreddate la Nutella in frigo per un paio di ore. Poi formate delle palline e mettetele nel freezer per 2 ore. Prendete un cucchiaino di impasto, formate prima una pallina e poi appiattitela con la mano, mettete la pallina di Nutella al centro e chiudette formando una pallina. Cuocete i biscotti come prima.

Vi consiglio la ricetta di Shane, Barry White in a cookie or Rocher cookies