madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


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limoncello profiteroles

 

delicate limoncello profiteroles, a lovely summer dessert

delicate limoncello profiteroles, a lovely summer dessert

If you are under the opinion it might be difficult to make profiteroles, then just think you will be making very soft cookies.

Cookies are not intimidating aren’t they? Even the most inexperienced baker can make cookies. So. You can make profiteroles.

They are a breeze to whip up and you don’t necessarily need equipment such as a pastry bag or syringe. I usually shape my choux with the help of two teaspoons and when they are ready I split them open with a small serrated knife which I then use to fill them. It’s less messy and as beautiful.

I have developed this recipe as a way to use leftovers. After a few days of cooking classes, dinners with friends and my daughter’s birthday I found my fridge overflowing with all sorts of goodies. I had a bowl of chantilly, a jar of lemon curd and enough eggs for an army. I also was dying to try to make choux pastry with my gluten free cake mix. To my delight I found out that it works just as well as wheat flour.

Recipe

For the profiteroles:

  • 75g (2½oz) gluten-free cake mix or 00 wheat flour or pastry flour
  • 50 g (3.5 tabsp) butter
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 medium eggs
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • a pinch of salt

For the filling:

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoon lemon curd, bought or homemade, see recipe below
  • 2 teaspoon limoncello

Before you start, preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/ and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Lemon curd:

Put 2 whole eggs, zest and juice of 2 lemons, 170 gr (3/4 cup) sugar and 30 gr ( 2 tabspoon)  butter, cut into cubes, into a pan over low heat. Bring slowly to low boil. Remove from heat and strain immediately into a jam jar. Let it cool and close. Keep refrigerated.

Choux pastry:

Place the butter and water in a pan and melt over a gentle heat, then bring to the boil.

Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the flour, salt and sugar. Beat well, until the mixture forms a ball in the pan.

Allow to cool slightly, then gradually add one egg at the time, beating well after each addition. I actually transfer the ball of dough in the food processor, start the blades on high then add the eggs one at the time.

The dough needs to be a stiff dropping consistency. GF flour tends to absorb more liquid than wheat flour. As a consequence, it may be necessary to adjust the amount of eggs depending on the type of flour used. If using wheat flour, you might not need the whole second egg so whisk it and add it by the tablespoon.

Place small spoonfuls of the mixture  onto the baking sheet, about the size of a small walnut. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

When the profiteroles are well risen and golden brown remove from the oven. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Assemble dessert:

Using a serrated knife, make a slit in the side of each profiterole, then fill with cream or custard. If you prefer, pierce a small hole in the bottom of the pastry and fill them using a pastry syringe.

To make the sauce, stir the limoncello into the lemon curd to obtain a smooth syrup.

Fill the profiteroles with whipped cream and arrange on a serving plate.  Any filling should not be added until the last possible moment because it will make the choux pastry soft. Just before serving, pour over the limoncello sauce.

Makes approx. 30 profiteroles. Serves 5-6

limoncello profiteroles1

gluten-free profiteroles, just as perfect as the “normal” ones

 

 

 

 

 


4 Comments

brown sugar steamed custard

lovely light and easy to make custard cook it as you like, stovetop or baked

lovely light brown-sugar custard, cook it as you like, stove-top or baked

Cooking for me is all about sharing. I have never been alone as long as I have been able to share a meal. That’s in fact how I made most friends in my life, around the stove-top and around the table.

And so it is that after publishing more than 100 recipes I have taken the courage to share two ways.

It’s time to ask what you, my readers, like. Of course I can read the blog stats, but I am not interested in soulless numbers, I am interested in people. Would you please help me? I need suggestions.

You know when you are making a search on a website and you click on the “find more like this” button? Please “click” on “write more recipes like this“.

Here is how to do it:

Please go to my recipe list, open your favorite or browse and find one that you intend to prepare. Please post in the comments which one you like and how you would like another similar one.

For example would you like more pasta sauces with vegetables? More simple puddings? More techniques? Why is one of my recipes a favorite of yours?

Please help, I will treasure your suggestions and try to work on recipes that I know you can use and enjoy for special occasion and – even better – for your everyday life.

Today’s recipe is for my friend Sandra who presently lives in a place that does not have an oven. As a consequence she can’t bake cakes. This is compensated by living at walking distance to the Colosseum, poor girl.

This is a delicious pudding that can be cooked on the stove-top in 20 minutes. It’s not only suitable to those who pursue their dreams in small city apartments but to various other occasions.

For example you can prepare it when your oven is full with other dishes or when it’s so hot that you don’t want to heat up the kitchen any further. Or you wish to save energy because you’re cooking for two.

However the recipe can be as easily baked in  the oven in which case you can double it or triple it for a crowd.

Recipe

Pudding

  • 300 ml heavy cream
  • 100 gr dark brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sauce

  • 2 organic oranges
  • 3 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy

If baking, pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. If cooking on the stove-top prepare a shallow saucepan that can hold the pudding in its containers, e.g. individual ramekins.

individual custards cooked au bain marie

how to arrange the individual custards in a pan

In a small pan, warm the cream, brown sugar and salt over a medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. I actually microwave the cream/sugar mixture until warm enough to desolve the sugar.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture. Get read of the foam which has formed by straining it into a jug. This improves the custard’s structure.
Pour into 4 x 120ml (1/2 cup) ramekins or heavy custard cups. Cover tightly with a double layer of foil.
Transfer in a shallow pan lined with a kitchen towel as in the picture above. Fill the pan with water until it comes to about a half way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for 25-35 min. The custards will just set but still wobble slightly in the middle (they will set further on cooling). Remove from the pan.
If baking, transfer the covered ramekins into a deep roasting tin. Fill the tin with water, until it comes to about a half  way up the sides of the ramekins. Put it in the oven for 45 min. Remove and let it cool.
Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
Sauce
You can make the sauce in advance as well as at the last minute but make sure to add it to the custards just before serving. If you add it too early its acidity will melt the surface of pudding in a quite unsightly way (I have done it :) ).
Halve the oranges and slice thin, less than 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Arrange in one or two layers in a shallow pan, sprinkle with brown sugar and with a few tablespoon to cover. Cover and simmer on very low heat until the slices are soft. Add brandy. Serve at room temperature or heat up slightly before serving.
you can also make una single pudding and serve it with the soft orange slices on top

you can also make una single pudding and serve it with the soft orange slices on top

In the first picture I have chopped the orange slices before piling it on the custards. Then I have topped them with one piece of my homemade candied peel and curls of dark chocolate.

Serves 4


13 Comments

porcini mushrooms sauce with lots of red wine

 

the ultimate store cupboard recipe, egg pasta curls with porcini and red wine sauce

 

SUGO AI PORCINI E VINO ROSSO   There are days one simply has no time. Somewhat it gets late even to shop for food. And after so much hell, the saddest thing is to get a scrambled egg or an instant soup for dinner.

Here is my revenge to a hurried day.

Dig that package of porcini mushroom out of your larder. I am sure you have some pasta and some cheese. Open a bottle of decent red wine. Now throw the mushrooms in warm water to soak and relax on the sofa. Drink a glass of wine. Only after you have finished the glass, get back to the kitchen, the mushrooms will be soft by then.

Start preparing the sauce,  making sure that every time you pour some wine in the sauce you go back to the sofa and relax.  Put the pasta pan on the heat. More sofa. Start cooking the pasta. More wine.

You only really need to stand by the stove when you need to drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce.  A worthy, last effort of the day.

Recipe

  • 40 gr / 2 tablespoon dried porcini mushrooms
  • 15 gr. / 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon EVO oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2  cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoon  unsweetened whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 200 gr / 7  ounces dried pasta, preferably egg noodles

Soak the porcini in warm water about 20 min. Once they are soft chop them in smaller pieces using the tips of cooking scissors. No need to drain them, you can do this in the bowl where they are soaking.

For the sauce, use a shallow pan with high sides (e.g. a wok). Over low heat, sautee the pressed garlic with the butter and olive oil until just fragrant.

Add the mushrooms together with their soaking liquid and let them simmer. After the first 5 min. start adding the wine, 2 tablespoons at the time and continue simmering. Cook until all liquid is reduced to about 1/3 of the total volume and the mushrooms are tender. Add the cream and set aside. If you have no cream whisk-in a teaspoon or two of additional butter.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain and transfer the pasta in the pan that holds the sauce.Turn the heat to high and quickly stir so that the sauce is partly absorbed by the pasta. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1-2 tablespoon of the pasta water. Stir some more until the additional liquid is absorbed and serve immediately.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.

Serves 2


15 Comments

classic tiramisu

classic, soft, creamy, fantastic tiramisu

classic, soft, creamy, fantastic, tiramisu

In Italy,  the zabaglione – a frothy custard made of egg yolk whipped with sugar and fortified with wine – has been administered to the weak, to fighters and lovers for at least 500 years.

Only in the early ’80s however,  Loli Linguanotto, the chef of a restaurant in Treviso near Venice, conceived a dessert that was meant to be good for everyone, the young and the old. He layered lady fingers dipped in espresso with a mixture of zabaglione and mascarpone cheese and sprinkled it with cocoa powder.

The now world-famous tiramisu had been invented and became an instant success. Indeed the tiramisu is known and appreciated probably way more than Loli would have ever anticipated.

Needless to say, the secret of the recipe is to use original ingredients. Take real espresso no coffee granules,  Italian mascarpone no bland cream cheese, good quality  lady fingers, no store bought sponge cake. When I can, I use Sardinian savoiardi which are larger, softer and more fragrant than regular lady fingers.

Recipe

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoon /50 gr. sugar
  • 1/2 pound / 250 gr.   mascarpone
  • 1 cup/ 250 gr. chilled heavy cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cold  espresso coffee
  • 1/3 cup dry Marsala or other sweet wine
  • 30 Italian lady fingers
  • unsweetened dark cocoa powder for dusting

Beat egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or an electric mixer until smooth and fluid. Add 3 tablespoon Marsala and whisk thoroughly for another minute or so. Remove bowl from heat and let it cool. Add the mascarpone until just combined.

Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold it gently into the mascarpone mixture.

Add the rest of the Marsala to the coffee and transfer into a flat bottomed bowl which must be wider than the lenght of the lady fingers.

Now work quickly. Dip both sides of each lady finger into the coffee mixture for a few seconds. The cookies absorb rapidly and will disintegrate if left in the coffee. Line the bottom of a baking pan with one layer of ladyfingers, making compact rows. Spread a 1/2  inch/ 1 cm layer of  the mascarpone filling on top. Repeat layers of cookies and filling, ending with mascarpone.

Cover the pan with clingfilm and chill for at least two hours and up to 2 days.  Before serving dust with cocoa. This looks prettier and fresher than dusting before chilling.

Serves 8-10

Savoiardi, artisan made Italian lady fingers from Sardinia

Sardinia Savoiardi, artisan made Italian lady fingers

Tiramisu on Foodista


16 Comments

fettuccine al limone

ingredients for a lemon butter sauce

simple ingredients

FETTUCCINE IN A LEMON BUTTER SAUCE. There are days when having a good dinner it’s easy. Being a diligent cook, you will have  some homemade fettuccine stashed in the freezer. OK, store bought ones is fine but of the fresh type, please! Now open the fridge and look for the following:

Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon heavy cream
  • 1 inch-long strip lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter, zest and juice in a little pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Add cream but do not cook it.

slowly melt the butter

slowly melt the butter

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package instructions. Fresh fettuccine should cook no more than 1 min, 2 min if frozen.

Strain away the water using a colander and return the noodles quickly to the hot pan on medium heat. Add the sauce and briefly stir.

Add the Parmesan and a couple of tablespoon of pasta water and stir some more until the liquid is absorbed.  Serve  immediately, it must be eaten very hot.

so easy, so good

so easy, so good


8 Comments

mousse di ricotta

a mousse of fresh ricotta served with marinated fruits

a mousse of fresh ricotta served with marinated fruits

HONEYED RICOTTA MOUSSE. I adore strawberries but this light and easy dessert can be served throughout the year with any ripe fresh fruits in season. Use  artisanal raw honey with a flowery aroma such as orange blossom. Figs, peaches, melon and mango are splendid alternatives to berries.

Recipe

For the mousse:

  • 500 gr/ 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 100 ml/ ½ cup whipping cream or 2 tablespoon mascarpone
  • 4-6  teaspoon good quality honey

For the marinated fruits:

  • 1 basket strawberries or two peaches or mixed berries, cleaned and thinly sliced or cubed (do not cut up berries if they are small)
  • 1/2 cup white vermouth, Amaretto or other sweet liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • juice of half lemon

Toss fruit, liqueur, sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 h. For children, use only lemon juice and sugar.

If using cream, whip until firm. Whisk the sugar into the ricotta and add carefully the cream or mascarpone. Cover and  keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, spoon the ricotta mousse on a plate or bowl, add the fruit and drizzle with honey.

Serves 4-6


7 Comments

panna cotta

pannacotta, everybody likes it.

pannacotta, everybody loves it.

PANNA COTTA is a delicate dessert of mysterious history and Piemontese tradition. The name means cooked cream. For me it is a life saver as everybody likes it, it’s incredibly simple to make and looks beautiful. In addition one can make endless variations by changing the topping or adding flavors to the milk and cream mixture. Caramel or melted chocolate  make  a wonderful instant topping.

Recipe

  • 4 leaves/8 gr unflavored gelatin (see here how to use it)
  • 300 ml full fat milk (1 and 1/3 cup)
  • 300 ml whipping cream ( 1 and 1/3 cup)
  • 140 gr sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serves 6

For the panna cotta:

Put the gelatin in cold water. Let it soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Whisk cream, sugar,  milk and vanilla in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring a few times until the sugar dissolves and the cream starts to simmer. Remove the gelatin from the water and add it to the milk and cream  mixture, stirring to dissolve. Divide the mixture among 6 dessert bowls. Cool desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate until set (approx. 3 hours).

For a cold fruit topping:

  • 2 cup strawberries or two peaches or mixed berries, cleaned and thinly sliced or cubed (do not cut up berries if they are small)
  • 1/2 cup white vermouth, sweet wine or Amaretto
  • juice of half lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Toss fruit, vermouth , sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 h. For children, use only lemon juice and sugar. Spoon over the panna cotta and serve.

For a warm fruit topping:

  • 2 cups whole fresh or frozen berries or cherries.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Cointreau or other aromatic liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Place a non-reactive pan on high heat and when quite warm add the butter. As soon as it starts sizzling, add berries and sugar. Frozen berries should defreeze quickly without loosing their shape. Add liqueur from a small glass. The mixture will flambé. Turn off the fire as soon as the flames subside and serve.

N.B. Do not reduce the amount of cream or dessert might not set . Four sheets of gelatin are equivalent to one American or Canadian package. One envelope should solidify firmly 2 cups of liquid and softly 3 cups. For pannacotta you need a soft set.

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