Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Piped Shortbread

Imagine the morning dew as it sparkles icily on the still-monochrome blades of grass. Imagine the morning mist as it meanders through the trees, its vapourous twirls curling themselves around the pines' needles like coffee steam around the nose. Imagine the clouds of morning that rise from the ground, rise above the trees and lodge themselves in the sky for just a moment before vanishing to another horizon. Imagine the cup of coffee that stands on a saucer in front of the window overlooking the grass and the trees and the sky. Imagine all of this, and imagine the house that is sprawled behind the cup; its pinewood walls, its white furniture, its worn couch, its diaphanous curtains and its silky bedcovers that conceal a grumpy dragon. He is already awake but reluctant to forsake the foetal snugness of his bed. The sun is shining bleakly from the window, and Celestial Dragon is squinting his eyes at it. He can discern, beyond the clouds, beyond the sky and beyond the stars, the shape of something good. Then his nostrils awake too. They twitch, like Small Perfect Cloud's, and Celestial Dragon is made aware of another world. One that does not lie beyond the stars, but beyond the kitchen door. He overcomes his incorrigible reluctance and gets out of bed. He puts on his night-blue morning bathrobe and makes his way through the home. He passes the curtains, the couch. He walks past the pinewood walls and does not even see the white furniture.
He opens the kitchen door. The great window is still there, still showing the same meadow and trees and clouds. The coffee cup is there also, and the saucer too. Behind the coffee cup, seated on a chair with her back to the door is Divine Cherry. In front of her, next to the cup, is a small plate with visibly fresh shortbreads. Celestial Dragon looks furtively at the kitchen. He sees the open oven and feels its warmth radiating through the room. He sees the wire rack on which a few crumbs still cling to the bars. Divine Cherry turns around and smiles at him. Celestial Dragon pours himself a cup of coffee and walks to the table. He sits down on the chair next to Divine Cherry and smiles back at her.

This recipe participates to the November Daring Bakers challenge.

Blog-checking lines: Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Piped shortbreads - Adapted from a Pierre Hermé recipe
- 260g flour
- 30 g cornflour
- 250 g soft butter
- 100 g icing sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 egg whites
Preheat the oven at 180 C. Mix the flour and cornflour in a bowl. Whisk the butter in a second bowl using an electric whisk until it is very fluffy. Add the icing sugar to the butter and whisk until smooth, do not overwork.  Beat lightly the egg whites and add them to the butter mix. Beat everything until just well combined and smooth. Stir in the flour and cornflour until smooth but do not overmix the batter.
Pour the batter in a  piping bag and form 5 cm long lines on a tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10-12 min.
Let the shortbread cool and when cold dip them in melted chocolate.

Piped Shortbread from Peta's recipe, that you can find here.

1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) softened butter
1¼ cups (175 gm) (6 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (65 gm) (2- 2/3 oz) confectioners' sugar
¼ cup (45 gm) (1½ oz) cornflour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla essence
Nuts, chocolate chips, maraschino cherries
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 300°F/ 150°C/gas mark 2
2. Combine butter, flours, vanilla and confectioner's sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beater. Mix on low speed until combined and then change to the whisk beater.
3. Beat for 10 minutes.
4. Pipe into rings or lines.
5. Decorate with maraschino cherry pieces to look like little wreaths or leave plain.
6. Bake in preheated moderate oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned.
7. Cool completely and drizzle with melted chocolate or icing (frosting) if you want to.

Ricetta in italiano:
 Sablés montati - da una ricetta di Pierre Hermé
- 260 g farina
- 30 g maizena
- 250 g burro morbido
- 100 g zucchero a velo
- 1 pizzico di sale
- 2 bianchi d'uovo

Riscaldare il forno a 180C. In una ciotola mescolare la farina e la maizena. In un'altra ciotola montare il burro con le fruste elettriche fino a che risulta cremoso e molto morbido. Aggiungere lo zucchero a velo e continuare a sbattere finchè il composto risulta omogeneo, ma senza eccedere con l'uso delle fruste. Sbattere a parte i bianchi d'uovo senza montarli troppo e poi aggiungerli alla preparazione di burro. Sbattere con le fruste elettriche fino ad incorporare bene gli albumi. Aggiungere la farina e maizena. Mescolare bene per evitare la formazione di grumi. E' importante che la preparazione sia omogenea, ma senza lavorare troppo l'impasto.
Versare il composto in una tasca da pasticceria con beccuccio smerlato e creare tanti bastoncini lunghi 5 cm circa ben distanziati tra loro su una teglia rivestita di carta da forno.
Infornare per 10-12 minuti circa.
Quando i biscotti sono freddi si possono intengere le estremità nel cioccolato fuso.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pannacotta alla frutta

A long time ago, all the inhabitants of the earth were summoned before the Supreme Ruler. He was a straight and just and hard and perfectly shaped Ruler, and he was able to measure anything that fell under his jurisdiction. Everything that ever happened in the world was measured against his standard, and so he functioned not only as the Supreme Ruler, but also as the ultimate reference for any kind of measuring unity. On the day he summoned everyone before him, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were quite incidentally having a casual weekend in one of the intra-volcanic spas (SMVS) scattered on the ocean floor. Quite naturally, they heard the summons. And because they are not strictly speaking inhabitants of this world, they did not pay much attention to it. However, it soon became a nuisance, for all the staff at the spa had departed to answer the Supreme Ruler's summon. There was thus no one left to attend to their needs. And so it was that Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry grumpily put on two bathrobes that were lying around and went to the Supreme Assembly in order to complain to the spa director about the unprofessional way the situation had been handled. After all, they were about to being served their much-deserved and overpriced Sea-Cucumber cocktail, the spécialité de la maison.
And so it was that although their reasons were different from everybody else's, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon found themselves at the Supreme Assembly. There, after much ado about nothing indeed, the Supreme Ruler came eventually to the reason for all this: he was hungry. He therefore ordered everyone to cook, bake, prepare, fish, hunt, gather, gut, squeeze, whatever-it-is-one-can-also-do-with-food, him the best dish. In fact, because he was the Supreme Ruler, he wanted THE dish against which all other dishes would henceforth be compared. Naturally, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. After all, a ruler's will is notoriously hard to bend. But there was one among them whose eyes sparked with unconfined excitement: it was Divine Cherry. She could not forsake such an opportunity!
And so it was that on that day Divine Cherry presented the Supreme Ruler with the pannacottas that would forever set the bar for every other pannacotta in the world. They were so delicious, so regular, so faultless and perfect that they were crown the Supreme Pannacottas. And because they are the pannacottas every other must be compared with, the Supreme Ruler asked Divine Cherry to share her recipe with everyone else.
You know, fair chance an' all...
But what of Celestial Dragon? Well, he eventually located the spa director in the throng of beings gathered there and had two or three words with the latter. Actually, he used quite a number of words more than that. The two or three words mentioned were the ones one should not mention. As a result of that exceedingly friendly and polite and balanced discussion, however, Celestial Dragon was given a particular privilege: he and he alone would henceforth be granted unlimited access to the Sub-Marine Volcanic Spa, as well as a token for an infinite amount of Sea-Cucumber cocktails. He'd have to pay for the stolen bathrobes, though.
You know, compromise an' all...

- 250 ml double cream
- 250 ml milk
- 50 g sugar
- 2 sheets of gelatine (or follow the instruction on the package for 500ml liquid)
- 1vanilla bean

Bring to the boil the cream with milk and sugar. Swich off the hob and add the vanilla seeds scratched from the bean, leave also the bean in infusion for 15 minutes.
Put the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water on a side. When the gelatine is soft,add it to the warm cream and mix everything well to avoid clumps.
Strain the cream throughand pour in the cups. Leave it in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.

Red berries coulis
- 200 g red berries
- 25 g sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 gelatine leaf

Blend the berries and strieve the puree in a colander in order to discard the tiny seeds. Add to the puree the sugar and water. In the meanwhile leave the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften. Take a part of the berries puree ( a small cup) and warm it up in the microwave. Add the well drained and softened gelatine to the warm puree in order to melt it. Add the warm puree to the rest and mix well. Pour the coulis over the cold panna cottas and leave to rest in the fridge for 2- 3 hours.

Peach coulis
- 200 g peaches
- 15 g sugar
- 1/2 gelatine leaf
Peel and dice the peaches. Proceed as for the red berries coulis.

Apricot coulis
- 200 g apricot jam
- 25g water
- 1/2 gelatine leaf
Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften. Warm up in a pan the jam with some water. Blend throughly the jam in order to make it very smooth. Add the drained gelatine and stir well. Puor the apricot coulis over the cold pannacottas. Rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.

- 250 ml panna
- 250 ml latte intero
- 50 g zucchero
- 2 foglia di gelatina
- 1 bacello di vaniglia

Portare a ebollizione la panna insieme al latte e allo zucchero. Spegnere il fuoco e aggiungere i semi di vaniglia raschiati e lasciare anche il bacello in infusione per 15 minuti. A parte ammorbidire la gelatina in acqua fredda. Aggiungere la gelatina ammorbidita quando la panna è ancora calda. Mescolare bene per evitare la formazione di grumi. Filtare attraverso un colino e versare nelle coppette. Far solidificare in frigo per almeno 3-4 ore.

Coulis ai frutti rossi
- 200 g frutti rossi
- 25 g zucchero
- 1 ccchiaio di acqua
- 1/2 foglio di gelatina

Frullare i frutti rossi con un frullatore a immersione, passare la purea attraverso un colino in modo da eliminare i semini. Aggiungere alla purea filtrata lo zucchero e un po' d'acqua. Prendere una piccola parte del coulis e scaldarla al microonde, aggiungervi la gelatina precedentemente ammollata nell'acqua fredda e strizzata.  Sciogliere bene la gelatina nel coulis caldo e poi aggiungere questo al resto del coulis, mescolare bene e versare sopra le panne cotte che devono essere perfettamente reffreddate e sode (meglio preparare le panne cotte il giorno prime e il coulis l'indomani). Riporre in frigo per un paio d'ore a solidificare.

Coulis alle pesche
- 200 g pesche
- 15 g zucchero
- 1/2 foglio di gelatina.
Pelare e tagliare a pezzi le pesche. Procedere come per il coulis di frutti rossi.

Coulis alle albicocche
- 200 g marmellata di albicocche
- 25 g circa di acqua
- 1/2 foglio di gelatina
Scaldare la marmellata sul fuoco insime all'acqua, frullarla per renderla perfettamente liscia. Aggiungere la gelatina precedentemente ammollata e strizzata.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ricotta, cocoa and almonds tart

There was a time when the world looked almost exactly as it does now, except for a few tiny details. The climate was different, the plants didn't look like they do now, there were more volcanoes and the birds were not sure what they were exactly yet. Oh and there were dinosaurs. Lots of 'em. In fact, it was full of dinosaurs. However, people today are mistaken as to the dinosaurs' true nature. Some say that they were bloodthirsty (so are bats), that they were brutal (so are angry guinea pigs), and that they lacked intelligence (so do some people). Others on the contrary say that they were excellent chess players. Others still claim that had there been other more evolved animals there, the dinosaurs would have made excellent and quite tender steaks.
Needless to say, this is all nonsense. Whoever thinks they're right are wrong. Luckily, it so happens that Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon have decided in this exclusive revelation to tell the world what dinosaurs really were: excellent cooks. And the greatest pâtissier of his time was undoubtedly Lurp'Akk, the most famous Euoplocephalus this side of the oven. As it so happened, he was a great friend of Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon. One day, the three of them were sitting on a hard rock having a coffee (or café as Lurp'Akk liked to call it). They were discussing about a large variety of subjects such as taxonomy, tax evasions and taxi fares. All of a sudden, both Lurp'Akk and Divine Cherry looked up from their café. They looked each other in the eyes. (At least, Lurp'Akk expressed the unmistakable intention of wanting to do so). Indeed, they had both just seen a curious formation of rocks and mud on the wall of their hard rock café-holding chairs. And they had both been inspired. The curious formation was brown and beige, and reminded Divine Cherry of almonds and chocolate, while to Lurp'Akk it called to mind mud and rocks.
And so it was that this cake was created. Of course, it was then but a rather rudimentary version of this version, but it nonetheless remains that the original spark for its creation occurred back then. But what of Celestial Dragon? Well, unused as he still was to coffee, he burned his tongue with it. Unfortunately, that inferred an instinctive reaction that expressed itself, due to the high content of sulphur in the air, as a gargantuan fiery sneeze...

Ricotta, cocoa and almonds tart - recipe adapted from Sale&Pepe

- 150 g plain flour
- 100 g butter
- 50 g cocoa
- 2 eggs
- 40 g icing sugar
- 300 g ricotta
- 100 g almonds, finely grated
- 100 g sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 100 ml cream
- 50 g dark chocolate
- salt

Work quickly with your fingers (or a mixer) the flour, cocoa, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and the cold butter, cut in pieces, in order to form small crumbs. add the egg and form a ball of dough. Cover the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 30 min.
Grease and flour the tart mould and lay the dough. Mix in a bowl the ricotta, cream, sugar, grated almonds and the yolk.
Pour the ricotta filling over the dough and bake for approx 40 minutes in the preheated oven at 150C.

Torta di ricotta, mandorle e cacao - ricetta adattata da Sale e Pepe
-150 g farina
- 100 g burro
- 50 g cacao amaro in polvere
- 2 uova
- 40 g zucchero a velo
- 300 g ricotta
- 100 g mandorle, tritate finemente
- 100 g zucchero semolato
- 1 tuorlo
- 100 ml panna fresca
- 50 g cioccolato fondente
- sale

Con la punta delle dite lavorate velocemente (oppure usate un mixer) la farina con il burro freddo tagliato a tocchetti, lo zucchero a velo, il cacao e un pizzico di sale, in modo da formare delle briciole.  Unite l'uovo e formate una palla. Avvolgetel'impasto in pellicola e lasciate riposare in frigo per 30 minuti almeno.
Imburrare e infarinare una teglia e stendere la frolla. In una ciotola, mescolare la ricotta, la panna, lo zucchero semolato, le mandorle tritate e il tuorlo.
Versate il composto di ricotta sulla base di frolla.
Infornare per 40 minuti circa in forno caldo a 150°C.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mille - Feuille

Remember that funny drunk, Dionysus? The one who later moved to Rome with that new girl, Sabina, and changed his name to Bacchus in order to avoid paying his godly taxes? The one who had all those crazy groupies following him around and who later became ardent feminists and founded the first AA circles? Well this story is not about that. It's also not about the frog and the ox. Neither is it about the raven and the fox. Nor about the ant and the grasshopper. Rather, it is similar to the story about the bear and the gardener, except in every single detail.
One day, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were having a walk through late Middle-Ages Paris. They had booked their ticket (literally) quite some time in advance in the early 20th century through a time travel agency, and were enjoying a romantic getaway weekend. As they were walking over a rickety construction that would come to be known as Pont Puant (it was mercifully destroyed forever in a purging fire), they stopped in front of a window--windows were namely still rare at the time. The shop had a number of leaves on display. It was one of those quirky and nostalgic ancient shops that sell everything you will never need but have always wanted. This one particularly was specialised in leaves. It sold all kinds of leaves, from maple tree leaves to chestnut tree leaves passing by acorn tree leaves. They also came in different colours. Needless to say, the shop made the most money in autumn. As it so happened, Celestial Dragon was eating a cream. Ice was not portable yet, so he had to do with just the cream. Unfortunately, cream is inherently runny, and before Celestial Dragon's avid tongue, it ran quite quickly indeed. Fortunately, cream is also inherently clumsy: it didn't run very far. Instead, it fell onto the leaves (they had entered the shop in pursuit of the cream). And that gave Celestial Dragon a Silly Idea: "how about we stash a thousand leaves one on top of the other and separate them with delicious cream?" "Don't be daft," said Divine Cherry, "leaves taste bitter. Instead, I will use caramel-like pastry sheets that look just like leaves."
And so it was that the Mille Feuille was born. That old quirky shop later moved away from the Pont Puant into the Chaussée des Saveurs and became one of the most renowned pâtisseries in Paris. After the original owner had mysteriously vanished under what the newspapers termed as a "stampede of cream", a proper pâtissier took over the quaint shop and made lots of money. The royalties, however, to this day still go to Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry.

Blog-checking lines: Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

Mille Feuille:
Puff Pastry - from a recipe by C. Felder
-550g flour
-26,5 cl water
-85g molten butter
-10g salt
-335g single-piece butter
Italian Style Crème Chantilly
-400g crème pâtissière, recipe here
-800g fresh cream
-small zest of candied orange

Quickly mix, in a bowl, the flour, the water, the 85g of molten butter and the salt. Cover the dough with clig film and place it to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
With a rolling pin squash the butter until about 1cm thin. Give it a regular square shape. Put it back in the fridge.
Roll out the dough in a 1cm thin square shape and place the butter in its centre like so:

Fold the four corners of the dough over the butter. Then, with a rolling pin, roll out the dough in one direction only so as to get a 8-9mm thin rectangle. Then, fold that rectangle in three by overlapping the dough (as shown in picture).

1.Roll out the dough in a 8-9mm thin rectnagle
2.Fold the rectangle in three
3. The dough is folded as a "book".

 Roll the dough out vertically and holding it as shown in picture 3. Fold in three again and put it to rest in the fridge for 30mins. Repeat this sequence (fold-rest) another three times. Then leave the dough to rest in the fridge for 2 hours. Afterwards, it'll be ready for use.

Roll out the dough in a rectangle 25 x 75cm in size, then cut it in three 25 x 25cm squares. Cover a baking tray with baking paper. On it, put one of the dough squares. Sprinkle it with caster sugar and lightly pierce some holes in it using a fork. Place another layer of baking paper on the dough, then place a grill on top of it so as to prevent the dough form rising too much during baking.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for 12 mins (one dough square at the time). Let them cool, then apply the crème chantilly.

Italian style Crème Chantilly
Prepare the crème pâtissière the day before. Make it dense and put it to rest in the fridge overnight. Make sure it is as smooth as possible, dense, and without any residue clumps in it (should you have some, try to get rid of them with an electric whip). The day after, whip up the cream rather densely (but not too much) and incorporate it into the crème pâtissière.

Using a piping bag, cover the first of your dough squares with little mounds of crème chantilly. Cover the entire surface of the square. Place small pieces of candied orange between the mounds. Place the second dough square on the first and repeat the action. Place the last square on top and sprinkle it with icing sugar. Voilà.

Pasta sfoglia  - da una ricetta di C. Felder
- 500 g farina
- 26,5 cl acqua
- 85 g burro fuso
- 10 g sale
- 335g burro in un unico pezzo
Crema Chantilly all'italiana
- 400 g di crema pasticcera, la ricetta la trovate qui
- 800 g panna fresca
- scorzetta di arancia candita

Mescolate velocemente in una ciotola la farina insieme all'acqua, gli 85 g di burro fuso e il sale.  Mettete l'impasto a riposare in frigo, coperto da pellicola per 2 ore almeno.
Con un mattarello schiacciate il burro a un centimetro di spessore, dando una forma quadrata regolare. Riponetelo in frigo.  Stendete l'impasto in un quadrato di un centimetro di spessore e appoggiate il burro in centro, così:

Piegate i quattro angoli di impasto sopra il burro e poi con il mattarello, stendete l'impasto in una direzione sola in modo da ottenere un lungo rettangolo, spesso 8-9mm. Poi piegate il rettangolo in tre, ripiegando la pasta su se stessa come in foto:
1.Stendere l'impasto in un rettangolo spesso 8-9mm.
2. Piegare in tre la pasta
3. La pasta è piegata a "libro"

Stendete di nuovo la pasta in senso verticale tenendo la pasta come in foto 3.  Piegate in tre di nuovo e mettete la pasta in frigo per 30 minuti. Ripetete la sequenza pieghe-riposo in frigorifero altre 3 volte. Lasciate riposare in frigo per 2 ore e poi l'impasto è pronto per essere usato.

Stendete l'impasto in un rettangolo di 25 x75 cm e poi tagliatelo in 3 quadrati di 25x25cm.  Poggiate un quadrato di impasto su una teglia coperta da carta forno, cospargete il quadrato di zucchero semolato e bucherellatelo con i rebbi di una forchetta. Poggiate un altro foglio di carta forno sulla superficie dell'impasto e appoggiate una griglia sopra, in modo che non gonfi troppo durante la cottura.

Cuocete in forno caldo a 220°C per 12 minuti circa un quadrato alla volta. Fate raffreddare i tre quadrati e farciteli con la crema Chantilly.

Crema Chantilly all'italiana:
Preparate la crema pasticcera alla vigilia, fatela piuttosto densa e mettetela a riposare in frigo la notte. La crema dev'essere molto liscia, densa e senza grumi (eventualmente rompeteli con una frusta elettrica). L'indomani, montate la panna piuttosto densa e incorporatela alla crema.

Prendete il primo quadrato e formate ciuffetti di crema aiutandovi con la sac a poche in modo da ricoprire l'intera superficie.  Ponete tra i ciuffetti dei pezzetti di arancia confit. Poggiate sulla crema il secondo quadrato e ripetete l'operazione. Concludete poggiando l'ultimo quadrato e spolverizzando con zucchero a velo.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Phillo triangles

What will now follow has happened a long time ago. Most living things were still merely a clump of primeval soup, although some had already started adding letters as well. The Universe itself was, in cosmic terms of course, only a teenager: it had recently had its 17 millionth birthday. And the story that's about to unfold happened at just that birthday party.
Naturally, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon had been invited to the party. It was a magnificent event. Had you been there, you would have been able to see innumerable gods and goddesses, all dressed in the then-current fashion: they all wore silly freckled either white or red paper party hats and blue Hawaiian skirts. Some of the more osé divinities even sported underwear, while the kinky ones among them--for you must not be fooled: even gods are kinky--wore a green ribbon tied to a lovely knot on their left arm. But the Universe did not care, not really. "After all," it thought, "they'll be all dead soon, relatively speaking. In the End, I will remain alone anyway. So let those funny gods do whatever they want and have some fun as long as they can. Eternity doesn't last forever, now does it? I'm on a horse." At that precise moment, Divine Cherry walked up to the Universe to present her heartfelt wishes. Strangely enough, she did not carry a cake with her. Indeed, flour had not yet decided whether it wanted to exist or not, so there was no way to bake a proper cake. Instead, she brought Phillo pastry triangles. The Universe was about to blow out its candles when Divine Cherry showed them to him. As it is often the way with things, one followed another. Just when the Universe had exhaled the first blow of cosmic gas, its eyes wandered off to Divine Cherry's offering. Of course, its breath followed its gaze, and soon all the Phillo pastry triangles were scattered all around the Universe (do not bother with the paradox of external vs internal existence--just assume that it works).
And so it was that when the Universe had its 17 millionth birthday party, Divine Cherry's Phillo pastry triangles were scattered all over the universe. In order to console her, and also so that they would be more easily discernible, Celestial Dragon alighted every poppy seed on every triangle. The result were the stars you see in the night-sky. Now you know; the great secret has finally been revealed. Stars are not humongously huge gaseous masses, but in fact the poppy seeds on Divine Cherry Phillo pastry triangles that Celestial Dragon alighted out of love and compassion.

Phillo triangles (for 72 triangles)
- 3 packs of ready made phillo pastry
Spinach filling: same filling as the greek pie, but with spinach instead of spring greens.
Cheese filling:
- 1 egg
- 100g robiola (or soft cheese)
- half a glass of milk, but you'll probably need less
- 200 g feta
- a pinch of grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 50 g butter to brush the pastry

Prepare the two fillings. Follow the instruction and quantities indicated here for the spinach filling.
Prepare the cheese filling: mix together the egg,  robiola, crumbled feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Add a bit of milk to make the filling spreadable.
Cut 6cm wide stripes from every phyllo  sheet.  Take one stripe at the time, and keep the rest under a cloth in order not to let them dry. Brush the strip with melted butter. Put one spoon of filling on one bottom corner and fold it over the other corner in order to form a triangle, then fold the triangle over and over itself till the end of the strip. Do the same with the rest of the stripes, alternating the fillings.
Put the trinagles over a tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 30 min or until golden brown.

Triangoli di pasta fillo
- 3 confezioni di pasta fillo
Ripieno di spinaci: ingredienti indicati nella ricetta delle torta greca, sostituendo alle biete gli spinaci.
Ripieno ai formaggi:
- 1 uovo
- 100 g robiola
- mezzo bicchiere di latte, ma forse ve ne servirà meno
- 200 g feta
- una grattatina di noce moscata
- sale e pepe
- 50 g burro, per spennellare

Preparare i ripieni. Per gli spinaci, seguire le istruzioni qui.
Preparare il ripieno di formaggi. Mescolare l'uovo con la robiola, la feta sbriciolata, la noce moscata, sale e pepe. Aggiungere un po' di latte per rendere il composto spalmabile.
Tagliare da ogni foglio di fillo strisce larghe 6cm. Prendere una striscia alla volta e tenere le altre al riparo sotto un canovaccio pulito in modo che non si secchino. Spennellare la striscia con burro fuso, porre un cucchiaio scarso di ripieno su un angolo delle pasta, ripiegare l'altro angolo sopra il ripieno a formare un triangolo. Ripiegare il triangolo su se stesso più volte fino a terminare la pasta. Ripetere questa operazione con le altre strisce di pasta, alternando i ripieni. Porre i triangoli su una teglia ricoperta con carta forno. Cuocere in forno caldo a 200°C per circa 30 minui o fino a che i triangoli saranno dorati.

And Spread the Mess

Friday, 5 October 2012

Empanada Gallega

Ah the sun. Ah the trees. Ah the birds. Oh the birds. Ah the air. Ah the sky. Some more birds. These were the kind of thoughts that were sloshing around Celestial Dragon's head as he was lying on a yellow meadow in what was then known as the Year of the Sneaky Tomato. His arms were crossed around his scaly head and his tail was flicking absentmindedly to and fro. His huge nostrils inhaled the sweet scents of summer that whirled and buzzed around him. Behind him, hanging lazily from a tree, was Divine Cherry. Her red legs were dangling in what would later be known as a nonchalant manner from a branch.
Suddenly, a little girl came walking by. It wasn't really a girl, nor was it really little, but in those days things were still a bit blurry. Be that as it may, she was hopping from one flower to the next, like a bee, thus making her way to Divine Cherry's tree. She was carrying a small wicker basket under one arm. It wasn't really an arm, not was it really a wicker basket, nor indeed was it really small. In that ill-defined basket, however, was something round and good. It is still unknown how she had managed to do it, but the little girl who wasn't really little nor a girl had succeeded in capturing a small star (which wasn't really small nor really a star). She had put it in the basket and was carrying it to her grandmother, who was indeed her grandmother. At the mere smell of the star, Celestial Dragon jumped out of his reverie and Divine Cherry jumped down from her tree. Gracefully, though. They both gathered around the not-little girl and started talking to her. At the end of that fruitful discussion (its content has never been revealed, but it is being assumed that it ran along the general lines of what-is-it-you-haver-there-girl-oh-my-!-what-a-big-nose-mister), it was decided that the grandmother--who was really a grandmother--could wait some more since she had been waiting so long already, and that the not-star would taste much better if baked in the oven and filled with a delicious, well, filling.
And so it was that later that day in the Year of the Sneaky Tomato, a dragon, a cherry, and a little girl that was not little nor a girl sat down for dinner and enjoyed the first ever Empanada Gallega. The recipe down below is a faithful reproduction of what Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon think their first Empanada must have tasted like. After all, the Year of the Sneaky Tomato has expired a looong time ago...

Blog-checking lines: Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

Empanada Gallega - recipe adapted from the September Daring Baking Challege

- 750 g bread flour
- 480 ml of lukewarm water, approximately
- 15 g fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 10 g salt
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large egg, for egg wash

- 1 hard boiled egg
- 1 yellow pepper, cut in stripes
- 200 g chopped tomatoes
- 180 g tuna
- 1 big onion, finely chopped
- 10 black olives

Prepare the dough. Stir the yeast with sugar in the water and let it dissolve for 10 minutes. Make a wheel in the flour and add the water yeast mixture, add the oil and salt. Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon  to combine them. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a cling film and let it rise in a warm place for 1 and half hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion. When the onion is soft, add the pepper and cook it for 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and finish to cook the vegetables. Let the vegetables to cool down and then add the crumbled tuna and the olives.

Assembly of the empanada. Cut the dough in two parts. With a rolling pin, spread gently one half in a greased and floured tray. Pour the cold filling in the dough case, and finish it with the crumbled hard-boiled egg.  On a clean surface, spread gently the second half of the dough and use it to cover the empanada. Join the top and the bottom dough pincing the edges with your fingers in order to end up with a  rope-like border. Use extra dough to decorate and make a central hole in the top dough to let the steam escape during the cooking. Brush the surface with a beaten egg.
Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 45 min.

Empanada Gallega - ricetta adattata dalla sfida di settembre dei Daring Bakers

- 750 g farina forte
- 450 g acqua tiepida
- 15 g lievito di birra fresco
- 1 cucchiaino di zucchero
- 10 g di sale
- 60 ml di olio evo
- 1 uovo sbattuto, per spennellare
- 1 uovo sodo
- 1 peperone giallo tagliato a striscioline sottili
- 200g pomodori a pezzi
- 180 g tonno sottolio
- 1 grossa cipolla, tritata finemente
- una decina di olive nere
- olio, sale e pepe

Preparare l'impasto. Mescolare il lievito all'acqua insieme a un cucchiaino di zucchero e far riposare per 10minuti. Fare un buco nella farina e aggiungerci l'acqua con il lievito e l'olio, mescolare e aggiungere il sale. Trasferire su una superficie pulita e impastare per 15 minuti circa fino ad ottenere una palla liscia ed elastica. Mettere in una ciotola, coprira con pellicola e far lievitare in luogo tiepido per circa un'ora e mezza, o fino a che l'impasto avrà raddoppiato il suo volume.

Preparare il ripieno. Far appassire la cipolla in una padella con un po' d'olio evo. Quando la cipolla è trasparente, aggiungere i peperoni e cuocere per una decina di minuti.Aggiungere i pomodori e terminare la cottura. Quando le verdure si sono intiepidite aggiungere il tonno sbriciolato e le olive.

Assemblaggio. Dividere l'impasto in due parti uguali. Stendere una metà dell'impasto e metterela in una teglia precedentemente unta e infarinata. Coprire con il ripieno, completamente raffreddato. Sbriciolare sopra l'uovo sodo. Stendere anche la seconda metà dell'impasto sopra al ripieno. Unire le estremità dei due impasti con le dita, pizzicando i bordi in modo da fare una sorta di cordoncino (come in foto). Fare un buco in centro all'empanada per far fuoriuscire l'umidità durante la cottura. Spennellare la superfice con l'uovo sbattuto. Cuocere in forno caldo a 180 gradi per 45 minuti circa.

And Spread the Mess

Friday, 7 September 2012

Peach and Apricot Upside Down cake

It's happened. It has eventually come to pass. Some people were afraid they would never see the sun dawn on this day, but they feared needlessly. For today, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon have emerged from their months-long hermitage. They had both retreated to a secluded place, away from the hustle and bustle of godly summer life. They couldn't be bothered with the usual who-was-seen-with-whom, who-was-wearing-who, who-has-eaten-who, who-has-disintegrated-whom. This year, after so many eons spent in tedious though occasionally enjoyable company, they had decided to romantically spend the Months of the Sun (as summer is known elsewhere) with each other, and only for each other. Both Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon had set themselves an important task, and they divided their time between savouring their time together and completing said task.
Now, however, it is all done. They have achieved their goal, and the sun is beginning its slow descent towards the end of the year. By way of celebrating their return, Divine Cherry has decided to bake a cake--what else? And because Divine Cherry, in her heavenly distraction, has once again confused up and down, the result of her preparation is this (delicious) Upside Down Cake. Come to think of it, if Celestial Dragon were asked to describe Divine Cherry with a cake, this is probably the one he'd pick: after all, every time he sees her, his head spins and his world is happily turned upside down...

Upside Down Cake - recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

- 45g butter
- 130g brown sugar
- 3 nectarines + 4 apricots (or whatever fruit is in season)
- a handful of raisins

- 115g butter
- 150 g sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 210 g flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 125 ml milk (preferably whole)
- pinch of salt

It is better to use a pan that can go also in the oven. I used an old pan with no handles.
Preheat the oven at 180°C.
Put butter and sugar in a pan and make a caramel-- careful, do not stir the sugar at any moment or it will cristalize. When it is liquid and it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and let it cool.
Core and slice the nectarines and the apricots (I get 6 slices per apricot and 8 slices per nectarine) and place them in the pan, over the caramel, in a pinwheel shape. Fill any gap with the raisins.
Prepare the dough: beat the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg per time, beating throughly after every addition. On a side, sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter, mix quickly, add the milk and the remaining flour. Mix just until combined. Do not overmix or the cake will be stiff. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for 45 minutes, or until springy in the middle. When cooked, let it cool down in the tin for 20 minutes, then place a plate over the mould and flip the cake on the plate.

It is very good served warm but i personally prefer it the day after.

Torta morbida rovesciata alle pesche e albicocche - ricetta adattata da David Lebovitz

- 45g burro
- 135 g zucchero di canna
- 3 nocipesche e 4 albicocche
- una manciata di uvetta

- 115g burro
- 150g zucchero
- 2 uova grandi
- 210g farina
- 1e1/2 cucchiaino lievito vanigliato
- 125ml latte (preferibilmente intero)
-  un pizzico di sale

Per questa ricetta è meglio utilizzare una tortiera che vada anche sul fornello. Io ho usato una vecchia pentola senza manici.
Accendere il forno a180 C.
Preparare un caramello con lo zucchero e il burro nella pentola/tortiera, senza mai mescolare. Quando lo zucchero è sciolto e comincia a bollire spegnere emettere da parte a raffreddare un po'. Nel frattempo tagliare la frutta a fettine non troppo grosse e disporle a raggiera nella pentola sopra al caramello. Disporre l'uvetta in modo da coprire eventali buchi lasciati dalla frutta.
Preparare l'impasto. Sbattere burro e zucchero con l'aiuto di un paio di fruste elettriche in modo da ottenere uncomposto pallido e spumoso.Aggiungere un uovoalla volta e sbattere bene tra un'aggiunta e l'altra in modo da incorporare bene le uova.  A parte setecciare la farina con lievito e sale. Agiungere al composto di uova metàdella farina, mescolare velocemente solo per incorporare gli ingredienti. Aggiungere il latte e poi l'altra metà della farina. Mescolare velocemente quel che basta per unire gli ingredienti.  Versare il composto sopra la frutta e livellare. Cuocere in forno per 45 minuti circa.

And Spread the Mess

Monday, 30 July 2012

Polpette di melanzana - Aubergine balls

Many eons ago, in the City of the Sun, there lived a god. He was a fretful god; he lived in a perpetual state of frantic uncertainty, for he was a jealous god. But he was also a good god; and when, every morning, he had finally managed to gather enough courage to carry his most precious treasure from one side of the horizon to the other, the people of the City of the Sun were grateful for his courage. For he was He-Who-Has-Come-Forth, and he was known to men as Khepri. Many modern -ists believe that the ancient people of the City of the Sun, upon seeing a scarab pushing its dung ball with great effort day in and day out, thought that surely the great Ball Of The Sky (what a finer and perhaps less scarab-obsessed poet once graciously called "Heaven's Eye") is also being pushed by a (cosmic) beetle. The analogy appears to be legitimate. However, modern -ists do not know that the people of the City of the Sun knew very well that this isn't so. They knew the secret modern -ists, with all their instruments and calculations and conjectures and fictions and joints and bongs and booze and chickens, will never be able to uncover: they knew what Khepri was actually pushing across the sky. And they knew because it had been given to Khepri by Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon, both of whom at that time used to be the spiritual leaders of the City of the Sun.
Khepri had always been a jealous god. He had been jealous of many things; things good and bad. Mostly, he was jealous he had not created himself with the head of, say, a green lion or blue giraffe--that would've been cool. Unfortunately, when he had created himself, the only thing Khepri could think of was a scarab beetle (might've been due to that nightmare K. would later re-dream). And so it was that his head, according to the convention laid out in §1.3b of the Anthropomorphic Qualities of Egyptian Gods (AQED), became that of a scarab. But Khepri was also jealous because his animal counterpart, the real scarab, actually had something to do--whereas he, who had created himself and was thus not bound to any aspect of the cosmos particularly, was purpose-less.
And so it was that one day he went to see Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry, hoping to get some advice on how to solve his essentially existential entanglement. When he arrived at their palace, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry were having dinner. As it so happened, Divine Cherry had prepared her delicious aubergine balls, and when Khepri entered the room, Celestial Dragon, like the little child he is, was playing with his food, rolling the balls to and fro on his plate (Divine Cherry was laughing affectionately, though). And so it was that a light went on in Khepri's head (literally, for he had hit the oil lamp that was dangling from the ceiling): he would roll a ball over the sky! But it would not be just any ball. Sneakily, feigning hunger, he asked for one of Divine Cherry's aubergine balls.
Thus, in truth, Khepri, the "sun"-pushing scarab god, was not pushing the sun at all from one side of the horizon to the next: he was in fact pushing one of Divine Cherry's aubergine balls.
And so it was that Divine Cherry's cuisine (at that time called something like" iwëfuwpeq-tu-oüàféifaskd-oorrrrrrrrrrrrr-mmh") gave Khepri something to be jealous about. Indeed, she noticed that he was not so much pushing the aubergine ball over the sky, as running away from the gods of the night who actually wanted to eat it.
And the people of the City of the Sun, when they realised that the radiance of their sun was simply due to the brilliance and exquisiteness of Divine Cherry's aubergine ball, changed the name of their city to City of the Radiating Aubergine--at which point Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry resigned (their job, after all, was done).

Aubergine balls
- 400 g aubergines (2 small-medium ones)
- 1 egg
- 80 g breadcrumbs + enough to cover the balls
- 60 g grated parmigiano
- 3 basil leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 25 g circa unsalted butter

Remove the green part from the aubergines. Make some small holes on their skin with a fork. Put them (whole) on a tray and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 50 minutes. They are ready when the skin looks shrivelled and the flesh is very soft. Take them out from the oven, cut in two and dig out the flesh with a spoon. Chop the flesh in tiny pieces and put it in a bowl with the egg, parmiggiano, breadcrumbs, chopped basil leaves salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients. If the mixture is too wet, add some more breadcrumbs. You need to be able to make some balls with your hands. Roll the balls into breadcrumbs. Place them on a tray and put on the top of each ball a small cube of butter. Bake for 30 min circa in preheated oven at 180 C.

Notes: -I've used old bread, and have chopped it roughly in order to get the breadcrumbs (duh). Doing so confers the aubergine balls a je ne sais quoi of rough authenticity.
- Cooking the aubergine balls in the oven is an excellent alternative to deep-frying them in the pan. And if you put a dollop of butter on top of them before putting them in the oven, the latter will cause the balls to "deep fry" anyway: at the very least, they'll become nicely crunchy. I personally prefer butter instead of oil in this particular case.
-The aubergine balls are also excellent when prepared in advance and  eaten later at room temperature, instead of piping hot.
-And if, in the spirit of the balls, you fancy a vegetarian dinner/lunch/supper/tea/whatever, you can do like we did: we accompanied the aubergine balls with a fresh homemade tzaziki and grilled zucchinis...

Polpette di melanzana
- 400 g melanzane (2 medio-piccole)
- 1 uovo
- 80 g pangrattato circa + il necessario per l'impanatura
- 60 g parmigiano grattuggiato
- 3 foglie di basilico
- sale e pepe
- 25 g circa burro

Eliminare le parti verdi delle melanzane. Bucherellare la pelle con i rebbi di una forchetta. Disporre le melanzane intere su una teglia rivestita con carta forno. Infornarle a forno caldo a 200 C per 50 minuti circa. Le melanzane sono pronte quando la pelle è avvizzita e un coltello entrerà con estrema facilità nella polpa morbida. Estrarre le melanzane dal forno, tagliarle a metà e quando si saranno un po' raffreddate, scavare la polpa con un cucchiaio. Tagliuzzare le polpa in pezzi piccoli con un coltello e metterla in una ciotola. Aggiungere il pangrattato, il formaggio, l'uovo le foglie di basilico tritate, sale e pepe. Mescolare con un cucchiaio per ottenere un composto facilmente lavorabile, se troppo umido, aggiungere del pangrattato. Formare delle palline con le mani e rotolarle nel pangrattato.  Disporre le polpette su una teglia, su ogni polpetta poggiare un quadratino di burro e infornare a forno caldo a 180 C per 30 minuti circa. Le polpette sono pronte quando le superficie risulta dorata.

Note: - Io ho usato del pane vecchio e l'ho tritato grossolanamente per ottenere il pangrattato, questo conferisce alle polpette un aspetto più rustico.
- Cuocere le polpette al forno è un'ottima alternativa alla frittura in padella, mettendo un dadino di burro in cima a ogni polpetta fa si che durante le cottura in forno l'impanatura "frigga" un po', diventando croccante.Trovo il burro più facile da prozionare che l'olio in questo caso.
- Le polpette sono buonissime fatte in anticipo e mangiate a temperatura ambiente.
-  Noi le abbiamo accompagnate con un po' di salsa tzaziki e delle zucchine grigliate...per una cenetta vegetariana!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sardelle in teglia - Sardines on a tray

Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are on holiday. Well, not really: they still have their heavenly and godly duties to attend to. Rather, they are performing those duties in a different place of the world than usual. They are whiling the summer away at their (guess?) United Residence of Summer Smoothness, or URSS. Of course, it's not as big as the Palace of the North East, nor as expansive as the Garden of the Five Fruit Dogs, but it is close to the (warm) sea. As such, the Summer Residence's windows are always open, and a warm and salty breeze wafts through the satin-draped rooms. Mornings are spent in quiet oceanic contemplation, and rays of benign sunlight bless the terrace throughout the day (Celestial Dragon had to put in a good word with his old flame the Sun, though. She had been rather reluctant lately).
However, all good things eventually come to an end (and then they start again, despite of what some would have you believe). And so it was that one day, the Sun decided to not do as she was supposed to. She closed her shop, and drew the curtains--which, down on earth, are mistakingly thought to be clouds. It is a little known fact, however, that her curtains have the peculiar characteristic to reflect their owner's mood. And the Sun, that day, was feeling rather morose and miserable. And so it was that it began to rain.
But do not worry, for Celestial Dragon had a plan: he had been talking to Pontus (who has a summer residence on one of the islands off the coast in front of the URSS). The latter, a friend of old, had lent Celestial Dragon a magic shell. And so it was that when the Sun decided to ruin everybody's day, Celestial Dragon decided to ruin her plan instead. When the first drops of rain started to reach the URSS, Celestial Dragon blew hard and melodiously in the shell and--lo and behold!-- the rain drops transformed themselves into savoury sardines.
Needless to say, that evening, Divine Cherry, whose garden was (annoyingly enough) full of sardines, decided that they'd be served for dinner. And this here below, o ye of little faith, is what she made of it.

 Sardines on a tray - quick and easy recipe for a nice summer dinner

- 30 - 35 sardines
- 2 tablespoons of exravirgin olive oil
- 10ish capers
- one small bunch of parsley
- 1/4 lemon juice
- salt and pepper

Prepare the sardines: remove the head; with it, the innards and the central fishbone should come off as well. In case the head comes off alone, though, grab the central fishbone with your tumb and index finger and extract it. In this way the sardines will open like a book. Don't worry, it is faster and easier done than explained. Arrange the fish with the skin down on a tray. In a cup, mix the finely chopped parsley and capers, the olive oil, and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Add a little salt if necessary and pour the mixture over the sardines. Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 5- 10 minutes maximum. Be aware that sardines cook very quickly! Enjoy with a bowl of boiled potatoes dressed the same way than the sardines...

Sardelle in teglia - ricetta semplicissima per una veloce cenetta d'estate
- 30-35 sardelle
- 2 cucchiai di olio  evo
- una decina di capperi
- un mazzetto di prezzemolo
- il succo di un quarto di limone
- sale e pepe

Pulire le sarde: Staccare la testa in avanti. In questo modo con la testa si eliminano anche le interiora e la lisca centrale che rimane attaccata. Se si stacca solo testa recuperate con pollice e indice la lisca ed estratela. In questo modo le sarde saranno aperte a libro. Molto più facile a farsi che a dirsi, le sarde si puliscono molto velocemente. Disponetele aperte con la pelle in giù a raggiera in una tortiera. In una tazza mescolate il prezzemolo e i capperi tritati, 2 cucchiai di olio evo, una spruzzatina di succo di limone e eventualmente aggiungete un pò di sale e pepe. Infornate in forno già caldo a 180°C per 5-10 minuti massimo. Le sarde si cucinano molto velocemente, non stracuocetele o diventeranno stoppose. Noi le abbiamo accompagnate con delle semplici patate lesse condite con lo stesso intingolo usato per le sarde.

And Spread the Mess

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Divine Tabouleh

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou alone art…" intimated the Bard in what would later become one of his most celebrated poems. Unfortunately, the first time he ever recited it--and it was not in front of the Queen, but rather in a dingy public house called "The Dragon and the Cherry"--, he was interrupted by someone shouting "NO!" in the audience.
Laughter roared, mugs of ale clashed, (servants looked upset at the spoiled ale they now had to clean up), porks continued to gyrate on their pits, flies buzzed, musicians got drunk, guards dropped their halberds, cooks cut themselves, dogs fled in panic, beards continued to grow, heads turned, someone fell pretty hard, chairs broke, clouds gathered, cakes toppled, drums beat the incessant warnings of war, in short: the universe turned round to look at what had happened, stopped for a second, took a deep breath and shook loose all the tension of the past minute.
Only the poor Bard looked wretched and dismayed. His bewildered eyes searched for the cause of the uproar, of his failure. Finally they locked upon a curious gentlemen sitting in a corner. A pipe was hanging from his smiling lips, but from afar the Bard could not tell whether his imagination revealed what was really was a pipe or in fact a whisker.
'Let me show you why you may not', said the gentleman and beckoned the Bard to join him. 'Look at this. This is what a summer's day looks like--not what you were about to say.' He was pointing at a plate on his table. On it was heaped something no one at that time in that part of the world had ever seen before. The Bard did not understand, of course. Seeing his friend in difficulty, the gentleman invited him to taste the dish of summer. 'It was my packed lunch, you know', said the gentleman while the Bard expanded his culinary horizon and with it the extent of his imagination and thus his virtuosity, 'but I figured that it might be more useful to you'.
The Bard bowed to the ground before the strange gentleman and retired to a lonely table. He took out a paper and a quill and, with one wide motion, crossed out what was written on it. He only left the first sentence, and continued, in the second line, with "Thou art more lovely and more temperate…".
And so it was that a packed lunch, prepared by Divine Cherry for one of Celestial Dragon's tempo-spatial excursions, was responsible for the awakening of the most brilliantly poetic mind of the English-speaking world. In other words, Divine Cherry's tabouleh, as you may gather from the title, has in itself the very spark of divinity.

200 g cous cous
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- 15 small tomatoes
- 1/4 of one big red onion
- 1/2 lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper

Bring to the boil 200-220 g of water. Pour the water over the cous cous in the a large bowl. After 5 minutes, stir with a fork to separate the grains. Dress with oil and salt. Finely chop the parsley. Dice the tomatoes and the onion into small pieces. Put the vegetables in a large bowl and dress generously with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, let it to stand for at least 10 minutes. Stir in the cous cous and serve.

- 200g cous cous
- 1 mazzetto di prezzemolo fresco
- 15 pomodorini datterini
- 1/4 cipolla rossa di tropea (la mia era grande per questo solo un quarto)
- il succo di mezzo limone
- abbondante olio evo
- salee pepe

In un pentolino fate bollire 200- 220 g di acqua. Ponete il cous cous in una ciotola e versateci sopra l'acqua bollente. Lasciate riposare qualche minuto e poi separate i chicchi con una forchetta, salate e oliate. Triate il prezzemolo. Tagliate i pomodorini e la cipolla a dadini  molto piccoli. In una ciotola capiente versate pomodorini, cipolla e prezzemolo, condite con abbondante olio, il succo di limone sale e pepe e lasciate riposare per almeno 10 minuti per far insaporire le verdure. Aggiungete infine il cous cous, mescolate bene e servite.

And Spread the Mess

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Battenberg Cake

Once upon a midnight dreary, while we pondered long and weary,
Over many a cake and what to bake,
Our minds settled for the chequered log
Whose only sight our jaws made drop.

Thus began the epic journey of Divine Cherry's Battenberg Cake. And what a journey it was. At first, there was reticence, fear and uncertainty. After all, the Battenberg is a worthy foe. One heart and one mind, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon studied the enemy from every angle, analysing its every strengths and weaknesses: upper left hand, lower right hand, upper right hand, lower left hand; its enrobing cloak; the sweet-moist texture; the assemblage. Then, after the initial fear was overcome, there appeared in Divine Cherry's heart a sense of challenge, of rivalry with all those who before her had managed to slay the beast (although the actual slaying was done by Celestial Dragon). With the challenge came the will to fight, to go on, to tackle the obstacle and surmount it, just as she had, previously, managed to conquer the insidious twists and turns of the croissants.
This is the story of how Divine Cherry was able to perform such a feat, how her capable hands, besmeared with dough and paste and the lust to knead everything into submission, to mould and shape and create her own Battenberg (some equate the Battenberg with the universe; personally, I think that's going too far--although I can see a case for it, for is there not contained, in the fourfold square, the essence of all that is not round, that is to say, nothing at all? If the Battenberg is thus -literally- Void squared, can it not be thought of as the universe itself? And conversely, is it not the root of all that is?) were able to come to terms with the very principle of ultimate pleasure, both aesthetic and culinary. Needless to say, then, that the result was phenomenal. Celestial Dragon, to this day, relishes the memory of that victory over the forces of impossible bakery, for the impression it has left on his tastebuds has wandered all the way into the tips of his whiskers so that the left whisker has now turned green from the pistachio and the right brown from the chocolate.
As always, divinities ought to set an example. That is why you will find the recipe here below. Not because Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon expect you to do it, but rather because they give you the possibility do so should you wish to. It is said in the scriptures (of A Posteriori Baking - How To Train Your Tongue) that whosoever manages to bake a proper Battenberg shall be elevated by their loved one into a new sphere of heaven. It certainly was the case for Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon.

Blog-checking lines:  Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Battemberg cake  recipe adapted from the June Daring Bakers challenge recipe proposed by Mandy

- 175g  unsalted butter, softened & cut in cubes
- 175g  Caster Sugar
- 175g  Plain Flour
- 1and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 3 Large Eggs, room temp
- 35g Ground Almonds
- 35 g Ground Pistachios
- 2 teaspoons of cocoa
 -40 g of chocolate cut in tiny pieces

Preheat the oven at 180C.  Butter and flour a baking tray. Create a divide with some kitchen foil. Make a rectangle and then cover it with baking paper. Locate it in the middle of the tray, so that you can house the two mixture together (see picture).
Prepare the two mixture.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder. In a separate bowl,mix the butter with the eggs. Then mix together all the ingredients until just combined. Divide the mixture in two bowls. Add to one half the almonds, the cocoa and the pieces of chocolate. Add to the other half the ground pistachios.
Pour the chocolate mixture into one side of the prepared tray, and the pistachio batter in the other half. Bake for 25-30 min until well raised and cooked.
Plastic chocolate
- 200 g dark chocolate
- 60 g glucose
Melt the chocolate in a pan over simmering water. When cool add the glucose. Let it cool completely and wrap in cling film. Store in the frige. When needed, warm it up with your hands and use it.

Butter cream
- 250 g icing sugar
- 125 g butter
Mix the icing sugar with the soft butter. Mix until well combined.

Trim the edges of the cakes so to have to rectangles of the same sizes. Cut each cake in half, lengthwise, so as to have 4 long stripes. Trim again the edges to pair them. Glue the stripes together with a thin layer of butter cream, alternating the colours (one black stripe next to one green one). Spread a thin layer of butter cream over all the sides of the cake.
Roll out the plastic chocolate with the help of some icing sugar. Wrap the cake with the plastic chocolate sheet. Neaten up the edges of the cake. 

Battemberg Cake ricetta adattata da quella proposta da Mandy per la sfida di giugno dei Daring Bakers 
- 175 g burro non salato, a temperature ambiente e tagliato a pezzetti
- 175g zucchero
- 175 g farina semplice
- 1 e ½ cucchiaino di lievito in polvere
- 3 uova grandi a temp ambiente
- 35 g di mandorle a farina
- 35 g di pistacchi a farina
- 2 cucchiaini di cacao
- 40 g di cioccolato fondente finemente tritato

Riscaldare il forno a 180C.  Imburrare e infarinare una teglia da forno. Prepare un divisorio con della carta stagnola: creare un rettangolo, sistemarlo nel mezzo della teglia e coprirlo con carta forno (come in foto).
Preparere l’impasto. Mescolare farina, zucchero e lievito. In un’alta ciotola mescolare uova e burro. Unire i due composti, e mescolare poco solo per incorporare. Dividere l’impasto in due metà. Aggiungere il cacao, le mandorle e i pezzetti di cioccolato a una metà e i pistacchi all’altra metà. Versare il composto al cioccolato in una metà della teglia e il composto ai pistacchi nell’altra metà. Cuocere in forno per 25-30 minuti fino a che sarà ben lievitato e cotto.
Cioccolato plastico
- 200 g cioccolato fondente
- 60 g glucosio
Fondere il cioccolato a bagnomaria, aggiungere il glucosio. Aspettare che si raffreddi un po’ e poi conservarlo coperto da pellicola in frigo. Al momento dell’utilizzo, riscaldarlo con le mani e lavorarlo come pongo.

Crema al burro
 - 250 g zucchero a velo
- 125 g burro
 Incorporare lo zucchero a velo al burro morbido fino ad ottenere una consistenza cremosa.

Sfilare i bordi delle due torte in modo da renderle della stessa esatta dimensione. Tagliarle nel senso della lunghezza in modo da ottenere 4 lunghi rettangoli. Incollare i rettangoli l’uno con l’altro (uno nero affianco a uno chiaro etc in modo da alternare i colori), usando un sottile strato di crema al burro come collante.  Spalmare un sottile strato di crema al burro anche sui lati esterni della torta (servirà per tenere insieme il cioccolato plastico di copertura). Stendere il cioccolato plastico con un mattarello, in modo da ottenere un foglio abbastanza sottile. Avvolgere la torta nel foglio di cioccolato. Sfilare le estremità in modo da parificarle.

And spread the Mess

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Almond and citrus polenta cake

As the poet intimated, the winter of discontent is made summer again. Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry are moving residence. The Palace is being emptied and its treasures are being boxed and sent away. Loose ends are being chased down and tied up, and goodbyes have become daily routines. Cobwebs will be spun in soon-forgotten corners and even Small Perfect Cloud will wander off to another sky. However, do not think that these are reasons for sadness and depression only, for Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are not really leaving, simply moving. Granted, they will move to a different shore close to the bard's brave new world, but it will be a physical move only. And we all know that what truly matters is the spirit. Nevertheless, it is always good to remind oneself once in a while, and that is why Celestial Dragon invited all the adjacent deities for one of many last suppers. (Time moves in circles, as do most cakes. And wheels. As well as three-legged turtles. That is why there are many suppers which purport themselves to be last, but that are in fact repeated with the endless baking of new cakes.)
It was one of those many suppers that Divine Cherry decided to present this cake. It is a matter of general knowledge, and many stories and myths attest to this fact, that Divine Cherry was born in a field of polenta, and that her first pacifier had in fact only the shape of a pacifier but was in truth polenta incarnate. The scriptures also tell us that Divine Cherry, despite her name, grew up in gardens of lemons, oranges and grapefruits. (It is believed that "cherry" stems from a practical joke she has chosen to forget.) It is also rumoured that Divine Cherry's first words, as recorded in the First Annals, were prunus amygdalus. It is therefore only natural that, when an event of such monumental importance as a change of residence occurs, Divine Cherry resorts to what she knows best: polenta, citrus, and almonds. And because Divine Cherry is now a grown deity, she has decided to express these ingredients through an art she has perfected over the last centuries: baking. Et voici le résultat...

Almond and citrus polenta cake - recipe adapted from "Jamie Magazine" n. 28

- 225 g butter, softened
- 225 g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 125 g polenta flour
- 125 g ground almonds
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 lemons, juices and grated zest
- 1 orange, juices and grated zest

- 75 g icing sugar
- zest of 1 lemon cut in long stripes
- juice of 1/2 lemon

With an electric whisker beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs one per time, continuing beating. add the polenta flour, ground almonds, baking powder, the juices of orange and lemons and grated zests. Stir until well mixed. Grease a springform tin and pour into the mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes in preheated oven at 170 C.The cake is ready when it looks just firm in the middle. Let the cake to cool completly before unmould.
Decoration: for the icing,mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice until you get a thick paste and drizzle overthe cake. For the candied lemon strips: put in a small pot 2 table spoons of water with 2 table spoons of sugar, add the lemon strips and cook until the strips are tender. Put them in the middle of the cake.

Torta di polenta alle mandorle e agrumi ricetta tratta da "jamie magazine" n. 28

- 225 g burro morbido
- 225 g zucchero
- 3 uova
- 125 g farina di polenta
- 125 g  farina di mandorle
- 1 cucchiaino di lievito in polvere
- 1 limone e 1/2: succo e buccia grattuggiata
- 1 arancia: succo e buccia grattuggiata
- 75 g zucchero a velo
- il succo di mezzo limone
- la buccia di un limone tagliata a listarelle sottili

Con una frusta eletrica batte il burro e lo zucchero fino ad ottenerecolore pallido. Aggiungere le uova, una alla volta, continuando a sbattere.  Incorporare la farina di polenta, le mandorle, il lievito e i succhi e le bucce di arancia e limoni. Mescolare per amalgamare il tutto. Versare il composto in una teglia apribile precedentemente imburrata e infarinata. Cuocere in forno caldo per 45-50 minuti a 170 C. Lasciar raffreddare la torta nella tortiera prima di sformare.
Decorazione: mescolare zucchero a velo e succo di imone fino ad ottenere una pasta abbastanza densa. Con una forchetta far cadere un po' di glassa sulla superficie della torta. Per le bucce di limone: cuocere le listarelle in un pentolino con due cucchiai di acqua e due di zucchero fino a che le bucce sono morbide. Poggiarle sul centro della otrta a formare una cupoletta.

And Spread the Mess

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Challa- Jewish Bread

Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are both above religion (literally). When religion was invented, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry happened to be on a cosmic roller coaster, spiralling through the universe -- they had mistakenly not been briefed about the meeting during which religion was to be invented. And so, while other beings thought every creed and faith into existence, Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were hovering on the topmost fringes of the universe, preparing themselves for the full loop through Alpha Centauri they could spot only a few galaxies away. Strangely enough, that is precisely why Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry particularly enjoyed the Challa.
Indeed, had they been part of the religion-commission, the Challa would have been just another item on the Great And Good And Gargantuan List Of Yet-To-Be Things That Need Inventing In Order To Exist So Get To Work You Baboon. Because they were absent, however, they only recently discovered its existence. And what a discovery that was! To Divine Cherry, the Challa is the embodiment of her two greatest passions: fantastic bread and huge tresses (yes, everyone has a guilty secret, and Divine Cherry's just been revealed). To Celestial Dragon, it is the embodiment of rone of his greatest passions: fantastic bread (Celestial Dragon recently confessed to Vague Magazine that he does not have any guilty secrets).
And so it was that the Challa brought joy and happiness to both of them. Yet although Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon are above religion (literally), they still possess the gift of magnanimity, and therefore herewith share the recipe of the Challa with all who wish to have it.

Blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Challa Adapted  from Ruth's blog

- 15 g dry yeast
- 240 ml warm water
- 100 g brown sugar
- 115 g unsalted butter – room temperature
- 15 g salt
- 3 large eggs
- 280 g whole wheat flour
- 280 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g rolled oats
 - 70 to 140 g additional flour for kneading
-  1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (Look at these fantastic videos on how to make braids: 3, 4 , 4 round or 6 braid). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Challa Ricetta adattata dal blog di Ruth
- 15g lievito di birra secco
- 240 ml acqua
- 100 g zucchero di canna scuro
- 115g burro
- 15 g sale
- 3 uova grandi
- 280 g farina integrale
- 280 g farina semplice
- 50 g fiocchi d'avena
- 70-140 g farina semplice per impastare
-1 uovo per spennellare alla fine.

Sciogliere il lievito in acqua tiepida. Lasciare riposare circa 5 minuti. Con il gancio K della planetaria, battere 3 uova, lo zucchero, il burro,  le  farine e l'avena nella miscela di lievito. Oppure, se la preparazione e' a manounire le uova e il burro con la miscela di lievito fino ad ottenere una consistenza omogenea con un cuchiaio di legno. Aggiungere le farine e avena e mescolare fino ad ottenere un coposto piuttosto solido.
Cambiare il gancio e usare l'unicino della planetaria per impastare il composto, per 5-10 minuti. O a mano per un quarto d'ora circa, fino ad ottenere un palla liscia e compatta. Mettere l'impasto in una ciotla oliata e coprire con un canovacvcio. Lasciar riposare fino al raddoppio (2ore circa).
Una volta che l'impasto e' lievitato, farlo sgonfiare con un pugno. Farlo lievitare nuovamente per un'ora circa.
Sgonfiare l'impasto di nuovo e dividerlo in 2. Intrecciare ogni meta' (Qui dei video fantastici su come intrecciare il pane: 
3, 4 , 4 round or 6 braid).
Una volta che le pagnotte sono formate, posizionarle su due teglie infarinate. Spennellare con l'uovo e lasciar riposare un'altra ora.
Preriscaldare il forno a 200 gradi. Spennellare le pagnotte nuovamente con l'uovo e infornare per 30/40 minuti.