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.