Bath Buns for a gamekeeper

Hagrid poured them tea and offered them a plate of Bath buns but they knew better than to accept; they had had too much experience with Hagrid’s cooking. (Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, ch.14)

Hagrid, the half giant gamekeeper of Hogwarts, does not enjoy a reputation of a good cook but his treacle fudge is going to be very handy for Harry Potter in this same novel.   

But what about those buns? They are named after the town of Bath in the southwest of England and it is one of the places beloved by Jane Austen that placed many central episodes of her novels there (think about Persuasion or Northanger Abbey).

There is a large debate on the origins of those buns, they are either attributed to Sally Lunn a French Huguenot refugees during the period that bring the recipe with her, or to the physician William Oliver. I had a look to my personal bible, when we are speaking about English food, that is Lady Carlotte Campbell Bury, The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, were there are two different versions for the buns, one, it doesn’t resemble to a bun at all, rather a biscuit. The second one is the one that I present here, a bit adapted to modern taste.

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Ingredients

For the dough:

250 g. milk

10g. dried yeast

650g. white flour

3 tbs of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

280 gr. butter

50 gr. sultanas or cranberry

For the finishing:

4 tbs sugar

2tbs water

3 tbs of sugar pearls

Directions

Warm the milk with the butter, until the butter is completely melted.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the milk and butter, then bring together into a dough. Knead until is elastic.

Put the dough in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface add the sultana or the cranberries and work them in. 

Take small pieces of the dough a prepare the round buns.

Allow the buns to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

Make a syrup by mixing the sugar and the water in a pot and bring it to boil. Brush the syrup over the buns as soon as they came out of the oven. Sprinkle sugar pearls on the top.

Serve with jam and whipped cream.

Finally, I don’t know if I am a good cook but, Hagrid, sorry, I am better than you!

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Raviole alla crema di cioccolato e mascarpone

Raviole al cioccolato e mascarpone che si sciolgono in bocca, ispirate alla ricetta delle sorelle Simili nel libro “Pane e roba dolce”.  Una piccola consolazione nelle giornate di pioggia

(In English here)

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copertina simili

Cresciute in mezzo al profumo del pane, Margherita e Valeria Simili hanno ereditato dalla famiglia non solo la panetteria, ma anche la passione per la cucina casalinga tradizionale. Dopo aver gestito per anni con successo la loro scuola di cucina, adesso si dedicano a tenere corsi in altre scuole o in televisione. Il loro “Pane e roba dolce un classico della tradizione italiana” è un libro meraviglioso perché propone ricette assolutamente sicure, basta seguire passo per passo le istruzioni delle due sorelle, ma anche ci introduce ai segreti di chi ha gestito per anni un negozio di panetteria: come modificare leggermente un impasto per farlo diventare qualcosa di diverso.

Quella che propongo oggi è la loro ricetta del ciambellone emiliano, più simile, per consistenza alla pastafrolla che al ciambellone della nonna a cui siamo abituati. Ci spiegano anche che con lo stesso impasto si possono fare diversi prodotti: la pinza, i biscotti e le raviole.

A partire dalla ricetta delle sorelle Simili ho creato delle raviole ripiene di crema di cioccolata e mascarpone. Il mascarpone mi è servito a mantenere morbida la crema di cioccolato che altrimenti nella cottura in forno diventerebbe secca e granulosa. Rispetto alla ricetta delle sorelle Simili ho dimezzato le dosi ed ho leggermente aumentato il burro perché per me è difficile trovare lo strutto.

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Per l’impasto

½  kg di farina

200 g di burro a temperatura ambiente

160 g di zucchero

25 g di latte

5 g di miele non amaro

½ cucchiaino di sale

1 bustina di lievito chimico

2 uova

Per il ripieno:

Crema di cioccolata

50 g di mascarpone

Burro fuso per spennellare

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Mettere tutti gli ingredienti eccetto il lievito nella planetaria ed impastare a velocità bassa con il gancio a foglia. Una volta pronto l’impasto, aggiungere il lievito ed impastare fino ad assorbimento completo.

Se non si possiede una planetaria, mettere la farina a fontana sulla spianatoia e nel centro della fontana mettere tutti gli ingredienti eccetto il lievito. Impastare utilizzando una spatola e non le mani, una volta che la farina avrà completamente assorbito tutti gli ingredienti, aggiungete il lievito e continuate a mescolare fino a completo assorbimento.

Stendete l’impasto ottenuto con un mattarello fino a quando sia alto circa 3 mm.

Con uno stampo rotondo ritagliate dei cerchi che spalmerete con crema di cioccolato facendo attenzione a lasciare libero circa ½ cm dal bordo.

Al centro della crema di cioccolata mettete un cucchiaino di mascarpone.

Piegate il cerchio in modo da formare un raviolo.

Spennellate con del burro fuso e cuocete in forno statico a 180 gradi per circa mezz’ora.

Servite a temperatura ambiente, spolverate di zucchero a velo.

Non mangiatele tutte in un giorno!

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Bacon crust torneados on a bed of pureed broccoli and burrata

Today I am going to celebrate one of the finest Italian composer, Gioacchino Rossini who wrote beloved operas like The Barber of Sevilla, Cinderella, William Tell.  Rossini was not only a composer, but a foodie as well, that is way I intend to remember him with a recipe of my invention.

rossiniBorn in Pesaro (Central Italy) in 1792, he spent most of his creative life in Paris, without forgetting the Italian specialties that he got directly form Italy: Gorgonzola, Panettone and truffles, he was crazy for truffles.

Rossini was also an excellent cook and in his time in Paris he became very close to Antonin Carême the greatest chef of his time.

Most probably chef Careme was the one that invented the famous tournedos Rossini, an elaborate, cholesterole bursting dish that involves filet mignon, bread fried in butter and foies gras.  The filet mignon that I present here is more healthy and even suitable for diet if you don’t use the pancetta.

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Bacon crust torneados on a bed of pureed broccoli and burrata.

Serving 4

 

Ingredients:

4 Tournedos, 150 gr. each

8 slices unsmoked bacon

500 gr.  broccoli

200gr. burrata

1 tablespoon of whole milk

4 spoonfuls of olive oil

garlic

salt

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  • In a food processor, combine the burrata with the milk and blend until smooth.
  • Steam the broccoli until  is tender, than blend to a smooth purée with two spoonful of olive oil and keep it warm while you are preparing the tournedos.
  • Wrap bacon slices  around the circumference of each tournedos; tie with kitchen twine.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet with two spoonful of olive oil over high heat until it starts to smoke. Season tournedos with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Cook, without moving, for about 2 minutes. Rotate tournedos and cook for two more minutes. Repeat process two more times until bacon is well cooked.
  • Plating instructions: on a warm plate, prepare a bed of broccoli puree where you carefully set your tournedos. Place dots of burrata sauce using a small spoon or a piping bag.

Enjoy!

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Mistletoe puff pastry appetizer with chard and buffalo mozzarella

Still digging into Frazer’s “Golden Bough” to understand why mistletoe is one of the symbols of this season.

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This book can be downloaded for free at the site of the project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3623

“…Thus among the Celts of Gaul the Druids esteemed nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the oak on which it grew…”

“…Now, like fern-seed, the mistletoe is gathered either at Midsummer or at Christmas that is, either at the summer or at the winter solstice and, like fern-seed, it is supposed to possess the power of revealing treasures in the earth… The treasure-seeker places the rod on the ground after sundown, and when it rests directly over treasure, the rod begins to move as if it were alive. Now, if the mistletoe discovers gold, it must be in its character of the Golden Bough; and if it is gathered at the solstices, must not the Golden Bough, like the golden fern-seed, be an emanation of the sun’s fire?”

So what would be better than an appetizer in the shape of mistletoe to celebrate the slowly rebirth of the sun after longest night of the year hoping that those tasty leaves will help us to find the treasures of the coming year.

 

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Savory puff pastry filled with a mix of chard (or spinach) and then arranged into a mistletoe branch makes the perfect appetizer this holiday season.

 

INGREDIENTS

Serve 6 persons

  • 2 sheets (40 x 35 cm) of real butter puff pastry
  • 250 gr of boiled and drained chard or spinach
  • 100 gr of buffalo mozzarella
  • salt
  • natural (vegetal) green food coloring
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tidbit buffalo mozzarella balls

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INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on top of a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on top of the parchment paper.
  • With the help of a blander, mix the chard and the mozzarella (you can season as you please but the natural flavor is exalted by the butter in the puff pastry, so I preferred to add only some salt)
  • Spread the chard sauce on top of the puff pastry sheet being careful not to go too close to the edge.
  • Place the second sheet of puff pastry on top of the first sheet of puff pastry that has the chard sauce. Press gently to seal the two sheets together.
  • I cut the leaves without a template, because I liked them a bit irregular but you can download a template from the internet.
  • Now that you cut the leaves you have to slice them to simulate the veins on a leaf.
  • Starting on one side, make horizontal slices into the sides of the leaf being careful to stop before you reach the center.
  • Repeat the same process on the other side each leaf; again being careful to stop before reaching the center.
  • Starting at the bottom, twist the veins away from you.
  • Continue twisting the veins moving up the tree and then move on to the other side and twist those veins as well.
  • Mix the egg white with some green food color a brush all the three leaves
  • Bake in the preheated oven until puffy and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Arrange your mistletoe leaves on to a serving platter with three tidbit mozzarella ball to create the fruit effect.

NOTES: You can use Nutella Spread and strawberry or grape to make this a dessert.

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BULGUR SALAD (UNDER THE TOSCAN SUN, 1)

under the toscan sunUNDER THE TUSCAN SUN: AT HOME IN ITALY is a memoir by Frances Mayes. In this book the author recounts the purchase of her home, Bramasole, in Tuscany. She tells about all the adventures she and her partner had in renovating the house and working in its gardens while enjoying the sights and food of Tuscany. First published in 1996, this memoir helped in starting the worldwide Tuscan-mania that doesn’t seem to fade. A must read if you are planning a holiday in Tuscany or you want just escape a boring raining weekend in winter. But what a  Turkish recipe, as Kısır (bulgur salad) is, has to do with Tuscany and its sun? The fact is that at the moment I am in my home in Tuscany, enjoying the lovely panorama and the fresh vegetable that my father (healthy 85 years old-thanks to the olive oil) grows in the garden. I had fresh tomato, parsley, onions, salad from the garden, excellent organic olive oil from our trees and some fine grounded bulgur I brought from Turkey… The next thing to do was to prepare kısır a typical Eastern Turkey recipe but with fresh, zero-km ingredients from my Tuscan garden. The freshness of the ingredients and the quality of the olive oil (Tuscan olive oil is less acid than average Turkish olive oils), added extra flavor and texture to this recipe, but I assure you it is tasty also with market-fresh ingredient. If you are gluten intolerant, you can use quinoa  instead of bulgur, it taste beautifully also with quinoa that add a crunchy texture to the recipe.

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The view from my home (typical sweet Toscan hills :-))

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The vegetable garden

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Ripe and green tomatoes

 

Ready to enjoy Kısır
Ready to enjoy Kısır

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 spring onions (chopped) and 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • the juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp mild chilli flakes or Turkish pul biber
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 5 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt to taste
  • 2 handful of chopped green salad leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the water and when it boils, pour it on the bulgur, let it cool
  2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over low-medium heat
  3. Add the onion, and sauteé for a few minutes, until soft
  4. add the tomato paste and mix well and let simmer for 5 more minutes
  5. When the bulgur is cool and soft, add all the chopped ingredients
  6. Season your salad with lemon juice, chilli and salt
  7. Let it set for at least two hours in the fridge.

 

 

Rolls and Buns for Pippi

What can you do when you have a child at home that is still recovering and can’t go out? Readingof course is the best of pastimes but what if your child is a really Pippi Longstockingand she can stay still for a second? In honor of this delightful character created by the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, we decided to run a home version of “MasterChef” inspired to the Swedish pastry masterpiece  THE CINNAMON ROLLS. The rule was that we both used the same dough but we had free hands on the filling and the way we rolled them.pippi

My choice was classic I went for cardamom rolls, with a filling of grounded almonds and cardamom that recall the oriental texture and smell of the Persian baghlava, my daughter decided for a filling of apple  sautéed in a little butter and sugar, finally seasoned with abundant cinnamon. We also decided to roll them in a different way, I rolled each of them individually; my daughter preferred the traditional way, rolling one big roll and then cut it in slices.

AND THE WINNER IS… But first thing first (as Gordon Ramsey says): the recipes

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For the dough

Ingredients:

100 gr of butter

1 and ¼ cup of mild

2 tbs of dry yest

½ ts of salt

½ cup of sugar

1 egg

1 ts of baking powder

4 cups flour

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Directions:

Melt the butter and add the milk. Heat to 37 C and melt the yeast in it. Let it rise for about 10 minutes

In the stand mixer bowl combine the yeastmixture, salt, sugar, and egg, mix it well

Add baking powder and flourand knead until the dough is smooth and smooth and elastic (15 minutes, medium speed if you use the stand mixer)

Let it rise for at least one hour

 

Cardamom buns

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Ingredients:

1 cup of almond paste

50 gr of butter

1 full tbs of ground cardamom

 

directions:

Divided the dough into 12 piecesof equal size and form with each a circle

Prepare amixture of cardamom, almond paste and butter

Spread themixture on each circle and then roll it up, then roll it like a snail

Put eachroll in a paper baking cup

Let it rise for about anhour then brush with beaten egg

Bake it at 180 C for about 25 minutes

 

Apple buns

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Ingredients:

1 apple apple diced

 

3 tbs of sugar

1 tbs of cinnamon

1 tbs of butter

Sautee the diced apple with butter and sugar for about 5 minutes at small heat, then take it from the heat, add cinnamon, mix well and let it cool

Roll the dough into a large rectangle and spread the apple filling, roll up and cut into even slices.

Place them in parchment-lined baking sheet and let them rise for another hour

Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven 180 C for about 200 minutes

Prepare a sauce mixing icing sugar with some drop of lemon and drop tiny bits of the sauce on the rolls.

The winner : apple buns

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And the loser: Cardamom rolls

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