Soft and Crispy Cornetti with Mascarpone cheese

Yes, I admit that I am a little bit obsessed with Cornetti for breakfast, I never get tired of trying new recipes and this one is really nice with a crispy outside, a moist inside and a heart of melting chocolate.

The occasion to try this wonderful brioche with mascarpone’s recipe, came with two separate, yet related, events. First of all I had some mascarpone left from my tiramisu and I need to use it immediately because it spoils easily, the second is that Andrea Camilleri, the great Italian writer, famous for his Inspector Montalbano, passed away and I start to read all Montalbano’s investigations again. In all those novels food is nearly as relevant as the crime investigated. I am actually reading The Dance of the Seagull, and in this brief dialogue the most beloved Italian breakfast pastry becomes the metaphor of the perennial delays we suffer in Italy.

Preparing those cornetti is really easy and using mascarpone instead of butter helps in cutting off some calories without renouncing to flavor and softness.

In this recipe I added extra texture with a simple layering technic.

For more traditional Butter Cornetti, click here or here

Ingredients:

  • 5 g dry yeast
  • 100 g sugar
  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g mascarpone cheese (+ another 100 g if you want to create layers)
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 250 g milk
  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 1 egg for the glaze

Directions

1.Heat the milk with the butter let it cool down and add the dry yeast, wait for about 10 minutes.

2. In a bowl, mix flour with sugar and salt.

3. Add the milk mixture and the mascarpone 

4.Knead the dough until it becomes elastic and smooth. 

5. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about 1.30 – 2 hours or until it doubles in volume. 

6. Knock back and divide the dough in eight small ball. Let it rise for another hour.

Roll with a pin until 2-3 mm high, spread the with mascarpone uniformly, cover with another rolled dough When you have 8 layer, cut the dough in 16 triangles, but some chocolate in the middle of each triangle and roll it. Let it rise for another half an hour.

Make an egg glaze by lightly beating the egg

Brush the top of each roll with the glaze. Bake it in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath. If you have a steam oven like me, then start with the low humidy program for about 10 minutes and then turn to the convection bake for the rest of the time.

ENJOY!

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Sustainable fish balls and the curse of Sapiens

‘After my nana passed away, a few months ago I stopped writing on this blog. I didn’t have the enthusiasm, the commitment… of course I keep on doing the two thing I love most, cooking and reading, but I didn’t feel like sharing, taking pictures, try to find  the right words to make the dishes appealing. Why shouldn’t I admit that I was going to close the blog? So, why did I change my mind? I have to thank my good friend Feride, a few days ago she came over for dinner, and she prepared Aunt Petunia’s Lemon Meringue Pie. When I share with her my idea about closing the blog, she was surprised and she told me that it was a good blog (for a beginner I added), the recipes are easy and usually quick, so she encouraged me to keep on sharing books and recipes.

Today I will propose the recipe of fish balls, easy to prepare and very tasty, I prepare them often as my daughter doesn’t like fish and this is one of the few way she eats with great pleasure. If I should match this recipe with a book, of course I would think about Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, that I mentioned before. I will go further: at the moment I am reading Yuval Harari’s recent book “21 lessons for the 21st century”,  but if you don’t yet know the work of this Israeli scholar, please read his first best seller “Sapiens”; you will understand how it happens that from eating row radishes, nuts and small animals we came to eat food that it is potentially not sustainable for the planet 🙂.

I try to be a bit more informed about the sustainability of what we eat, I ‘ve read that fish farming in Norway has become clean and sustainable, the alternative is to use wild salmon or any fish that you like and you know that is not in danger…

As for the frying oil, please remember that is very polluting, after use, pour the oil in a bottle and bring the bottle to one of the collecting point around you: there it will be recycled without causing harm to the environment…

So let’s stop talking, and start cooking….

Ingredients:

For the balls:

1 kg salmon or any other sustainable fish

2 slice of bread

3 spoonful of milk

100 gr of grated cheddar or parmesan

1 egg

salt to season

for the crust:

2 eggs

200 gr of bread crumbs

To fry:

1 lt. high quality vegetable oil (olive oil is the best of choices)

Directions

  • Boil or microwave the fish for a few minutes. Put it in a food processor and mince it. 
  • In a bowl wet the bread with the milk until soft, then add the minced fish, the egg and the cheese. Mix everything together well. Season with salt
  • Prepare the balls: . Lightly beat the eggs with salt in a deep dish, spread out the bread crumbs on a plate, take pieces of the fish dough and form into 20-25 rounds the size of ping pong balls, dip each ball first in the egg and then cover with bread crumbs, making sure that it is well coated, putting them on a tray ready to be fried.
  • Heat the oil in a deep  saucepan to 170°C
  • Add some of the balls. Cook for about 6-8 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  • Fry the fish balls in batches, as above.
  • Remove the cooked balls with a slotted spoon and set aside on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Can be served hot or cold.

Easiest Than Ever Apple Cake

“Dawsey shook Sidney’s hand, but he did not come in for apple cake when we got to Juliet’s house. It was a little sunk in the middle, but tasted fine.” 

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Isola, the herbalist of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is trying to use her newly discovered detective skills to prove Dawsey affection for Remi, a French girl who has been imprisoned during the WWII with the founder of the Literary society, Elizabeth. I decide to present this super easy apple cake with the words of Isola, because they describe so well the cooking skills of Juliet, the central character of this novel. But this recipe could have been introduced by any of the Russian Classic as actually it is a Russian traditional cake, the apple charlotte and the recipe, as it is, has been given to me by my dear Russian friend, Feride.

It is not only super easy, but also moisty, fluffy and light, yes! Light, as it is fat free.

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Ingredients:

1 cup of flour

1 cup of sugar

4 eggs

the zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoonful of baking powder

3 medium apples

Directions:

Grease or cover with baking sheet a mould of 25 cm. and preheat the oven at 170 C.

Peel apples and remove the cores. Slice them into thin half-moon shapes. 

Beat eggs with hand or mixer until they’re frothy.

Add sugar gradually, mixing until the mixture is nearly white.

Add flour and the baking powder, and combine to form batter.

Arrange apples in circular layers on the bottom of the  pan.

Pour the batter over apples

Bake about 30-45 minutes (check by inserting a toothpick)

Allow to cool completely before removing the mold

Enjoy! 

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Auntie Rita’s wonderfully simple spumante risotto

I came in Italy for a few days, not a very happy occasion actually, as my beloved nana has passed away at age of 99. She was my first cook teacher, she taught me to pick wild herbs to cook and serve in salad, she even showed me how to prepare farm cheese. She was a WWII survivor, born just one year after the end of WWI. She decided to be buried in a country churchyard in Umbria, in the village she was born and she never forgot. 

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But Umbria is also the place where my untie and godmother Rita lives (not a novel character but a flesh and bone honest food lover untie). She prepared this risotto for me and I thought to share with you because it is very easy but it makes the perfect Valentine dish given the fancy presence of Spumante (you can use Champagne if you wish) that add perfume to the Risotto.

Ingredients

Serve 5/6 people

  • ½ white onion
  • 1 l of hot vegetable stock
  • 75 gr of butter
  • 2-3 spoonful of cream
  • half a litre of dry spumante
  • ½ kg carnaroli or arborio rice
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • Ground black pepper only if you like

Directions

  • Chop the onion very finely. Melt half of the butter in a wide saucepan and cook them gently until softened. In another saucepan, pour the spumante and in another one all of the stock, and keep on a very low simmer nearby to your risotto.
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  • When the vegetables are soft, pour in the rice and turn in the butter until it is glossy. At medium heat, pour one ladle champagne and, stirring all the time, let it be absorbed.
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  • Alternate a ladle of stock and a ladle of spumante, letting one ladleful be absorbed before adding the next, keeping on stirring.
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  • Once the rice is cooked, put some butter and the Parmesan and the cream mix and cover to give time to absorb for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
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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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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.

The_Golden_Bough
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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