Spooky Pumpkin cookies – Terrificanti biscotti di zucca

FOR THE RECIPE IN ENGLISH CLICK HERE

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E’ arrivato l’autunno con le sue prime piogge (in realtà pare che sia una tempesta tropicale, fenomeno che si va diffondendo in tutto il Mediterraneo per colpa del riscaldamento globale), comunque sia la pioggia c’è e l’istinto ancestrale di festeggiare l’arrivo dell’autunno, anche.

La scuola è iniziata da poco, con le lamentele che anche quest’anno non abbiamo ricevuto una lettere d’invito da Hogwards. Non si lamentano solo i miei figli. Sotto sotto mi rodo anch’io, chi non vorrebbe essere un professore in una scuola di magia piuttosto che fare un’ora di traffico per arrivare a scuola o a lavoro?

A Hogwards la zucca è sempre stato un ingrediente importante, filtrata come succo, impastata nei dolci o nelle pietanze preparate dagli elfi domestici. Io non sono brava quanto un’elfa domestica, ma per ravvivare una merenda dopo scuola ho deciso di preparare questi biscotti zucca e decorarli come Jack ‘o lantern, anche se manca quasi un mese ad Halloween. Non mi pare siano venuti male? Che ne dite?

 

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Eccoli qua, non sono molto dolci, per questo i miei maghetti li hanno spalmati di Nutella e marmellata. Ma sono buonissimi anche al naturale, al mattino, inzuppati nel caffelatte.

Ingredienti:

2 ½ tazze di farina

3 CT di zucchero di canna

½ tazza di burro

2 tazze di zucca cotta al vapore e ridotta in puré

1 bustina di lievito in polvere

½ cc di sale

¼ cc di noce moscata

½ cc di cannella

½ cc di zenzero in polvere

Marmellata o crema di cioccolato per farcire

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Riscaldate il forno a 180 C.

Mischiate gli ingredienti secchi e quindi aggiungete il burro, continuate ad impastare fino a quando otterrete un impasto sabbioso come quello per la crostata, a questo punto aggiunge il purè di zucca e amalgamate il tutto.

Su una superficie infarinata stendete l’impasto alto 3 mm. se risulta troppo appiccicoso per essere steso, mettetelo un poco a riposare in frigo.

Una volta steso l’impasto, ritagliate le forme che vi piacciono e mettetele su una piastra foderata di carta da forno. Fate cuocere i biscotti per 15-20 minuti.

Una volta freddi, spalmate la superficie con crema di cioccolata o marmellata e appiccicatene due insieme. Se vi sentite artistici (o avete tempo) potete decorarli come ho fatto io.

Una nota: se decidete di farcirli con la marmellata, vi consiglio di usarne una non troppo dolce, che abbia una nota acidula che va ad esaltare il sapore della zucca, secondo me, quella che dona di più a questi biscotti è la marmellata di arance.

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Spooky pumpkin cookies

FOR THE MORE PHOTOS AND ARTICLE CLICK HERE

 

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  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup butter, sliced
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree

 

  • Preheat oven 180 C.
  • Stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and the spices. Mix the dry ingredients with the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add  the pumpkin and mix to form a soft dough.
  • On a  floured surface roll the dough out to 3 mm. thick. Cut out biscuits with a cutter. Place biscuits on a  cookie sheet.
  • Bake 180 C for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • When cold put a dollop of chocolate cream or of jam on one biscuit and place another on the top of it.

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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Pesto alla Genovese

Eugenio Montale became a Nobel laureate poet in 1975, the Swedish Academy awarded him despite his modest poetic production (5 books in 50 years of work), declaring that Montale was ”one of the most important poets of the contemporary West”.

montaleGlory of expanded noon
when the trees give up no shade,
and more and more the look of things
is turning bronze, from excess light.

Above, the sun—and a dry shore;
so my day is not yet done:
the finest hour is over the low wall,
closed off by a pale setting sun.

Drought all around: kingfisher hovers
over something life has left.
The good rain is beyond the barrenness,
but there’s greater joy in waiting

translated by Jonathan Galassi (forpoetry.com)

Montale was born in Genoa, in 1896 and died in 1981 in Milan. In his poems the focus is on the landscape, sunny and desolate, stone walls surronding vegetable gardens and cultivation of olive trees. In the inclement sun everything appears hard and cruel. Those poetic descriptions are very far from the turistic leaflets of Portofino or Cinque Terre. True is that Liguria used to be an hard and poor area and many it inhabitants migrated before and soon after II World War.

Pesto alla Genovese is a very tasty sauce, you can use for your pasta, on toasted bread as a snack, is wonderful with boiled potatoes. But mind the ingredients, they have to be fresh (sometimes I found basil that went to seed in the supermarket and it is too hard to get a real nice pesto), prefer pine nuts produced in the Mediterranean area (they are long and thin) rather the Chinese variety that is cheaper but they don’t taste the same (they are bitter). The original recipe traditionally,  is made in the mortar.  You can do pesto in the food processor, but with mortar the green essential oils contained in the basil leaves come off and  the marble of the mortar that is cold and prevents the oxidation of basil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoon of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of leaves of fresh basil
  • a pinch of rock salt
  • 2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, grated.
  • 1 tablespoon of pecorino cheese, grated.
  • 5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Wash the basil leaves in cold water and put them on a canvas to dry . They must be perfectly dry before starting the preparation of the pesto.
  2. Put a clove of garlic in the mortar,  Add 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and  crush until cream. Scoop out the garlic cream from the mortar and put aside. You will add it later.
  3. Put the remaining pine nuts in the mortar, half a cup of the basil leaves and few grains of rock salt.
  4. Smash the basil leaves with a rotating movement along the interior walls of the mortar. Add the remaining leaves, some more rock salt grains  and continue smashing.
  5. Then add cheeses. Amalgamate and taste. Adjust with salt if necessary.
  6. Finally, add the oil and stirr gently. Keep the pesto under a light layer of oil to prevent oxidation.

The Bar Lume’s Cornetti

I cornetti del Bar Lume in italiano 

Bar Lume is an Italian bar in a small sea resort near Pisa (when I read the novels it sounds like Vecchiano), four old geezers and Massimo the Barman, spend their time chatting, arguing, and theorizing about murders in town. The four old men analyze crimes and suspects and Massimo analyzes them with sarcastic wit. The 51GAmwpI5aL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_author, Malvaldi, uses a colorful proseto describe a way of living that resists despite the hordes of tourists tha came in the summersin the small beach town. Every morning Massimo put in the oven frozen Italian Cornetti, that are not at all like the French croissant, their have a richer smell (due to the presence of of orange and lemon zests and vanilla) a more sugary flavor and a fluffier texture. In my family we all love Cornetti but after I read an article about the harm of theingredients used  in professional pastry, I have tried to prepare them myself. The original recipe is quite complex, I will give it later. But this one is easy to prepare, if you double the doses, you can freezea batch of them and have your fresh Cornetto every morning.IMG_0516.JPG

 

Ingredients:

550 gr strong flour (like Manitoba)

180 gr milk

70 g water

70 gr sugar (+ more for the layers)

10 gr of dry yeast

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 orange grated peel

1 lemon grated peel

70 gr of butter (+ about 100 gr of room temperature butter for the layers)

A pinch of salt

1 egg for the glaze

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Directions

The sponge:

  1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 100 gr of warm milkin the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to dissolve
  2. Set it  to rise in a warm place for about one hour.

 

The dough:

  1. Mix the flour with saltand add it to the sponge, pour in the batter the remaining milk and the water.
  2. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and knead it until you have a smooth and elastic dough (about 10 minutes at medium speed) then add all the remaining ingredients and knead it for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. Work it a bit on a floured surface, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise another hour (but it depends on room temperature, less if it is a hot summer day).
  4. Knock back and divide the dough in eight small ball. Let it rise for another hour.
  5. Knock back the first ball and roll with a pin until 2-3 mm high, spread the with butter uniformly, sprinkle with sugar and cover with another rolled dough When you have 8 layer, cut the dough in 16 triangles and roll it Let it rise for another half an hour.
  6. Make an egg glaze by lightly beating the egg
  7. Brush the top of the loaf 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.

 

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