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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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peels Pie

Il club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di Guernsey é un romanzo delizioso, non riesco a trovare un altro aggettivo per descriverlo.

il club del libro

Non lo conoscevo, cosi come non conoscevo la sua autrice, Mary Ann Shaffer che ha scritto questo unico romanzo, infatti mentre lo scriveva si è ammalata gravemente ed ha chiesto a sua nipote, Annie Barrows, di finirlo per lei. Ho visto il film su Netflix e mi è piaciuto quindi ho deciso di leggere anche il libro e mi è piaciuto ancora di più. Senza fare la spoiler, dico soltanto che si tratta di un romanzo epistolare. Siamo in Inghilterra nel 1946, Il personaggio principale, Juliet, in cerca di un’idea per il suo secondo libro, dopo che il primo è stato un successo, inizia una fitta corrispondenza con i membri del club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di  Guernsey. Le raccontano cosa abbia significato la guerra per loro (Guernsey è stata per cinque anni sotto l’occupazione nazista)le amicizie ed i rancori che sono nati. Spicca tra tutti il personaggio di Elisabeth, donna coraggiosa che pur potendo fuggire a Londra era rimasta sull’isola per aiutare un’amica.

Mi fermo qui, aggiungendo solo che il mio personaggio preferito è Isola, “una strega che pratica la sua arte”.

La torta di bucce di patate nasce dal fatto che sull’isola, dopo l’occupazione, era venuto a mancare tutto, si trovavano solo patate e qualche barbabietola. Cosi Will Thisbee, volendo portare qualcosa una sera che era stato invitato a una cena molto speciale(non voglio spifferare niente) inventò questa ricetta(patate schiacciate, barbabietole per dargli un po’ di dolce e le bucce di patata per simulare la crosta, il tutto da mandar giù con un bicchierino di gin preparata da Isola.

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Io ho rivisto un po’ la ricetta e il tocco da maestra (me lo dico da sola) sono proprio le bucce di patata che ho spolverato leggermente con polvere di curry e sale e le ho fritte nella friggitrice ad aria calda, sono sinceramente buonissime…

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Il Pie fa la sua figura servito caldo come contorno a fette di arista arrosto o di roast-beef (l’ho provato), ma penso che starebbe benissimo anche con il pesce fritto all’inglese(che invece penso di proporre uno di questi giorni nel mio blog).

Buon appetito a tutti e fatemi sapere se da adesso in poi pensate ancora di buttare via le bucce di patata.

 

Ingredienti

2 patate grosse (500-600 gr) a buccia sottile

2 barbabietole cotte al vapore

3 cucchiai di olio EVO

1 spicchio d’aglio (piccolo)

1 cucchiaino di curry

sale q.b.

 

Procedimento

  • Con l’aiuto di una spazzolina, pulire bene le patatein maniera tale che la buccia risulti senza sporco o impurità.
  • Sbucciare le patate e cuocerle al vapore. Nel frattempo, asciugare le buccedi patate, spolverarle con polvere di curry e salee cuocerle nella friggitrice ad aria calda. Se non si ha questo tipo di friggitrice, cuocerle al forno con la funzione grill.
  • Tagliare le barbabietole a fette sottilicon la mandolina
  • Quando le patate sono cotte, schiacciarle beneo passarle al setaccio, ed aggiungete l’olio in cui avrete frullato un piccolo spicchio d’aglio, aggiustate con il sale.
  • Per comporre il pie basta fare uno strato di purea di patate, uno strato di barbabietole e coprire con uno strato di patate, alla fine decorare con le bucce di patate come se fosse una crostata.

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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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Easy Panna Cotta

panna cottaPanna Cotta is probably the easiest dessert in the Italian gastronomical tradition. 3 basic ingredients (cream, milk, sugar) combined in different ratio, give birth to one of most delicious treat ever. The origin of Panna Cotta is obscure, there are rumors that Panna Cotta, is just the easy copy of the French of Bavarois (obviously French started the rumor!), other claims that it was invented in the Langhe area, by a lady of Hungarian origins, and many others believe that is the Northern version of the Sicilian “Biancomangiare” a dessert of Arabic origins.   Be that as it may, the fact is that Panna Cotta is easy, can be done with what you have in the fridge and with the help of the right mold you will get a spectacular result. Panna Cotta is such a star that deserved a book of its own.

My recipe is not from this book, it is mine. I use organic Agar Agar power instead of gelatin, because I read things about gelatin that made me feel uncomfortable.  It is not always possible to control the origins of the gelatin. Moreover with agar agar, Panna Cotta can be enjoyed also by my vegetarian friends.

Ingredients:

For the panna cotta

250 gr. of cream

250 gr. of milk

4 spoonful of sugar

1 vanilla pod or half a teaspoon of extract

1 and ½ teaspoon of Agar Agar powder

For the sauce:

200 gr. of raspberry

1 spoonful of powder sugar

Some drop of lemon

Directions

In a saucepan, heat cream, sugar, vanilla pod, vanilla seeds and agar on medium heat and bring just to a boil until sugar and agar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard the vanilla pod.

Pour cream into individual serving molds. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, until completely set.

Prepare a sauce, processing the raspberry with sugar and some drop of lemon

Gently remove the panna cotta from the molds and serve it with the raspberry sauce.