April 17, 2013 by Giulietta
There is little to do, sometimes it takes a little to do great things.
This applies to daily life and, therefore, also to cooking activities: sometimes it’s a simple ingredient that makes a great recipe, but even a small addition, a light shade could have the power to entirely change a dish. But even the same ingredient can change depending on how you use it or depending on the combination between different ingredients.
Thus, a simple Sicilian orange could change a lot depending on the procedures, on the parts you’re using and on the added flavors, originating three very different preserves, different in texture, taste and color.
So today I propose you three ways to make the most of the oranges and keep their unmistakable taste even with the changing of seasons.
In order of height (of the jar, from the smallest to the largest one), I propose you an orange jelly (black tea scented), an orange jam (rum flavored) and canned sliced oranges, hoping that at least one (or more than one) could tickle your appetite for fruit preserves.
On this occasion, it’s important to remember that I haven’t had the chance to set foot in Sicily, yet.. then, why my cuisine is so influenced by this wonderful land? And something tells me that I’ll come back to Sicily (at least virtually) in the near future (suspense mod. ON)
Category Citrus, Conserve, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Jam, Preserves | Tags: black tea,citrus fruits,conserve,dessert and sweets,fresh fruit,jam,jelly,preserves,rum | 4 Comments
April 4, 2013 by Giulietta
I’ll start with a confession: I (cordially) hate layered cakes. You know, the classic birthday cakes: sponge cake with layers of custard or chantilly cream and then covered with whipped cream. Well, I hate those cakes. Let’s be clear: they’re good, but it’s not my kind of cake. I’d never choose one of those for my birthday: I’d prefer a millefeuille (I know it’s a layered cake, but here layers are crunchy and, well, I know I’m a bit contradictory, but don’t judge me) or a cup dessert.
But I learned to make these cakes in my pastry class, I know how to make them from scratch (and I’m also pretty good at it, apparently) and I enjoy it making them, but don’t ask me to enjoy them.
For this reason, in front of the MTC challenge proposed by Stefania of Cardadomo & CO. I was startled: not only it was a layer cake, but typical US layer cake, a Red Velvet Cake, and a gluten free one. I obviously don’t anything against “gluten free” .. I think I should add to my blog more recipes for people allergic to gluten, but in this particular case it didn’t simplify the mission.
So, with my usual aplomb, I thought, “shit!” and, secondly,”who is going to eat an entire layer cake? “
So I opted for a convenient solution: I decided to make single-serving cakes (I knew those mini layer cake molds would be useful, sooner or later … they were still in their box, waiting for the right occasion), I chose to soak them with a blueberries liquor and garnish them with the least cloying topping I could think of, simple whipped cream (barely sweetened) enriched with freshly chopped blueberry. A purple garnishment (and filling), fresh and a bit sour, perfect for my taste.
So after these necessary adjustments, I happily made this cake to celebrate a birthday, my blog’s birthday, which turned two years old on February 22nd.
Happy (latecoming) birthday, Alterkitchen!
And I was glad to be able to celebrate this milestone with all my readers, all the MTC friends and with a cake that could be enjoyed by celiac friends, too.
Category Cakes and pies, Contest, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Fruits of the forest, Gluten Free, USA Cuisine | Tags: blueberries,cakes and pies,contest,fresh fruit,fruits of the forest,layer cake,whipping cream | 8 Comments
March 5, 2013 by Giulietta
Since I completed my professional pastry class in December, I made a lot of short pastry, mostly because I love it, but also because I think it’s an incredibly versatile recipe, something that you can easily transform in 1001 different ways, one better than the the one before.
So, having some salted butter I bought some time ago, I decided to make a slightly salted short pastry (using some salted butter, together with unsalted one) orange-scented. I took the cue from Sara, but I used my shortpastry recipe.
One of the great things about short pastry is that you can make a lot of delicacies with the same dough (and a quite simple one, I’d say. So, with a single dough, I propose three different recipes.
But, first thing first, I’ll start with my basic recipe for short pastry cookies,or shortbread.
Category Citrus, Cookies, Dessert and Sweets, Egg yolks only, Fresh fruit | Tags: butter,citrus fruits,cookies,dessert and sweets,egg yolks,fresh fruit,salted butter,short pastry,tartes | 4 Comments
January 25, 2013 by Giulietta
As promised, here I am with the second recipe to remember the Christmas holidays. The protagonist is Mr. Capon (again), this time in flesh and blood, not as a stock.
This recipe, in fact, is born to reuse the capon’s boiled meat once you made the stock for your tortellini.
I immediately thought of a salad, light and perfect as an appetizer or a delicious second course, and also immediately I decided to make it Sicily-scented, by adding oranges (slices and juice) and almonds.
Recipe doesn’t have doses: it goes to the taste.
Category Appetizer and Finger food, Capon, Christmas, Citrus, Dried fruit, Fresh fruit, Holidays, Meat, Nuts, Second course | Tags: almond,appetizer and finger food,capon,Christmas,citrus fruits,dried fruit,fresh fruit,holidays,meat,nuts,orange,second course | 2 Comments
June 19, 2012 by Giulietta
It's no mystery: to me breakfast is sacred. I hardly skip it (because then I'd end up eating anything in sight, 'cause otherwise I'd have one of those fin de siècle fainting, from which one could recover only with salt and a fanning – with a handkerchief decorated with lace, of course) and, if I was forced to choose a meal in which I could go on and on eating until the bursting point, I'd choose breakfast (needless to tell you, how much I can eat in one of those beautiful hotels with rich breakfast buffet – and no, I'm not ashamed of that!).
So, for me everything that has to do with breakfast food is surrounded by an aura of sacredness: in fact, I love preparing for the every day breakfast (even though I have it in 5 minutes, more or less ), mine or others, cookies, cakes and sweets that make you start the day in a sweeter way and, for me, without the desire to kill anyone who dares speak to me. But, even more, I love being able to have a breakfast worthy of its name, having it calmly, at the bar or, even better, at home, with something specifically prepared, maybe with a nice home-made cappuccino (I make it with a pot like this one, bought in a supermarket for a pittance) or a glass of cold milk (cold milk is one of those "small but great" pleasures in life) on the side. And so, for a nice Sunday breakfast, I was able to enjoy these wonderful buttermilk pancakes, topped with maple syrup and fresh blueberries: a real treat, a cuddle, which I strongly suggest you to start a relaxing day (or to brighten up a bad day … different points of view) .. 'cause breakfast is sacred, but the relaxing one it's even more sacred!
Category Breakfast, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Fruits of the forest, Pancakes, USA Cuisine | Tags: blueberries,breakfast,buttermilk,dessert and sweets,fresh fruit,fruits of the forest,maple syrup,pancakes,usa cuisine,yogurt | 19 Comments
February 7, 2012 by Giulietta
Some scents inevitably bring me back to certain seasons, certain places or specific moments in the past. They say that smell is a very powerful sense, able to activate memory quicker than the other senses.
I can't call myself a "smell fetishistic", but I can't deny that the scent of a person, the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread or the smell of certain herbs are "odorous sensations" that remain dormant in the brain, ready to wake up at the first opportunity.
Maybe it's because I took the "nose" from my father, not esthetically (I got the shape but not the size .. I don't mean to be rude, but I got lucky), but on a sensory level .. maybe I owe him my sense of smell to him not only for the genes, but for the "training" .. in many pictures of me as a child with my father, he is making me smell some lavender, some rosemary or who knows what other herb.
May this have influenced my smell development? I don't know, but I like to think so.
And, if some smells bring back autumn (roasted chestnuts or the smell or underwood, mushrooms), summer (the smell of salt or sun cream) or spring atmospheres (the spring has its own characteristic smell, and I believe it comes from the life that springs up again after the winter lethargy), there are some smells that come along the winter .. in these days we are surrounded by the smell of snow ("What does snow smell like?" you'd ask … I think it has a smell, but I can't describe it or define it), but there are some smells and combination of smells that they "scent" like winter, warm house, steaming tea.
In my opinion the scent of cinnamon, honey and baked apples are among winter scents.. so why don't combine them in a muffin?
Category Breakfast, Dessert and Sweets, Dried fruit, Fresh fruit, Muffins cupcakes and little cakes, Spices | Tags: apple,breakfast,cinnamon,dessert and sweets,dried fruit,fresh fruit,honey,muffins cupcakes and little cakes,pecan nuts,yogurt | 20 Comments
January 17, 2012 by Giulietta
The Tarte Tatin is not an easy dessert, but a simple one. And, like all the simple dessert, made with a few ingredients, it needs to be done with all the care that it deserves to be really good.
We have to make a good caramel sauce, to carefully slice the apples, cover them in pâte brisée (or puff pastry, if you prefer) and make sure that this little masterpiece doesn't burn, so that, once you've pulled it out of the oven and turned it upside down, it stays perfect like you've dreamed, ready to be eaten slightly cooled down, served with some semi-whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream, but also in its simple perfection.
The simplicity of the Tarte Tatin, however, lies also in its possible speeding, if you use ready made pâte brisée (or puff pastry). I know that home-made dough is an all different thing, that no one knows what ingredients are there in the ready made one .. I agree with your hesitations, but (there's always a but) let's say you have so many apples and no butter (but you have a ready made pâte brisée in your freezer), let's say you have to make a quick dessert for some unattended guests or let's say you simply feel the irresistible urge to have a slice of Tarte Tatin or you feel the irresistible urge to spend a Parisian afternoon … well, in these cases don't give up … home-made is better, but sometimes home-made could be sacrificed (at least in my humble opinion).
Category Cakes and pies, Dessert and Sweets, French cuisine, Fresh fruit | Tags: apple,brisée,cakes and pies,dessert and sweets,french cuisine,fresh fruit | 24 Comments
November 13, 2011 by Giulietta
With this recipe I officially start (perhaps I should include some old recipes, though) a new "section", and I'm calling it Home-made is better, a section dedicated to all those delicacies that perhaps you might find in stores that sell quality products… but those same delicacies, if home-made, reach a new level of deliciousness, almost beyond the Nirvana of taste.
In addition, I'll use this section to give you some gift ideas for the upcoming (argh!) Christmas, gifts that can be used for other occasions, too (birthdays, graduations, confirmations, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, weddings – gifts or favors- and so on) .. In short, do whatever you want with them.
To get off on the right foot, I chose a regional product. Some of you might know it, but I believe that most of you never heard about cugnà. Cugnà (or cognà), a word which I don't know the meaning of, but that materializes in a dense marvel that you can store in jars. I don't define it, 'cause there is a quarrel about its ontological essence: is it mustard? Not really, but it looks like it. Is it jam? No, but it can be used as jam, and a few decades ago it was used like that, simply spread on bread, as a snack. Well, maybe it's better not to define it, but simply be enchanted by it.
One thing it's sure: it's an ancient dish, which comes from the need to reuse the waste from the harvest (the main ingredient is, in fact, grape must) and the excess production of autumn fruits. This is enriched with dried fruits (needless to say, the special guests are Piedmontese hazelnuts) and some spices. In the past people didn't keep in jars, but simply in an earthenware container (called the Tupina. Piedmontese small note: a very similar word, tupin, is still used in Piedmont, more than every day, to call a generic container, from a jar to an airtight container and so on. So if a Piedmontese says "put it in a tupin", he/she is not saying that you have to stuff a rodent. PS. in Italian "topo" means "mouse", so there's a little word pun, here) covered by a plate.
You'll wonder how you use this delicacy … traditionally, since it was born a poor dish, cugnà was especially eaten with polenta (I'll have to try this use), while the wealthier used it to accompany boiled meat (which is very typical here in Piedmont) and cheeses; however,as I already said, it was also used like an usual jam, so spread on bread. The choice is yours!
Category Conserve, Dried fruit, Fresh fruit, Home-made is better, Jam, Piedmont, Regional Italian cooking | Tags: almond,apple,cinnamon,clove,cognà,conserve,cugnà,dried apricots,dried figs,dried fruit,fresh fruit,hazelnut,home-made is better,madernassa pears,most,pears,quince,renette apples,walnut | 31 Comments
November 5, 2011 by Giulietta
Today it's raining… well, saying that it's raining it's reductive, 'cause it's pouring from yesterday, without interruption. Now Turin and the entire Piedmont are on the highest alert, 'cause the Po river could overflow, or it could appen to of the many other rivers of this region (and some river already overflowed in the area of Alessandria). We are hoping that this is not another 1994 or 2000 (years of two big floods), that this time water would spare these areas.
But my thought inevitably goes to the Region nearby, Liguria, where Cinque Terre and then Genoa went through an inundation (and unfortunately it's not finished yet), the same or maybe worse (but looking for the worst it's a reallysick exercise) than the one we have seen here.. we would like that such facts don't happen anymore, not in 2011, not in the "civilized" world, not in historical cities survived for centuries and suddenly at risk, and all for negligence leading to disasters that on the lips of politicians are always unpredictable (and I wonder who still believes them).
In short, who now is in the North West of Italy, but not only there, please stay at home, don't go in the streets unless it's absolutely necessary, avoid unnecessary risks. Even if it's Saturday, and we would like to go out, to distract ourselves from a work week made more intense for having seen or experienced tragedies too close to our front door, make the effort to stay at home, watch a movie, read a book, follow the weather news and ask ourselves, really, if we can do something to help our neighbors in need. The only concession allowed to this plan is a hot tea and an apple square, to comfort ourselves.
Category Breakfast, Cakes and pies, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Marinade, Pantry cakes | Tags: apple,brandy,breakfast,cakes and pies,dessert and sweets,fresh fruit,liqueur,marinade,pantry cakes,renette apples,soft cakes | 38 Comments
October 25, 2011 by Giulietta
As you might guess from this picture, this cheesecake was born as a birthday cake for a dear friend of mine who asked me this dessert months ago, after my first failed attempt to make this kind of cheesecake … it was very good but, let's say, a bit unstable.
So I went back to work, and this time it came with a perfect texture: it was soft, sweet (but not too much) and delicate.
In addition, I found myself the makings of a pretty pink cake, perfect to dedicate to a very important cause: let's remember, report and support it. In fact, October is the breast cancer awareness' month, so let's read, remember, support and share it. We're aware of the risk, don't underestimate it, and let's do everything we can to prevent it.
Category Birthday, Cakes and pies, Cheese, Dessert and Sweets, Fresh fruit, Holidays | Tags: cakes and pies,cheese,cheesecake,cream cheese,dessert and sweets,fresh fruit,frozen fruits,fruits of the forest | 19 Comments