Wednesday, 29 February 2012

BREAD


The recipe I use, is the same I use for pizza. Manitoba flour is really great for bread making, the results you get are not even comparable to the ones you get using plain flour. The bread is much softer. You can "personalise" your bread using sesame or poppy seeds, olives, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes...and you can shape it as you like. The results are really amazing!!


500 gr strong white bread flour o Manitoba flour
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoons sugar 

10 gr salt 
250 mls water 
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Pour half of the water in a bowl with the yeast and the sugar and stir to dissolve, then leave to rest in a warm place for ten minutes. Pour the other half of the water in a second bowl with the salt and stir to dissolve.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the water with the yeast and that with the salt. Add also the olive oil.

Mix to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Add some water or some flour if you need it, until you have achieved the correct consistency.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly flour your hands. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth and pliable.

When finished, put the dough inside the bowl dusted with flour (remember that it has to be large, as the dough will double in size) and cover with a dishtowel. Set aside in a warm place (20 degrees) for 2-3 hours.

Once the dough has risen, it needs to be knocked down by simply punching all the air out of it with your fist; the dough will be brought back to its original size. Now, if you have time you can shape the bread and let it rest for another 1/2 hour; otherwise, if you are in a hurry, you can create your bread, then put it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm and enjoy your success!!!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MUSHROOM AND HAM PIZZA


Ingredients for a 32*40 baking tray (enough for 3/4 people)

500 grams plain flour (or, if you prefer a thicker and softer base, use strong white bread flour)
1 sachet dried yeast (7 gr) or 2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoons sugar 

10 gr salt 
250 mls water 
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
250 g Mozzarella cheese ( but also 125 could be enough, I love Mozzarella so I use a lot of it!)
50 g tomato  Passata
50 g honey roasted ham
2 or 3 portabella mushrooms


Pour half of the water in a bowl with the yeast and the sugar and stir to dissolve, then leave to rest in a warm place for ten minutes. Pour the other half of the water in a second bowl with the salt and stir to dissolve.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the water with the yeast and that with the salt. Add also the olive oil.

Mix to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Add some water or some flour if you need it, until you have achieved the correct consistency.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly flour your hands. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth and pliable.

When finished, put the dough inside the bowl dusted with flour (remember that it has to be large, as the dough will double in size) and cover with a dishtowel. Set aside in a warm place (20 degrees) for 2-3 hours. (I usually put it inside the -turned off!- oven.)

Now turn on the oven to 250 degrees and cut a piece of baking paper the size of the tray.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove the towel and punch the dough down. Remove from the bowl and knead again until smooth. Roll down the dough onto the baking paper, then put it on the tray. Adjust the shape with your fingers.

Now pour the Passata on the top and spread it evenly using a spoon. Cut the Mozzarella in small pieces and put them on the top. Wash and cut the mushrooms and cut the ham, then add on the pizza. Sprinkle some olive oil and a pinch of salt on the top.

 
Put your pizza in the oven, cook for 10 minutes and serve hot.


Monday, 20 February 2012

BRESAOLA, ROCKET AND PARMESAN


This is the easiest starter, if you find the Bresaola!!It's a bit tricky, but if you end up in Harrods, Selfridges, Partridges (King's Rd)or in any other Italian Delicatessen shop ( they're everywhere!)you should find it. Or you can order  online (Nifeislife.com for example). It's expensive but very tasty and in the summer, when it's too hot and you're not too hungry this can be your dinner. My son Niccolò loves Bresaola, so it is not an "adults only" dish.

Ingredients for 4 people:

100 gr Bresaola (if it is a starter);200 gr if it is a main
100 gr Rocket
20 gr Parmesan cheese flakes
Some lemon juice
Extra Virgin olive Oil


Very easy: just lay the Bresaola slices on a dish, then cover with rocket and Parmesan flakes (the quantities depend on your taste!). Sprinkle some lemon juice and Olive oil and serve with bread or focaccia.

Monday, 13 February 2012

LEMON AND RICOTTA CAKE



This is a very quick cake to make; I had some Ricotta cheese in the fridge that I needed to use and a few unwaxed lemons, so I decided to make this cake ( traditionally from Sardinia). It is very soft and the recipe doesn't contemplate any butter, so it is quite light.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
300 g self-raising flour
300 g sugar
1 lemon (juice and peel)
250 g Ricotta cheese
1/2 glass milk
Icing sugar for decoration


Put the Ricotta cheese in a bowl, add the sugar and mix with a fork until creamy. Add the egg yolks (keep the egg whites aside), the grated rind of a lemon and its juice then add the flour. Mix well.

Whip the whites and incorporate them to the mixture.
Pour into a 22 cm cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes at 180° C until the cake is golden brown.

When cold dust with icing sugar.

Friday, 10 February 2012

VALENTINE'S BISCUITS









These are my own creation, MY Valentine's biscuits. Today there is a cake sale at school, the theme is obviously Valentine's day...and this is what I'll bring.
A suggestion: you can use different types of chocolate: dark, orange, milk, mint, chilly ... I personally love the Green&Black selection....

Ingredients:

250 g self-raising flour
25 gr finely grated dark  chocolate
120 g sugar
120 g butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
50 gr melted dark-chocolate for decoration



In a bowl mix the softened butter with the sugar. Add the egg, the flour, the chocolate and the vanilla essence. Work the dough until it just holds together. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.

On a lightly floured board roll the pastry dough to a 3 mm thickness.Cut the biscuits with heart-shaped cookie cutters and put them properly spaced on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 10 minutes; do not overcook, as they will become too hard, it’s better to take them out of the oven when they are still soft.

While baking, put the dark chocolate in a bowl and let it melt en bain-marie or use the microwave.

When ready, using a teaspoon, pour the chocolate on the biscuits, using an even, steady flow.

Let the biscuits to cool for at least one hour before serving.


Monday, 6 February 2012

PRAWN COURGETTE AND SAFFRON RISOTTO



Now, this could be a nice recipe for your Valentine's dinner. Put the kids to bed early , light the candles and serve this risotto after a nice starter ( like prawn and avocado nests or scallops au gratin - recipe will follow shortly- mussels, or just salmon croutons).

Ingredients for 2 people:

100 g Carnaroli rice
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
350 ml vegetable stock ( or fish stock you can make using the heads and the shells of the prawns)
150 g king or tiger prawns (preferably with shell on)
1 medium courgette, cut into small  cubes
1 sachet of saffron
A small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
15 g butter

I advise you to use shell-on prawns because the shells are full of flavour and really add a special taste to your risotto. So remove the heads and the body shell of the prawns and put aside the flesh.

Now make your own stock boiling the water and adding the heads and the shells.

In a  thick-bottomed pan, start by heating the olive oil. Fry the shallot in the oil for a couple of minutes, then add the courgettes. Cook for about five minutes, then add the rice.

At this point I usually turn on the timer: the risotto needs 20 minutes to be ready.

Stir it in until its grains become slightly translucent. Now add the prawns  and give it a quick stir.

Pour in the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring regularly. Make sure the first one has been completely absorbed before the next.

Five minutes before the rice is cooked, add the saffron and stir well.

When the rice is cooked, turn the gas off, add the chopped parsley, salt, pepper and butter , stir well and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

FRITTELLE







After Christmas, in Italy we have Carnival (mid February) but from January you can find every kind of Carnival cakes in the shops. Today I decided to make Frittelle ,a kind of fried pastry typical from Venice - but they are popular in all Italian regions and each one of them has its variations. You can add raisins or grappa to the batter, or you can fill them with custard, nutella, zabaione etc. This is my personal variation: I added some candied fruits to the mixture and I have to say that they taste really good. Very simple  and quick to make and kids just LOVE them.


Ingredients for 4 people:

120 g plain flour
80 g self-raising flour
2 eggs  
50 g butter
60 g sugar
70 ml milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 handful candied fruits
1 pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together: first the eggs with the sugar, then butter, milk, vanilla extract, then flour, lemon zest, salt, then candied fruits.

Prepare a frying pan with abundant oil, filling the pan for 3/4, then when the oil is very hot, use a tablespoon to gather a small amount of dough and quickly throw it in the pan in fast sequence, being careful not to crowd.

Fry until they are golden brown, turning once. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot on a paper towel sprinkled with sugar.