Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Muesli Cookies

One of the main inconveniences of living in an eternally long mansion, like Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon do, is that sometimes things get forgotten. They are for example left in that grey area behind the Cumulus Cloud Couch, and no one even remembers their existence. It may also happen that things start to evolve, start to develop a life of their own. And that is troublesome. After all, they would be living rent-free, and what sane divine being would ever want rent-free tenants? But drawing up a contract is a major headache, and when what you're looking at is an eternity of headaches, you tend to avoid it.
So it was that Divine Cherry found an old box of muesli. When he was younger, Celestial Dragon used to love those muesli. Notice the past tense. Divine Cherry, ever vigilant, every preventive, decided to take the remaining muesli (knowing full well that Celestial Dragon wouldn't object or even notice, for that matter), and to transform it into delicious morning cookies. Here's how you can do it too:

-300g of Alpen original muesli
-125g of flour
-122g of butter
-110g of sugar
-1 egg
-1 generous tsp of honey
-2 tbsp of boiling water
-1/2 tsp of yeast

In a large bowl, mix the muesli, the yeast, the flour and the sugar. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave. Or in any other wave you think is appropriate. Like a heat wave, for example. Global warming will also do the trick. Add the molten butter, the honey and the boiling water in the bowl and mix well. Lastly, add the egg and mix again. Now form little hazelnut-sized balls (avoid tapping into your unconscious and making them too large), put them on a with baking foil covered tray and lightly squash them with a fork. Put them in a preheated oven at 180°C for ten minutes. Enjoy.

Biscotti da colazione al muesli...ovvero come fare fuori quella mezza confezione di muesli che Celestial Dragon proprio non  vuole piu'...

- 300g Alpen original (muesli a base di fiocchi d'avena e frutta secca tra cui uvette e noci)
- 125g farina
- 122g burro
- 110g zucchero
- 1 uovo
- 1 cucchiaino abbondante di miele
- 2 cucchiai di acqua bollente
- 1/2 cucchiaino lievito

Mescolare in una ciotola capiente gli ingredienti secchi ( muesli, farina, lievito e zucchero). Intanto far sciogliere il burro in microonde. Aggiungere il burro sciolto con il miele e l'acqua agli altri ingredienti, mescolare bene. Infine aggiungere l'uovo per unire e almalgamare bene il tutto. Con l'impasto, formare delle palline grosse come noci, poggiarle su una teglia rivestita di carta forno e schiacciarle un po' con una forchetta. Infornare a forno caldo a 180°C per 10 minuti.

Con questa ricetta partecipo al contest dell'ArabaFelice "Marthellati" per la sezione cookies.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Clementines and Cranberries Marmelade

Well here we go. Again. The festive season is approaching. (To be precise and pedantic, though, it would be fairer to say that the Christmas season is approaching, because if you take into account every currently existing calendar, every season and every day is actually a festive season and/or day. Maybe not for you, but surely for someone else somewhere). Anyway, yes. Suddenly, reindeers pop up, old men with unkempt white beards are finally legally allowed to have children play on their laps, and Celestial Dragon shakes his head vigorously. Very vigorously indeed. For Divine Cherry has just had an idea: "how about we try to distill happiness and joy and deliciousness and warmth?" Celestial Dragon shakes his head once again, thinking quite loudly that it's never going to work, after all, we're not all Grenouille's, are we? Plus whisky has already been invented. And yet, at the back of his mind, a teeny tiny voice insists that "i'm sorry, but actually, she may have a good idea indeed. Just giver her a chance."
Celestial Dragon, for all his wisdom and strength, never was able to control his impulsive Id, and so he is forced to agree to at least try to distill the goodness of the world into a jar. With eyes wide shut, he witnesses the following:

Recipe adapted from Delicious magazine (Dec. 2011)
-700g of clementines
-250g of cranberries
-1400g of sugar
-4 unwaxed lemons
-150ml of rum or whisky

Cut the clementines and lemons in half, then squeeze out all their juice taking care to remove the pips. Cut the clementines skins in thin stripes. In a large pan, pour in the fruit juices, the clementine stripes and the used lemons. Cover with 1.2l of water. Leave it cook on moderate heat for 1-1.5 hrs counting from when it boils. When the clementines' skins will be soft, take out the lemon skins, give them another wee squeeze and discard them.
Add the sugar and mix well to melt it. Add the cranberries and cook on moderate heat for 10mins until they'll start to pop. Add the liquor and bring to boil. Let it boil strongly for +- 30mins, until the jam will have thickened.
Note: to check whether or not the consistency is right, put a bit of jam on a cold dish. Incline it gently XXX

Ricetta adattata da Delicious Dec. 2011

-700 g Clementine
-250g Cranberries
-1400 g zucchero
-4 limoni non trattati
-150 ml rum o whisky

Tagliare a meta' le clementine e i limoni, spremere il succo di tutti i frutti privarlo dei semini e metterlo da parte.
Tagliare la buccia delle clementine a striscioline sottili. Versare in una pentola capiente il succo dei frutti, le strisce di clementina e le buccie dei limoni intere. Corire il tutto con 1.2 l di acqua. Porre la pentola sul fuoco e cuocere a fuoco moderato per 1 ora- 1ore e mezza dal bollore, finche' le bucce delle clementine risulteranno molto morbide. A questo punto estrarre le bucce dei limoni, schiacciare un po' del loro succo nelle pentola ed eliminarle.
Aggiungere lo zucchero e mescolare per scioglierlo. Aggiungere i cranberries e cuocere a fuoco medio per una decina di minuti fino a quando inizieranno a scoppiettare. Aggiungere il liquore e portare a ebollizione vivace. Far bollire vivacemente per mezzora circa, finche' la marmellata si sara' addensata.
N.B.: Per verificare la consistenza della marmellata, versare un cucchiaino di marmelleta su un piattino freddo, inclinando il piattino la marmellata si rapprende.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dolmades - Involtini di foglie di vite ripieni di riso

Often the world wonders: who actually came up with that? Who, one day, decided that this would be a good idea? Who first thought of combining these things in such a way that the thing that would come out of that combination would be so much better than its original components? Well, world, wonder no more. For more often than not, the ones to come up with it were Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon. Granted, it is a bold claim to make, but keep in mind that this is a story and that in stories everything is possible. Just like a Hollywood movie. I mean come on, who - apart from the person in question - does a thumb up when he is gently lowered in molten iron?
Anyway, in a time when European civilisations still knew the true meaning of democracy, when many-headed water snakes lived in caves (on land!), and when bull-shaped men jumped on everything that entered their ghetto (called labyrinths at the time), Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were having a heated discussion with Midas. It is a little known fact that King Midas was actually a very capable philosopher: he was the one who coined the phrase "don't touch your food with your hands". He also invented the fork. Be that as it may, the three of them were arguing on the possible outcome of a crossbreed between flavoured rice and sticky vine leaves. Our heroes said that it would be "bloody fantastic", while King Midas maintained that it was a "bloody stupid idea". Well, here's the outcome of that discussion: decide for yourselves.

Recipe adapted from Vefa's Kitchen
-100g of vine leaves in brine
-120g of parboiled rice
-a handful of chopped parsil
-half a finely chopped onion
-1tbsp of lemon juice
-200g of boiling water
-1tsp of sultanas (optional)
-1tsp of pine nuts (optional)

Rinse the vine leaves under running water, the boil them for a couple of minutes. Drain them and carefully place them on the clean working space. Take some of the leaves cover the base of a thick pan with them. In a bowl, mix the raw rice, the finely chopped onion, the parsley, the sultanas and the pine nuts, add plenty of olive oil (extra virgin), as well as a bit of salt and pepper.
Now take the remaining vine leaves and put them on a working space with the smooth side underneath. Take a spoonful of filling and put it on the largest part of the leaf, then roll the leaf up until it covers the filling, fold in the sides, then fold them over the filling and continue to roll the leaf up until the end.
Do that with each leaf, or until you run out of filling. Or of leaves. Whatever happens first.
Now put all the roll-up leaves in the pan (the one with the other leaves in it) in concentric circles, making sure to leave as little space between each dolmades as possible. Cover with the 200g of boiling water, a generous helping of olive oil and the lemon juice. Place a dessert dish on the roll-up leaves in order to avoid them opening during the cooking process, cover the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for another 30mins as soon as it boils. Enjoy.

Ricetta adattata da Vefa's Kitchen
-100 g foglie di vite in salamoia
-120 g riso parboiled
-una manciata di prezzemolo tritato
-mezza cipolla tritata finemente
-1 cucchiaio di succo di limone
-un cucchiaio di uvette (facoltativo)
-un cucchiaio di pinoli (facoltativo)
-200 g acqua bollente

Sciacquare le foglie di vite sotto l'acqua corrente. Bollirle per un paio di minuti. Scolare le foglie di vite e stenderle con attenzione sul piano di lavoro.
Prendere una parte delle foglie e foderare una pentola capiente dal fondo spesso, cosi facendo gli involtini non si bruceranno.
In una ciotola a parte mescolare il riso crudo, la cipolla tritata, il prezzemolo, l'uvetta e i pinoli, irrorare con abbondante olio di oliva, salare e pepare.
Prendere le rimanenti foglie di vite una alla volta e adagiarle sul piano di lavoro con la parte liscia di sotto, mettere un cucchiaino di ripieno al centro della foglia nella parte piu' larga, arrotolare fino a coprire il ripieno, chiudere i due lati: ripiegando i bordi laterali sul ripieno stesso e continuare ad arrotolare fino alla fine.
Continuare cosi fino ad esaurimento degli ingredienti. Porre gli involtini nella pentola forderata, disponendoli in cerchi concentrici senza lasciare spazi vuoti. Coprire con 200g d'acqua bollente, un giro abbondante di olio di oiliva e un cucchiao di succo di limone. Appoggiare un piattino sugli involtini in modo che non si aprano in cottura, coprire la pentola con il coperchio e portare a ebollizione. Cuocere per 30 minuti dall'ebollizione.

And Spread the Mess

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sans rival - Daring bakers

Obviously, sans rival means "without a rival". Now you would think that this name derives from its creator's unbridled pride in his/her composition, or that a fervent enthusiast of this particular dessert dubbed it thus after having tasted it for the first time, deciding that there was no better dessert in the world. But you would be wrong, for the name for this delicious treat has origins that reach far far back in time.
One day, the gods themselves were quarrelling. There had been some dispute as to who was the most beautiful goddess of them all. Naturally, there were a number of fierce constants, such as Ushuaïa, the goddess of natural shampoo and long, flowing hair, or Iris, the goddess of rainbows and contact lenses. The dispute had been going on for ages (literally), and had come to no sensible conclusion. It was thus that Divine Cherry decided to intervene; and she spoke those words: "Whoever is able to make the best cake of you all, a cake that has no rivals in either heaven or earth, shall be deemed the most beautiful goddess; for does beauty not also reside within a perfect cake?"
And so it was that the sans rival was born. Of course, there has been an ensuing dispute as to who exactly invented it, but that is a different matter for a different story. Meanwhile, here's the recipe:

Daring Bakers Blog checking lines:Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

Ingredients for Dacquoise
-5 large egg whites, room temp
-122g of white granulated sugar1 teaspoon
-10g of bitter chocolate
-90g of finely chopped almonds

Beat the eggs whites until foamy(2 mins.). Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat, now at high speed, until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10mins.) 
Fold in nuts. Spread the meringue in a shallow oven tray, evenly to edges. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot and allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled. 
When cool, cut in four parts Set aside.

Ingredients for French Buttercream
-5 large egg yolks

-225g of white granulated sugar
-60ml of water 
-225g of unsalted butter
-half a cup of strong coffee
-55g of melted chocolate

Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat,  until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 112°C (or thread stage). 
With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl on the yolks. Continue beating on high until the mixture is room temperature (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add the cofee to half of the cream and the melted chocolate to the other half.

Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

Spread a thin layer of cofee buttercream on the first dacquiose and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of  cofee buttercream, meringue, thin layer of cofee cream, meringue, and finally choclate cream on the top and sides. Decorate the sides with almonds flakes.

Ricetta in Italiano
Ingredienti (6 persone)
- 5 albumi
- 112 g zucchero
- 10 g cacao amaro
- 90 g mandorle tritate.

In una planetaria far montare le uova, quando sono semi montate aggiungere lo zucchero setacciato con il cacao poco alla volta, continuando a montare, fino ad ottenere una neve ferma. Aggiungere le mandorle tritate delicatamente con movimenti dall'alto in basso. Stendere il tutto in una teglia rettangolare bassa foderata di carta forno, con l'aiuto di una spatola creare uno strato uniforme. Infornare per 30 minuti a 160C. Quiando e' pronta ma ancora calda, tagliare la dacquiose in quattro parti uguali, e staccarla subito dalla carta forno, se si fa questa operazione quando la dacquiose e' fredda si rischia di sbriciolarla.

Crema al burro francese al caffe' e al cioccolato:
Nota: con queste quantita' vi avanzera' un po' di crema.
-5 tuorli
-225 g zucchero
-60 ml acqua
- 285 g burro
-mezza tazzina di caffe' forte
- 55 g cioccolato fondente

In una planetaria (o con le fruste elettriche) sbattere i tuorli a lungo, finche' avrenno raddoppiato di volume e saranno giallo chiaro. Nel frattempo preparare lo sciroppo: in un pentolino a fondo spesso mettere acqua e zucchero e lasciar sciogliere senza girare mai, lo sciroppo e' pronto quando viene raggiunta la temperatura di 112 C (usare un termometro o in altrenativa controllare che tutto lo zucchero sia sciolto e che il colore sia trasparente).
Versare lo sciroppo bollente a poco a poco sui tuorli, senza mai smettere si sbattere con la frusta ad alta velocita'. Continuare a sbattere finche' il composto raggiunge la temperatura ambiente (cioe' per circa 15 minuti.A questo punto si puo' cominciare ad aggiungere un po' per volta il burro morbido (sempre sbattendo). Dividere la crema in 2 ciotole, aggiungere un po' di caffe' ad una meta' e il cioccolato precedentemente sciolto al micronde (o se siete pazienti a bagnomaria) all'altra meta'. Porre le creme in friglo per almeno un'ora.

Porre la prima meringa sul piano di lavoro, stendere uno strato di crema al caffe' e porre un'altra meringa sopra, continuara cosi fino all'ultima meringa. Spalmare la superficie dell'ultima meringa e tutti i lati della torre con la crema al cioccolato.Decorare i lati con scaglie di mandorla.

And Spread the Mess

Friday, 18 November 2011

"Cornish" Pasty

As you may know, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry have a predilection for the north-east in general. They have been travelling the worlds for millennia now but, for some reason, their feet (or wings or paws or, more recently, air-borne steel-containers propelled by a zillion bhp-strong engines) have always veered them towards the general north-eastern direction. On their way there, however, they have stopped at various other points in space and time. One of those was, surprisingly enough, the south-west (a point in time, in case you were wondering). There it was that they first encountered this dish. Imagine then, if you will, their consternation at seeing something so vaguely familiar yet so utterly different from everything else they have ever laid their eyes upon. (Quite literally: they both belong to that now-extinct school of thought that maintains that in order to fully understand something, you have to set your eyes on it. Sadly, most members are now dead: they have fallen off various cliffs around the world. Due to blindness. True story.) Yet Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon, undaunted by the danger, decided to give this one a try anyway. After all, their eyes grow back like shark teeth. Only less sharp - hence the glasses.
Nevertheless, they thought it best to tweak the original recipe a teeny tiny bit. Namely, while the true Cornish Pasty does not have a pre-cooked filling, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry thought it prudent to dispense with this instruction and effectively cook the filling before stuffing the pasty.
This is how they did it:

Recipe (taken from Tender, Vol. 1 by Nigel Slater)
Ingredients (for 6 pasties)
-225g of unsalted butter (or half butter, half lard)
-450g of flour
-1 egg to glaze the surface of the pasty with
-450g of beef cut in small pieces
-400g of potatoes
-200g of swede
-1 large onion

Cut the butter in small pieces, add the flour to it and amalgamate it all quickly. Let it rest in the fridge for one hour. In the meantime, prepare the filling.
Lightly fry the onion in a pan with a bit of oil and butter. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and the swede, cut it in cubes about the size of the meat, and steam them. Remove them from the steamer when they are done but are still crunchy.
Add the meat in the pan (with the onions), and when it's almost ready, add the vegetables and let it all absorb the flavours (be careful not too cook it too long, though, for the meat may dry out and the vegetables may start to fall apart).

Now switch on the oven at 180°C. Take the dough out of the fridge, stretch it with a roller (until it's about 2-3mm thin) and cut out circles of about the diameter of a dessert dish (in our case, +- 18cm). Put a spoonful of filling in the centre of the circle, wet its edges with a humid finger, and close it up in such a way that it'll form a half-moon. Make sure to seal the edges off well. Now apply some small cuts on the top of your pasty. Mix and stir the egg with some water and, using a kitchen brush, glaze the pasties with it.
Put it in the oven for about 30mins until the pasties will have turned a succulent golden colour.

Ricetta in italiano
Per 6 fagottini.
Nota: Nelle Cornish Pasties originali il ripieno non va cotto, la carne e i tuberi vanno messi direttamente crudi nell'impasto e si cuoce tutto in forno. Io personalmente trovo che far insaporire prima il ripieno sia meglio.
Ricetta tratta da Tender Vol. 1 di Nigel Slater.
- 225g Burro (o metà burro,metà lardo)
- 450g farina
-1 uovo per spennellare la superficie
- 450g manzo a tocchetti da spezzatino
- 400g patate
- 200g swede (tipo di rapa arancione)
- 1 cipolla grande

Tagliare il burro a piccoli pezzi, aggiungere la farina e impastare velocemente. Far riposare in frigorifero per un'ora. Nel frattempo preparare il ripieno:
Far appassire la cipolla tritata in una padella con un po' d'olio e burro. Nel mentre pelare le patate e lo swede, tagliarli a cubetti grandi piu' o meno come i bocconcini di carne e farli cuocere al vapore. Scolarli quando sono ancora un po' croccanti.
Far rosolare la carne nella cipolla, quando e' quasi cotta aggiungere i tuberi e insaporire il tutto per qualche minuto ( attenzione a non cuocere troppo in questo passaggio, altrimenti la carne secchera' e le verdure si disferanno).

A questo punto accende il forno a 180°C . Prendere l'impasto, stenderlo con il mattarello a uno spesso di 2-3 mm e con l'aiuto di un piattino da dessert (il mio aveva un diametro di 18 cm), tagliare dei cerchi dall'impasto.
Porre al centro del cerchio un cucchiaio di ripieno, bagnare il bordo del cerchio con un dito inumidito d'acqua e chiudere l'impasto a forma di mezza luna. Sigillare bene i bordi con le dita. Per far sfiatare il vapore, fare due piccole incisioni sulla superficie del fagottino. Spennellare la superficie del fagottino con un un uovo sbattuto con un po' d'acqua.
Infornare per circa mezz'ora o finche' i fagottini risulteranno dorati in superficie.

And Spread the Mess

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Mini Brioche Di Gamberi - Tiny Prawns Brioche

Let me take you back. Let me take you back to that time, long ago, when Celestial Dragon was a guest in the Garden of the North-East. To that time, long ago, when the combined efforts of Divine Cherry and Golden Peach reached the climax of pre-history culinary art (for the very simple reason that history hadn't yet awakened). Long ago, when Hercules had already laid out the way to the banquet, the Gravel Way, and the Five Fruit Dogs were jumping lustily up and down the cicada-filled air with the trembling anticipation of what was to come.
Divine Cherry and Golden Peach were resting. On the table, next to their Grimoire of Good Things, were two glasses of sparkling white nectar. None of them was speaking. They were each absorbed in the mental preparation of what was to come: they had namely found a small recipe that they thought was simply marvellous. And now they were in deep mediation. Of course, the nectar was there merely to further their profound thinking. The recipe was a simple one, but, as this saying goes, "simple is pure; pure is beautiful; and beautiful is delicious". Incidentally, this saying was coined in just around that time. Of course, the sparkling nectar had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Be that as it may, when Divine Cherry and Golden Peach rose from their state of absolute contemplation, they smiled broadly at one another: they knew what was to be done. And so they set forth preparing these small albeit bloody fantastic nibbles.
First, they took 16 king prawns and lightly fried them for a couple of minutes in olive oil with a clove of garlic. While these were roasting to a sublimely sun-colour, they took a roll of puff pastry and cut it in stripes (about 1.5cm wide). They then took the ready king prawns, placed them on the stripes of puff pastry and rolled them up, almost as a spiral. (Some of you may know this procedure very well. For those who don't, please look at the picture and work it out). Eventually, they put the mini-croissants/brioches in the preheated oven at 180°C until the puff pastry was cooked and had turned an inviting deep golden colour.
Needless to say, these small but heavenly little brioches gained the two culinary deities almost non-exhaustive praise.

-1 roll of puff pastry
-16 king prawns
-olive oil (extra virgin - what else?)
-1 clove of garlic

Lightly toast the king prawns for a couple of minutes in a pan with the olive oil and the garlic.
Aside, cut the puff pastry in stripes about 1.5cm wide.
Once the king prawns are ready, put them on the stripes of puff pastry and roll the later up, forming a king of spiral reminiscent of a croissant.
Put the mini-brioches in a preheated oven at 180°C until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Serve and heartily enjoy.

Ricetta in italiano:
La ricetta è di quelle velocissime, ma è capace di rirarvi fuori dagli impicci per l'aperitivo.
- 1 rotolo di pasta sfoglia pronta
- 16 gamberoni o mazzancolle
- Olio EVO
- 1 spicchio d'aglio

Far saltare in padella i gamberoni per un paio di minuti con uno spicchio d'aglio intero e un po' d'olio evo. A parte tagliare la pasta sfoglia in strisce larghe un centrimetro e mezzo circa.
Prendere i gamberoni uno alla volta e avvolgerli nella strisce di pasta sfoglia formando una spirale.
Infornare in forno caldo (180 C) per 15 minuti circa, finchè la pasta sfoglia è cotta e dorata.

And Spread the Mess

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bread # 2

Remember the story of the creation of the First Bread? How Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry handed out the First Batch? How it were them that gave humankind the idea of combining and then baking those seemingly incongruous ingredients flour and wheat and water?
Well that is one version of the story.
Another version is that it was actually humankind itself that came up with the baking process. This particular view seems to be widely regarded to be the "true" one; there is even so-called archeological proof for it. Apparently some guy with überlarge (but not shaded) glasses found fossilised seeds scattered somewhere in the desert and concluded, based on the sheer absurdity of his finding, that some people must have been baking bread there ages ago. Whatever. This is not an archeological findings report, however, it's simply the other, true version of what really happened. Because you see, reality is not what it always seems: it is a most fragile thing.
One day, Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry were walking the earth. Back then they were known as the Vat'ussi. Just another title, really. When they were tired of walking, they stopped. (A clear manifestation of their divine wisdom). But it so happened that close to where they were resting, a camp of rudimentary people had settled down as well. Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry were moved by the simplicity and harshness of their lives, and decided to gift them with something that would alleviate their daily toil. And so it was that they taught them how to make bread.
(Reality is always a mirrored truth: everything is connected with everything else. And it doesn't matter from what angle you decided to observe it; in the end, everything is everything else.)

This is what Celestial Dragon and Divine Cherry taught those lucky souls:

This recipe is adapted from The Wholewheat Cobs of Tinned tomatoes
-500g of lukewarm water
-7g of fresh yeast
-20g of cane sugar
-300g of wholemeal flour
-125g of strong white flour

Pour the water in a large bowl. In it, melt the sugar and the yeast and wait for about 15mins. Slowly and gradually add the 2 flours, mixing well after each addition. Energetically stir the mixture in order to add some air to it. Leave it to rest overnight in a cool, dry place.

-10g of salt
-45g of olive oil (extra virgin)
-about 400g of wholemeal flour

Pour the oil and the salt on the pre-prepared starter. Mix with a rubber spatula in order to well incorporate both the salt and the oil in the compost.
Add the flour and stir well until you get a homogenous whole. Knead for 20mins.
You will find that the dough will be quite wet and difficult to work with at this point; however, refrain from adding more flour. By slamming the dough on the working table you'll ensure that all the water will be well absorbed, thus resulting in a more elastic and less sticky dough. Put the dough in a bowl again, wet its surface lightly with water in order to avoid its drying out and cover with a cloth. Let it rest until it has more or less doubled in size (usually about one hour, but this may vary according to your room temperature and air humidity).
Now deflate the dough (hitting it in the middle) and put it back for its second raise. Again, cover it well with a cloth. You want it to double in size again (+- 30mins).
Once that's done, divide the dough in three equal parts in order to get three buns. Cross-cut them gently. Transfer the buns on a baking tray, cover them with a cloth again and let them raise again for another 45mins. Right prior to putting them in the oven, sprinkle them lightly will water (this will result in a better cooking of the dough, as well as a crunchier crust). Put them in the preheated oven at 230°C. After 15mins, lower the temperature to 200°C and conclude the baking.

Ricetta in italiano
Ricetta adattata dalle pagnotte integrali di Tinned Tomatoes

• 500 g di acqua tiepida
• 7 g di lievito fresco
• 20 g di zucchero di canna
• 300g di farina integrale
• 125 g di farina bianca forte

Versare l’acqua in una ciotola di grandi dimensioni. Far sciogliere il lievito e lo zucchero nell’acqua tiepida e attendere circa 15 minuti. Aggiungere le farine poco per volta mescolando bene dopo ogni aggiunta. Far incorporare aria al composta mescolando energicamente. Lasciar riposare l’impasto per una notte al fresco.

• Starter
• 10g di sale
• 45g di olio d'oliva
• circa 400 g di farina integrale

Versare l’olio e il sale sullo starter preparato la sera precedente. Mescolare con una spatola di gomma in modo da incorporare olio e sale al composto.
Aggiungere la farina allo starter mescolando bene per amalgamare il tutto. Impastare per  20 minuti. L’impasto sara’ piuttosto umido e difficile da maneggiare ma è meglio non aggiungere farina. Sollevare e sbattere l’impasto sul tavolo più volte farà assorbire l’acqua alla farina, l’impasto risulterà piu’ elastico e meno appiccicoso. Riporre l’impasto in una ciotola, ungere leggermente la superficie (in modo da non far seccare il composto) e coprire con un panno. Lasciar riposare l’impasto fino al raddoppio (un’ora circa ma dipende dalla temperatura dell’ambiente).
Far sgonfiare l’impasto (dare un pugno verso il basso al composto) e riporlo per la seconda lievitazione, sempre coperto con un panno per un’altra ora e mezza fino al nuovo raddoppio.
Separare l’impasto in 3 parti uguali e dare la forma di tre pagnotte rotonde. Fare un intaglio a croce sul centro di ognuna di esse .
Porre le tre pagnotte sul una teglia da forno, coprire on un panno e lasciar lievitare per 45 minuti circa.
Appena prima di infornare spruzzare la superficie delle pagnotte con poca acqua (questo fara’ si che la crosta risulti piu’ croccante e che il pane lieviti di piu’ durante la cottura). Infornare a forno caldo (230°C). Dopo 15 minuti abbassare la temperatura a 200°C e portare a cottura.

And Spread the Mess

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Povitica - Daring Bakers

Light travels at its own speed, and can therefore choose when to arrive. That morning it had decided that it would be quite lazy – it was Sunday, after all; and even light needs a bit of time off sometimes. So it happened that when Divine Cherry awoke, the world was still shrouded in darkness. Naturally, that may have been due to the early hour at which she awoke, but mainly it was caused by the light's unwillingness to get out of bed. It felt rebellious at core, that day. Exactly how light can even conceive of the idea of rebelling against anything is a different matter altogether, and is incidentally quite minutely recorded in the bestseller Helios - An Auto-biopsy.
Be that as it may, Divine Cherry rose in darkness. But with darkness come nightmares as well. And there's nothing better than waking nightmares, for they carry in them the single most minuscule molecule in all the universes: ideas. (Named after the long-dead scientist I. D. Endasoup who discovered it at the bottom of his bowl).
Although it is still unknown what Divine Cherry's benign nightmare actually was, we can be certain that it contained dough, nuts, cocoa, dates and the willingness to spend hours on end preparing the most outrageously delicious thing ever: the povitica.
Here is what the world still remembers of that light-slow day:

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Ingredients (for 2 cakes)

Yeast activation: 

- a teaspoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon flour
- 60 ml warm water
- 1 package dry yeast

- 240 ml milk 
- 85 g sugar 
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt 
- 2 large eggs
- 60 g unsalted butter, melted
- 560g flour

Walnut filling (traditional filling): 

- 280 g coarsely chopped walnuts 
- 60 ml milk
- 58 g butter
- 1 large 
- ½ packet of vanillin
- 115 g sugar
- ½teaspoon of cocoa 
- 1 pinch of cinnamon powder

Cocoa and dates Filling:
- 270 g dates
- 130 g nuts 
- 1 large egg
- 80 ml milk
- 50 g butter
- 115 g sugar
- ½ packet of vanillin
- 3 teaspoons cocoa

Activate yeast

Put sugar, flour, and the dry yeast in a small bowl. Pour over the warm water and let rest for 5 minutes, until bubbles are formed on the surface.


Put the milk in a bowl and heat in the microwave (it must not boil!). Mix in a large bowl the hot milk, sugar and salt. Add the beaten eggs, the yeast mixture and a quarter of the flour. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon (in planetary low speed K hook). Add the flour gradually. You probably do not need to add all the flour. Stop adding it when the mixture is smooth but still a bit sticky (not liquid but of a certain consistency).
Knead the mass on a floured surface (in the planetary with the kneading hook) , add flour as you knead, but do not overdo it, just enough to work the dough. Do not add more flour than the quantity in the indicated recipe.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and place them in two slightly greased bowls. Let rise until doubled (2 hours). Prepare the filling in the meantime.

1. Streched dough

Finely chop the dry fruits with a knife. Mix sugar, chopped dates and nuts, vanilla and cocoa in a big bowl. Heat the milk with the butter in a soucepan. When boiling, pour the milk over the dry ingredients into the bowl. Stir and add the beaten egg. The filling should have the consistency of heavy honey.

Form the Povitica and cook
When the dough is ready, place it on a floured tablecloth (you will need space, it's better to work on a table for 6 people).  
2. Filling spread on the dough
With a rolling pin, start pulling the dough from the center. Continue to stretch the dough with your hands. It needs to be so thin that you can see through it (photo 1).
Constantly lift the dough off the table to make sure that it does not stick (that is also why it is better to work on a tablecloth).
 The mixture should now be a large thin rectangle: pour over the filling and spread evenly over the entire surface (photo 2).

Roll the dough and as you roll up, wipe the flour off. Put the roll, folding it on itself, in a cake mould (photo 3).

Let it rest for 15 minutes, no more.

3. Rolling the Povitica
Bake in hot oven (180°C) for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 150°C and cook 45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.

Note: The passage of pulling the dough seems complicated, but it is not: the dough is easy to work with, and does not oppose resistance if you did not add too much flour before.

Ricetta in Italiano

Povitica (dosi per 2 dolci)

Attivazione lievito:
-un cucchiaino di zucchero
-½ cucchiaino farina
-60 ml acqua tiepida
-1 bustina lievito secco

-240 ml latte
-85 g zucchero
-1 e ½ cucchiaino sale
-2 uova grandi
-60 g burro non salato sciolto
-560g farina 

Ripieno alle noci (ripieno tradizionale)
-280 g noci tritate grossolanamente
-60 ml latte
-58 g burro
-1 tuorlo (uovo taglia L)
-½ bustina di vanillina
-115 g zucchero
-1 punta di cacao
-1 punta di cannella in polvere 

Ripieno al cacao e datteri
-270 g datteri
-130 g noci
-1 uovo grande
-80 ml latte
-50 g burro
-115 g zucchero
-½ bustina di vanillina
-3 cucchiaini da caffe’ di cacao

Attivazione lievito
In una ciotolina mettere lo zucchero, la farina,e il lievito, versare l’acque tiepida sopra e far riposare per 5 minuti circa, finche si formeranno delle bollicine in superficie.

Mettere il latte in una ciotola e scaldarlo in micronde (non deve bollire!). Mescolare in una grande ciotola il latte caldo, lo zucchero e il sale. Aggiungere le uova precedentemente sbattute, il miscuglio con il lievito e un quarto della farina. Amalgamare bene il tutto con un cucchiaio di legno ( in planetaria, gancio K bassa velocita’).Aggiungere pian piano la farina. Probabailmente non vi servira’ tutta la farina, fermatevi quando il composto e’ liscio ma ancora un po’ appiccicoso  (non liquido ma con una certa consistanza).
Impastate la massa (gancio a uncino in planetaria) sbattendola e staccandola dal ripiano infarinato  aiutandovi con una spatola se necessario, aggiungete farina man mano che impastate ma non esagerate, solo il necessario per lavorare l’impasto. Non aggiungere comunque piu’ farina di quella indicata nella ricetta.
Dividere l’impasto in due parti uguali e riporli in due ciotole leggermente unte. Lasciate lievitare fino al raddoppio (2 ore circa).
Preprate nel frattempo il ripieno.

Procedimento per il ripieno
1. Streched dough
Tritare al coltello abbastanza finemente la frutta secca. In una ciotola mescolare zucchero, datteri e noci tritate, vanillina e cacao. A parte scaldare il latte con il burro, quando bolle, versarlo nella ciotola sopra agli ingredienti secchi. Mescolare e aggiungere l’uovo, il ripieno deve avere la consistenza di miele pesante.

Formazione  e cottura dolce
2. Filling spread on the dough
Quando l’impasto e’ lievitato, appoggiarlo su una tovaglia infarinata (servira’ spazio, meglio lavorare su un tavolo da 6 persone).  Con un mattarello iniziare a tirare la pasta cominciando dal centro. Continuare a tirare la pasta aiutandosi con le mani. Dovra’ risultare cosi sottile da poterci vedere attraverso (foto1). Sollevare continuamente la pasta dal tavolo in modo da assicurarsi che non si appiccichi (per questo e’ meglio lavorare su una tovaglia).

L’impasto ora e’ un grande sottile rettangolo: versare il ripieno sopra e spalmarlo uniformemente su tutta la superficie (foto 2).

3. Rolling the Povitica
Arrotolare l’impasto, mentre lo si arrotola, pulirlo dalla farina(foto 3). Adagiare il salsicciotto, ripiegandolo su se stesso, in una teglia da plum cake o rotonda .
Lasciarlo riposare 15 minuti, non di piu’.
Infornare a forno caldo (180C) per 15 minuti, abbassare la temperatura a 150 C e portare a cottura in 45 minuti o finche’ e’ cotto.

 NB: Il passaggio della stiratura sembra complicato, ma non lo e’: la pasta e’ facilmente lavorabile e non opporra’ resistenza se non avete aggiunto troppa farina prima.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Profiteroles aux Pistaches

Drip, drop. Drip, drop. The lonely rain on the low rooftops hammered on. Drip, drop. Drip, drop. Divine Cherry was sitting in her kitchen. She was reading. Drip, drop, went the rain on the windowpane. Drip, drop. Small Perfect Cloud, immobile and silent, watched the fleeting tears of heaven slide down the glass. Drip, drop.
'Remember when you were young?' asked Celestial Dragon from behind her. 'You shone like the sun.'
Divine Cherry woke up from her rêverie. She looked Celestial Dragon in the eyes.
'Remember when you melted the sun? We were still young,' she said. Small Perfect Cloud lifted its head.
Aeons ago, Celestial Dragon had melted the sun around a cloud and thus created the first chou – or at least, the idea of the chou. Small Perfect Cloud opened its eyes. Now, on this rainy day, Divine Cherry recalled it for the first time. The world had been greener back then. The sky was green, the clouds were green, all the flowers were green, the water was green. It must be said, however, that back then not every colour was born yet. Small Perfect Cloud got up. Most of the colours still lay dormant in the rainbow. That hadn't fully shown itself either yet. But green was different. It always had been. Divine Cherry got up and had a look at her cupboard. Contrary to popular belief, and despite of what those funky ancient Greeks thought, Hope didn't leave Pandora's box last. And it wasn't even Curiosity that drove her to open the box in the first place either. It was Hope itself. The world was green, back then, the colour of Hope. Hope was everything. And Pandora had hoped that there'd be something else in the box: she had never liked green.
Divine Cherry found a stash of pistachios. Small Perfect Cloud started walking towards the door.
'I'm hoping for the sun,' said Divine Cherry to no one in particular (except maybe for the window who, in cowardly surprise, started urging the raindrops on it to slide down faster). 'And I've therefore decided to make Profitéroles aux Pistaches.'
This is how she did it:

Profitéroles aux Pistaches
Ingredients for puffs (quantities and recipe taken from Stefania)
makes 36 choux
-74ml of water
-10ml of milk
-66gr of butter (unsalted)
-70gr of flour
-2-3 medium-sized eggs
-a pinch of salt

Put the milk, water and diced butter in a pan. Melt the butter on low heat and bring it to boil. When it boils add the entire flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon in order to well mix it all. The dough will naturally form a ball. Continue stirring the mixture on the heat for 3-4mins to let it dry a little.
Transfer the dough into a large bowl. Now add the eggs one by one, making sure to have well incorporated one egg before adding the next. You will know it will be ready when the mixture will be shiny and fall off the spoon in long drips. Stop adding eggs at this point. (A piece of advice: crack the eggs in a small bowl beforehand and beat them lightly with a fork. That way you will be able to add exactly as much as you need).
Now put the mixture into a piping bag and, on a greased baking tray, form many small mounds - well apart from each other. Smooth the tops of the piles with humid fingers. (If they're not humid, your finger will stick to the dough. Unpleasant). Put them in a preheated oven at 200°C. After the first 15mins I opened the oven to let out the steam, but also turned the trays and quickly closed the oven door again. However, do not open the oven door before at least 15mins have passed. The choux will be ready when they'll be golden brown on the surface. You need to cook them well or they will deflate easily.
Once they have cooled down, you may even freeze them before actually using them. To defrost, put them still frozen in a preheated oven at 220°C for 3-4mins.

Ingredients for filling
for 12 choux
-250g of crème patissière (see here)
-45g of pistachio paste

Add the pistachio paste to the crème patissière when the latter is still in the pan in order to melt it properly.

Ingredients for pistachio paste
-50g of pistachios
-25g of icing sugar
-12.5g of ground almonds

Put the pistachios in a large bowl. Pour over boiling water (100°C) and leave them immersed for 5mins. Doing so will facilitate the peeling: the skin will come off very easily. Dry the pistachios well and chop them finely in a blender. Transfer the chopped pistachios in a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon. Add a few drops of water in order to give a bit more consistency to the paste. Form a ball, cover with cling film and store in the fridge.

Ingredients for frosting (Pierre Herme)
-100g of white chocolate
-25g of single cream
-22.5g of pistachio paste

Heat the cream and add the pistachio paste, stirring with a spoon in order to dissolve them well. In a bowl, finely chop the chocolate, pour over the pistachio-cream mixture and stir well.

Final Steps
Place the flavoured crème patissière in a piping bag. Pierce a small hole at the back of the choux and fill them with the cream. Then plunge them quickly, head first, into to frosting and let them subsequently cool in the fridge so as to dry and solidify the frosting.

Ricetta in Italiano
Profitéroles aux Pistaches
Ingredienti per i bignè (dosi e ricetta addattati da Stefania)
per 36 piccoli bignè

-74ml di acqua
-10ml di latte
-66gr di burro
-70gr di farina
-2-3 uova medie
-Un pizzico di sale

In un pentolino mettere l’acqua, il latte e il burro a tocchetti. A fuoco basso far sciogliere il burro e portare il tutto a ebollizione. Quando bolle aggiungere la farina in una volta sola e mescolare con un cucchiaio di legno per far amalgamare il tutto. L’impasto formerà naturalmente una palla. Continuare a girare l’ammasso sul fuoco per 3-4 minuti in modo da farlo asciugare un pò.
Trasferire l’impasto in una ciotola capiente. Agiungere le uova una ad una e assicurarsi di aver ben incorporato l’uovo precedente prima di aggiungere il successivo. Quando l’impasto risulterà lucido e ricadrà dal cucchiaio formando lunghe punte è pronto ed è il momento di fermarsi dall’aggiungere altre uova. Consiglio di rompere le uova in una ciotolina a parte e sbatterle leggermente con una forchetta, in modo da poter aggiungere anche solo mezzo uovo per volta se necessario.

Mettere l’impasto in una sac  a poche e formare tanti piccoli mucchietti ben distanziati su una teglia imburrata, con le mani umide arrotondare la cima dei mucchietti. Infornare a forno caldo (200°C).  Dopo il primo quarto d’ora ho aperto lo sportello per far uscire il vapore, ho girato le teglie e richiuso. Non aprire lo sportello prime che siano trascorsi almeno 15 minuti. I bignè sono pronti quando saranno ben dorati in superficie. Bisogna cuocerli bene o si sgonfieranno facilemente.
Una volta raffreddati si possono congelare fino al momento di utilizzarli. Vanno messi in forno caldo (220°C) ancora congelati per 3-4 minuti.

Ingredienti per farcitura 
per 12 bignè
-250g di crema pasticcera (ricetta in quest'altro post)
-45g di pasta di pistacchio

Aggiungere la pasta di pistacchio quando la crema e’ ancora sul fuoco in modo da scioglierla bene.

Pasta di pistacchio (100g)
-50g di pistacchi sgusciati
-25g di zucchero a velo
-12.5g di mandorle in povere

Mettere i pistacchi in una ciotola capiente. Versarci sopra dell’acqua bollente (100°C), lasciare i pistacchi immersi 5 minuti. In questo modo la sottile buccia verrà via molto facilmente, semplicemente passando i pistacchi tra le dita. Asciugare bene i pistacchi e tritarli molto finemente in un mixer. Trasferire i pistacchi tritati in una ciotola, aggiungere gli altri ingredienti e mescolare con un cucchiaio. Aggiungere poche gocce d’acqua in modo da dare consistenza alla pasta. Formare una palla e riporla in frigo coperta da pellicola.

Ingredienti per glassa (Pierre Herme)
-100g di cioccolato bianco
-25g di panna
-22.5g di pasta di pistacchio.

Scaldare la panna e aggiungerci la pasta di pistacchio, scioglierla bene girando con un cucchiaio. In una ciotola, spezzettare finemente il cioccolato, versarci sopra la panna bollente e mescolare.

Mettere la crema pasticcera aromatizzata in una sac a posche, formare dei buchini sul retro dei bignè e farcirli con la crema. Tuffarli rapidamente nella glassa e farli raffreddare in frigo in modo da asciugare la glassa.

And Spread the Mess