Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Croissants and Pain au Chocolat for the Daring Bakers

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

It was at the end of one of the last days of the first summer that kissed the world, and it was late afternoon. Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were floating in a boat at the foot of a mellow hill. The birds were chirping, the insects flying, and - for back in those days you could still see them - pink and yellow horses were galloping on the clouds above. The water was blue, so blue it could have been the sky. And the sky was blue also, so blue that it could have been water. It was hard to tell realities apart in those last hours of sunshine. Because, inevitably, the sun was sinking behind the horizon. And as it sank, slowly, on the other side of the world, the moon began to rise. And there it was. Suddenly, magnificently, beautifully high high up: a perfect scythe; complete in its lack of whole. That's exactly the moment that most rare of things happened: when all the stars are right, when the universe is bent on the momentous task that it's been set out to perform since the dawn of time, when there could be no other instant in both space and time, and when all the dwarves have become giants and all the giants men and all the men apes again, Divine Cherry was (literally) hit by a thought. Yes, a thought. Inspiration, some have called it. Genius, others have claimed. Nonsense, some may label it, but, as Celestial Dragon put it: a bloody brilliant idea.
It really was quite simple. Moved by the sharp shape of the moon, Divine Cherry decided to replicate it. However, she deemed that the moon would look much better indeed if it were wrapped in pastry. And so it was that aeons before the Turks (as is reported and commonly accepted) invented it and loved it so much they decided to decorate their flags with it; and aeons still before those selfsame Turks, in order kill time, decided that it would be most efficient to kill the Austro-Hungarian empire as well, leaving the Viennese shouting incomprehensible sentences in heavily accented German (something similar to die Türken sind an den Pforten Wiens), and leaving furthermost in the wake of their failed invasion imprints in the collective mind of the West of something decidedly moon-like, the croissant (nowadays a French word, of all the languages!) was invented. Let me rephrase it. Divine Cherry, in a fit of tenderness, wrapped the moon in pastry and gave it to the Celestial Dragon, that dumbly content guinea pig, to taste. Here is how she did it, step by step. Naturally, this recipe does not contain the magic spells Divine Cherry used, nor does it account for the help of the myriad of little elves (who later went to work for Santa) that helped her achieve this most sublime of all viennoiseries (irony is an ever-present companion of history).
(For the another myth of the birth of the croissant, see here)

Original recipe from the Daring Kitchen - Sarah
-     14 g of fresh yeast
-          90 ml warm water
-          2 teaspoon  sugar
-          200 g of cake plain flour
-          250 g of strong white flour
-          4 teaspoons  sugar
-          3 teaspoon  salt
-          240  ml milk
-          60 ml (4 tbs)  sunfower oil
-          230 g chilled, unsalted butter
-          1 egg, for egg wash

1.       Make the dough
Mix the yeast, warm water, and one teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
Heat the milk until tepid in the microwave and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour.
Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute.  Knead eight to ten times only. Smack the dough on the counter and remove it from the counter using the pastry scraper.  Place the dough back in the bowl, and cover it with cling film. Leave it to rest until it has tripled in size (at least 2 hours). 
2.       First fold
Then, place the dough on a lightly floured board, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle of about 20cm by 30cm.
Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up).
Leave the dough, covered with cling film, to rise until it has doubled in size (at least 1.5 hour).
3.       Second fold and third fold
Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board and using the rolling pin, beat it down a little till it is quite flat. The butter needs to stay cool, but spread easily. Butter and dough must have the same temperature so you should put the dough in the fridge for 15 min or so to let it cool down.
Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle of about 35cm by 20cm. Remove the butter from the board and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it 6mm away from all the edges. Fold the bottom third of the dough up and the top third of the dough down (letter fold).
Turn the dough package 90 degrees so that the top flap is to your right (like a book). Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 35cm by 20cm.
Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. 
4.        Fourth fold and fifth fold
After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter. Tap the dough with the rolling pin to deflate it a little. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes. Roll the dough package out till it is 35cm by 20cm. Fold in three as before.
Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 35cm by 20cm. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight).
5.       Shaping the croissant
First, cover your oven tray with some baking paper.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter.
Roll the dough out into a 50cm by 12cm rectangle. Cut the dough into two rectangles of 25cm by 12cm.
Place one of the rectangles in the fridge in order to keep the butter cold.
Roll the second rectangle out until it is 38cm by 12cm. Cut the rectangle into three squares. Place two of the squares in the fridge.
The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
Stretch the triangle out a little so that it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point and curve into a crescent shape.
Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 24 croissants in total.
Spread on top a bit of egg wash (mixture of egg and a spoon of water) so they do not become dry and let them rise on the tray for 1 hour at least.
6.       Bake!
Preheat the oven to very hot 240°C (mine reaches only 230°C).
Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water and spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants again. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes (mine stayed almost 20 min but it depends on your oven really), until the tops have browned nicely.
Take the croissants out of the oven and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Shaping  the pain au chocolat
At point 5, take one of the three squares and cut it in two rectangles. Take one of the two and pull it a bit to make it longer. Put a small piece of chocolate on one edge and roll it up towards the other end.

 Ricetta in italiano:
La ricetta è tratta da Julia Child " Mastering the art of French Cooking" Vol II, il pdf originale della sfida da cui e' tratta la ricetta (che ho cambiato pochissimo) e' qui
- 14 g di lievito fresco
- 90 ml di acqua tiepida
- 2 cucchiaini di zucchero
- 200 g di farina semplice
- 250 g di farina forte
- 4 cucchiaini di zucchero
- 3 cucchiaini di sale
- 240 ml di latte
- 60 ml (4 cucchiai) di olio di semi
- 230 g di burro
- 1 uovo, per spennellare i croissant

    1. Preparare l'impasto
Mescolare il lievito, l’acqua tiepida e un cucchiaino di zucchero in una ciotolina. Lasciamola da parte finche’ non schiuma un po’, circa 15 minuti.
Scaldare il latte fino a quando diventa tiepido nel forno a microonde e scioglierci il sale e lo zucchero rimanente.
Mettere la farina in una grande ciotola. Aggiungere l'olio, la miscela di lievito, e il latte alla farina.
Mescolare tutti gli ingredienti utilizzando una spatola di gomma, fino a quando tutta la farina è incorporata.
Porre la pasta su una superficie infarinata e lasciare riposare un minuto. Impastare con forza la pasta sul ripiano di lavoro otto-dieci volte soltanto. Posizionare l'impasto nella ciotola e coprirla con pellicola trasparente. Lasciare riposare fino a quando non ha triplicato le sue dimensioni (almeno 2 ore).
2. Prima piega
Mettere la pasta su una tavola leggermente infarinata, e usare le mani per stenderla in un rettangolo di circa 20cm per 30cm.
Piegare il rettangolo di pasta in tre, come una lettera (piegare il terzo inferiore verso l’alto, e poi su questo piegare il terzo superiore).
Far riposare l'impasto, coperto con pellicola trasparente, fino a quando non ha raddoppiato le sue dimensioni (almeno 1,5 ore).
   3. Seconda e terza piega
Una volta che l'impasto è raddoppiato, è il momento di incorporare il burro. Posizionare il blocco di burro fresco su un tagliere e con il matterello, schiacciarlo un po', finché non è abbastanza piatta. Il burro deve rimanere fresco di temperatura, ma facilmente malleabile. Burro e pasta devono avere circa la stessa temperatura, quindi mettere la pasta in frigorifero per 15 minuti o giù di lì per farla raffreddare.
Stendere l'impasto usando gentilmente il mattarello in un rettangolo di circa 35cm per 20cm.
Togliere il burro dal tavolo, e posizionarlo nella metà superiore del rettangolo di pasta. Stendere il burro in tutto i primi due terzi del rettangolo di pasta, ma tenerlo a 6 millimetri da tutti i bordi. Piegare il terzo inferiore della pasta sulla parte con il burro e del terzo superiore della pasta verso il basso a chiudere (piegatura a lettera).
Girare la pasta di 90 gradi, in modo che il lembo superiore sia a destra (lo guardate come un libro). Stendere il pacchetto di pasta (dolcemente, in modo da non spingere il burro fuori l'impasto) fino a quando misura ancora una volta circa 35cm per 20cm.
Anche in questo caso, piegare verso l’alto il terzo inferiore e poi verso il basso il terzo superiore a chiudere. Avvolgere il pacchetto di pasta nella pellicola trasparente, e metterla in frigorifero per 2 ore.
    4. Quarta e quinta piega
Dopo due ore sono passate, prendere la pasta dal frigorifero e metterla di nuovo sul tavolo leggermente infarinato. Far sgonfiare la pasta un poco e lasciarla riposare per 8-10 minuti. Stendere l’impasto in un rettangolo di 35cm per 20cm. Piegare in tre, come prima.
Girare di 90 gradi, e stendere di nuovo in un rettangolo di 35cm per 20cm. Piegare in tre per l'ultima volta, coprire con pellicola plastica, e far riposare il pacchetto di pasta in frigo per due ore in più (o per la notte intera).
    5. Formare i croissant
Preparare la teglia coprendola con carta forno. Estrarre la pasta dal frigorifero e lasciarla riposare per dieci minuti sul tavolo leggermente infarinato.
Stendere la pasta in un rettangolo di 50cm per 12cm e poi tagliare l'impasto in due rettangoli di 25cm per 12cm.
Porre uno dei rettangoli in frigo per mantenere il burro freddo.
Stendere il secondo rettangolo finché non è di 38cm per 12cm. Tagliare il rettangolo in tre pezzi e metterne 2 in frigo.
Aggiustare con le mani  il pezzo rimanente finche’ torna quasi quadrato, tagliarlo ora in 2 triangoli.
Allungare il triangolo un poco, in modo che da triangolo rettangolo diventi isoscele.
A partire dal lato piu’ largo del triangolo tirarlo verso la punta in modo da allungarlo un po’ e poi arrotolarlo su se stesso.
Posizionare i croissant sulla teglia da forno tenendoli distanti gli uni dagli altri.
Ripetere il processo con i pezzi di pasta rimanente, creando 24 croissant in totale.
Far lievitare per 1 ora il vassoio di cornetti, dopo averli spennellati con un po’ di uovo diluito con acqua.
   6. Cuocere in forno!
Preriscaldare il forno a 240° C o al massimo.
Spennellare i croissant nuovamente. Infornare per 12 - 15 minuti, fino a quando si sono scuriti bene. Prendere i croissant dal forno e metterli su una griglia a raffreddare per 10 minuti prima di servire.

Formazione Pain au chocolat:
Al punto 5, dopo aver tagliato la pasta in 3 quadrati, prenderne uno e tagliarlo a meta’ e formare 2 rettangoli. Appoggiare qualche pezzetto di cioccolata sul bordo e arrotolare il rettangolo su se stesso.

And Spread the Mess

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Red and Blue Macedonia

It was a quiet celebration. There were no candles, no music – even if there had been, they wouldn't have heard it. There were no confetti, no welcoming party, no surprises. It was just the two of them, and it was all they needed. And they were happy. Celestial Dragon had finally returned home. He had finally destroyed the demon Odious-Ferocious, ruler of all that is Lazy, and had returned home a victor; he was now a shining, primeval and neanderthal male, eager to prove his renewed manliness and vigour. And in order to celebrate both his surprising return and his stupendous victory, Divine Cherry decided to prepare a speciality of hers; indeed, it was something she hadn't done for a long time. What is the ultimate dessert a Divine Cherry can make? Precisely. You've guessed it. And you've read it in the title, let's be honest. It's a so-called Macedonia, or in English that really is Italian but in fact isn't, Tutti Frutti.
Do we need to describe it? Do we need to outline how you take the fruits, wash them, cut them if necessary and arrange them in a beautifully fruity bouquet? Do we need to talk about the tender perfume that emanates from summer's freshest batch, or about the soft, velvety caresses one is given on the tips of one's fingers (that oh-so-sensitive but sadly underrated part of one's anatomy) when merely, gently, touching the sweet fruits? No, I think not. Imagine it. Imagine it and be imaginative. Slowly close your eyes and taste the forbidden fruit in your mind, feel it on your tongue, and long for it with your heart. And when you're there, when you're almost there - so close that you could touch it were it not a self-induced illusion - just then you can open your eyes again; in joy and happiness and with a large smile on your childishly happy face. Now you know what Divine Cherry managed to do on the day Celestial Dragon returned.

-1egg white
-50g of sugar
-25g of flour
-25g of butter
-grated lemon zest

Mix the egg white with the sugar and the flour. Melt the butter and add it to the mix when it has cooled down a little. Grate in some lemon zest and mix it all well. Take a spoonful of the paste and pour it on a with baking foil covered baking tray. Disperse it evenly so that you form a circle with a 10-12cm diameter. Using that as a rule of thumb will yield you 6 coupelles. Once you've used all the paste, put it an a preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 5mins. You can take it out when the borders of your coupelles have darkened. Let them cool slightly and when they are still warm each coupelle on an upside-down glass so as to give it the form of a small bowl.

-Black grapes
-1 tbsp of sugar
-the juice of half a lemon
-2tbsp of sugar for the caramel

Cut the strawberries and the grapes in half and mix them carefully with the rest of the fruit in a bowl. Add the sugar and the lemon and let it rest for 15mins.
Meanwhile, put the 2tbsp of sugar in a small double-based pan on medium heat. Let it melt without touching or mixing it whatsoever. When the sugar has melted and has attained a shade of brown which you think is fine, pour it delicately on a piece of baking foil. Rotate your pan a little and move it to and fro in order to created a nice design with your caramel. Let it cool completely and eventually take it off the baking foil and garnish the tutti frutti with it.

Ricetta in italiano:
Divine Cherry e Celestial Dragon partecipano con questa ricatta alla sfida di settembre di Menu turistico!

Coppette di cialda:
-1 albume
-50 g zucchero
-25 g farina
-25 g burro
-scorza di limone grattuggiata

Mescolare l'albume con lo zucchero e la farina. Fondere il burro e aggiungerlo al composto quando i è leggermente raffreddato. Grattare un po' di buccia limone e amalgamare il tutto. Prendere un cucchiaio di pastella alla volta e versarla su una teglia coperta di carta forno, spalmare la pastella in modo da formare un cerchio di 10-12 cm di diametro.Con queste quantità verranno 6 cialde. Inofrnare in forno caldo a 180° C per 5 minuti circa. Tirare fuori dal forno quando i bordi dei cerchi sono scuriti. Lasciare intiepidire mezzo minuto e quando sono ancora calde far aderire le cialde sul retro di alcuni bicchieri capovolti e dare la forma di una ciotolina.

Guarnizione:  ( N.B: i frutti di bosco sono ancora in stagione a casa nostra;) )
-Uva nera
-un cucchiaio di zucchero
-il succo di mezzo limone
-2 cucchiai di zucchero per il caramello

In una ciotola tagliare a fettine le fragole e gli acini d'uva a metà, mescolare delicatamente con gli altri fruttini. Aggiungere zucchero e limone e fare macerare per 15 minuti.
Nel frattempo mettere 2 cucchiai di zucchero in un pentolino a fondo spesso su fuoco medio. Far fondere senza toccare nè girare mai lo zucchero. Quando lo zucchero si è sciolto e ha raggiunto una tonalità che vi aggrada, versarlo con delicatezza su un pezzo di carta forno, ruotando un po' il pentolino in modo da formare un motivocon il caramello. Lasciare raffreddare completamente e staccare dalla carta forno, appoggiare sulle coppette oppure spezzettarlo e spargerlo sopra...

And Spread the Mess

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Melting moments for a birthday

We have all had them: those moments when things are just perfect. When everything is right; when changing even the smallest detail would spoil the overall, complete picture; when any ever so slight alteration is an aberration to the abstract concept of the conceptually divine. We have all experienced those moments at various stages of our lives, under different circumstances, with different people in different places. Each one of us now associates those idyllic moments with bliss and happiness. And every single one of those moments is special. Especially if they are dedicated to someone we love. Especially, even, if they are (literally) Melting Moments.
Every now and then, a special person is born. Every now and then, a special person is born again; year after year. And every now and then, that person is the only person we can really think about. And when thinking about that person, all that comes to mind are those precious, distinct and in themselves separate moments in space and time that paint for us, in our loving mind's eyes, the glad picture of someone one could simply not do without. And when, year after year, birth after birth and smile after smile that moment completes a full cycle and orbits our world again, we can do nothing but melt to an emotional and dumbly smiling pool of merriment and delight.
And what better way to celebrate such a gayful event with the offering of the sincere embodiment of that feeling of cheeriness?
This recipe is dedicated to the Golden Peach. Quite simply, quite truly. Happy birthday.

-250g of butter
-58g of icing sugar
-58g of cornflower
-250g of flour
-half a pod of vanilla

Buttermilk Cream:
-125g of milk
-2tbsp of flour
-112g of butter (superior quality, e.g. Bavarian butter)
-112g of sugar
-the seeds from half a pod of vanilla

-Raspberry Jam

Beat the soft butter and the icing sugar for at least 5mins until you get a soft and clear paste. Scrape the vanilla pod in the mix and add the cornflour and the flour at the same time. Continue to mix until it is all well amalgamated.
Take small pieces of your mix (circa 20g each) and form small balls. Flatten the balls delicately on baking foil to shape the biscuits. In order to make sure that your biscuits will all have the same dimensions, draw small circles on your baking foil using small glasses. Before putting them in the oven, put the tray (with the soon-to-be biscuits) in the freezer for 10mins, thus allowing them not to loose their shape during the baking process. Eventually, put them in a preheated oven for 10mins at 200°C.

For the Buttermilk Filling:
In a small pan warm the milk, add the 2 tbsp of flour and mix with a whisk so as to avoid the formation of grains. Cook until it becomes thick like béchamel. Take off the fire, cover it with a film and let it cool. Beat the butter until it's soft with the sugar and the vanilla seeds from the pod for at least 10mins - until you get a fluffy and very pale mix. Add to it the milk and mix until you get a homogeneous whole.
Now it's time to put it all together. Put the raspberry jam (you may want to quickly mix it first so as to eliminate any small seeds) on a by-now cooked biscuit. Helping yourself with a piping bag, draw a circle of buttermilk cream on another biscuit and eventually put the two together. Voilà.

Ricetta in italiano:
Questi scioglievolissimi momenti sono dedicati a Golden Peach che oggi, questo 20 di settembre, compie gli anni!!! Tanti Auguri Golden Peach!!!
(Ricetta tratta da qui)
Per una trentina di biscotti (verranno 15 coppie farcite):

-250g burro
-58 g zucchero a velo
-58 g maizena
-250 g farina
-mezza bacca di vaniglia

Farcitura di buttermilk cream :
-125 g latte
-2 cucchiai di farina
-112 g burro (di buona qualità, per esempio quello bavarese)
-112g zucchero
-i semi di mezza bacca di vaniglia

-Marmellata di lamponi

Sbattere con un frullino elettrico il burro morbido e lo zucchero a velo per 5 minuti abbondanti, fino ad ottenere un composto soffice e chiaro. Grattare i semini di mezza bacca di vaniglia e aggiungere la maizena e la farina in un colpo solo. Continuare a sbattere ancora qualche momento finché non si è amalgamato il tutto.
Prendere dei pezzettini di composto (circa 20 g l'uno) e fare delle palline, schiacciare delicatamente le palline sulla carta da forno per formare i biscotti. Per aiutarsi a fare tutti i biscotti delle stesse dimensioni, disegnare dei cerchietti sul retro della carta forno, usando un bicchierino da liquore come stampo.
Prima di infornare mettere la teglia con i biscotti crudi 10 minuti in frezeer, in modo che mantengano la forma durante la cottura. Infornare a forno caldo per 10 minuti a 200°C.

Preparare la farcitura:
Scaldare in un pentolino il latte, aggiungere i 2 cucchiai di farina e girare con una frusta per evitare la formazione di grumi. Cucinare finché sarà diventato denso come una besciamella. Togliere dal fuoco e far raffreddare coperto da pellicola. Sbattere il burro morbido con lo zucchero e i semi di vaniglia a lungo, per almeno 10 minuti fino ad avere un composto arioso e pallidissimo. Aggiungere il latte addensato e mescolare fino ad avere un composto omogeneo.
Assemblare i biscotti: mettere un velo di marmellata (passata velocemente al minipimer per eliminare i semini) su un biscotto. Con l'aiuto di una sac à poche, disegnare un cerchio di buttermilk cream sull'altro biscotto, e unire i due.

And Spread the Mess

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Galettes Bretonnes

Small Perfect Cloud's eyes were speaking. From behind the window the sweetest cream-coloured ball of fur this side of the sun was saying 'please'. Its eyes were glistening and glinting in the afternoon light that flooded the scene. Divine Cherry felt as if she was in a dream. Or rather, in one of those surreal scenes that are described in books and shown in movies but that one actually never experiences in real life. One of those moments in time when everything seems perfect, except that it isn't. Time itself stopped a moment to have a peek at what was going on. Small Perfect Cloud was standing with infinite dignity and endless sadness on the windowsill, and was looking desolate. 'Please,' it said again.
Earlier that day, Small Perfect Cloud had discovered that it wanted a cookie. It was one of those irrational cravings that creep up on you from nowhere and just will not leave again until they are satisfied. And Small Perfect Cloud had never had one of those before. It was something new. It was scary, it was frightening, but it was exciting. Most of all, however, it was sad. It was sad because there were no cookies around. Especially no cream-coloured, soft-and-sweet-as-a-cloud cookies. And more specifically, there were no Galettes Bretonnes around. For some reason, and without really knowing what it was, Small Perfect Cloud wanted a Galette Bretonne. And it wanted one so badly that Small Perfect Cloud did the only thing worth doing: it had looked at Divine Cherry with huge, blue pleading eyes and had humbly asked her to give it a cookie. But not any cookie, a Galette Bretonne! And how could anyone refuse somebody else a Galette Bretonne?
There was however a slight problem. Divine Cherry didn't have any just then. Guess what she did. Exactly. And here is how:
After having cast a furtive but reassuring glance at Small Perfect Cloud, Divine Cherry took a large bowl in which she mixed 130g of  soft butter, 135g of sugar and a pinch of salt. She then added one egg and mixed it again. Once the egg was well incorporated in the mix, she added 230g of flour and a tsp of baking powder, and mixed it all again. Once she had done that, the paste was very soft so she covered the bowl with cling film and put it to rest in the fridge for an hour. Small Perfect Cloud was in deep distress by now, but Divine Cherry's sweet, affectionate grin told it that everything would eventually be all right; it simply needed to be patient. After an hour, then, Divine Cherry divided the paste in three equal parts and moulded it in three cylinders of circa 3-4cm in diameter. Those cylinders she then cut into 1cm thick slices, which she afterwards placed on a with baking foil covered baking tray. The tray, in turn, she put in the fridge for another hour. Small Perfect Cloud was desolate. However, Divine Cherry explained that this step (of putting the prospective Galettes back in the fridge) was crucial, for it allowed the future cookies to maintain their shape once they would be put in the oven. Which, as it so happened, after an hour Divine Cherry did. The oven had been preheated at 200°C, and the cookies needed only 10mins in it to be ready. Of course, Divine Cherry did not forget to turn them after 5mins – something you would do well to not forget either.
Once they were out of the oven, the incomparable smell of Galettes Bretonnes filled the kitchen, and Small Perfect Cloud's eyes were saying another kind of 'please': they were saying 'may I now have one, please?' Naturally, Divine Cherry gave Small Perfect Cloud its first Galette Bretonne, and the happiest cream-coloured ball of fur this side of the sun smiled once again.

-130g of butter
-135g of sugar
-a pinch of salt
-1 egg
-230g of flour
-a tsp of baking powder

Mix the soft butter, the sugar and the salt in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Carefully add the egg and mix again. Incorporate the flour and the baking powder until you get a homogeneous paste. As it will be too soft to handle at this stage, cover it with cling film and put it to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. After that time, divide the paste in three equal parts and mould them into three cylinders of 3-4cm in diameter. Cut the cylinders in 1cm think slices, place them on a with baking foil covered baking tray, and put the latter in the fridge for one more hour. This step is necessary in order to allow the Galettes to maintain their form while cooking. After the one hour has elapsed, put the Galettes in a preheated oven at 200°C for 10mins, making sure to turn them after 5mins.

Ricetta in italiano:

-130 g burro
-135 g zucchero
-un pizzico di sale
-1 uovo
-230 g farina
-un cucchiaino di lievito

In una ciotola capiente mescolare con l'aiuto di un cucchiaio di legno il burro morbido con lo zucchero e il sale. Aggiunge l'uovo e incorporarlo. Unire poi la farina con il lievito e mescolare finché l'impasto risulta omogeneo. La pasta a questo punto è ancora molto morbida, coprire quindi la ciotola con della pellicola e lasciare riposare il tutto in frigorifero per un'ora. Dividere l'impasto in tre parti e formare tre cilindri di circa 3-4 cm di diametro. Tagliare i cilindri a fettine di 1cm di spessore, disporre i biscotti su una teglia coperta con carta da forno e metterla in frigorifero per un'altra ora. Questo passaggio permetterà ai biscotti di mantenere la forma durante la cottura. Trascorso questo tempo, infornare la teglia a forno caldo a 200° per 10 minuti. Ricordarsi di girare la teglia a metà cottura.

And Spread the Mess

Friday, 9 September 2011

Peach Cake

'Enough,' said Divine Cherry determinedly.
'Why, don't you like me?' asked Loneliness.
After having forsaken the Garden of the North-East, Divine Cherry went back to her customary dwelling place. It is situated in the North East of another region of the universe. Some say that it is but 500miles from the polar circle, and that the wind there never stops blowing. Still, it is generally a place of happiness, of joy and of exceedingly good memories; and Divine Cherry now spends most of her time there. It is also where the Celestial Dragon has elected domicile, and it is not where he currently is. When Divine Cherry then came home, innumerable moments ago, she found no one in the house but Loneliness, that old uninvited guest. As Divine Cherry sank on the emerald sofa that adorns the Room-that-Lives, she looked Loneliness in the face and thought no, not this time.
Unconsciously – that is, without thinking about it – Divine Cherry thought of the Five Fruit Dogs and of her first love: Golden Peach. The combination of these reminiscences led to Divine Cherry's realisation that she was still in the possession of Golden Peach's sacred fruits. She had purchased them in memoriam of the fertile Garden of the North-East. So it came to be that Divine Cherry found a way to cheerfully say 'enough' in the face of Loneliness – who, for her part, sulked. In fact, a tiny sparkle of inspiration had ignited her immense imagination, and Divine Cherry was now hell-bent (although she doesn't particularly like Hell. She rather dislikes it, to be honest: the TV screens there are rarely Full HD. It is here merely used as an expression.) on preparing a Peach Cake. So Divine Cherry got up from the emerald sofa, headed for the kitchen and diligently put herself to work.
She first mixed 150g of butter with 100g of sugar and a pinch of salt until the consistency of the mix was creamy. She then added, one by one, two eggs. Finally, she added 225g of flour and a tsp of baking powder to it and mixed it well until she ended up with a homogeneous paste. Once that was done, Divine Cherry dedicated herself to the Cutting Ritual. She first, reverently, held two peaches under the water in order to wash them from any profane impurities. Then, with utmost care and dexterity, Divine Cherry cut the peaches in slices. She made sure to leave the skin on them. Once the peaches were both cut, she again held up the holy knife and cut each and every slice again in three pieces. She then ended the ritual with the wiping of the hands on a nearby cloth. It doesn't have to be a special cloth. Some old rag will do. It just has to be clean, obviously. Divine Cherry then added the cut peaches to the mix, stirred well and transferred it all into a mould. She happened to use a mould for plum cakes, but I suspect that any mould would do, really. However, Divine Cherry made sure that the pieces of peach were distributed evenly in the mould, in order to avoid, later on, to have to play Russian Roulette: whoever gets the pieces of peach loses. Or wins. Opinions differ on the question. Eventually, Divine Cherry put it all in the preheated oven at 180°C for 40mins and sat back with a contented smile on her face.

-150g of butter (at room temperature)
-100g of sugar
-225g of flour
-a tea sp of baking powder
-a pinch of salt
-2 medium-sized peaches

Work the butter with the sugar and the salt until you get a creamy consistency. Add the eggs one at the time. Now add the flour and the baking powder and mix well with a wooden spoon until you get a homogeneous paste.
Wash the peaches and cut them in slices, leaving the skin on. Cut every slice in three pieces. Add those to the mix and pour it all into a mould (in this case a plum cake mould has been used, but e.g. a round mould would do as well). Make sure that the pieces of peach are distributed evenly. Put it in the preheated oven at 180°C for 40mins.

Ricetta in italiano:
-150 g burro a temperatura ambiente
-100 g zucchero
-2 uova
-225 g farina
-un cucchiaino di lievito
-un pizzico di sale
-2 pesche medio grandi

Lavorare il burro a tocchetti con lo zucchero e un pizzico di sale fino ad avere una consistenza cremosa. Incorporare le uova una alla volta. Aggiungere la farina con il lievito e mescolare con un cucchiaio per avere un impasto omogeneo.
Lavare le pesche e tagliarle, lasciando la buccia, a fettine e ogni fettina in 3 pezzi. Aggiungerle all'impasto e versare il tutto in uno stampo da plum cake ( ma anche tondo va bene ovviamente...) controllando che le pesche siano distribuite uniformemente. Infornare in forno gia' caldo a 180 gradi per 40 minuti.

And Spread the Mess

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Sea Skewers

Our revels are now ended. The Divine Cherry is kiss-red, and the Celestial Dragon has roared contentedly at the glaring sun. The summer tree is heavy with perfumed blossoms of memory, and the soft aftertaste of sweet wine and lush nights continues still to tickle our tongues. In other words, holidays are over.
It is therefore time to resume what we suspended a couple of weeks ago. The recipe we are presenting here has a particular story to it, and it is worthwhile narrating it from the beginning.
In illo tempore, the world was still young. The moon hadn't yet learned to smile, and the sun didn't know how to murmur. The sky itself hadn't yet discovered sorrow - it was perpetually blue and impassive. Even the sea was still called Pontus, and time moved according to the stirrings of the flux. That day, the Celestial Dragon was resting his already-ancient bones in the Garden of the North-East. It was a particular garden, for not only was it guarded by the Five Fruit Dogs, but it had been entirely built by none other than the great Hercules himself. He had installed the Grey Gate, whose Sphinx-like entrance requirements had warded off many an intruder. He had even created a replica of the Milky Way which he had called the Gravel Way.
That day, the day the Celestial Dragon was resting on a long chair in the Garden of the North-East, basking in the still-shouting sun, Divine Cherry was about to be celebrated. Yes, even Divine Cherries have birthdays, and that day was not her birthday. After all, time had not yet even complete one cycle. Nonetheless, everyone had agreed that that day was to be the day that Divine Cherry's birthday should be celebrated. Divine Cherry was well-loved by everyone, and it was thus with a light heart that she had said "so be it" - and had immediately plunged herself in the preparation of succulent dishes to please her honoured and loving guests. She was helped in this by the Golden Peach, her trusted and respected mentor. Together they went prowling through the mansion that was their residence in search for food and ideas. They hunted relentlessly, ever vigilant, ever alert. Every nook and cranny of that fabulous residence could hide another recipe, and it was therefore with painstaking cautiousness that they sought for the Best. It was thus that, after an entire afternoon spent on hunting and discussing and drinking sparkling ambrosia, they eventually chanced, among other delicious treasures, upon the Sea Skewers. In those days, Sea Skewers were huge marine monsters, but Golden Peach and Divine Cherry managed to tame them and shrink them to a conventional, edible skewer size - to the joy and happiness and delight of everyone present. And this is how they did it:
First, they lightly fried the various kinds of seafood separately in a pan (those being king prawns, prawns, baby squids and scallops) with some olive oil and garlic. They decided that they were done once they were golden-hued - any longer in the pan would dry the fish unnecessarily and hence ruin everything. Fish must always be kept wept. Or at least slightly moist. Your call. Once then Golden Peach and Divine Cherry had conferred to the fish their golden complexion, they skewered them in the order shown in the picture (you may wonder how it is possible that we, now, have a picture of something that happened when Time was still in its cradle - well wonder not, for paradoxes run the world, and this is but one of many). Naturally, Golden Peach and Divine Cherry may just as well have chosen another order of impalement – excuse my French – but they didn't. You, however, may. Freely, even. Now, since we're tangentially talking about the picture, you may have noticed that in the upper half of the picture is a dragon-decorated bowl, and that this wondrous bowl contains a green sauce. That heavenly sauce Golden Peach and Divine Cherry used to complement the skewers, and it was made by mixing together a generous handful of rocket, some basil, half a clove of garlic, abundant olive oil (extra virgin; what else?), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then they simply sprinkled it on the skewers and served the rest in a that dragon-decorated bowl for those who wished to have more. People are greedy, so when you do it, do make sure you prepare enough sauce.
When the Sea Skewers were finally served, it was unanimously acknowledged that the former marine monsters tasted much better after having passed through the sapient hands of both Golden Peach and Divine Cherry.

For 16 skewers:
-16 king prawns
-16 prawns
-16 baby squids
-16 scallops

Rocket-based sauce:
-abundant rocket
-a handful of basil
-half a clove of garlic
-enough olive oil (extra virgin)
-salt & pepper

Lightly fry the seafood separately in a pan with oil and garlic until they turn light golden. Make sure not to overcook it, as to do so would dry it. Skewer the seafood. The order used here is: king prawn, baby squid, scallop and prawn. Feel free to change it to your own leisure. Prepare the sauce by mixing together all the ingredients in an electric mixer. If need be, add some oil and whisk it all with a fork. Cover the skewers lightly with the sauce and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Ricetta in italiano
Per 16 spiedini:
-16 gamberoni
-16 mazzancolle
-16 moscardini
-16 canestrelli

Salsina alla rucola:
-una grossa manciata di rucola
-un mazzetto di basilico
-mezzo spicchio d'aglio
-abbondante olio evo
-sale & pepe

Saltare in padella con olio e aglio i diversi tipi di pesce separatamente. Il pesce dev'essere solo dorato, non va cotto troppo altrimenti rischia di diventare secco. Preparare gli spiedini con il pesce cotto: io ho inserito prima una mazzancolla, poi un moscardino, il canestrello e per chiudere un gamberone. Nel frattempo mettere nel bicchiere del frullatore ad immersione la rucola, il basilico, lo spicchietto d'aglio e irrorare con abbondante olio evo, salare e frullare il tutto. Spennellare gli spiedini con un po' di salsina e servirli con la rimanente a parte.

And Spread the Mess