Monday, February 24, 2014

semolina cranberry pudding

Budino di Semolino con Mirtilli Rossi
I've been trying a few recipes from Pellegrino Artusi's cookbook and there's this pudding that I can't stop myself from making ... repeatedly.  If you read through the ingredients you'll notice that there's nothing you can't find in your everyday pantry.  It's that type of dessert that's not too sweet and not too dull, capable to fill a sudden urge for something good in just a few moves. It may be for this reason why I find myself making it so often.  The truth is, it's simple and for this, it reveals to be unexpectedly delicious. 

What makes this dessert so special, and far from boring, is the texture, given by the rustic consistency of the semolina.  The slight citrus aroma and the scent of liquor combine in all simplicity to perfection.  Nothing else is needed if not a sweet burst of fruitiness, immediately satisfied by the bites of cranberries - my only adaption to Artusi's original recipe, where he uses raisins.   Not to be taken for granted is the final touch to generously butter and dust the mold with breadcrumbs, it renders a vague caramelized crispness to this pudding.  A detail of minimal importance which returns a great result. 

Some add candied fruit, but Artusi makes a note and states that too much condiment often ruins the final result.  I believe he is right!
Senza titolo
Budino di Semolino con Mirtilli Rossi

Milk 800 ml
Semolina 150 gr
Sugar 100 gr
Cranberries (100 gr) * Artusi uses raisins
Butter 20 gr
Eggs 4
Rum 3 tbsp
Salt, a pinch
Lemon zest

Prepare a mold for the pudding, butter and dust with breadcrumbs.  Heat oven to 180°C.
In a small pot, add all ingredients and whisk.  Place the pot on the stove and turn on the heat, let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly.  As the mixture starts to slightly thicken, pour it in the previously buttered mold and place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or as soon as the pudding rises and reaches a golden color.

Friday, February 14, 2014

muah...kiss kiss kiss & cake(s)

Valentine's Cake(s)
For those of you who have just fallen in love, those who have loved their entire lives and those who are still searching, this cake is for you.  

Let's just say that it's good to slip in something sweet today.  

Happy Valentine's!
Valentine's Cake(s)Valentine's Cake(s)Valentine's Cake(s)Valentine's Cake(s)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup hot water
3 eggs

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter (softened)
1 tsp beet puree (or red food coloring)

syrup candied cherries

Preheat oven to180°C.  Prepare several tiny cake pans with butter and dust with flour, tap out extra.

Shift and combine dry ingredients, cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, into a bowl.  Beat in yogurt, vanilla bean paste, oil and eggs until smooth.  While beating, slowly pour in the hot water and continue beating for a couple of minutes.

Pour batter into the pans and bake for 40-45 mins, depending on the size of the pan.  The smaller the pan the less baking time is needed.  Check if the cake is ready by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake, if it comes out clean it is ready.  Any leftover batter can be used for making cupcakes.

Let the cake cool completely on a rack before frosting. Top with syrup candied cherries.

Monday, February 3, 2014

let's talk meatballs

You’re reading meatballs and you're looking at the photo.  Now, you’re thinking … so? 

What you see here is what I make at home, it’s what I eat and what my family eats.  Maybe it will be something I see somewhere and that I’m intrigued to try.  I’ll probably use what I have under hand.  I may be inspired by what I read,  or I’m using mom’s recipe, the food I grew up with.  You won’t find original recipes, maybe just sometimes.  I don’t want to be a chef and I’m not going to open a restaurant, but I love to eat and I have fun trying different ingredients and taking the time to cook a decent meal, and when it turns out good, I mean really good … I mean finger lickin’ good, I get excited and I need to share it in this little space with you.  I’m sure you have your own way of making things, but you might also like my way :)

In any case, everything you see here is real and simple, just like these darn good meatballs!

When my son comes up to me and says, “Hey Ma, why don’t you make some meatballs today, the ones with lots of sauce”, that’s when I realize I haven’t made them in a long time.  And to think, it’s one of my son’s favorites.  As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorites too.

Let’s get straight to work!
If you’ve been following me, you know how much I care about quality ingredients, so the meat I use needs to be good.  When possible I go to me trusted butcher and ask him to mince the meat in front of me, choosing the piece I want.  Usually, I choose a lean cut with a small percentage of fat.  I’ve seen packages of minced meat at the supermarket that are full of fat, which you can notice miles away by the pinkish almost white predominating color, that’s exactly what I don’t want. 


500g minced meat (beef)
2 slices of stale bread previously soaked in milk (drained and squeezed)
3 heap tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Tomato sauce
1 egg
1 tsp parsley thinly chopped
1 garlic clove crushed 
1/2 onion thinly chopped
Grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Combine beef, wet-squeezed bread, garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper.  Shape meatballs, roll each meatball in flour removing any excess flour.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatballs are brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and place on a paper towel.  In the same skillet add the chopped onion, let it sweat for a couple of minutes and then put the meatballs back in the skillet. Add the tomato sauce, season with salt and cover with a lid.  After 15 minutes, remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.  Stir every once and while to make sure the meatballs don’t stick.