Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Penne with Bell Peppers, Pine Nuts, Raisins & Curry

Wholemeal Penne with Bell Peppers, Pine nuts and Raisins

As soon as I saw Sara's spaghetti, the pasta I show you today came to my mind immediately. This recipe brings m back in time, to the summers of my childhood when we used to eat under a big magnolia tree. When I think about those moments, I feel a little bit nostalgic because they were truly carefree and joyful and especially because we were all together...As life goes on, children grow up, take different paths and go away...but sometimes we, now grown ups, do come back and we get together again under a big gazebo for our famous neverending dinners...My cousin Serena taught me this recipe and after so many years without making it, I can say that it's as I remember it: really good! Curry is the winning ingredient because it combines just perfectly with the rest of the flavours.

Serves 4

320-360gr Penne (this time I used wholemeal pasta)
4-5 Bell peppers (mixed colours), diced
2 Handfuls of raisins
2 Small handfuls of pine nuts
1-2 Shallots, thinly sliced
Extra vergin olive oil

In a big pan put plentiful olive oil and lightly fry the shallots with the pine nuts and raisins. Add the peppers and salt and cook with the lid on for 15 minutes, or until tender. If necessary, add 1-2 tbsps water at a time. Meanwhile cook the pasta al dente. When the peppesr are almost ready add 1 tsp curry (or garam masala) and 1 tbsp water from the pasta and stir to amalgamate everything well. Taste and if you want add some more curry. Drain the pasta, toss it trough the sauce on the heat for 1 minute and serve.

Wholemeal Penne with Bell Peppers, Pine nuts and Raisins

You must try it!!!!

A coloured smile,

Monday, 13 July 2009

Chocolate Special: Triumph

Chocolate Triumph

Finally all the mistery surrounding the Chocolate Special is revealed: this is the dessert I served right one week ago to MyP. who was here in England with me. This month (and maybe longer) since I am in a forced exile (due to the bloody cells I am working with!!) it will be him to take over the weekly "rush to the airport-plane-week end together-plane-rush to the office"...THANKS!!!!!!!!!

For the recipes nothing simpler....put together this, this and this... and that's it!!

A gourmand smile,

Friday, 10 July 2009

Chocolate Special: Simple Chocolate Mousse

Simple Chocolate Mousse

Unfortunately here we are with the last leg of this Chocollate Tour...and with what recipe I could end if not with the timeless moussse??..And what a mousse!!....a proper ode to chocolate. Don't forget to select ingredients of the best quality! I didn't remind you that for the tart or the cake (you already know it but...repetita iuvant!!), I do it here because for this recipe is essential since it uses just eggs and chocolate; so few ingredients that must be the best. It's useless to say that this is by Hermè from his book "Chocolate Desserts".


170gr Plain chocolate
80gr Whole milk
1 Large egg yolk
4 Large egg whites
2 Tbsp Sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in a microwave. The bowl should big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Allow to cool and it's ready to use it when it's warm to the touch. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over the warm chocolate. Using a small whisk, gently blend the milk into the chocolate. Add the egg yolk and whisk, working gently. With an electric whisk beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar. Beat until firm and glossy. Scoop one-third of the whites onto the chocolate mixture. Working with a whisk, beat the white into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Now, with either the whisk or a large rubber spatula, fold delicately the rest of the whites in the chocolate. Turn the mousse in a large serving bowl or in individual cups or glasses. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.

Simple Chocolate Mousse

This is the basic recipe but you can change it and play with it with just a little of fantasy. For example, you can serve it with different toppings: chocolate shavings, raspberries (or other berries), slices of banana, toasted nuts, fresh mint...or you can change the flavour while making it, infusing the milk with grated orange zest, a spoon of instant coffee, a pinch of ground cinnamon, ginger, chilly or cardamom...in short unleash your creativity!!!!

I prepared little pots to be served with.....

Simple Chocolate Mousse

A chocolately smile,

PS. Almost anything and everythng had been on the chocolate mousse. Some use just eggs, others add cream as weel...I must tell you, adding milk was a nice surprise. It is lighter than cream and brings smothness to the mousse without adding richness or masking the flavour of the chocolate.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Chocolate Special: Apricot & Ginger Chocolate Loaf

Apricot & Ginger Chocolate Loaf Cake

Here I am with the second episode! After the warm chocolare tart, here the recipe of this loaf cake...still by Pierre Hermè...still taken from his book "Chocolate Desserts".


180gr Plain flour
40gr Cocoa powder
1 Tsp Baking powder
125gr Dried apricots, cut into small chunks
165gr Sugar
140gr Almond Past (*)
4 Large eggs, at room temperature
150gr Whole milk, at room temperature
70gr Plain Chocolate,cut into small chunks
55gr Stem ginger, cut into small chunks
180gr BurroUnsalted butter, melted and cooled

(*) These are the ingredients of the original recipe. For those of you who read from the US, you can get the almond paste in any supermarket where it is sold in cans under the Solo label. Here in England, I couldn't find it so I decided that the 140gr required could be replaced by 70gr sugar and 70gr ground almonds.
So the ingredients with my little variation are:

180gr Plain flour
40gr Cocoa powder
1 Tsp Baking powder
125gr Dried apricots, cut into small chunks
200gr Sugar (165gr + 70gr = 235gr, but I decreased it)
70-80gr Ground almonds
4 Large eggs, at room temperature
150gr Whole milk
70gr Plain chocolate, cut into small chunks
55gr Stem ginger, cut into small chunks
180gr Unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and butter a 9x5x3-inch (22-24cm) loaf tin. In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa and baking powder and set the mixture aside. Bring about 1 cup (250gr) water to the boil, pull from the heat, add the apricots and soak for 1 minute, time enough for them to soften and plump. Drain and dry the apricots with paper towels; set aside.
Put the sugar and ground almonds in another bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating with an electric whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes after each addition. Increase the speed to high and beat the egg, sugar, almond mixture for 8-10 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the milk, mixing until combined, and then the sifted dry ingredients beating until the batter is homogenous. Working with a large rubber spatula fold in the apricot, the chocolate and the ginger chunks, and then gently fold the melted butter. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a slender knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake appear to bake too quickly, cover it loosely with kitchen foil for the last 20-30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes before unmoulding it. Cool the cake to room temperature on the rack.

Wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature, the cake will remain moist for at least 5 days.

Apricot & Ginger Chocolate Loaf Cake

I cut some 1.5cm thick slices (as Hermè himself says, this isn't a sweet to cut into slivers) with a flower cookie cutter and...
Come on, be patient for a little longer and you will know what this is all about!!!!!
The remaining cake was eaten in no time at all becuase it was FAN-TA-STIC!!!

A soft chocosmile,

PS. Diletta beat Pierre, 1-0! Why? Because the picture of this cake in his book shows the apricot and ginger chunks all sunk to the bottom while in my case they are evenly distributed...and I have got a proof:

Apricot & Ginger Chocolate Loaf Cake

My secret? I dusted with ground almonds the apricot, ginger and chocolate chunks before adding them to the batter...or maybe I was just lucky!!!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Chocolate Special: Warm Chocolate & Raspberry Tart

Warm Chocolate & Raspberry Tart

Or I should say Special Hermé since this recipe, and the other two which will follow in the next posts, is taken from his well known book "Chocolate Desserts", something you must have in your library at home!

I write the recipe as it appears on the book.


1 Fully baked 8¾-inch (22 cm) tart shell, cooled at room temperature (*)
½ Cup (55gr) Raspberries
5 oz. (145gr) Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz. (115gr) Unsalter butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 Large egg, at room temperature, stirred with a fork
3 Large egg yolks, at room temperature, stirred with a fork
2 Tbsp Sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and fill the tart crust with the raspberries. Melt chocolate and butter in separate bowls either over simmering water on in a microwave. Leave them to cool until they feel warm to the touch (104°F or 60°C, as measured on an istant-read thermometer, is perfect). Using a small whisk or a rubber spatula, stir the egg into the chocolate, stirring gently in ever-widening circles an taking care not to agitate the mixture. It is important not to incorporate air into the ganache. Little by little, stir in the egg yolks and the sugar. Finally, still working gently, add the butter and stir. Pour the ganache over the raspberries in the shell. Bake the tart for 11 minutes. The centre of the tart will shimmy if jiggled. Remove the tart fron the oven, slide it on a rack and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
The crust cab be made ahead but the tart should be assembled as soon the ganache is ready. The tart is meant to be eaten soon after it comes from the oven, but it can be kept overnight in the fridge and brought to room temperature before being eaten the next day. The filling will be firmer but still delicious.

(*) I made the pastry following the recipe by Santin that you can find here, the only difference is that I used gluten free flour. The pastry was fantasitc and so I think from now on to use only this type of flour.

For blind baking:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Fill the the crust with dried beans, rice or baking beans and bake for 18-20 minutes, just until it is very lightly coloured. Then remove the parchment and beans and bake for another 3-5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool.

Warm Chocolate & Raspberry Tart

"But why don't we see the tart???" you will be wondering...beh, because I cut it using a round pastry cutter (4.5cm) to make little mini tarts...
Be patient, you will see the final result at the end of this chocolate special!

A chocosmile,

PS. Useless to say that this tart is really really really.....delicious!!!