Monday, 10 October 2011

Liquorice Liqueur: Absolutely the Best!!

I'll be very quick: I don't particularly like either liquorice or all the "after meal" liqueurs...but this one is so good that now and then I treat myself with a "bicchierino" of this delight! Besides, every single friend that had the chance to try it ended up bringing home a little bottle or bagged one for the "liquoriceaholic" friend...because everyone has at least one liquorice-addicted friend!! The recipe is my cousin Rachele's who is the official maker and dealer of this black pleasure.

1L Water
1Kg Sugar
150g Pure liquorice (in powder or pieces)
600ml Alcohol

Prepare a syrup dissolving the sugar with water on high heat and boil for 5'. Decrease the heat to medium-low, add the liquorice very slowly while keep stirring to avoid lumps (but if it happens, don't worry!) and boil for another 5'. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Add the alcohol and bottle.

This liqueur doesn't need to mature so it can be used straight away (which is a plus!!) and it is best when served ice-cold (keep it in the freezer).

A black delicious smile and have a good week, 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Wild Cherry & Amaretti Tart: a Recipe Is a Treasure

This tart recipe remained stuck on my recipe book for years, unused; I don't remember from what magazine I cut it out neither who the author is...the only thing I know is that this cake became one of my favourite since the day I first baked it! This tart (crostata, in italian!) is a delight for the palate and a pleasure for the eye because it is not only very delicious but also really pretty (isn't it?). And it needs to be said that it is also kind of magic because the decoration is created in the oven while the tart is being baked. I stuck a recipe and I found a small treasure.. 

For 8 servings or for a 26cm tart tin

For the sweet shortcrust pastry
300g Plain Flout (or the italian "00" type)
150g Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
120g Caster sugar
1 Egg (medium)
1 Yolk
1 Lemon (zest grated)
7-8g Baking powder

For the filling
150g Wild cherry jam
Amaretti biscuits

In a bowl mix flour and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrums; add the sugar and lemon zest and mix together. Add the egg and the yolk and knead by hand for a couple of minutes until everything comes together and you have big crumbs. Compact the mixture into a ball and let rest for 30' or more in the fridge, Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll 2/3 of the pastry until 3-4 mm thick and line the tart tin with it. Spread the jam on the bottom, soak very quickly the amaretti in the maraschino liqueur and arrange them in a spiral starting from the centre. Roll the last third of the pastry, cover the amaretti layer with it and seal the edges very well. Bake for 40'.

As you can see the ingredients are very simple so the same old rule applies: they have to be high quality!!

A delicious smile, 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Brustzicki: Feta & Mint Loaf

I love the summer heat and I am not afraid to use the oven even when the sun is high and hot (I am a brave girl I know!)...and, possibly, I use it more in summer than in winter! When the good weather comes I feel more energetic and a lot more imaginative...and not being able to throw away what is left after having fed my sourdough yeast, I always end up  kneading something! So here's an idea for a loaf with a real summery flavour! We ate it all sliced and grilled....and if you spread the bruschetta with plentiful garlic and garnish it with cucumber salad and a dollop of greek yogurt you have a perfect brustzicki (bruschetta + tzatzicki)!

Makes 1,5 kg of dough or 3 loaves

For the pre-ferment
150g Sourdough yeast
150g Organic plain flour
150g Water

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and let the ferment rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours covering the bowl with cling film.

For final dough
450g Pre-ferment
800g Organic plain flour
400ml Water
20g Sale
100-150g Feta cheese
8-10 Mint leaves

To mix the dough by hand, put the pre-ferment with the flour and water. Miw together with a large spoon until it comes together to form a dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead into a ball with your hands for about 10'. Cover with cling film and set aside to rest for 20-30'. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it for further 20-30' until smooth and elastic.
If you are using a stand mixer, put the starter in the bowl with the hook attachment. Add the flour and the water and mix at low speed for 3-4', the increase the speed to medium-fast for 3'. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 20-30'. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix on slow speed for 1' then increase to medium-fast for 6-10' until the dough is smooth and elastic. 
Lightly grease a big bowl and sit the dough inside.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at roomo temperature to bulk prove. Knock back the dough by turning it out onto a lightly floured surface and pressing it out into a rectangle about 2.5 cm thick. Use you hands to fold 1/3 back onto itself, the repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding. Place the dough back into the bowl and continue to bulk prove for another 1 hour. Use a blunt knife or a dough scraper to divide the dough into three equal portions, weighing about 500g each. Shape each portion into a ballo or a loaf. Line three small baskets with a tea towel in each, lightly dust each with flour and place the loaf inside, seam side up. Alternatively you can place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Place in the fridge loosely covered with a plastic bag for 8-12 hours. Pre-heat the oven to its highest temperature. Remove the loaves from the fridge and let them rest for 1-4 hours depending on the climate. The prove is complete when the loaves have grown in size by two-thirds. Spray the oven with water. Bake for 20', then turn the tray around and bake for a further 15-20'. If the base of the loaves sound hollow tapping it with your finger, the bread is ready.

A smile soft inside and crusty outside, 

Friday, 27 May 2011


Lavander & A Bombo Bee

I am back.....again! I know it has been quite a long time but in the past year my life has been a roller coaster....
This time I'll stay, I promise!

A spirited smile and enjoy the Bank Holiday week end!!