February 28, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake - Daring Bakers

This was a challenge that I baked pretty at the begining of the month. Why? Of course because of the chocolate! The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. I chose caramel ice cream, because I wanted to prepare it long ago. When I took the photos the cake was still lukewarm...mmm...

500 ml milk
150 ml creme fraiche
3 egg yolks
260 g powder sugar
35 g salted butter

Whisk milk and cream fraiche together, but set 50 ml aside. Heat the mixture and beat the rest of the creme fraiche fluffy. Whisk egg yolks with 170 g of powder sugar.
Melt the rest of the sugar in a saucepan until golden brown. Remove it from the heat and add butter, whisk, add creme fraiche and mix well. Pour caramel into the milk mixture and whisk well. Pour caramel-milk mix over the egg yolks and heat until it thickens. Leave it in the
fridge over night and the next day let your ice cream maker do the job.

February 27, 2009

It supposed to be a chocolate crème brûlée...

...but my blowtorch did not work. However it was hard to resist that lovely chocolate smell, that is why I decided to serve it without the caramel. Of course I did not give up immediately to get the top caramlised and I tried it in the oven using the grill function but this was a complete disaster, and then imagine how desperate I have been, I even tried with matches! You are allowed to laugh! It was funny but of course naive to think that it would work, but one never knows, right? So after experimenting around, and ruining one portion, I simply "sold" it under the name pots de crème, because the only difference between the two desserts that in the crème brûlée there are only egg yolks, in the pots the crème one whole egg to every five egg yolks. Believe me it was totally delicious even without the caramel top!

100 g chocolate (70% cocoa)
4 egg yolks
90 g sugar
250 ml milk
250 ml heavy cream
cane sugar for the caramel top

Preheat oven to 100°C. Chop chocolate, whisk egg yolks with sugar. Heat milk and cream and bring it to boil, add chocolate and whisk until it is molten. Pour it over the egg yolk mixture
and mix well. Portion it in ramequins and bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool and leave it over night in the fridge. Sprinkle cane sugar on top and caramlize, if your blowtorch wants to.

Chicken Broth

Some chicken wings were hanging around in my fridge, and as I was almost out of chicken stock I decided to cook a new portion. As most of the time when I cook stock the lunch is risotto. I wanted something simple so I decided for a classical risotto. A classical risotto contains a good quality chicken broth, butter, onion, risotto rice, white wine and the most important part is the mantecatura: the cold butter and the parmesan. I have never added the butter cold to any risotto I cooked before, until now. I bet that made the difference!...and that I followed Locatelli's description. After I tried, it felt like I had first time risotto in my life. It was the typical wow effect, if you know what I mean. It's definitely worth to sink in the lines in Locatelli's book about risotto! Anyway it was the best risotto, that has ever left my kitchen, maybe except the one with porcini, but that is unfair because porcini are invincible, at least to me.

500 g chicken wings or bones
1/2 tablespoon tomato puree
3 carrots

1 onion
2-3 celery stalks
3 parsley root

1 bay leaf
3 black peppercorns
2 juniper berry

Heat oven to 220°C and roast chicken wings until golden brown. Smear tomato puree on it and roast for another 3-4 minutes.

Add chicken and vegetables in a big pot together with 3-4 liter of water. On low heat bring it just under the boiling point and let it simmer for 3-4 hours.

February 26, 2009

The first time fennel in my kitchen

Become aware of the overfishing problem!

Pacific cod caught by trawl or Atlantic cod

Pacific cod caught by longline

Florence fennel: does not already its name sounds beautiful? For the very first time I met fennel in a restaurant but we did not quite like each other.

Okay, that time I was not into cooking like I am now and I also did not give it a fair chance. I realize that more and more I use ingredients that I hated before: e.g. garlic. Meanwhile I use
it quite often and I can not imagine why I left it away for such a long time. What a pity! Therefore I love to experiment with vegetables that I either did not eat before or did not like and quite often I am surprised about the result and I must say afterwards: it was delicious!

Yesterday I had fennel first time in my kitchen and I decided to prepare it in different ways. I wanted to try to make a fennel espuma (=foam: that is a culinary technique invented by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and consist of natural flavors mixed with a gelling agent such as
agar, and extruded through a whipped cream canister equipped with N2O cartridges) however my fear became real, because I knew that my equipment may not be the right one, as I did not have the right cartridges, so as I expected it did not work out. But of course I did not want to throw it away so I simply warmed the whole thing and added some milk and foamed it that way. It was pretty delicious. I served it among an almond crusted cod (for the crust I mixed ground almond, orange juice, some fresh ginger, a shallot and a bit of dijon mustard), caramelized fennel with oranges and polenta with fennel chips.

February 25, 2009

Savoy Cabbage Stew- Weekend Herb Blogging #172

There are many varieties of cabbage based on shape and time of maturity and it is one of the oldest cultivated vegetable groups. Savoy cabbage is the most tender and sweet of the cabbage varieties with a deliciously distinctive flavor.

A good head of Savoy cabbage will be solid in the center, somewhat conical shaped and heavy in relationship to size, with deep
blue-green outer crinkly leaves and a pale green center.

It tends to be available year round with the peak season in the winter months. Like most cabbages, it is very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and like other cruciferous vegetables has been proven to have cancer fighting properties.
(source:dave's garden)

This savoy cabbage stew is very tasty and of course like other stews, this one is also best warmed up the next day. Personally I like to eat it lukewarm with fried chicken breast.

1 savoy cabbage
2 garlic cloves
5 small potatoes
1 tablespoon oil

vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon majoram
1/2 teaspoon caraway
salt, pepper
200 ml sour cream
2 tablespoon flour

Heat oil, add chopped garlic and fry until golden brown, add chopped savoy cabbage, reduce heat and leave it covered for about 5 minutes but stir once in a while. It is also good if it gets a bit roasted. Add cubed potato, salt, pepper, paprika powder, majoram, caraway powder.
Pour enough vegetable stock on it so that is almost covered. Cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Mix flour and sour cream and stir into the stew, bring it to boil once and serve or let it cool and serve lukewarm.

I submit this post to the WHB created by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, who passed it on to Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, this time hosted by Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

February 24, 2009

Tuorta da Nusch Engiadinaisa - Engadine Nut Tart

The Bündner Nusstorte, also known as Engadiner Nusstorte, is a traditional sweet, carmalized walnut filled, buttery shortcrust pastry from canton Graubünden in Switzerland. Needless to mention that among the carrot cake this is my other favourite swiss cake. Yesterday it was time to bake it finally! I used normal walnuts and the red ones. I confess I could not wait until the cake is completly cool and had a piece lukewarm.

250 g flour
100 g butter

80 g sugar
1 egg

1 pinch of salt
For the filling:
200 g sugar
200 g walnuts
200 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey

Place the flour in a mixing bowl, cut the butter into small pieces, rub the flour and butter rapidly between the tips of your fingers. Add sugar and egg and blend quickly into a smooth
dough. Cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour and let it stand for 30 minutes outside before you use it. Butter a baking form and roll out 2/3 of the dough to a thickness of 3 mm and line the
dough leaving a about 3 cm thick edge. In a small saucepan caramelize sugar until light brown, stir in coarsly chopped nuts and mix well. Add cream and honey and bring to boil. Let it cool a bit and spread filling evenly on the pastry and cover with the rest of the dough that you roll out into a circle. Bake for 30-40 minutes on 180°C.

February 21, 2009

Pizza: search completed!

There are many types of pizza out there, but my favourite is the pizza napoletana that may not be thicker than 3 mm and it must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C stone oven with an oak-wood fire. Of course in no way one can ever bake the perfect pizza at home because of the high temperature that is needed, but at least I have a stone in the oven, so that is half of the success. In our village there is a pizza stand that opens once in a month and there I have had the best pizza ever, at least so far. But who wants to wait for moment of their opening every month? Especially not, if you are foodie, you just need the challenge to bake it. Sure you are going to be disappointed on the way to your perfect pizza but the day will come where you gonna find it! The authentic Neapolitan pizza is made with local ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala, however today I chose Prosciutto di Parma and baby artichokes for topping. So meanwhile I was searching for the perfect recipe since quite a long time, but some weeks ago I have found it! It is not a surprise if I tell you that it was right in front of my nose in Locatelli's fabulous cookbook. Today, I used a cookie cutter to have them look like Locatelli's Pizzette, or at least kind of...

375 g flour
200 g lukewarm water
4 tablespoon olive oil

10 g fresh yeast
10 g salt
For the sauce:
200 g canned tomates
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove
handful of basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon oregano
a pinch of sugar

salt, pepper

For the sauce heat olive oil add sliced garlic and fry until golden brown. Pour canned tomatoes into the frying pan, add basil and bring it to boil. Remove from the heat and sieve. Bring it to cook again, add oregano, sugar (if needed), salt, pepper and cook it until it is thick enough to spread it on a pizza. Set aside and let it cool.

For the dough mix all ingredients together and knead a smooth dough, it takes about 10 minutes. After you need to work with it like with the grissini: Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and stretch into a rectangle. Work your way over the entire surface of the dough making deep indentations with eight fingers at once. When the surface of the dough is covered with indentations, fold it in half turn it ninety degrees, stretch it out to an A4 sized rectangle and repeat the indentation making process again. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, and now you can cut into the portions you want it. The dough need to rest for at least 4 hours in the fridge before using it, but not longer then 8! Heat your oven to the highest degree and bake them.

February 13, 2009

Banana - Chocolate Beignets

Today afternoon, while I was spending my time reading my favourite cookbooks, searching for a bread recipe to try, I found these beignets. As I had some already pretty brown bananas on my kitchen counter, I decided to prepare them.

Actually I am not so much a fan of the banana-chocolate combination but these cute round balls convinced me!

90 g banana
10 g sugar ( i used a bit of honey instead)
100 g milk
100 g butter
100 g flour
3 eggs

a big bunch of chocolate drops

Peel banana and mince in a mixer together with the sugar. Heat a saucepan with milk and butter and bring it to boil. Add banana puree and bring it to boil again. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove it from the heat and stir in eggs one after the other. With a help of an icing bag pipe dough in a flexible ice cube form until half. Add chocolate drops on top and cover with more pastry. To flatten them wet your finger a bit.

Place it to the freezer and leave it there for some hours or over night. Deep fry beignets in oil (170°C) for 5 minutes.

February 12, 2009

Vegetable Stock: Reloaded!

There are so many options to prepare vegetable stock, I guess every household has its own way. Today it was time to make another portion as there was only one small box left in the freezer. This time I let myself inspire by Giorgio Locatelli, who is my absolute favourite chef. His way of making vegetable stock means simply simmering. Of course you can use any vegetable you desire. I can't wait to prepare a portion of luscious risotto with it.

3 tablespoon olive oil
4 handful of fresh or frozen pea
2 handful of spinach
4 carrots

3 parsley roots
4 onions

2 leeks
4 celery stalks
2 potatoes

Heat olive oil, add pea and mash. Add the rest of the vegetables and let it stew until they start to split.
Pour about 3 liters of cold water over and heat until a short before it would reach the boiling point. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

February 6, 2009

Risotto ai carciofi - Weekend Herb Blogging #169

The origin of artichokes is unknown, though they are said to have come from North Africa, where they are still found in the wild state. In France artichokes are very popular deep fried. In Italy artichoke hearts in oil are the usual vegetable for spring. In Spain, the more tender younger and smaller artichokes are used. They can be sprinkled with olive oil and left in hot ashes in a barbecue, sauteed in olive oil with garlic, or sauteed and combined with eggs in a tortilla (frittata). More often cited are the Greek artichokes (a la polita), of which probably the finest examples are to be found on the island of Tinos. The heart of the artichoke is also eaten. Artichoke stems, which are often thrown away, are perfectly edible and taste like the artichoke heart. Artichokes can also be made into an herbal tea. (source:wikipedia)

Between february and april is time for baby artichokes that are easy to prepare: they only need a bit of trimming and you can eat the whole thing because they haven’t developed the fuzzy portion of the choke in the center. It is not a separate variety, they are picked from the lower part of the plant. Of course I could not resist to buy some tiny, cute artichokes and they ended up in a risotto.

5 baby artichokes

1 shallot
250 g risotto rice
100 ml white wine
500 ml vegetable stock

1 lemon
35 g butter
50 g parmesan

olive oil
salt, pepper

Cut the stems of the artichokes, peel and add to the vegetable stock until it cooks, after reduce heat and keep it simmering. Cut the top half of the artichokes until you reach the yellow core and remove the outer leaves. Slice, sprinke lemon juice on it. Heat olive oil, add chopped onion and sauté. Add rice and mix until rice is well covered with oil.
Add wine, increase heat to medium, and stir constantly. When the wine has been absorbed, add a little of the hot bouillon. Add salt and pepper.
Once the stock is absorbed, add a little more; repeat this process, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes, then add sliced artichoke and cook for another 10-15 minutes the same way over medium heat. Stir in the butter and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

I submit this post to the WHB created by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, who passed it on to Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, this time hosted by Dee and the crew of The Daily Tiffin.

February 4, 2009


A simple, delicious lukewarm salad with shimeji mushroom and egg. Shimeji should always be cooked, because if served raw it taste somewhat bitter. The bitterness disappears completely when it is cooked.

The vinaigrette calls for olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk egg with a bit of water and bake thin omelettes, in another saucepan fry the mushrooms.

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