Saturday, 3 December 2011

Welsh Cakes In Italy

I know that this seems a little odd, but Welsh cakes cooked and eaten while they are still warm are wonderful. So why not eat them in Italy? From the picture of my wonderful grandaughter you can see that she can't wait to get stuck in.
Wesh cakes are really very simple to make and require very little in the way of equipment. I made these in a very heavy, large fryingpan, even though, traditionally, they are made on a bakestone.

To make about 36 (it depends on the size of the cutter) you will need:

200g self raising flour
100g butter
90g fine sugar
2 eggs
50g raisins. (traditionally currants but I prefer raisins)

Rub all of the ingredients, except the egg together as if you are making pastry. When you have fine breadcrumbs add enough beaten egg to bind the mixture. You are going to roll it out so it should be the consistency of pastry or even scones. When it is about 1/2 cnm thick cut out into rounds.
Cook on a heated bakestone. Cook one side first and then flip over and cook the other. You will need to control the heat other wise the cakes will burn.

Enjoy! c

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Pear and Almond Tart

Pears and almonds are really a match made in heaven. It is not that the flavour explodes in your mouth as some things do, it is more of a subtle pleasure that lingers and please. It leaves you longing for more and what better can you have from food that you make?

This little lovely is made from pears that I had bottled myself when we had a glut of them earlier on this year and they were waiting for me to transform then into this delicious tart.

The pastry is my usual.
200g plain flour
120g butter
60 caster sugar
1 egg.

The method is standard and I am not going to bore you with the details. Roll out and line a deepish 8 inch tart tin. About 24cm. You will have pastry left over so please do not try to use it all as the pastry will be far too thick. You can freeze the left overs and use for something else. Mince pies come to mind as we are approaching Christmas.

For the filling
1 tin of pears in natural fruit juice. If you have bottled your own so much the better but if not these are good too. Strain well or you will make a soggy tart! Put onto the pastry base.

1 egg
the weight of the egg (in the shell) in butter, ground almonds and caster sugar.
a few drops of bitter almond essence (do not be tempted to put more, it really is very strong)

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and beat until all has been amalgamated and smooth. Top the pears and smooth. Sprinkle with some flaked almonds if you have them but it is not then end of the world if you don't.

Cook at 180 C for about 30 mins but do check as all ovens are different.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Torta Parisina after Luca Montersino

Luca Montersino, just has to be one of the most talented and amazing chefs around at the moment. I bought three of his books when I was in Italy this year because I couldn't resist them. Could anyone? The following cake is not exactly as he made it because it was devised for prople who are alergic to wheat and thankfully I don't have that problem. I converted the recipe back to traditional ingredients and this is the result.

The recipe will follow shortly, so if you have stumbled upon my blog then please call back to see how to make this cake.

For the Peaches:
Take 3 ripe peaches and put them in a bowl that is large enough to cover them with  boiling water. Now boil your kettle and pour over the peaches. Leave for a few minutes and remove from the water. If you have left them long enough the skin will peel off easily.
Slice into eights and put them into a saucepan with a sugar syrup of about 50g sugar to 100ml water anf the juice of half a small lemon. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Leave to cool in the syrup. Drain and they are ready to use in your pie.

Start by making the pastry with
200g of plain flour
120 g butter
50g caster sugar.
1 egg
Rub all of the ingredients except the egg together to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Mix in enough egg to bind. Form into a ball and refridgerate for about 30 mins to firm uo the pastry.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Just one more bruschetta

If you liked the last bruschetta then you may also like this one which is yet more luscious and delicious.
To make this little beauty, Nigella's phrase I know but I think quite appropriate here, You will need to have some roasted peppers. These are really easy to do. Now I know that you may have seen them roasted over a  gas flame and charred until the skin comes off, but there is an easier way. Smear them with oil, put on a non stick baking sheet and cook in a very hot oven until the skin blisters and turns black. Take out of the oven and leave to cool. It make not one iota of difference if you cover them or not, the skin will come off if they have blistered and that is very important. When cool skin the peppers, remove the seeds and cut into strips.

Cook your bruscetta in the usual way, smear with garlic flavoured olive oil, top with rocket, pepper slices and then thin slices of taleggio. Flash under a hot grill to melt the cheese and enjoy.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake

This latest recipe is a real classic. The walnuts are ready and perfect for making this cake. I do believe that the fresher the walnuts the better the cake and this one was made with walnuts from the tree that overhangs the terrace in front of the house so you can't get any fresher or more local than that.

In essence the cake is a variation on a Victoria sandwich, the simple difference is that you add some ground walnuts to the cake mix befoer cooking. That is the walnut part. the second and most importand but is the coffee buttercream which is used to sandwich the layers together.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Fig and Ricotta Bruschetta

In June, we were luck enough to pick up a case of figs for E3. That really is the truth. There were about 40 figs in the case so we were able to gorge ourselves for a few days. One of the wonderful things about having a glut of figs is that it allows you to experiment on recipes that are usually too expensive to try out. So, as expense was no object, try out we did and we came up with this gem.

Cut the figs into quarters and toss in some balsamic vinagrette.
Toast your thickly cut slices of good quality Italian bread. Not ciabatta though. It is constantly touted as the Italian bread to use but quite honestly it is too full of holes to make bruschetta and good casareccio bread is far better. When the bread is toasted brush with a cut clove of garlic and some good olive oil.

Mash up the ricotta and spread on the bread add some peppery rocket and top with the figs. drizzle with balsamic vinegar and enjoy.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Amaretti and Chocolate Marble Cake

This post starts with a stern warning.

Hands off this cake until the day after you have made it!

Honestly, it will taste far better on the following day when the flavours have had the time to develop and the cake will soften up a bit.
Don't you love the fabulous yellow colour of the cake. It's made with Italian eggs. I made it in Italy and the eggs there are a wonderful yellow. Nigella always uses them but I have no idea how to get them in the Uk. More's the pity as would love to have that colour on my cakes here.

Tis cake is a simple creamed sponge cake, but what makes ir different is the addition of melted chocolate to one half of the mix and the amaretti soaked biscuits distributed throughout the mixture.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Rum Custard Tartlets

This little custard tart is deceptive. It is small and cute but it is packed full of flavour and delicious as only a classic tart can be. I wanted to make something like the Portugese custard tarts that look fantastic but when I make them the puff pastry push the filling out and ruins the effect. So I opted for a more classic tart and this is what I've come up with.
Sweet Pastry

150 g flour

½ teaspoon baking powder
75g softened butter
50g sugar

Make the pastry by rubbing the ingredients for the pastry together and add a little water to bind.

Roll out and line a greased, pastry shapes. As you may have guessed I used my silicone ones as I love them.
Bake the pasrty cases blind. You only need to colour them slightly. Not too brown. The oven should be about 180.

Now for the filling:
To make this good and rich you will need
4 egg yolks
3 tbs sugar
two tbs dark rum
250ml whipping cream I made these in Italy and there is cream period - and there is no distinction between double and whipping. I am guessing that what is available is only whipping.

Add the sugar, and rum to the egg yolks and, mix well to break down the yolks.
Warm the cream to just below boiling point and add to the egg mixture mixing well.
Pour the mixture in to the part cooked cases and return to a medium oven until they have taken on a golden tinged.

Cool, dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Millefoligie of frutti di bosco

When I was in Italy this summer I did a lot of cooking but not a lot of blogging. I had to feed the family for much of the time so I sort of saved my posts up so that I could put them on the site in the autumn when I had the time. The time has arrived, but I won't inundate you with posts as I will save them up. One of the best things about cooking in Italy though is the light when taking the photographs. it is so much better to take a photograph on a sunny day than a dank day in the winter in Britain.

This pudding is so easy to make and I must admit that I did rather cheat as I used a bought puff pastry.
So, roll out your pastry or, if it is ready rolled place it on a baking sheet and prick well with a fork. Dust with icing sugar as this helps to disguise that it's not home made and makes it taste better too. Cook at about C200 for as long as it takes to brown well. I don't like flabby pastry so cook until nice and brown. Press it down if it has risen too much. When cool cut in half so that you have two long strips.

For the filling. Make up a packet of instant custard with about 2/3 of the water than it says on the packet. Stir in a level tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Leave to become completely cool.
Whisk up 250ml of whipping cream or double cream and when it is at the floppy stage stir into the cold custard. Spread over one half of the puff pastry and top with the remaining pastry.
Spoon the fruits of the forest over the top.

To make the fruits of the forest topping, I picked whatever I could fine and mixed it with as much sugar as I thought that it needed to make it acceptable. I like mine sharp. It also depends on the ripeness of the fruit. The ones that I used were fairly sharp. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and then set aside to cool. Store in the fridge if you are going to keep it for  awhile.
If you don't want to put the fruit on the top, you can serve it on the side. it will still bring a smile to a little girl's day.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Torta di Zucchini or Zucchine or even Courgette Tart

Why both names? Well in Italy, depending on the region it could be either. To the uninitiated in the realms of Italian words, a courgette.

This pie comes from a little book that I bought a couple of years ago and it is full of regional recipes and this one became a firm favourite this year as we had out usual glut of zucchini and we were on the look out for any recipes containing zucchini.
You will need:

Make the filling first.
1kg of grated zucchini. I used one large zucchini. This works better than several small ones as you really need the moisture that is contained in a large fruit.

200g of uncooked rice. Do not be tempted to use cooked
3 eggs
100g of freshly grated parmisan
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the ingredients up in a bowl and then get on with the pastry.


300g plain flour
50g butter
1 tsp salt
tepid water

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough tepid water to make a smooth dough and then roll out 2/3 of the dough straight away to line a tin about 40cm x 20cm. This does not need to be exact. Leave an overlap all around the tin so that you can flip it over the center .

Fill the pastry with the filling. It will be very liquid. Use it all. Do not strain out any of the liquid.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the top of the mixture. Flip the pastry over the center piece and put into a hot oven about C190 for about 45 mins. It should be lovely and brown on top and perfectly cooked underneath. If it is not leave in the oven for a few more minutes.


Friday, 4 March 2011

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

This recipe for brown sugar cupcakes is a fantastic recipe as it has the flavour of caramel without the faff of having to make it so go right ahead and make some.

The other day I bought a cup cake book from TX Max. I couldn't resist the bargain and I must say that it is one of the best books that I've bought in a long while. This recipe is an adaptation of the one that I found in the book.

Ingredients for all of those who want to make this.

200g Plain Flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

125g Butter at room temperature

125 Sugar (half granulated and half muscovado)

2 large Eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

125 ml milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12 cupcake pan with paper liners. This will give you very largew cupcakes. Alternatively line about 18 medium size cupcake pans.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl beat the sugar, butter, and vanilla for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape side of bowl with a spatula.

Add eggs and milk to the mixture and beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape bowl again. Beat on high speed for 1 minute 30 seconds until well mixed. Fold in the flour mixture.

Spoon cupcake batter into paper liners until 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pans then remove and place on wire racks to cool completely.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the brown sugar topping.

Ingredients for topping

1 oz cornflour
1/2 pint milk
3 oz butter
6 tsp muscovado sugar
few drops of vanilla essence


- Mix the cornflour with a little of the milk to form a smooth paste.
- Bring the rest of the milk to the boil.
- Pour the hot milk over the cornflour paste.
- Return to the heat and bring to the boil.
- Cook for 3 minutes.
- Cream the sugar and butter together.
- Gradually whisk in the cornflour mixture.
- Add the vanilla essence.
- Allow to cool.

Swirl over the cupcakes and top with caramel sprinkles.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Could anything be nicer?

Bacon is my ingredient of the day as I had some particularly nice, lightly smoked bacon and I really didn't just want to grill it. So the yummy scrummy rolls that you see below are the things that I came up with.

Cooking the bacon this way made it into a substantial meal and while I was eating them, I decided that they would make a really tasty starter. I do, however, think that one per person is enough as they are really filling.

The bacon that I used was thickly sliced. Too thin and it will fall apart.
To make the stuffing
100g finely chopped mushrooms. Let me tell you, that the Magimix could have been invented just for this.
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped.
125g of fresh white breadcrumbs (ideally, these are best if the bread is a day or two old)
100g Butter
4 tablespoons of fresh parsely, fairly finely chopped
Grated zest of a lemon
1 egg
Pepper, but go easy on the salt as the bacon is usually salty.

To make the stuffing

Fry the onion in half the butter until lightly brown.
Fry the mushrooms in the remaining butter until dry. Add the onions and mushrooms to the the remaining ingredients and mix together well.
Divide the mixture between the bacon and roll the bacon up with the seam underneath.
Bake in a hot oven until brown.
Serve with a mixed salad and enjoy.