Almond bread: an old family recipe on Easter Monday

It was a very special Easter Day, which was spent, most of it, between writing and talking to members of the family and friends. Besides, according to the culinary traditions of my family at Easter time, last night I enjoyed baking a fragrant almond bread ideal to be served at any coffee pause throughout the day or to bring with as a dessert for a picnic now that Spring has come.

The ingredients of the recipe to make the almond bread are:

  • 170 gr cake and pastry flour
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 75 gr butter
  • 3 eggs + a yolk to paint on the surface of the bread
  • 250 ml of white wine
  • a coffee cup of Alchermes liqueur
  • 100 gr peeled almonds
  • 50 gr hazelnuts
  • the peel of a lemon
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • 2 cloves
  • 8 gr baking powder
  1. Start with beating one egg and an albumen with 25 gr sugar and the Alchermes. Then, add 50 gr minced almonds and the hazelnuts, a couple of cloves and work all together until you will have a fluid creamy mixture.
  2. Prepare a second mixture made of flour, one egg and a yolk, a sprinkle of salt, the butter (at this proper, my aunt, who used to enjoy baking this bread and to deliver it to neighbours and members of the family, would have add lard instead of butter), the rest of minced almonds mixed with sugar, the peel of a lemon and the wine. Add the baking powder and work the mixture just a couple of minutes in order to have all ingredients well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture in two parts (help yourself with a rolling pin and little flour) and make two layers for your greased, floured baking tray.
  4. Place the first layer in the baking tray. Please, do not forget to make 1 cm border with the first layer all around the baking tray.
  5. Pour the cream made with the first mixture and then add the second layer on. Seal hermetically, paint some yolk on the surface of the bread, make some decors with a knife.
  6. Place the almond bread in the oven and bake it slowly and gently for about 50 minutes (160°C).
  7. Decor your almond bread for the right occasion, serve it with a couple of spoons of vanilla cream or some ice cream or enjoy it with your preferred drink.

A good Easter Monday and safe new week to everybody! Thank you 🙏💖

Cups of pâte sablée, ricotta cream and red fruits at Springtime

Hello! Up on the trees new gems are in bloom and everywhere it is the fragrance of earth and green. Let’s start this first Sunday of Springtime by preparing some small cups of pâte sablée, which we are going to fill with a light ricotta cheese cream and decor with red fruits.

The ingredients we need are: 125 gr of flour, 70 gr of butter, 50 gr of caster sugar, a yolk, a sprinkle of salt, seeds of vanilla, cow milk ricotta cheese, red fruits.

  1. Work a mixture of flour and small cubes of butter with your hands.
  2. Add the caster sugar. Using the caster sugar will help to make a more compact mixture.
  3. Then, it’s the turn of a yolk and a small idea of sea salt.
  4. Mix until the ingredients are all together and then leave the pâte sablée to rest in the fridge for a couples of hours.
  5. Work the mixture without adding much flour, in order to have more humidity, and make little discs of pâte sablée, then place them in buttered moulds.
  6. Prod the surface of each cup with a fork and cover it with a piece of greaseproof paper. Then, add a handful of dried pulses.This will help the surface of pâte sablée to bake well without rising much.
  7. Bake the cups for about ten minutes (180°C) or at least until they get a golden color.
  8. As soon as they get cooler, help yourself with a sac à poche and fill the cups with ricotta cheese cream (prepared with cold cow milk ricotta cheese, seeds of vanilla and some sugar).
  9. Decor with red fruits on top.

Your children will love to have these delicious cups any time you are going to prepare and serve them as a genuine light snack. Wishing a beautiful Spring to everybody and, please, keep on staying safe!

Bread rolls, focaccia and green vegetables: are you hungry?

Just few days more and soon, January will fly away. It is pretty cold outside, but now, more than ever, it is beautiful to have a walk in the middle of a silent nature. On the one hand, the earth is having a little rest, on the other hand, it is also preparing, in its own precious case, the new gems to wear at Springtime.

At this proper, even in Winter season, of course, it is possible to choose among a plenty of good vegetables for making inviting meals. Here there are a couple of easy culinary ideas you might like to try and develop if you want to have something appetizing throughout the day, perhaps for your coffee pause or as a tasteful snack or appetizer, just before dinner.

First of all, prepare a dough mixing 250gr of flour (125gr all purpose flour+125gr wholemeal bread flour), about 10/12gr yeast, a sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of sugar (to help the ricing process) and the necessary warm water to make a thick and very soft dough. Then, cover the dough with a clingfilm and leave it to rest for about 6 hours.

As vegetables for the filling of the focaccia, I chose leaves of chard and cabbage. In a pan, cook gently and only for few minutes, in extra virgin olive oil with rings of leek and an idea of garlic, the chopped chard (please, remove the hard stem), the cabbage and, right in the end, add a sprinkle of salt, pepper and cubes of smoked bacon. The vegetables must be crisp.

Once the dough is ready, you can bake for example some simple bread rolls in the oven (250°C) until you see their golden puffy surface. (I used a baking tray for muffins, helped myself with a soup spoon and little water in order to dip it in and then fill the moulds with the dough). Stuff your bread rolls with the ingredients you like best.

If you prefer to try a tasteful focaccia, pour a layer of dough in a buttered baking tin, add the filling of vegetables, smoked bacon and some cubes of Emmenthal cheese. Make a second layer of dough for covering the filling, drops of extravirgin olive oil on the surface and in the oven for about 20 minutes (220°C). Serve the focaccia fluffy and warm, enjoy the taste and a good weekend to everybody!

Fragrances of chocolate to start 2021

Christmas season is at the end with religious celebrations on this January 6th 2021 and, in Italy, children love in particular way this holiday and wait with great enthusiasm and wonder for the arrival of “la befana”, a folkloristic character of the ancient tales, that is an old lady flying on a magic besom to bring toys to them.

On this occasion, we have prepared some little disks of excellent fine 70% dark chocolate with a range of tastes of dried fruit and spices on top. Because of the choice of ingredients, these delicacies might be a different version of “mediants au chocolat”, which represent an ancient tradition for the French pâtisserie.

For preparing them, you need chocolate (250g), the one you like best, be dark chocolate, or white or milk chocolate. Choose and chop some dried fruit (100gr) to top on the disks: we used apricots, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, sesame. Then, mix these latter all together. Temper the chocolate and when it reaches the right temperatures in the process, use a soup spoon to make small disks on greaseproof paper sheets, then sprinkle the chosen dried fruit, adding cinnamon, cardamom, hot pepper powder on top. Place your chocolate disks in the fridge to get them cooler. Then, out of the fridge, remove them from the greaseproof paper sheet and serve them with a good cup of warm tea or coffee to your guests. It would be a good idea to store them accurately in a tin box and keep in a cool place for 4-5 days.

Many thanks and now let’s enjoy a long walk in the new year. Stay safe, everybody! ❤

Home made white lasagna for the Easter table

It is the beginning of the first week of Spring and, in the range of crops at the food store, we might find the asparagus that can be chosen as privileged ingredient of several dishes for the Easter table. During the last weekend, I made some different kind of fresh pasta at home. For the dough, according to the gastronomy tradition of my region, Apulia, I used simply good local flours (Senatore Cappelli and semola) and water. No eggs were necessary and, in this way, the dish could be a bit lighter. What is more, you can store the fresh pasta in the fridge for a couple of days. At this proper, for example, I use to alternate layers of lasagna on layers of fridge papers that are cut of similar sizes of lasagnas and store them accurately in the fridge.

As for the recipe about white lasagna dish, you need few simple steps for making it. 1. After removing the lower wooden ends of the asparagus (you need three or four per person), steam them for five minutes and then put them in a pan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, a fragrant idea of garlic and cook them for few minutes more. 2. Make a smooth velvet Béchamel sauce. Melt some butter (I used about 30/40g), add a very small idea of garlic in the pan, if you like it. At this point, out of the small cooker, add slowly some all purpose flour (I used a couple of soup spoons) and mix it with the butter. Work it very well in order to dissolve each lump and have a smooth roux. Back on the small stove, add gently hot milk (250 or 300 ml) and keep on stirring and whipping until the white sauce is done. Add a sprinkle of salt, grated nutmeg and melt one or two generous handfuls of grated Rodez cheese (please, see the previous recipe – crêpes). 3. Cook lasagna pasta for about 5 minutes in salt boiling water. Then, strain and leave lasagna to dry on a clean towel on the table. Before starting with layers of lasagna, pour a couple of soup spoons of béchamel sauce on the surface of the cocottes and then alternate n. 4 layers of lasagna with béchamel sauce, asparagus and pieces of mozzarella cheese. 4. Place in the oven 180°C/200°C for about ten minutes (please, don’t leave it too long, in order to still have a moist surface) and then serve it very warm. I hope you enjoy the recipe and wish everybody ‘bon appétit‘.

Enjoy the music

A delicious dish for the Springtime table

Days are flowing towards the good season and, on the wave of staying at home, let’s try to focus on the delicious dishes we can prepare around Easter time. For lunch, today I made some crêpes stuffed with artichokes and fresh creamy robiola cheese. 1. As for the crêpes, I used one egg, half liter milk, 100 gr all purpose flour, a sprinkle of salt. After making a batter with those ingredients, I left it to rest for little while. 2. In the meantime, I prepared the filling by chopping a couple of artichokes very thin and then poured them in a pan with warm extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic. I sautéed them for about five minutes. Besides, I added a bit of warm water to soften them and a sprinkle of salt and pepper right at the end. 3. Time for preparing crêpes by pouring a ladle of batter at a time in a warm greasy pan and making thin disks. 4. I spread fresh robiola cheese on the surface of each disk and then added the artichokes. 5. Crêpes were rolled up and served warm (perhaps it is a good idea to place them in the oven 180°C just for few minutes to get warmer) with a good fragrant sauce made of small pieces (cubes) of tomatoes. (As for the tomatoes sauce, cubes of tomato were gently cooked for few minutes in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, onion, an idea of garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper).

I hope you will enjoy this recipe and wish everybody “Bon Appétit“.

Please, be safe for yourself and be safe for the others ❤