zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Christmas menu

Day 1

Wild boar stew
oakleaf lettuce with pear, honey and balsamico
sage and thyme bruschetta

Vanilla cream pie with caramel

Day 2


Ham with caramelized onions, roasted tomato and rucola

Hare in Chianti

Chocolate souffle with cinnamoncream

Fall - chestnuts

Another great thing about the fall is the abundance of food you can find just outside. I told you about mushrooms already and I am longing for the day I can tell you about truffle hunting. It´s one of my biggest wishes to experience that.
But, as you can´t always get what you want, this blog is about another fall product that I like. Chestnuts.

It is very comforting to light a fire on a cold fall day and roast chestnuts for dinner. You should not be afraid of a little dirt because it gets a bit messy, but it´s worth it. You carve the chestnuts with a sharp knife, roast them on the glowing ashes and put them in a wet towel. 

Leave them for a minute, peel them and enjoy the taste. The go particularly well with vino novello and a jacked potato with sage.
One of my dearest Italian friends told me that it is almost an art to know how to end your dinner. Should you have a chestnut last, or a sip of wine? Just try, and try again, and again, because you want to be very certain. I probably don´t have to tell you who got a little drunk.

Related chestnut products, like chestnut mash serve many purposes. Think about a chestnut-quiche. I use canned chestnutmash, you can prepare your own but it is a lot of work and it just never seems to get right.
Heat the oven to 180°C. For the puff pastry click here. Put the dough in a greased cakepan. To fill it: I fry a little bacon, some shallots and garlic until lightbrown. Mix it carefully with the chestnut mash. Add grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Cover the dough with it. Mix two eggs, 1 spoon of milk, salt, pepper and some more parmesan and pour it over the pie. Shake slightly to spread it well. Leave it in the oven for about 40 minutes until the eggs are colored.

You can also prepare a sweet chestnut pie. In that case, mix the chestnut mash with 1 sachet of vanilla sugar, 2 spoons of table sugar, 2 spoons of cream, and a beaten egg white. Spread it on the dough and leave it in the oven for about half an hour.

Chestnut flour has a lot of possibilities. I especcialy like castagnaccio, a Tuscan pie of chestnut flour, raisins, walnuts, rosemary, olive oil and pine nuts. You can find recipes everywhere.

My own recipe is a chestnut-chocolate pie.
150 gr. chestnut flour
30 gr. white flour
20 gr. cocoa powder (the sweet one)
200 gr. butter
175 gr. sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
4 eggs

Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a cakepan. Mix the chestnutflour with the white flour and the cocoa. Beat the butter with the sugar and add the eggs one by one. When it´s an equal substance, add the flour little by little and keep beating until you have a smooth, equal batter. Spread the dough in the pan and bake it for 45 minutes.

And if ater all this, you have still chestnuts left.... use them to decorate your autumn home.  

The second day of Christmas - ravioli stuffing and more

On day 1 I am going to prepare the ravioli, but as I have planned a mushroom broth on day 2, we´ll be very efficient and prepare two things at a time. NB I won´t give you a recipe for pasta dough for there are millions to be found.

25 gr. of dried porcini
500 gr. of fresh, mixed mushrooms
Fresh thyme and sage

Soak the porcini in tepid water for half an hour and then squeeze them gently and dry them.
Don´t throw away the water, it will be used for the broth.
Clean the mushrooms with kitchen paper, remove the stems but don´t throw them away. Cut them into slices and pieces.
Divide the porcini and the mushrooms in two parts and put one part aside.

Ravioli-filling, day 1:
1 shallot, chopped into very small pieces
The first part of the mushrooms and porcini, chopped a little smaller
1 spoonfull of olive oil
salt, pepper
1 small glass of white wine
grated parmesan, ca. 2 spoons

Chop the thyme and sage really small.
Fry the shallot in the olive oil at moderate fire until it´s soft. Add the mushrooms and the herbs and fry them until they´re slightly brown. Add the wine, make it boil and then lower the fire. Let evaporate all liquids completely. Remove the pan from the fire. Then add salt and pepper and the grated parmesan, mix well and let it cool down.

Prepare the pasta dough (you can find recipes everywhere) and make the ravioli by putting a small spoon of the filling on it, cover it and cut it into regular pieces.

Mushroom broth, day 2:
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion or shallot, chopped
The second part of the mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic glove, pressed
Fresh twigs of rosemary, parsley, celery and the thyme and sage from the base
salt and pepper
olive oil

Use the stems you have put aside before. Make a bouquet garni from the other half of the thyme, sage, parsley, celery and rosemary. Put the stems, carrot, onion, the porcini water and the bouquet garni in a pan, add water (about 1 liter), salt and pepper. Make it boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for at least half an hour. Pour the broth through a sieve.

Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil at a moderate heat, until they´re light brown. Add the broth and make it boil again, the add the mushrooms. Lower the fire and let it cook for 10 more minutes.
You can add a broth cube, e.g. Porcini, but it´s not necessary.  

Cinnamon raisin bread

Something nice for breakfast or to accompany your tea. It´s is not difficult, but it takes time.

500 grams of flour
a pinch of salt
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
1 spoon of cinnamon
ca. 250 ml. lukewarm water
50 grams of raisins.

Soak the raising in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes and dry them carefully.

Mix the flour with the salt, yeast, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Little by little add the water until you reach a smooth and flexible dough. Continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticky.
Let it rise for at least an hour in a bowl covered with a hot towel. Put it away in a warm, dry spot.

Then knead the dough again, carefully adding the raisins until they are well divided through the dough. Let it rise again for at least an hour.

Knead again and stretch out the dough to a long roll, the diameter must be about 2 centimeters.
Roll up the dough to a volute form. Cover it with a new towel and let it rise for another half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 225°C. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190° and bake for another ten minutes. The bread must sound hollow when you knock on it.

This bread tastes fine with an apple-honey jelly.

Lazy lemon pie

With a minimum effort you can reach a very fresh effect with this lemon pie.
If you want to make it easy on yourself, use instant puff pastry and a jar of lemon marmelade (by the way, any marmelade will make a nice pie).

Puff pastry
Lemon marmelade

Start preparing the lemon marmelade, for it has to cool down completely. You will find the recipe here.

Prepare the puff pastry with 125 gr. of flour, 125 gr. of cold, hard butter and 62.5 ml. ice water. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour. Roll it, fold it back together again and give it another rest for half an hour. Repeat that once more. Or, use the instant pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Grease and flour a baking pan and put the puff pastry in it. Put a leaf of baking paper on it, and fill it with a support stuffing of dried beans.
Bake the pastry with this stuffing for about 20 minutes, then remove the beans and the paper and bake for antoher five minuts.
Let it cool down and spread the marmelade on it.

Monteolivo apple wine

After last year´s exercise of making my own wine, I found enough courage to try another kind. This year´s apple harvest was abundant, but a dubious quality. The apples tasted very good, but didn´t look very attractive, a bit small and strangely shaped.

I decided on apple wine so I had to chop them into small pieces and press them, hoping there would be enough juice to fill the fermentation bottle. The quality was better than I hoped for so I got my desired 5 liters of juice.

Of course, it would not be Monteolivo wine if there had not occurred a problem. The must didn´t start the fermentation. I could have added more chemicals, but that would have been the easy way out. Which, you know, is not my style.

I roamed around the internet and the solution was ever so kitchen was too hot. I put the whole lot in the cantina and the process began the way it should. After about one week the fermentation stopped so I could start clearing the wine. The smell was delicious and who minds a sticky kitchen?

The result was great. 4 bottles of Monteolivo apple wine and half a liter to celebrate immediately. It tastes fresh, exactly dry and yet sweet enough.

 I´d say.... cheers!!

Dolce freddo - a chocolate desert.. when nothing else matters

This is an extremly heavy desert. It tastes great, but you should only have it after a light dish like a salad..unless you don´t mind. Like me.


100 grams of butter
50 grams of cocoa powder (the sweet kind is the best)
50 grams of sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup of espresso
100 grams of biscuits
100 grams of amaretti

Melt the butter and beat it with the sugar until you get a foamy substance. Add the eggs one by one. Add the espresso. Carefully add the cocoa powder. Keep beating until it is smooth.

Crumble the biscuits and the amaretti. I use the kitchen machine, but it works well when you put the biscuits in a towel and use a rolling pin.

Mix the biscuits and amaretti with the cocoa mixture and put it in a greased cake pan. Leave it in the fridge for a night.

You can serve it with mascarpone, or whipped cream but maybe orange parts will be better to hold the illusion of a healthy life.

An apple a day

To be honest, I prefer chocolate to fruits but when it comes to apples I completely understand why Eva took a risk with her place in paradise. I would have chosen the apple above that Adam guy too.

Apples are great to experiment with. Of course there´s nothing wrong with the standard apple pie but try to dip apple parts in a little melted chocolate. Let it harden for a few seconds and you can serve a completely different tea.

Or try my apple cake, click here for the recipe. 

I made one today and prepared a huge bowl of compote

Speaking of which: have you ever tried a variation of the sweet apple compote by using fresh green herbs? I recommend!

1 kg of apples – goldreneits are the best, but if you dont mind some larger pieces you can practically use every kind of apple.
2 spoons of sugar
fresh thyme, rosemary and marjoram

Remove the skin from the apples.
Cut them into really small pieces.
Put the pieces into a pan and add the sugar.
Chop the herbs and add them to the apples.
Add some water or apple juice, make the whole lot boil then lower the fire and let simmer for a least an hour.
Let them cool down.

Serve the apples with thin sliced veal or pork chop or a not too strong cheese, like a provolone dolce.

Sweet variation:
1 kg of apples – goldreneits are the best, but if you dont mind some larger pieces you can practically use every kind of apple.
2 spoons of sugar
1 spoon of cinnamon
2 spoons of honey

Remove the skin from the apples and cut them into small pieces. Put everything into a pan add a little water, applejuice or calvados. Make it boil, then lower the fire and let simmer for at least one hour.

The sweet versions goes very well with goat cheese.  

Snowwhite - a winter cake

A nice final for a winter looks like the earth, slightly covered with just a little snow.

For the cream:
200 ml. whipped cream
80 gr. of dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
1 spoon of water
1 egg, beaten
2 spoons of vanilla sugar

For the cake:
150 gr. flour
150 gr. butter
140 gr. sugar
10 gr. of cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 teaspoon Of baking powder

Prepare the cream first. Beat the cream without sugar and leave it in the fridge until use.
Melt the chocolate with a spoon of water au bain marie (or use the microwave).
Mix the chocolate with the vanillasugar and the egg. Do it quickly to prevent the chocolate from hardening again.
Carefully mix the chocolate mixture through the cream. Poor the mixture in a flat bowl and leave it in the fridge for at least three hours.

In the meantime, prepare the cake.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Mix the sugar and cocoa powder. Beat the eggs with the sugar mixture until foamy. Add the butter. It works very well to melt it first, but it´s not necessary.
Add the flour little by little, add the baking powder and beat for a few minutes until you have a smooth batter.
Grease and flour a cakepan, pour the batter in it and put in in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Let it cool down.

Cut the cake in two in the length. Spread half the chocolate cream over one half, then cover it carefully with the other half of the cake. Wrap it in plastic foil and leave it in the fridge for another hour.

Dust the cake with a little sieved icing sugar. Serve with the rest of the chocolate cream.  

Don´t put all your eggs in one basket - or cake

For those who like something slender and less greasy after all the december food.
Or for those who like a variation of the normal egg cakes.
Or for those who just like baking and cooking.
Or for those who, like me, have overenthousiastic chickens that produce an egg surplus.

6 small or 4 big eggs
150 gr of sugar
150 gr of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
1 sachet of vanilla sugar

Heat the oven to 150° C
Grease and flour a round cake pan
Mix sugar, vanilla sugar and cocoa powder.
Beat the eggs with the sugar mixture for a few minutes.
Add the flour and baking powder little by little and keep beating until the batter is smooth and fluffy.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake it for about half an hour in the middle of the oven

You can eat this cake just like it is, or make it less dull with whipped cream, mascarpone or chocolate mousse. Of course it will become more greasy then, but YOLO...not?