Saturday, December 26, 2015

CHRISTMAS ON THE ISLAND


Victorian table Christmas tree in my sun room, which is now a 'snow room'.


Country Christmas tree cut from our property.


My little kitchen Christmas tree.


Christmas Eve with our daughter


Christmas Eve with my husband

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE, PISTACHIO, & DRIED CHERRY BISCOTTI


In America, twice baked cookies are known as biscotti. The word biscotti comes from the Latin word biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked. Biscotti made with a fat, such as butter or oil, will have a softer texture and shorter shelf life. These are made without butter or oil. In Italy biscotti are called cantucci or cantuccini. 



3 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
2 t (10 ml) vanilla extract
¾ cup (175 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T (15 ml) instant espresso powder
2 ½ cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
1 t (5 ml) baking powder
½ t (2 ml) baking soda
¼ (1 ml) t salt
1 cup (250 ml) shelled, unsalted pistachios
1 cup (250 ml) dried cherries
1 cup (250 ml) dark chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), chopped

 Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) degrees.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer, while it is running.
With a wooden spoon, gently stir in the chopped chocolate, dried cherries, and pistachios

Shape dough with lightly floured hands into 2 logs of 8 by 3 inches (20 x 7.5 cm). 
Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. 
Slice into ½ inch (12 mm) slices and lay on sides. 

Reduce oven to 300 F (150 C) degrees and bake for 12 minutes. 
Carefully flip them over and bake another 12 minutes.

Cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.






Monday, November 23, 2015

PORCHETTA-STYLE PORK ROAST

Sunday is the perfect day for a roast pork, especially an autumn Sunday. The pork roasting in your oven will fill the house with an incredible aroma. I served it with twice baked potatoes and Harvest Escalloped Apples, recipe follows.



1 (4 to 4 ½ lb/2 to 2.25 kg) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
2 T (30 ml) fennel seeds
1 T (15 ml) sea salt
2 t (10 ml) black peppercorns
1 t (5 ml) red pepper flakes
2 T (30 ml) fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
4 large cloves garlic
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) Marsala or white wine
½ cup (125 ml) chicken broth or stock

Pat pork dry with paper towels and place in a cast-iron skillet or heavy roasting pan.

Place fennel seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant (about 3 to 4 minutes).
Remove from heat and let cool.
When cool, pour into a spice grinder along with salt, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes.
Grind to a medium coarseness.
Place in a small bowl and add the chopped rosemary.

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C) degrees.

Cut each clove of garlic into 4 slivers.

Using a small paring knife, make 16 holes in the roast.
Place a sliver of garlic into each.
Rub entire surface of pork with olive oil and then spread the spice mixture over the surface.

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes
Turn down oven temperature to 300 F (150 C) and roast for another  2 to 2½ hours, or until an instant read thermometer registers 150 F (66 C).

Transfer pork to a cutting board to rest while making the sauce.

Place skillet or roasting pan on the stove.
Add the wine and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until wine mixture is reduced to about 1 cup.
Pour sauce through a mesh strainer into a bowl or gravy boat.

Carve pork into ½ inch thick slices and pour a little of the sauce over.


Serves 4 

Harvest Escalloped Apples
3 Granny Smith or Jonathan apples, peeled, sliced, and slices cut in half
2 T (30 ml) unsalted butter
3 T (45 ml) brown sugar
1 T (15 ml) granulated sugar
1 t (5 ml) ground cinnamon
½ t (2 ml) ground ginger
¼ t (1 ml) ground nutmeg
1 t (5 ml) fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1¼ cups (310 ml) apple juice


1 T (15 ml) cornstarch
2 T (30 ml) water

In a large skillet, add the apples, butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt, and apple juice.

Cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with water and add to the pan with the apples.
Cook until thickened.



Sunday, November 15, 2015

PEAR TART

Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. The cows are fed special grasses filled with herbs and flowers so they produce milk that is perfect for making this cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be found in grocery stores in 8-ounce (250-ml) containers.
Crostata di Pere.


1 ¼ cups (310 ml) pastry or all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
1 t (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
4 T (60 ml) cold unsalted butter (½ stick), cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
¼ cup (60 ml) cold cream or half-and-half (half cream)

Place the flour, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse a few more seconds.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolk and cream until combined.
With the motor running, pour the egg yolk mixture down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Turn out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up, flattening and forming the dough into a disc. Chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to fit a 9-inch (23-cm), removable-bottom tart pan. Press the dough carefully up the sides, then roll off overhang with your rolling pin and remove.
Cut a round piece of parchment paper, to fit in the bottom and up the sides of the dough. Place over the dough and add about 2 cups (500 ml) pie weights or dried beans on top of the parchment paper. 
Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
Let cool slightly and remove paper and weights.

Mascarpone Cheese Filling
¾ cup (175 ml) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
1 egg
½ t (2 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 T (15 ml) flour

In a medium bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and flour until well combined. Pour into the cooled tart shell and smooth the surface.

3 medium-size ripe Anjou or Bosc pears
¼ cup (60 ml) unsalted hazelnuts, chopped
2 T (30 ml) granulated sugar

3 T (45 ml) apricot jelly
2 T (30 ml) Calvados or peach brandy

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C) degrees.

Peel and cut the pears in half and remove the core with a melon baller or a spoon.
Arrange in the tart shell with the narrower ends pointing towards center.
If necessary, trim the pears to fit into the tart.
Scatter the hazelnuts over the pears and sprinkle the sugar on top.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until golden and the pears are soft.

Heat the apricot jelly in a small saucepan, or microwave it just until warm.
Turn off heat and add the Calvados or peach brandy and mix to combine.
Brush over the pears.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6



Saturday, November 7, 2015

BLOOD ORANGE SORBET - Sorbetto di Arance Rosse

Blood oranges are a rather gruesome name for deliciously sweet oranges with a deep scarlet colored flesh. They contain a powerful natural flavonoid that exists in red and purple fruits and vegetables. These flavonoids protect the human body from various diseases. Blood orange trees were originally grown in the fertile soils surrounding Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.
Sorbetto is the Italian name for sorbet. Sorbetto does not contain dairy and is like biting into a fresh piece of fruit. Adding a little Campari gives the sorbetto a sophistocated, and very Italian flavor!
Campari is an Italian aperitivo blended with equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water, and an infusion flavored with oranges, rhubarb, ginseng, and herbs.



¼ cup (60 ml) cold water
½ cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 ml) blood orange juice (about 8 to 10 oranges), room temperature
1 T (15 ml) Campari or fresh lemon juice

Pour water into a heavy saucepan.
Add sugar and heat while whisking until sugar is melted.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Juice oranges into a 2-cup measuring pitcher and then pour into the saucepan.
Add lemon juice or Campari and whisk to combine.
Refrigerate for 1 hour and then pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s direction.

Serves 4


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

PIZZA


EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA PIZZA


If you love eggplant parmigiana, you will love this pizza. If you don't want to fry the thin slices of eggplant, you can bake them in a 400 F (200 C) degree oven until crisp, but the frying of the eggplant is very quick and easy.


Pizza Dough
¾ cup (175 ml) lukewarm water
1 t (5 ml) active dry yeast
2 cups (500 ml) unbleached bread flour
1 t (5 ml) fine sea salt
1 t (5 ml) extra-light olive oil

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of the lukewarm water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Sprinkle in yeast and let proof for 10 minutes, until the yeast is creamy and foaming.

With the mixer running, slowly add the flour alternating with the rest of the water, salt, and olive oil. Continue to mix until a ball forms, about 10 minutes.
You can also do this in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until dough is soft and no longer sticky.
Place dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Spread a little oil on top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Remove from refrigerator and let bowl with dough come to room temperature before removing and shaping.

Place dough on a floured surface and stretch and form with hand to an oblong shape.

Place on a lightly oiled rectangular baking sheet.

Pizza Sauce
You can make my cooked pizza sauce (in my cookbook) or use a store bought pizza sauce.

Assembly
Spread a light coating of sauce onto the pizza dough.
Add about 8 whole basil leaves.
Layer on the eggplant slices (recipe follows)
Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle on some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake in a preheated 425 F (220 C) degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with a little more Parmigiana cheese and let cool a few minutes before cutting into squares.

Eggplant
Peanut oil, extra-light olive oil, or grape seed oil, for frying
1 large egg, whisked with 1 T (15 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) dry bread crumbs
1 medium eggplant, unpeeled or peeled 

In a large skillet, add about ½-inch of oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Using a mandoline, thinly slice the eggplant. You can also use a very sharp knife to thinly slice.
Dip the eggplant slices in the egg and then dip in the bread crumbs.
Using tongs, gently place slices in the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.
Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet while frying the rest of the eggplant.

* Any eggplant that does not fit on the pizza is the chef's treat to eat!