Author Archives: Freydom Abroad

Amaretti Tiramisu

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Tiramisu
So Italian week continues and this time I bring to you something Dolce. What comes to mind mind when anyone thinks of a classic Italian dessert?  Tiramisu, of course! Every Italian restaurant has it on the menu and it’s a frequent visitor to our house. Not too many things work so beautifully together as strong espresso and silky smooth mascarpone. I call this particular recipe Instant Tiramisu because instead of traditional crisp Savoiardi ladyfingers that take a couple of hours to soak up coffee and liquor I used already soft amaretti cookies or Amaretti Morbidi. I absolutely adore these little cookies in Tiramisu. They bring beautiful almond flavour into the mix making it even more desirable and impossible to stop eating! Also, they are little round guys which makes them fit perfectly in the individual mason jars that I used this time.  A quick side note about the mason jars, they might not be the most original things as they get used a lot but for a good reason! They provide perfect personal portions and you can always pop a lid on them and stick them in the fridge until dinner time. Tiramisu One of the characteristics of true Italian cooking is very few but good quality ingredients. This Tiramisu recipe is no exception. Tiramisu (prep)
Ingredients: {Serves 4}

  • Amaretti biscuits (soft or crisp)-  20-24
  • Espresso or strong coffee- 2 shots/2 oz
  • Mascarpone-1 cup/250 ml
  • Whipping cream- 1 cup/250 ml
  • Icing sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla -2 tsp.
  • Rum or marsala, brandy etc.- 4-6 tsp.
  • Cocoa for dusting- 3-4 tsp.
  • Chocolate, shaved

Method:

Traditionally Tiramisu cream topping is made of mixture of mascarpone, sugar and egg yolks but using raw eggs could be unsafe so the eggs are often replaced with whipping cream.

Make two shots of espresso if you have an espresso machine or 2 oz of very strong coffee. Divide your amaretti cookies among 4 mason jars or glasses. Pour 1/2 of espresso shot in each glass over the cookies and 1 tsp. of rum.

Whip mascarpone and cream with icing sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form, it will take about 5 minutes. Divide your mascarpone mixture evenly among 4 jars.Tiramisu (prep)

Dust with cocoa.
Amaretti Tiramisu
Or… Shave some chocolate using a cheese slicer or a knife.Tiramisu (prep)
And pile on top.Amaretti Tiramisu
I am still trying to wrap my head around how something so SIMPLE and QUICK could be pure Heaven.
Amaretti Tiramisu

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Bella Italia

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There are certain images of Italy that everyone is familiar with, mostly involving Tuscan villas. What I am sharing here is NOT quite so stereotypical.  We spent this past weekend in Trento, a city so far north it approaches the border with Austria. The first time we visited Trento a year ago we were not even sure we were still in Italy. Many signs were in both Italian and German, we couldn’t recognise half of the food items in local restaurants, while beer drinkers seemed to outnumber wine drinkers. And yet there remains something distinctly Italian, and the area itself is out of this world gorgeous. The mountains, the lakes, the rugged outdoors reminded us so much of our beautiful home in British Columbia. The centuries old architecture made it unmistakingly clear we were in Europe.
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Spaghetti alla Siciliana

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Spaghetti alla Siciliana ( Spaghetti with sundried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil)
How would you like to learn an authentic Italian pasta recipe that consists of only FIVE ingredients? As some of you know, I just returned from Italy 2 days ago and this recipe, along with Sicilian sun-dried tomatoes in a small tupperware container, was one of the things I brought home with me.
I was so blessed to be surrounded by amazing Italian homecooks who gave me tips and advice on cooking authentic dishes from various regions of Italy. Sun-dried tomatoes were an unexpected gift from our dear hostess. You gotta love Italian generosity and hospitality! I just briefly mentioned during lunch that I liked the tomatoes and she immediately pulled them off the table, put a lid on and handed them to me while saying, “Can you take them on the plane?” I wasn’t sure actually whether I could take them on the plane as we only brought our carry-ons but I was not about to refuse the precious gift.
As I was leaving another friend quickly told me how to cook this amazing pasta and in two days I’ve been home I’ve cooked it twice! This pasta is beautiful in its simplicity-so flavourful and satisfying! Here is what you will need. Spaghetti alla Siciliana -ingredients. Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Olive oil- 2 tbsp.
  • Garlic- 3 cloves
  • Red Chilli flakes-1-2 tsp.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped- 4 tbsp.
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped- 1/2 bunch
  • Spaghetti- 500 gr
  • Salt
  • Hard Cheese like Grana Padano or Parmesan (to taste)

Method:

Before I start, I would like to say that the flavour of your dish will almost solely rest on the quality of sun-dried tomatoes so keep that in mind when you are buying them. Get the best quality you can afford, after all you only need a little jar!

In a large pot of boiling and salted water cook your spaghetti according to package direction. I usually subtract 2 minutes off the cooking time suggested, this way you get them al dente.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan and add minced garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and red chilli flakes, cook while stirring over low heat for 1 minute, then add half of your chopped parsley. Set aside. Spaghetti alla Siciliana (prep)

Drain your cooked pasta and toss everything together in the same pan, add salt to taste and remaining half of chopped parsley. Serve with grated cheese on top. Seriously, it couldn’t get any easier or tastier than that!  Buon Appetito!
Spaghetti alla Siciliana (spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and parsley)

Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl

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Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl
Until a couple of days ago I was convinced it’s impossible to improve on a pumpkin pie. Why mess with what is already perfection?  I still believe the classic recipe is pretty darn great but every once in a while it’s fun to try a twist on an old favourite, especially when this awesomeness comes into play. Ready? Pumpkin Pie meets…Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
TOBLERONE. One of my favourite sweets ever! How could you not love those little crunchy bits of nougat in rich and smooth chocolate! It turns out that seams of light crunch mesh brilliantly with creamy pumpkin. A winning combination!Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls

I also topped each slice with whipped cream (a must) and a teensy bit of more crunch from crushed honeycomb. If you don’t have access to honeycomb you can use more crunchy nougat.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls

Ingredients:

  • 9″ pie crust-1 (I used the same recipe as my Dulce de Leche Apple Pie )
  • Solid Pumpkin Puree- 400 gr/15 oz
  • Eggs- 3 large
  • Double Cream/Whipping Cream- 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar- 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Cloves- 1/4 tsp.
  • Ginger- 1/4 tsp.
  • Nutmeg- 1/4 tsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  •  Toblerone (chopped)- 1/2 cup

For Topping:

  • Whipping Cream- 2 cups
  • Powdered Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla- 1 tsp.
  • Honeycomb, crushed- 1/4 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. The recipe and directions for the best and flakiest pie pastry are found here.  Roll out your pastry on a floured surface, then drape on your rolling pin and transfer to the pie/tart plate.  This is a one crust pie so we want the edges nice and clean that come up to the top of your pie plate.  The next step is blind baking which is necessary for all tarts that are filled later or to ensure that the crust is not too soggy. Line your unbaked pie crust with parchment paper and fill the pie plate with rice or beans (or a combination like I did because I didn’t have enough of each to fill the plate!). Bake at 400F/200C for 15 minutes, then take out of the oven, turn the temperature to 350F/180C, let it cool for 5 minutes and then lift the parchment paper together with the weights out of the pie.

Making tarts (blind baking) Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
While your crust is blind baking make your pumpkin filling. Beat your eggs with sugar, then add pumpkin puree, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside for a moment.  Now chop up your toblerone bar and melt it in a double boiler, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn. Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
Pour the pumpkin filling in the pie crust, then drop in melted chocolate randomly.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
Then take a skewer or a tooth pick and swirl it lightly.Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirl
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the filling is set. It will probably crack like mine did because of the different consistency of pumpkin filling and chocolate but I thought it made it look even cooler!
Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone SwirlsToblerone made some pretty amazing craters in that pumpkin. Don’t you think?

Whip some cream with powdered sugar and vanilla.

Do serve it with some whipped cream and crushed honeycomb or nougat, the extra crunch is heavenly!
Pumpkin Pie with Toblerone Swirls
For more pumpkin treats check out Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes, Toffee Honeycomb Pumpkin Muffins and DIY Pumpkin Spice Syrup.

Shepherd’s Pie (with a kick!)

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Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
What happens when we bring the comfort and heartiness of British cooking and the spice and spunk of the Indian cuisine? Well, many good things actually! Dishes like Mulligatawny soup and Chicken Tikka Masala have long been a fixture in most British pubs and homes. Perhaps combining Shepherd’s Pie and Rogan Josh curry is not pioneering a new frontier but it IS creating a delicious and memorable dinner nonetheless. Look at the vibrancy of the colours!
Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
Preparing it as easy as 1-2-3 and, even better, I’ve got loads of pictures for you to follow along. 🙂
Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Onion, chopped- 1 large
  • Cilantro, chopped- 1/2 bunch
  • Garlic, minced- 2 cloves
  • Extra lean ground beef- 1 lbs (technically Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb and Cottage pie is made with beef)
  • Carrots, diced-2 ( I used 1 orange and 1 purple!)
  • Cauliflower, chopped -1/2 head
  • Peas- 1/2 cup
  • Rogan Josh curry sauce or your favourite curry sauce ( I used Patak’s sauce since it’s my favourite)
  • Water- 1/2 cup
  • Potatoes, boiled and mashed- 4 large
  • Butter- 2 tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper

Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Method:

Wash and peel your potatoes and cut them in smaller and equal pieces, cook them in a slightly salted water until soft and mashable.

While your potatoes are cooking chop and dice all the vegetables. Just look at the colours here, all of the goodness of these will go into your meal! I saw purple carrots being sold at our local Sainsbury’s right before Halloween under the name “Witch’s Nose”. LOL I had to buy them! They look gorgeous and are incredibly sweet. My kids loved crunching on them for a snack. 🙂Shepherd's Pie (prep)

Separate cilantro leaves from the stalks, reserve the leaves and chop up the stalks, they carry too much flavour to get rid of them! Cook onions, cilantro stalks and garlic in 1 tbsp. of oil over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Add your ground beef and brown until no longer pink with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then add chopped carrots, cauliflower and curry sauce with 1/2 water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Taste your curry for the seasoning, add more salt if necessary. Shepherd's Pie (prep)
While your curry is cooking prepare your mashed potato topping. When your potatoes are soft drain them and mash with 2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt.
Shepherd's Pie (prep)
When your curry is done stir in frozen peas and chopped cilantro. Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Empty the contents into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes.
Shepherd's Pie (prep)
Bake at 350F/180C for 20-30 minutes until the filling is starting to bubble up. If you like a slightly crusty top on your potatoes broil it for 2-3 minutes at the end of your cooking time. Serve it with poppadums and mango chutney or a spicy lime chilli pickle. Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
Or you can dip your poppadums in the pie filling.Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
This shepherd’s pie is truly the best of the two worlds- the East and the West blending together.
Shepherd's Pie (with a kick!)
For more Indian food check out Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry.
For British food take at look at Ground Beef Wellington and Wild Rabbit and Pheasant Pie.

Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms

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Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
I’m not too fond of soup, which makes me strangely unRussian. In Russia it’s considered an essential part of lunch. One hasn’t eaten until one has slurped on soup.
I think it’s the childhood memories of mom’s voice ringing in my ears, “Eat your SOUP” and the promise to 8 year old self, “When I am a grownup I never eat soup again” that left my family soupLESS for most of my marriage. It’s a shame because Brad really loves soup.

I can’t remember saying the word “soup” as many times in 2 minutes as I have just now. It’s a fun word to say, don’t you think? Fun fact: the word for “soup” in Russian? “Soup”!

I am not 8 anymore and now know that soups could be incredibly healthy and nutritious while also being warm and comforting when the weather turns miserable – welcome hug for the soul.  You will fall in love with this Chestnut and Squash Soup with dried porcini mushrooms. I’ve used Coquina Squash for its sweetness but Butternut Squash will be beautiful as well.  This soup is such a wonderful blend of the nuttiness of chestnuts and sweetness of squash while dried porcini mushrooms bring in the deep aroma of the forest. Serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pure delight. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Ingredients:

  • Pancetta or bacon- 50 gr.
  • Red Onions- 2
  • Coquina Squash- 1
  • Fresh Thyme- a few sprigs
  • Dried Porcini Mushrooms (or any other dried mushrooms)-40 gr/1/4 cup
  • Olive oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Chestnut puree- 400 gr/15 oz can
  • Chilli flakes (optional)- 1/4 tsp.
  • Stew Mix (barley, split peas and lentils) or barley- 1/4 cup
  • Chicken stock- 1 1/2 litres
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms

Method:

It’s a good idea to peel and chop all the ingredients before you get going with the soup making so you are prepared and organised.

Cut your bacon into 1 cm pieces, peel, deseed and dice your squash into 1 cm dice as well, peel and chop your onions and remove thyme leaves from the sprigs. Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms Prep

Set a large pot on the stove and heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in it, then cook your bacon over medium heat, add onions, chilli flakes if using and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes until onions are softened. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Now add squash, barley and lentil mix and stir to lightly coat the ingredients with oil. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms Prep
Lastly add your pureed chestnuts, dried mushrooms with the liquid (make sure none of the grit get in there) and chicken stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, turn the heat up and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Check if your squash is cooked at the end, remove 1/2 of the soup and blend it in a food processor, then return it back to the pot and combine for a thicker texture. Alternatively you can blend all of it if you prefer a smoother soup but I love having a bit of roughness to it.
Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Serve with lightly toasted bread and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.Chestnut Coquina Squash with Porcini Mushrooms
This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Great Britain”.

Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone

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Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone
Are you tired of everything pumpkin yet? I have to admit I am getting there.  As much as I love seasonal baking once in a while I just have to break the mould and do something different. The days are usually dark and dreary in the long autumn months in England and we all crave sunshine to brighten our days and give us much needed Vitamin D.  Alas, that is not in the cards for this island dweller.  Luckily the Italians have it in abundance, so they gathered and bottled it for us less fortunate people  in the form of Limoncello.
My friend was having a baby shower which seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out my new bundt pan and to use up that tub of mascarpone I randomly picked up at the store. The life of a food blogger I tell ya! We often buy things with no firm plan or a recipe knowing that when the inspiration strikes we better be ready!

In this case, inspiration struck me late at night – when my mind was too tired to apply better judgement – causing me to bake not one cake but TWO! That’s right you are in for a treat, my friends. One recipe – two cakes. What could be better?

Raspberry Limoncello Bundt CakeIngredients: (For the cake)

  • Flour, sifted-2 cups
  • Sugar- 3/4 cups
  • Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking Soda- 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  • Greek yogurt, plain- 1 cup
  • Milk-1/2 cup
  • Vegetable oil- 1/4 cup
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Vanilla extract- 1 tsp.
  • Limoncello- 1/4 cup
  • Raspberries, fresh or frozen- 1 cup

Ingredients: ( For Mascarpone Frosting)

  • Mascarpone- 300 gr/ 1 cup
  • Whipping Cream/Double Cream- 150 ml/2/3 cup
  • Icing Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Limoncello- 2 tbsp.
  • White Chocolate, melted for drizzling on top- 50 gr

Method: For the Bundt cake.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease your bundt pan. I like to use a pastry brush dipped in oil to brush all the little crevices of the bundt pan to make sure nothing sticks and then lightly dust it with flour.

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl whisk yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla extract, limoncello and eggs.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine until blended, then gently fold in raspberries.

Pour the mixture into the bundt pan, it shouldn’t be more than 2/3 full and bake for 60-65 minutes until the cake tester comes out clean. Cool until safe to touch and remove from the pan. Cool completely and dust with some icing sugar.Raspberry Limoncello Cake

Let’s be honest, baking is tricky and one little ingredient can throw off the entire recipe. So when I stumble upon a recipe I love I am very eager to use it in different ways. Why not elevate an every day bundt to a show stopping dessert! All you need is mascarpone. 🙂
Method: For Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone

Follow the instructions above for the bundt cake. Pour your prepared mixture into a 9″ pan and bake in the preheated to 350F/180C  oven for 40 minutes.  I would strongly urge you to not just rely on baking times provided by  recipes as oven temperatures vary. Instead, always test your cake for doneness with a cake tester or a tooth pick (I use a long metal skewer).

Cool your cake and remove from the pan. When your cake is completely cooled split it in two layers. (My trick for getting two even layers is scoring the outside of the cake with a sharp knife first, then wrapping a thick thread around the cake so it goes inside the slit and then pulling two ends of the thread while crossing them over each other. It works perfectly every time).

Now let’s make the frosting. I have to say this Mascarpone Frosting is one of my favourites. It’s no fail and as easy as a regular whipped cream frosting but since it’s more stable so if you want to pipe fancy design you can.

Mascarpone Frosting:

In a large bowl whip together your mascapone, whipping cream, icing sugar and limoncello until firm peaks form but don’t overbeat. It usually comes together in 5 minutes.

Fill your layer cake with mascarpone frosting and decorate the top with drizzled white chocolate and slices of lemon.

Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone FrostingRaspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone Frosting I can’t even begin describe how fresh and delicious this cake tastes! Soft and buttery cake dotted with bright red raspberries and then that limoncello frosting. A dream. Try it. Have a tea party.Then tell me all about it.
Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone Frosting