Tag Archives: Italian

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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Asparagus Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma Ribbons

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Asparagus Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma ribbons
If I was forced to choose the top three things I love about Italy I would have to say, in no particular order, my friend Angela and her crazy funny family, risotto and prosciutto di Parma.
Well, my fondness for Angela is understandable but the rest might require some explanation. Most people, you see, are pasta freaks. They will eat past in any form or shape with any sauce imaginable. Me, I love risotto. Warm, gooey and comforting risotto is all I want when I think of cooking something quick and simple, something I can eat out of a bowl while curled up on a sofa. And donʼt even get me started on Parma ham, The love affair started a few years back when we visited…you guessed it…Parma. How can one city give the world both Parmegiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma? The two are the works of a culinary genius! Or as Jane Austin put it in one of her famous books, “A happy thought indeed”. As Iʼd mentioned previously English summers can definitely work on giving us more sunshine but there are some things this climate does well and, apparently, growing asparagus is one of them. I was happy to take full advantage of fresh English asparagus that filled the shops and vegetables stands all over the city. The season is short so I was quick to think of several ways of incorporating one of my favourite vegetables into our meals.

Fresh seasonal asparagus is so flavourful on its own you don’t even need much to make this risotto work. Feel free to skip Parma ham if you are a vegetarian. This way you can enjoy the pure, unadulterated taste of asparagus.

Or you can add a prosciutto di Parma ribbon to bring out even more flavour.
Asparagus Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma Ribbons
Ingredients: Serves 4

  • Arborio Rice- 1.5 cups/400 gr
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock- 3 cups/750 ml
  • Olive Oil- 2 tbsp.
  • Onion-1
  • Celery- 2 stalks
  • Garlic-2 cloves
  • White wine (optional)-1/4 cup/75ml
  • Butter- 2 tbsp.
  • Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)- 4 oz/125 gr (or to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Asparagus- one bunch (10-12 stalks)
  • Prosciutto Di Parma- 1 or 2 ribbons per person

Asparagus Risotto with Parma Ham Ribbons

Asparagus Risotto with Prosciutto RibbonsMethod:

Put the stock in a pot and heat it. Wash the asparagus and cut off the tips, cut the rest of the stalks crosswise in 1 cm pieces.  Chop up onion, celery and garlic and saute them in olive oil in a large deep pan over slow heat for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat to medium and add rice, and fry it while stirring for 2-3 minutes, add the wine and continue stirring until the wine evaporated. Add a ladle of the stock and cook over low/medium heat until the stock is absorbed by the rice, add the chopped asparagus reserving the tips to the rice, continue adding a ladle of the stock each time you see that the liquid got absorbed by the rice, keep stirring as doing so will bring out the creaminess in rice.

While your risotto is cooking, quickly cook the asparagus tips. They will take 5-7 minutes, so arrange for both asparagus and risotto be done at approximately the same time.

When all your stock is gone taste your rice to make sure it’s cooked, if it’s not add a ladleful of water.  Risotto is NOT rice pudding and shouldn’t disintegrate in your mouth. Rice just like pasta should be cooked al dente- slightly firm to the bite.

When the rice is the right texture remove it from the heat and stir freshly grated parmesan into it (not that awful pre-grated stuff), then add butter, cover with the lid and walk away for 5 minutes. I once heard that this trick is called “the risotto maker”. When you come back and take the lid off you will see the most beautiful and creamy risotto! If your risotto is cooked the right way it will ripple when you pour it into a bowl but won’t hold any shape.
Place a few asparagus spears on each plate.
Asparagus Risotto
Or add a Parma Ham ribbon.
Asparagus Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma RibbonsAsparagus Risotto

Salted Caramel Affogato

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Salted Caramel Affogato
Salted Caramel Affogato. Doesn’t it look heavenly! Do you know what else is so stellar about this dessert? It’s a dessert your children will not steal from you because it requires a sophisticated adult taste and a deep love for coffee…and caramel. Better yet, only two ingredients are needed. Ice-Cream and Espresso. Affogato is Italian for “drowned”, so literally what you get is delicious ice-cream drowned in a shot of espresso. I can’t imagine anything better for an afternoon pick me up. Just picture yourself with a good book or a magazine and a cup of that liquid delight. I am pretty sure it would also go nicely with my morning paper and a holiday in Sicily this summer. Alas, summer holiday in Sicily is not in my near future but it is in Angela’s who, once again offered her help and Italian expertise for creating this post. 

Salted Caramel Affogato
Ingredients: (for 2)

  • Salted Caramel Ice-Cream or your favourite flavour-2 scoops
  • Freshly prepared espresso- 2 shots
  • Amaretto or Bailey’s (optional)
  • Chocolate shavings or curls (optional)

Method:

Scoop ice-cream into two individual cups or short glasses. Prepare espresso and pour over ice-cream, add Amaretto or Bailey’s if desired and sprinkle with chocolate. Don’t wait any longer, enjoy immediately!!

Salted Caramel AffogatoSalted Caramel AffogatoSalted Caramel AffogatoSalted Caramel Affogato

Garden Pizza Party all’Italiana

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Proscuitto di Parma Pizza
Who likes pizza? Who doesn’t! I have a confession to make. I didn’t like pizza for many years. I could eat pizza but it was never my number one choice if I had one. That until Brad and I went to Italy and had pizza the way God intended it to be. Thin yet satisfying crust crowned with a flavour galore of completely different toppings than we were used to…better toppings! The best part about Italian pizza is that flavour combinations are endless depending on the region of Italy you are visiting. With the variety you are facing one is guaranteed to find a favourite. Another great thing about Italian pizza is its simplicity. Is your mouth watering yet? Can’t make it to Italy by the next weekend or no authentic Italian restaurant in your area? No problem. This post is all about the homemade pizza that tastes even better. In order to achieve that authenticity I asked my great friend Angela to join me. Angela is 100 % Italian who happens to be one of my best friends and since two months ago is my “next door neighbour”. Alright, take that “next door neighbour” thing with a grain of salt, we do live in London after all but Angela and Tano and their two adorable girls live a stone throw away from us. That’s better:-).
One beautiful Sunday afternoon we decided to get together for lunch in our garden and pizza seemed like a good idea. Needless to mention a good time was had by all.

Adorable child “numero uno” Signorina Gloria sporting “pizza face” 🙂

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Adorable child “numero due” Signorina Sofia looking mischievous as usual.
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The usual suspects (minus me hiding behind the camera lens).
the usual suspects
My children are taking a break from modelling this time and running wild in the garden while Sofia and Gloria are taking their place.
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Here is a list of pizzas we made:
Prosciutto di Parma e Rucola Pizza
Proscuitto di Parma Pizza
Salami and Mozzarella Pizza
Salami and Mozzarella Pizza
Ham, Artichoke and Moroccan Black Olive Pizza
Ham, Artichoke and Moroccan Black Olive Pizza
And here is how we made them. Ready?
Ingredients(for pizza dough): Makes 6 medium pizzas

  • Flour- 1 kg
  • Salt- 1 tsp.
  • Active Dry Yeast- 14 gr (2×7 gr packets)
  • Sugar- 1 tbsp.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 4 tbsp.
  • Lukewarm Water- 650 ml.

Method:

In a bowl mix sugar, yeast, olive oil  and lukewarm water and let the yeast work its magic for about 5 minutes.  Sift together flour and salt and empty the mixture  in the food processor or a stand mixer, add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and pulse it until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the food processor into a large bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise somewhere warm  for 2 hours. (You can easily make it by hand if you don’t own the machines but they make this task a snap.)

Once the dough is doubled in size remove the bowl on a flour dusted surface and knead it a lit bit. Divide the dough into 6 equal sized balls. Now Angela tells me that a real Italian never rolls out their pizza dough but works it by hand that is why their pizza is never perfectly round. I trust her wholeheartedly when it comes to Italian food. The girl can cook!

The picture below demonstrates 4 main steps in pizza making. (It’s there just scroll down a teensy bit :-))

Ingredients for pizza sauce:

  • Tomato Passata (for non UK readers-passata is a smooth tomato puree)-1 tall jar
  • Olive Oil-1 tbsp.
  • Basil and Oregano-fresh or dried (I used fresh basil and dried oregano)

Ingredients for toppings:

  • Salami slices- 10
  • Fresh Mozzarella- 6×125/4 oz gr balls
  • Artichokes (from your local deli or tinned)- 4 0z/ 125 gr
  • Fresh basil – a handful
  • Black Olives ( we used Moroccan dry black olives from Sainsbury’s)- 5-7
  • Prosciutto di Parma- 6 slices
  • Ham- 2-3 slices
  • Arugula/Rocket- a handful
  • Parmesan cheese- a few shavings

Method: 

As you can see the quantities are hardly exact because it all depends on your taste. The main difference between American pizza and Italian pizza is that Italians don’t overload it, instead they use a few really good quality ingredients that deliver that flavour punch. Usually there is only 1 or 2 toppings besides mozzarella. Also, Italian pizza crust is really thin. Pizza often gets a bad rep for being unhealthy but if you make it at home the Italian way it’s not unhealthy at all!!!

Stretch out your pizza dough just like Angela is showing in the picture and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow it to rise again just a little bit. (However, if you like a very thin, I mean a paperthin pizza crust like Angela does, don’t allow the second rise and top it right away.) Use 2 tbsp. of pizza sauce and 1 mozzarella ball per pizza, improvise with the rest! If you decided to make Prosciutto Di Parma e Rucola Pizza, place prosciutto slices and arugula on pizza after it’s already baked with mozzarella and add a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano or any other good Parmesan cheese on top for the authentic touch.

Place your topped pizza on a parchment paper brushed with oil,( otherwise it will stick really badly as I learned the hard way) and bake at 350F/180C for 10 minutes or until the crust is baked all the way through and mozzarella is melted and bubbly.

The last and the main step is to enjoy it with your friends and family!


pizza steps

Salami Pizza
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