Tag Archives: photography

Amaretti Tiramisu

Standard

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

Advertisements

Bella Italia

Standard

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.
_MG_6280 _MG_6332 _MG_6335-3 IMG_6298_MG_6337-2 _MG_6340 _MG_6343 _MG_6381 _MG_6384 _MG_6385 _MG_6391 _MG_6393 _MG_6397 _MG_6406 _MG_6408 _MG_6411-3 _MG_6419

Raspberry Limoncello Cake with Mascarpone

Standard

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

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

Standard

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Do you remember that episode of Friends where Monica goes through 10 batches of oatmeal cookies in attempts to re-create Phoebe’s grandmother’s famous recipe and fails?  Only to find out later that it was on the back of a Nestle chocolate chip bag all along!  Well, something similar happened to me when I was about to make this apple pie.
Here is how the story goes. My lovely mother-in-law has an amazing pie crust recipe that is called “No Fail Crust Recipe”. Her pies are so tasty and the crust is so flaky that my father-in-law requests a birthday pie instead of a birthday cake.  I always call her right before I need it and write it down on a scrap of paper, use it and lose it. Every single time.  The day before Canadian Thanksgiving I texted her asking for the recipe again! No reply. I so deserved that. Finally, I get a text, “Just Google Tenderflake pie crust recipe”. What!!! Her famous No Fail Pastry recipe is printed on every Tenderflake box.  For those of you who are not Canadian, Tenderfllake is a major Lard producer in Canada 🙂 and apparently the creator of the BEST pie crust.  The recipe they came up with is quite unique as it has a bit of vinegar in it and creates the flakiest pastry I’ve ever seen or eaten. As you break into your pie crust you can literally see layers upon layers. It’s phenomenal.

On another note, as much as I am a firm believer in butter, you just can’t beat lard when it comes to light and delicate pie pastry! Everything in moderation. 🙂Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
What is even funnier I’ve had a recipe card cut out of a Tenderflake box ages ago tucked into one of my cookbooks. All this time!
So the recipe I am about to share makes 3 9″ double crust pies which serves me just right. I usually make one pumpkin and one apple pie for the holidays and freeze the rest of the pastry for another occasion.
As you probably see from the pictures above I didn’t just make an ordinary apple pie. Not only does it have dulce de leche added to the apples but it also features a BEAUTIFUL top crust. Don’t worry it’s not difficult to make, in fact it’s easier than a regular method and I will show you exactly how I did it.
Dulce de leche Apple Pie
Ingredients {for the pie crust}: Yields 3 9″ double pie crusts or 6 pie shells

  • All purpose flour- 5 1/2 cups/1.4 litres
  • Salt- 2 tsp.
  • Lard- 1lb/454 gr
  • Vinegar- 1 tbsp.
  • Egg, beaten- 1 large
  • Ice cold water

Method:

  1.  Mix together flour and salt.
  2.  Cut in lard with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. In 1 cup (250ml) combine vinegar and egg. Add water to make 1 cup. Gradually stir liquid into flour and lard mixture. You might need to add a little more cold water to make the pastry dough come together. Please, don’t overmix. If you think you have a perfectly shaped dough you’ve probably gone to far. 🙂
  4. Divide into 3 equal parts, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator to chill or a freezer if you are intending to use some of them later.

Ingredients {for the apple filling}:

  • Firm Apples- 6 large
  • Sugar- 2/3 cup *See Note
  • Cinnamon- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Dulce de leche- 1/2 cup plus extra for serving ** See Note at the bottom of the post on how to make dulce de leche
  • Flour- 1/4 cup
  • Egg, beaten- 1 ( for brushing on top)
  • Coarse Sugar- 1 tbsp. (I used Demerara sugar)

Method: 

Peel and core your apples and slice them thinly. In a large mixing bow combine sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, flour and dulce de leche. Make sure dulce de leche evenly coats the apples. Lick your finger. Mmm…

Now let’s make that pie!

Method: {How to put your pie together}

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C

  1. Take your pie crust out of the fridge and cut 2/3 off. Roll it out on a floured surface, drape it on your rolling pin and carefully transfer your pie crust into the pie plate. Make sure your pie crust hangs over the edges a little bit which will help to bring bottom and top crust together.
  2. Fill your pie crust with the apple mixture.
  3. Now the fun part.  Let’s get creative and make the top crust! Roll out the remaining pastry on a floured surface and cut out little shapes with a pastry/cookie cutter. I used my apple cookie cutter but you can you use anything you love that fits the autumn theme. 🙂 Dulce de leche Apple Pie (top crust prep)
  4. Brush the pastry that covers the rim of your pie plate with the egg wash and start placing the little pastry “apples” on the outer row making sure they are connected to the edges of the bottom crust, overlapping them slightly and brushing each circle with an eggwash to make individual cut out “apples” stick to each other and to give your pie an attractive shiny and golden finish. It’s okay to leave a little space betweens the pastry “apples” as it will act as slits and will allow the pie to ventilate while baking. Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Once you finished the first row, continue the same way until the whole pie is covered. Dulce de leche Apple Pie (top crust prep)

5. Don’t forget to brush it with the egg wash, it will seal all the individual bits of pastry and give your pie a beautiful golden colour. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of coarse sugar.

6. Put the pie in the oven on the lower rack and place a large baking sheet/pan to catch all the drips from the pie to eliminate a lot of mess in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature to 375F/190C and bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden and the apples are soft. If your apples are very ripe it will take less time to cook but it might take longer if your apples are not very ripe. In this case, loosely cover your pie with some foil and continue baking until the apples are tender all the way through. (Test with a knife for doneness, it should pierce them easily).

Once your pie is baked. Cool it for several hours. If you cut into it too early (like I often do) it will be very runny, however waiting a bit longer allows for all the juices to thicken so you don’t end up with an apple soup at the bottom of your pie plate. :-). Serve drizzled with a tablespoon of dulce de leche. I am sure I don’t have to tell you how indulgent it tastes. Pure heaven.

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Can you see all the crumbs? I tell ya the flakiness of this pie crust is incredible!

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Not to mention cinnamon apples in gooey dulce de leche sauce. A perfect holiday treat.

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

*Note: The amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of your apples. Mine were very green and very tart so I used 2/3 cup sugar plus dulce de leche and it was the right call. However, you might need less sugar than I did so ALWAY taste your apples before you put them into your pie.

**Note: I always make my own Dulce de Leche. I recommend having it cooked and cooled before you get to pie making. Here is an excerpt from my post Banoffee Tartlets where I wrote about the method behind making the easiest dulce de leche.

Remove the label from the can of sweet and condensed milk and put it in the pot completely submerged in water.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 1.5-2 hours. Make sure your can is completely covered in water through the duration of cooking or it will explode.  Cool until it’s ready to use. When you open it you will discover that your “ole” plain can of sweet and condensed milk got transformed into glamourous and silky dulce de leche.

This step could be done well in advance. I had mine stored for a couple of weeks before I got around to use it. On a side note,  I have to brag about the fact that Russian babushkas have been making dulce de leche for years before it became trendy all over North America, so the taste of “sgushenka” is the taste of childhood for every Russian child.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce

Standard

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika SauceThis recipe was on my waiting list far too long. As soon as I began blogging I knew I would have to write about stuffed bell peppers that my mom used to make. It’s an authentic Russian recipe, which means the peppers are stuffed with meat. Yes, we Russians are very much a meat loving nation. 🙂 However, our vegetable dishes are bountiful and ridiculously full of flavour and no one would ever imagine to sit down to just a plate of humungous steak. Variety and moderation is key to any diet in my world.
These peppers are loved by anyone who eats them, the meat filling is mixed with rice and flavoured with herbs and spices in perfect harmony, I tell ya.
Ingredients:

  • Olive oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Onion, chopped-1
  • Extra lean ground beef- 1/2 lbs
  • Extra lean ground pork-1/2 lbs
  • Rice, cooked- 1/2 cup
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped-  a bunch
  • Salt- 2 tsp.
  • Pepper- 1/2 tsp.
  • Bell Peppers (any colour but I prefer yellow and red)- 10 medium
  • Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream- 1 1/2 cups
  • Crushed Tomatoes- 1 1/2 cups
  • Smoked Paprika- 1 tsp.
  • Salt- 1 tsp.
  • Bay leaf- 1-2

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F

Cook rice or use leftover rice. If you are cooking 1/2 cup of rice just for this recipe I usually cook it the same way as I do pasta. Bring water to a boil in a pot and add rice to it, cook for 7-10 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s not completely soft, it will get there when you are cooking peppers.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan gently saute the chopped onion over medium low heat until softened for 5-7 minutes.

In a large bowl combine beef, pork. onion, rice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika sauce
Wash peppers, cut the tops off and removes the cores with seeds and membranes by gently pulling and twisting them out of the peppers.
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce
Stuff peppers with the meat filling. If you have any leftover filling roll it into meat balls. We used to call them “hedgehogs” when I was little because rice starts to poke out when they cook and they really start to resemble tiny hedgehogs. 🙂 Then stand them up in a casserole dish and put the meatballs (if you have any)on top. Choose a casserole dish where all the peppers can fit while standing up.
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce
Make sauce by mixing creme fraiche or sour cream with crushed tomatoes, then add paprika and 1 tsp. of salt. Pour the sauce over the peppers, add your bay leaf, cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the peppers are soft.  One of the best features of this dish is the sauce. After 40 minutes in the oven sour cream based sauce becomes even more delicious through absorbing the flavours of the peppers and the meat.  People joke that Russians put sour cream in everything and we really do. Can you blame us?! Wouldn’t you if you hit the jackpot!

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce
If your sour cream separated a bit in the process of cooking don’t worry it will still look just as amazing. Serve your stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes or on their own. I am getting hungry all over again just thinking about them!
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts

Standard

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
Have you ever walked into a European style bakery and felt absolutely in awe of the craftsmanship, skill and creativity? I know I am always amazed at all the tasty little things displayed. Would you be happy if I told you that for some of them you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and get baking?

These delectable pear tarts took me 30 minutes to make. True story.  What is even better I’ve prepared a step-by step tutorial on how you can do the same and perhaps even wow your friends and family at your Thanksgiving feast!

This dessert is beautiful and delicious despite the simplicity of preparation. I also love that it uses a very plain fruit like pear and turns it into a real star! I’ve used prepared and already rolled puff pastry which made the whole process pure joy. All you really need to do do is assemble the tarts – kind of like craft, actually.

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts

Ingredients: {Makes 8 tarts}

  • All Butter Puff Pastry- 1 sheet/375 gr
  • Egg (beaten)- 1
  • Pears-4 small or medium
  • Demerara Sugar (or brown sugar)- 8 tsp.
  • Double Cream/Whipping Cream- 8 tsp.
  • Coarse Sea Salt- a pinch

Method:

Preheat your oven to 375F/190C. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out your puff pastry. If you are using a block dust your work surface with some flour and roll out a rectangle 1/4″ thick. Divide your rectangular shaped puff pastry into 8 squares. With a sharp knife, cut an “L”  into 2 opposing corners, don’t cut all the way but leave  a ½-inch in two corners. Brush with the beaten egg . Pick up the cut corners of the pastry, cross them over each other (one over, one under) and lay them flat (now on opposite sides).
Salted Caramel Pear Tarts Brush the tops of the pastry with the eggwash and put the tray in the refrigerator to chill.
Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
Now prepare the pear filling. Peel the pears and split them in half lengthwise, core them, and slice in 1/4″ slices. Take the pastry shells out of the fridge and set it on your work surface, place one pear half in the centre of each tart. Then sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of double cream per tart, then add a pinch sea salt on top. Brown sugar, cream and sea salt turn into salted caramel in the oven without you doing a thing! Genius.
Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until pears are soft and pastry is golden.
Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
These tarts have a very delicate taste and are not too sweet. I’ve served mine dusted with powdered sugar.

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
But some them got golden sugar treatment. 🙂

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
Recipe source: Anna Olson

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

Standard

Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies “What can we have for a snack?”, my children say as soon as they step in the house after a day at school. Although they have a cooked lunch there they are absolutely ravenous when they get home. It’s this awkward time of the day, it’s still a bit early for dinner yet their appetites are so big they are not easily satisfied with a piece of fruit anymore. Of course, they ask if we have any biscuits at home…erm English for “cookies”. I am not a fan of giving them cookies for snacks, it just doesn’t sit right with me. However, if I make my own and put all kinds of healthy things in them and control sugar amount I might be okay with the idea and they will be thrilled.

Lo and behold- a protein and other nutrients packed cookie this mom approves. Good and healthy granola ingredients baked into a cookie form and  jazzed up with a little bit of dark chocolate, which let’s face it, has many positive benefits for our bodies and spirits. They are chockfull of old-fashioned rolled oats and dried sour cherries sweetened with raw Demerara/Turbinado sugar that has more minerals and nutrients than regular white sugar and has a natural caramel flavour. Bonus!

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat or All Purpose Flour- 2 cups
  • Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (not quick or instant)- 2 cups
  • Baking Soda- 1 tsp.
  • Baking Powder- 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp.
  • Demerara Sugar-1  1/4 cup
  • Butter- 1 cup/250 gr
  • Eggs- 2 large
  • Vanilla- 1 tsp.
  • Dark  Chocolate Chips or Chunks- 1/3 cup
  • Dried Sour Cherries- 1/3 cup
  • Walnuts or any other nuts (optional)- 1/3 cup

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F/180 C. Line your baking trays with parchment paper.

Mix first 5 ingredients- flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Beat butter and sugar until blended, add eggs and vanilla, continue beating for 2-3 more minutes. You can use electric mixer or an old fashioned wooden spoon. Both work like magic.

Add dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and mix well, now add dried cherries and chocolate chips and walnuts if using. At this point I just get right in there with both hands as I find mixing a cookie dough with a spoon nearly impossible but if you mastered it go for it!

Scoop each cookie with a spoon, using 1/4 cup of dough and drop it on your baking tray spacing them 2″ apart as the cookies will get bigger as they bake. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes.

Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies
The cookies come out soft and chewy straight from the oven, the aroma in the house creates an atmosphere nothing short of a domestic bliss and perfection. (I wish I could bottle it in and release it on those days when rooms are not getting tidied and homework is not getting done. :-)) Dried cherry in combination with dark chocolate is a heavenly twist on the traditional oatmeal raisin. My kids were mighty impressed!
Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola Cookies