Feb 28, 2013

Winter minestrone

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Soups are no-brainer, who needs a recipe? Right. You don't. If you know a couple of rules, you don't. Because there are soups and there are soups. I went ahead and made the latter.

Feb 25, 2013

Lemon spaghetti

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A very refreshing lunch. Clean lemony taste, light and enjoyable. A nice surprise for your senses. And all in 10 minutes.

Feb 22, 2013

Chocolate shells


It's Hania's birthday party tomorrow. I made chocolate shells to fill them up with mascarpone cream. I know I'll run out of time tomorrow, so anything I can do today...I'm doing today. 

I had serious doubts about the shells. The recipe used aluminum forms. I knew paper ones were out of the question (after reading reviews). I have silicone forms I bought a couple of weeks ago. Without doing any more research, that would take more time than the process itself, I proceeded with my experiment. I melted a chocolate bar, spread the chocolate inside the forms, flipped them upside down and went to pick up my daughter from school. When back, I broke only a couple of shells while trying to take them out of the forms, but most of them came out perfect. The broken ones were just too thin, not enough chocolate.

We haven't decide which mascarpone cream to use yet, but these beautiful shells can hold anything creamy and delicious. And you won't have to do the dishes.

Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano

Time: 15 min preparation + 1-2h cooling = 1-2h 15 min



100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate (I used 50% cocoa chocolate)


Melt the chocolate in a water bath. Use two pots, one larger, one smaller. Fill the larger one with water, the smaller one with pieces of chocolate. Place the smaller pot inside the larger one. Heat up the water, don't boil it, turn the heat off. Keep mixing the chocolate till it melts, about 3 minutes.

With a small spoon, spread the melted chocolate inside the silicon forms, making sure you cover it all well. The places where you can see the silicon through, that's where it's going to break later. Place the forms upside down on a parchment paper or a grill till the chocolate sets, about 1-2 hours, depending on the type of chocolate and the outside conditions.  Gently, detach chocolate from the top edge of the silicon form. Then, keeping the form upside down on a surface , slowly roll the silicon from the chocolate.

To be safe, store the shells in the fridge till you're ready to use them.

I would not recommend using mascarpone cream from tiramisu recipe. The cream needs to be thicker.

Feb 21, 2013

Chocolate chunk cookies with almonds (Giada's incredible cookies. Version 1)

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I didn't give up. The recipe calls for hazelnuts. I had a couple of bags open, leftover from Christmas. Well, I burned them all...and I only needed toasted nuts, not burned. So, let's say I used my hazelnuts up. Anyway, I rarely feel like hazelnuts. They have too much flavor, almost nauseating.  Except when I make these cookies. The original recipe calls for hazelnuts and that's all I've used in the past. And the cookies were always fantastic. Today I made them with almonds. And they are not bad at all. In fact, I'm going to forget about hazelnuts all together.

Toasting almonds

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Toasting nuts is a tricky thing. None of the directions I have found so far have worked. It seems like it's experimenting every time. Maybe it's the type of nuts, how they have been stored, was the bag opened, how old they are, how dry or how moist. Are they from California, China or Turkey? I don't know. But it all seems to matter. 

Feb 20, 2013

Vanilla sugar

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This is the vanilla sugar I use. The one you find in a store is called "vanillin" and I swear, I can taste the difference in the final product. Especially, the last time I made chocolate muffins. I misplaced my vanilla sugar. It was sitting in front of me, but I missed it. I used a packaged one that, I wonder why, I still had in my drawer.  And I don't know if it was because I knew about it or because there really was a difference, but the muffins tasted...weird, synthetic. I didn't tell anybody else, so they ate it. I had one.

Feb 19, 2013

Baked penne with vegetables

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So, I had an early lunch. Very much unlike me and I very much liked it. This hearty Italian dish is full of Italian flavor not to mention vegetables that actually taste good.

Marinara sauce

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Marinara sauce is a staple accessory in my kitchen. If it has marinara sauce on it, my daughter will eat it. Let it be fish, vegetables, meatballs and, her most favorite, pasta penne. Penne rigate (with ridges) works the best. The sauce is not creamy, so it needs some help (ridges) to stay on the pasta instead of on the bottom of your plate. Nothing worse than a watery sauce.

Feb 14, 2013

Parmesan frollinis

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Yeah, I made hearts. But they are not sweet, or just as sweet as Parmesan is. I always have some Parmesan in the house. Penne with Parmesan and black paper is one of my favorite pastas. I weighted the small piece of the cheese in the fridge: perfect, exactly 100g (3.5oz). 

Feb 11, 2013

Pita bread

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Monday, Feb. 11. 2:30 pm (CET). First, third and sixth pita bread, counting from the bottom, on the picture above,  are the best. I added some color to the rest and that was a mistake. Not a big one, I've had worse.

Feb 9, 2013

No-knead ciabatta

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Saturday, Feb. 09. 2:30 pm. When I can't go to Italy, I make Italy come to me. This is Italian food at its best. Just a touch of olive oil and I'm in heaven.

Feb 8, 2013

Carnival donuts with jam

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Thursday, Feb. 7. 6pm. I wasn't afraid to try the recipe, but to try my own first donut ever - yes. The Italian recipe looked beautiful and my "Bombe di Carnavale" taste fantastic. I just don't know what to do with all that used oil, I put it on the balcony for now.

Feb 5, 2013

Focaccia with onions

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Monday, Feb. 04. 11:30 am. That was our Sunday lunch and supper. I wanted to make it little easier on myself, still bake something, but not a dessert so I would have had lunch covered as well. I like baking. It's a clean job, always smells good and you never know what's going to come out. Especially, when it comes to yeast recipes. There, you don't know if the dough is going to rise in the first place. But when it does...champagne for everybody!

Feb 4, 2013


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Sunday, Feb. 3. 10:30 am. Besides Italian cookies, I love Italian salty snacks. Now and then, I buy some here and always when in Italy.

Feb 1, 2013

Apples in pancakes

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Thursday, Jan. 31. 12:30 pm. Hania has winter break, I happen to be on break all the time, and we love long, lazy, delicious breakfast. I still think that preparing anything more than pasta or sandwich before 5 pm can be as annoying as daytime television. Fortunately, my desire to eat something good usually wins over any noise...so I made apple pancakes, I mean...apples in pancakes.