Italian home-cooking can be explained in a simple equation: a few fresh ingredients + a bit of love = happy diners! This is always the case at my house, where we celebrate the abundance of the exquisite produce we get … Continue reading
I often find myself planning recipes that only require the use of yolks so that I can have some egg whites to play with. As I type this I will concede that this may sound odd to many, but I cannot renounce who I am, a food nerd, really! How many times have you separated eggs, promising yourselves you will give the unused whites a new, worthy life, only to find them weeks later in the back of your fridge, a scary, ectoplasmic entity begging you to be put out of its misery! Here is my favourite thing to do with the protein-packed goodness: whip it, whip it and then whip it a bit more! With sugar, that is, and a little dusting of cocoa powder to turn them into a delectable treat to accompany your coffee or afternoon tea.
INGREDIENTS, makes 12
100 g (just over 1/3 cup) egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt flakes
75 g icing sugar (1/3 cup), sifted (icing sugar is the same as confectioner sugar or powdered sugar)
75 g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste or the seeds of half vanilla bean
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1. Preheat your oven to 100°C (212 F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. In a large, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until frothy and very soft peaks start to form. I always do this do with hand-held electric beaters on low speed as it gets the job done in 90 seconds, with no sore wrist. But feel free to do it by hand if you missed a day at the gym and need to burn off some calories. Gradually increase the speed of your beaters (or your biceps) to medium and start adding the icing sugar then, slowly, the caster sugar. Keep beating for 1–2 minutes (or 5–6 minutes by hand) or until the egg whites are shiny, smooth and stiff.
3. Add the lemon juice or cream of tartar and gently fold it in with a metal spoon, taking care not to beat the air out of the meringue mixture. These few drops of acid will neutralise the eggy flavour that meringue can sometimes have, and will also keep them stable and preserve their crisp whiteness.
4. Add the vanilla and mix gently. Swirl the cocoa in.
5. Dollop teaspoons (or tablespoons, if you like them larger) of the mixture onto the baking tray, about 2 cm apart to allow for spreading. You can use a piping bag if you prefer, but I love a more whimsical, free-form meringue.
6. Gently place the tray in the oven and bake for 11/2–2 hours. If they start to colour, turn the heat down to 80°C (175 F). You know the meringues are cooked through when the base is touch-dry.
Cool at room temperature and enjoy as they are with coffee, gelato or, as my dad favours, a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream. The man is known for his sweet tooth …
Home-Made Marshmallows (http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/12/homemade-fluffy-marshmallows-corn-syrup-free/)
Raspberry cake with meringues (http://dinnerinvenice.com/2013/05/02/raspberry-cake-with-whipped-cream-and-pink-meringues-2/)
The Christmas season is heralded in my house with the inebriating smell of sweet treats baking in the oven, may they be my almond pastries, favoured by my boys for their resemblance with Rudolph’s red, shiny nose, or my dad’s morsel of choice, soft hazelnut cookies. These rustic looking nuggets are simply irresistible and they can happily carry you throughout your busy festive day: perfectly dunked in your morning coffee, afternoon tea or after dinner digestivo, they are sure to become your new best friend. The fact that they are rolled and baked in under 30 minutes will make them highly addictive…You are warned!
INGREDIENTS, makes 20
2 egg whites
1 cup of hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
1-1/2 cup of icing sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies in
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or the seeds from half vanilla bean
1. Heat up your oven to 180 C (350 F)
2. Mix egg whites, gournd hazelnut, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl until a thick paste forms.
3. Pinch off small bits of paste to shape balls the size of a large walnut.
4. Generously roll the balls in plenty of icing sugar.
5. Place the cookies, well distanced apart, onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cracked and beautifully puffed up.
Cool at room temperature and merrily consume with glee.
- #recipe Torta di Nocciole | Hazelnut cake (secretfoods.wordpress.com)
- The Great WHO’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies (sonjaandersonbooks.wordpress.com)
- Dairy-Free Hazelnut Crescent Rolls (dairyfreeswitzerland.wordpress.com)
And so, the long-awaited jolly season officially begins at my house, with a tray full of these colourful, soft almond cookies, heralding the impending gluttonous days that this time of the year invariably brings. And although it only feels it’s been a couple of months since my last Christmas, which I spent back home in Milan with my folks, I cannot help feeling comforted by the glorious festive spirit that my children and I exude as we set off to the kitchen to shape these traditional Italian cookies. Some call them Paste di Mandorle, others call them Amaretti, but Raffi and Miro have duly renamed them Rudolph’s nose cookies!
INGREDIENTS, makes 18-20 cookies
275 gr (1 – 1/3 cup)of caster sugar
300 gr (2- 1/2 cups) of almond meal
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1. Place sugar, almond meal, egg whites, vanilla and almond extract in a standing mixer and beat together for 2-3 minutes or until a sticky dough is formed.
2. Roll bits of dough the size of a large walnut and place them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.
3. Make an indent in each ball of dough with your index finger, then sit a cherry onto each dimple. Shape the rest of the dough into small rectangles (this is the typical Ricciarelli shape), cover them liberally in icing sugar and place them onto the oven tray with the rest of the cookies.
4. Bake at 180 C, 350 F for 18-20 minutes of until the bottom is firm, but the cookies are still pale in colour
5. Allow to cool and further firm up at room temperature before serving
They will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container
- How to Make Homemade Extracts – Vanilla, Lemon and Almond (ascendingstarseed.wordpress.com)
- Torrone alle mandorle e miele d’arancio (dolcevitadiaries.com)
- Chocolate Almond Cookies (dinnerdaydreams.wordpress.com)
My dear friends, it is with great trepidation and excitement that I can finally announce to you all that my first cookbook, Silvia’s Cucina will be released in stores and online on September 25! This is just a day after the wonderful Matt Moran will host my book launch at his restaurant, Chiswick. Have I won the lottery, I wonder? I have had the honour of being hand-picked by the delightful Julie Gibbs at Penguin Australia amongst a multitude of food bloggers. To this day I can’t quite fathom why she chose my blog and my story over so many on offer to her, but, here I am, exuding pride and joy as I share with you such exciting news. One thing is for sure, I would not be writing this post hadn’t I been so lucky to gather such a generous and loyal readership, so keen to explore my recipes, try them and share them with friends and family. To you all, GRAZIE MILLE! The process of writing this book has been exceptionally creative and fulfilling and it took about 18 months to go from first day of writing, to print. But there it is, my legacy in 220 pages! Take a look at a few images (photos by Chris Chen) and let me know what you think!
My Mum’s Roasted Capsicum Salad
Il Peposo, A Feisty Tuscan Stew
Torta Gianduja, flourless dark chocolate and hazelnut cake
- La Cucina (italiancitygirleatsanddrinks.wordpress.com)
- die Italienisch Küche/la Cucina Italiana (371chorales.wordpress.com)
- Cucina Colosseo (designersarahhealy.wordpress.com)
Strictly speaking Madeleines are not an Italian sweet treat. So what are they doing in my Authentic Italian food blog, you may rightfully ask? It’s one of the best known, most loved French buttery delight, but the geographical vicinity with France, the French influence in Val D’Aosta and Piedmont, both in language and cuisine and the fact that Italy and France have been calling one another “cousins” for centuries makes me feel entitled to love and share this recipe with you. Also, the batter itself is a Génoise cake batter …Génoise means “from Genoa”, the main city of Liguria, in Italy, another reason why Italians claim this sweet as, partially, theirs…
The recipe is fairly simple. It’s a combination of the usual suspects: self-raising flour, eggs, sugar, butter, orange and vanilla. The secret to a perfectly moist and soft Madeleine though, is in the time you allow for the batter to rest. I have had a few failures with these lovely, shell-shaped nuggets and it was only after reading the Roux bothers cook-book, the bible of French dessert, that I realized that even cakes need their beauty sleep! And I’m not talking about a power-nap. The batter needs to rest for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24. So, if you have an instant craving for Madeleines, think again. But if you are prepared to make this batter today and bake your sweets in the morning, by the time you’ve had a shower, you’ll be able to dunk a few warm ones into your morning coffee.
INGREDIENTS, makes 24 small cakes
3 whole eggs at room temperature
100 gr sugar (half a cup)
2 tbsp honey
120 gr of butter (3/4 of a cup)
175 gr (1 1/2 cups) of sieved self-raising flour
Grated rind of one large orange, or two small ones
Vanilla paste or essence (or seeds, if you have them)
1. Melt the butter over low heat and add the grated orange zest. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2.Whisk the eggs with the sugar and the honey until pale and creamy. Sift over the sieved flour and fold gently. Don’t over work the flour or the gluten with make the batter too dense. Fold in the orange butter and a teaspoon of vanilla paste.
3. Cover with cling wrap and rest for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
4. The next day, bring your oven to 180 Celsius (390 Farenheit). Spoon the batter onto a greased and floured madeleine mould. The cakes will rise in the oven, so only fill the mould to 3/4 full.
5. Bake 5-10 minutes or until golden and cooked-thourgh.
Dunk in your coffee and have a très magnifique day!
This is a reblog of my original post on Madeleines from 2011. I have since altered the recipe slightly, hence the need to update it and provide better quality images.
Life is at its best when the very simple pleasures it brings can be savored and enjoyed with unrepentant gluttony. A waffle cone filled with gelato on a hot summer day, warm apple pie served with cream as you snuggle up under a blanket and watch Downtown Abbey, freshly made cinnamon butter cookies to dunk in your morning espresso on a Sunday…Happiness is made of those brief, stolen moment of pure indulgence and I love nothing more than to allow myself the occasional treat when I most crave it. Are you with me?
INGREDIENTS, makes 12-16
100 gr (3/4 cups) icing sugar, plus more for dusting
150 gr (2/3 cups) of soft butter
150 gr (1 cup and 1/3) of self raising flour, 100 gr (3/4 cup) of plain flour
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoon of milk (optional)
1. Work the icing sugar and butter together until creamy and smooth (you can do it by hand or using a standing mixer)
2. When the mixture is creamy, add the flour, 1 table-spoon of corn starch, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and the cinnamon. If the dough is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoon of milk.
3. The cookie dough will look and feel sticky. Use a spatula to scrape it onto a sheet of baking paper. Roll it up in the shape of a sausage and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
4. Once it’s rested and feels firm, slice it up and place the biscuits on an oven tray, dust them with a little icing sugar and then put them back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
My fondest Easter morning memory takes me back to Italy, to being a child, to being with Nonna Irene. Every Easter she used to make Pupe di Pasqua (traditional Abruzzese Easter Dolls) out of pastry, for us children to dunk in our bowl of milk on Easter morning. Me, my sister Ale and my cousin Elena would be the lucky recipients of lovely peasant girl-like dolls while my brother Giammarco and my cousin Giorgio would devour their horse-shaped dolls in no more than a few bites. As if part of some gruesome tribal ritual, the heads would be the first to go, leaving our dolls bearing a vivid resemblance to Anne Boleyn! And so, it is now my pleasure to pass on such precious legacy and make dolls for my children. Following the family tradition, the doll received the Henry the VIII treatment…
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or EVOO)
4 tablespoons of sugar
75 gr (2/3 cups) almond flour
finely grated lemon zest
150 gr (1-1/3 cups) flour, well sifted
100 gr (3/4 cup) of self-raising flour, well sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
1 egg+2 tablespoons of milk for the glaze
1. Whisk the eggs with sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour in the oil, add the zest and mix well with a wooden spoon.
2. Slowly add the almond flour and the self-raising flour to obtain a dough that is just slightly softer than short pastry. Wrap it in plastic film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Turn the oven on to 170 C (340 F)
4. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Craft the doll according to your esthetics straight onto the tray. Glaze it with the egg and milk wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!
I am a summer person. I was born in summer. My true self seems to come to life at the early signs of the warmer months approaching. I hardly ever feel the heat, in spite of being feisty and hot-blooded, I don’t tend to perspire in excess either. Alas, summer is gradually fading here in Australia, the days getting shorter and cooler and, as I prepare for the months to come with stacks of home-made tomato passata and chillie oil in the pantry, I relish the bounty of seasonal fruit this time of the year brings, saluting the summer that has been and heralding a new autumn, in the way only figs can do. Sweet consolation!
INGREDIENTS, serves 8
For the pastry
250 gr/8 oz of flour
110 gr/ 3,6 oz butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
For the Frangipane Filling
100 gr/ 1 cup of pistachio
100 gr/ 1 cup sugar
100 gr/ 3.5 oz butter, soft
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
6 figs cut into thin slices
- French Pear Tart (also known as the bourdaloue tart) (sabaahkitchendelights.wordpress.com)
- Thank goodness – my first Gluten-Free Pastry Recipe (margaretmortondean.wordpress.com)
- Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies with Lime Glaze (spoonfeast.com)
- Blueberry Amandine Tarts (underthebluegumtree.com)
Have you been looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day treat recipe? Have you forgotten about today or have you been in denial about it, only to wake up this morning feeling a slight sense of guilt because you didn’t get your better half any tokens of your appreciation? You are not alone! Welcome to my 6 am panicking thought “OMG, it’s Valentine’s Day and I forgot about it!”. And so, while my darling man was still soundly in bed, I quietly rushed downstairs, whipped up a batter in less than 5 minutes, allowed it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes while running on the cross-trainer (all the while wearing a face mask to make myself look pretty for our romantic date later on in the day) and by the time I had my shower and got dressed, these chewy, delectable coconut bites were out of the oven ready to be drizzled with thick, syrupy dark chocolate. Talk about multitasking… Happy Valentine’s Day!
INGREDIENTS, makes 12 large cookies
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
1. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt for a couple of minutes or until soft peaks form.
2. Add the sugar, a little at a time and keep whipping the egg whites until thick and glossy.
3. Gently fold in the coconut and vanilla.
4. Dollop 1 tablespoon of mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. MAke sure to leave them well distanced as they will grow a little whilst baking.
5. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring your oven temperature to 170 C (340 F).
6. Bake the macaroons for 20-25 minutes or until the bottom in dry and golden and the top is slightly browned and firm. They will feel a little soft but they will continue to firm up as they cool down, at room temperature.
7. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then drizzle with melted chocolate. Rest until the chocolate has hardened, then surprise you beloved with your home-baked, love-filled treat.
- Recipe: Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn – Recipes from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- 10 Red And Pink Superfoods For A Healthier Valentine’s Day (huffingtonpost.com)