Baking in Italy:: Delicious Focaccia

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 4.30.43 PM If you follow along on Instagram, you might have noticed that I have made a lot of focaccia this summer. Focaccia is the perfect marriage of fluffiness and crispiness. It’s such a delicious part of meals here in Italy and is versatile too. You can use it for sandwiches or keep it simple. I love to use focaccia as an appetizer with olive spread, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, and a crisp summer rose wine. It’s the perfect start to a perfect evening.

You can find the story behind focaccia, along with several yummy cocktails to serve with it, in Cocktail Italiano.

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3 cups double zero flour (super fine flour)
– 1 package dry yeast
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet + 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
– 2 tablespoons coarse salt + 1 teaspoon for finishing

To prepare:

Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl. put flour and oil and salt and water, combine until it forms a sticky dough, it should be very sticky. Flour your surface and turn the dough onto floured surface. knead gently for a minute until dough forms a soft dough.

On an oiled cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples into the top of the dough.

Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil cool and eat warm or at room temperature. The key is to let the oil soak in as the focaccia cools.

 

 

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4th of July Firecracker Cookies for Kids

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Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. I’m guest-posting today just in time for my second favorite holiday, the 4th of July!

For as long as I can remember, July 4th has been a special holiday for me. I love the patriotic attitude, the fireworks, and of course, the food! Since 2009, I’ve spent every 4th of July on the Florida Panhandle with my husband’s family. Over the years, the family has grown, and there are a lot more kids than there once were. Because of that, I’ve started to look for things that can both entertain the kiddos while pleasing their palates. After all, I’m not a regular aunt, I’m a COOL aunt!

While at Target recently, I stumbled upon the cutest 4th of July decor in their dollar spot. Namely, these adorable metallic paper straws. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our beach trip in some way. Taking a tip from Annette, I started thinking about how these straws could be used differently than just with cocktails (although nothing wrong with that!).

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Then, BOOM! I had an idea: 4th of July firecracker cookies. What’s more fun than food on a stick?! These stuffed cookies dipped in white chocolate serve a few fun purposes:

  1. Kids can get involved by decorating them with sprinkles.
  2. They make a darling centerpiece – just fill a festive vessel with dry rice!
  3. They’re fun to eat!

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Let me know if you give these a try, or save them for your food arsenal later this year. Simply swapping out icing and sprinkle colors means these can be used for just about any holiday!

4th of July Firecracker Cookies

You will need:

– Double stuffed sandwich cookies
– White melting chocolate
– Sprinkles/candies for decorating
– Paper Straws

To prepare:

Begin by cutting your paper straws down. I snipped off about 3 inches. Set aside.

Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

If you want to have multiple shades of icing, divide your chocolate into two (or more) microwave safe bowls, and melt it according to package directions. I melted mine in 30 second increments until smooth.

Add food coloring and mix well.

Dip your sandwich cookies into the icing, using a spoon to cover at least half of the cookie. Gently lay the cookie down on the cookie sheet and decorate!

Once your cookies are decorated, place the cookie sheet into your freezer for 15-20 minutes until icing is firm.

Remove from freezer.

Gently squeeze the top of your straw to make it flat at one tip. Insert this flat part slightly into the cookie (about 1/4 – 1/2 inch). Repeat with remaining cookies.

Place your firecracker cookies in a rice filled vessel until it’s time to chow down and enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!

xo, Nicole

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Summer Dessert:: Easy Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

I don’t know about you, but peach cobbler is one of my favorite summer desserts. We have gorgeous peaches back home in Georgia, but when the peaches are allowed to ripen on the trees as they do here in Italy, the fragrance really infuses the peach dishes. It’s divine.

As we dip further into the summer months, you’ll notice more and more peaches at your local grocery stores and markets. I bet you’ll actually notice the lovely scent before you see the fruits themselves.

Here’s my quick and easy peach cobbler recipe. This dish is perfect for your summer gatherings (and 4th of July cookouts). Don’t forget to top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Let me know if you give it a try.

Easy Peach Cobbler
Serves 6-8

You will need:

– 8 ripened peaches cut into wedges
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 2 cups flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup butter cut into small cubes
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup cold water

To Prepare:

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F.

Wash and cut the peaches into wedges and toss with 1/4 cup sugar, set aside.

In a large bowl combine flower, baking powder, salt, butter, and sugar. With your hands, knead the ingredients until the dough becomes sandy then add water and combine until the dough pulls together. The dough should be soft.

In a ceramic baking dish place the peaches (I like an oval 9″:  9″ x 6 1/2″ x 1 3/4″ high; 1-qt. cap.), and then cover the top with the dough. The dough should be rustic and look cobbled. Place dish into the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until peaches are bubbling, and the cobbler is golden brown.

Enjoy warm with ice cream, whip cream, or at room temperature.

Photo Credit: Me

 

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Tomato Week:: Tomato Tart

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This week, I’m covering one of my favorite summer ingredients: tomatoes. Tomato season is on the horizon and will be here before we know it. Since it’s almost here, I thought this week would be the perfect time to share a few of my favorite tomato recipes.

Today it’s my recipe for my tomato tart. When shopping for tomatoes for this recipe, look for the heirloom variety. Truthfully, they’re probably best from your local farmer’s markets, but I’ve beautiful ones at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods. Get a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes for the perfect tart. The uglier the better when it comes to heirlooms!

Tomato Tart
Serves 6-8

For the Crust:

You will need:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon salt
– 1/4 cups ice water

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Make crust in a food processor. Put flour in the bowl and add oil and salt. Pulse until pebble-sized crumbs appear, and as you pulse, add water through the chute until dough comes together.

Note: You may need to add a little more water to the dough – it should form a soft ball of dough. Set the dough aside and make the filling.

Note: This is a very fragile crust; handle it with care.

For the Filling:

You will need:
– 1 lb heirloom tomatoes (8 cups sliced)
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
– 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To prepare:

Roll out the crust and place into a 9″ pie tin. Place the Parmesan on the bottom of the crust.

Toss the tomatoes with the shallots, basil, salt and olive oil and place into the pie crust.

Bake at 375F for 1 hour.

This tart can be served warm of at room temperature.

xx, Annette

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Summer Recipe:: Fire and Ice S’mores

While summer doesn’t technically start for a few more weeks, I always think of Memorial Day as the unofficial launch of the summer season. Is there anything more quintessentially summer than s’mores? S’mores are one of those gooey foods that are as fun as they are messy. Seriously. Have you ever NOT had fun making s’mores? I didn’t think so.

These fire and ice s’mores are a twist on the traditional. I’m adding homemade vanilla ice cream to mix things up. Of course, you can stick with the original ingredients, or you can give this one a try. No matter what, make s’mores a part of your Memorial Day Weekend gatherings.

Fire and Ice S’mores

You will need:

– Marshmallows
– Quality chocolate (try dark chocolate for extra indulgence)
– Healthy graham crackers – available at specialty markets like Whole Foods
– Sea Salt
– Olive Oil
– Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe below!)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
You will need:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3 vanilla beans – split lengthwise
– 2 large eggs
To prepare ice cream:

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, while whisking. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.

To Prepare S’mores:

Have guests assemble their S’mores outside by the fire.

In the meantime prepare individual bowls or glasses with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with a teaspoon on Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

Have guests grab a bowl and dip their s’more into the ice cream.

*Cooks’ notes: ·To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. ·Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.

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