Go Green with Arugula Ice Cream

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Does it sound too good to be true? It’s not! Today I am sharing a recipe by our workshop chef, Chef Philip Meeker. It’s one of his specialties, arugula ice cream. This dessert is the perfect way to get in some greens while giving in ever so slightly to your sweet tooth.

Arugula Ice Cream or in Italian, Gelato di Rucola

Chef Philip says, “This time of year there’s a lot of fresh arugula at the market. Buying it from the farmer is a totally different experience than getting it at the store. The nutty and peppery flavors that you get from farm-fresh arugula are as striking as any herb which to me is a great indication that it would go well in a gelato just like rosemary or basil would. But what to pair the gelato with depends on whether you use cane sugar or glucose to make it. If you use glucose, the sweetness will be so minimal that you can use it in salad, like a carpaccio di fragole (a.k.a thinly sliced strawberries) with balsamic, fresh arugula and olive oil. And don’t worry: while glucose may sound fancy and hard to get, the light corn syrup you use for pecan pie is mostly glucose.”

Arugula Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
– ¾ cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar (or glucose or light corn syrup)
– ¼ cup cornstarch
– 3 cups puréed arugula (about 3-4 bunches of field arugula)
– pinch of salt plus salt for boiling arugula
Note: There is no acid in this recipe because it will destroy the green color

Blanching and Puréeing Arugula:

Prepare a bowl of heavily iced water. This will be used to immediately cool down the arugula after it cooks. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Salt the water lightly. Throw in the arugula and let it cook for three to five seconds. Remove it from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the ice water. As soon as the arugula becomes ice cold, about 20 seconds, put it into a blender. Don’t worry too much about water that stays with the arugula as it goes into the blender. This will help the arugula blend into a smooth purée. Add a couple of ice cubes to the blender before starting to ensure the arugula won’t heat while blending which will allow the beautiful green colors to be , preserved. As you blend the arugula to a purée, add water and ice to the blender as needed to ensure the arugula has enough liquid to blend. Store the arugula purée in the fridge until you are ready to add it to the ice cream mix. Keeping it cool will ensure that its color will stay green and that the flavor won’t weaken.

Making Ice Cream Base:

To make the base of the ice cream, heat ½ cup of the whole milk plus the heavy cream in a small saucepan on high heat along with 1 cup of the sugar. Stir occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. In a bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and cornstarch with a whisk (mixing these two ingredients together ahead of time helps avoid lumps). Mix in the remaining milk.

When the dairy-sugar mix in the saucepan comes to a boil, mix a little of it in with the cornstarch mix. Then pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pot. Put it back over high heat. Mix it slowly while it comes to a boil. When the contents of the pot boil, mix it rapidly, carefully scraping the bottom to avoid scorching. The mixture needs to boil for 1-2 minutes until it lacks a starch taste.

Afterward, pour the mix into a sealed container, and store in the fridge to cool down.

Once cool, whisk the arugula into the dairy mix along with the salt. Spin in an ice cream maker to make ice cream.

*Tip: Make sure the arugula mix has enough salt in it to make it have maximum sweetness but not enough to make it taste salty instead of sweet. You do this by adding salt to the mix, little by little, tasting as you go. It will bring out the nutty, peppery flavor of the arugula.

*Suggestion: Create new flavor profiles by using other herb purées, such as parsley, mint, or tarragon. If a herb seems like it might lack flavor, steep the herb in the dairy mix after the dairy mix comes off the heat. Remove the steeped herb before it starts to turn color to something dead looking. I generally do a five-minute infusion.

Grazie mille, Chef Philip!

xx

Photo credit: Philip Meeker

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Get ready for Christmas 2020! (Seriously…)

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I know it sounds absolutely crazy to think about, but trust me: NOW is the time to prepare for the 2020 holiday season. As you clean-up wrapping paper, but away ribbons and decide which bags and boxes you plan to keep, it’s important to keep an eye on the prize: being organized next year. Here are a few things you can do to be prepared:

  1. To organize for 2020, make sure you shop for your holiday essentials over the next few days while they’re on sale. That way you will have them tucked away waiting for you next season! It’s such a wonderful surprise when the occasion arrives to be prepared.
  2. Go through your wrap and decor stash to see what is missing. Restock wrapping paper, ribbon and tags, scissors, tape, washi tape and other festive accouterments.
  3. Dispose of any ragged bits of wrapping paper, rolls that are empty or bags that are torn. Think about investing in a shredder to do the job and limit the trash. After all, shredded paper essentially doubles as confetti!
  4. Organize everything in a tidy box that can be slid into a closet, tucked under a bed, or put away in a basement or attic. In fact, invest in two wrapping boxes: one for the holiday season and one for any other wrapping needs that might arise. This way, you’re not digging through Santa tags and snowman paper when your BFF’s birthday comes along.

Any other holiday organizational tips we should share? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments!

xx Annette

 

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Buon Natale! Celebrate the Holidays Italian Style with Fruit Cake

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Skye McAlpine is a talented friend of mine. A few years ago, she sent over this absolutely stunning (and delicious) Italian fruit cake recipe. On Skye’s recommendation, this fruit cake is lovely with a glass of sweet red wine, like port. If you have a local wine merchant, pick up a port to finish a holiday dinner party. It’s such a fun ending to a fun evening.

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Certosino di Natale: Honey, Pinenut and Almond Fruitcake
Serves: 8-10

For the cake, you will need:

– 40g raisins
– 40g mixed candied peel
– 30ml dry red wine or Marsala
– 320g flour
– 30g cocoa powder
– 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
– 300g honey
– 40g butter
– 70g sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 tbsps water
– 60g pinenuts
– 200g blanched almonds
– 60g dark chocolate

For the decoration, you will need:

– 2 (heaped) tbsp apricot jam
– 2 tsp water
– 10-12 slices of glacé orange
– 3 glacé pears
– 10-12 glacé cherries
– handful of blanched almonds

To prepare:

Add the raisins and candied peel to a medium-sized bowl and pour in the wine, then leave to soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a 25cm cake tin. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and set to one side.

Add the butter to a small saucepan along with the sugar, honey, fennel seeds and cinnamon, then set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir now and then to make sure that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.

Add the raisins (with all their juices) and pine nuts to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, stir well.

Roughly chop the chocolate and the almonds, then add them too. Stir again.

Now pour in the melted butter and honey, and stir until well combined. The batter will be quite stiff, so stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. If needs be, add another splash of red wine.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 mins to 1 hr, until it’s golden on top, and when you press a skewer into the cake, it comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To decorate, spoon the jam into a small saucepan with the water; set over a low to medium heat until the jam becomes syrupy and begins to bubble. Take it off the heat and use a pastry brush to glaze the cake, then lightly press the glacé fruits and nuts on to the top of the cake leaving no gaps. Brush the remaining glaze over the nuts so that it is all shiny.

For those of you that need measurements in cups see the conversion chart here

Photos by: Skye McAlpine

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Hungarian Walnut Roll, “Beigli”

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This holiday season, I decided it might be fun to make an old family recipe. I know most of you think I am Italian, but my family is Hungarian. As an homage to my family, I decided I needed to make this classic holiday sweet.

It is called Beigli (bay-glee), and it is made with walnuts and poppy seed filling with a yeasted dough. It really has a lovely flavor.

Find the recipe below. While it does take some extra prep and TLC, the end result is worth it, and it will make such a statement on your holiday table. Let me know if you give it a try!

Hungarian Walnut Roll (Beigli)
Prep time: 2 h 35 m Serves 24

For the dough, you will need:
– 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
– ½ cup of warm milk
– 5 tablespoons white sugar
– 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
– 3 egg yolks
– 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
– 4 cups self-rising flour

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For the filling, you will need:
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cups white sugar
– 2 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
– 1 lemon, zested
– 2/3 cup golden raisins

Egg wash:
– 1 egg
– 1 tablespoon water

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To prepare:

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast and warm milk. Once the yeast has proofed, add 5 tablespoons sugar, butter, egg yolks, and sour cream in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix well. Slowly add the flour until the dough comes together. If the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour; if it’s too dry, add milk a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be moist and easy to work with.

Knead on a floured surface until smooth, then form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and set aside for 1 ½ hours.  While the dough is resting, make the filling. Heat the milk and ¾  cups sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture has a syrupy consistency about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chopped walnuts and stir to combine. Remove the saucepan from the heat; stir in the lemon zest and raisins, and let filling cool.

Once proofed (keep in mind the dough does not have a big rise), divide the dough into three pieces. Roll one piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a long rectangle about a 1/4-inch thick 8’x 10”. Spread 1/3 of the walnut filling on the dough evenly, leaving about an inch of dough at each edge. Roll the dough up to form a log, and press to seal. Place the dough, seam-side down, on a parchment-lined or Silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Makes 3 logs.

Beat the egg with the tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the loaves with egg wash and let rest for 1 hour in a warm place. After the dough has risen, brush it again with egg wash and put the baking tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (this will give the dough a shiny finish).

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake the loaves until they’re a deep golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool and slice into 1 inch slices.

xx Annette

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Introducing for Preorder:: Italy is My Boyfriend

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In life there are definitely a few pinch me moments. This is one of those moments for me. I have finally told my story in the pages of my new book, Italy is My Boyfriend. Now I am able to share the story of how we came to own several properties in Italy, how my love affair grew and how it all came about. It includes the ups and downs of living in Italy and is truly a pure love story of life and love. Life (and love for that matter) is not always what you think it will be, but that is what makes it fun right?

I’m proud to say my latest book is now available for pre-order here.

I am over the moon to share this tale with you. Stay tuned for book signing updates as the official release date is May 26, 2020.

Thank you to all the have supported me over the years in Italy and in the US; I could not have done it without all of you reading about my journey right here on the blog.

xx Annette

 

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