Tag Archives: baking

A word about flour :: dispatch from Italy

Italian Flour

An essential like flour is something we might take for granted in everyday life.

Even in the age of gluten-free, our daily bread is something most folks partake in.

It occurred to me while shopping for staples when I arrived in Italy last week, that the flour in the everyday grocery here is abundant in choices. I will say that in the US, I really don’t eat that much gluten. But when I am here in Italy for some magical reason, I have no reaction to baked goods: no inflammation, no sluggishness, no reaction whatsoever, so baking here is something I do regularly.

I did stop in my tracks when I saw this amazing flour display and decided to share it on my blog today. In Italy, we bake with many types of flour, and if you’re gluten free, then chestnut flour is the answer for you. In our region, Lunigiana, there’s a basic bread recipe that has been baked for many centuries.

Chestnuts

Today I’m sharing my Focaccia recipe from my upcoming book Cocktail Italiano. This book will not only be filled with wonderful cocktails, but the nibbles that accompany the cocktails served all over Italy.

focaccia

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3 cups double zero flour or bread 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:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl, once proofed add 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.
2. On an oiled 10”x14” 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 .* note you can use parchment paper to line the cookie sheet but I like to oil the paper.
3. Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.
4. Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.
5. 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. Can be stored sealed for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions: I love to use focaccia as an appetizer with olive spread, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, and a summer crisp rose wine. This makes the perfect start to a perfect evening.

Since I am raving about Italian flour, I wanted to give you a great resource for flour in the US.

Carolina Ground Flour

Recently my friend sent me a sampling of this incredible artisan flour Carolina Ground. It’s the closest I have found to the flour I use here in Italy.

Happy baking xx

 

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Blueberry Pie

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Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you’re relaxing with friends and family and enjoying today the best you can. Maybe you’re even headed to a cookout or hosting one yourself? If you are and need to prepare a dish, I recommend this delicious blueberry pie and lavender ice cream from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

This is the most delicious blueberry pie recipe, and the lavender ice cream is a beautiful combination. I love to serve pie in vintage pie tins. Sometimes I slice a large piece and serve it to a couple with 2 forks. It’s a great way to mix it up.

Have a great holiday!  xx

Blueberry Pie with Lavender Ice cream
Serves 6-8

You will need:

Pie Crust Ingredients * pie crust can be made up to 2 days ahead
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for the top crust of the pie
– 2 sticks butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water
– 3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish: fresh lavender sprigs

To prepare:

Pie crust Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt for 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces about 3 minutes. Drizzle cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse just until evenly moistened and pulls away form the sides and forms a ball about 3 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning dough to combine any dry crumbs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, then press into a disk about 1 in. thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling, you will need:

– 4 cups blueberries
– ¾ cups sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

To prepare:

Pour blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle sugar, corn starch and salt over the blueberries, and toss lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Cut crust into 2 pieces form 2 disks and roll out each pie crusts to about an 11-inch circle. Place 1 dough circle into a pie plate, add blueberry mixture, dot the top with butter and cover with top crust. Trim excess dough and Crimp edges with your fingers all around and cut slits in pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with a teaspoon sugar. Bake on the bottom rack for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly (shielding with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes or until golden) let cool and serve with lavender ice cream.

 Lavender Ice Cream

You will need:
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole Milk
– 2 tablespoons dried lavender
– 6 eggs + 2 yolks
– ½ cup sugar
-¼ tsp salt
– ¼ cup honey
– 1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare:

Simmer cream, milk and lavender in a saucepan until milk is scalded about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat pour into a bowl and let lavender steep for 30 minutes.

Strain cooled lavender milk mixture back into the saucepan and bring back up to heat. In a bowl whisk egg and sugar, salt and vanilla until creamy. Pull the hot milk off heat and pour about ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring.

Pour warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan with hot milk and put back on heat (medium) simmer until custard is formed and coats the back of a metal spoon about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk in honey and place into fridge chill until very cold.

Put into an ice cream maker follow manufacturers instruction.

Place ice cream into low pan with plastic wrap on the bottom. Freeze until ready to serve.

Photo Credit : Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Labor Day is for Blueberry Pie!

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Labor Day is here! I can hardly believe how quickly the summer flew by. Can you? But to make the best of the last blueberries of the season, you need to make this delicious blueberry pie and lavender ice cream from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

This is the most delicious blueberry pie recipe, and the lavender ice cream is a beautiful combination. I love to serve pie in vintage pie tins. Sometimes I slice a large piece and serve it to a couple with 2 forks. It’s a great way to mix it up.

Have a great holiday weekend xx

Blueberry Pie with Lavender Ice cream
Serves 6-8

You will need:

Pie Crust Ingredients * pie crust can be made up to 2 days ahead
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for the top crust of the pie
– 2 sticks butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water
– 3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish: fresh lavender sprigs

To prepare:

Pie crust Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt for 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces about 3 minutes. Drizzle cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse just until evenly moistened and pulls away form the sides and forms a ball about 3 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning dough to combine any dry crumbs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, then press into a disk about 1 in. thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling, you will need:

– 4 cups blueberries
– ¾ cups sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

To prepare:

Pour blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle sugar, corn starch and salt over the blueberries, and toss lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Cut crust into 2 pieces form 2 disks and roll out each pie crusts to about an 11-inch circle. Place 1 dough circle into a pie plate, add blueberry mixture, dot the top with butter and cover with top crust. Trim excess dough and Crimp edges with your fingers all around and cut slits in pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with a teaspoon sugar. Bake on the bottom rack for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly (shielding with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes or until golden) let cool and serve with lavender ice cream.

 Lavender Ice Cream

You will need:
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole Milk
– 2 tablespoons dried lavender
– 6 eggs + 2 yolks
– ½ cup sugar
-¼ tsp salt
– ¼ cup honey
– 1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare:

Simmer cream, milk and lavender in a saucepan until milk is scalded about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat pour into a bowl and let lavender steep for 30 minutes.

Strain cooled lavender milk mixture back into the saucepan and bring back up to heat. In a bowl whisk egg and sugar, salt and vanilla until creamy. Pull the hot milk off heat and pour about ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring.

Pour warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan with hot milk and put back on heat (medium) simmer until custard is formed and coats the back of a metal spoon about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk in honey and place into fridge chill until very cold.

Put into an ice cream maker follow manufacturers instruction.

Place ice cream into low pan with plastic wrap on the bottom. Freeze until ready to serve.

Photo Credit : Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Plums are in Season- Italian Plum Tart

As you all know by now, I spend summers on the Italian Riviera. One of the many benefits of living here is that seasons are so apparent by the fruit offered at the local markets. Right now, plums and figs are everywhere. Recently I made a plum tart, but you can also use figs in the same recipe.

plum tart IMG_2099

Italian Plum Tart
(you can substitute figs as well)
serves 8

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees

You will need:

For the crust ~

– 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar
– 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1 inch cubes + 1 tablespoon butter
– 1/4 cup olive oil ( I got mine from a local press, 2 blocks away, gotta love Italy)
– pinch salt
– 1/2 cup ice water

To prepare:
In a Cuisinart or Kitchenaid put in flour, sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons butter + oil. mix on medium speed until it becomes a crumby mixture.

Slowly add ice water until the dough pulls together.
Place in the fridge and start on the figs.

For the plum filling ~

You will need:
– Plums or figs
– 3 tablespoon sugar
– 1 tablespoon butter, cubed

To Prepare: 
Slice the plums in half removing the pit, roll out the dough and place into the tart pan, arrange plums on the dough in a fan or row pattern.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon cubed butter on top of the plums arrangement.

Put into a 400 degree oven for 1 hour, or until the plums are bubbling and crust is browned.

Cool and serve.

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pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter frosting

_FRJ5082 This is the season of the pumpkin. I love pumpkin, I love cupcakes, and everyone loves butter. These cupcakes are moist, rich, and okay a little decadent. I thought it would be fun to frost them with one of my favorite frosting recipes: Brown Butter Frosting. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds. ‘Tis the season to put pumpkin in everything. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love these.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter softenened
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2  cups flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

    Fill 2- 6 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners

    In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, place butter and sugar and combine until creamy. Approx. 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.

    In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed, finally add milk.

    Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, 3/4 way up the liner. Bake for 20 minutes until inserted knife comes out clean, cool for 30 minutes.

    makes 24 cupcakes

    Brown Butter Frosting

  • 1 1/4 sticks butter
  • 5 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk

  • Brown butter on medium heat until lightly toasted. Pour sugar, milk and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer. Start up the mixer on slow and add browned butter slowly until the frosting comes together.

    *note this frosting has a tough consistency so you will need to apply to the cupcakes with a firm yet gentle touch.

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