Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Traditional Sicilian Easter Cookies - Cuddura

Happy Easter!!! I would like to wish you and all your loved ones a Blessed and Peaceful Easter. Yesterday we made these Sicilian Easter Cookies which originated in Sicily but are made all throughout the south of Italy and are called Cuddura even though the name changes slightly with the different dialects of the southern regions.  

In the olden days, no meat, eggs or dairy were consumed during lent therefore when Easter came around all of the traditional desserts and dishes were very rich.  These cookies were made on the Saturday before Easter and brought to church to be blessed before giving them away to loved ones as an Easter offering.  Young ladies typically gifted their sweetheart with a cuddura in the shape of a heart as a sign of affection. How cute is that? I feel like everything is so different now a days and so much more complicated.  I guess I'm just too old fashioned... Now it's like you never know what to buy someone because everything is so accessible through online shopping and malls etc. Back in the day all it took was a cookie made with love to  let your sweetheart know that you were interested in him or her. 



Ingredients for the dough:

 - 600 grams of all purpose flour
 - 200 grams of butter
 - zest from one fresh lemon
 - 4 large eggs
 - 200 grams of sugar
 - 1 teaspoon of baking powder
 - pinch of vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients,  cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prepare your hard boiled eggs ahead of time and let them cool. You can color them if you want or leave them as they are. I colored mine but since they were brown eggs the colors weren't as bright as I wanted them but they turned out fine all the same. 

The technique is pretty self explanatory so I'll leave you with the pictures so you can see what I did. 




After you roll your braid in a circle to place the egg on, you proceed to make a cross on top of the egg to hold it in place. 


Now brush a little egg white on top and add your favorite topping, sprinkles, chocolate chips, confetti, whatever you like. 




Now you're ready to bake in a preheated oven at 200°c for 35 - 40 minutes. 

This is my Easter offering to You :-)

Happy Easter my friends!



When our faith 

stands at the grave,
grieving
for a stone that's rolled away,
forgive us.

When our faith
is short of
understanding
though the truth is there to see,
forgive us.

When our faith,
beset by doubt, sees
no further
than an empty tomb today,
forgive us.

Bring to mind 
the cry of Mary,
‘I have seen the Lord!'
and grant us faith to believe!


God Bless, 

Silvana


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping & Tips for Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh

Happy Valentine's Day! I know it's a silly holiday but I can't help getting all lovey dovey when I see big red and pink hearts everywhere.  I'm a hopeless romantic at heart what can I say. :-)


I hope you are enjoying this day with your sweetheart and if you're single: friends, chocolate, and some wine are just as good... if not better!

If you're in the mood for baking today, here's a flourless chocolate cake recipe you should try. It's the recipe for the Italian Caprese Cake which I topped with a meringue frosting.  It's pretty easy, there are just a few tricky steps but I'll explain them through. This is Mr. Amore's favorite cake so I made it for him this Valentine's Day. 

Ingredients for the cake: 
Skinned almonds - 200gr
Sugar - 180gr
Butter (room temperature) - 200gr
4 eggs
Dark Chocolate - 150gr

The first step is to roast your almonds for about 10 minutes in the oven at 400°F. Just lay them flat on a baking sheet and they should brown some once done. 


Next place them in a blender or mixer (I used my Nutribullet) and set aside. 


I got a creamy, buttery texture with my Nutibullet but if your consistency is drier and more flour-like, it's fine as well. 


Next step is to melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or in a microwave if you prefer).



Now mix the egg yolks, butter, sugar and almonds until thoroughly blended and set aside the egg whites. 


The batter should be pretty thick at this point as pictured above. 

Now in a clean glass or metal bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 


This is the tricky part... you have to very slowly and gently incorporate the two being careful not to  over-whip the egg whites. 


This is what the final batter should look like. 


Add to cake pan and bake in preheated oven at about 340°F for one hour. 


Now for the meringue topping, whip up 4 egg whites, half a cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice and whip as done above, until stiff peaks form. Add a few drops of red food coloring if you like for decoration. 


Now add the meringue topping to the cake and decorate as you wish. 


Return to oven for about 10 minutes and voilà! If you have some  topping left over you can make little meringues like these. 

And if you happen to receive a lovely bouquet of flowers this Valentine's Day and want to keep them fresh for as long as possible here are some tips to make them last longer. 

Cut the ends off under running water or in a bowl of water to make sure no air enters the stem. 


Try adding half an espresso cup of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to the vase water. This is a homemade flower preservative that balances the pH of the water and helps keep the flowers bright and vibrant longer.



Happy Valentine's Day!


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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall is In the Air ...

Well finally the feeling of Fall has hit southern Italy these past few weeks and I love it! I came down with a really bad cold last week but I'm feeling much better now. I had such a lovely and relaxing weekend. I didn't do anything exciting but it was just nice to stay at home and relax. Mr. Amore and I fixed things up around the house, I cleaned as I usually do on Saturday mornings, and then I went for a run and took in the fresh autumn air.   I don't run on a regular basis but I like to on the weekends when the weather is nice. 

I decided I was in the baking mood over the weekend and  I happened to have 4 very ripe bananas laying around that I was probably never going to eat so  I made some delicious Banana Nut Bread so that they wouldn't go to waste.  I've been having a slice every morning with my coffee and I love it. 


I love banana nut bread. I have some Italian readers that follow my blog so before you say ...boring another banana nut bread recipe... let it be known that this is a very typical American recipe so I'm happy to share it with my International friends.

Silvana's Banana Nut Bread Recipe

4 ripe bananas
400 grams of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
50 grams of walnuts
50 grams of butter
120 grams of sugar
1 egg

It's a simple recipe, it's delicious and your house will smell great.

Mash up the bananas with a fork and mix in the ingredients. That's it. Complicated, no? I like to add the walnuts last and keep them whole. I prefer them that way but you can chop them up if you like.






Grease and flour your baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes at 200°C.


...and there you have it...


YUM!

On a different note, I still haven't done much fall decorating but the pictures my mom sent of the pumpkin patch ride my sister and her friends went on have put me in the fall mood so hopefully soon I'll show you my fall decorations....better late than never right? 

Fall in Pennsylvania is just gorgeous. Here are some pictures of the beautiful pumpkin patch my sister visited. I so wish I could have been there with her. 


Those ladies in the back (including my mother) are angels on earth. They are so good with all of the children. It puts my heart at ease and I thank God everyday for the care they give these children. 


This looked like such a fun place to visit. I wish we had a place like this in Italy. 

The farm is called AGA Farms and here is the link if you're in the area and would like to visit. 

I guess I'll just have to make due visiting through Face Time calls from across the Pond! 


Have a great week ahead and God Bless! 

xoxo

Silvana

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Loquat Crumble Pie



These are the loquats that I picked from my tree last weekend. I had no idea what to do with them at first and I knew I had to use them all or else they would go bad since they are completely organic and once picked they tend to go pretty fast.



I thought about making marmalade but again it probably wouldn't keep for that long since I wouldn't be using any preservatives so I kept looking for some ideas and I stumbled upon this...




Ok then! I decided to try making a loquat pie and see just how amazing they really are! 




...Pretty amazing I have to admit. 

Begin by peeling and de-seeding the loquats cutting them into fourths. This takes some time but it's not as bad as it seems. 


I used about 4 cups of loquats. Add to a pot with about 2 cups of water and let cook on medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes. 


Next make a mixture of:

 1 cup of sugar, 
1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 
1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 
1 teaspoon of vanilla 
pinch of salt. 


Once the loquats are cooked through add the flour mixture and continue stirring until it thickens up nicely. 


After about a couple minutes the filling is ready. Set aside and let cool while you make the pie crust. My kitchen was smelling so good at this point and it was at that time I realized that this recipe was a keeper!



I used the pie recipe found here and used half of the ingredients because I only made the bottom portion of the pie crust and for the top I made a crumble crust by mixing 1 stick of room temperature butter, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Mix until crumbly and cover the pie. 



Bake in a preheated oven for 350° for 30 minutes. It you see the top start to brown too much cover with aluminum foil. 


I decorated with some powdered sugar and served with vanilla ice cream :-)


and with this I think I might have to agree with Kristen Stewart...loquats make the best pies!


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Monday, May 16, 2016

Low Carb Homemade Ice Cream

I've been struggling to limit my carb intake for the past month or so as I have been following (or at least trying to) the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) "diet". It's not actually a diet per se' but more a way of tracking your food making sure to include the percentage of macros assigned to your plan. For example I'm on a 25% carb 40% fat and 35% protein plan. I track everything on my Fitness Pal App and have been doing pretty well. I haven't been drastically losing weight but the numbers on the scale have slowly been coming down. I get a lot of inspiration from SkinnyMeg and her blog is actually how I got introduced to this plan. Her dramatic weight loss really inspires me to push through and keep going. Dieting and weight loss is definitely not easy for me and I think a lot of women can relate. 

So anyways this is a foodie blog not a weight loss blog and I just wanted to share with you how I continue to enjoy ice cream even when I'm watching what I eat. 

The struggle is real here people...Italian gelati are the bomb but they are also made with heavy cream...some use flour...lots of eggs...LOTS of sugar...and then lets not talk about the condiments...chocolate...hazelnuts...caramel...pistachios...etc. So needless to say the calories add up and so do the fat and carbs. 

While on this IIFYM plan I notice that I am having a hard time reaching my protein intake. Carbs and fat are easy peasy to reach (unfortunately!) but it's not as easy as I thought to reach protein. One way I get that extra protein is with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.  So I thought I would try making ice cream using these ingredients. Now I know cottage cheese isn't the best tasting food in the world (I actually hate eating it plain) but I can assure you that when eaten like this you can't even taste it. Promise!

I tried three different ice cream recipes using three different methods. In the first method I made blueberry ice cream using a mature banana and low fat Greek blueberry yogurt. This was actually really good but you can taste the banana. So if banana isn't your favorite, you've been warned! I just mashed up the banana and mixed the yogurt together in a food processor.  Put it in the ice cream maker for about 20-30 minutes and it was finished. I didn't have to add any sweetener because the banana and blueberries were enough to sweeten it up.  For two people I used two medium sized bananas and 150grams of yogurt. 


The next recipe I tried and I'm sorry I don't have any other pictures to show you (they mysteriously disappeared from my phone. I have no idea how..) is using cottage cheese, and egg whites. Using this method I made peanut butter ice cream and this was A-MAZING! 


For two people I used 200 grams of cottage cheese, 20 grams of egg whites, 1 large tablespoon of peanut butter and stevia as a sweetener. You have to be careful when using stevia because a little goes a long way! So I ended up using just three teaspoons.  Again blend everything in a food processor and let the ice cream maker do the work! This was really good. It was the perfect consistency and tasted just like peanut butter ice cream. The only thing when using cottage cheese is that it turns rock hard when you put it in the freezer so you should eat it as soon as you make it....or you can just put it in the microwave for a few seconds if you do want to freeze it. 

After trying this I decided to try eliminating the egg white to see if it was really necessary and if it changed the consistency of the ice cream so I tried making one of my favorite flavors...Mint chocolate chip!



I used the same amount of cottage cheese as the previous recipe but I eliminated the egg white and flavored using a sugar free mint syrup. The consistency was a little less creamy but it turned out good all the same. Based on the flavors you are using you really just have to taste and see how much sweetener you should use. I ended up using less than three teaspoons of stevia here for example. 


The secret is to blend the ingredients well before actually making the ice cream. You need to break up the cottage cheese so that it's creamy and smooth like in the picture above. For the mint chocolate chip I added a couple tablespoons of mint syrup to the 200 grams of cottage cheese and that's it! 

I do think that the egg white adds to the recipe though so I will be adding it in the future. 

You really can make so many different types of ice cream using this method and even though it's not the real thing, it's pretty darn close!!

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead! 

xoxo

Silvana