Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Italian Honey Balls - Struffoli

Hey guys, I'm still on Christmas vacation and am having a lovely holiday with my friends and family. I hope you all have been well!  I need to catch up on my blog reading, I'm behind! I've been eating way too much but I have been making an effort of working out for at least an hour a day so that I can keep my calories on track. 

Today I wanted to share a recipe that is typical of southern Italy and it is a dessert that is usually made during the holidays. I am obsessed with these suckers! They are SO GOOD!  One of my aunts made them and brought them over for Christmas and she gave me her recipe. We made them today so that I could share the recipe with you because they are amazing I tell you! They are crunchy on the outside and very light on the inside. 

They are very simple to make and are basically just deep fried dough coated in honey and topped with nonpareils sprinkles. The dough is made using flour, dry white wine and grappa along with some orange flavored extra virgin live oil. 

Here are the ingredients:

 - 500 grams of all purpose flour
 - 50 grams white sugar
 - 100 grams of evo oil
 - half a shot glass of grappa
 - 50 grams of dry white wine
 - peel from half an orange
 - 500 grams of honey
 - 2 tablespoons of nonpareils for decorating

Gather all of your ingredients together. 

The first thing to do is to heat the orange peel with the extra virgin olive oil on low heat for about 2 minutes . This is done to add aroma to the oil. Do not bring it to a boil, just heat it enough to add the flavor of the orange peel. 

Now you want to add the flavored oil to the flour and sugar. Knead the oil into the flour with your fingertips to distribute evenly. 

Leave out the orange peels and begin kneading the mixture. 

Next I added the grappa. We added about half a shot glass. 

Slowly work everything together and lastly add the white wine a little at a time. We ended up using 50 grams. If it's still a little too dry you can go ahead and add a little more. 

Now that you have incorporated all of the ingredients, knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It should have a similar consistancy to cookie dough, neither too dry nor too moist. This is what it should look like. 

Now you are ready to form little marbles by rolling the dough out as shown in the photo below and cutting bite sized pieces kind of like if you're making gnocchi. 

My aunt likes to give them a curved shape using a little kitchen utensil she has (I have no idea what it's called in English...sorry guys!).  She rolls the pieces on this little wooden tray creating a curved shape with grooves on top.  It's pretty cool actually ...and not that easy to do. But you can just roll them into marble sized balls to make life easier :-)

Once you have rolled them all out you should lay them on a tray spacing them out a bit so they don't stick together. Aren't they pretty?

These bad boys are ready to be deep fried!  My aunt saves some of the dough and makes little "roses" to place on top of the little balls. They don't really look like roses but that's what she calls them. LOL

She fried these in a pot rather than a frying pan so they can cook all around.

They should brown just lightly and once they are done, place them in a bowl with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. 

Once the marbles were done we fried the roses. 

Set these aside and in a large frying pan add the honey with a couple tablespoons of water. Heat on low in order to melt the honey a bit and warm it up. 

Add the marbles to the honey mixing well to coat them all around. 

At this point heat them for about 5 minutes on low. 

Now you can transfer them onto the serving dish. 

Add the little roses on top spacing them out evenly on the dish. 

Now you can add some more honey on top and finally add the nonpareils to decorate. 

Yum!! I think I'm going to go have one now :-)

Ciao my friends xoxo

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 

I hope you all are enjoying this Christmas Day with joy and peace in your hearts. 

Merry Christmas my good friends! 

xoxo Silvana

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tufted Malm Headboard DIY - Ikea Hack

I spoke about my headboard makeover in this post and this weekend I finally got around to finishing it. I am so excited to be able to show you the finished bed today!

Now let me break down the details for this project. This is going to be a long post so bear with me.  This is what I started out with:

This is the Ikea Malm bed we bought. Initially I liked it (or else I wouldn't have bought it) but after bringing it home and trying it out I hated how the headboard was so low and every time I would read or sit up it was just so uncomfortable. So what I really wanted to do was raise the headboard.  

This was the first part of the project. I went to the hardware store and had them cut a piece of MDF that was the same length as the frame and screwed it into the headboard with brackets. I also reinforced the back with two pieces of wood panels that I had in the garage. 

I added a thick layer of foam padding to the front that I glued onto the headboard. Then I wrapped the front with batting and stapled it to the back of the headboard. 

I bought the fabric that I preferred and covered the front with white damask fabric pulling tightly and stapling first the sides and then the top. 

This is what my bed looked like for the last 2 years. I really loved how it came out but over time (and since I am a perfectionist) I saw that the top was a little bumpy and I really wanted a tufted headboard but was a little intimidated by the job. So I finally got around to ordering some buttons from Amazon (found here) and after several weeks of procrastination, this weekend I finally finished my project. 

I began taking a piece of the fabric I had for covering the buttons. In all I used 16 buttons. It was really easy putting them together. The kit came with everything necessary and the instructions were very clear. 

There was a form that allowed you to trace the fabric to cut out and the mold for covering the buttons and securing the back in place. 

It was so easy to do I actually had fun with these...now I want to cover ALL THE BUTTONS! haha

Now came the hard part. I measured out where the buttons would go. I decided I wanted a diamond tuft and looked at some pictures online. Finally I decided on this one from Overstock.com. This headboard would cost me over $700 if I were to ship it to Italy! 

So I measured everything out and marked the front with a pencil indicating where the buttons would go. Step back at this point and see if everything lines up right. 

Now mark the back and drill. Word of advice: DO NOT DRILL INTO THE FOAM. The drill gets stuck and it's a disaster so just drill into the wood being careful to not go into the foam. 

This is a blurry picture but you can see I drilled the holes at this point. 

After I drilled the holes in the back I added the new fabric. Since changing the curtains in my living room, I used the curtains I had there previously. The curtains I used are Ikea Lenda curtains which is a beautiful cotton fabric that is very similar to linen. It was perfect and I already had it! 

One panel was more than enough for this project, buttons and all. So I covered the headboard and stapled it tightly around the back. 

Once this was done I added the buttons. I used a large upholstery needle and a strong upholstery thread. Just go in through the back, add the button in front and go back out through the hole in the back. It's a little tricky to be able to find the hole again and that's why the hole you drill should be big enough to facilitate this part.  Tie a double knot and staple it down pulling the thread tightly. 


So you want to see the final result?? 


I just love how it turned out. The pictures aren't that great because it was dark by this point but I'll take better pictures asap...promise!

I think I did pretty good considering I only had to purchase the buttons and everything else I already had!

I hope you liked the makeover and  I wish you all a very Merry Week friends xoxo

Tomorrow I'll post about the Pandoro Cake I made over the weekend :-) One word - Yum!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spaghetti in Garlic Clam Sauce

Ahhhh Spaghetti alle Vongole (vongole means clams in Italian btw)! One of my favorite dishes to both eat and prepare. Whenever I go out to eat this is a usual order for me. This dish and Fisherman's Risotto (recipe coming soon). I love to see how different Italian restaurants make this and I have noticed that each restaurant makes it a little differently. Some of them have a creamier sauce others use a little spice in theirs but however this is made, it usually is fantastic either way!

Spaghetti alle vongole is a very popular dish in the southern central part of Italy. I would say from Rome down into Naples. Obviously you want to make sure the clams are fresh and left to flush out the sand for a period of time. I usually put the fresh clams in a bowl with salt water and let them sit for about an hour or so. If they are fresh you will see them spit out the sand that they have in their bellies LOL. Don't laugh...

Once this is done you can just rinse them off with clean water and open them up in a large pan on medium heat. I used one kilogram of clams for two people. 

So once they have opened up you can turn off the heat. This usually only takes about 5 minutes. Don't overcook them because they will be cooked again with the pasta. 

You will see that they release some water once they have all opened up. Save the water and filter it using a sifter and a napkin to catch any more sand that wasn't flushed out previously. 

Remove about half the clams from thier shells and leave the other half in their shells. Set aside. 

Now bring some salt water to a boil and cook your spaghetti. Cook about 300 grams of pasta. 

In the same pan that you heated up the clams in, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and two cloves of garlic cut in half. 

I like to tilt the pan on it's side so that the garlic heats up all around and the olive oil is able to capture the flavor of the garlic cloves. When the edges of the garlic cloves have browned lightly (do not let them burn) remove the cloves.

Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and add the clams, clam juice and pasta to the pan. I also like to add a half a cup of water from the pasta in order to make the sauce creamier. 

Once the sauce has reached the consistency that you like (more or less creamy) you can sprinkle some freshly cut parsley on top and serve with a nice glass of white wine. My favorite! :-)

Enjoy and buon appetito!