Jam Doughnuts

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When I think of Jam Doughnuts, I think of sitting around the kitchen table straight after school with my sister and brothers waiting for these to come out of the oven.  My mother didn’t make them, she would buy them from the local bakery and then heat them up for us.  Making these brought back those happy memories.  Inhaling the aromas with my eyes closed took me back to our kitchen in ‘The Crest’, Frankston.  I then tasted one, and when I opened my eyes I almost hoped to see my mother standing there…. well,  I can dream…

I hope you try to make these.  You can’t rush this recipe, the yeast requires time to do what it does best, but if you follow the recipe you shouldn’t have any trouble making them.  The only problem I had was while I was cooking them.  My oil became a little too hot, so a couple cooked too quickly on the outside, they didn’t puff up as they should, and they were a little raw inside. I lowered the heat, and waited a little before I continued to finish them. 

Once they had finished their obligatory photo shoot, these jam doughnuts ended up being devoured by the kids at the beach…. after I’d removed one for myself of course!

Jam Doughnuts

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  • 490g  plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons dried yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • oil, to deep-fry
  • Raspberry or Strawberry jam
  • sugar (to dust)
  1. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix well.
  2. Melt butter, heat milk until warm  (make sure it isn’t too hot) and lightly beat egg yolks. Make a well in flour mixture and mix in milk, butter & egg yolks.
  3. Stir until combined.  Dough will be sticky.  Add some flour to your hands, and turn dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Knead until smooth.
  4. Place dough into a greased bowl, and cover for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Knead dough again on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes and dough is again smooth. Roll out dough until 1cm thick, and rest for 2 minutes.

  6. Use a 7cm round cutter to cut out discs, (kneading left over dough, rolling out and repeating). You should achieve 12 – 16. Set aside for 30 minutes to prove on baking paper.

  7. Prepare oil for frying, a plate covered in paper towel and a bowl or plate with sugar.  Spoon jam of choice into a piping bag fitted with a small 5mm nozzle.
  8. Deep-fry each disc for 1-2 minutes each side or until golden and puffed. Place on the plate lined with paper towel, then quickly toss into the sugar. Using the piping bag,  push the nozzle into the side of the doughnuts and pipe in jam.

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Ricotta & Blueberry Pancakes

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Lazy summers at the beach include late morning decadent breakfasts to fuel growing children during a day filled with never-ending swims and adventures.  I just have to mention the word ‘pancakes’ and my children (especially Joseph) jump for joy and will nag until I actually start to make them.  These pancakes have ricotta cheese added and a healthy dose of fresh blueberries.  Pancakes aren’t pancakes without Maple Syrup, and I found a new brand at the Supermarket this morning. ‘Nick *the easy rider*’ maple syrup.  Canadian readers, please offer some feedback on this brand of maple syrup.    We loved it’s intense flavour.

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Ricotta & Blueberry Pancakes

 

 

  • 225g self-raising flour   9
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 240g ricotta
  • 125g fresh blueberries
  • butter, for greasing frypan
  • Maple syrup
  • icing sugar for dusting on pancakes

 

  1. Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the ricotta and blueberries.
  4. Heat a small non-stick frypan over medium heat. (I used the frying pan that was the size I wanted my pancakes to be, although you can use one large frypan and cook a few pancakes at the same time). Lightly brush with melted butter.
  5. Pour batter into a jug or use a ladle to add it to frypan.  Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and pancakes are golden underneath. Turn with a spatula and cook for about 2 mins or until just cooked. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter to make about 12 pancakes. (My children wanted to steal them as soon as they left the frypan).
  6. Top with extra blueberries, sieve a sprinkling of icing sugar on top and serve with a generous pour of maple syrup.

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Churros

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If you’ve ever made choux pastry for profiteroles or eclairs, then you certainly won’t have any problem making Churros.  Popular in Spain, (they are often referred to as ‘Spanish doughnuts’) although they can also traditionally be found in Portugal, France, Peru, Venezuela & Colombia.  

We have arrived finally at the beach for a much awaited 3 week holiday, and I thought these would be appreciated not only by Annabella & Joseph after a long swim in the ocean, but also by their friends.  After testing two recipes I have realised that making and gifting Churros is a sure way to have all the kids think you are a major legend!

Although I looked at recipes where Churros can be baked, I fried them, as is tradition.  I tried two different recipes, one with eggs, and one without.  I am going to post both recipes for you and then you can decide for yourselves which you prefer.   I’ll tell you at the end of the post which one I thought was better and why. The dough can be mixed with an electric mixer on low, but as I don’t have one here, I mixed both recipes by hand.

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  • 250ml water
  • 110g butter (unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • caster sugar mixed with cinnamon (circa 1 teaspoon cinnamon for 200g sugar)
  1. In a saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and sift in flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon for 1 minute.
  2. Add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition until each egg is incorporated well into dough mixture.
  3. Transfer mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm star tip, and allow to rest for 20 – 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a deep saucepan until it reaches 180°C.  (I didn’t have a thermometer and so tested the oil first with a little piece of dough to test if it was ready.)
  5. Pipe 2 or 3 lengths at a time of Churros batter carefully into the oil, cutting it off with a pair of scissors.   (Annabella helped me do this, and she was responsible for this part.)
  6. Fry until golden brown, turning over once cooking both sides. Transfer onto kitchen paper towel to absorb excess oil for a few minutes before rolling in sugar and cinnamon.  They are best eaten hot!

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Second Recipe

  • 450ml water
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 325g plain flour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • sugar & cinnamon mix
  1. In a saucepan bring to the boil water and olive oil, reduce heat and add sifted flour, sugar and salt.  Stir until mixed in, turn off heat, and continue stirring until a smooth dough is formed and all ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Follow steps 3, 4, 5 & 6 from method of first recipe.

Some points about both recipes

  • The first recipe (with eggs) has a softer batter/pastry and is much easier to pipe into the oil.
  • The first recipe made Churros that were crunchy, but had softer centres.
  • The second recipe was much more compact and harder to pipe, so I really suggest you use a sturdy piping bag if you use this recipe.
  • The Churros that resulted from the second recipe had a stronger structure, were crunchier on the outside, and by far our favourite!
  • Churros are often served for breakfast dipped in dulce de leche, hot chocolate or cafè con leche.  I made a dark chocolate ganache which burnt, (thus ruining a saucepan) because I was trying to do too much at the same time in the kitchen (insert eye roll emoji)….. but all the kids decided that Nutella was a perfect substitute!

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Zucchini Tart

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When I made the Tomato Tart recently, I made enough pastry for two tarts, so I lined my long rectangular tart tin with pastry,  wrapped it in plastic cling film and put it in the freezer.  I bought some beautiful ‘Zucchine Romane’ and decided to use the pastry to make another savoury tart. You could call this recipe a Quiche and I love that you can eat this hot, warm or cold directly from the fridge. It works as a meal, a light lunch accompanied with a leafy green salad,  or even a snack when children start nagging that they are hungry. (Exactly what happened this afternoon when Annabella came back from the beach saying she was  ‘starving’ ).

Zucchini Tart

(The recipe for the pastry is the same shortcrust pastry I used for the Tomato Tart).

  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g chilled unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  1. Whiz flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add eggs and 2 tablespoons iced water. Process until mix comes together in a ball. Divide in 2 portions, then enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Grease & flour a 26cm tart tin.  On a floured surface, roll out pastry until thin and place it into the tin, pressing it in lightly.  Allow it to overhang a little.  Prick all over with a fork.
  4.  Preheat oven to 200°C.  Line tart tin with baking paper, then fill with pastry weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove weights and paper, then bake for 2-3 minutes until golden and dry.
  5. Prepare the filling while pastry is in oven.

Zucchini Tart Filling

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‘Zucchina Romanesca’

  • 4 large eggs
  • 125ml cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 50g fresh ricotta di pecora
  • 50g finely grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium sized zucchini (Zucchina Romanesca*)
  • olive oil
  • 3 – 4  zucchini flowers
  1. Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, ricotta, pecorino cheese, nutmeg & basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Wash zucchini, cut off  bottom ends,  remove flowers and put them aside.  Slice zucchini finely. Lightly pan fry in a small amount of olive oil (a splash) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Cut zucchini flower down one side of the petals, remove the stamen and open the flower, so the flower lies flat.
  4. Arrange zucchini slices along base of pre-prepared pastry tart case. Pour egg mixture carefully on top.  Arrange zucchini flowers on top and bake at 180°C for about 40min or until top is golden and middle of tart has set.

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* Zucchina Romanesca is a variety of zucchini from Lazio. It has a more compact pulp than a traditional zucchini which means it isn’t watery when cooked and you don’t need to remove the centre part. They are sweet with a decisive, characteristic flavour.  If you can buy them with their beautiful flowers attached, it is a true sign that they are indeed fresh.

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Il Passetto di Borgo

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If you visit Rome, and you walk around Castel St. Angelo and visit St. Peter’s Square via the area known as ‘borgo’, you might notice a long wall and apart from assuming it is thousands of years old, you may not realise what it is you are actually looking at.

The ‘Passetto di Borgo’ is a secret elevated passageway 800m long which connects the Vatican with Caste St. Angelo.  It was built as an escape route for Popes in danger.  It was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III, but parts of the wall were built by Totila during the Gothic war. IMG_5491

Pope Alexander VI crossed it in 1494, when Charles VIII invaded the city and the Pope’s life was in peril.  Clement VII escaped to safety through this passage during the Sack of Rome in 1527, when troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, massacred almost the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of St.Peter’s Basilica.

Il Passetto di Borgo was closed to the public until 2000.  Every year since then, it is open for a couple of months during the summer to small groups for guided tours. Our tour included il Passetto and the prisons inside Castel St. Angelo.   Ever since Alberto had explained to me about the Passetto, I had long wanted to walk  inside this secret passageway and enjoy some new views of my neighbourhood.  I took Annabella and Joseph for a tour in the late afternoon.  It began at 5pm, and we didn’t leave until after 7pm.

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We left Castel St. Angelo heading towards the Vatican, first outisde, along the walkway that lies along the top of the wall.  A narrow staircase took us inside and below, into the secret passageway.  This part is very narrow and it’s easier to walk in single file than two abreast.  There are small slits on either side of the wall allowing the outside light in, and  offering wonderful sneaky views of the Tiber River,  Via della Conciliazione and the other surrounding streets.IMG_5585We then continued along the top of the wall until we were almost at the border of the imposing white columns that surround St. Peter’s Square.  A locked gate greeted us to stop us proceeding into the Vatican City.  The Swiss Guards look after the key should the Pope ever need to once again, make a hasty escape!

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The second part of the tour took us under Castel St. Angelo, and into the prisons.  I think that Joseph enjoyed this part the most.  I wasn’t prepared for the little doorways, low ceilings, and lack of fresh circulating air.

 

It was a little claustrophobic and listening to some of the various tortures that were carried out there made my skin crawl a little.  It was easy to imagine how dank and damp in would be in the middle of winter for example, although one can never really comprehend what it must have been like to be a prisoner there.  One cell, which I went into (hitting my head on the way) had no windows.  Once the door was closed, the space was pitch black and silent.

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Our tour guide Mario was great.  He certainly knew his Roman history and his enthusiasm and gift of story telling made the tour even the more enjoyable.  The cost of the tour was €15.00 for me and just €5.00 for Annabella & Joseph.  If you do find yourself in Rome during July & August, I strongly recommend this tour.  You certainly feel part of the elite few when you know that it’s closed to the public for most of the year.

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Tomato Tart

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I own one of those recipe books that you buy with empty pages, and you are supposed to fill by writing in all your favourite recipes.  I wish I had dated mine when I bought it because I really can’t remember how old it is.  Some pages are covered with cooking stains, one heavily with cocoa and it is obvious which recipes have been made over & over throughout the years. There are hand written recipes from some of my friends, mostly are written by me, and the precious ones are written by my mother.  My mother was not only known for her wonderful cooking, but also for her beautiful handwriting.  I love looking at these recipes the most. I was looking through this recipe book and came across a recipe that I don’t think I’ve made since I was a student.  A tasty savoury tomato tart that seems perfect to make now as the markets are overflowing with gorgeous red Italian summer tomatoes.  I actually made two versions of this. The first was this recipe, for the second I made more of a basic egg mixture for quiche,  adding taggiasche olives and then adding the tomatoes on top. I have included photos of both and I think it’s fairly obvious which is which.

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Shortcrust Pastry

  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g chilled unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  1. Whiz flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add eggs and 2 tablespoons iced water. Process until mix comes together in a ball. Divide in 2 portions, then enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Grease & flour a 26cm tart tin.  On a floured surface, roll out pastry until thin and place it into the tin, pressing it in lightly.  Allow it to overhang a little.  Prick all over with a fork.
  4.  Preheat oven to 200°C.  Line tart tin with baking paper, then fill with pastry weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove weights and paper, then bake for 2-3 minutes until golden and dry.
  5. Prepare the filling while pastry is in oven.

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Tomato Filling

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon English or Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs. eg: thyme, marjoram, oregano  (I used thyme)
  • 45g Gruyère Cheese, grated
  • 10 small to medium sized tomatoes (sliced thinly)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 100g semi sun dried tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • salt and ground black pepper
  1. Place sliced tomatoes on paper towel or a clean tea towel to absorb excess juice.  This is so important otherwise the juice will make tart and pastry base soggy. (speaking from experience)!
  2. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs.
  3. Whisk in the yoghurt, tomato paste, nutmeg, mustard, herbs & half the grated Gruyère & season generously.
  4. Arrange semi sundried tomatoes on pastry base, and pour egg mixture gently on top.
  5. Arrange tomato slices on top & sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère, and a little extra pepper.
  6. Bake for about 40min at 190°C.  Serve warm and not piping hot with some freshly torn basil leaves scattered on top.

** If the pastry is browning too much before the tomatoes seem cooked, prepare a collar with kitchen foil to cover pastry rim.  Continue baking until cooked.

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Stuffed & Fried Zucchini Flowers

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There is a saying in Italy that even an old leather sole from a shoe tastes good if it’s fried well!  I have to agree with the Italians on this one, as there is nothing worse than eating something fried with a heavy, stodgy and soft batter.  I actually tried two recipes for the batter, and although the first zucchini flowers looked beautiful and photographed well too, I was very disappointed with the ‘crunch factor’.  So, back to an old faithful recipe and I wasn’t disappointed.  Many Italians will make their tempura style batter with just icy cold fizzy mineral water and flour, which works beautifully but I was happy to stick with this recipe that I know…. And… I wasn’t disappointed.

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Zucchini flowers are so beautiful when you see them at the market.  Whether you want to eat them raw in a salad, or use them in a cooked recipe (they are beautiful in a zucchini risotto), you can’t go past how sensational they are eaten lightly fried as is, or stuffed first and then fried.  Although you can find them stuffed with ricotta or goat’s cheese, here in Rome it is traditional to eat them fried, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy. As I am ever keen to put down some Roman roots, who am I to go against tradition?

Stuffed & Fried Zucchini Flowers

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Zucchini with their flowers at my local market

 

 

  • 10 -12 zucchini flowers
  • 125g mozzarella
  • anchovies
  • fresh basil
  • 100g flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 25g baking powder
  • 250ml iced mineral (fizzy) water
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 lemons
  1. Carefully remove stamens from flowers trying not to tear petals.
  2. Cut mozzarella into 3cm long strips and cut anchovies into pieces the same length.
  3.  Place one piece of mozzarella, one piece of anchovy, and a small basil leaf inside the flower cavity of each zucchini flower.
  4. Heat oil until hot (200°C). (Test just before frying by adding a drop of batter).
  5. Prepare the batter by  placing flour, cornflour, baking powder, and iced water into a bowl and whisk together until there are no lumps.
  6. Dip the flowers into the batter, shake off the excess, twist petal ends and place one or two at a time into the hot oil. Cook until the flowers are golden and crunchy.
  7. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel.
  8. To be served and eaten ASAP!

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Caramel Chicken

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It’s not always Italian food that comes out of my kitchen and there are times when I really crave some different flavours.  This sticky chicken recipe definitely hits the spot and it’s also super easy to prepare.  I am sure you can substitute the chicken for other meats, and I was thinking today that it would work well with ribs.  It reminds me a little of a sticky BBQ pork rib recipe my mother would make for us from her Chinese cooking repertoire.

I will include the full recipe, but I usually do not add the garlic.  Alberto isn’t a garlic fan, so it’s just easier to omit it. If I were to add garlic though, I wouldn’t add the 8 cloves the recipe calls for but add maybe 2 at the most.  This cooks best in a heavy based pot and luckily I have my Le Creuset pot which works perfectly. (Nothing would stop you finishing off this recipe in the oven actually).

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Caramel Chicken

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.2kg Chicken pieces. Skin On, (preferably bone-in legs & thighs)
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 70g (1/3 Cup) brown sugar (I use dark muscovado)
  • 60mls rice vinegar
  • 3cm fresh ginger peeled and sliced thinly.  (I freeze my ginger and this makes slicing it very thin really easy if you do it while it’s still frozen.)
  • 250ml chicken broth
  • 60mls soy sauce
  • fresh basil & fresh chilli to garnish
  1. Heat oil in large heavy based pot over medium high heat.
  2. Work in batches if necessary, and add chicken pieces skin side down. Cook until skin is golden brown and crisp, then transfer chicken to a plate.
  3. Add garlic to pot, and cook stirring often until golden. Remove from pot, and put aside with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.
  4. Return pot to heat, and add 125ml water, and using a wooden spoon, scrape away any brown bits.
  5. Add brown sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture thickens.
  6. Add vinegar carefully.  If sugar crystallizes, continue stirring until sugar dissolves again.
  7. Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce. Add chicken pieces back into pot, skin side up. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to cook on simmer for about 30min.
  8. Remove chicken pieces from pot, and bring liquid back to a boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce and thicken.  Return chicken to pot, and coat with sweet thickened sauce.
  9. Serve with white rice, and sprinkle freshly torn basil on top.  Serve with some fresh chilli peppers if you like a little heat.

**This recipe would work well with pork, but the flavours of the sauce would also be delicious with salmon steaks.  Obviously the cooking time with salmon would be different.  I would prepare the sauce, reducing it down, and add the salmon steaks at the end, so as to cook them through gently  & quickly, avoiding that they overcook.

Tiramisu

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1trimWhile the origins to Tiramisu are rather contentious with about five regions in Italy claiming it as theirs, one thing that nobody will disagree with is just how delicious this perfect ‘pick-me-up’ is!   Researching the history of Tiramsu though does offer an interesting read.  From the romantic theories originating in Tuscany in the 16th Century with Cosimo III de Medici in Florence, or that it was eaten in Venice during the Renaissance where Venetians would eat Tiramisu with their lovers at night for more energy, to the rather boring (yet practical) story that it was created from left over cake and coffee to avoid waste.

I have always loved Tiramisu, and am intrigued by the variation in the recipe throughout Italy.  Every chef or Nonna will have their recipe, and they will screw up their noses at any suggestion of a different recipe other than their own.  I am no exception and I think that mine is a perfect balance of ingredients and flavours.  I learnt to make the ‘crema mascarpone’ from a pastry chef friend of mine here, although I use a little less sugar than he does. 

Tiramisu is great because it can be made a day or two ahead of time, which is great news for anyone who likes to plan large or complicated dinner parties. Tiramisu can be made as individual serves, or in one large bowl or even a baking tray. It is one dessert that you can stop half way (if you run out of a particular ingredient), put in the fridge, and continue several hours later.  It is also a fun dessert to ‘construct’ with the various elements together with guests, ‘espresso style’  and eaten immediately.

However or whenever you like to eat Tiramisu (I wouldn’t say no at breakfast time), I hope you enjoy this recipe and it becomes your favourite go-to Tiramisu recipe.

Tiramisu

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Bialetti Moka

  • 1 packet Savoiardi (known as Lady Fingers in USA)
  • 6 espresso cups of strong black coffee (preferably made with Italian ‘Moka’ pot)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 300g mascarpone
  • 1 tablespoon marsala or rum*. (I used Armagnac and it worked perfectly).
  • chocolate covered coffee beans to serve

 

  1. Make coffee and set aside, allowing to cool completely.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Add egg whites with a pinch of salt to a clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks begin to form.  Add half of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is incorporated and egg whites are white, aerated and glossy. Put aside.
  4. In another bowl, add remaining sugar to egg yolks, and beat until yolks are pale and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved. Add Armagnac or alcohol of your choice. Slowly incorporate mascarpone with electric beaters on low.
  5. Fold half of egg whites into the yolk mixture, and then continue gently folding in by hand the remaining egg whites. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
  6. Dip Savoiardi quickly into black coffee and line bowl, baking tray or small dish.
  7. Spoon over mascarpone cream.
  8. Repeat two or three times with Savoiardi and mascarpone cream until you are satisfied with quantity, or until you have reached the top of the container.
  9. Cover with a generous sprinkling of bitter cocoa and decorate with chocolate covered coffee beans. 4trim.jpg

 

*Alcohol is optional and by no means obligatory in Tiramisu.  Some Italians will look at you in horror at the mere mention of adding alcohol, yet others (including pastry chefs) will always incorporate alcohol into the recipe.  Be careful not to overdo it though as a tiramisu drowning in alcohol is not at all pleasant. The 1 tablespoon I add adds a suggestion of flavour and aroma, complimenting the overall dessert without overpowering it.

**Some chefs prefer to create a sugar syrup with sugar and water, bringing it to a boil (before caramelisation occurs).  They then add this in a steady stream to egg yolks and whites separately with electric beaters on high.  This is to ‘pasteurise’ eggs and make a more food safe dessert.

*** The first time I made Tiramisu was when I nannied triplet girls in London.  I followed my mother’s recipe which provides quantities for 20 people.  She would add Marsala to the black coffee. I dipped the Savoiardi in the coffee mixture for too long, and couldn’t understand why I needed to keep making coffee.  I went through 1.5 bottles of Marsala!!! Needless to say, my dessert was TiramiSoup!!! (The flavour was divine, but straws would have been required not spoons!)

Peach & Apricot Summer Pudding

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It’s so hot again this week in Rome, and while I look at many stunning photos from my dear friends who are enjoying some of Italy’s finest beaches, I have been passing the time at home, baking, cleaning… oh and ironing.  I did make a little pavlova using a different recipe from my usual go-to recipe, which really didn’t turn out at all how I’d hoped.  I know this was due to the bottled pasteurised egg whites I bought and as I am a ‘testarda’ as they say in Italian, I was determined to get this different pavlova recipe right. So, there is a pavlova cooling in the oven as I type, but today I’m going to show you what I made yesterday.  I have been thinking of alternatives to Summer Pudding, and thought it would work just as well with other fruit.  Yesterday I made 3 small summer puddings with pan brioche, apricots, peaches & nectarines.  These are a delicious way to use summer fruit and although I photographed them without, I strongly recommend eating these with a very healthy serve of good quality vanilla gelato!

Peach & Apricot Summer Pudding

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  • EQUAL weights of fruit & sugar.
  • 100g apricots
  • 100g peaches
  • 100g nectarines
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 loaf of plain white sandwich bread or pan brioche
  • 200ml apricot nectar
  1. Wash and cut all fruit into same size cubes. Place in saucepan with the caster sugar and apricot nectar and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally, bring to the boil and remove from heat when sugar has melted, and juice has reduced a little to a syrup.
  2. Strain fruit over a bowl, and put both syrup and fruit aside and allow to cool.
  3. Using a circle cutter, cut a base from the bread to fit into the base of the bowl or mold you have chosen.  Cut bread into strips for sides of mold.
  4. Dip the bread discs quickly into the syrup. Place the discs into the base of the molds. Repeat the same with the bread strips, placing them around the inside of the mold, ensuring they are touching or even overlapping a little.
  5. Spoon the fruit into the molds, dividing the fruit evenly. Top with another disc of bread cut to the same diameter as the top of the mold, (also dipped into syrup) to enclose the filling. Cover with plastic kitchen wrap and place a weight on top. Put the puddings into the fridge overnight. Save any remaining fruit but especially save any remaining syrup.
  6. Ease puddings out of the molds by pulling on the plastic wrap gently. Place upside down on a plate. Drizzle some of the extra syrup on top and serve with vanilla gelato.

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