Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blaubeerauflauf: Blueberry Pudding

Blaubeerauflauf Pasticcio di Mirtilli Blueberry Pudding

Today I propose you another recipe that I could taste during my recent trip in Germany. This dessert is very similar to the French clafoutis but has some different ingredients. I was lucky enough to find freshly picked blueberries coming from the mountains near Bologna, but it also works with frozen ones, although maybe you should take care because they are more watery (so perhaps you'd better remove an egg white).

Ingredients for 6 servings: 7 cups of raw blueberries, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 9/10 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, 1 cuo of double cream, 5 eggs, 1 vanilla pod, 3 and ½ tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of cognac, icing sugar, salt.

Preparation: let the butter soften at room temperature then add the flour, the sugar, a pinch of salt and begin mixing. Pour slowly both the cream and the milk, continuing to whip, and then the eggs, already whipped a bit before. Add the cognac and vanilla pod and put aside the mixture for at least an hour, so that it could become flavored. At this point you have to slowly add the blueberries so that most of them remain on the surface. You can also use a smaller quantity of blueberries compared to the original recipe, although I prefer the quantity indicated. Bake in a hot oven at 350 F for about 60-75 minutes and serve sprinkled with the icing sugar.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kräuterbutter: German Herb Butter

Kräuterbutter Burro alle Erbe Tedesco - German Herb Butter

I am back from the vacations and as promised, I'm bringing you a recipe from the places I visited. This is a delicious herb butter that I tasted near Nuremberg, spread over some pork chops. Well, maybe you don't believe it, but it manages to give the meat a flavor and taste truly delightful and special, so I tried soon to know its ingredients that, luckily, are all easily found also in Italy, except for the chervil, which seems instead to be quite difficult to find. Do not worry though, you can use a little more parsley instead without the flavor changing dramatically. I also tell you one of my weakness, I like to enjoy this butter spread over some hot toasts. I know, it could seem that I am an unrepentant glutton, but try it and you'll understand.

Ingredients: ¼ lb. of butter, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon of minced fresh chives, 1 teaspoon of dried chervil, 1 teaspoon of minced onion, ½ teaspoon ground dried tarragon, ½ teaspoon dried dill, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, salt.

Preparation: allow the butter to become soft at room temperature. With the help of a fork, whip the butter adding piecemeal the ingredients so that they can blend in well. At the end add some salt at your pleasure. Pour the butter into a container and leave it in the refrigerator for one night so that it could turn solid again. Before serving let the butter soften slightly so that it can be spread.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Soufflé alla Pesca - Peach Soufflé

Soufflé alla Pesca - Peach Soufflé

In these torrid summer days who does want to turn the oven on? Few of you, I know, but for this recipe just a few minutes of cooking are needed, but it also uses seasonal fruits and is a light and tasty dessert. Can you do this sacrifice, right? I did and, as you can see, I survived.

Ingredients, serves 4: 2 ripe peaches, 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 4 egg whites, 2 tablespoons of extra sugar, 1 and 1/4 oz. of butter, some icing sugar.

Preparation: smooth the peaches, peeled and pitted, and add a little water, if needed, to make it enough liquid, add the sugar and put on low heat until it melts. Add cornstarch and increase the heat until the mixture becomes quite thick, similar to jam. Remove from heat and let it cool a little. Take a deep bowl and whisk inside the egg whites, adding at the end a tablespoon and a half of sugar to make them more "solid". Gently incorporate the fruit mixture using a wooden spoon, but not mixing but using a movement from top to bottom. Take 4 molds of about 10 oz. of capacity, grease them with butter and sprinkle some sugar inside(about half a tablespoon). Fill them up to 3/4 with the dough soufflé and put them to cook in a pre-heated oven at 350F for about one quarter hour or until the soufflé are properly raised and with a golden surface. Turn off the oven and leave them inside for a few minutes and then serve them hot, sprinkled on top with some icing sugar. They should be eaten immediately because they deflate very quickly. Do not worry, it's normal.

P.S.: holidays finally arrived! See you in about ten days with new recipes and photos that I hope to "steal" during my forthcoming trips.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Potato and Courgette Gratin

Gratin di Patate e Zucchine - Potato and Courgette Gratin

The other day walking through the market I came across a beautiful basket of recently harvested potatoes. Could I leave them alone and abandoned? Of course i did not, but I also didn't want to use them for the usual winter recipes because the temperature these days is so hot that left little desire to mess with roasts, pots and other things that need to cook for hours. Not to mention the fried food, which were banned by my diet doctor. Therefore I had to find a recipe that could cook quickly, that was not too filling and that could act as a single meal. At the end, the squaring of the circle came with this recipe which does not overfill the stomach and is an excellent single meal for lunch, or, for the most gluttonous among you, could also be served as a side dish.

Ingredients, serves 6: 9/10 lb. of potatoes, 2/5 lb. of courgettes, 1/2 cup of single cream, 1/4 cup of milk, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, grated parmesan, ground nutmeg, ground pepper, salt, butter.

Preparation: boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, peel them and the courgettes and thinly slice them. Oil an oven-proof dish or bowl with a little of butter and place the potatoes and the courgettes in alternating layers, with in between one the sliced onion, some chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Put in pan the cream, milk and a pinch of nutmeg and hot until boiling. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and sprinkle with plenty of parmesan. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350F, and after 5 minutes of grill until the surface of the vegetables is crusty and golden.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Roast Apricots with Provençal Herbs

Albicocche Arrosto con Erbe di Provenza - Roast Apricots with Provençal Herbs

Few fruits have the same unique flavor as apricots and therefore they can be used in a thousand ways in gastronomy: for sorbets, to accompany meat or, in the form of jam, as a filling for cakes and tarts.
In today's recipe, however, they have the honor of being alone, the other ingredients revolve around them trying to enhance their sour but sweet taste.
This is a recipe that I found on Gourmet Traveler magazine, but I reworked it a bit linking it to the flavors of Provence with lavender flowers in addition to the original thyme (yes, you can use lavender in the food, do you know it?) and choosing a white Port as the dessert wine.
PS: the photo of this recipe has been made using flash lights (instead of my usual continue fluorescent lights) to participate in the second assignment of Strobist Boot Camp II. For those who do not know Strobist, it is a blog that talks about photographic lighting, it also has an active group on Flickr, with always interesting and useful topics (don't miss their Lighting 101 and 102 courses). Since for once there was this assignment regarding food photography I could not miss this opportunity.

Ingredients for approximately 6 serves: 12 apricots (not too much ripe), 1/2 cup cane sugar, 3/4 cup dessert vine, 1 and 1/3 cups whipped cream, 1 lemon, 4 thyme sprigs, 2 lavender flowers sprigs.

Preparation: cut the apricots in half and remove their core. Place them in a oven tray and sprinkle them with the sugar, the dessert wine, the lemon juice and its finely grated zest, thyme and lavender. Put the apricots to cook for about 25 minutes in the oven at 375 F. Then take four cooked ones and two tablespoons of their roasting juice, mash until smooth and add to the whipped cream. Serve in table the apricots with the cream thus prepared.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Baked Spiced Custard

Crema Speziata al Forno - Baked Spiced Custard

I did read this recipe in the last issue of Donna Hay and I was curious to try it because, despite its simplicity, I was intrigued about the use of different spices in a classic pudding like the English custard.

Ingredients for approximately 6 serves: 4 and 1/5 cups of single cream, 4 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or a vanilla pod cut in pieces), 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinammon, some freshly grated nutmeg.

Preparation: whisk in a bowl the eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon while heating the cream in a pan until it becomes hot but without letting it boil. Add the cream slowly while stirring. Pour the mixture into molds and put them in a oven-proof container filled with boiling water so that it reaches about half of the height of the mold. Cook for about an hour in the oven at 300F, before serving sprinkle the cream with grated nutmeg.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tarte with Caramelized Figs

Tarte ai Fichi Caramellati - Tarte with Caramelized Figs

As I promised a couple of posts ago I'm posting the recipe that I cooked with the "Fioroni" figs that I photographed. In reality it is a "mix" of different recipes, the tarte is nothing but a classic pasta brisée, whose preparation was described in this post, while the figs are a reworking of a couple of ways to caramelize them, because I didn't wanted them to become too "dry."

Ingredients for a tarte of about 6 inches wide: 1 and 1/10 cups of all purpose flour, 3/5 cup of butter, 2.2 oz. of figs, 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, ground cinnamon, aromatic vinegar, salt, some egg white.

Preparation: to prepare the tarte follow the instructions in this post using the flour, 2/5 cup of butter and a pinch of salt. Cut the figs into slices, put them in a pan along with the sugar, the remaining butter, and sprinkle them with cinnamon and a bit of aromatic vinegar. Cook them on very low heat for about a hour until they become of a nice golden color but still soft. If the syrup produced will be too liquid, remove the figs, and restrict it on the fire until it becomes enough thick. At this point brush the baked tarte with egg white, place the figs inside and cover them with syrup. Bake the tarte in the oven again for about ten minutes. Serve hot, together with Chantilly cream or yogurt with honey.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Franke & Heidecke Rolleicord II Model 1

Franke & Heidecke Rolleicord II Model 1


La valle dietro il monte Cimone - The valley behind Mount Cimone - Fomapan 400
The valley behind Mount Cimone - Fomapan 400


Cane pastore e pecora - Shepherd dog and sheep - Fomapan 400
Shepherd dog and sheep - Fomapan 400

Castello di Serravalle - Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
Castello di Serravalle - Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros


vecchia auto - old car fiat topolino - Kodak Portra 160 NC
A car of almost the same age of my camera, but slightly less working ;) - Kodak Portra 160 NC

Few cameras have the charm of the old twin lens reflex cameras. Among these the Rollei, produced by Franke & Heidecke, have certainly a place of honor, just think how many photographers used them for definitely challenging works (like Richard Avedon for his first fashion pictures).

The one I'm showing today is a Rolleicord (the cheaper model of the more famous Rolleiflex) produced as far back as 1936 and equipped with a Carl Zeiss lens Triotar 75/3.5, which I had already talked about here.

Pieve di San Pietro di Roffeno a Castel d'Aiano - Particolare di una casa - Detail of a house - Kodak Portra 160 NC
Detail of a house in the complex of the parish church of San Pietro di Roffeno in Castel d'Aiano - Kodak Portra 160 NC

Needless to say, as soon as I had it in my hands and full revised (the mirror was missing) I immediately did put it on test and from a couple of weeks it has become the favorite company in my photographic excursions: the square format and the framing from above make me feel like I were in "holiday" using it, especially when compared to the 35mm digital cameras.

Galleria - Portico di via dei Musei a Bologna - Kodak Portra 160 NC
Portico of via dei Musei in Bologna - Kodak Portra 160 NC

The quality of the results? Well impressive considering that we are talking about a camera and lens of 80 years ago. Just a bit of aberrations at the edges of the image, but they tend to disappear once you close the diaphragm, while the sharpness is excellent.

I must admit it... I love it!

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Figs

Fichi - Figs

Sometimes I remember that, before being a cooking fan (a very amateur one), I am a photographer.
Those moments happen when I have clear in my mind a photo I want to shoot, and no matter what, I must succeed.
The picture of today is one of those: I bought these beautiful "fioroni" figs, ie the first figs that come to maturity, and wanted to photograph them in a rustic setting and a with certain kind of light.
Unfortunately it was already 7 PM and my studio is anything but rustic, so I had to complete my auto assigned "commission" with what I had available: some props, my artificial lights and a good dose of imagination.
The result will not be precisely equal to what I could do if I had at disposal a cottage in the English countryside but in my opinion is quite credible, what's your opinion about it?
You could read the cooking part in the next days...

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Saint Germain Cocktail

Saint Germain Cocktail

To conclude the "cherries week" let's take out some champagne to celebrate with a touch of class.

Ingredients for 1 serving: 2 and 1/2 oz. cherry brandy, 2 and 1/2 oz. champagne, half orange slice (optional).

Preparation: pour the chilled cherry brandy in a chilled flute. Top with champagne, chilled too, and stir gently. If you like you can garnish the flute with half orange slice.

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