Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2020 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
I’m always searching for markets where I can find unusual items we like to have from time to time but are not available in your neighborhood markets. As I mentioned in previous posts, there are times when we have our special TV dinners such as when watching a special sports event or concert especially during the Olympics. I try to make these dinners interesting and when possible a small, easy to prepare meal, such as caviar with chopped egg white, egg yolk, onions, toast and a glass of champagne. Always helps when watching Federer, who sometimes keeps me on the edge of my chair a little easier. Or maybe it is a duck terrine magret, saucisson de canard (duck sausages), or foire gras with a light salad and a glass of Sauterne. For dessert I might prepare Vermicelles mit rham (pureed chestnut with cream) or on a scope of vanilla ice cream or meringue. In Switzerland you can buy Vermicelles in a tube and when squeezed out it looks like spaghetti. One of our favorites is a selection of French cheese with fresh fruit, a nice crisp baguette and a bottle of Bordeaux. Sounds a little extravagant, but on occasion having these foods at home is far less expensive then in a restaurant and actually very easy to prepare.
For your special guests you might want to include bit of exquisite to your dish and add shavings of truffles, black or white from Italy or France over a dish of freshly made pasta. And I love risotto nero made with squid ink. So where to get these items became an obsession as soon as I arrived in Florida. I was sure that with such a large population of Europeans, I would find what I was looking for. Although I’m far away from these foods that I use to enjoy in Europe, I have at least found a supplier that will make it possible to bring back some of those wonderful dinner memories and hopefully add a few more to the list.
Marky’s specializes in French, Spanish, Russian, Italian and other International foods in a warm and inviting environment with service that is accommodating and knowledgeable. They will not only answer your questions but will also pack you up with your selections and a bag of ice. If you can’t get to Miami, you can place an ordered on their website and have it delivered. A side benefit to visiting the store however is that the Marky’s location is in an area that has many small ethnic restaurants. These small family owned establishments look so interesting that going into Miami late in the afternoon once-in-a-while and discovering some delicious place to eat after shopping is an added adventure.
I was thrilled when I found Marky’s – International Food Emporium, which has a Russian connection in Miami. You can read more about Marky’s on their website and if you visit the market, try out some of the small restaurants in the neighborhood. I will write about them as I also discover them.
Marky’s 687 NW 79th St, Miami, FL 33150
During the Christmas Holidays, Italians present Panettone to friends and neighbors as Christmas greetings. Stores and markets are stacked with colorful boxes of Panettone and restaurants have baskets filled with Panettone cups wrapped in colorful foil to give to their customers. We shop at a market in Como where they are baking Panettone day in and day out trying to keep up with the demand. It has become so popular that today you can find it year round, however not in the quantities seen during Christmas.
We have often received so many boxes of Panettone that we couldn’t possibly consume all of it. I freeze it and also make French toast, but my favorite is Panettone bread pudding. I use to make it the day after Christmas for a dessert, but I like to make homemade Panettone, so we now have it whenever I am into the mood to make it.
Panettone is eaten at anytime of the day and also with a glass of wine after dinner.
Panettone would make a great Christmas or New Years Day dessert.
Panettone Bread Pudding
Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour @ 350 degrees F.
Yield: 8 Servings
6 cups homemade or store bought Panettone
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Whiskey
1 cup confectionery sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened (2 tablespoons for greasing the baking dish)
Other Things Needed
8” x 8” baking dish
In bowl beat the eggs, milk, cream, sugar and the vanilla extract and set it aside.
Grease the baking dish with 2 tablespoons butter. Remove any dark sections of the Panettone and discard them. Cut the Panettone into square chunks and put them into the baking dish. Pour the custard over the top and move it gently around making sure that all the chunks are covered with the mixture. Place it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight. It is very important that it has absorbed the custard otherwise the inside of the Panettone will be dry.
Place the pudding in the middle of the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. After 45 minutes test it with a skewer, if it comes out dry and the top is a golden brown it is done. You might have to cook it for another 10-15 minutes.
Cool to room temperature before cutting.
Melt the butter and the confectionary sugar in a double boiler continually stirring. Remove from the heat and add whisky. You can use Amaretto if you prefer, but if you don’t want to use alcohol, serve it warm with crème anglais.
Keep the Panettone bread pudding refrigerated.
Note: You can also add chocolate bits and/or roasted almonds to the pudding.
Past Holiday Post Gift Ideas
Ciliegie Sotto Spirito
Crocante con Mandorle
Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of takeing our granddaughter on a college tour in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As grandparents the experience was nostalgic and wonderful to have shared this important time and decision with her. Our base was North Andover, Massachusetts where we also cared for our younger grandchildren and enjoyed a day of apple picking at Smolak Farm. Of course the evening brought apple pie and later in the week apple crisp. One of their favorites is apple pie cake, a recipe I found in my aunt Rosette’s hand written cookbook. It has become an autumn tradition after apple picking and brings back memories of this lovely woman. I always like to associate the family member with my recipes because I think it is important to have our children know people in our family that we have loved and who’s recipes we still enjoy.
Apples such as Macintosh, Courtland and Red Delicious are mainly grown at the farm and are the varieties we have always used in our apple desserts.
I grew up west of Boston and for many years lived in Concord and Boston Massachusetts where I lived among the roads and buildings that played such an important roll in the history of our country. This is home no matter where I am in the world. I always try to visit my family in the Boston area during this time of year – there is nowhere else in the world that is more beautiful in the fall. The colors driving up to New Hampshire were just awesome. The small brooks and rivers with stonewalls rambling alongside of barns I never tire of seeing. The lovely little towns and harbors along the ocean and the beautiful white church steeples and commons centered in every town seem to have been standing there since the beginning of time.
After driving through this beautiful country we sat down to apple pie cake made with the apples we picked ourselves. What could be homier and New England then a house filled with the aroma of apples, cinnamon and cake baking in the oven.
Apple Pie Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes at 350ºF
Yield: 8 servings
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 1/2 cups chopped apples
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hot water
Other Things Needed
8” x 8” square baking dish
Cream the sugar, butter, and egg in a mixer until smooth. Stir in the flour a little at a time, then add the spices and baking powder and blend well. Add the water and vanilla and thoroughly blend. Fold in the apples and nuts by hand. Make sure they are well coated with the batter.
Grease and flour an 8” x 8” square baking dish. Pour in the batter and spread the evenly. Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes.
Sprinkle the top with confectionary sugar.
This cake can be served at room temperature, warm or with ice cream.
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During the autumn when driving through Lombardy Italy along the Lakes Region you come across fall food festivals in just about every village. I have to admit that we have to stop at every market. I am addicted to markets discovering something new every time and love the atmosphere.
Stands full of beautiful huge cakes of torroni in every color and flavor make deciding which one to buy a very difficult task. There are soft varieties (morbido) to hard in all colors and flavors. Even though they are relatively expensive, I buy a portion of several flavors to take home. I like to put a dish full of cake shaped torroni for guests to enjoy with a little grappa after dinner. I know that my guests appreciate this thought as none of them have ever experienced torrone like this. Often you just find a few boxed varieties in the market at Christmas.
Torrone festivals are celebrated in many cities in Italy from the toe of the boot in Sicily to Lombardy. Cremona claims to be the birthplace of torrone. It is believed to have first been made for the wedding banquet of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforz on October 25, 1441. The Festa del Torrone is held every year in the historical center of Cremona in mid November. About 80 tons of torrone are eaten by thousands of visitors and the residents eat their share also.
My father use to sell Sperlari Torrone in our market during the Christmas season as it was mostly eaten only during Christmas. It has become more common and available year round in Italy. Enea Sperlari was a candy maker who made tarrone famous. When we go to Como and Lugarno there are always local Torrone vendors along the streets. But I was surprised to find stand after stand during other holiday periods. Now you can find it available almost year round, but not in as many varieties.
Recipe by IT Chefs
150g egg whites
1200g hazel nuts shelled
Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water by heating it to 140° C. Melt the honey and bring it to 120° C. Put the egg whites in the mixer or bowl and begin to whip them with the whisk, then add the syrup at 140° C a trickle at a time, followed by the honey at 120° C. Continue whipping for approximately 5 minutes. In order to maintain the temperature of the mixture and to cook it, wave a blowtorch beneath the bowl of the mixer. Put the dried fruit in a baking pan and then into the oven to toast; the fruit should be added to the mixture while hot, otherwise stirring it in would prove to be difficult.
Replace the whisk in the mixer with the spatula and smoothen the mixture for two minutes. Add the dried fruit and stir it in, in a few minutes the torrone will be ready. Remove the mixture from the mixer, when at around 100° C, spread it out on a host leaf (foglio di ostia) flattens it out and cover it with another host.
Finish spreading it out with a rolling pin
To a thickness of 2.5 to 3 cm.
The best way to cut a crumbly torrone is to place the knife blade on the torrone and tap it sharply with the other hand to obtain irregularly shaped chunks. Torrone should be kept sealed in a cool dry place.
For more detail information and pictures of how to make torrone go to Itchefs web site:
Making as much in advance when having guests for a party or dinner is part of my meal plan. I want to have fun also and enjoy my guests after all that is why I invited them in the first place. But I also want to have a “wow factor” dessert without have to work in a hot kitchen for hours. I don’t want any last minute thing that I have to do to finish it off either. This tart fits all my needs but also makes it look like I’ve spent hours preparing it. If you have a food processor the crust is quickly prepared and there is no rolling out the dough. You just press it in with your hands and mix all the filling ingredients and into the oven it goes. It can be made the day before so that you can concentrate on all the other dishes you are going to prepare.
Cherry Crumble Tart is not sweet and the binder of crushed amoretti is typical of Italian desserts. The only thing you have to watch for is that it has the right amount of sweetness. If you use another biscotti such as ladyfingers that are less sweet then you might have to add a little sugar. I generally use what ever biscotti I have in the house. This tart can be made with other types of fruit such as apples, pears, maybe even figs, although I haven’t tried figs yet.
Ciliege torta della Nonna
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes @ 350º F
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups flour
3/4 cups hazel nuts, ground (ground almonds can be substituted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
6 tablespoons water, ice cold
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, for greasing the pan
5 amoretti or ladyfingers, crumbled
1 1/2 lbs. dark cherries, fresh or frozen, stones removed
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup currant jelly
Place the flour, hazelnuts (or almonds) and baking powder in a bowl. Put the unsalted butter and sugar in a food processor. Pulsate the ingredients until they are fluffy and add the egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until it looks like cornmeal. Add 1/2 of the water and process for 30 seconds. Feel the dough; it should stick together, if it doesn’t add the remaining water. Place the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator while you are preparing the filling.
Rub about 1 tablespoon of butter onto a spring form pan. Press 2/3 of the dough on the bottom and up the sides to about 1” of the side of the pan. The remaining dough will be crumbled over the top.
Put all the filling ingredients in a bowl and coat the cherries well. Taste for sweetness. The type of cookies that you use will determine if additional sugar is needed. Spread the filling in the prepared crust.
Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the cherry mixture.
Place the tart into the middle of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Release the spring form the pan and allow the tart to cool. Serve the tart warm or room temperature with a spoon full of creme fraiche over the top.
Blueberry picking is a tradition in our family. Everyone joined in, my grandfather, kids and friends packed a lunch and spent a day at the farm picking blueberries.
Since they freeze so well we pick enough to last all winter. Then the fun part begins making pies, cakes, muffins, breads and scones. We have blueberry pies right up to Christmas and the last pie is on Christmas Eve bringing back the fun memories of our summer blueberry picking trip.
Blueberries are packed with health benefits and eating a small cup of frozen berries is a satisfying and healthy snack alternative. They can be mixed with salads, we have even mixed them into lobster salad. Use them in maple syrup for pancakes and in pancakes. I make blueberry syrup and dribble it over my blueberry loaf, which gives it an even more fresh blueberry flavor.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour @ 350ºF
Yield: 8 slices
2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon flour, for dusting the blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter softened, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup blueberries
Other things needed
9” x 3” loaf pan
Combine the sugar and butter until it is light yellow. Add the eggs and blend. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and zest together. Add them into the sugar mixture a little at a time alternating with the milk.
Toss the blueberries with a tablespoon of flour and fold them into the batter.
Rub a little shortening at the bottom of a loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan and line the pan with the parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake it at 350ºF for an hour or until a tester comes out dry. Allow it to cool on a rack before cutting it.
Make blueberry syrup by mixing sugar and blueberries and maybe a strip of lemon skin and boiling them down to light syrup. The amount of sugar is dependant on the sweetness of the blueberries, add the sugar accordingly. When the syrup is thick enough, strain it through a fine strainer and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Note: This loaf can be made with cranberries.
Zuccotto is light as a feather yet full of fruit and soaked with rum. Fill it with fresh fruit such as, strawberries, raspberries or peaches. You can prepare it as shown here in this recipe or serve it in a pretty bowl, maybe one with a pedestal, top it off with the whipped cream and scoop it out.
Pane di Spagna is a light sponge cake found in most markets in Italy. It is often layered with mascarpone, pastry cream and fruit. Biscotti are also crushed and layered in the same manner. These are common everyday desserts in Italy and are very easy to prepare. There are no rules, just use the fruits that are in season.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: Follow a recipe for pastry cream
Yield: 1-10”x5” Cake, 12 servings
3- 9” x 2” plain sponge cakes or cut in half 2 Pane di Spagna
6 large, fresh peaches or 1 large container fresh strawberries
2 pastry cream recipes
1/2 cup dark Rum
2 cups Confectionary sugar
1 cup water
1 16 oz. container whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 pound almond slices, toasted
OTHER THINGS NEEDED
Bowl 10” x 5”
PANE di SPAGNA
Chef Franco, Pasticceria Monte S. Angelo, (Foggia) Italia
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes @ 375ºF
Yield: 1 10” sponge cake
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup confectionary sugar
6 large egg yolks, beaten
6 large egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
2 teaspoons lemon or vanilla extract
OTHER THINGS NEEDED
10” round layer cake pan
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Beat the egg yolks, add the confectionary sugar and extract and blend well until the batter is smooth. Add in the sifted flour a little at a time and blend well. The batter will be a little thick at this point. Fold 1/4th of the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently.
Pour it into a greased baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes. Prick it with a cake tester until it come out dry.
If you are using fresh peaches, peel them and cut them into slices. Put 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan and dissolve the sugar until you have syrup. Place the peaches in the syrup and cook them until they are soft, but still have a slight stiffness. Remove them and allow them to cool, and reduce the syrup to about 1 cup. You can add a little peach brandy or rum to the syrup. Sprinkle the syrup over the cake instead of the rum as you would if you were using fresh strawberries. You can also use canned peaches. If using strawberries they should be washed, shucked and sliced.
Make the pastry cream according to the recipe directions and let it cool.
Cover a 10” x 5” bowl or form with plastic wrap so that it completely covers the bowl. It should come down the outside of the bowl enough to fold over the cake at the end.
Cut the cakes in half and cover the bottom and sides of the bowl with the cake. Sprinkle a little rum or syrup over the entire cake. Spread a layer of pastry cream over the bottom of the cake. Place another layer of cake over the cream and sprinkle it with a little rum or sryup. Slice the strawberries or peaches and place them over the cake. Cover the fruit with another layer of cake again sprinkling the syrup or rum. Put another layer of fruit over the cake and another layer of pastry cream and cover the cream with the last layer of cake. This should take you to the top of your bowl. Bring the plastic wrap over the top of the bowl covering the entire top of the cake. Place a plate on the top with a weight, such as a can of tomatoes and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Place almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown. Watch them carefully as they will brown quickly.
Whip the cream in a cold bowl until the cream starts to stiffen. Add the vanilla and confectionary sugar and beat until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Cover the entire cake with the whipped cream and pat the toasted almonds over the cake. Return it to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.