Cornmeal cookies

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It’s cookie time! What is it that makes us crave cookies more than usual during the Holidays? Is it because the cold weather inspire us to bake? Or because the shorter days force us inside and we end up spending more time cooking? Or because cookies make a great, always welcomed gift?
As if we needed a pretext to create, make or eat more cookies…
Whatever your reason might be, try these cookies and I assure you that they are going to become one of your favorites: easy to make but flavorful, they are exactly what you need at any time of the day. And they have a wonderful quality: they are tiny, so you won’t feel guilty even if you eat three or four.  Fabulous with cranberry relish (see my recipe) or a tiny dab of crème fraîche, they taste even better with a sip of port wine.

Ingredients:

(Makes about 120) F W V Gf B

  • 1 cup of organic corn meal
  • 1 cup of organic gluten-free flour
  • Half cup of organic sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 oz. of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 whole organic eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of corn oil

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead with your hands to obtain smooth dough. On a floured surface, roll small portions of the dough into “snakes”. Cut snakes into half-inch pieces, and lay them onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Lightly press a fork on their surface to form grooves.
Bake at 350F for 12 minutes.

Tip: Make one batch with yellow corn flour and one with blue corn flour.

Pasta with Swordfish*

Sometimes I crave for a dish that is completely out of season but so good that I have to make it, against my rule that all the ingredients should be seasonal.
It happened the other day, when I suddenly remembered the delicious recipe that a friend of mine had sent to me before Christmas. Caught in the Holidays rush, I had forgotten about it for weeks but, as soon as I remembered it, my mouth began watering at the idea of trying it before sharing it with you.
I must premise that, because of its history and location, Sicily has one of the best culinary traditions of Italy. Over the centuries, the island has been under Greek, Roman, Germanic, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and even Spanish rule before it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Each culture has left its footprint on the Sicilian gastronomy that, as a result, is a unique blend of exotic and traditional, local and foreign flavors.
Moreover, the island climate allows an incredible variety of crops, which vary from citruses, almonds, olives and pistachios along the coast to mushrooms and berries in the mountains; the Mediterranean seafood is outstanding but, as you move towards the interior, it’s replaced by venison, meat and poultry cooked in distinctive ways, with unique combinations of ingredients. Then are the cheeses, the sweets, the preserves, and the strong wines …
Every bite makes you wonder how somebody came up with such a dizzying mixture of flavors in just one dish. It feels like each new invader wanted to add its own flavors to the local cuisine; then, over the centuries, nobody wanted to renounce to them and they all became part of the Sicilian cooking style.
In Sicily, every meal is a feast or, as a friend of mine likes to say, a challenge because you would like to eat everything.
Just read this recipe and you’ll understand why I’ve classified it under the “indulgence” category. It’s probably not strictly Biological, but certainly worth trying!

*Recipe by Letizia and Max Arcidiacono

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Ingredients:

(serves 4)  S  B  Gf (with rice pasta)

  • 10 oz. of short pasta, preferably Penne
  • 8 oz. of swordfish
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 10 oz .of organic tomato sauce (see my recipe)
  • 1 mature red tomato red round onion
  • one medium round eggplant
  • 6 Tbsp. of Evoo
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup of sweet white
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
  • 1 oz. of grated Ricotta Salata cheese
  • Salt and black pepper Continue reading

Roman Gnocchi

Roman gnocchi are semolina flour dumplings that make a fabulous entrée or a side dish. Their taste is surprisingly delicate because, during the cooking process, their volume doubles and their sticky, thick texture becomes fluffy, almost soufflé-like.
I prefer to cut them into squares because it’s easier and less messy, but in Rome these gnocchi are cut into discs, typically using the wet rim of a small glass. These round gnocchi look nicer, but you are left with a lot of remnants and, being them such a delicacy, you don’t want to waste a single bite!

 Ingredients:

(serves 6)   A  V 

  • 2 cups of semolina flour
  • 1 quart of organic milk
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of unsalted organic butter + 1 Tbsp. for the oven pan
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and start adding the semolina flour, little by little, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid forming any lumps; cook for ten minutes, stirring often because this mixture has the tendency to become very thick and to stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Continue reading

Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta

The incredulous looks on people’s face when I tell them what I cooked for my birthday have convinced me that I must be one of the very few persons who cook on their own birthday.
As you might have inferred by now, not only I like to cook but also I like to eat. Unfortunately, I must do it with even more moderation and caution than the average person because of my age and my food intolerances.
Strangely, though, I don’t like to eat most of the things I make. This oddity can be explained by the fact that I have a very refined sense of smell and I can stand only very natural odors for a very short time. Therefore, when something has been cooking for longer than a few minutes in my kitchen, I’m already so nauseous that I don’t feel like eating it anymore. Continue reading

Panna Cotta

I know I promised you a rice dish for today but yesterday my gardening addiction prevailed over my blogging passion and, before I knew, it was time to prepare dinner. Then I was too tired to write down today’s recipe and decided that it would be easier to use one that was ready to be published. That’s why I’m posting – two days in advance – your dessert/indulgence recipe for this week.

Ingredients:

(serves 6)    A  V  Gf

  • 2 gelatin leaves
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean

Fill a small bowl with water, add gelatin and let it soak. Pour the milk into a saucepan and Continue reading

Alma’s Apple Cake

Another recipe from my mother-in-law’s recipe book. My husband decided to include it in the cookbook that he published on behalf of his mom because of a small note in her recipes’ notebook that read, “Bake it – very good!”
Last year we gave a copy of Alma’s cookbook to a friend of ours, whose wife later emailed me “It’s true! I made it and it’s really good!”

Ingredients:

(serves 8)   F  W  V  B

  • 3 lb. organic golden apples
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of whole-wheat all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. of amaretto cookies
  • 3 Tbsp. organic sugar
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (+ some for greasing the cake pan)
  • 1 Tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 lemon

Preheat the oven at 380 F.
Peel and grate the apples in a mixing bowl. Continue reading

Sand Cake

This ancient cake owes its name to its texture, due to roughness of the corn meal. It was traditionally made in the springtime in the countryside near Venice, when people had run out of wheat flour after the winter, and fresh eggs were abundant.
Its ingredients makes it naturally gluten-free.

 Ingredients:

(serves 10)   Sp  V  Gf

  • 1 + 1/3 cup organic unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of superfine sugar
  • 1 cup of potato flour
  • 1 cup of yellow corn flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven at 340 F.
Bring the butter at room temperature and beat it with the sugar until pale and fluffy.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites and set the whites aside.
Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure it’s well blended in before adding the next one.
Incorporate the potato flour, the yellow corn flour, and the baking powder.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until white, firm and fluffy. Add the beaten egg whites to the cake mixture, folding them in delicately.
Grease a tall 10-inch round cake pan with butter, dust with some flour, put the cake mixture in the pan and level it with a spatula.
Bake at 340 F for about 30-35 minutes, until golden and firm. Remove from cake pan, let it cool down on a cooling rack, dust it with confectioner sugar and serve cold.

Cheese Biscuits*

Once you read its ingredients, you’ll have no doubt that this inviting appetizer falls into my “indulgence” category. Easy and quick to make, it disappears as fast because everybody loves it. Eat it in moderation, if you can.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)  A V

  • 7 oz. Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 + 1 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • a pinch of salt

Cut butter into small pieces and bring it at room temperature. Mix together butter, flour, Continue reading

Béchamel Sauce

Today I will introduce a sauce. Not just any sauce, but a very important one that you can – and will – use in many recipes because of its versatility and its delicate taste.
Once you try it, you’ll have no doubt that its origin is French and in fact it takes its name from its inventor, the Marquis Louis de Nointel de Béchameil, a wealthy banker who became the maître d’hôtel at Louis XIV court. Because of his outstanding cooking skills, the Sun King awarded him the Blue Ribbon of the Order of The Holy Spirit, which later became a symbol of culinary excellence, the well known Cordon Bleu. Continue reading

Easter Dove Cake

This cake,  served on Easter Sunday in Northern Italy, is shaped like a dove as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Since nowadays in Italy it can be bought anywhere from bakeries to supermarkets (in the US, many specialty stores carry it, for example World Market), very few people take the time to make it, but you can challenge yourself by baking it.
The secret lays in the patience to let it rise several times and for as long as specified in the recipe.
For a real treat, serve it with my Holidays Cream (see recipe)

  • 4 ½ cups of baking flour
  • 16 Tbsp. of butter
  • 5 oz of mixed dried or candied fruit (raisins, orange, pineapple, papaya) cut into small pieces Continue reading