Yet another Friday with Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook and yet another bread: a flat bread. Nothing more handy. Flatbread can be stuffed, lends itself perfectly as an accompaniment to a main dish or serves beautiful as a simple snack. A soft and versatile bread that doesn’t need to be sliced and can be easily portioned by tearing it into smaller pieces. Ideal to have for breakfast as for lunch and dinner. This time around I wanted to try and enrich the dough with eggs and milk to make the bread as soft as I could. The result is great but I would recommend you to consume this bread when still hot or to warm it briefly in the oven or toaster after brushing it with a little water, to fully taste its softness and fragrance. You can flavour the dough with seeds, spices or chocolate chips for a tasty snack. Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
Some time has passed since the last cake recipe forMaroggia’s MillCookbook. One of those simple cakes, easy and quick to bake and offer to friends who come over for a tea or a coffee, or as the perfect finishing touch to a casual dinner. This recipe lends itself well to be customized using other nut-based flours such as almond flour, pistachio flour, or walnut flour. This cake (which I baked in a 15×8 cm mould with 1/3 of the amount of ingredients shown in the recipe written for this post, which requires the use of a ring mould of approximately 23 cm diameter) marries the warm and enveloping taste of hazelnut with the slightly bitter sweetness of licorice. What a perfect match! Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
What could possibly happen when a friend offers you mealworms to taste? This is what happened two me a couple of weeks ago. I went over to the Mill for my usual flour collecting trip and found Alessandro holding a box of dried mealworms and a big grin on his face. Taste, he said. And taste I did indeed. Of course he commissioned me a recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook. How cool is it to work with him???? That’s how my Tenebrownies were born. But if dried worms make you feel queasy you can bake these delicious brownies with any kind of nut or ingredient that please your palate. They are simply divine. Crunchy on the outside and extremely chewy inside. You definitely have to try them! And what about the mealworms, what do they taste like? Well, I must say I was amazed…they have a distinctive aftertaste of hazelnut!!!! In this case the flavour is very attenuated by the high content of chocolate and cocoa in the brownies but the larvae give a very special crunchiness that I have never felt in any other food, which I really liked. The proof is in the pudding!
Tea time with a friend. Rice flour which has been sitting in the pantry for too long, as well as a jar of matcha powder which might as well be a find from an archaeological site. Consider lemons are never missing in my fridge. Put all of that above together and what you are left with is a batch of sensational cookies. And here’s the recipe!
Butternut squash mon amour. I started appreciating pumpkin and butternut squash quite late into my twenties, but since my father grows these vegetables in his garden I now cannot wait for the arrival of the cold season in order to taste sweet and savoury dishes cooked with this versatile ingredient. Its natural sweetness makes it an excellent ingredient for cakes and muffins so why not do a little experiment and combine it with one of my favourite ingredients ever? And here it is…the omnipresent liquorice! Needless to say the pairing is superb, these muffin are soft and sweet (but not too much). You can’t get any better than this! Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
Cantucci(or biscotti, as they are called in the States and UK), can’t tell you how many of those I ate when I lived in Tuscany. Actually it was one of my favourite dessert when I went at the restaurant. A nice glass of Vin Santo, the relaxed dipping of the cantucci in the golden boozy liquid. The most perfect way to end a dinner. Before Christmas I was unable to bake panettone so I indulged with backing plenty of cantucci and pandolce (a Genoese version of panettone) that I gave as a gift to family and friends. Searching for the best recipes I came across this one which is just perfect. I found it on a very reliable blog which I already known for years, Anice e Cannella. The only two changes I made have been replacing orange zest with lemon zest, which I much more prefer, and not brushing the cantucci with the egg (more out of laziness than anything else). A gift which my guinea pigs welcomed and appreciated very much. You can store them in nice tin boxes and bring them as a gift to friends who invite you over for dinner, maybe with a good bottle of Vin Santo!
A recipe is a stratification, sweet or salty, bitter, spicy or sweet and sour, of the manifestations of one’s love. I do firmly believe in this statement. May it be a gesture of affection, a manifestation of esteem and friendship, or love expressed as an overwhelming passion if you proceed to remove layers of flavours and gestures to distill its essence what you will obtain is one of the deepest and most sincere of all human feelings. A thought waiting to take shape, the choice of ingredients and the process of turning them into something familiar, desired, which has the power of warming the heart, or an unusual pairing of flavours, a surprise, love at first sight. The long wait, that feeling so similar to the eager stare at the window when waiting for a lover who has been away for a long time. What will be next? A perfectly risen cake, eyes bursting with desire or a collapsed soufflé and a quick peek on the cheek, a glacial politeness falling heavy like a gravestone on a long time exhausted relationship? Food speaks, or allows us to speak to others when words fail or are simply useless. I have seen more manifestations of love on a rich and well prepared table that in readymade Valentine gifts and in badly chosen birthday gifts.
What remains of the cake…what to do with it? Sometimes, even though not very often, a bit of cake may remain uneaten, waiting to be finished and eventually ends drying up. Or in the worst cases, as it happened to me with Antinea’s birthday cake, a part of a layered cake might break effectively becoming unusable. And what about the tops, cut to level perfectly the cake layers? Too much cake to eat, at least for me! I then asked myself what I could do with those poor cake crumbles, but also with the double Gruyère cream I had bought in excess (rather than running out an ingredient I have a tendency of buying too much) and the ridiculous amount of eggs I was given by my aunt, who has now taken the habit of delivering about a dozen every week…high cholesterol anyone? Adverse and hostile as I am to cake pops, an option which seems amongst the most popular when it’s up to use leftover, I thought of using the leftovers to flavour a batch of muffins, a sweet recipe which has been missing for quite a while in my column for the Maroggia’s Mill. In fact my last sweet muffins recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook has been the one for Beetroot, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins.
A couple of months ago I was interviewed by a young local journalist, Ivan Campari, for a series of articles he is publishing on the newspaper LaRegione featuring young people from the Mendrisiotto area. For this I have to thank my friend Alan Alpenfelt, the mind behind the independent Radio Gwen and the acting company V XX Zweetzwho was interviewed too and gave my name amongst others. To greet both the photographer and the journalist I decided to bake a batch of biscuits, which proved providential as the only good picture of me is one I am transferring them from the baking tray to the rack! I am such a terrible photography subject as I always feel very embarrassed and pull faces and eventually end up throw evil glances at the camera.
Antinea is a special person. We’ve known each other for little over a year but it is as if it were a life time that we have been friends. It was a mutual friend who introduced her to me. With the impending 35th birthday I thought it would be good for me to start some kind of physical activity to keep fit. Amongst the various options the most popular for women in their thirties seemed to be pilates and talking to Marko it came out that her friend Antinea is pilates instructor. There was a nice vibe from the start and despite my stiffness and the struggle to assimilate her teachings I decided to trust her, committing to exercising and trying to overcome my limits. And so it was. I’m sure that without her there would have been no “Cuochi d’artificio”and I am convinced that pilates has greatly contributed to my physical and psychological well-being, giving me not only a new body but also a new mindset. Perhaps at my age I have finally reached a state of equilibrium and for that I must thank Antinea too.