Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Mock panettone with candied orange and dark chocolate / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Finti panettoncini all’arancia candita e cioccolato fondente

Finti panettoncini all'arancia candita e cioccolato fondente 1

It has been hanging around for a long time, this thought. Unfortunately having many things to do and little time to stop and think and do something about it…but I couldn’t stop thinking this blog was born thanks to my passion for sourdough but lately my recipes have been increasingly lacking this ingredient. What happened? Nothing serious, some of it is to blame on the discovery of long fermentation which can make yeasted bread more digestible and fresh for longer time, just like sourdough bread. A little blame is on “Cuochi d’artificio” for which I decided to restrain myself to the use of yeast, being sourdough leavening too complex. And last but not least lately time to plan refreshments and dough rising has failed me big time.

At the first occasion I knew I had to do something about it. I threw a quick loving glance to the jar of my dear Hannibal Dolores Frank, my liquid sourdough culture, and rolled up my sleeves. In a jiffy I found the right ingredients and I started to put down, off the cuff, the recipe for these mock panettoncini fo Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook. Mock because mind you, panettone is a serious matter. The recipe is regulated by a disciplinary from which you can not escape, and the commitment needed to come up with a good homemade panettone is remarkable. This recipe in a way is no exception and I don’t recommend it to the faint of heart, or better faint of hand. Unless you are familiar with very hydrated or high in fat doughs, if you’re not quite skilled with handling and shaping breads I warn you nervous breakdown is around the corner waiting for you. But if you are experienced or daring enough go all the way and this recipe will not disappoint you. These little panettoni are perfect for a special, and why not romantic, breakfast. Soft as a pillow and sweet, I tell you. Bake them on a Saturday afternoon for Sunday morning. Pop them for a while in the oven before you tasting them while cocooning in the warmth comfort of your bed, wide smile under your cappuccino foam moustache. That’s amore!

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MTChallenge n° 61: Hunger for tiramisu / MTChallenge n° 61: Miriam mangia il tiramisu a mezzanotte

miriam-mangia-tiramisu-a-mezzanotte-1

Here I am, after oh so many tribulations, ready once more to participate to this month’s MTChallenge.This month’s recipe is only apparently an easy one to whip up: tiramisu. Susy literally threw at us a proper hand grenade…one able to shatter nerves and make our clothes explode under the pressure of fat and calories! Who would have imagined that making tiramisu would be so difficult? I’ll spare you all details of the various problems, errors and frustration I encountered all through my tiramisu journey on order to come up with a recipe that if only I had the skills would be a scream. No pastry skills, no party. What I managed to come up with is rather a tiramimoscio (an italian word I invented to describe my flaccid tiramisu). But I can assure you that if you do have the pastry skill necessary in order to make a proper tiramisu this recipe is truly remarkable. You can either choose to have it as tiramimoscio or a tiramifreddo (another invented word for the frozen version of this dessert). In fact those two version can be easily interpreted as the sweet incarnations of the two female characters from the film from which I drew inspiration: “The Hunger”.
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Buckwheat diamonds in autumnal broth / Pasta di grano saraceno in brodo autunnale

Pasta di grano saraceno in brodo autunnale 2

Autumn. If you have been following my blog for a few years there is no need for me to stress on how much I love this season. If I had to pick a few words to describe this season those words would be: orange, leaves, perfumes, chestnuts, woolly jumpers, fireplace, home. A few words which are already eight…oh the nasty habit of dwelling that I have! To these “few words” I would just add another one: buckwheat.

No other kind of grain embodies in itself all the scents, colours and flavours of the most beautiful season of the year. Aromatic, intense, hot, buckwheat is very well suited for a variety of recipes ranging from sweet to savoy with the advantage of being a highly warming food (something I learned during my macrobiotic phase), therefore ideal for these months that are slowly introducing us to the cold winter. There is nothing better than a good hot soup to reconcile yourself with the world after a hard day’s work. Just imagine being in the cozy warmth of your house, holding a steaming bowl while sitting on the couch watching one of your favourite tv series.

The dough can be prepared it in advance and frozen laying the diamond shaped pasta on a cutting board covered with plastic wrap. When the pasta is thoroughly frozen you can store it in box to prevent it from breaking.

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Chestnuts Flour and Walnut Bread / Pane alla farina di castagne e noci

Chestnuts Flour and Walnut Bread - Pane alla farina di castagne e noci 1

How I love the cold season. Vendors at every turn of a corner, the thick smoke coming from the roasting racks. Paper cones filled with roasted chestnuts keep my hands warm. Autumn and winter are my favourite season for their distinctive perfumes and flavours. Chestnuts come in the first place of my cold season food top ten. Sweet and fragrant, once amongst the staple food of our ancestors here in Ticino it has now become quite an expensive ingredient to buy in stores. Definitely not an every day ingredient if not for those who have the chance of being able to go in the woods and pick some. Every now and then I treat myself with a bag of chestnut flour and bake kolache. Lately I have been experimenting a bit and came up for this recipe for a bread I took to a dinner with friends. It’s flavour is intense and lends itself well to accompany a vegetable soup which is so seasonal. Chestnuts, walnuts and polenta are all products which are typical of my region and blend perfectly. This bread is one with a strong personality, it is rich and dense and keeps fresh for several days…a bit like bread did in the old days.

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Leftover Cake Muffins / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Muffins con resti di torta

Leftover Cake Muffins 1

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.

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Stale Bread and Fennel Seeds Brittle Biscuits / Biscotti al croccante di pane raffermo e semi di finocchio

Biscotti al croccante di pane raffermo e semi di finocchio 1

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 Zweetz who 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.

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Furesta Nera Cake (or my version of Black Forest Cake) / Furesta nera (o anche la Foresta nera a modo mio)

 furesta nera 1

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.

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Liquorice Bagel / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Bagel alla liquirizia

bagel liquirizia : liquorice bagel 1

Bagels. If I’m not mistaken this is the second recipe I tried after discovering my passion for bread baking. The first one was the Cottage Loaf, a bread which has been the staple of my baking when sixteen. Around that time my father used to travel a lot to the United States, something which I guess summed up with my passion for american tv series and MTV played a role into feeding my interest for this bread. I then did a 10 day holiday in N.Y. where I religiously followed my plan to eat a typical american breakfast every single morning, with the rule of changing both menu and place every single day. Amongst the breakfast I had there where bagels too, of course. I would opt for a classic philadelpia cheese and smoked salmon bagel, straight from the oven and still warm. No doubt one of my favourite breakfasts during my american holiday. I haven’t been baking bagels since, for no reason really. This time a pretty weird idea to use Maroggia’s Mill flour came to my mind. Liquorice flavoured bagels! Take a look into Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook with me and let’s see how these beauties can be baked at home.

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Cinnamon, Almonds, Orange and Dark Chocolate Sablés / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Sablés alla cannella, arancia e cioccolato fondente

Cinnamon, Almonds, Orange and Dark Chocolate Sablés : Sablés alla cannella, arancia e cioccolato fondente 1

Biscuits, biscuits..give me biscuits! I have no clue what is going on with me, but maybe the macrobiotic experience (which I interrupted nearly three months ago) has shocked me to the point that I really needed to walk a bit on the dark side of baked goods and indulge in all those recipes that require a lot butter and a good dose of sugar. I’m pretty confident I will overcome this phase, especially because I don’t think my hips can take so much fat for very much longer. No, I don’t think so. So enjoy these sablés until I feel like posting sweet recipes. And I want to share this with you and all of Maroggia’s Mills friends. When my friend Flavia (a very talented photographer, go and check her work here) invited me over for tea I baked a good batch which was thoroughly enjoyed. In fact they didn’t last long, I can tell by the way my pants feel a bit too thighs! Needless to say, these biscuits melt in your mouth with delicate bursts of cinnamon and orange flavour which blend very well with each other as well as with dark chocolate. The addition of crunchy almonds and chopped dark chocolate add an extra thing to the whole sensory experience you have while biting in. Diet can start tomorrow (you can always go and check my macrobiotic blog…since it’s still online!)!
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MTChallenge April: Chestnut flour, Toasted Hazelnuts, Orange Peel and Pepper biscuits / MTChallenge Aprile: Frolla montata alla farina di castagne, nocciole tostate, scorza d’arancia e pepe

Frolla montata alla farina di castagne nocciole tostate scorza d'arancia e pepe 1

MTChallenge, mon amour! Unfortunately last month, due to an overload of work, I had to skip the challenge around the theme broth. To have to give up a challenge is never nice. I don’t deny that skipping an MTChallenge often fills me with guilt. With such a compact community, where everyone does its best a lot in terms of effort in developing new recipes as in providing support and help throughout all the challenge feeling guilty at not taking part comes easily. I scroll the Facebook page, look at that wonderful recipes posted daily…and I’m there sitting on the bench with my hands tied. Fortunately some of the work I’ve been doing last month allows me to take part to April’s challenge, set by Dani and Juri of Acqua e Menta blog. The challenge is not an easy one, don’t be fooled by what seems to be an easy peasy topic. Biscuits are far from easy without foolproof recipes, especially the fearsome “frolla montata”, a kind of biscuit that until now I have never, and I mean NEVER EVER, managed to bake with success. I lost track of the amount of frolla montata biscuits I baked in the past exuding butter, which crumbled miserably at the first touch or worse, that were dramatically chewy and greasy on the palate. Thanks to the generous post by Dani and Juri I finally managed to come up with some noteworthy biscuits. In short, MTC strikes again in teaching me something new.

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