MTChallenge: Terrine!

Another month, another challenge. Welcome back to the monthly appointment with the MTChallenge. The last challenge was won by Giuliana, our vintage hen which is quite passionate with terrines.I must confess. Terrines scare me, they always did. I don’t like them. Blame it on the gelatin, which remind me of culinary horrors of the 70s which can be found on many pages of my mum’s culinary scrap books. I always considered terrines a too playful and poor of substance dish (forgive me Giuliana!). But MTC is MTC, one simply can’t escape from it. As a matter of fact, the more a subject is far from what I like the most, the more stress it generates and the more excited I feel. More or less. The roughest British sides of me started saying “No cold jellies… can’t you see you finally have the chance to try and bake your own pork pie? You don’t want to lose this opportunity do you?”. HI must come out of the pie closet and my beloved Van Pelt will be shocked, she will… I’ve never ever baked a pork pie in my whole life. I needed MTC to finally bake one! I have to be honest. I had many ideas mainly involving apples, oranges, beetroot and liquorice. Then I had a fennel, lying on its own in my fridge, and decided to flavour the broth with spices and the pig with herbs. No overthinking and simply following my gut.
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MTC Challenge: Indian Style Fried Chicken / MTC Challenge: Pollo fritto all’indiana

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Another month, another MTChallenge. Last challenge, the macaron, literally brought me to my knees and made me regret having a willpower which is close zero. Friendships, relationships…working hard on myself I learned the salutary principle of “Letting go” and understand that everything, EVERYTHING, in this brief life simply comes to an end. Not with the MTChallenge, I simply can’t let go. Like in the most cliché relationships which are ruled by a strong, and constant, imbalance between love and hate it’s impossible for me to desist. Kathy Bates in “Misery” you name her…MTChallenge is far worse than her smashing Paul Sheldon’s legs, I simply can’t get out of it! Last challenge’s winner was Silvia, not a surprise if you go taking a look at the recipe with which she won. It was virtually impossible for her to lose. I immediately said to myself: “She will bash us, she will”. Indeed, a massive bash arrived. Silvia’s fried chicken! So you think that frying is easy don’t you? You couldn’t be more wrong. Being quite experienced with frying (I think my closest friends have heard me billion times instructing them on double frying) I took courage and decided to use an ingredient I’ve never used for frying before. Almonds. Scared about its humidity content and surely quite fearful of burning them I never, EVER, used nuts to coat anything that needed a good old frying session. Of course it took an MTChallenge to throw myself into the boiling cauldron and overcome anxiety. The inspiration for the recipe came from India, as soon as I read Valentina’s original recipe. Blame it on the marinade (spices and spicy!), or the idea of accompanying the chicken with a sauce (firstly my mind went to a yogurt based dip and then moved on to an inevitable chutney, which I decided to mix with yogurt :D), but for certain if chicken is involved, at least where I come from, you have to venture into indian cuisine.

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MTChallenge: Macarons / Dell’MTChallenge e dei Macarons gemelli diversi: il macaron gnocco e il macaron cesso

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I’m quitting. This is the last one, I swear. I have been repeating the same thing for quite a while now. Too much stress, brainstorming, tetris-like scheduling strategies. What about the anxiety, the overwhelming sense of inferiority I feel every time I check out the other contestants’ recipes, every time a picture gets posted onto the group’s facebook page. And then a new month comes along with a new challenge. I can’t help but participate, I can’t resist to the call of the MTChallenge. Even though I felt a shiver down my spine when I read the theme for this month’s challenge. Our dear Ilaria chose one of the most fearsome recipes…the macaron! A few years back I did experiment a bit and produced dragon eggs for a first attempt and got only close to proper macarons with these Luxemburgerli-like sweets (a swiss version of macarons but of a smaller size) on my second attempt. Fear and Loathing in Chiasso. And on top of it all the tap in the kitchen has been out of order for almost a month and I was forced to wash dishes, bowls and kitchen accessories in the bathtub. You can just imagine my state of mind. And what about the firm conviction that both the shells of the macarons had to be flavored, which led me to test and photograph them a second time because the first one I had forgotten to spice up the shells of one of the two recipes I baked for the challenge. The first macarons batch turned out to be perfect (I have pictures to prove it!!!) but I decided not to fill them in order not to waste time and ingredients. And of course the second time around something went wrong with the cardamom macarons. Virtually they came out in the shape of tits. I think the problem lies in the fact that the mix was very thick and maybe I should have work it a little harder in order to break the air bubbles. Or maybe it just needed a little more egg white having added the cardamom powder and poppy seeds. However having no time nor desire to whip up a third batch I decided to participate in any case, with both macarons: the beautiful and the ugly.
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MTChallenge n° 61: Hunger for tiramisu / MTChallenge n° 61: Miriam mangia il tiramisu a mezzanotte

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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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MTChallenge nr 60: Marchesa Casati’s tapas / MTChallenge nr 60: Infiniti auguri alla nomade! O anche le tapas della Marchesa

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Another month, another MTChallenge! Mai‘s challenge is a tough one. Tapas! This month our MTC judges were really tough on us and we were asked to develop three recipes. Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

Gnocchi with tomato, thyme and fennel seeds / MTC o anche pararsi le terga in corner: Gnocchi freschi al pomodoro, timo e semi di finocchio

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Time flies so quickly it’s hard for me to believe that next month will mark my three years as a participant to the MTChallenge. The toughest, craziest and most instructive foodblogger challenge in the worldwide web. Some challenges I had to give up to, many ones I took part to were spent addressing not so nice thoughts to the challengers but all of the challenges have been an occasion to learn new techniques and recipes. I always tried to participate to the best of my means, were they economical, in terms of the time I had on my hands and my creative resources. But never a challenge had been so tough on me. Gnocchi. Apparently an easy one, but someone like me who has always eaten gnocchi straight from a bag and topped them with butter, sage and parmesan this challenge has been THE CHALLENGE. No wonder I do have the sentiment that I am participating as a loser from the start, except for one thing: finally I was able to make proper gnocchi for the first time in my life. So thank you so much Annarita for her thorough post in which she presents us with three different recipes, perfectly described in every detail.

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MTChallenge: Licorice, Beetroot, Eggplant, Burrata cheese and Anchovies Pizza / MTChallenge: Pizza alla liquirizia con crema di barbabietole e pomodoro concentrato, melanzane grigliate, burrata e acciughe

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Pizza in a pan logbook. When Antonietta proposed her recipe for this month’s MTChallenge I could not believe it…finally my favourite, pizza! Anyone who knows me personally is well aware of the efforts I have undertaken years ago in the search for the perfect traditional pizza. What they probably don’t know is that pizza pan is a true mystery to me. Even though I am a proud owner of Gabriele Bonci’s book “Pizza”, which was given to me as a gift by my sister, all my attempts so far (very few I must admit) have ended in a big failure. Being totally honest with you I am not a huge fan of pizza in a pan. But a challenge is a challenge, and for this occasion I decided to overcome my limitations and my fears and bake Antonietta’s pizza in a pan. Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

MTChallenge: Cheesecake in a bun! / MTChallenge: Cheesecake a sorpresa…nel panino!

Cheesecake in a bun : Cheesecake a sorpresa...nel panino!1

Sometimes it does not take much of an effort to have a brilliant idea. One of the easiest ways is to proceed by mental association. What I wanted was to develop a recipe that would be easy and quick to bake but still quite stunning, even its simplicity. Something with bread. Mmmmmh, soup served in loaf…but what if I turned it into a sweet recipe? No, nothing like my beet and mango gazpacho, what I wanted was something more unusual and original. A cake! Well…a cake encased in bread might be a bit too dense. The answer was just around the corner…a cheesecake! Rolls are perfect to serve this cake as a single portion, the crust is crispy on the sides and is not too heavy unlike some cheesecake crusts which are quite dense and heavy. And imagine the reaction of your guests while bringing them to the table humble sandwiches for dessert? There are endless possibilities to flavour the cheesecake cream as well as the pairing of fruits that you can use to decorate these little delicious treasures. Making them takes very few minutes, a little more than half an hour. Ready to make a great impression on your guests?

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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

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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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MTChallenge n°50: And the recipe is… / MTC n°50: La ricetta della sfida di Settembre è…

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This month I will be throwing the gauntlet for September’s MTChallenge having won the previous challenge with my Horse Meat Hamburger with Eggplant, Beetroot crisps, Pepper Ketchup in a Liquorice Bun. It has been a hard task, picking the recipe and working on it to achieve a sort of kind of perfect version. Not to mention I have been working through July and August’s heat wave, handling butter and laminating dough. What is waiting for me is a lot of work, reading recipes, commenting, trying to to pick the best one of the bunch. I have the feeling I’ll get a proper headache… If you feel brave enough, if the temperatures are lowering and don’t exceed 20° C you might as well give it a shot. Check out my previous post on croissants to read more about techniques, tips and tricks.

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