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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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Tonka Bean and Tangerine Taralli / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Taralli alla fava tonka e scorza di mandarino

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Here we are, with our usual appointment with Maroggia’s Mill and its Cookbook. Today I propose you a very addictive recipe, which I turned into a sweet version…taralli! You can have them as a snack during coffee break rather than offer them as an alternative to popcorn at your next movie night. I assure, there won’t be much left!
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Butternut Squash and Licorice Muffins / Muffins alla zucca butternut e liquirizia

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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!
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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Tortelli di San Giuseppe / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Tortelli di San Giuseppe

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And its Carnival time again at Maroggia’s Mill! Last year for this occasion for the Cookbook I prepared some tortelli who believed themselves to be chiacchiere, while today I present the classic recipe for round tortelli di San Giuseppe, which are made with a batter reminiscent of pâte a choux that is used to make cream puffs and éclair. A quick and easy recipe to celebrate Carnival in sweetness.
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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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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Yogurt and Toasted Wheat Germ Bread / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Pane allo yogurt e germe di grano tostato

pane-germe-e-yogurt-1A few days ago I went to the Mill to collect some flour to develop new recipes and asked Alessandro if he had any new interesting products. Happens that I just arrived on a lucky day while freshly ground wheat germ was available. Wheat germ is no more than 3% of the entire grain kernel, and is generally discarded because of its more intense flavour and the presence of moisture which can reduce shelf life of the flour. A product rich in vitamins, starches, proteins and lipids, wheat germ is really good for our health. Presence of Omega 3, Omega 6, vitamins A and D, make it a very valid aid for skin, hair and helps fighting free radicals too. To best preserve all its nutritional qualities the advice is to eat it raw (in this way all its properties, especially vitamin E and B and fatty acids are kept intact) in addition to milk, yogurt or soups but without exceeding a daily dose of 50 g. Being a highly perishable product in order to keep more than a few days you can toast it lightly to remove the moisture which encourages rancidity and mould formation.

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Feta, Tropea Red Onion and Sumac Panzerotti / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Panzerotti alla feta, cipolle di Tropea e Sumac

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When I was a little girl right before Christmas it was tradition that I, my older sister and my father would go shopping in Milan on a Saturday. A special event, an opportunity for us to spend some time alone with our Daddy, who was often away from home for business matters. On this same Friday, but twenty-eight years ago, I would be counting the money safely stored in my piggy bank, waiting impatiently for the next morning to come. To my eyes Milan was magical place. I recall the bitter cold which would redden our cheeks and noses. The snow would fall slowly, in fine grains that almost did not leave a trace on the sidewalks. And all those lights, bright lights everywhere.

After long walks in the centre of the city and a due visit to Rinascente and Fiorucci where we would usually find little presents for our mom and friends we would happily end our Christmas pilgrimage at a mythical place: Luini. Luini and its warm to piping hot panzerotti, for which we would patiently wait in line, that same line that in the past years split into three to four separate ones in order to greet as much costumers as possible. Panzerotti must be eaten standing up, preferably leaning against a free portion of one of the walls of the buildings along Via Santa Radegonda 16, not to lose crispness of the dough and lava texture of the filling, which for me will always and only ever be tomato and mozzarella.

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Cantucci di Prato

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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!

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Cinnamon and Hazelnut Rye Flour Babka / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Babka speziata alla cannella e noci con farina di segale

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Catch a Babka in the Rye! I haven’t been baking this soft and pillowy treat for a while and when Alessandro gave me the first few packets of Maroggia’s Mill rye flour I knew immediately I had to try and develop a recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook which had nothing to do with the idea we usually have of rye bread. Nothing better than a Babka. Would I be able to obtain a soft and pillowy crumb with such a flour, which as you know is not as rich in gluten as wheat flour? Well, I am proud to say that I made it! And my guinea pigs loved it. Of course it’s not as light and pillowy as it would be using wheat flour, but i can assure you its surprisingly soft and melts in the mouth beautifully.

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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Saffron and Chilli Bread Thins / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Sfoglie di pane allo zafferano e peperoncino

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Crack, crunch, crock! As I crunch through a bread thin the first thing coming up to my mind is the classic comic balloon words written in a bold uppercase font and the exclamation point, slightly bigger than the character as to give strength to the onomatopoeic sound. To me crunchy foods, especially if they are baked goods, are irresistible. Is it an ancient heritage we carry with us that drives us to go through entire packs of crunchy crisps and crumbly grissini?

After a quick glance at the blog I realized that along all these years I posted few recipes for crackers. Such a gap had to be filled as soon as possible, I thought to myself! It’s thanks to chilli and a brilliant intuition (which I admit was totally random as when opening the “Food Thesaurus” the first ingredient I came across was saffron) I baked these amazing bread thins. Without modesty I can say this recipe is among the best I ever made for the blog when it’s up to crackers and Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook.

These bread thins are quite spicy, so if you do not like spicy food but you still want to feel a slight tingling I recommend to halve the amount of chilli.

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