Liquorice and Beetroot Babka / Babka alla barbabietola e liquirizia

For those who know me well this recipe does not come as a surprise… you know ho much I love beetroot and licorice don’t you? I tried this babka for breakfast and it is simply delicious, pillowy soft and just slightly sweet, want a slice? Well, roll up your sleeves and get started baking!
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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: 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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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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Buckwheat diamonds in autumnal broth / Pasta di grano saraceno in brodo autunnale

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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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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Cocoa and Orange Marmalade Tarts / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Crostatine al cacao e marmellata di arance amare

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Desserts at my house are quite forbidden. Or I’d rather say that you will hardly find in my pantry packets of biscuits, chocolate bars, candy and all food alike. The main issue is self-control, the other “no sweet stuff factor” is because I’d rather choose ingredients myself since too often store bought sweets contain too much sugar for my palate. This recipe for Maroggia’ Mill Cookbook was born from the desire for something sweet…but not too much. Flavours to pamper your tastebuds with and sweeten a gloomy day and why not, to scent your house with. I simply love it when the perfume of a sweet dessert spreads from the kitchen and permeates all the flat, it always puts me in a good mood. I decided to make small tart, a simple trick not to have too many sweets at home and because I find the little tart or cake format nicer to be photographed. For a 24-25 cm cake of about it is sufficient to multiply the quantities of the two ingredients and to bake the tart for 45′-50′.

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

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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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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Polenta dorata, Lemon, Thyme and Polenta biscuits / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: Biscotti al limone, timo e polenta dorata

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We’re back with Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook and I present you with my the second recipe with polenta flour.

This time around with a sweet recipe for cookies which are perfect to be dunked in tea. I took inspiration from my recipe for sablés and adapted it to the use of corn meal, combined with dried thyme and lemon zest. This blend make these cookies particularly fresh and tasty, but already I am thinking how gorgeous they would be with the addition of dark chocolate chips and toffee cubes. A basic dough with which you can play and have fun inventing new flavours! Polenta flour and raw cane sugar add a nice rough texture to these cookies, which were very much appreciated by my guinea pigs.

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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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Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook: Tortelli who believed themselves to be chiacchiere / Il Ricettario del Mulino di Maroggia: I tortelli che si credevano chiacchiere

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Carnival could be easily renamed “Feast of fried stuff”. The most common recipes in Italy and Ticino are chiacchiere, frappe, tortelli and frittelle. Needless to say frying makes everything better, crisp and irresistible! A quick dusting with icing sugar and tortelli are ready to taste, hot and straight out of their brown paper cone, while parading between bright coloured masks and multicoloured confetti. Each region has its own specialties, and it is not hard to confuse them between one another. And what if tortelli believed themselves to be chiacchiere?
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