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Desserts/ Italian/ Winter Special

Brutti ma Buoni / Ugly but Good Hazelnut Cookies

Flourless Butterless Crispy Chewy Nutty Goodness

After a recent winter rain, I discovered an intricately crafted spider web filling the entire frame outside my kitchen window. The water droplets clinging to it sparkled and danced with the sunlight, drawing my attention to an enormous spider resting there. I looked away for a minute and when I looked back, the web was gone or rather, I could no longer see it. Without the light of the sun, momentarily obscured by the clouds, the natural work of art disappeared from the view.

The way the change in life hiding and revealing things struck me as a perfect metaphor for awareness. When we put full awareness on something it’s as if we are making it come to life. Isn’t it? We spend a lot of energy at this time of year buying and making gifts, finding the perfect holiday trees and dresses for holiday parties. The original motivation for giving gifts and celebrating can get obscured by stress and fatigue as our awareness shifts from the feeling of connection and contentment to the harried finishing of all our to-dos.

The solution to this typical holiday syndrome is seemed so simple: Keep it light! Keep your awareness shining on the things you want to bring it to life. Let’s take this beautiful idea a step further and apply it to this year’s holiday baking too. By “light” I mean, something that does not require a lot of efforts while making and digesting, something that is not loaded with fats and processed carbs, something that’s delightful and will make us all happy while giving and receiving! These tiny hazelnut cookies not only sound festive but also fit the theme!

Hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni, are Italian cookies, similar to meringue cookies but these contain nuts too. Traditionally made with almonds or hazelnuts, they have a beautiful nutty texture with crispy from outside and chewy from inside. Only 4 ingredients; yet no all-purpose flour or butter, make these cookies really light and very attractive for health-conscious foodies.

flourless hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni roughly translates to ‘ugly but good‘. These are popular in northern and central Italy; more specifically in Gavirate, a small town in the province of Varese, north of Milan. Supposedly, the recipe was created in 1878 by Costantino Veniani, an age-old pastry chef, and owner of the pastry shop Pasticceria Veniani. Over the course of a few years, these cookies became very popular, attracting famous people from across northern Italy into the shop. Veniani’s customers included names like Maestro Giuseppe Verdi and Queen Elena, who apparently loved brutti ma buoni so much that she would visit the little shop in person with her bodyguards and return home with the cookies for her court.

hazelnut-cookies

You need only four ingredients: hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Since there is no flour, these are completely gluten-free. The natural oil from hazelnuts provides the fat and well-beaten eggs bind sugar and ground nuts together.


Italian/ Spring - Summer Special

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

My favorite summer pasta toppings include chunky vegetables, a good sauce and aromatic herbs and well seasoned al dante pasta. I like to keep the ratio of pasta and vegetables almost equal, so it’s a plate full of different colors, textures and flavors. Summer Vegetables Spaghetti

It’s almost end of the summer and these beautiful pattypan squash are at their peak season. I just love how they look, bright yellow skin with a small green hat 🙂pattypan Squash

It’a a very simple recipe and perfect for weeknight dinner. You can add all your favorite pasta vegetables in this one pot dish.Spaghetti with Summer Squash

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

Spaghetti topped with marinara sauce and all your favorite vegetables!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chopped all vegetables as needed.
  2. Cook spaghetti as per instructions on its packet.
  3. In a big pan, heat some Olive oil and add smashed garlic. If you want take them off before adding other vegetables.
  4. Add other vegetables, and let them cook a bit. Add salt and pepper.summer vegetables
  5. Keep these vegetables aside. In the same pan add 1 tbsp of Olive oil and add marinara sauce and chopped basil leaves. Also add some italian seasoning if you like.
  6. Add cooked vegetables into the sauce and mix well.
  7. Let them cook little more and add cooked spaghetti and toss everything together.
  8. Serve hot, garnish with basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese.Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash
Continental/ Desserts/ Entertaining/ Italian

Tiramisu

Truly irresistible with Bold burst of Coffee flavor!

Tiramisu or tiramesù in Venetian dialect, literally means “pick me up” or idiomatically it means “make me happy”. And it does 🙂 I love coffee and this dessert takes my favorite flavor to a next level.

Tiramisu

Though it’s a quite recent addition, it’s now ubiquitous across Italy and worldwide. I first had Tiramisu at Royal Orchid Hotel in Mumbai and I fell in love with this masterpiece. As with the most things in Italy there is a great debate about the true origin of tiramisu. Some sources name its origin as Siena in Tuscany however the most credible claim comes from Treviso, in the Veneto near to Venice. Roberto Linguanotto from the Beccherierestaurant claims to have invented it at the end of the 60s and this is his recipe.

People have changed the recipe a lot over the years and the original included no cream or alcohol and hence there are so many versions available on Internet. And here is one more addition to it, adopted from multiple sources which claimed the ‘authentic tiramius’ title.

It’s a no bake dessert and contains raw eggs. The base is made with ladyfingers which is lightly sweet, porous, soft cake shaped like lady fingers and has nothing to do with Okra. (Okra in India is known as lady fingers). The lady fingers are dipped in coffee mixed with alcohol. Needless to mention, you should use the best coffee you have got. Instead of debating between Nescafe or Bru or any other brand I picked up a tall espresso cup from local Starbucks. Alcohol is optional and if you are using it there are two options – dark rum or marsala wine. I prefer Rum & Coffee combination. And then the cream part – it’s made with beaten egg whites and the mascarpone cheese – the cheese with highest fat content – it tastes like साय (say) if you know what I mean. All these ingredients work together to create this magic.tiramisu_1

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

I am sure it requires no introduction!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Make sure coffee is cold before you use it. Add 2 shots of rum to coffee. 
  2. Separate egg whites and yolks.
  3. Mix the egg yolks with 4 table spoons of sugar and whisk it until you get creamy light mixture.
  4. Fold in mascarpone in sugar-egg mixture making sure that there are no lumps.
  5. In a bigger bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until it forms firm peaks. Don't overbeat it.
  6. Now carefully fold in mascarpone-egg cream with egg whites to form the cream.
  7. In a wide dish, pour some coffee.ladyfingers & coffee
  8. Now take one ladyfinger and dip it in the coffee from both side. Don't leave it in the dish for too long or it will become too soggy.ladyfinger dipped in coffee
  9. You can arrange them in a wide rectangular glass dish or use individual serving bowl.
  10. Now create a thick layer of the cream on top.tiramisu_in_progress_1
  11. Build one more layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee and cream on top.tramisu_in _progress
  12. Now, sprinkle some unsweetened cocoa powder on top to add one more flavor dimension.sprinkle_cocoa
  13. Finally, if you like some chocolate shavings go on top.final look - tiramisu
  14. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours before serving. tiramisu_2

By the way, be ready to clean such mess but it's worth it.
be_ready_to_clean_such_mess

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This is my official entry for Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest. Happy Cooking!

Continental/ Italian

Tomato Basil Pasta

Take a short trip to Italy in the comfort of your own kitchen!

The biggest inspiration for this dish was the delicious pasta made by my friend in almost no time. I have promised him not to mention his name in public. I modified his recipe by adding some vegetables. But otherwise, it’s a very simple recipe and in fact I consider it to be a part of “maggie-league”. It’s that simple and yummy!

I used Barilla Mezze Penne pasta but you can use any other penne pasta and boil it as per the instructions given on the box AL Dante. Most of the ingredients are to taste so just follow your instincts

 

Tomato Basil Pasta

Tomato Basil Pasta

Take a short trip to Italy in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

That may look like a long list but almost all vegetables are optional.

  1. Start boiling the pasta in a pan with some salt added to the water. This is your only chance to add salt to pasta.
  2. In a medium sized pan and add some olive oil and finely chopped garlic on a medium flame. This is the most important step where we flavor the oil with garlic and then Italian seasoning and some basil powder and red chili flakes.
  3. Now add in all vegetables starting with onion, bell pepper and lastly mushrooms. Mushrooms don’t take much time to cook so make sure you add them last. Sauté all vegetables and mix them well.
  4. Stain the boiled pasta.
  5. In another bigger pan, melt some butter on a medium flame. Add the boiled pasta with some salt and black pepper. Mix it well and add the vegetables.
  6. Now it’s time to add the sauces. Vodka sauce has the real taste while Alfredo sauce gives the pasta creamy, buttery texture.
  7. Turn off the heat, add cherry tomatoes, cut in halves and some basil leaves, roughly chopped. You can add oregano and Italian seasoning if you want. The pasta is ready!
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