THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2O20

This is so exciting! I sure hope I will make it to participate!

Caramel (Learner at love)

18/19th July 2020

2020 flyer

I know you are all wondering what is it that we are planning for THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020!!! Well there are two features this year – a double bubble of family fun for the international blogging community to join along with! This is the first of two posts with all the details of this year’s BAKE-OFF!

THE BAKING CONTEST

For those who have been able to find baking essentials on local supermarket shelves, there will be a BAKE-OFF just like last year. Our kitchen guru and baking legend Jeanne, the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen will be judging this year’s contest.

Remember: THE BAKE-OFF IS 18/19TH JULY 2020

(But please send your photos in anytime between now and then!)

Last year we gave you a specific challenge, but this year we thought we would lift the restrictions (we are all a bit fed up…

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Strawberries mousse cake: delicate and sophisticated

Greetings everyone! I am so proud today to write about this phenomenal Strawberries mousse cake, which I learnt to make thanks to the extraordinary blog by the young amazing baker LUCAKE.IT . Luca reinvents all the classic pastries in a modern key, and honestly I truly admire his job!

Anyway strawberries season is getting closer, and actually here in MidWest you can already find fresh strawberries at a very good price, and considering that this cake is made 50% out of fresh strawberries I though I would finally give a try to a “mousse”, which is a kind of sweet that as always intimidated me a little because it requires the use of gelatin.

This cake is light and creamy, structured in alternated layers of  strawberries mousse, sponge cake and fresh strawberries. It is also absolutely scenic and ideal for birthdays or fancy dinners. Making it is not complicated, it just needs time, patience and precision (forget to try it if you don’t intend to use a kitchen scale) . And as always, if I made it, you can definitely make it as well!

INGREDIENTS for a 10″ SPRING FORM PAN  (20 servings)

FOR THE SPONGE CAKE

8 oz. (225 gr.) egg whites

3 oz. (90 gr.) egg yolks

5.3 oz. (150 gr.) sugar

1.6 oz. (45 gr.) all purpose flour

1 oz. (30 gr.) potatoes or corn starch

2.6 oz. (75 gr.) vegetable oil (my favorite is coconut oil)

1 pinch sea salt

1 tsp. lemon extract

FOR THE MOUSSE

12 oz. (340 gr.) strawberries cut in small cubes

3.5 oz. (100 gr.) granulated sugar

1.4 oz. (40 gr.) water

0.4 oz. (12 gr.) gelatin leaves

13 oz. (375 gr.) heavy whipping cream

FOR THE STRAWBERRIES GELATIN

8.8 oz. (250 gr.) strawberries cut in small cubes

1.4 oz. (40 gr.) granulated sugar

0.3 oz. (10 gr.) water

0.2 oz. (6 gr.) gelatin leaves

FOR THE FILLING AND DECORATION

12-13 small strawberries, washed and cut in half (for the decoration on the pan’s “edge”)

7 oz. (200 gr.) strawberries (cut in small cubes for the filling)

2 strawberries for the top of the cake.

DIRECTIONS

Make sure to weight the eggs white and yolks. The quantities must be accurate.    In a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) mix until white and stiff the egg whites, sugar, pinch of salt and lemon extract. Then add the yolks and keep mixing for a few second until well incorporated. Sift in the flour and starch.

Hand mix gently the flour and starch from the bottom to the top to avoid the batter to become watery. Add the oil and keep hand-mixing gently.

Pour the batter in a 20”x14″ (45×37 cm) baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Try spreading the batter uniformly and bake (preheat the oven) in the middle rack at 375 F. (190 C.) for about 12-13 minutes. When you’ll take the cake out of the oven its surface must be still soft.

Get a clean kitchen cloth, drench it in water, squeeze it to get rid off the excess of water, take the sponge cake out of the oven and flip it onto the wet cloth. Peel off the parchment paper and cover the entire cake’s surface with plastic wrap. When completely cooled, cut two circle out of the sponge cake: a 10” one and a 8″ one.

NOW LET’s START TO BUILD THE CAKE!  Line the 10″ spring-form pan with parchment and arrange first the 10″ sponge disk, and then – around the pan’s edge – the “half strawberries”.

NOW START PREPARING THE MOUSSE: wet the gelatin leaves in some cold water for at least five minutes. In  medium size pot, add water, sugar and the 12 oz. (340 gr.) strawberries cut in cubes. Bring the mix to boil and cook at medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcook because you need the mix to be very liquid. Blend the mix with an immersion blender.

Sieve the pulp with a thin strainer to get rid off the strawberries seeds. In a bowl weight 0.8 oz. (375 gr.) of strained pulp and in case you don’t have enough add water to reach that weight. If the pulp is still warm, squeeze the gelatin leaves and melt directly into the pulp, otherwise, warm up a few seconds the pulp in the microwave so it will be warm enough to melt the gelatin.

In a separate bowl whisk the heavy whipping cream until fluffy. Pour the warm pulp (mixed with gelatin) and stir gently from the bottom to the top with a spatula. Pour half of the mousse in the spring form pan, then add randomly half of the strawberries cubes (about 3.5 oz. or 100 gr.).

Place now in order the smaller sponge disk, the rest of the mousse, and the remaining strawberries cubes, making sure they disappear under it. Let the cake rest in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, so that the mouse will set.

GET READY TO PREPARE THE STRAWBERRIES GELATINE: Wet the gelatin leaves in cold water for at least 5 minutes. In a small pan add water, sugar, the strawberries cubes , bring it to boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Blend the mix with an immersion blender and sieve the pulp with a strainer.

In a bowl weight 8 oz. (230 gr.) of strained pulp and in case you don’t have enough add water to reach that weight. Slightly warm up the pulp and melt in the gelatin previously well squeezed.

Let the strawberries gelatin cool down a little and then pour it on top of the gelatin mousse, making sure it covers evenly all the spots. Let the cake rest in the fridge for at least two more hours.  When the cake is well set, open the spring form pan, place the cake in a nice platter and decorated it with a few strawberries.

Your super fancy strawberries mousse cake is ready to be enjoy! You’ll leave your guests speechless!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:  -Don’t throw away the sponge cake leftovers: cut it in small pieces, dust with powdered sugar and let bake at 350 F. (180 C.) until golden. They will turn  in yummy crunchy cookies.

– Remember to use a spring-form pan otherwise it will be impossible to take the cake out of it.

– For the mousse and gelatin you can use fresh or frozen fruit. Strawberries can be substitute with mixed berries instead.

-If you are not confident in using gelatin leaves, you can use instead 1 and a 1/2 packs of gelatin powder.

– Since during strawberries season they are more flavored and usually less expensive, I would buy a big batch, wash them and cut them in cubes and keep it frozen until you decide to make this cake.

– The flavor of this strawberries mousse cake is absolutely delicate. The texture is velvety and refreshing. Anyone that likes fresh treats will fall in love with it!

I really hope you will like this recipe!

Please, Keep me posted if you’ll try it and don’t be shy to share your thoughts with me!

We need social interactions more than ever!

Love,

Silvia

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Strawberry yogurt bundt cake

Social distancing – more or less translatable with “shelter in place” – is effecting my life in many ways. Letting go those aspects related to motherhood (home-schooling, tolerating four “kids different in ages 24/7, find the strength to not live in my pjs and trying working -out regularly), Coronavirus hit my being an home-baker and Italian food lover in two ways: a bad one, and a good one.

Let’s start with the good one: I have more time and motivation to experiment new recipes.

Bad one: whatever I bake or cook (always too much even for a family of six) we eat.

So today I’d like to share with you this strawberry bundt cake recipe because 1) it’s a new one I tried (and modify) from the Italian blog cookaround to get rid off some strawberry yogurt my daughters refused to eat: 2) it’s a low fat one, so my extra-baking would have a lower impact on our waist lines 😉 LOL.

To prepare this strawberry yogurt bundt cake I used the “bundt cake pan” because I love its shape and I feel like it makes such a simple pound cake so appealing, but believe me, I’m sharing this strawberry yogurt bundt cake recipe with you because it’s absolutely delightful, perfect for an healthy snack or an afternoon tea party, or just because you need some comfort in these days. Its strong strawberry scent will pervade your whole kitchen and it will be hard resisting to take it out of the pan only when completely cooled.

INGREDIENTS for a bundt cake pan or a 9” baking pan

4 eggs at room temperature

9 oz. (250 gr.) granulated sugar

1 lemon zest or 1 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 cup (130 ml.) vegetable oil (my favorite is coconut oil)

10 oz. (250 gr.) strawberry yogurt at room temperature

2 cups (290 gr.) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (50 gr.) potatoes or corn starch

2 tsp. (16 gr.) baking powder

a pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Using an electric whip, with eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon extract (or zest) in a big bowl, for at least 5 minutes.

Keep whisking and add the oil and yogurt. When well incorporated, sift in flour, starch, baking powder and sea salt.

Preheat the oven at 375 F (175 C.). Start stirring gently from the bottom to the top (to avoid the batter to get runny) until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated. Your batter will look lumpy. Don’t worry about that. Avoid stirring too much otherwise your cake will be dry and gummy.

Pour the batter in a greased 9″ round cake pan (I’d prefer a bundt cake pan, but’s its’ optional) and bake for 40 minutes in the medium rack (check with a stick if the cake is ready, otherwise keep it in the over for few more minutes).

Let the cake cool off, flip it into a nice platter, dust it with powdered sugar and decorate with fresh strawberries. YUM!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

– If you don’t have coconut oil at home feel free to use any other oil but avoid the “olive oil” because its strong taste would overcome the strawberry flavor.

– This cake can last up to three days if stored in a container with a glass dome, otherwise it will get very dry very quickly.

I warn you: this cake is highly addictive, anytime my girls and I prepare it (they love helping me in the kitchen) it’s gone the same day!

– If you’d like to try other “butter free” cakes and treats check out also:

  1. pear and ricotta cheese coffee cake (also this one turns out lovely by using a bundt cake pan);
  2. chocolate chips and yogurt muffins;
  3. chocolate chips and yogurt  cookies.

I really hope you will like this recipe!

Please, keep me posted if you’ll try it and don’t be shy to share your thoughts with me!

We need social interactions more than ever!

Love,

Silvia

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

 

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!

My “original” Italian Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce)!

I have never been jealous about my family cooking experience, traditions, and recipes, and the first proof of it is this blog! Nevertheless I confess lately I’ve been feeling guilty because many friends keep asking me why I haven’t posted yet my original ITALIAN RAGU SAUCE recipe (otherwise known as “BOLOGNESE” sauce), since it is probably the most popular worldwide! Well, the recipe is not a secret, simply the true is that:

1) I cannot promise that the recipe I am sharing with you could be considered the “only and original Italian Ragu Sauce” because in every different Italian region they have different methods and main ingredients to make their “Ragu Sauce” (Bolognese Sauce). For instance, in Emilia Romagna (the Region of Bologna) to make Ragu Sauce they use minced loin of pork, beef, bacon and ham; in Campania (the Region of Naples) they use pork and beef as well, but not minced (and needs to be cooked for at least 6 hours!); in Veneto (Venezia Region, and the one I come from), they make Ragu Sauce either out of duck, turkey or pork with the particularity to make the sauce more creamy by using whipping cream….  I could go on for each of the 20 Italian Regions!!!

2) My mom never gave me an official lists of ingredients she uses to make her amazingly delicious Ragu’ Sauce, nor the quantities, but I have always watch her eyeballs the ingredients and use some of them (broth or wine for example) according to their availability at that moment.  So my Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce), is cooked differently each time I make it, but I will try to sum the most important part here, so you will be able to make YOUR original Italian Style Ragu Sauce!

Since it takes many hours to make Ragu Sauce (and be aware: Italians don’t use the slow cooker, actually they absolutely don’t know it exists), I usually make a big pot of it (approximately 4 pounds), because I know that even if I’m not using it all immediately, I can freeze it without loosing any in taste or texture. My Ragu Sauce recipe is quiet quick (not more than three hours of cooking), easy about the ingredients (just ground beef and Italian sausage), and of course, according to my family, the best Ragu Sauce ever!!!

INGREDIENTS

2 lb. ground beef

1 lb. Italian sausage (ground pork, without fennel seeds)

1 medium sized white onion

1 big (or 2 medium sized) carrots

2-3 sticks of celery

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 tbsp. dry rosemary

1 pinch nut meg

1 pinch dry thyme

1 pinch dry sage

2 can plain tomatoes sauce

1 cup water

about 4 tbs. olive oil (or 1/2 stick of unsalted butter)

 1/2 cup red wine or meat stock

optional: 1 meat bouillon

Direction

Peel the onion and wash carefully celery and carrots. Chop it all very finely. (You can use your food processor). With a fork, split the mince meat (beef and pork) as much as possible.

In a big nonstick pot,  pan fry at medium heat the onion,  celery, carrot in the olive oil (or butter if you prefer that option). When the vegetables look cooked, add the meat, turn up the heat and brown the meat until it changed color and its liquid is evaporated completely. Stir every now and then and  season with the spices (rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, sage), and salt and pepper to taste.

When the meat has changed color, add a glass of red wine (or meat stock) and allow it to evaporate in the mixture.  Then add the tomato sauce and a cup of water.  Reduce the heat so you don’t burn the meat but keep it high enough for the sauce to keep the boil, and simmer for at least two more hours.  After the first half hour, taste the sauce and if it seems too bland, adjust with sea salt and add a beef bouillon. Again, every now and then check your sauce and stir it.

The sauce is done when all the liquid of the tomatoes and water are evaporated and the meat have the color and consistency as shown in these pictures.

At this point you can spread a slice of fresh bread with Ragu Sauce and enjoy it on the spot (I am guilty of that). When the sauce is completely cooled off, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer. 

Remember to heat up well the sauce before dressing your noodles or tagliatelle.

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!

 Tips and anecdotes:

– As with any Italian traditional recipe, every family has its own and generally the Ragu Sauce (or Bolognese Sauce) is lauded as the best family ever. When I lived in Italy I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the sentence “my mom’s Ragu sauce is the best” or “the ragu that I do it’s not like yours” 😉.  Obviously this depends on whether the family recipes are adapted to the tastes of their components, to meet the consensus of them all.

– Besides “tagliatelle”, Ragu Sauce is the best to dress home made lasagna (for my family home made fresh past recipe click here), or home made gnocchi. My daughters love Ragu Sauce on top of a slice of fresh bread (as I do, after all!)

– If you are wandering how to store the sauce, I use sandwich sized Ziplog bags, fill them with about 1 lb. of sauce and freeze it.  With 1 lb. sauce you can dress up to 1.5 lb. tagliatelle.

I so hope you will find this recipe interesting, appealing and easy enough to be followed.

I believe this is the perfect recipe to try during this period of mandatory social distancing!

 I would love to know how you are coping with this dark period of our history  and

which are the recipes you like to prepare the most in these days!

Much love

Silvia

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Yogurt and chocolate chips muffins: an easy snack butter free.

You know me well and you know how much I love cooking and baking so in these days of forced self isolation (because of COVID Pandemic) I am trying new recipes, that possibly could involve also my daughters in the kitchen, and that would satisfy our sweet tooth without being too caloric.

I found this Yogurt and Chocolate Chips muffins’ recipe at the Italian blog Spadellandia.it  and get temped by it because it uses Yogurt as fat component for the muffins. So – with my girls – we tried it, modified it a little according to our tastes, and we loved it! What we liked about these Yogurt and chocolate chips muffins is that they contain yogurt instead of butter, some flour is substitute with starch to make it lighter, and because you basically mix all the ingredients together, bake it, and enjoy it! We love having them with our morning latte, or for a yummy and low fat snack.

The batter makes 6 big muffins, or 12 medium muffins  or 24 mini muffins, we tried all the  options and we preferred the last one the most, so we could eat “more” with less sense of guilt.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (8 oz. or 160 gr.) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (4 oz. or 100 gr.) potatoes or corn starch

1/3 cup (80 gr.) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup (250 gr.) plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt

3/4 cup (6 oz. or 180 gr.) granulated sugar

1 tbs. lemon extract OR 1 tbs. vanilla extract

3 tsp. (16 gr.) sifted baking powder

1/2 cup (4 oz. or 80 ml.) vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)

a pinch of sea salt  

DIRECTIONS

In a big bowl sift the flour, starch and baking powder so your batter will not have any lumps. In a separate bowl mix eggs, sugar, sea salt and whisk it well by hand. Then add the lemon or vanilla flavoring and the oil, mixing well.

Warm up the oven at 360 F (180 C.).   Pour the liquid ingredients in the bowl with the flours (or vice versa), add also the chocolate chip and mix the ingredients well enough to get an even batter, but not too much otherwise your muffins will become gummy.

Pour the batter in the muffins pan and bake for about 20 minutes.

Take it out of the oven, let it cool off and enjoy!!!!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT! 

TIPS:

If you are having a party or you need a big batch of muffins, don’t be afraid and just double the ingredients. I’ve tried that and it turned out great.

– Use the lemon or vanilla flavoring only if you truly love their aftertaste: their flavors will come trough very strong.

– These muffins are absolutely heaven when fresh baked. If stored in a sealed container they will last up to a week but their consistency will get drier.

-If you like “cookies” more than “muffins” don’t miss these  scrumptious “Yogurt and Chocolate chips soft cookies” ready in 30 minutes or less.

– For another low fat recipe, with no butter at all, check out my “pears and ricotta coffee cake“.

I really hope you will like this recipe!

Please, Keep me posted if you’ll try it and don’t be shy to share your thoughts with me!

We need social interactions more than ever!

Love,

Silvia

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Molten Chocolate lava mini cakes: perfect for Valentine’s Day breakfast!

Calling all the Valentine’s Day lovers!!!! Valentine’s at my house is more a celebration for the kids than for my husband and I, so I am planning to prepare these super easy Molten Chocolate Lava mini cakes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day… ready in 15 minutes, they are perfect for a sweet themed breakfast, and I know for sure It will make my family very happy!

Before to start listing ingredients and sharing directions keep in mind that: 1) you will have to put in the freezer the Nutella at least three hours ahead of time, so if you are planning to make these for breakfast, go ahead and set it the night before.     2) You will need a 6 Cavity Silicone Heart Mold for shaping your mini cakes. Even a regular 6 cavity muffin mold will work, only you will not have the “heart” shapes.

INGREDIENTS FOR 6 HEARTS

2 eggs – 2 uova

5 0z.  Nutella -150 gr. nutella

1.5 oz. all purpose flour – 40 gr. farina

3.5 oz. granulated sugar – 100 gr. zucchero

1 stick unsalted butter – 100 gr. burro

4.4. oz. good quality dark chocolate – 130 gr. dark cioccolato fondente

dark cocoa for dusting – cacao amaro quanto basta

optional: whipping cream for decorating

The night before (or at least three hours before baking the hearts)

Scoop six equal servings of Nutella in six holes of a plastic ice cube tray. If you don’t own it, go to your closest Dollar Tree store to get one.

15 Minutes before servings your molten lava mini cakes.

Butter the silicon hearts mold, and evenly dust it with dark cocoa. Double boil the butter and dark chocolate (previously chopped in tiny pieces) until melted.

Take the melted mix away from the heat, add the sugar and hand-whip. Then add one egg at a time and keep whipping. Finally, add sifted flour and stir.

Preheat the oven at 410 F (200 C.). Once the flour is evenly incorporated to the batter, scoop one tbs. of batter to each heart. Take away the Nutella from the freezer and place each single frozen block of Nutella in each heart. Cover the nutella with the remaining batter.

Bake only 10 minutes. Once baked, place each heart in a nice plate, decorate with whipping cream, and enjoy still warm! The molten nutella inside the heart will make the trick!

YUM!!! So delicious!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

– My family and I are addicted to these cakes, so I’ve made those multiple times. I tried substituting the butter with Coconut oil! I loved it, but some of my family members disagreed. If you’d like the idea of using oil instead of butter, follow the same direction and ingredients but use 2.2 oz of coconut oil instead of butter.

– Leftovers are still good but Nutella will harden.

– If you love NUTELLA don’t miss my favorite “only three ingredients” NUTELLA BITES or the more caloric “NUTELLA SEMIFREDDO” .

– For more Valentines’s Day recipes, check out:

HEART SHAPED bacon and puff pastry;

HEART SHAPED butter cookies:

HEART SHAPED chocolate crispy rice bars;

EASY, FAST, AFFORDABLE VALENTINES’ HOME MADE DINNER

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

How to Enjoy an Easy, Affordable and Romantic Valentine’s Dinner at Home

Greetings everyone! This past week I wrote a post for the QUAD CITIES MOM’S BLOG, to help anybody who are planning to prepare a romantic home made Valentine’s dinner, in an easy and affordable way.

If you trust my cooking experience, and don’t mind the idea… keep reading!!!!

“It seems like yesterday we celebrated Christmas, and yet it is already time to get ready for Valentine’s Day.  Here is an idea to surprise your significant other in an easy, affordable and very romantic way: a private “Italian Style” home-cooked dinner, where the cooking part is the gift to each other! In my years as a private cooking class teacher and private dinner chef I’ve been invited many times by couples that wished to learn how to cook some basic Italian dishes, but I believe that your night will be more romantic if you cook together and enjoy your Valentine’s dinner without any intrusion. More special, and much more affordable!  So here is the step by step guide to arranging an easy (but perfect), affordable and romantic Italian Style Valentine’s dinner at your house:

  1. Ask in advance for grandparents, best friends or godparents to babysit your children for a few hours. Of course, it would be amazing having the whole evening alone, but most of the time it’s impossible, so plan to spend about three hours alone together.  The first two will be dedicated to cooking and eating, the third one… your choice!
  2. Shop at the Dollar Tree for a few cute and cheap Valentine’s things to decorate the table. It could be heart-shaped charger plates, centerpiece or candle holders, or matching aprons. It’s important to set the right atmosphere for romance.
  3. Have an easy menu in mind.  Read the recipes multiple times and have the groceries ready by the night before and … your easy and affordable Italian Style private Valentine’s dinner is set!

But let’s take a step back and find the right menu that could be easy, fast and romantic for you. I think around here, most of us like bacon, so here are my choices for authentic Italian dishes for you for on this special occasion:

WHILE YOU ARE COOKING: A middle-age aperitif could be perfect to warm the atmosphere before starting the cooking phase. It’s not too alcoholic to blur your judgment, so you should be good following cooking directions even while sipping it! This cocktail is quite simple to prepare but collecting all the ingredients may be complicated since they are hard to find locally. If you don’t feel like making things too complicated, just skip this and pass directly to the main menu (I will talk about the “wine pairing” later).

heart shaped puff pastry filled with bacon, rosemary and parmesanAS A  STARTERPUFF PASTRY AND BACON HEARTS.

Time of preparation: 10 minutes to prepare + 20 minutes baking.

Level of difficulty: easy.

Ingredient price: around $8 (and you’ll have plenty of leftovers).

 

Valentine's dinner Italian carbonara spaghetti with bacon, Parmesan and eggsAS YOUR MAIN COURSE: ITALIAN SPAGHETTI A LA CARBONARA

Time of preparation: 20 minutes total.

Level of difficulty: easy

Ingredient cost: about $6

AMARETTI AND RUM TIRAMISU, a "restricted dessert".FOR DESSERT: AMARETTI AND RUM TIRAMISU

Time of preparation: 20 minutes. Resting time: 30 minutes in the freezer.

Level of difficulty: easy.

Ingredients cost: about $8 (if you already have Rum at home).

Now that I’ve listed the recipes I’d pick, I would like to disclose some tricks and tips to manage your time while cooking these dishes as a couple-in a fun way-but mostly, with the certainty of an excellent dinner!

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION of the COOKING: for your easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style, home-cooked Valentine’s dinner to turn out exactly how you desire, follow these tips:

1) First half an hour, let one of the puff pastry sheets thaw out on the counter and in the meantime prepare the dessert. (If your coffee is super hot, don’t worry, the rum will balance it and get it to room temperature).

2) When the dessert is made, put it in the freezer and begin arranging the starter. (It will not take more than 10-15 minutes).

3) Once the puff pastry hearts are in the oven, start the pot of water for the spaghetti on the stove. It should reach the boil once you are done eating your appetizer, and while the noodles are cooking (it usually takes about 13 minutes for the thick spaghetti) you will have time to prepare the pasta sauce. If you want to make sure you are cooking the spaghetti in the authentic Italian way, read this quick tutorial.

4) Enjoy the dessert at any time you please.

5) Please avoid the temptation to cook all at once, and then eating all at once, because a) it is very “not Italian”- eating all different kinds of food at the same time b) each recipe I suggested (besides the dessert) tastes delicious only if eaten still warm.

ONE LAST IMPORTANT DETAIL: The wine pairing. I would like to suggest to you a couple of wines that you can find at ALDI that are absolutely affordable, terrific in taste and authentic Italian. The first one is “Prosecco di Valdobbiadene“- it will be perfect as “aperitif” while you wait for your appetizer to be done, and again while enjoying your dessert. It’s dry with a little sparkle. I think it’s impossible not to fall for it. The second one is the “Alberone“- it’s a red wine, not too full-bodied, but yet very aromatic and absolutely delicious if enjoyed with the spaghetti!

I believe I’ve shared with you all my best suggestions for an easy and affordable romantic, Italian Style home-cooked Valentine’s dinner, but please, if you need more information or have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Happy Valentine’s Day!”

I really hope you enjoyed this post, and I would love to know if your’ll decide to prepare this menu on Valentine’s Day or any other day!!!

Much Love,

Silvia

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Venetian style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta)

Baccala' alla Veneta

Baccalà alla Veneta (Venetian style Cod fish) is salted cod: codfish that has been dried and preserved in salt.  In the past it was considered the food of the poor, because cheap and not fresh.  The truth, though, is that nowadays is quite an expensive kind of sea food and well cooked baccalà is a delight: firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor.  Baccala' alla Veneta

I made Baccala’ this past Christmas Eve because it’s a traditional Christmas Eve’s dish in the Northern Italy, but I found the courage to post it only today, not because it’s hard to prepare, but just because it was a  little tricky to me explaining in English the method!

As I told already, Venetian Style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta) is actually stock fish or dried cod. What the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the “Vicentini” call baccalà, simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy. However, my recipe is unique* because as a child I’ve lived at the border between two Italian “counties” (province): Vicenza and Treviso, so my mother’s styled Baccala’ it’s a mix of the traditional recipes of these two areas.

Before starting with ingredients and method, be aware that Baccalà requires soaking ahead of time,  since it is heavily salted for preservation. Many Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I recall my mom preferring to buy it and soak it herself, because cheaper, and because she could select the piece she wanted and tailor the soaking to fit it.

Here in Mid West I could easily find a “salted codfish” stored in 1 lb. sized wooden box. To prepare it, I rinsed the salt off and soaked it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (remember to keep it refrigerated during soaking,) changing the water 2 to 3 times. Once it has soaked, this kind of cod fish is ready to be cooked.

DIRECTION for a very big pan of baccala’

2 lbs. sea salted cod – 1 kg. baccala’

1 clove garlic – 1 spicchio d’aglio

1 lb. white onion  – 500 gr. cipolle bianche

1 pinch nut meg  – 1 pizzico noce moscata

about 1/4 gal. whole milk – 1 litro di latte intero

1 tbs. Italian parsley to taste – prezzemolo quanto basta

14 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil – 1/2 lt. olio extravergine di oliva

flour for breading – farina per la panatura

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese – 100 gr. Parmigiano gratuggiato

7 anchovies – 7 acciughe

DIRECTION

First of all make sure to have all the ingredients ready to go: peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, wash and finely chop the parsley, grate the parmesan and pat dry the anchovies. Bread the cod fillets, previously pat dried.

In a very large nonstick pan heat about  8 oz. (250 ml.) Extravergin olive oil and garlic and then cook the cod filets on all sides until brow, at high heat. It will take about five minutes.

Once browned, throw the garlic away, move the cod filets in a plate, add a little of Extravegin olive oil to the same pan and cook the mix of onions, parsley and anchovies for about 5 minutes at lower heat, stirring every now and then to avoid burning.

After about 5 minutes, add the browned cod filets to the onion and keep cooking until the onion becomes translucent and the cod starts breaking in smaller pieces. Add the parmesan and the nutmeg and keep stirring occasionally until the onion is completely cooked. It will take about 8-10 minutes.

Warm up half of the milk (a couple of minutes in the microwave), move the mix in a oven pan, cover the mix with the milk and bake at 360 F (180 C) for about one hour. If after 30 minutes the cod seems too dry, add the rest of milk (previously warmed up). When done, your cod fish will have a yummy crunchy crust on top.

Let the cod cool off a few minutes and serve still warm, possibly sided with polenta.

OMG, this dish is simply heaven! Your house will smell delicious and not “fishy” at all!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS AND FACTS:

– Venetian style Cod Fish usually crumbles on the plate when served and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture to post. That is why I used the one from the cook book my mom’s has taken as inspiration*, as feature image (sorry about that!). The book I am talking about  is called “Cucina e Tradizione nel Veneto“, it’s very old and probably not on the market anymore. It’s a collection of Venetian recipes written by the “ISTITUTI ALBERGHIERI DEL VENETO” and this is the cover’s picture:

– Venetian style Cod Fish is a very rich food (think about the quantity of olive oil needed). That’s why it doesn’t require special side dishes but polenta (or maybe a simple salad).

– Leftovers can be frozen and taste absolutely the same when thaw. I usually freeze it in small portions to have just enough for one meal.

– Some fancy Italian Bars serve Baccala’ as appetizer, scooped in small cups over a polenta serving. It warms the tummies and goes very well with “SPRITZ“.

– As I told you, while you soak the cod the previous day, you’ll have to keep it refrigerated. Well, if the baked cod smells delicious, the dried one smells terribly, so I would suggest to cover it with a plastic foil, and – if cold enough – to store it in the garage or in a second refrigerator away from kitchen and living room (LOL).

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU EVER EATEN BACCALA’?

WOULD YOU TRIED IT, AFTER READING MY POST?

I HOPE SO !!!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Baked brie in puff pastry : a sweet-and-sour appetizer to die for!

brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

DISCLAIMER: this is NOT an Italian recipe, but when I tried it was so good I couldn’t help but sharing about it! brie in puff pastry

Until few months ago, when I tried this appetizer at a friend’s house, I had no idea of what I was missing! I have to say that after that night, I found tons of recipes on Pinterest involving Brie, Puff pastry and different kinds of preserves, like apricot or cranberry, and considering my love for puff pastry (remember my savory bacon and cheese pie? or my blue cheese and white onion savory pie? or – for the sweet teeth – my apples and cinnamon roses?) I had to try this recipe myself, and obviously, in my way.

If you repel the idea of cheese and preserves, you should know that so I did, but after trying this I had to change my mind! The particular taste of Brie absolutely overcome the preserves’ sweetness, but at the same time, the aftertaste of the preserves makes this appetizer very sophisticated and appealing to guests of any age. Baked in buttery, flaky puff pastry, ooey gooye cheese covered in sweet apricot preserves, it’s melt in your mouth delicious!

Just so you know, in 20 minutes your “baked brie in puff pastry will be ready” but keep in mind that you will have to thaw the puff pastry at  in the refrigerator at least three hours ahead of time and you’ll get a best result if you put the brie in the freezer 20 minutes before arranging it inside the pastry. This is such an insanely easy recipe. Even non-bakers can do it!

BRIE IN PUFF PASTRY

10 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS

16 oz. BRIE cheese

apricot or cranberry preserve

1 puff pasty sheet (thaw)

1 egg and 1 tbs. water for egg wash

optional: honey to drizzle

optional: sliced almonds to decorate

your favorite kind of crackers

DIRECTIONS

Roll out your thaw puff pastry on a parchment paper sheet. Don’t worry if It doesn’t  look perfect, it will look gorgeous once baked. Roll it out as thin as possible and give it a “square shape”. If necessary, cut away the pastry in excess. Wisk the egg and water in a separate cup.

Place the brie (white rind included) in the center of the pastry, cover with preserves (I prefer the apricot one), and fold up the corners of the pastry one at a time, brushing all the dough with the egg wash as you go, using it like glue to hold the pastry together.

If you feel confident, try to fold the top of the pastry as to form a small rose, it will look very cute! Transfer to a baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes uncovered in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 400 F  (220 C.).  Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed.

Remove from the oven and place in a nice cutting board decorated with fresh fruit and crackers. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.brie in puff pastry

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!brie cheese and apricot preserves in puff pastry

TIPS: – Brie in puff pastry leftovers are not so good. The day after the puff pastry will be soggy and chewy and the cheese solidified. Make this appetizer when you have enough people to finish it up!

– I didn’t try, but I saw recipes on Pinterest where they suggested to drizzle the puff pastry (once baked and out of the oven) with honey, and top with sliced almonds.

– You can opt for placing the preserves inside the cheese previously sectioned in two layers, but I preferred placing the preserves on top of the cheese in case some picky eater would have liked the idea of setting the preserves aside.

– If you didn’t use all the pastry, fill up the pieces you have left with nutella, fold it at the best you can, and bake it while the brie is in the oven too. You’ll have a small tasty dessert !

– Besides my passion for Italian food, which – I would dare to say – is part of my “identity”, I appreciate good food from all  over the word, and sometimes I revisits the foreign recipes with an Italian touch. This post is one example, but if you look for more, check out also:  jalapenos popper deepfennel and pears salad, my Italian style cheese cake, my special version of the classic banana cream pie, corn flakes and raisins cookies, Irish coffee, macarons for beginners .

I really hope you will like my recipe this week, even though it’s not authentic Italian!

Have ever baked brie with puff pastry? Do you use a different recipe?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!