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! 

A Thanksgiving Meal with an Italian Flair

Hello my dear friends!An Italian pie for Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy with my new adventure (selling Home made Italian desserts at the local Farmers Market) that I’ve skipped a couple of weeks of recipes posting… MY APOLOGIES! But  if by the way  you would like to learn more about my booth at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, take a look to this brief interview on WHBF-TV . I was so nervous, but I had the chance to talk about my beloved Italy, and our amazing food tradition! With the Winter Holidays approaching I’ve enriched my menu with more  “wintery and Christmassy” desserts, you should definitely check those out!

Now that you know why I’ve been “absent” (and maybe why It may happen again LOL), I would like to share with you and another article I wrote for the Quadcities Mom’s blog last we (the previous one was a “fall themed one“). All recipes are mine, and it’s   about adding an Italian touch to the Traditional Thanksgiving menu!!!! I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and maybe find some fun recipe to experiment!

“Even though “giving thanks” should be a moment of reflection that everyone should try to do at least once a year, this celebration is not observed in many other countries and is probably mostly seen as an American holiday. (Forgot about the origin of Thanksgiving? Click here to refresh your memory).

Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but in approximately eight years that we’ve lived in Iowa, we’ve often been invited to Thanksgiving celebrations at dear friends’ houses, and to be honest, I’ve loved the atmosphere and preparation!  I have noticed though, that most of the hosts and guests at some point have admitted that turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies weren’t exactly their favorite foods.    I am a huge supporter of traditions and celebrations, but why keep self-inflicting a Thanksgiving meal that nobody likes?

To find a solution, when we have celebrated Thanksgiving at home here in the Quad Cities, I’ve tried to follow the custom of turkey and mashed potatoes for the sake of my children, but I have also enriched this menu with an Italian touch. I was thinking that you may be interested in doing the same by adding a few easy Italian dishes to the traditional menu.

It’s well known that those turkeys take hours to roast.  So, as an easy start (since we probably won’t be eating until late afternoon) why don’t we treat ourselves with some “Italian appetizers“? Here are some of my favorites:

AN ITALIAN COCKTAILSpritz the most popular Italian appetazier cocktail

SPRITZ:  This is one of the most popular cocktails in Italy.  Only three liquid ingredients to warm up the atmosphere and possibly make your mother-in-law sound more pleasant . A Spritz is a perfectly seasonable orange cocktail.  It is enjoyable and fairly light, even for those who are not much into booze. It will make the beginning of your Thanksgiving meal very fancy!

ITALIAN  STARTERS  White Onion, bacon and blue cheese savory Italian pie

WHITE ONION, BACON AND BLUE CHEESE SAVORY PIE: Such a long name for an extra easy appetizer. Everybody will love it (just remember not to tell the kids that there are onions in there!). This tart takes 10 minutes for preparation and 20 in the oven. You can prepare it a few hours in advance and pop it into the oven whenever your guests start walking around the kitchen to ask how long until dinner will be served! I understand that to prepare this tart you may need a second oven (since the first one will be busy with the big bird), but if you don’t own one, don’t worry, there is another appetizer you may want to try…. Asiago cheese cubes appetizer

ASIAGO CHEESE CUBES: Your guests will just die for this finger food. Small Asiago cheese cubes, crunchy on the outside and melted inside-so delicious! This Italian classic  for your Thanksgiving meal may require a little more work in the kitchen, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.  As a bonus, it will fill those impatient bellies for a decent amount of time!

THE MAIN MEAL HAS TO BE TURKEY, AND IT WILL BE TURKEY!

I’ll skip offering options for the main course but I want to suggest a light soup that you may want to serve while the turkey rests on the kitchen counter: Orange creamy butternut squash soup

ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: Many fancy restaurants, before their important dinner parties serve light soups or “consomme“.  Especially in those years that Thanksgiving Day is deadly cold, I am sure your family would be delighted by a warm, orange, velvety soup to enjoy before the classic Thanksgiving meal. This soup is even better if prepared a little ahead of time and kept refrigerated, so you will have it ready to go on the busy day.

After the legendary turkey with gravy, let’s jump straight to my favorite course and my area of expertise…

DESSERTS

Here are a couple of options that you may want to consider to break up the monotony of the classic Thanksgiving pies.ricotta, almonds and amaretti cookies tart

RICOTTA, ALMOND and AMARETTI COOKIE TART: A not too sweet and slightly aromatic tart that could perfectly suit a Thanksgiving buffet.  You may want to consider this pie because it’s absolutely easy to prepare with very little “hands-on” time, and, if prepared a day ahead it tastes even better. chocolate chips and ricotta tart

CHOCOLATE AND RICOTTA TART:  If you are afraid your guests may dislike an almond-based dessert, who doesn’t like chocolate chips? This chocolate and ricotta tart is creamy, velvety and absolutely loved by children. It can be prepared a few days in advance and it’s really super easy to make.

Maybe preparing ALL of these alternative dishes for your Thanksgiving meal in such a busy-and many times stressful-holiday season sounds a little overwhelming. But if you like the idea of spicing up your planned menu even with just one new dish, I am sure it will be beneficial for the mood, the atmosphere and everyone’s appetites!

ricotta, amonds and amaretti tart

I am curious to know if you already have a dish that stands out from the classic ones on Thanksgiving? I am always excited to try new recipes and ideas!”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

What do you think of this article?

Do you like the idea of me as a writer rather than just a food blogger?

I don’t know…. but it sure is fun, and I truly believe I’ll do it again 😉

I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and support my blog!

And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my

(almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

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!   

 

SPRITZ: the most popular Italian cocktail, so Orange that’s perfect for fall!

Italian Spritz Cocktail made with AperolI am very surprised I haven’t shared we you yet the recipe of this absolutely terribly popular Italian cocktail that Italians enjoy not only during the weekends but very likely often during the week after work, as “appetizer” before dinner.

Spritz is a cocktail that found its origin between the end of 1700 and the beginning of 1800 when Austrian soldier (that dominated part of the northern east Italy in those years) diluted Italian wine (to them too strong) with sparkly water. As a matter of fact, the name “spritz” comes from “spritzen” that in German means “sprinkle”.   With the passing of the years, the sparkly water have been substitute with “seltzer” and at the beginning of 1900 (precisely around the ’20) they have started to add a bit of “bitter” to the cocktail (given from other booze like Aperol and Campari) and so has born the actual “SPRITZ”.

If you’ll ever visit Italy (especially in the Northern part), you have to experience a Spritz at some random bar. They are usually served combined with various food appetizer and very pleasant to enjoy in a beautiful historical Italian piazza (square).

About the taste, this cocktail tastes very light, not too bitter, very delicate on the palate if as the “bitter” part you pick the “Aperol”. If instead you prefer a more tasty and sharp flavor, you should opt for a “spritz Campari” which, indeed, would make it taste a bit more strong.

I thought – since Spritz is very ORANGE – that this cocktail could sound very appropriate for a Fall Sunday Brunch, and why not, a perfect original, fascinating and delicious Thanksgiving pre-meal cocktail.

One last info, as it often happens, there are different ways to prepare this cocktail.  The Venetian recipe suggests to use 1/3 sparkly water (or seltzer), 1/3 sparkly white wine, 1/3 Bitter. The International Bartender Associations instead, suggests to use 6 cl. Prosecco wine, 4 cl. Aperol and a sprinkle of seltzer.

The following is my own recipe. I admit, most of the time I eyeball the ingredients, but I’ve tried to measure them for you, and I came up with my own recipe, that tastes delicious! Aperol is quite a popular kind of booze and can be easily be found in the most common groceries store. I really hope you will give this a try!

2 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS

2 oz. Aperol

3 oz. Prosecco wine

4 oz. Sparkly water

ice cubes

2 slices of oranges to decorate

DIRECTIONS

Fill two nice white wine glasses with 1 oz. Aperol, 1.5 oz. Prosecco and 2 oz. sparkly water each.

Add a couple of ice cubes to each one and a thin slice of orange. DONE.

Enjoy right away to not miss the bubbling effect, and with some appetizers as green olives, potatoes chips or any salty crackers and charcuterie.

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – for the cocktail to be delicious, all the three liquids must be ice cold.

– If you are planning to prepare this cocktail for more than two people, just use a pincher and fill it up with proportional quantities of Aperol, wine and sparkly water. Ice the cocktail only at the last minute, you don’t want it to be too light or too diluted.

– I am not earning a penny by recommending you to by Aperol, even though I am very prod to say this delicious orange booze is Italian “native” since 1919.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SPRITZ? And if so, DID YOU LIKE IT?

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!

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!   

Italian Pumpkin Flowers Fritters: at the Pumpkin Patch don’t forget to pick up those flowers too!!!

Last week I went to a field trip to the Pride of the Wapsy Pumping Patch with my preschooler, and , fun thing, while the children (mine included) where walking trough the field to find the perfect pumpkin I was picking those beautiful “male” pumpkin flowers that made the patch yellow and bright!   Few minutes before, indeed, the farmer was explaining us how the “female” flowers fall from the pumpkin when it grows meanwhile the “male” ones – which are not attached to any fruit – keep blossoming during the season.

Well, long story short, in Italy those flowers (and the zucchini flowers) are very well known as a delightful ingredients for amazing fritters. When the farmer told me to help myself, I harvested a bag of those, took them home, and prepared this very popular Italian recipe, which is also a very common finger food you can find at wedding’s buffets, and fancy restaurants.how a pumpkin flower fritter looks like

Super easy, just three ingredients (plus the peanut oil for frying) and get ready to try this deliciousness!!! Just to be clear, this is my family recipe, but I know for sure other Italians may tell you that the batter needs also eggs, or baking soda, or freezing water. Nothing to say about those other recipes: to me, my mom’s one works perfectly. The flowers will taste crispy and tasty, they won’t absorb too much oil, and be perfect for an “alternative” snack or as a finger food appetizer.  One last thing, depending on your preferences, you can drizzle the flowers either with sugar (if you are more for sweet treats) or sea salt (if you are more a “savory food” lover), and in this latest case, you can also decide – before to immerge the flowers in the batter – to stuff it with Provolone or Asiago cheese, to make it even more appealing!

INGREDIENTS FOR ABOUT 15 FLOWERS

7 oz. (100 gr). all purpose flour

7 oz. (200 ml.) beer (any kind works but better a blond one)

peanut oil for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

When you pick up and bag your flowers it may be that during the ride home some bugs come out. Don’t freak out, it’s quite common finding bugs in flowers. Once home, just was the flowers well but delicately,  pat them dry and take away the stems and pistils.

Prepare the batter by hand whisking the flour and beer, and let the batter resting in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.  In a medium sized pot, pour enough peanut oil to fry the flowers, and bring it at 350-350 F.  (170-180 Celsius).

Meantime take a flower at a  time and deep into the batter making sure is well covered all around. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, fry the flowers (not more than two-three at a  time to not bring the oil temperature down) for about a minute for side, then using a holed ladle,  take them out into a plate covered in paper towel (to absorb any oil in excess).

Sprinkle with sea salt or sugar (depending if you’d prefer a savory or sweet treat) and serve still warm. YUMMMMM!This is how a pumping flower fritter looks like

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!!!

TIPS: – Ideal would be frying the flowers the same day you picked them up. But If you don’t, seal them in a container and keep them refrigerated until it’s time to fry them.

– Even if they look withered when you pick them up, they will taste great anyway. Just be carful they don’t are rot (black and bad smelling).

– these flowers are delicious even in risotto or noodles, and they match perfectly with squash (of course!), cheese and other vegetables.

– When I prepare this batter, if I don’t have pumpkin flowers, I fry sliced zucchini, or sage leaves, or broccoli and carrots, and they all turn out amazing!

Have you ever tried pumpkin flower fritters? What do you think about it?   

I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and support my blog!

And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my

(almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

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!   

 

 

Middle age aperitif: a fruity cocktail that brings you back in the past

Ciao a tutti! This week I would like, for once, to change my focus from “food recipes” to “drink recipes”.  Yes, you are right, some of you surely remember that last winter I did the same by sharing with you my personal version of Irish Coffee,   but today instead I would like to give a tribute to a nice place I visited during my last Italian vacation, a nice mountain town called Fiera di Primiero where I stopped by with my family during a day trip to San Martino di Castrozza, one of the Dolomite’s pearls.

We entered in a random “BAR” very clean and neat,  with flowers anywhere and a breathtaking view, and they served us this

“Aperitivo Medievale” (Middle Age aperitif) that was absolutely the cherry on top of the cake of that beautiful trip.   I have no idea why this cocktail is called “Middle age aperitif”, and the waitress was not able to answer to this question when we asked, but we could steal from her the recipe to find out that this deliciousness is simply made by mixing Prosecco (or another sparkly white wine), Sambuco Syrup (not the medicine one!!! LOL), blueberries in heavy syrup, and served “on the rock” with a few mint leaves. A cocktail simple but sophisticated, delicate but tasty, and so delicious that we made it several time even at home.   As for the availability of the ingredients, Sambuco Syrup is very popular in Italy and can easily be found in any grocery store there. The blueberries in heavy syrup is instead a specialty of the area we were visiting (Fiera di Primiero), and consists in blueberries cooked with sugar, so hypothetically you should be able to prepare it yourself at home*.

ONE SERVING INGREDIENT

1 tbs. Elderflower (Sambuco) Syrup

1 glass or 1 cup (about 250 ml.) Sparkling White Wine

1 tbs. blueberries in heavy syrup

2/3 mint leaves

ice cubes to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a nice glass combine: few ice cubes, one cup (250 ml.) sparkly white wine and 1 tbs. Elderflower Syrup. This last one is not alcoholic at all, it just gives the right touch of sweetness.

Add then 1 tbs. blueberries in heavy syrup and few mint leaves.

Serve the drink super cold, right before dinner and accompanied by some quick finger food.

YUMM!! So colorful,  refreshing AND SO GOOD!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – *Blueberries in heavy syrup are hard to find even online. I usually prepare them myself anytime I make my blueberries tiramisu and save some in a glass jar with the only purpose to prepare this cocktail. The method is very easy and consist  in bringing a small pot of fresh blueberries and sugar to boil for a few minutes. Let it cool off and it’s ready to be used!

– This cocktail has a very delicate (but particular) taste, so I guess anyone would like it but don’t serve it to children! Ah ah ah!

– Remember, if you ever decide to buy the Elderflower (Sambuco) Syrup, that it is not alcoholic and that is actually very good for you (because of the healthy effects of Sambuco plant) don’t forget that can be used also to dress home made slushies (kids will love it!)!!!

– I was very surprise to find out that here in the USA Elderflower Syrup is only commercialized as a “medicine” and not as a sweet syrup. Be carful not to use the medicine one for this cocktail!

What do you think about this cocktail? Have you ever heard about a “Middle Age Aperitif”?

Would you ever consider giving it a try?  

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, and support my blog!

And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my

(almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

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!   

 

Summery fast and easy tomatoes salad: ready in five minutes!

Hi everyone! Yes! It’s still summer and during my five weeks in Italy I suffered the heat a lot! Oh Lord, it seems impossible that even your appetite can be jeopardize by the extremely high temperatures!

Of course Italians have their ways to make you hungry even if you are hot 😉 and this salad is the perfect example of a light meal full of taste and vitamins and at the same time very refreshing: in other words, perfect as a light lunch or side dish. Not to mention that it’s so colorful and bright that it will light up your table and be perfect also as appetizer or side dish during a cook out!     Grab some tomatoes, capers, green olives, red onions, fresh basil and Italian dressing, and your colorful salad is ready!   For this recipe you don’t need quantities… just fill your plate with sliced tomatoes (better if the heirloom kind)  as much as you want and decorate it with the other ingredients… I hope you will like it as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS

 ripe heirloom tomatoes

green olives (deprived of their water)

capers (deprived of their water)

fresh basil

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste

a sprinkle of red wine vinegar

finely sliced red onion

optional: black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Wash the tomatoes, take away the stem and slice them  1/4″  thick.

Arrange the tomatoes nicely in a dish, and spread on top the red onions first, then the capers, green olives, and basil.

Dust with a pinch of sea salt (and black pepper if you’d like), sprinkle with red wine vinegar, “give it a round” of extravergin olive oil and serve it!

It’s impressive how such a simple dish it’s so delicious!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVE IT!

TIPS: – If you don’t like the idea of a vegetarian salad, you can pair this dish with hard boiled eggs or tuna in olive oil… it would turn even better!

– This salad can be prepared all year long but of course it’s better if made during the tomatoes season… seasonal produce always have a better taste!

How about you? Do you have a favorite summer salad that you like to enjoy in the most hot days? Please, feel free to let me know you thoughts by leaving a comment… I really enjoy learning others tastes and recipes! 

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, and support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my (almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

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!

 

 

Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week (at least we finally had some sunny days here in IOWA).

Today I would like to share with you my recipe for baked scallops au gratin (Cape Sante gratinate). Maybe some of you don’t know that in Italy (and in other parts of Europe for sure) scallops are sold at fish markets still in their shells and in all their parts (not only the “abductor muscle”, the white meaty part but also the orange “coral”), and even when you go to eat sea food in Italian restaurants, scallops are always served in their shells and with their orange part (the roe or coral) still attached. I’ve surfed on the  web to try to find out the reasons why scallops in the Mid West are sold only out of their shells and without the roe, and some are economical (is much cheaper to commercialize scallops without their shells and inflated with water) and others are apparently for safety reasons. Anyway, in my opinion whole fresh scallops in their shell is something that should absolutely be tried at least once in life, because the taste is much better and intense (the roe is delicious, in taste it is very similar to the scallop muscle itself, only a bit more briny; which to some, is a major bonus)  and because – and I think you could agree with me – they look much more appealing!

By the way, you all know I live in the USA, so, to overcome my problem (sea scallops without the shell)  I bought the shells online and prepared my scallops the Italian way. Once again you will forgive me if the quantities of ingredients I will provide are just merely indicative because this recipe is one of those where I always eyeball the ingredients.  Remember to rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel before to place them in the shells. Preparing them will take just few minutes and baking time is approximately 20-30 minutes.  It’s the perfect appetizer for impressing your guests, or for a romantic dinner (don’t forget their aphrodisiac attributes).

INGREDIENTS FOR 12 SCALLOPS (4 servings)

12 scallop’s shells

12 fresh scallops washed and patted dry

fresh parsley finely chopped

about 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil

2-3 tbs. Brandy or Cognac

sea salt to tast

about 2/3 tbs. plain crumble bread

powdered garlic to taste (optional)

lemon slices for decoration

DIRECTIONS

Rinse you fresh scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shells in a big (or two smalls) oven sheet and place the mollusks in the “corner” of each shell (this way the dressing you are about to add, will cover completely the scallops).

Prepare the dressing: in a 8 oz. sized bowl mix 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil, 2-3 tbs. cognac (or brandy), 1 pinch sea salt, a couple tsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 pinch powdered garlic and – one at a time – two or three tbs. crumbled bread.

Cover the scallops with about two tbs. of the dressing  and keep adding it until it’s all gone.Bake at 400 F. (200 C.) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your scallops will be ready when the dressing starts to become golden and crispy. 

Serve you scallops still hot with few lemon slices (some of your guests may like the idea of sprinkling few drops of lemon on top of their scallops) and don’t forget to warn about the temperature of the shells! They will be super hot!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – some people panfry the scallops in butter or oil before baking them because apparently it gives it extra taste. In my humble opinion, if the scallops are really fresh, there is no need to add extra fat on them, they will be super tasty just baked!

– don’t try to speed up the baking process by heating the oven at more than 400 F. The excessive heat will burn the oil and the scallops will be ruined.

– Sea scallops can be a very nice appetizer but when I prepare them (my kids won’t touch them) for my husband and I, twelve are enough to fill up our bellies!

– The scallop dressing is absolutely delicious so when you serve them, don’t forget to leave on the table a big bread loaf… you’ll need the bread to clean up the shells! YUM!

– The shells I bought are dishwasher proof, so I can wash and reuse them each time!

Tell me, have you ever eaten scallops in their shells? with or without coral ?

How did you like it the most?

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, leave a comment to support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

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Farro, tomatoes and olives salad: a vegetarian refreshing, light and high protein meal

Do you remember the recipe of my famous Italian rice salad (Insalata di riso)? That Italian classic very popular in summer at parties, pick- nick and cookout? Today I’m posting a very similar one, but in a vegetarian version and prepared with a  hulled wheat which is not gluten free but with a high nutrition value (over 16% protein): FARRO.       The reason I haven’t posted this recipe before  (even if it is absolutely one of my favorite in the warm season) is because I thought FARRO was impossible to find here in Mid West or at least too expensive.    Guess what? Yesterday I found it at my local groceries store, at a very affordable price and few hours after I was already cooking it!         For those who are not familiar with FARRO I can add that it’s a simple grain of 28 chromosomes that pre-dates spelt. It is prepared like brown rice and cooks in about 40 minutes (or can be soaked overnight to reduce the cooking time). It makes a fabulous pilaf, grain salad, risotto, addition to soup, or sprouted for breads and salads. When cooked, its dark, plump berries add sweet, full-bodied flavor, chewy texture, and high nutritional value (as already told) to every meal. It is a lovely, versatile grain very used in the Italian cousin.

My family and I love eating “farro” in a vegetarian way,  mixed with green and black olives, tomatoes, basil, sea salt and extravergin olive oil.  This salad is perfect for a refreshing meal at home or to take away, wonderful  for parties and cookout, and can last – if refrigerated and well stored – for a few days. It can be considered a full meal (remember FARRO’s high protein content!), but – depending on tastes – can be enriched with tuna, salmon, eggs, cheese or whatever you’d like.  The method to prepare it it’s simple: cut in small pieces all the “fresh” ingredients, and toss in the Farro once cooked, drained and cooled off.

2-4 servings INGREDIENTS

7.05 oz. (200 gr.) pearled farro

6 oz. (1 can) green olives

6 oz. (1 can) black olives

2-3 handful cherry tomatoes

fresh basil

optional: 1 garlic clove finely chopped

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste

DIRECTIONS

Farro doesn’t need to be soaked overnight before being cooked unless you want it to be ready in less that 40 minutes. The label usually describes the cooking method and the pack I bought (exactly like the Italian one) needs to be rinsed in cold water and then dried in a colander, then put in a large pot with enough water.  The proportion indicated in my farro is 25 oz. (0,75 l.) water per each 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) farro.

In our case, to cook approximately 7.05 oz. (200 gr.) farro pour it in a pot filled with 50 oz. (1.5 l.) water. Bring it to boil, then cover with a lid and let it cook at low heat for 35-40 minutes.

Drain it very well in a colander and wash it with cold water. When ready, set aside for later.

PREPARE THE DRESSING

While the FARRO cooks, you have plenty of time to prepare the dressing: wash the cherry tomatoes very well, cut them in half and take away the seeds, then cut them in even smaller pieces and let them drain in a small strainer. Then drain very well the olives and cut them in small pieces. Cut even the fresh basil as small as you prefer. If you don’t mind the taste of garlic, chop very finely a garlic clove.

Toss all these ingredients together in a nice bowl, and dress with few tbs. of extravergin olive oil and sea salt to taste (be aware: olives are quite salty, so be careful when you add the salt!). Finally, add the cooled and drained farro and mix the ingredients very well but gently to avoid smashing and pureeing the whole thing.

YOU ARE DONE!!! The only bad news is that your salad is not ready to be eaten yet: it needs to stay a few hours properly covered  and refrigerated so the flavor of the dressing will be absorbed by the Farro and make it extra tasty, and the salad will be exactly as refreshing as you would wish in a hot summer day!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – This salad is quiet easy to be made but It takes some time to get ready so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare it a day before consuming it.

– Don’t underestimate the importance of draining the tomatoes. Some of them sometimes can be very watery and if not get rid off the excess of water your salad will become a disastrous bland soup!

– Be careful to not overcook the FARRO: you don’t want it to become mushy but to keep its nice  full-bodied flavor and texture.

– I usually eyeball the ingredients so it was particularly hard on me this time to give you exact quantities. So do not hesitate to add or take away some of the ingredients if they don’t match your tastes.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog again! I hope you liked my recipe and I am curious to know if FARRO was familiar to you before reading my post.. .was it?

As usually I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you did, please leave a like, a comment, or share on social media and don’t forget to subscribe to receive for free my new recipes every (or better,  almost every) week! Your help is precious to support my blog!

MUCH LOVE

Silvia

 

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Green beans and bacon rolls: a tasty side dish.

The recipes I am sharing today is quite basic (I would say almost trivial) but maybe not everybody knows it, and since my blog is many times directed to “first approach cooks” learning this quick, easy but absolutely delicious and scenic recipe could be of some use for someone (or at lest I hope so 🙂 ).  And last, but not least, I totally love the combo green beans and bacon, which I found out that in USA is quite unusual, since most of the time, you see these rolls made with green asparagus instead.   Before to start describing the method, I have to admit that when I eat green beans in restaurants here in Midwest I don’t like them much because they are served almost raw (and still crisp). I prefer steaming the green beans first, in this way they are more tender and tasty.  But let’s go back to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS for about 4 servings

1 lb. green beans

1/2 lb. bacon

Directions

Rinse and dry the green beans, place them in a stained steel pot with one inch of water and put the lid on. At high heat wait until the water inside the pot start boiling, then (always keeping the lid on), switch to low heat and steam  the green beans for twenty minutes. Once steamed, dry in a colander.

Wrap about 5 green beans a time with half a slice of bacon. Place in an oven sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 420 F. (200 C.) for about 20-30 minutes. YUMMMMM what a delicious smell!!!!

Serve in a cute serving dish well arranged and still warm, and people will love it!

LEARNT IT! MADE IT! LOVED IT!

TIPS: 

– There is really no needs to add extra condiments to these rolls: while baking, the bacon releases all its salt and fat, and the green beans will absorb all the taste.

– The quantities I gave you are merely approximative: when cooked like this, I could eat the all bunch by myself!

– Considering the baking, and the avoid of using condiments, this side dish is quite a  low calories, low carbs and high protein source.

– This side dish is so scenic that it would be perfect for a special dinner (why not for a Valentine’s day one?) and is also very versatile because you can prepare the wraps ahead of time and bake them at dinner time.

Did you like this recipe? Have you ever made green beans this way? Which is your favorite way to prepare green beans?

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Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Silvia