Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#White Chocolate and Cranberries "cuddly" Squares...sweetness and crispness in a few bites!

White Chocolate and Cranberries Squares

Really intense days have passed: a short trip to Germany with friends and family, a new and exciting drama class, a Blog Tour in the territory of San Giuliano Terme (places that I love more every day) about which I will talk in December...and the Diploma of Basic Chef in Natural Cuisine, of which I am particulary proud...but I'll talk later about this too.
Yesterday, finally a bit of time in my kitchen! And pouring rain has certainly helped my pioneering spirit in the field of sweets.

Preparing th Syrup
 I tasted these cakes at my friend's home...he loves white chocolate beyond mesure.  

Draining Cranberries
At first I was skeptical, because I do not like particularly sweet flavors and because I think that white chocolate it's very difficult to manage.  

Melting Chocolate and Butter
But then I changed my mind ... mind you ... for being sweet they are, but the delicacy of the cranberries and the crunchiness of these squares are a truly winning combination.
Yesterday I needed cuddles and they immediately came to my mind...
Square Baking Pan in the oven
We were ten at my home and these cakes are finished in an hour, with the compliments and appreciation of grandparents, parents and children.
I find useful to advise to use the sauce (very good) sparingly, I would use maximum two tablespoons per person, because although delicate, her sweetness tends to cover the taste of cakes.

They are beautiful to look at and bring joy ... prepare a lot of them and you'll make a big look great if you have many friends...and if you're alone you'll lift your spirit!
Beautiful Golden Cake

White Chocolate and Cranberries Squares
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 38 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

  • 4 oz white chocolate
  • 2 oz white chocolate (chopped)
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 eggs
Cooking Directions

 Preparing the Sauce:
  1. open the vanilla bean with a knife, take one half part (the other is for the squares)
  2. put it in a pot with water and sugar and let it boiling slowly,
  3. mix and wait until the sugar is dissolved
  4. add the cranberries and cook them for about 8 minutes
  5. drain the cranberries
  6. and continue to reduce the syrup until it's a bit dense
  7. mix cranberries with syrop and let cool 
 Preparing the Squares:
  1. line a square baking pan (mine is about 20cm side) with parchment paper
  2. melt the chocolate with the butter
  3. mix until is creamy and remove from heat.
  4. Put in a big bowl the sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean and the eggs
  5. mix together and whip with a whisk or a planetary,
  6. adding gently the melt chocolate and butter; everything until a pale, dense mixture.
  7. Sift flour and put it in the bowl continuing to whisk
  8. add slowly the pine nuts, the chopped chocolate and the dried cranberries.
  9. pour the mixture in the square pan and let it cook in hot oven, at 375 °F for about 30 minutes.
  10. You can touch the surface and if it's a bit hard, and golden, it's ok
  11. once cold, cut in squares and serve over (or seasoned) your delicous cranberries sauce

Friday, November 7, 2014

#Terricciola and #Selvatelle, cookery course in Tuscany with a special family from #Texas: Ravioli stuffed with Taleggio and Pear

heart ravioli taleggio and peer3
Heart Ravioli Stuffed with Taleggio Cheese and Pear

Two days ago, I held what will probably be my last cooking class for this year. I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful family: sweet father and mother and three solar and full of life daughters.
Mom had already booked the cookery course from the month of August and gave me some tips about dishes she tasted in Italy, which had failed to replicate in her country. One of them, here in Tuscany, was "Fiocchetti stuffed with Taleggio cheese and pears": she ate them at the restaurant "4 leoni" in Florence.
I saw that in that restaurant they made teh sauce with the asparagus, but we are CuocheinVacanza and we do not cook ingredients out of season... and then I saw that they spoke mainly about "taleggio cheese sauce," while Rachelle asked me "stuffed with taleggio cheese". So I rolled up my sleeves and did a couple of tests.  
The first was not a succesful one! The taste of taleggio towered over everything else and pears, to be flipped in a pan with a teaspoon of sugar, they were too sweet. So I thought I'd mix the ricotta cheese with Taleggio and do not add sugar to the pears.
The result was a really tasty filling, which I reproduce here on this post because in its proportions 'cause I do not want to forget it.
Then I decided to dress this pasta with a simple sauce with Fresh Cream, Parmesan and Black pepper.
It came out some
really phenomenal ravioli!  
And then I went to my guests for the cooking class in Terricciola, more than ever proud and confident that they would come up like something really good.   
Also, since I knew that they were a nice family in which love prevails ... I decided to bring their some molds for the pasta in the shape of heart and so our ravioli stuffed with cheese and pears, have become beautiful hearts to serve to those you love.
Unfortunately I do not have the photo of the finished dish ... but I hope to post it soon.
What else to say?
Try these ravioli, the Recipe for Home Made Pasta is here, and that one for the filling is below... you have no idea how good they're

heart ravioli taleggio and peer4
heart mold for homemade pasta
One more thing, if you have difficulty finding the right ingredients in your country:
- if you're in America, here you can find Taleggio Cheese 
- you can replace the Ricotta Cheese with Cottage Cheese without any problem.
However, as I know you can't find Ricotta in your Country far from Italy...I'll soon post a special Recipe to make an amazing Ricotta Cheese at home.
- you've to buy Abbe or Kaiser pear: have a look here if you don't know them

All my best guys and girls and ... as always ... let me know, I'm always here.
Beautiful family from Texas
Ravioli stuffed with Taleggio Cheese and Pears

Recipe by Erika Elia
Prep time: 1,40 hour
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

  • For the Filling
  • 8 oz Taleggio Cheese
  • 4 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Kaiser or Abbe Pear
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 sprinkle black pepper
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
For the Sauce 
  • 10 oz fresh cream
  • 6 tbs parmigiano cheese
  • 1 sprinkle black pepper
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
Cooking Directions

 For the Filling:
  1. Put the butter in a sauce pan with Taleggio cheese roughly chopped
  2. put on fire and melt, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon
  3. once melted cheese, turn off the heat and let cool, stirring the whole time to time
  4. meanwhile peel the pear and cut into small cubes
  5. skip the pear in a pan over high heat for a minute and then allowed to cool
  6. combine the ricotta cheese melted and mix thoroughly
  7. add the diced pear and mix
  8. end with the sprinkling of pepper
  9. add salt if necessary
  10. with the aid of a teaspoon, take this mixture and place it on the strips of pasta, at the distance of about 5cm (depending on the size of the mold for pasta)
  11. cover the pasta strips with the filling over with other pasta strips (same size)
  12. squeeze out all the air
  13. seal the pasta with your fingers and then proceed
  14. to cut the pasta with the pasta mold ("heart" in our case)
  15. place the "hearts" on a tray with kitchen paper so theat they do not stick together
  16. cook in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes after the water boils again     
 For the Sauce:
  1.  melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  2. once melted add the cream and stir for 3 to 4 minutes
  3. remove from heat and add the Parmesan
  4. pour the sauce over the ravioli
  5. sprinkle with pepper

Monday, October 27, 2014

#Pisa, how to prepare Tuscan cookies #Cantuccini with planetary o hand blender: an easy recipe step by step from our cooking classes to your kitchen abroad


Those who love the Tuscan cooking have never tried to make this tipycal almond biscuits? If we also consider the fact that they are really easy ... well, the answer is definitely: a few, very few.  

PicMonkey Photo
1 Cut coarsely almonds
Yet when we prepare them they're never good: hard we can hammer a nail, or limp, almost chewy, too sweet, not sweet, burnt, undercooked, too dry ... you can follow the most famous recipe, your grandmother's one, your aunt's ... there is always something to take for granted, something that escapes.
Here, a few days ago I
decided to try some of the recipes that I like more to prepare these cookies; I revisited them by my way and cantuccini have gone out of really super loose and just as I like. I marked all the passages, not to miss anything to pass on to you from this recipe so that your cookies are able really perfect. And just because they're a very old cookie...I'm going to pass you some historical too.
3 egg whites
eggs and sugar
4 Egg yolks with sugar
butter and eggs
5 melted butter
and almonds
6 Almonds
7 flour and baking powder
My grandmother made cantuccini on the pastry board: put the flour, made a hole in the middle, added the eggs and gradually all the other ingredients. And this is the traditional way to prepare them, then if you have a wood oven, well, it's even better.
But since in modern homes missing more and more space to set up a laboratory for "pasta", and since almost everyone has a planetary or at least of a hand blender, then I describe step by step how to make almond biscuits with these tools and I assure you that the result is the same ... except for the wood-burning oven eh? This one makes a difference, and who's got is really lucky.

whipped whites
8 egg whites


As written by the Cantuccini Association "the origin of this cookie dates back at least to the sixteenth century, and the name seems to derive from "Canto", (in Italian: part of a set) or "cantellus", in Latin "piece or slice of bread," a savory biscuit that Roman soldiers already ate during military campaigns".
We'll know the cookie as "sweet" first in England and then in Tuscany and also in the rest of Europe, from the fourteenth century, after what historicals call: "sugar boom", following the spread of the cultivation of sugar cane in North Africa and Southern Europe.  
From the second half of the '500, "cantuccini" cookies did their appearance at the Medici court, although they did not include almonds. They were inspired by the already known "biscotto" from Pisa and the relative "Genoese" cookie.  
The '700 was characterized by the spread of "cantuccini" cookies in different ways, but only from the '900 the biscuits with almonds began to be produced in the whole of Tuscany increasingly large scale. The presence in their recipe of butter and leavening agents made ​​them in fact a product with a long shelf particularly suitable for mass distribution and export
In the nineteenth century, Antonio Mattei, pastry chef of Prato, developed the recipe now considered classic, awarded in 1867 with a special mention of the universal exhibition in Paris.
Even today, in Prato you can find the Mattei Pastry shop where you can buy cantuccini in the famous blue envelope, but if you like to prepare them by yourself, they'll be surely more tasteful, and I assure you they're very easy anyway if handmade or using a planetary or robot.
11 small loave
12 golden

14 cut obliquely

baking again
15 baking again

cantuccini box
16 store

#Cantuccini, cookies from Tuscany

Author: Erika Elia
Prep time: 30 minutes 
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

  • 1 lb all purpose flour
  • 13 oz sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 oz baking powder
  • 1 grated lemon zest
  • 7 oz whole almonds
  • 7 oz no salt butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 2 tbsp limoncello (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut coarsely almonds (no need toasting)
  2. mix the flour with the baking powder and set aside
  3. mount the egg whites until stiff and set aside
  4. mount the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale yellow
  5. add melted butter and continue to mix 
  6. add almonds and liquer
  7. add the flour, baking powder and grated lemon rind
  8. add egg whites, stirring gently from bottom to top
  9. make small loaves with this mixture, about 10cm wide and about 3cm thic, long as you prefer
  10. lay them on a baking tray
  11. brush with egg yolk mixed with honey
  12. bake at 375 °F until golden
  13. wait for warm (about 10 minutes)
  14. cut the loaves obliquely into slices of about 2cm
  15. place these "cantuccini" on to the baking tray again at 375 ° F for about 10 minutes so that they become more crunchy
  16. store in a tin box with baking paper