Recent projects - Crostata and Cookies
Posted: 05 January 2008 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi folks!

A quick report on what I?ve baked recently:

Picture 1: Jam Crostata with Cornmeal Pasta Frolla crust and filling of homemade orange marmelade. It was very good! The recipe is my own, inspired & guided by Nick Malgieri?s ?Great Italian Desserts? and ?La Dolce Vita? by Michele Scicolone.

Picture 2: Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies, from Cook?s Illustrated magazine. These were better after they?d aged for a couple of days. Good for a tender/crisp chocolate cookie - but, my sweetie and I both decided we prefer decadent, gooey, over-the-top chocolate cookies. Good recipe, just not to our tastes. Won?t be making them again.

Things I?ve made but didn?t take a picture of:

Infasciadedde cookies: from Nick Malgieri?s web site. Link: http://www.nickmalgieri.com/recipes/infasciadedde.html
I made a half-recipe which was plenty. These were good! The honey-almond filling oozed out a lot. You definitely want to line your cookie sheets with parchment paper for these. Chilling them before baking helped somewhat, but the filling still came out.
I loved the honey-almond taste. I used a dark buckwheat honey because that was all I had on hand, but the taste was rather strong, even for me. (I love dark, flavorful honeys.) I?d use a medium or mild honey next time.

Pecan Sandies, from ?The Best Holiday Recipe 2005? or Cook?s Illustrated Web site (with subscription).
Wow! These were so good! I couldn?t stop eating them. Oink, oink! This recipe is a keeper.
I made the dough into smaller cylinders - three cylinders each about 1 inch in diameter and 12 inches long. Instead of topping each cookie with a pecan half, I brushed the top with water & gently pressed some chopped pecans on top. Next time I might try rolling the dough log in the chopped pecans instead. I may reduce the sugar by 2 T, too, but then, I am very much on the ?less sweet? side of things. Most people would find it just right.

I?ll be reporting on other projects later ? candied mandarin orange peel, mandarin oranges in brandied syrup, Meyer lemon curd, a wonderful Shaker Lemon Tart made with Meyer lemons, and Jim?s Fabulous Fruitcake. I still have some Zaleti cookie dough in the freezer, too.

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Posted: 05 January 2008 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Oops, sorry, pictures accidentally reversed. But you probably figured that out already!

Cheers! Barbara A.

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Posted: 07 January 2008 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Barbara, thank you for sharing!

Your crostata looks fab, and cookies, too.  Have you tried using dairy and flour imported from Italy?  Their dairy that is UHT pasteurized process or even better ‘non-pasteurized’ keeps all the good flavors of dairy, much nicer than the USA ultra-pasteurization process.  Their flour is legendary.  Wheat is a protected agricultural crop in Italy, they claim their own best varieties, and it is prohibited to import foreign wheat seeds.  This quality/property of dairy and wheat makes their pasta taste ITALY.

Hope you like these pics, I’ve blogged a few months ago.

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/ItalyManjare2005-06.html

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/ItaliaMajare2007/BolognaDreamsAreTrue.html

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/ItaliaMajare2007/PorkTuscany.html

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/ItaliaMajare2007/Verona.html

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Posted: 07 January 2008 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hector, I enjoyed your pictures! How I wish that I could take a trip to Italy myself! But time and finances don’t permit. I’ve fallen in love with Italian desserts—I wish I could taste the “real thing.”

On a brighter note, we have wonderful dairy products here in Wisconsin! I usually use Organic Valley milk, cream and buttermilk. They have a wonderful regular-pasteurized (not UHT) heavy whipping cream. The only problem with it is that it is not homogenized so it tends to turn to butter easily—but what a taste!

It would be fun to try different flours, too—but right now I’m concentrating on getting the most out of ingredients that are easily available to me here. The Madison, Wisconsin, area is actually a great place for good food and good ingredients.

One place I may be able to visit soon is Mexico. If we can manage to get off on our own, Jim and I should be able to have some fun culinary adventures.

We go to visit his mother, who is Anglo-Canadian by birth and upbringing. She tends to have conservative tastes in food, even after for living in Mexico for more than two decades. She now lives in an assisted-living place where they provide three meals a day. Perhaps I can go into the kitchen there and chat with the cooks, if nothing else!

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Posted: 07 January 2008 07:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Barbara, thanks for the reply!  EVERYTHING in Italy was so “real,” they really worship tradition and food!

I am CERTAIN, Wisconsin is paradise for dairy and farming, much more so than Hawaii where I live.  Tropical fruits are wonderful, but really, the array of variety is much smaller.  Glad you enjoy your milk.  Organic Valley is imported to Hawaii, but I think the one you get must be a lot fresher eh?

Italy traveling…  I know what you mean.  I am not over my luck, yet.  Been there twice within these past 2 years, and each time staying near 1 month.  The lucky part is that I don’t pay for board and room since I have dearest friends and family there.  I promise to share my experience thru pictures with the bloggers.  Italy otherwise is non-affordable!

Mexico is a good country, and their food is GREAT.  Highly under-advertised, as I know Mexican food in the USA is far from the goodness found in Mexico.

Keep the pictures coming.  I am making ‘twisted’ Mango Passion Tart from Rose’s Pie and Pastry Bible.  The twist is no-mango.  It isn’t mango season, and the imports are far desirable compared to the local ones.  It isn’t passion season neither, but that I have a lot, frozen from my ‘own’ harvest, and it makes wonderful from frozen.

Rose’s Mango Passion Tart consists of a sweet coconut cookie tart crust.  But I am ‘re-arranging’ the filling with with “charlotte spirals of Meyer?s rum drunken biscuit roulade and passion curd cream”

In fact, this is dessert for my very own adopted Italian parents, Luisa and Guido, on their goodbye dinner this Thursday.  They are returning home after 2 months of staying with me.

/H

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Posted: 08 January 2008 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Beautiful Barbara!

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Posted: 19 January 2008 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks everyone!

Here’s a more recent project: Zaleti Bolognesi (Italian cornmeal cookies) from Nick Malgieri’s “Cookies Unlimited.” I added some coarsely chopped raisins soaked in a little brandy.

These remind me a bit of an English-style tea biscuit in that they are not too sweet, not too rich, and a bit crumbly in texture. They come across as a bit “plain” at first, but pretty soon you find yourself eating more! This recipe is definitely a keeper and I am planning to try different sorts of additions—perhaps some candied citrus peel or almonds or hazelnuts.

Next time I plan to put the cornmeal and sugar into the food processor and grind them together for a while. The stoneground cornmeal I get has a wonderful texture for cornbread, but it’s a bit too coarse for these cookies, I think. Has anyone had this sort of cookie in Italy? Hector? What sort of cornmeal do they use there?

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Posted: 19 January 2008 01:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And here’s another recent project—a big pan (9x13 inches) of cornbread for a potluck. Can you tell I like cornmeal?

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Posted: 20 January 2008 01:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Your lattice work is perfect, Barbara A. smile

Great pix, hector.

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