Category Archives: Italian

Baci di Dama; Smooching almond cookies..Everyone loves a sweet chocolatey kiss!

Baci di Dama

Baci di Dama

Well here we go, it’s the last day of September and I could not let the month end without a recipe post. This past weekend I began to notice my fellow blogger friends preparing for Christmas with all their lovely baking posts..ohh my goodness, really I thought. This will not happen so soon for me. I have a ton, and I mean a ton of Christmas baking I’d love to share however it’s actually getting it entered and photographed, that’s the hard part. So I came up with this amazing idea, offer one of my simple, sweet Italian treats quickly. Viola! Now I’d say I’m ahead of myself!!!! 🙂  Good Job *pats on the back*

I was first introduced to baking Baci di Dama (translation, Lady’s Kisses) in the back of a downtown Toronto kitchen..a shady kinda place…where many of my decadent desserts erupted from. Now and then I will refer to it as the “Back street Italian kitchen”

Baking Baci di Dama were never a tradition in my family. Popular at weddings and showers but I never enjoyed eating them as they lacked the buttery almond flavour and texture that they ohhh so need.  However, I soon fell in love with them. There cute, they smile, 2 cookies kissing between melted chocolate, oh how sweet, it’s like a love story in a cookie  😉  Muaaah

Baci di Dama

Baci di Dama

Baci di Dama

150 gram butter

115 gram granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon Amaretto (almond liquor) or extract

115 gram finely ground almonds

175 gram AP flour

Pre-Heat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Dark chocolate for melting. Any good chocolate will work. If you prefer Milk chocolate give that a go! I’ve never weighed out the amount I use. Somehow I never have wasted chocolate kicking around. 😉

Place butter and sugar in a bowl. With a hand mixer or stand mixer mix until fully combined and creamy.  Add egg yolk and Amaretto. Mix. Add ground almonds & flour.  The mixture should not be very sticky, you should be able to roll balls without turning your hands into an almod glove. 😉 If you find the dough to be difficult to roll, refrigerate for an hour. Roll into 1-inch size balls. Don’t make them to large, you want to be able to pop these babies in your mouth a few at a time back to back. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet or on a silicone baking mat.

Bake aprx 10-12 min, until lightly golden in colour.

Once the cookies have been removed from the oven and cooled prepare the chocolate. Place your chocolate of choice in a stainless steel bowl & place the bowl over a pot of water. Bring the water to a slight boil and turn the heat off. Stir the chocolate until melted and remove the bowl from over the pot. You don’t want to burn the chocolate, it will begin to separate and will be a sad waste to beautiful chocolate 😦 Dip the flat side of the cookie in the melted chocolate and gently sandwich together with a  2nd cookie.

The recipe doubles, triples wonderfully for larger batches. Note at times I suggest adding your own personal twist to a recipe, but this particular traditional cookie recipe I don’t feel should be altered.

Hope you enjoy these tiny sweet kisses (Lady’s kisses) as much as I do

Buon Appetito 😉

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Horseback riding with quick Tortellini and Meatballs you say? ok…

Caribbean Life

Caribbean Life

Skip forward past the summer..a North American summer that is being July & August…Here we are, at the end of August. It’s the end of August already?  but it’s still summer to me. I need to respect mother natures set seasons.  Even when the sun shines in December as we lay on the beach, deep down I know its winter because I am Canadian! 🙂

Ok, not really sure how any of the above relates to what I wanted to talk about today..ohh yes, that I have been working on a summer post with beautiful pictures that I just can’t finish..why? because summer just keeps going & going…kinda like me, it just doesn’t stop. 🙂

Ok, i’m back again..Lets talk Horses..yup, i said horses. I love me my animals of course because of my Farm Nonni’s, but horses we never had. The last time i sat on a horse was in my teens. Again, irrelevant..

We have stables here on the island? I always passed them by with no regard. Recently though I became curious, reading about riding etc. So planning went into play and well yesterday it happened.  Myself and ‘Lil D’ (which is my best buddies son) packed up our back packs and did like tourist. We went horseback riding.  ohhh my, is the best I could explain it. Smiles from “‘lil D” , smiles from “ME”. Greatest experience for both of us. We saw our island from a different view. The many animals they house made me feel like a child with my Nonno on the farm. Well, except for the random turtles of course..really, turtles chillin with the bunch? 😉

Chill

Lets all “Chill”

Enough about the animals..we turned into animals after the ride..hungry!! No food prepared at home but we were not eating out so something quick was going to happen.

I try to keep a few quick items on hand in the freezer..viola, my homemade meatballs..store bought  tortellini..fresh veggies in the fridge..I can work with this.

Tortellini

Tortellini

Quickly and I mean quickly a pot of water set to boil…Next, I sliced up 1/2 a pepper, bit of an onion, few mushrooms, fresh garlic and sautéed in olive olive. fresh basil with salt etc was added. oops & also..i freeze tomato paste in ice-cube trays for 911 reasons and today was one of them. added 2 cubes, chicken stock & then added my meatballs. Keep in mind they are uncooked, frozen so they needed a lot of liquid to poach around in. Done, within an hour we ate..

quick lunch

quick lunch

This is how I cook, I don’t follow recipes, I follow the fridge. Food should not be complicated. We should always have good food on hand for those days we go horseback riding 😉

I realized while writing that i need to share my meatball recipe to really relate to this. Coming soon to a kitchen near you! 🙂

Buon Appetito 😉

Bolognese Babble. Time always permits for a good Ragu

Orecchiette Bolognese

Orecchiette Bolognese

Making a rich red, meaty, flavourful traditional Bolognese Ragu takes a good few hours. However it is possible for all working families to prepare a quick batch on a weeknight to serve to the family within an hour. Yes 1 hour..everything in the kitchen is possible in an hour if you put your mind to it. Prepping ingredients the night before is always a time saver. Do as the French say “Mise en Place”

The traditional Ragu Bolognese originated from Bologna, Italia in the 18th century. Hence the name. Ahhh yes Bologna..I vaguly remember that visit 😉  No blog post or pics to follow..

The traditional way to serve Ragu is over a homemade plate of Tagliatelle but i must admit i prefer mine with Penne Lisce or other medium cut pastas. Again that’s my preference.

Many chefs have their own special technique or should I say twist on the process. Because Ragu making is exactly that, a process. Every chef believes their way is the “original authentic” recipe.  A chef I once worked for said “A true Bolognese should not be a thin based tomato sauce with meat YET a thick meat based sauce with tomato”  So think meat!!

Now these days hours to dedicate to a pasta sauce may not be in your schedule. That doesn’t mean you cannot whip up a quick batch of Bolognese for your weeknight family dinner. One should never sacrifice good food for your belly!

I needed to make a small batch so I used only 1/2 the package of ground beef I had bought. Leftovers are fine if they will be eaten quickly. Another option is to part out and freeze. But I didn’t want leftovers and I needed to have it made within a reasonable time. Ragu Bolognese is also a perfect way to hide vegetables from children. I’ve added diced mushrooms, zucchini, peppers to my basic recipe for picky children. Once the vegetables are diced, sautéed with beef and tomatoes poured over a pasta cut of their choice, they really can’t tell the difference. The trick is to ask them what “shape” of pasta do they want to eat. It worked for me tonight. I had my friends child with me who only eats spaghetti and swore to me thats all he eats. After running through my pantry he chose Orecchiette.

Orecchiette

Orecchiette

A southern cut from Puglia. Southern pasta met Northern Ragu in my kitchen. As I explained the meaning behind the little ear shaped pasta he became excited. Explain the history and meaning behind food to a child and they can be swayed..

Alrighty, enough Babble on the Bolognese

 Basic Bolognese Ragu

1/2 cup Pancetta

1 Carrot

1 small yellow Onion

1 celery stalk

sprig of fresh rosemary

1 Bay leaf

2 crushed garlic cloves

splash of Olive Oil

350 gram ground beef

1/2 cup red wine

500 ml  tomato purée

handful of fresh basil leaves

handful of fresh parsley

salt, ground pepper

Small dice the carrot, onion, celery and set aside.

In a medium saucepan sauté the pancetta until fat becomes translucent. Add the carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf, rosemary and sauté until tender. Add a splash of olive oil should there not be enough fat released from the pancetta. Continue by adding the ground beef and crushed garlic. Stir breaking the meat up into small pieces. Add the red wine and continue to stir and sauté over high heat. Do not boil the meat in the wine. You want all ingredients to sauté absorbing all flavours creating a rich meaty flavour. Season with Salt and ground pepper.

1/2 way there..

1/2 way there..

Once the ground beef is fully cooked add the tomato purée. Season with Salt and ground pepper.

Finely chop the parsley. Basil I tend to Chiffonade as I enjoy the longer strands of this fresh herb.

Add both herbs to the Ragu and continue cooking for aprx 1/2 hour. In total this quick weeknight Ragu should not take more than an hour. Personally I tend to be a sergeant in the kitchen so I apologize now if an extra 1/2 hour is needed. 🙂

Bolognese Ragu

Bolognese Ragu

I assure you if plenty of fresh rosemary, basil, parsley and the Bay leaf are used you will have a flavourful Ragu.  Additional dry seasoning are not needed. I’m not a huge fan of dry seasonings if I can avoid them then I do.

This will serve about 4 large appetites

Buon Appetito 😉

New blogger after 1 week : Photos, Eggs and cheese…

Well, a week has almost passed since my 1st post..It’s been a busy week..productive..etc.. Summer here on the island is starting to show its true colours. This week I was truly captured by the flowers and fruit..I know it sounds so simple but you’d have to live here to truly understand.

Sea Grapes

Sea Grapes

Actually for years I’m sad to say I passed many of these beautiful trees and paid no attention to its real beauty. A bitter fruit that you squeeze out of its shell straight into your mouth. Almost like the wine grapes i grew up with eating from my Nonno Mikes backyard. Apparently wine can also be made of this fruit. hmm…rethinking this fruit entirely 🙂

The 2nd would be the “Spider Lily” which I am allergic to but is actually very pretty. I made a point of observing the plant & not just walking away so abruptly just because I water & sneeze when I see it!

Spider Lily

Spider Lily

Truly I did not do much in the kitchen this week. I made the odd quick pasta dish with new Cow Mein noodles I found..wow!  A Guyanese friend of mine here introduced me to them. Love them, texture etc..

Mess of Chow Mein noodles

Mess of Chow Mein noodles

I took left over Cod/Baccala/Salt fish (whatever you want to call it) & veggies, stir fried them up & tossed them together with pepper(when I say pepper here it’s a fresh small season pepper that looks like a habenero) , herbs & seasoning. So simple & so good! ok, & i chopped a hot pepper into it because i needed a hit of spice!

Funny that after this week, the recipe I want to share most is a comforting meat less recipe I learnt from one of my Nonnas, on the farm. Now this is something she would make back in Italy during the war having no meat. As a child of course I didn’t appreciate something so simple. Really you are going to use stale bread & feed me with it? gross..Now as an adult I try to make that dish over & over with a twist of course! 😉 So following is my version of something my Nonna would mix up on a saturday night using stale bread!

I tried to measure my ingredients as I could with what I used here. Please allow for your own personal touch!

Polpette Cacio e Uova  (Cheese & Egg “meatless” balls)

1 whole stale Baguette (broken in pieces)

2 whole garlic cloves (crushed)

1 carrot (grated)

1 spring onion (white & green) chopped

1 Egg

Cheese, grated – I used Scamorza, Pecorino, Emmental – basically 2 cups of grated cheese of your choice

salt,pepper for taste

1/4 cup fresh parsley  — coarsely chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil — coarsely chopped

breadcrumbs (if mixture seems wet)

 

Soak the torn baguette in water. Just long enough to rehydrate it.  Place the bread and the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Combine until thoroughly mixed. Taste for flavour & add further fresh herbs & spices.

Cacio polpette mixture

Form into croquette or 1 1/2 inch balls. If mixture seems to wet to form, add breadcrumbs to adjust and form a proper shape.

Cacio e Uova

Cacio e Uova

Refrigerate the croquette for an hour. Set a frying pan to heat w/oil & fry gently on either side.

Frying time

Frying time

Drop the croquette in the hot tomato sauce, boil lightly. Serve w/Pasta of your choice or alone!

Personally I enjoy eating them alone as a snack when I need something quick.

Basic Tomato Sauce

500 ML crushed tomatoes – fresh or canned

3 fresh garlic cloves (crushed)

1/2 onion chopped

1 carrot chopped

salt, pepper to taste

fresh basil & parsley whole

Combine all of the above in a sauce pan. Cook for 1/2 hour. I like to puree with my hand blender as i do not like chunks. Adjust seasoning according to your taste

Polpette Cacio e Uova

Polpette Cacio e Uova

Buon Appetito! 😉

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