Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Let me see

It occurred to me today that, if the statistics for this blog are correct, a lot of people look at this blog.  A few leave comments, but no one has told me about what they have cooked and whether they liked it if they did so.

So I am throwing out the challenge.

Tell me what you have made from the recipes on this blog.

Did you like what you made?

I'm waiting.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Peccati al cioccolato has arrived

Last year while in Italy I ordered two of Luca Montersino's books from Amazon in Italy. They were sent out quickly enough but it took me three weeks to have them delivered. So a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a that the maestro had published a new book I took the plunge and ordered it from Amazon Italy again. This time for a UK delivery. Guess what, it arrived in  less than a week. That speaks volumes for the Italian delivery service.
I have been drooling over it since it arrived. Unfortunately, I haven't cooked from it as yet as, gulp, I am on a diet. High cholesterol and too much weight gain for the first time in my life! Aghhhh! I won't bore you with the details.
Needless to say that with this inspirational book in my grasp I want to cook and I want to cook all of the lovely fattening things in it too. What I love about Montersino is that he hardly ever does the mundane. It is not just a rehash of all the cakes available in other chocolate cookery books. These creations are all his own. The pancake wrapped log is amazing. It slices to reveal beautiful rings of chocolate mousse and pancakes with chocolate cake and other goodies.
As yet, this book is not available in the UK. Montersino books in general are cheaper if you buy them from Italy even with the postal charges. It is also in Italian, so please don't buy it if you can't read Italian. I would hate for you to have to drool over the piccies and not be able to create anything.
Lucca Montersino. What can I say.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

German Friendship Cake - part 2 - Cooked.

Well.... the cake is cooked. Here it is in all its glory.

It's probably not the most promising looking cake I must admit. It's brown and plain.

However, the smell while it was cooking was divine and I couldn't wait for it to be cooked so that I could eat it.
So, not being silly and waiting for it to cool down or anything sensible like that, I cut it. For photographic purposes you know.

The taste was as good as the smell promised and I do advise that you go ahead and make one. I have some spare starter of course.

Friday, 6 January 2012

The most popular post on this blog. - Torta Di Patate

As seems to be the trend at the moment, I have been looking back over the popular posts in this blog and the one that wins hands down is this one for Torta di patate. Strangely enough it is the very first post that I put on this blog and I did it to stop my brother phoning me every other day for the recipe. So for all of those who don't want to scroll to the very first post on this blog here it is:

For my first recipe will go to the region that my parents come from in Italy, Parma and more locally Bardi. If there are any other Bardigani out there reading this then you will recognise this local speciality, as it's TORTA di PATATE. No Italian picnic is complete without a torta and in my region they even have feste to this torta.

To make a fairly large torta, about 45cm x 30cm, there's no point in making a small one, you will need:

2kg of floury potatoes. My mother used King Edwards but Maris Piper are good too. Don't bother with new potatoes as they tend to be gluey and not good.
2 leeks, white and green cleaned and chopped fairly small
a piece of lardo to fry the leeks. Failing this and in a British kitchen that is fairly likely use some Fatty bacon chopped. Do not use smoked bacon the flavour is wrong in this dish.
1 packet of cream cheese.
A handful of freshly grated Parmesan.
1 or 2 eggs depending on how dry the potatoes are
Some cream remember that this is an Italian recipe so the quantity that I will give is: as much as you need.

For the pastry

250gm plain flour
75gm butter
water salt.

Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and add enough tepid water to make a softish dough. Roll out to line and overlap a shallow tin.

Steam the potatoes because if you boil them they will be wet and in some cases disintegrate. Mash them and put aside.

While the potatoes are boiling you can fry the bacon or lardo if you are lucky enough to get it and then add the leeks and continue to fry until the leeks are soft. No need to colour the leeks.

Add to the mashed potatoes with the rest of the filling ingredients. mix well.
pile into the lined pastry dish and level out. Flip the overlap pastry over the torta and pat down
Cover the torta with an egg wash or if you are feeling mean then use milk.
score the top with the back of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

Cook in a fairly hot oven until it is well cooked underneath. Cover the top to prevent burning if necessary. In Italy it would have been cooked in a bread oven after the bread had been cooked and the oven had cooled.

Hope that you like this.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

German Friendship Cake

Many of you have no doubt heard of this particular cake and I Googled it to find that there is even a large 'fan' club of cake makers. Basically it is a cake or even a process that starts with you being given a starter by a 'friend'. Needless to say, I have been given a starter. I hope that there is not a collective grone going on from my readers. Although I suspect that those who have been given one will be doing just that.

Another thing that I discovered is that there are many posts on looking after the starter and keeping it alive but as far as I could see, not too many of the actual cooked cake. So I thought that I would give this whole process a go and make a cake.

I was given a starter about a week before Christmas and as Hubby and I were going away for Christmas we took the thing with us. Well you have to don't you. It needed stiring and feeding and it also needed to be kept warm so no leaving at at home. You can guess what happened..... I left it behind. So on the day that I was supposed to cook  it I was left with no starter. I am rapidly beginning to understand all of the posts on keeping the starter going.

Not to be outdone by a bowl of frothing mess, I opened my cookery books and found one for making the thing from scratch.

This is what you need to do:

280g plain flour
15g fresh yeast... if you don't have fresh yeast than a teaspoonful of dry yeast is fine.
445ml water

Throw the lot into a non-metallic bowl and mix well. you should have a sticky batter. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave on the kitchen work surface . Each day, give it a stir and recover with the tea towel. You will need to re-dampen the towel. Now three days later your starter is ready to use.

You are now on day 1 of the process. I kid you not.

Watch this space. There is more. We are still 10 days away from  making the cake.
Are you beginning to uderstand why the finished cake does not figure large?