Monday, December 15, 2014

Buon Natale - Merry Christmas!!

From Milan to Rome, this is the Italians' favorite Christmas cake! 

Enjoy a slice of this tradition with your family this year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just back from Bologna's Chocolate Show ~ Chocolate Everything!!!











Mousse Al Cappuccino ~ Cappuccino Mousse

Serves 4

Thin Layer of sponge cake (see separate recipe)
500 g Milk Chocolate, broken into pieces
250 ml Hot Espresso Coffee
20 g Sheet gelatin
100 ml Milk
200 ml Whipping Cream
7 Egg yolks, beaten well
5 Egg whites
150 g Sugar

Place the gelatin in a bowl of cold water to soften. In a double boiler, add the hot coffee to the milk chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Leave to one side. Heat the milk, then remove gelatin from water squeezing a little to remove water and add to milk, stirring until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Stir the milk and gelatin into the chocolate and coffee mixture and whisk. Add the egg yolks and cook over a double boiler for about 5 minutes, making sure water is hot but not boiling. Leave mixture to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until stiff. In another bowl, whip the cream until it thickens. Gently fold the egg whites into the cold chocolate mixture, then fold in the whipped cream.

Cut small rounds from the sponge cake, and place at the center of individual metal rings. Spoon the mousse over the sponge circles and chill in the refrigerator until completely set. Alternatively, simply spoon the mousse into attractive serving glasses and chill until set.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Torta Di Ricotta ~ Italian Cheesecake

Here’s a classic dessert served at Renaissance-era court feasts and at festivals today. As with so many Renaissance dishes, this cake is heavily seasoned. Use the extra egg white from the pastry in the filling.

Serves 6

For the pastry:
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 egg yolk
A little cold water

For the filling:
1 pound ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons powdered ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Mix the flour, butter, and egg yolk together in a bowl and add cold water until the dough consistency is right. Knead the dough a little bit and then roll it out on a floured board. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie pan.

Combine all ingredients except the raisins in a blender and puree until smooth. Fold in the raisins and pour the filling into the dough.

Smooth the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's cold outside but warm inside in our Cooking Vacations kitchen!

Crostata Di Frutta ~ Fresh Fruit Tart

From Chef Raffaele

Makes 2 tarts of about 25-cm each (10-inches)

Pasta Frolla ~ Short Crust Pastry:
500 g Flour
250 g Butter, at room temperature
250 g Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
Zest of 1 Lemon Crema Pasticciera ~ Pastry Cream:
4 Egg Yolks
150 g Sugar
50 g Flour
½ L Whole Milk
Lemon Liquor/Limoncello
Apricot Marmalade, as needed
1 kg Fresh Fruit such as strawberry, kiwi, melon, fig, rinsed & sliced
200 g Whipped Cream

Prepare the pastry dough by mixing flour, butter, sugar, egg yolks and lemon zest together. Mix until just combined and be careful not to overwork. Form into a ball and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Next, prepare the pastry cream. In a bowl, mix egg yolks with 100 grams of sugar. Slowly add in flour and blend. In a separate pot, heat milk with 50 grams of sugar (lemon zest, chocolate, vanilla beans, coffee beans all optional depending on the flavor that you would like the cream to have). Once the milk comes just to a boil, remove from heat and add to the egg-sugar-flour mixture. Cook over low heat for another 2-3 minutes until the cream has thickened and starts to bubble. Remove from heat, add a splash of Limoncello, cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming and allow mixture to cool completely before using (2-3 hours).

Roll out the dough into disks large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the baking pan. Spread the bottom with a little marmalade and fill with pastry cream. Bake in a preheated oven at 325°F (160°C) for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely then top with the whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit.

Variation: Fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, or cherries can be baked with the crust. Fill the bottom shell with the pastry cream, then the fruit (sautéed with a little sugar), the cover with another layer of dough and bake in a preheated oven at 325°F (160°C) for 20 to 25 minutes until golden.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Castagnaccio ~ Chestnut Cake

Serves 8

400g Chestnut Flour
3 tbs Sugar
60 g Pine Nuts
50 g Walnuts
a pinch of Salt
1 Orange
6 tbs Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 glass lukewarm Water
a sprig of Rosemary

Pre-heat oven 170° C or 340° F

Sieve the flour in a bowl with the sugar, salt, milk, water and some oil. Whisk together to obtain a smooth, creamy consistency (if necessary add more water). Add the rind of orange cut into small strips, half the pine nuts and half the walnuts and mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oiled rectangular baking tin. Scatter the remaining pine nuts and walnuts on top, add the rosemary sprig and the remaining oil.

Bake for about an hour. Allow to cool and serve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween From Cooking Vacations!

Roasted Pumpkin & Walnut Torta

Makes 2 (8 x 4 Inch) Loaves
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup homemade applesauce
4 organic eggs
2 cups roasted and pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup almond milk
3 cups farro (spelt) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. and lightly grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.
In an electric mixer, beat the oil, applesauce, and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the pumpkin puree and milk, and beat well. Whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients and blend just until mixed.
Fold in the walnuts. Divide the batter between the two baking pans. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon topping, and sprinkle over the top of each loaf.

Bake the loaves for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the loaves from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
Remove cakes from the pans, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sweet Recipe

Tortino Caldo Al Cioccolato ~ Warm Chocolate Cake
225 g Dark Chocolate
225 g Butter
4 whole Eggs, plus 2 Egg Yolks
70 g Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
60 g ‘00’ Flour, sifted
Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven at 180° C or 350° F.

In a mixing bowl, whip the eggs with the sugar for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the dark chocolate in a double boiler and mix well. Add the melted chocolate-butter mixture into the egg mixture folding gently so the eggs do not deflate. Add the grated orange zest, then sift in small amounts of the flour folding gently always in the same direction.

Butter and flour individual cake molds and pour the batter in. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn onto a serving dish and dust with powdered sugar before serving warm.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Boston's North End

Frank DePasquale

Brings the flavors and traditions of Italy to the historical Italian neighborhood.

by Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli


Monday, August 18, 2014

No Matter How You Slice Your Tomatoes!

Pansanella ~ Bread & Tomato Salad
Serves 4

4 pieces Pane Biscottato, twice baked hard bread (substitute with day-old toasted wheat bread if needed)
3 Fresh Tomatoes, chopped
¼ Onion, chopped
Oregano, pinch, to taste
Fresh Basil, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to taste
Salt, to taste

Dip the Pane Biscottato in water for a few seconds then allow excess water to drip off. Break it in small pieces and mix with chopped tomatoes, onion, a pinch of oregano, fresh basil ripped by hand, salt and a generous amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix well to combine and serve.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Denzel Washington in Positano!!

Denzel with Peppe & Gianfranco of Chez Black, Rada at Music On The Rocks, Positano!

Try out Denzel's favorite dessert from Rada! exclusive recipe!

Panna Cotta Con Frutti Rossi – Panna Cotta With Berry Sauce

Courtesy of Rada Restaurant
Serves 6 to 8

300 g Heavy cream
350 g Whole milk
100 g Sugar
10 g Sheet gelatin, soaked in water for a few minutes
Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
Vanilla pod
100 g Red fruits (raspberries, strawberries, red currants etc.)
30 g additional Sugar

Place the cream, milk, 100 g of sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Slit the vanilla pod open lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream. Heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, add the soaked gelatin to the cream and whisk until well combined.

Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and pour into individual dariole molds. Allow to cool then place in refrigerator until completely chilled.

Meanwhile, place the red fruits in a pan with the sugar and slowly heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved and the sauce slightly thickened, take off the heat. Allow to cool a little and whiz in a food processor.

To serve, turn each panna cotta gently onto a serving plate and accompany with red berry sauce, (caramel, chocolate or your favorite topping).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Harry's Bar in Venice

Went to Harry's Bar in Venice and met Mr. Cipriani. We drank Bellinis and he gave me a copy of his cookbook.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Celebrate the Carnival of Venice with some delicious and delicate Zeppoles!

Zeppole Anacapres ~ Traditional Fried Dough Ribbons

Makes about 20 zeppole

3 ¾  cups 00 Flour
1 lb potatoes
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp butter
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange

2 cakes (50g) natural yeast
¼ cup Milk

1 ½ liters sunflower oil, for frying

Boil potatoes until tender (skin on). Drain and peal by hand.  Pour the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the middle.  Pass potatoes through a ricer onto the flour and mix potatoes with flour, sugar, butter, eggs and lemon & orange zest.  In the meantime, dissolve yeast in the milk, then add to the potato mixture.  Mix well and should make a fairly solid dough, not too soft. Let rise in a warm place for about half an hour.

Roll out into coils and twist into ribbons.  Set aside and allow to rise about 45 minutes.  Put sunflower oil in a small pot and heat over low heat.  Test oil by dropping in a zeppola- it should drop to the bottom, then rise to the top right away.  Fry for 3-5 minutes turning until golden-brown.  Toss with sugar and serve plain or with pastry cream and cherry- to taste.


This recipe comes out delicious, and is quite simple to make!