Tomato Basil Dressing

DSC04749Springtime is here!  There is nothing more refreshing, to me, than a bowl full of fresh cucumbers.

When I was a little girl, my brother and I always helped with the harvesting of the garden of my grandfather.  Grandfather would have tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, butter beans, corn, peanuts, cantaloupes, watermelons; and some years, my grandmother’s fruit trees would yield some of the sweetest fruits, I’ve ever had.

Cucumbers were among my most favorite!  I remember my grandfather would cut the cucumber up with slices of onions, some salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar.  The cold, crisp crunch of the cucumber and onion was the sign of summer soon approaching and spring being here!

So today, I enjoy a fresh bowl of cukes with some of my favorite dressing, tomato basil. Cheers to springtime, to memories, and for now, cucumber time!

Ingredients

1-2 average tomatoes or pint of cherry tomatoesDSC04753

1/4 C fresh basil

2-4 cloves of garlic

3 T apple cider vinegar

1/2 C olive oil

2-4 dashes of salt

2-4 dashes crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes or fresh jalapeno(if you like hot)

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor.  Voila!  Ready for indulgment!

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Ahh, delectable!

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Finale! Baking Marathon- Day 6

Above Home CroissantsDSC04735

The first time I ever had a croissant was at my Aunt Lynn’s house.  I was in primary school, and my Mama, brother, and I were visiting her in Raleigh.  As we drove up, it felt as if we were literally above where we were coming from- Wilmington.  It’s strange how your mind works when you’re a child.  One could say you aren’t educated enough to know how the world works; however, I believe it is the innocence of imagination that takes places before the education forms the realities of the world.

When we woke up the next morning, I could smell the delectable smell of baked goods!  Muffins or croissants were what she’d always have made for our breakfast; she always had breakfasts that I liked.  Her poppy-seed muffins are still my favorite kind of muffin.  Typically, she would only have muffins, but this time she had these armadillio-like rolls.  Asking my mama what they were she said “croissants”.  I had never had such a buttery delight.

Croissants bring me back to my Aunt’s kitchen.

Ingredients

2 1/2 sticks of butter

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour

2/3 C cold water

several dashes of salt

Mix the salt and flour together on the counter.  Then, cut the butter in cubes to then place in the flour.  Mash together and pour the water little by little.  Continue to mash and knead the dough until you have a smooth ball.  Form into a rectangular ball, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.DSC04727

While cooling, I mixed the ricotta and chocolate chips in a bowl and took out the nutella.  They were eagerly waiting to find their new homes within the buttery dough.  Once the dough was ready, it was rolled out, cut and formed in various shapes, and was placed with a dab of my ricotta mixture or nutella.  Not all were filled, as the butter is satisfying enough.

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Place your croissants on a baking stone, set the oven for 400F, and bake for 20-30 minutes.

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Yummy, yummy.

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Baking Marathon- Day 5

The Raspberry “Gibbous” Tart

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Late night tv is the greatest!  Since I’ve had this week off, I’ve been able to enjoy my Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers- a glimpse into the summer.  As always, my brain is always preparing for the next step…”what will I do tomorrow, will I sleep well, what will I wear, what will the weather be, what if I don’t wake up in time, my Mama is supposed to call in the morning, I wonder what time she will call, should I start making the curd for tomorrow, yes, I should start making the curd, since it needs to cool for several hours in the fridge.”

So, I started.  Technically, it was day 5, since it was past 12 am.

The filling for the tart needed to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before being poured into the crust, so Jimmy and the moon, the gibbous moon, kept me company while I prepared the raspberry curd.

Ingredients

For the curd:

3 cups of raspberries

1/2 C sugar

1/4 C water

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1 T butter

1/4 C corn meal

2 egg yolks

For the crust:

1 1/4 C flour

1/4 almond meal

1/4 sugar

7 T butter or coconut oil

dash of salt

In a saucepan, heat to a boil the raspberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Make sure to stir, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal and egg yolks.  After the mixture has reached a steady boil, take it off the burner to cool for a bit.  Then, place the mixture in a food processor or blender.  You can strain the mixture, and dispose the pulp or keep it all to place back in the saucepan.  Add the mixed egg yolk and cornmeal to the saucepan mixture.  Mix and mix, then add the a dash of salt and butter, until melted.  Stir well and pour into bowl.  Cover mixture in bowl.  Refrigerate for 2-24 hours.  I let mine sit for about 12 hours or so.

I ended up grooving to Milky Chance, since they were hanging out with Fallon.

This morning, as I was having my coffee, I began making the crust for the tart, and I was still craving the sounds of Milky Chance.  So on they went…

I melted the coconut oil, and poured it in the mixture of flours, sugar, and salt.  Stirred until it formed a ball of dough.  Then, placed it in a lightly greased pan. DSC04683 Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.  Cool for a bit, and place on baking rack to cool.

At about 9:00 am, the raspberry curd found its new home in the crust, and carefully placed the fresh raspberries on top.DSC04687

Now, I’ve just got to wait for my grandmother and grandfather to arrive. They will be the first to try to the “Gibbous” Tart.  It will be delectable.

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DSC04722And just for fun, I made an orange curd , too.  Crumbled some leftover crust on top.

Yummy, yummy.

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Baking Marathon- Day 4

Memory Cookies

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My Nonna, my father’s mother, did not live near by when growing up.  She lived across the ocean, in the small, Sicilian town of Pozzallo.  She visited North Carolina a handful of times, as it was expensive to make the journey.

Having only a small set of memories with her, I do remember the smell and taste of the almond cookies she would bring to us.  They were much different from the cookies I had been accustomed to; however, they were quite a delicacy. The candied cherry on top made them even more fun to eat.

Maybe this is why I love almonds; the little joys are among my 3 most favorite nuts-pistachios, cashews, and almonds.  Most people probably don’t realize that almond meal is a great substitute for flour and it’s nutritious.  Yes, it does all depend on your baked sweet; however, if you are just having some fun experimenting in the kitchen, why not try a nut meal.

So this morning, I decided to bake my favorite “memory” cookie- pasticcini di mandorla which is the almond cookie.  Nothing is more delectable than a warm espresso topped with homemade whipping cream and a powered sugar almond cookie.  DSC04679Both compliment each other so very nicely, and maybe too nicely. I might have over-indulged in the cookies, as they were the perfect morning delight.

Ingredients

1  1/2 C ground almonds or almond meal or any nut meal

1/2- 2/3 C sugar

3 egg whites

1 oz.(1 vial) pure almond extract

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and beat until pasty.  Then, place, in any shape, I like to use a piping or plastic bag to create odd shapes, on a baking stone or lightly greased pan to bake at 330F for 20-30 minutes.

Usually after I cook or bake something, I come up with an idea, one I should have used while baking.  With that being said, if you like candied oranges, you could always cut up small bits of the candied orange and place in the mixture.  For another day…

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So, if you have never had an almond cookie, I hope the first time you make them is a memory made, taking you to place where you will want to visit again. This way when you make them again, you have the memory to make the “memory cookies”.

Yummy, yummy.

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Baking Marathon- Day 3

Red-rouged Religieuse

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“Some red rouge for you, my nun, my sister. ”

This morning, I decided to bake something that I could actually eat for breakfast- a religieuse.  It was a delectable breakfast, too.

If you like french pastries and you enjoy baking, you should try this recipe, as it was quick and easy.

The religieuse means nun in french, and the pastries along with cream memic the sight of a nun- black and white; however, there are many different types, tastes, and trims to the religieuse. Just like the nuns, each religiesuse brings it’s own style, shape, and sass to the table.

Ingredients

1/4 C butter

1 1/4 C water

1 C flour sifted

3 eggs

Because I’m silly, I decided to put on my Amélie soundtrack, not only because it puts me in a mysterious, child-like mood, but because I’m baking french, might as well, have some french inspired musique.

First, boil the water in a large saucepan, then add butter.  Keep the burner on low while you melt the butter.  As you are waiting for the butter to melt, whisk the eggs, so they are ready.  Then, take it off the burner, and beat in your flour until it creates a smooth ball.  It quickly forms a lovely ball like your bumarumrum.

Place your mixture, that is still in the large saucepan, back on the burner.  Place on medium-high, and stir with a wooden spoon.  You will find that the dough on the sides of the pan will gravitate to the bumarumrum.  After it has all come together, take the pan off the burner, and beat in the eggs.   You will have a smooth ball ready for the oven.

Now with a piping bag or plastic bag, place the ball mixture into it.  Squeeze on a baking stone.  You can make any design you desire.

Bake for 10 minutes at 430F, then lower to 400F for 10-20 minutes. DSC04625

 

 

 

 

Fill with your favorite cream- my favorite is almond.

1 C milk

3 egg yolks

4 T sugar

1/2 t-1 T almond extract

1 T flour

1/2 T butter

Boil milk, then add all other ingredients except butter.  Stir constantly, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  After stirring for a couple minutes, add the butter.  Once it has melted, pour in to a bowl, cover, and place in refrigerator.  After it’s nice and cool, make homemade whipping cream(beat whipping or heavy cream with a little sugar.) Add it to the cream mixture and beat until creamy.

Fill your little or big nuns with as much cream as you fancy.  You might even add your favorite fruit.  I added strawberries  to some, and nutella to others.

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Yummy, yummy.

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Baking Marathon- Day 2

“It Takes Two Nougats”

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The never-ending nougat.

Not that I was pressed for time or anything, but I was definitely not thinking this was going to take as long as it did.  I’m also somewhat of a perfectionist, and so I wanted it to look perfect. It didn’t turn out perfect, but all in all, it was worth the time.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 2/3 C sugar

1 3/4 C water

3/4 C honey

2 large eggs

2 + C pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts or of nuts of your choice

The first step was to create the sugary mix that collides with the eggs.   In a saucepan, I combined the sugar(1  2/3 C), water(1  3/4 C), and honey(1/4 C).  Since it was a bit rambunctious this morning, my sugary mix had to sit.  My cousin was over, and I ended up fixing her some breakfast before starting the second day of my marathon.  As she was eating, I decided to begin the tedious task of nut cracking.  My almonds were already done, so I cut those into slivers.  Then my pistachios, which took at least 30 minutes.  Crack, halve, remove the skin, and repeat.  Luckily, I had my mama to help with the craziness of this candy making, too.  She was helping with the hazelnuts- crack, crack, crack, peel, and halve- repeat until a cup full.

After my cousin left, the madness began.

The nuts needed to be toasted, so I placed them in the toaster oven for about 15 minutes while the sugary mix reached 245F-SOFT.  Once it reached the desired temperature, it was turned to low, and I needed to heat, in another small saucepan, the remaining 1/2 cup of honey until it reached 265F-CRACK.  As the honey was candying up, I  began beating the eggs until stiff.

Here’s where the luck of my mama came in…

At 265F the honey needed to be poured into the cloudy mixture of eggs, and the first sugary mixture needed to place back on hi heat to reach 305F-HARD CRACK to then pour into the eggs.

So thankfully, I had 2 extra hands because the heat of the sugary mixture in a stainless steel bowl was beginning to be too difficult to handle solo.  We giggled (and groaned) our way through it.  The final and most delectable step was mixing the nuts into the mixture.  Make sure to oil your nut spoon, so it doesn’t stick.  Pour it nicely into a powdered-sugared pan.  Cool for a couple hours, cut, and indulge in a sugary delight!

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Ah, the joys of baking.  I’m definitely calling this sweet- “It takes two nougats”.

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥

Baking Marathon- Day 1

As a teacher, I have the pleasure of having breaks around holidays.  Easter break comes but once a year, so while some are working to make a couple extra bucks or relaxing at some exotic location, I am indulging in nothing more than creating delectable sweets in a warm, cozy kitchen.

Mornings have always been trouble for me, even when I was a little girl, and I wasn’t a fan of breakfast.  My mama always made sure we had the most important meal of the day; however, as I reached high school, I was making more independent choices, and breakfast wasn’t always my independent priority.  Maybe it’s true what they say about children learning from their parents, Mama always ate breakfast, Papà didn’t.  Fortunately, my views on breakfast have changed.  Unfortunately, I know that having a coffee with a sweet is not the best breakfast, but it makes me happy.

I have a week, so why not create some delicious sweets to enjoy with my favorite meal of the day-breakfast.

Stabaddie Meringues

4 egg whites  [use the yolks as a face mask while you cook:) ]

3/2014

stabaddie meringues

1 generous handful of sugar

4 small drips of vanilla

pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 200F, and line your baking pan with parchment paper or coconut oil.  I use coconut oil.

Gently separate your egg whites and yolks.  Place whites into a mixing bowl with sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Stir, then place over heat to melt the sugar.  Feel to make sure the mixture isn’t grainy.  Then, lovingly beat the mixture until light and fluffy.  Use your favorite cooking spoon to create little meringue clouds.  Place on baking pan to bake for 1.5 hours.

While my little clouds were baking, I decided to make a strawberry syrup to drizzle on top.

Squeeze 2-4 fresh strawberries.  Place strawberry juice in coconut oil heat for a couple seconds. Then, add powered sugar.  Mix until you have syrupy frosting.  After, the meringues have cooled, drizzle the strawberry syrup.

I call these- “Stabaddies“.  My Papa spoke with a heavy Sicilian accent, he would pronounce strawberries- sta-bed-ees.

Yummy, yummy!

♥the daughter of Giuseppe♥