Thursday, January 8, 2009

LIMONCELLO cheers happy new year! and..I'm back

After a long silence of months... I am back.
This long silence was due in part to lack of time caused by the fact that we moved from France to Switzerland and in part to the time I needed to settle down in a new place.
... in addition to this ..I'm lazy! but the arrival of the new year has given me the opportunity to start again ....

I thought to toast to the New Year with my lovely limoncello.
The recipe comes directly from Sicily, courtesy of Carmen and Massimo, who we met few years ago on the French Riviera, but after a while they returned to their sunny land, Sicily.
I generally prepare the limoncello once or twice a year, the result depends very much on the quality of the LEMONS! so be careful.
You need organic lemons; the lemons should not be treated on the surface otherwise with your limoncello you will drink the pesticides that are present on the peel!
When the limoncello is ready you can stock it for a long time, if you manage not to drink it!!!!

To present this fabulous and famous drink I chose the glass marker daisy, which always puts me in a good mood. Daisy is part of the collection Cheers sculptures glass marker.
You can have a look in my shop if you have time.

here is the original recipe that I tried lots of times:

-1 liter of still mineral water (personally I add 1,5 liter of water)
-1 liter of pure alcohol 90º (90 degrees)
-5 big organic yellow lemons + 1 organic green lemon (about the green lemon, in my experience it's difficult to find outside Sicily, so I generally substitute it with a yellow one)
-800 grams sugar

*rinse the lemons
*peel the lemons trying to take off only a thin layer and try to avoid the white part of it, using a sharp knife
*put the peels into a closed container with the alcohol and store it in the dark for at least 30 days
*after 30 days, prepare a solution of 1 liter of water and 800 grams of sugar
*boil the solution
*let it cool down
*remove and throw away the peels from the alcohol
*add the alcohol to the water and sugar solution
*pour the solution into several bottles and store it in the freezer


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cucumber surprise

Cucumber surprise is a fresh and delicate recipe that will perfectly suit the summer, during which we generally want to enjoy something refreshing and tasty at the same time.

The cucumbers marry well in many recipes; Cucumber surprise is a surprise! Surprise in the sense that each small bite contains a heart of ricotta cheese, pine nuts and fresh basil.

The presentation of this dish is part of the success of this recipe; it needs to be prepared with patience; you have to compose each little packet and then you have to do the decoration of the plate. So take your time.
You can choose different presentations; the one in the picture has a Zen and geometric touch.
The white plate gives a highlight to the pale green of the cucumber.
I'm sure that your imagination will add something unique and special to your own presentation.

I have chosen the place holder SPIRAL to accompany this recipe.
Spiral is one of my favorites, I already presented it in the recipe Apple and cinnamon cake.

Spiral is a place holder that every guest can easily put next to his plate before going around for some conversation or a walk in the garden!
Spiral is made of copper wire (5 cm - 2" height).
They're inspired by the spin of the clock hands - the passage of time during the day.
They're very useful and at the same time they improve the decoration of your table.

I am planning of doing an episode of my blog where I will show how to make Spiral, so that you can try to prepare them yourself for your table.

If you want to see some of my other creations click here.

Time for preparation: 40 minutes
kcal per person: 60

For 4 persons you will need:
-1 Cucumber (medium)
-100 g ( 4 oz) ricotta cheese
-30 g (1 oz) pine nuts cut into small pieces
-20 fresh basil leaves
-salt and pepper

*cut the cucumber into strips in the vertical sense
*add in a bowl the ricotta cheese, the pine nuts and the fresh basil, chopped.
*add salt and pepper
*place a teaspoon of the mixture on one edge of the cucumber strip.
*roll the strip on itself up to half of its length; at this point bend it to 45 degrees and continue rolling until complete closure of the little packet
*now place the little packets on each plate, sprinkle with pepper

You can add some decorations on the plates, for example I put a little roll made using the strips of cucumber left.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Carrot cake and Pink lady

For so many years I have tried recipes for carrot cakes that left me really disappointed.
After having abandoned the idea to bake a good one, surprise! Stopping by different blogs, I found the good one.

The blog is called El rincon de Bea and her recipe was already a modification of a recipe found in a cook book.
I started my experiments from Bea's modified recipe.

I prepared it four times, making changes until I got a version that at the end, satisfied me.
The main changes I did are the following:
- I replaced the walnuts with almonds
- I doubled the amount of carrots
- I decreased the amount of oil and I chose extra virgin olive oil instead of sunflower oil
-I didn't add the drained pineapple
Here you can see the original recipe and Bea's changes.

Here is my recipe with all my changes:
time for preparation: 20 minutes
time for baking: 35-40 minutes
kcal per person: 270 kcal

preheat the oven to 180C (360 F)
for 10 persons you will need:
-160 g (6 oz) whole wheat flour
-3 eggs
-1 packet of baking powder
-180 g ( 7 oz) raw sugar
-80 ml extra virgin olive oil
-200 g (8oz) grated carrots
-125 (5 oz) grated almonds

*beat the eggs with sugar
*combine the flour and baking powder
*add the oil and carrots
*put in a plum cake mold
*bake at 180 C (360F) for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I have chosen my napkin ring PINK LADY because it's as simple as this cake.
PINK LADY is made with aluminum galvanized wire and pink pearls.
It gives an happy touch to your everyday table and it's a simple way to decorate a lunch table on a terrace during summer.
If you want to see more of my creations click here to have a look.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tea Time Apple Cake

Tea Time Apple Cake is very tasty.
Last week I prepared it for the tea time with my friend Michelle who was really exited about it.

I presented the cake with the cinnamon Tea that I bought last year at the Drury shop in London.
The Drury shop is very small and is located near the Covent Garden; no tourists just tea lovers.
I assure you that there I bought the best teas I've ever tried in my life!
They are specialized in coffee too.
When I go to London I really buy a luggage of teas and obviously I'm waiting with impatience the day when Drury will decide to send orders outside the UK.

Well... the cake was delicious and if you prefer a more caloric touch, you can add a filling of jam (I suggest apricot)! or you can cover the slice with a hot chocolate sauce.

If you are planning to do a tea time party in the garden or on the terrace you will find STONE very very useful. Your guests could place their plate everywhere, and they will be sure to find them after their go around and around.

STONE is a name holder made with sea stones from the Antibes beach, copper wire and pearls (imitation).
It is inspired by the calm and zen atmosphere that I can find during a winter day on the beach in the place where I live (south of France).
STONE can give a design and zen touch to your table, you can use it to place a card or as name holder for your friends.
If you like it or want to check out other models shop here.

Time to prepare: 30 minutes
Time to bake: about 50 minutes
kcal per person: 330 kcal

Preheat the oven to 180 C (360 F)
For 12 persons you will need:
-175 g (6 oz) butter
-175 g (6 oz) raw sugar
-350 g (12 oz) whole wheat flour
-3 eggs
-2 teaspoons of cinnamon
-4 medium apples unpeeled and cored
-100 g (4 oz) hazelnuts roughly chopped
-1 packet of baking powder

*Beat the eggs into the melted butter
*In a separate bowl mix the flour, the baking powder, the cinnamon and the sugar
*Cut 3 of the apples into chunks; stir the chunks into the flour with half of the hazelnuts
*Pour the eggs and butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently
*Spoon into the lined tin
*Cut the remaining apple into thin pieces and arrange over the cake; sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts over the apple
*Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

If you want to put the jam in the middle of the cake, you must wait until the cake is cold.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mediterranean cake

A few days ago I had lunch with my friend Helene: she prepared, among other things, a delicious salted cake which she has served cold.

I returned at home and inspired by her cake I prepared the Mediterranean cake; it was a long time I didn't prepare it and I had forgotten its flavored taste!

You can serve this cake warm or cold, so in summer it's ideal for a picnic on the beach or a cold dinner and also cut into cubes as an accompaniment of an aperitif.

This recipe is fast to prepare but still requires 45 minutes of baking so you may want to prepare a double dose and freeze one of the two cakes.

Mediterranean cake gives free space to your imagination; in the photo I have chosen a blue plate to improve the colors of the cake and the tablespoon of chopped black olives adds a fancy touch.

I think that the Mediterranean cake matches well with my napkin ring MY FLOWER: both have a good smell!!!

MY FLOWER is a set of 6 napkin rings that you can use as flower-holder; it's made of copper wire.
This is the ideal set for a spring or summer table when it's easy to have wonderful flowers in the garden.

You can choose them for the decoration of your daily table putting a different flower for each person. A flower puts a smile on each face and turns a person in a good mood.
If you like them you can shop here.

time for preparation: 20 minutes
time for baking: 45 minutes
kcal per person: 300 kcal

For this recipe you will need for 6 persons:
-preheat the oven at 200C = 400F

-200 g (8 oz) whole wheat flour
-3 eggs
-50 g ( 2 oz) black olives
-1 grated zucchini
-200 g ( 8 oz) of feta cheese
-10 dried tomatoes
-10 cl milk
- 2 teaspoons of herbs de Provence (a mixture of dried herbs from Provence, a French region. In the mixture you generally find rosemary, marjoram, basil, thyme, lavender and other herbs).
- 1 packet of baking powder
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper

*combine in a bowl the flour, the baking powder, the salt and pepper.
*add the eggs, the milk (warm), and the oil.
*add the olives, the feta cheese cut into cubes, the dried tomatoes chopped, the grated zucchini and the herbs de Provence.
*pour the mixture into a rectangular baking dish and bake about 45 minutes at 200 C ( 400F), or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apple and cinnamon cake

Last weekend we had a picnic on the beach, I prepared this Apple and cinnamon cake that we really enjoyed with the spicy tea we bought on our last holiday in Edinburgh.

It's a very tasty cake that you can enjoy for breakfast too.
I love cinnamon, its taste and its flavor is ... so amazing!

If you are planning to organize a small tea time on the terrace or in the garden, you can use this small SPIRAL.

Spiral is a placeholder that every guest can easily put next to his plate before going around for some conversation or a walk in the garden!
Spiral is made of copper wire (height 5 cm - 2").
They're inspired by the spin of the clock hands -- the passage of time during the day.
They're very useful and at the same time they improve the decoration of your table.
If you need them click here to shop.

If you prefer a different model, maybe with a more zen style I suggest STONE.

Time for preparation: around 1 hour
Kcal per person: 300

If you want to prepare the Apple and cinnamon cake for 10 persons you will need:

preheat the oven to 180 C (360 F)

-250 g (9 oz) whole wheat flour
-2 tsp of cinnamon
-1 packet of baking powder
-100 g (4 0z) raw sugar
-100 g ( 4 oz) dried raisins
-80 ml extra virgin olive oil
-2 eggs
-150 ml apple juice
-3 apples not peeled , grated
-25 g (1 oz) flaked almonds

* Sift the flour, the cinnamon and the baking powder into a bowl
* stir in the sugar and the raisins
* stir in the oil, the eggs, the apple juice and the grated apples until well mixed
* pour the mixture into a tin and scatter with the almonds
* bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream

Finally the first eggplants have arrived!
I wanted to celebrate preparing an eggplant and zucchini cream that I generally serve warm in a basket made of brick dough (a thin sheet of dough of north African origin; it is used in many ways to prepare salted or sweet specialties; it's more crunchy than fillo).
The brick dough may be replaced by the fillo dough (a rectangular sheet of dough used in Greece and Turkey to prepare different dishes salted or sweet; it's more light than brick).

Personally I prefer brick dough for salted dishes and fillo dough for sweet recipes.

Little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream take some time for the preparation of the baskets; since they are fragile and tend to break easily I usually prepare an extra one just in case...
I serve them as a starter, but if you double the quantity you can serve them as a main course.

The round shape and its fragility reminds me of the napkin ring LOLLIPOP.

LOLLIPOP is romantic and fresh, it's handmade with copper wire and pearls (imitation); you can use it as an original decoration for your table and for a special dinner with your friends.
LOLLIPOP is inspired by the shape of lollipops and by the fresh sound of the song "lollipop" by MIKA.
If you want to shop for them click here.

About the presentation: take a breath when you compose the baskets with the cream.
The little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream fit really easily into all types of plates: coloured, white, striped and also with flowers that I usually find so beautiful to see when they are ... EMPTY!

time for preparation: 40 minutes
kcal per person: 180 kcal.

For 4 persons you will need:
-4 sheets of brick dough (or fillo)
-1 large eggplant
-2 small zucchini
-100 g ( 3,5 oz) Comté cheese (very tasty french cheese)
-30 g ( 4 tablespoons) pine nuts

*Take 4 medium cups, put them upside down on a baking tray
*put on each cup a piece of baking sheet and over it a sheet of brick dough; fold the dough around the cup trying to create a little basket
*bake at 180 C (360 F) for 8 minutes or until golden
*remove from the oven and cool down before detaching the baskets from the cups

*cut in small pieces the eggplant and the zucchini and cook them in the oven at 200 C (400F) for 20 minutes
*mix the vegetables in a mixer with salt and the Comté diced
*pour the cream in each basket and sprinckle with the pine nuts; serve warm or hot.