Recipe n. 43
Now that we are in the holiday season I can smell the cinnamon in the air, all kind of spices, citrus zest, apple cider, apple pies and more. The other day, while I was food shopping I came across the most amazing citrus I have ever seen. Literally a master piece of nature. Its botanical name is Citrus medica- sarcodactylis, commonly known as Buddha’s hand. I could not resist buying it, even if I had no idea what to do with it. It has practically no juice inside, but the smell released is incredibly intense and pleasant. I put it on my dining table and just admired it all day long. The day after I moved it to the kitchen counter top and despite my will, before it was going to lose its freshness and bright yellow color, I decided to chop it in different shapes to make holiday citrus candies.
1 large Buddha’s hand (= 2 cups ) sliced or diced, or any other citrus fruit (like lemon or orange)
2 cups of water
2 cups og sugar ( I like to use dark brown sugar)
Extra sugar for coationg (for this final step it’s better to use regualr white granulated sugar or granulated cane sugar)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add diced Buddha’s hand, return to a simmer and cook until citrus softens, about 30 minutes. Drain.
BAY LAUREL LIQUEUR
Recipe n. 38
After spending 2 months in Sicily for the Summer I certainly came back to New York with a satisfied belly, more inspired about life in general and with tons of new recipes to make. Here is a fun recipe to make your own liqueur with bay leaves. It’s the same simple procedure used to make limoncello. Both liqueurs are always served chilled at the end of a meal as a digestive, or to accompany your dessert.
Why did I chose Bay laurel?
Earlier this year, after taking an herbalism course and after feeling overwhelmed about the amount of herbs that nature provides and their medicinal and cooking properties, I decided to follow my teacher’s advice and focus on one plant at a time, maybe stick with the same plant even for a year, until I have learned everything I can about it.
I have chosen bay leaves, Laurus Nobilis, because I have known this plant since I was little. There was always a bay tree growing in our garden back in Italy and my mother used the leaves mostly dried, as a healing herbal tea to help her digestion.
Bay laurel is an unmistakable plant which is part of the Mediterranean vegetation.
20 fresh bay leaves
1/2 liter of pure alcohol (in Italy it is very easy to purchase pure alcohol. If you cannot find pure alcohol you can use vodka instead)
800 ml of filtered water
400 grams of brown cane sugar
1 liter size Mason jar type (or 4 Stagioni) as long as it has a large opening.
Wash the bay leaves throughly and let them dry on a clean kitchen towel.
Break them into pieces and place them inside the jar. Now cover them with the alcohol and close the jar with the lid. Keep the jar in a fresh and dry place (never in the fridge), away from direct light, for at least 3 weeks.
Every few days remember to shake the jar.
After this time the alcohol should have turned into a nice bright green color, which has been extracted from the bay leaves. You can let the leaves stay in the alcohol for longer or strain the liquid into a bowl using a cheese cloth. Discard the leaves. In a pot heat the water slightly and dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool down and add the liquid extracted. Mix it and pour into a bottle. Store it in the fridge and always serve it chilled.
HOLIDAY SNACK TIME – LA MERENDA DELLE FESTE !
Recipe n. 30
…so your kids are not big fruit eaters ? Well, they are not alone. Many kids would rather choose a pre-packaged snack loaded with sugar and many other bad ingredients. A while ago I did an experiment with my younger child, who was often pushing his bowl full of fresh fruit back at me. Sometimes adding a little something to the exact same fruit you offered before will trick them and make the snack more appealing .
APPLE with CINNAMON
1 Apple peeled and sliced
1 tsp of fresh squeezed lemon Juice
2 tsps of cinnamon powder
Coat the apple slices with the lemon juice first, then sprinkle with cinnamon and mix well.
ORANGE with SHREDDED COCONUT
1 Orange peeled and cut in 3/4 to 1 inch pieces
3 to 4 Tbsps shredded coconut
Sprinkle the orange pieces with the shredded coconut and serve.
GELO DI MELONE – WATERMELON JELLY DESSERT
Recipe n. 23
Here we are again. We are back from our vacation in Italy and I have brought back, along with the nostalgic feelings, a lot of good stories, new recipe ideas and beautiful pictures of Sicily, which I will soon be posting on this blog with their own link. Today I want to tell you about ‘Sicilian gelo di melone’. If you go anywhere else in Italy, you are unlikely to find this delicious dessert in a pastry shop, while in Sicily during summertime it’s almost impossible to walk into a pastry shop and not find ‘gelo di melone’. I love the taste, the color and the consistency of this unique dessert. I made it the other day and I wish I had made more, as it was gone in no time…
This is the recipe with a little twist, my own personal variation.
Angurie al Mercato del Capo a Palermo
- 1 big watermelon (about 5 Kg.)
- 100 gr sugar for every liter of juice obtained ( I use instead orange blossom honey)
- 80 gr cornstarch for every liter of juice obtained
- 100 gr pistachios (pistacchi di Bronte di Sicilia)
- 50 gr bitter chocolate drops
* I apologize to those unfamiliar with grams. You can use the converter under cooking tools on the right side of the page.
Skin and seed the watermelon, process it through a sieve to obtain 1 liter (or more) of juice. Put it in a bowl with the sugar (or honey) and cornstarch. Bring to the boil at low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and cool it down to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should still be a bit fluid. Add the chocolate drops. Mix it and pour into a round pudding mold, moistened with water or any mold you like. ( I often use espresso coffee cups as they are a perfect small individual size). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or even better, overnight. Remove the Gelo from the mold (or in the case of individual small cups you can enjoy it straight from the original mold), sprinkle with grounded pistachios, garnish with chocolate drops and 1 or 2 whole pistachios before serving.
CARAMELLE DI NOCI E FRUTTA SECCA – DRIED FRUIT AND NUT ROLLED CANDIES
Soon our son will be turning 3 and I’m already planning with excitement his birthday party, which requires me to do lots of thinking about alternative solutions for a healthy kids menu and eco friendly party. This is the kind of person I am and not surprisingly I hang out with other ‘health freak moms’. We always worry about our kids eating too much sugar and other refined products. Of course when it comes to a party it’s almost impossible to avoid the sugar but at least we can control it by making our own cakes, sweets and treats.I found these caramelle a great idea to add to ‘Sasha’s birthday menu’. They really are just nut snack bars but rolled into a small ball shape. The way they are presented makes them more interesting and delicious in the kids eyes.
- 1 cup of mixed nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almond, sunflower seed and sesame seeds)
- 1 cup of dried fruit (cranberries, currants or raisins, apricots, dates)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil to help it to stick together
In a food processor mix the nuts, the dried fruit and the vegetable oil until you obtain a sort of crunchy sticky dough. Roll candies into small ball shapes or any other shape you would like to experiment with, although balls are the easiest shape as the dough could easily fall apart as the oil and the stickiness from the fruit are the only things that hold them together. Place each ball in a small baking paper cup. Chill for a couple of hours to help them to stick together. You can serve cold or at room temperature.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe is not suitable for people with nut allergies. Be sure to warn your guests.
BISCOTTI al LAMPONE – RASBERRY SCONES
There is a time for breakfast, a time for lunch and a time for dinner but let’s not underestimate a time for snacks! No matter how satisfying the meal I had at lunch I still need to have a little snack during the day and since I have a young child, snack time ‘la merenda’, is mandatory in our routine so I’m always looking for ideas and alternatives to prepackaged snacks and junk food. We usually eat lots of nuts and both fresh and dried fruit. I have managed to keep my son Sasha away from chocolates and candies so far and most refined products in general ( I know that it won’t last forever…) and I like to treat him once in a while with something special homemade while he is having his ‘merenda’.These raspberry scones are a perfect healthy snack idea and they are also quick to make ( I usually bake them while Sasha is having his nap). I got this recipe from the wonderful pastry shop ‘BabyCakes’ in NYC, which specializes in 100% vegan products.
- 2 cups flour ( I like to use spelt or whole wheat flour)
- 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1tbsp baking powder
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup agave syrup (or brown sugar)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup hot water
Preheat the oven 350 F. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients and then add the oil, agave syrup and vanilla. Stir until a dry batter is formed. Pour the hot water in and mix it all together. Add the raspberry and gently fold in until you see them marbleized throughout the batter. On a baking sheet with parchment paper, scoop the batter spacing each scone 1 inch apart to allow them to spread. Bake the scones for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with agave syrup. Let them cool down for about 15 minutes and then transfer gently to a wire rack to cool completely.