martedì 27 settembre 2016

Struggles and strudel

I have been struggling all morning with a new version of software and I feel so frustrated about it: all my work seems useless and at the end I am exactly at the point where I begun.

During these unhappy professional times, thinking about desserts is possibly a good remedy to shift from reality (beware nasty software, I’ll be back after lunch break!).

You may remember that I rant now and then about the too many cookbooks I buy – and not always use, ahem – and all my good proposals vanish when I see a new release or an ancient oldie but beautiful ragged thing I must acquire.

I thought moving all the books together would help curbing my habit, but it turned out it only ended up shocking my significant other about the magnitude of my culinary library. He has dared me to cook at least one recipe from each book before purchasing another one.

As I am a person of instinct, I immediately accepted. Only afterwards I have made a rough count and it seems I will not be able to purchase any books for months: that is if I am dutifully recipe testing on a daily basis, which I doubt.

At any rate, let us dwell on the lovely strudel. Both my grandmothers used to bake it, as my mother recalls. My maternal granny used to make a simple version with soft dough which baked to some cake-like base; whilst my paternal granny rolled out paper thin dough more similar to my stereotype Austrian strudel.

In my quest to use my cookbooks, I tried the version proposed by this cute little booka lovely gift from my sister in law.


The recipe is to be found here slightly adjusted in Italian.

This cake is dedicated to the beloved memory of my nonna Anna, but don’t worry nonna Antonietta, soon enough I will test a recipe that reflects your style too.

Cake like dough (Mürberteig)

Cream 120g butter, softened, with 100g icing sugar and zest from one lemon only to the point you get an homogenous glistening mass.
Add 1 Tbsp milk (I will try to use lemon juice next time…), one egg, 300g all purpose flour sifted with 8 g baking powder and a pinch of salt.
As soon as you have a sticky dough, make a ball, wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

Filling
Stir 600 g apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced, with 50 g caster sugar, 2 Tbsp ron (I actually used the lemon juice from the naked lemon above, but it turned out quite pungent, my little one did not appreciate it), 50 g bread crumbs toasted in 10 g butter, 40 g raisins, 20 g pine nuts, ½ tsp cinnamon (not enough, if you ask me), and lemon zest (omitted because I used the lemon juice).

Assembly line
Roll the dough to 25cm per 40 cm rectangle.
Pour the filling in the middle, fold over the other sides, and if you dare, reverse it so it can bake on the good side. I went for the sloppy not well overlapping version.
Bake @ 180°C for about one hour until golden.

You may wish to dust some more icing sugar on top, as my significant other has done.


Enjoy!

Disclaimer: all the property rights belong to their respective owners. I hope this post does not bother anyone, but just in case let me know.

giovedì 25 agosto 2016

Hello dearest reader,

While I am aware that this is such a futile space on the web, sometimes events strike me and I feel like sharing some humble reflections.

All my thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the earthquake in central Italy and their loved ones. May courage and hope help the survivors and the people working to rescue them! Let the innocent souls who have departed rest in peace.

venerdì 8 aprile 2016

Letture ed una torta al limone

Hi there,

Hope you’re doing well!

Today I am feeling sleepy, it might be because of the old saying “Aprile, dolce dormire” (April, sleep is sweet). I did try to check if there was an English version, but apparently only Italians sleep more in April, but please feel free to update me if you also feel drowsy at this time of the year.

***

If you’re feeling like reading, today I felt moved by this article on how autism touched my family.

And if you haven’t already heard from him before, this essay by Paul Kalanithi, How long have I got left, is mind blowing. I have just read his book and his words still linger in my head.
I found a thread about it thanks Ben & Birdy  here.  

***



On a completely different and much lighter note, as you may know, if you’ve read some of my other posts, I kind of like buying cookbooks and among the various ones, I also am the happy owner of Honey and Co. The Baking Book.

I tried their Saffron & lemon syrup cake  and despite the unbelievable amount of sugar it tasted really great. It totally resonated especially to my loved one, his ancestral half Sicilian taste buds were so pleased he gobbled down a quarter of the cake in one evening (warning: this is scientifically proved to cause indigestion, the poor greedy love of mine could not sleep well at all).

Just for my future self, I will take a few notes for the future:
1. Italian lemons tend to be smaller than the ones used in the recipe, with two I could not cover the whole baking pan;
2. Italian lemons have stronger peels: boil the cheeky slices until they become translucent and easily pierced by a fork;
3. 6-8 minutes were not enough to thicken the syrup, possibly the recipe tester may have had an electric stove or they let the whole thing splutter like lava, don’t know, but I will boil it longer next time.



I wish you a pinch of joy and some peace for your weekend.

lunedì 14 marzo 2016

Venezia: Museo di Storia Naturale

I know, if you’re going to visit Venezia, you probably do not have dinosaurs’ skeletons in mind, but you may be a science nerd or a parent and then things take a different perspective.

Yesterday we had the pleasure to chase our gorgeous four year old through the exhibition spaces of the Museum of Natural History and despite the expected hurry (I mean, the little one had to take a ferryboat - Vaporino as soon as possible), we actually enjoyed our visit.

So yes, while I am not a bone person either and I kind of walked hastily through the taxidermist rooms which smelled of century old dust and forlorn animal souls, I appreciated Mr. Ouranosaurus nigeriensis welcoming us to the Museum and totally enjoyed the deep blue fish room.



The museum is kids friendly, meaning that the staff is actually used to tiny barbarians hovering everywhere and they eye you with sympathy and understanding.

I would stay as far as possible, if you are happily single or still in the un-parent mode or travelling without offspring.

On the other hand, if you wish to observe Italian natives and/or feel less stuck in a tourist trap, this may actually be a great place to be.

It is easy to reach from the train station, as there are shields indicating your way (almost) at every turn and you can find more information on the dedicated internet site.


Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:00-17:00 (tickets are sold only up to 16:00); Saturdays and Sundays 10:00-18:00; Mondays closed.

venerdì 11 marzo 2016

mugs wishlist

House of Rym, the store. Stockholm/Sweden.:
Splendide tazze - House of Rym
Piccola my - Arabia
 As usual daydreaming about enriching my home with nice little things...Have a nice weekend! 

Disclaimer: All rights belong to the respective owners, I hope nobody minds their pictures to show up here, but just in case let me know.

giovedì 3 marzo 2016

cooking peas

Hello dearest reader,

I hope you are enjoying a restful moment, before storming to whatever is next in your life.

I do believe life can be difficult, and when I see my little one struggling over trivial issues, such as his mate M. going to enjoy an earlier turn than he does at preschool, I so understand how matters can be complex even in a blessed existence of four years old.

At this very moment I am testing Vegan Richa’s curried peas (not exactly a new recipe, mind you, as it dates back to 2014, you know I am always kind of hip, right?).
  
It just happens that I am in one of my survival moods theme and that recipe seems so easy maintenance & store cupboard based that it has the potential to become a staple in my lonely desk meals at work. How romantic and entertaining, I just wonder why I need to write this stuff down and yes, I accept that if you are rolling your eyes at me or simply skipping to the next web spot, you are so right.

By the way, if you horribly suffer of office distraction (I can relate), you will be as relieved as I am to find out that it is not your fault! It all lies in the evolution, yay! We have developed in the last gazillions years to be distracted. This is of course not going to excuse me for more distraction today, have you heard, dear self?

Also please note how lovely these orchids are. They are a gift from a nice client of mine: thank you so much dear Mrs. P.! Sometimes it is so rewarding to receive unexpected tokens of gratitude; they make up for many other not so nice encounters with unfriendly fellow beings. We can actually all be naughty at times, but as usually human beings are kind of self centered, we always feel worst when the next person in front of us is not nice to us and probably forget about other times we were not exactly at our top form towards the others.

On the pea department, I just found out I did add too much water to my curried peas, so, well, I have just taken a swift Italian move and added some pasta to it.


Have a nice day!

venerdì 12 febbraio 2016

On books and a recipe to try

Hello my dear,

I am still quite behind schedule. Needless to say, as a professional procrastinator I usually prepare my to-do lists and let them simmer until they pop in my face and I start suddenly to fret about them and try to get things done.

Lately I have been reading! It is always unusual when I decide to open a book (not a cookbook) and get through it, how amazing.

I finally read The Stone Angel  by Margaret Laurence.

I have just actually read her biography and I suddenly found in her life some similarities with the main character Hagar. Margaret’s mother died when she was only four (while Hagar’s mother died upon giving birth to her) and an aunt stepped in to take care of her, later marrying her father. I actually find a bit amusing that instead Hagar’s aunt did not manage to get her father to marry her. Also I believe that probably the dysfunctional relationship with her husband may reflect in Hagar’s troubled marriage. 

Overall the book is definitely worth reading, despite the fact that I found a bit disconcerting the lack of love and trust that I always hope to see interspersed in the lines of a novel. Only in a couple that Hagar meets at the hospital, I could notice a constructive relationship, still though haunted by the lack of children, despite their different desires.

Still thinking about the author’s life, it is distressing to read Hagar’s fall into sickness and death, especially considering that the book was written in 1964 and later in 1986 Margaret would find out too late that she had lung cancer and would end up in the same difficult path.

On a completely different style, I just read beloved Arto Paasilinna Il liberatore dei popoli oppressi VapahtajaSurunen, 1986 trad it 2015  

The very unlikely Surunen manages to save several political prisoners around the world. The book dates 1986, despite having being only recently translated to Italian. Some of the political frames, may be outdated, but Paasilinna delivers as usual a sharp depiction of human nature in his typical melancholic and humorous style.

In the kids’ department, we have totally enjoyed Astrid Lindgren’s Lotta combinaguai "Barnen på Bråkmakargatan" - "Lotta på Bråkmakargatan" in a great edition illustrated by beloved Beatrice Alemagna. My son (4 years old) simply loved it and is still asking to have the book read to him.

On the cooking side of life, if you are like me a banana bread person, you may want to try Nigella Lawson’s Breakfast Banana Bread 
The only tweak I suggest, is limiting baking soda to a pinch. The cake will not rise as much, but it is worth skipping on the metallic aftertaste of soda.


Have a gorgeous weekend!