Tomato Pesto &
Emmentaler Cheese Turnovers


With my left over Emmentaler Cheese I made these savory turnovers.
Adding a tomato pesto it made an easy and delicious lunch for my family.
I used Pepperidge Farms' Puff Pastry and a homemade Tomato Pesto. For puff pastry directions and oven temperatures you can visit there web site here. For an easy Tomato Pesto you can find the recipe below.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
(adapted from At Home With Magnolia)

Ingredients
1/2 cup packed Fresh Basil leaves (roughly chopped)
1/4 cup Italian Parsley (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 generous packed cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigianno Regianno
1 cup olive oil

Directions
Drain your sun dried tomatoes, lightly rinse them, and then pat them dry with a paper towel.
In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and salt. Process until coarsely chopped.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and Parmigianno Reggiano cheese and process until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped.
Now stream in the olive oil slowly and process until the pesto comes together.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.


I have been traveling for the past few weeks and haven't been able to catch up on blog reading.. I look forward to commenting on all of your wonderful recipes and writings.. till then, have a wonderful Easter and Passover celebration!

Ciao, abbracci e baci e Buon Appetito!!
Laurie

Lusciously Rich
Custard Filled Cream Puffs



Lusciously "Rich Custard" Filled Cream Puffs
I have been making cream puffs for over 20 years now but have never been 100% satisfied with my custard filling till now! Most of the custards I have made have usually called for either cornstarch, eggs, sugar and milk or flour, eggs, sugar and milk.. some more loose custards yet, have called for milk, sugar and egg yolks alone. But this recipe is well balanced with just the right amounts of flour, sugar, eggs and milk. And it works.. and has made me a very happy girl!!

In other recipes I have seen, and tried, butter was added at the end for a rich and smooth texture. The English custard is like this, where it utilizes the flour in the mix and the butter at the end. I have favored my English recipe the most for this end addition. But when I saw that it did not call for the butter, I decided to add it anyway, and I'm glad I did.

I also noted in the previous post that I used vanilla beans because I was out of vanilla extract. I tend to be a bit lazy with four kids underfoot, one having special needs, and most often when baking look for the easy way out and opt for an extract. A good extract though.. my favorite vanilla extracts are Bourbon Vanilla and Madagascar Vanilla. If you read through some of my recipes, you'll notice I often bake with liqueurs and fortified wines, so great to have on hand for intensifying flavors! Some other techniques I think are important to note is sifting the flour. You can push the flour through a fine mesh sieve if you don't have a sifter. If you don't have either, just rub it well between your fingertips to get out all lumps. I also encourage a slow-cook-to-boil rather than a quick-cook-to-boil. You really want the flour to cook out so there is no grittiness. The same as if you were cooking a Béchamel Sauce.

So have fun, enjoy, and Buon Appetito!


I also happened to make some chocolate filling. This was nothing to write home about though, I didn't plan on using the filling for the puffs, I just happen to have made some homemade chocolate pudding from a recipe on the cocoa powder can. It was a little to much cocoa flavored for me.. next time I'm going to use Pierre Herme’s chocolate custard recipe.. that I'm sure will be something to write about! :)

Crema di Pasticceria
(pastry cream)


1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise (not vanilla extract)

3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoons butter

Directions

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the milk and the split vanilla bean; cook till it begins to simmer. Watch carefully so your milk doesn’t scald or you will have a skin on top. If you do notice a skin forming, remove it before you are ready to add it to your egg mixture. Turn heat off.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until creamy pale yellow. You can also do this in a medium size stainless steel bowl with a wire whisk, but beat hard and consistently. (This is how I start my Zabaione when making an Italian custard) Next add the flour and beat hard till well incorporated and it has the texture of a thick paste.

Slowly pour hot milk into egg mixture in a very thin stream whisking constantly to prevent curdling. When incorporated, remove vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds from the pod and stir them into the custard mix. Return custard to pan you heated the milk in and place on medium heat till mixture begins to thicken and come to a soft boil. Stir constantly and mix from bottom of pan to prevent custard from scalding. When it begins to come to a slow boil time it for another minute or so.. custard will be a medium consistency. Turn off heat. 
 
Add the 1 tablespoons of butter and mix well. Scrape the custard into a bowl. Smoothe plastic wrap directly on top of the custard. The first time I read this in directions I was kind of disconcerted thinking I would waste much of the top layer of custard when I pulled it from the top. When refrigerated and cooled, the plastic comes off clean from the top of the custard. No waste! ☺

Look at the richness of this cream and all the beautiful vanilla seeds!

Choux Pastry Puffs
Ingredients
1-cup water
1/2-cup butter (no substitutes)
1-cup all-purpose flour
1/4-teaspoon salt
4 eggs

Directions
In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove puffs to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Cool. Split puffs and remove soft dough.

Under Construction and Anticipation


I don't know what I did.. but I did it!

Have you noticed all the beautiful blog designs out there? Well I have, and like any other red blooded American I too want to keep up with my neighbors and do upgrades to my home (here at DMC) so as not to bring the other property values down in the food neighborhood. So last week I had been trying to play with the layout and design of my blog. I do some painting and graphics.. but alas, they never transfer well when I try to duplicate them in an art program on the computer so I think I'll stick with using a photo from my collection. I finally came up with something I thought I could live with.. temporarily of course, because I change my mind a lot, it's inherent in being a woman you know. Even with color choices and photo picks, I'm still changing the furniture around in my internet home as well as my Tera Ferma home! So today I found a different layout that aloud me to keep the photo's large enough to enjoy. I had to reduce the sizes of my photo's to fit on my pages of the new layout and I didn't quite like the way they were looking, so the search continued, and probably continues on!

For those of you who saw my new layout.. I lost it and all the changes I had made this week. :( Not that I was totally sure I liked it enough to keep.. but I did spend too much time on it and now that time has been for naught.

So in the mean time, here are scrumptious cream puffs for your viewing pleasure. I made these this past weekend after my enjoyment playing with Pate Au Choux. This custard was fabulous and a joining of two recipes to make it rich and thick.. perfect for a filling for these puffs. I don't usually call myself fortunate to be lacking in an ingredient, but I was out of vanilla extract which forced me to take the time to use vanilla beans. Hooray!! I should always be willing to go the extra mile.

So when I finally get my blog together I will share the recipe with you for this custard!
Ciao, abbracci e baci!
xoxo
Laurie

"Gougères"
and Fair Oaks Farms'
Award Winning
"Emmentaler Cheese"


Another cheese has found a permanent place in my list of cheeses to have on hand. Emmentaler Cheese from Fair Oaks Farms is so wonderful and tasty with it's sweet nutty flavor and a faint sharpness that allows it to be used in recipes like this Gougéres. I can also see using this cheese in a fondue as well as a Croque Monsieur where the cheese flavor will be even more enhanced by it's ingredient counterparts.

This Emmentaler cheese is from a collection sent to me by Fair Oaks Farms. This is one of many to win a Blue Ribbon Award for their artisan cheese collection. With an on-sight dairy and a passion to produce the finest "from Grass to Glass™" high quality dairy products, it's no wonder they are a leading source of milk providers to many of the largest and finest companies in the country.

I love working with Pâte à Choux. Recipes that range from cream puffs to cranberry almond chicken puffs, I always look forward to one more ingredient that would inspire a dish that my family would enjoy. In the past I have used Gruyere in the Pâte à Choux but the application was for a Choux Ring. I haven't yet posted a recipe for this dish yet, but it's very yummy and has a beautiful presentation! The two cheeses are similar and can be used interchangeably. Actually, I have a recipe in an Italian cookbook that calls for the Emmanteler Cheese in a Bignè di Formaggio. Emmanteler Cheese is imported greatly to Italy and loved by many Italians from what I have read. This too was surprising but after tasting it I can see the fondness it incurs. By the way, Gougères, or the Bignè di Formaggio in Italian, are not traditionally from Italy. I think the Italians loved these little puffs of pastry that can be filled with so many delicacies and they adopted the "idea". But for this wonderful treat all the splendor belongs to the French!

For these Gougéres I followed Jacques Pépin's recipe. It is a bit different then a typical choux pastry which usually calls for water whereas this calls for milk, but for Gougéres this seems to be the recipe that is most popular among the French.

If you notice in my collage I have an addition of Pancetta in one of the pictures. In my Italian cookbook the recipe calls for Prosciutto. I used Pancetta thinking it wouldn't make much of a difference. It did! Though I drained and dried the oil off of my Pancetta after cooking it, I think it was still too heavy and the puffs were more dense and did not have as much of an airy texture. They were still good but more like a quiche.

Ingredients
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler or Gruyère)
Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher salt) to sprinkle on top

Directions
1. Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.

Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.

Are You Ready To Win?


When you look at fresh homemade pasta's don't you wish you had the tools to create dishes like this at home. Don't you visit your favorite Italian foodie blogs and stare in envy and say to yourself, "I am going to make that.. as soon as I buy a pasta machine, a gnocci board or attachments to make the job easier".

I'm so exited to offer my FIRST contest allowing you the opportunity to be a part of the "pasta recipe fun" and a chance to win a $60.00 gift certificate to the CSN stores..

And for those of you who already own your pasta making tools.. please, still enter!
The contest winner will be able to use the certificate at any of the CSN stores whether it's cookware.com or not.

Stay tuned.. next week I'll announce the details of the Pasta Recipe contest here on DMC. For now.. be thinking of your favorite pasta recipe!

And have a look at some of my homemade fresh pasta's here at
Dalla Mia Cucina!


Basic Egg Pasta Dough Recipe
"Pasta al' Uovo"
(1 pound)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lukewarm water

Directions
Place the flour on a large floured surface.
Make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well.
Add the salt, oil, and water. Beat the mixture in the well with a fork.
Using a fork, gently start to work the flour into the liquid.
Continue until the dough becomes sticky and difficult to work with the fork.
Use your hands to form the rough dough into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Cover with a bowl or towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Proceed with rolling and cutting the pasta according to your recipe

Buon Appetito!!
Laurie

French Baguettes



When you read a recipe and it say's plan on allotting for nine hours to the prep, rising and baking of your item.. believe it!

Saturday I decided on a slow roast in the oven. What would go better with a roast and the beautiful drippings that it produces.. French bread of course! I have made home made bread before, even French Bread, but I have never used Julia's recipe. A while ago I was even a Daring Baker, but I wasn't very good at planning my time and I was one of those who always waited till the last minute to whip up a beautiful dessert or baked good. As much as I loved being in the DB community and being challenged with some of the most beautiful and elaborate desserts I have ever made, I had to bow out gracefully and go at the baking on my own. I don't remember if the "Julia Child's French Bread" recipe came before or after my departure, but it is one recipe I always wanted to attempt. Saturday would be the perfect occasion!

Let me first tell you, I didn't allow myself enough time and our fresh home baked bread wasn't served till much later in the evening. I was even a little impatient for the last rising and forwent the hour and a half last rise and only waited ten minutes before popping these babies in the oven.

Surprisingly, they still turned out wonderful and had the most beautiful chewy crust of any of the French Bread's I have ever made. The crumb I think would have been a little more airy if I had waited the extra hour before I baked them, but my family loved them and wouldn't have known any different.

There were so many recipes to follow online, but the site that I ended up going to for the recipe was at Cooking By The Seat Of My Pants, he has a pdf of the recipe and it makes it so handy to download and print out. Thank you Jerry!

Buon Appetito.. or as our French friends say, Bon Appétit!