Profiteroles..the result of a rainy Saturday

The best way to spend time during a rainy week end afternoon is making a cake, that afterward will be enjoyed as a fair rewards for the effort. Browsing in the internet I came across a recipe of profiterole which looked quite easy and I decided to go for it.  First step is to make the choux pastry.

Ingredients for the pastry:

100g of Butter

250ml of water

120g of “00” flour

4 eggs

6g of sugar

6g of salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.  For the choux pastry, place the water, sugar and butter into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted. Turn up the heat, then quickly pour in the flour and salt all in one go. Remove from the heat and beat the mixture vigorously for around 3 minutes until a smooth paste is formed. Once the mixture comes away from the side of the pan, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. At this point add one at the time the eggs while mixing the pastry until all the eggs have been absorbed by the mixture.

Using a piping bag and plain 1cm/½in nozzle, pipe the mixture into small balls in lines across the baking sheet. Put the tray in the oven and let it cook for 15-20 minutes at a temperature of 200C. Low the temperature to 190C and cook for 15-20 minutes longer until golden brown.

Ingredients for the filling

Although for the filling you might simply use whipped cream, I decided to try something different. A combination of custard and whipped cream. So:

For the custard:

4 eggs yolk

150g sugar

500ml Milk

40g of 00 flour.

Vanilla flavouring

Preparation

Start heating 3/4 of the milk plus the vanilla flavouring to hit and let boil gently. Mix together the eggs yolk  and the sugar, until the sugar is dissolved. At this point add all the flour, which you before sifted. Mix everything together while pouring into the mixture the 1/4 put on the side before. Once you obtain a smooth mixture add the hot milk and keep steering.  Put the whole mixture back on a gentle fire and steer frequently until you have a smooth and creamy custard of the consistence you’d like. Leave it to cool in a bowl covering with wrapping film.

While the custard is cooling down, whip the fresh cream adding sugar and vanilla flavour. Mix the custard and the cream together. I did more or less 60% custard and 40% whipped cream.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Sauce

300g dark chocolate or a mix between milk and dark

400ml single cream

100ml milk

10g corn flour

Preparation

Heat the single cream and the milk until start boiling, add the chocolate which has been previously chopped. Steer the mixture and sift in the corn fluor and keep steering to avoid the formation of lumps. Leave the chocolate sauce to cool down for a couple of hours in the fridge if you decide to serve the profiteroles cold, or use it straight away.

Once the filling is ready and he profiteroles are cold, use a piping bag to pipe the cream into the profiteroles. Serve in a small plate and pour the warm chocolate sauce on the top.

It is an easy but long recipe as several preparations are required. Or probably it was just me that took long time to make it.

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Brixton Market

If you are a foodie in London you must pay a visit to Brixton Market. The market sell a wide range of food and however it’s best know for its African and Caribbean produce, it has developed in the years lovely little place where to eat at anytime of the day. Wide is the offer for fresh fish, fruits and also meat.

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Homemade bread

Making bread at home is one of these thing I really enjoy doing: it’s fun, it is healthy and first of all the homemade bread taste far better of any supermarket one (if you chose the right recipe and/or technique, though). You might think that bread it’s just flour, water and yeast. However it’s much more than this: several are the variables which influence the final result. First of all the flour: it must be a strong one, meaning with an high content of gluten. You can choose a white one or a combination of wholemeal and strong white flour. Yeast: I used a really small amount of dry yeast. Some use a fresh homemade yeast (a whole school on this), which give that extra kick to the dough. Last but not least the time and conditions of the rising process. I start making the dough (see details below) on Saturday afternoon, left to rise for 10/12hrs, then after kneading the dough again, left to rise for further 2 hours.

My main source of inspiration was  this blog; although in Italian, is very clear and easy to follow thanks to the video.

INGREDIENTS:

200g strong white flour

180g wholemeal flour

225 -250g of water (room temperature)

1g of dried yeast

6g of salt

HOW TO:

In a bowl start with mixing the two flours, add the salt. Dissolve the yeast in water at room temperature, add into the flour and start mixing. Gradually add the rest of the water to the mix and keep kneading the the dough, which will be wet and sticky, but it’s ok! Actually it’s a good sign. Leave the dough to rise in the bowl inside the oven with the light on. Add in the oven a small container with water in order to increase the level of humidity for a better result in the rising process.

After 12/14 hours gently remove the dough  from the bowl, sprinkle a surface with some flour and fold the dough a couple of times onto itself, put the dough on a baking tray, cover it and leave to rise for a further 1 or 2 hrs.

In the main time switch the oven on at 230 degrees. Put a small container with water to create some steam which will improve the quality of the bread. Leave to cook for 30-35 minutes.

This time the results have been satisfactory, however it is difficult with the bread to obtain identical results every time. A small difference in temperature during the rising process, for instance, might affect the final result. But in this occasion I was happy with my homemade bread!

Blogs where I took my inspiration from this time:

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Where it all starts

Everybody has a place that you feel like home or for whatever reason you feel particularly close to. In my case it’s also the place where my passion for food started. I am talking about my parents native city: Civitanova Marche. Civitanova is a small town on the Adriatic coast in the Marche Region.

Many define the Marche as the new Tuscany because as Tuscany has lovely countryside, endless number of small towns and villages situated in the colourful hills, a prosperous agriculture, amazing food and wines. The coast present lovely beaches and not far away mountains of the Appennino worth a visit. I could go on and on enhancing all the beauties of the region but I rather prefer showing few pictures taken during my last visit during the summer, probably the best season to visit the region.

Furthermore Marche is a good option for the fashion lovers. So many famous brands for the high end clothing market have their HQ in the region. Some of them are already famous abroad, such as Tod’s and Hogan. Others, as Prada or Dolce and Gabbana, are producing their clothes and shoes in the area outsourcing their productions to small local companies, which do not have the resources to compete in the market with their own brands.

Competion is though especially from Chinese companies, so the local companies put together their force to compete in the global market. This is what a project called in-outlet is trying to do. As it can be read in their website: ” in-outlet is a guide, which aim is to make its readers aware of shopping proposals, to give directions where to grasp good deals. The guide includes artistic, cultural and rural proposals of a territory that attracts more and more tourists every year.” In-outlet has also an online shop called in-outlet village, which allows you to buy online quality products (Clothing, footwear, bags and accessories and food & wine) directly from the producer . In other words, you can have a slice of Marche Region anywhere you are.

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Santa Maria Pizza

From time to time I really fancy to eat a good pizza (who doesn’t?). But I am quite demanding when it comes to pizza (or any other food..really!!) so I have been investigating for a while, reading reviews by bloggers or experts to find the right place. Every review agreed on one place called Santa Maria Pizza, so the deciosion was taken.

The only negative side of the reviews was that it is not possible to book a table and people could cue for long time, killing sometimes in the next door pub. Aware of this, we decided to visit the Pizzeria at a rather weird time, not for lunch neither for dinner but late in the afternooon around 6 pm. I was amazed that at that time just few tables were occupied.

Santa Maria is a very tiny and very cosy place in Ealing (they now opened a new branch in Kensal Rise called Sacro Cuore), the staff is very friendly and the whole atmosphere is exceptionally warm and very italian. It looks like a corner of Naples in London. The menu is simple: mainly pizza, some starters, few side dished and a couple of dessert. This is the way I like the menu’: it’s easy to read, simple but at the same time rich in choices.

The main character is the PIZZA. Allow me the capital letters because it is really outstanding, the best I had since long time. All the topping are truly Italian or Napolitean, as the owners. But going back to the pizza, I had one called “San Giuseppe” with Napolitean sausage, Bufalo Mozzarella and Friareielli (Wild Broccoli) and my wife had the calzone: a folded pizza filled with fresh ricotta, mozzarella and napolitean sausage. The pizzas look big but the dough is so light that you can eat the whole pizza without even realising it and without feeling full.

The service is very good and fast..you will receive your pizza sooner than expected, also because the tiny pizzeria is quickly getting busy expecially around 7 o’clock.

This Pizza was priceless for me and generally is on the economic side. Prices start from £5.45 and the whole meal for two people, including drinks but not service charge, costs less than £30. A real deal.

Since I tried this pizza I don’t want to eat pizza anywhere else, even though I am tempted to try the rest on the list of Timeout review.

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Fresh Egg Pasta..a typical Sunday in Italy

In Italy Sundays is the day when many family get together, the granma’ makes the fresh pasta, either tagliatelle, tortellini or any shape.

Last Sunday, fresh from a trip to the home land, I woke up and I was keen to make something for me special, in honour of old memories. So I decided to put together a couple of eggs, 200 gr of flour and all the strengths one can have on a Sunday morning, to work energetically the dough for 15 minutes or more.


Ingredients:

For every egg used 100 gr of flour need to be added.

How to do it:

Place the flour in a wooden board, or if you don’t have it just use any clean surface, as I did. Create a hole in the centre of the flour and brake the eggs, adding a pinch of salt. Start beating the eggs while collecting small amounts of flour from the sides. Add gradually the flour to the eggs until obtaining a dough which will need to be worked for 15 minutes until smooth.

Wrap the dough in cling film  and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Start flattening the dough with a rolling machine, if you have one, or by hands, as in my case. Keep working the dough until 1 mm thin. Dust the result of the rolling process with some flour and roll it up. Cut in small pieces 0.5 cm wide to obtain tagliatelle or larger if you want to have some pappardelle.

Note that the same dough could be used for different shapes: lasagne and cannelloni, ravioli or tortellini (if filled with meat or veggies) and many more.

The tagliatelle are good with ragu’ di carne but also with a fish sauce or simply with some fresh tomato and basil sauce.

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Fruit tart

After a well deserved short holiday in Italy and a couple of kilos gained during the short break it’s time to get back to the normal life: no more sun or beach, neither the delicious food always available in every corner. But life goes on and a trip to the home land always comes with plenty of inspirational recipes, fresh ideas and a lot of energy.

Looking my grandma’s in the kitchen, trying to steal secrets, it is every time a huge source of inspiration, it’s like going to a cooking school with chefs that have been preparing the same recipes for the last 60 years or so. It’s priceless.

This is her recipes for a tart with strawberries and custard cream. In other words, it was my attempt to make a fruit tart according to her bespoken recipe.

It doesn’t take long to make it and the result is worth a bit of waiting. All you need for the base are the following ingredients:

170 gr. of butter

300/400 gr. 00 flower

100 gr. sugar

3 eggs (2 whole eggs and 1 yolk)

For the cream:

1 yolk

1 big spoon of sugar

1 glass of milk

1 spoon of flower

Vanilla flavour

How to do it:

Prepare the flower leaving an empty space in the middle where the butter and the sugar will be mixed together before adding the eggs. Once the eggs have been added work the dough until obtain a soft and slightly sticky mass. Leave the dough to rest for half an hour in the fridge.

While the dough is resting in the fridge prepare the cream: mix the yolk and sugar, add the milk and the flower. Add vanilla flavour and cook at low fire mixing continuously clockwise. Cook until the mixture will become thicker.

Stretch the dough and cut in small circles, placing them in a cooking trays for muffins. Cook the base for a 15/20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180°C. Once the bases are ready pure some of the cream on the top; chop some strawberries and dispose nicely on the top of the tart.

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