Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tiramisu, My-misu, Franca-misu...its all good-misu

Hello Vanillabeaners!

For my bridal shower, I had the opportunity to see Chef Franca Mazza in action. My shower took place at Atelier Franca Mazza at the Marche 440 in Laval. You can either attend one of her cooking classes where she explores different themes such as appetizers for instance, or fois gras... can have a private dinner there with your friends (with or without cooking instruction). I highly recommend this to anyone who loves good food and wants to try something new.

At my shower she and her suchef Pino showed us how to make her version of a Tiramisu. It is made with green tea instead of coffee.

Here it is:

Franca's Green tea & Strawberry Tiramisu


-2 cups of 35% cooking cream (yikes!! - yeah but what the heck did you think it was made
-500G of Mascarpone cheese
-60ML of Gagliano liqueur
-1 + 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
-2 vanilla beans worth of seeds (scrape them out of the pod with a sharp knife)
-4 cups of steeped green tea
-12 ladyfinger cookies
-1 cup of sliced Strawberries.


Using an electric mixer, combine cream, mascarpone, Gagliano liqueur and sugar. (it should be pretty stiff but not as much as plain whipped cream would be. This mixture is heavier. - As long as its not liquidy)
Scrape the vanilla beans and add seeds to mixture.
Dip ladyfingers quickly in green tea and start layering putting the cookies at the bottom.
Add strawberries and top with cream mixture - repeat and finish with cream.

That's it!!

NOW...I'm more of a traditional tiramisu kinda' girl....actually to be completely honest - I never really liked Tiramisu at all but if I gotta' have it, it has to be with coffee - like my mother makes it (and DaEmma's but we won't talk about my mother doesn't like me saying that)

So I followed Franca's recipe but substituted the green tea for coffee and the liqueur with Kahlua or Irish Cream. (I always make a mistake and call it Irish Spring for some reason. DO NOT USE IRISH SPRING - lol sounds like the warning on my hairdryer "Do not use while sleeping" lol)

Also, I only put strawberries on top. (I did not add them to the layers.)
Then I grated some chocolate over-top and garnished with mint leaves.

I made individual ones in glasses, they looked pretty but they were wayyy too much for one person - lol.

I really want to try Banana-misu - my friend David Ialenti gave me the idea. I'll keep you posted!!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Newlywed Pizza continued...Calzone con Bietole e Olive

Calzone con Bietole e Olive

Use 1/2 of the basic pizza dough for 1 calzone.

For the filling
1+1/2 lbs of Swiss chard or fresh spinach 
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (center removed)
3/4 cup of pitted black olives, halved
1/2 cup of fresh whole mozzarella drained and diced ( i also mixed in Tallegio cheese)
1/4 lbs (110g) of Speck or prosciutto crudo
Salt and pepper - to taste
(Optional) A pinch of chili pepper flakes

2bsp olive oil to oil pan
Coarse corn flour, to sprinkle over oiled pan

To top the calzone
1 garlic clove, minced
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp crumbled try oregano leaves
(Optional) 1/4 tsp of hot chili pepper flakes
2 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 450

Remove stems from the chard or spinach and place the leaves in a bowl of cold water. 
Wash thoroughly, changing the water several times.
Bring a stock pot of cold, salted water to a boil 
Drain the chard and add to the pot
Cook uncovered until soft, over medium heat
Drain and squeeze excess water from the greens
Finely chop the greens
Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the chard and cook for 1 minute. 
Lower the heat to medium, stir in the garlic and olives.
Season with salt and pepper
add chili flakes if using
Stir thoroughly and remove from heat. Let cool

Roll out the douch into a 16 inch or 40 cm disk.
Place the chard mixture over half of the circle (beause you're going to have to flip the other side over it)
Leave about 1-inch border clear in order to later seal the calzone. 
Place the mozzarella and sliced prosciutto over the chard. 
Fold the dough over the mixture, then pinch the edges of the calzone with your fingertips to seal it.

Oil a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse corn flour. Place the calzone on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the calzone with the garlic and oil.
Sprinkle the dried oregano and hot chili pepper flakes (if using) 
Insert the rosemary pieces evenly along he border. 

Using a sharp knife, make three diagonal slits on the calzone.

Bake until crisp and golden (about 35-40 min)
Remove from the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. 
Cut into slices and serve, preferably hot.

yield: 6 - 8 servings.

Starved in Paris + Newlywed Pizzas

Hello Vanilla-beaners!

Oh! Its been a while!  Sorry I've been absent for so so long. I was planning my wedding and I wasn't cooking much at all! It was Mc Donald's  or Pizza or St-Hubert...I was so stressed.

My wedding was one of the most wonderful days of my life. I couldn't have even dreamed that up!

Then I went to Paris for my honeymoon. It was absolutely breathtaking, wonderful and romantic- especially at night. Ooh-la-la.

On the other hand, our food experience there was not good. You're surprised...I know..
They say breakfast isn't their thing..Its a croissant and that's it.  Well, lunch isn't their thing either apparently. Supper is sometimes their thing, if you're lucky enough to discover the right place.
We found that you had to pay big bucks to eat as well as we do here. We were going crazy- there was no variety. There were a whole lot of crepe restaurants and food stands that's for sure,  which is wonderful but I can't eat that all the time..My husband didn't even want to eat ONE!  Guys don't eat crepes apparently:)  We had a pizza at a Bistro on Champs D'elysses but it was oddly soggy. We affectionately call it our puddle pizza.
Also, It seemed that every single place which served food, served "Croque Monsieur" or "Croque Madame". This is basically a baked ham sandwhich with melted cheese on top. Croque madame is the equivalent , but with an egg on top. I know, you're thinking..."That's not so bad"- but it was bizarre...these things were EVERYWHERE! As a result, we had it one too many times. Its been a running joke for me and my husband...Even on the boat ride on the Seine river, guess what they were serving as an onboard snack?  We went to one place, late in the day. We were dead tired and starving! There were a few "ok" things on the menu, so I tried to order a salad with ham in it (they freakin' looove ham too)....the waiter replied with his finger pointed to the menu items " We don't have this, this, nor this - Il nous reste seulement le Croque Monsieur et le Croque Madame". lol.. I just stared at him for a few moments and said,  "D'accord...un Croque Monsieur s'il vous plait". 

I was in the Twilight Zone.

No wonder people are slim there.
pfft...Don't even get me started on the coffee! It was bad. Cafe Americano, Cafe regulier avec lait froid, lait chaud, espresso, cappucino....It didn't matter what it was called! They all tasted the same.

Ah, we had to live on love...(just kidding)..we lived on random snacks and held out for supper time.

I'm sure that when we went for drinks before dinner at our hotel bar, the barman noticed that we savagely devoured those little cheese sticks, olives and nuts that were served as an accompanying snack.
"Who are deez animalzz" lol 

 (Seriously, we did discover a few restaurants worth mentionning. There's a gem of a restaurant called La Societé, a weird one called Le Derriere..(I call it the Michael Sera restaurant because of the mismatched decor and ping pong table in the center of the restaurant - Random!) and we there was a super snob, super-chic one too called L'Ambroisie.)

This is Michael Sera: 

For lovers of France...Don't be offended, I know that outside of Paris life is very different and so is the food. I'm know its wonderful and on my next trip, I will go exploring outside of the city.

Anyway, I came back wanting to go to every restaurant we know I also wanted to cook again!

So, now I'm settled and relaxed in my new beautiful life and I can cook my heart out!

I was looking through my faithful cookbooks to see what recipe was going to inspire me this week. Pizza is one of my weaknesses. So, in my Maria Loggia cookbook, I found a recipe for basic pizza dough and a recipe for a calzone stuffed with Swiss Chard (Bietole), olives..and other tasty things..(see next post for this recipe)

I usually buy my dough from the bakery but I don't have to anymore. This recipe is easy, feels like you can't fail at it. It browns nicely and is super elastic-y.

 Basic Pizza Dough
- 1+1/3 cup of warm water. (max 115 F or 45 C)
- 1tsp of active dry yeast
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp of salt
- About 3 +3/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour. ( I used a bit of "00" flour mixed with the all purpose)

In a measuring cup  blend water , yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy (5 min).
Stir in the oil and salt. Put 3 cups of the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Mix the yeast mixture and and stir to blend (dough will be sticky)

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking (5-8 minutes) (you may not need all of the flour)
Form into a ball.
Oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning it once to coat the ball
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm area until doubled in size. (1hr to 1hr1/2)

Once risen, punch down the dough, knead into a ball and return to the same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise again for another 45 min.

Yeild: 2 calzoni or 4 small pizzas.

Read my next post: It is a recipe for a Calzone stuffed with Swiss Chard, olives, cheese, and more, - it was mouthwatering.

Side note:
I made a white pizza with sausage and potato, olives, a tiny bit of minced anchovy, hot pepper and a sprinkle of mozzarella.

The cheese browned too much - but it was darn good!