Sicilian Parsley Manicotti

IMG_1933“I have bread, water, and love—what more can a man ask for? How about pasta, wine, and sex.”
Jarod Kintz, The Titanic would never have sunk if it were made out of a sink.

Well well, hope you are in the mood for something delicious.

Like many who have a mixed blood, my husband is no different. He has a weakness for pasta, the sicilian blood in him I guess.

So, in his honor, I decided to post this recipe, his recipe.

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We like to buy the manicotti shells, among other things, in Coluccio’s, an Italian store in Brooklyn.

It is small, cozy. But best of all is the smell. Chestnuts, prosciutto and cheese. It may not sound very good as well, but really it’s great.

Anyway, sorry… I feel I’m getting out of track…

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This is, definitely, a delicious dish with different textures and full of flavor. Hot, so it is perfect for those cold nights, when you want to make your kitchen a rather more cozy place.

So, get the apron, clear your mind, turn up the volume of the music and get ready to start.

::SICILIAN PARSLEY MANICOTTI::

1 pound fresh parsley, stems trimmed and well washed

Kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon

12 manicotti shells

3 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (about 1 pound)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper

::TOMATO SAUCE::

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 28-ounce can whole, peeled, canned tomatoes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Fresh basil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and season generously with salt. In the same large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta shells until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cover the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch ovenproof baking dish with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. In a medium mixing bowl, evenly combine the ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the eggs, and the parsley. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Spoon the cheese mixture into the manicotti shell and line them up in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining sauce, scatter the remaining cheese on top and cover with foil paper. Bake for 30 minutes and remove the foil. Bake for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the oregano and basil, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove and stir in the salt and season with pepper to taste.

DIY PSL

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The surest thing that let you know fall has arrived, needs no introduction.

For you, my pumpkin spice latte recipe!

::PSL::

2 1/4 cups organic soy milk

1/4 cup espresso

2 1/2 tablespoons organic pumpkin puree

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine the pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices in a small saucepan. Whisk in the milk and espresso and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour into two mugs and top with more nutmeg.

Sugar and whipped cream are optional.

Is a very good drink to accompany with Almond Cantuccini.

Controversial Pumpkin Spice Latte

I was recently reading the October issue of the Food Network Magazine, looking for new ideas or recipes, and came across with this article. Apparently, the favorite drink of the fall  is the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte), very famous among Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s customers (meaning, almost everyone in America). Along with the article, there is a recipe and it didn’t seem too bad. Beforehand, I knew that would change something here and there, but keeping it more or less faithful to what the recipe indicated. It was my first time and didn’t want to ruin anything.

I also did an online research to know more about this famous drink, and I found a very interesting article that I wanted to share with you, along with my own version of the PSL.

So, the first link is the article I mentioned before, which is quite interesting. The research was conducted by Vani Hari a.k.a. the Food Babe and her team.

http://foodbabe.com/2014/08/25/starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte/

The second one is, obviously, the response and reaction of a person who does not agree with the above and who also think is “very normal” to find certain things like HFCS  or dyes in the ingredient lists of  certain products.

http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/pumpkinspicelatte.asp

Response from Vani to the previous article

I personally prefer to have the satisfaction of knowing what I’m eating/drinking. Always calms my mind and eases my soul. Dramatic, right?

I think you all know what is my position on these events.

Hope you find this article useful , interesting and thoughtful.

Laura

Apple Crisp Tart

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“At no other time than autumn, does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”                                                                                                                                                      -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne

I don’t think I can say much. This quote basically expresses what I feel in my heart. It’s something magical…

I don’t know about you, but I love the fall. The colors , the leaves falling from the trees , the weather, macchiatos, pumpkins, apples … and,umm… of course, cinnamon.

The fall is romantic and baking becomes much more enjoyable, pleasant.

And that’s why I want to share this recipe. It has a lot of texture. It is a crunchy and tasty tart that you can accompany with your favorite hot beverage.

In my case, I decided to make a bourbon – vanilla ice cream.

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Don’t worry about counting calories. It took me a long time (and tears) understand that to be happy, you should eat what makes you feel good. In my case, baking and know that I can change the recipes I like for a healthier version, makes me feel wonderful.

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::APPLE CRISP TART::

1 cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup nuts (slivered almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts)

4-6 large apples, cored and sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together 1 cup flour. 1/3 cup coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the coconut oil using your hands, until coarse crumbs form. Add nuts and combine.

Toss together the apples with the remaining flour and sugar in a large bowl. Transfer to a baking dish and scatter topping over the apple mixture.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, tent with foil.

 

Spinach & Mozzarella Bites

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Are you feeling like to throw a party?

Not really. I LOVE this ones for Sundays. Breakfast. Dinner…

The truth is, they are good at anytime.

Quite easy to make and your family is going to love it!

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I got my whole wheat pastry dough from an amazing greek store. But if you feel adventurous try and make you own.

::Spinach & Mozzarella Bites::

1 pound filo dough *

500 gr. spinach (previously cooked and cooled)

250 gr. mozzarella cheese, in cubes

1 stick butter, unsalted and melted

1 large egg, beaten

It’s really important to use all-butter puff pastry for this recipe.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet, set aside.

Unfold or unroll three sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Divide in three columns and brush with butter.

Any filo pastry that doesn’t boast about its all-butterness is made of weirdo fats that just aren’t cool.

Place spinach and cheese in the center of each column and gently fold about 1/2-inch of the edges over, creating a perfect triangle. As you fold in, make sure all side are close so the filling doesn’t come out.

Repeat this process until you use all the dough and brush with egg wash from edge to edge.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

* Make sure to take out of freezer at least 5 hours before use. Cover with a damp towel, that way you prevent it to brake.

Whole Wheat American Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells…”

 M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

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In how many ways can you possibly describe your love for bread? 10? 20? 50?

But even if I try to add 100% of intensity to each of the sentences, I might, maybe, come close to understand your love for bread.

Today I dedicate this post to those who consider themselves bread lovers, as my husband. It is dedicated to those who can not conceive breakfast without toast and butter.

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that there are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. Very true if you ask me…

Am not a bread person, but nothing is more delicious than a piece of warm homemade bread after running errands the whole morning, right?

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::Whole Wheat American Bread::

2 packages active dry yeast, previously hydrated in warm water

1/2 cup beet sugar

3 large eggs

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoon salt

57 gr. unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients but 2 and a half cups of flour. Mix well and stir the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough has pulled together. Transfer it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth for 7-10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Deflate the dough and transfer into a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 equal pieces and place into 9×5 loaves pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise, about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 45 minutes.

Coconut Cupcake filled w/ Lemon Curd and Basil Cream Ganache

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Sometimes the struggle, is what makes success even sweeter.

And struggle is the perfect word for me and this cupcake recipe. Maybe was the moment, the day or the flour… Definitely, not a lack of inspiration. I mean, am listening to “Crazy in Love” and thinking about Christian Grey  so…

My attention is disperse right now.

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Let’s go back to the cupcakes. After having ruined a batch, I finally achieved what I wanted.

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Delicious and fluffy small cakes to fill with a homemade lemon curd and to top with a creamy, rich basil ganache.

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My advice to you: Blast some music while you get inspired and surprise your loved one with this little pieces of heaven.

And remember: Once you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it becomes a muffin… And muffins are healthy!

You are welcome!!!

 ::Coconut Cupcakes::

3/4 pound (340 gr.) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups beet sugar

5 extra-large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

7 ounces shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Remove the center (you can use an apple corer) and fill with the lemon curd. Put back the top and cover with the ganache.

::Homemade Lemon Curd::

3 lemons

1 cup sugar

1/4 pund unsalted butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/8 kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

::Basil Cream Ganache::

12 ounces white baking chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

While the chocolate melts in double boiler, add the basil leaves. At the same time, place the bowl and the balloon whisk of your mixer in the freezer. When the chocolate is melted, place all the ingredients together in the bowl and mix until fluffy.

No Bake Lemon Cheescake

 Who doesn’t like summer? I don’t know, but I love it.

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Everything is brighter, colorful, the days are long, hot …

And while some resent this last, I like it, a lot. I know how to move in the heat, under the sun… In a way that only by living your whole life at a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, teaches you.

So, want to share with you this wonderful recipe. Is a soft, melt-in your-mouth, freshening dessert. Perfect for a dinner party or for after a BBQ.

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The fluffy mousse melts in your mouth while the ginger and cinnamon crust gives the final hint. The sour cherry and the lemon peel just make a wonderful explotion of flavors in every bite.

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::No Bake Lemon CheeseCake::

Crust

250 gr. crushed honey grahams

3 tablespoons soft, unsalted butter

1/4 cup beet sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients until combined. Place in a round 8 inches springform pan and press until firm. Bring to the freezer while preparing the filling.

Mousse

300 ml heavy cream

240 ml homemade sweetened condensed milk

8 gr unflavored gelatine, hydrated

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

lemon peel

In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour the heavy cream and condensed milk, and mix until well combined. Simultaneously, add the gelatine and lemon juice, slowly until the mix looks bubbly.

Pour on top of the crust and lemon peel on top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and serve.

 

 

Orzo, Spinach & Feta Cheese Salad

orzo salad

Absolutely the perfect salad for summer, to eat while watching the world cup soccer games or just for any occasion. Healthy, fresh and full with colors!

I know, I know, always looking for recipes to “lose weight” (a mission impossible for me by the way), but what can I tell you…. I have to try no matter what.

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy the summer and this post!

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::Orzo, Spinach & Feta Cheese Salad::

3/4 pound orzo

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 small clove of garlic, minced

pinch of dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3 ounces spinach leaves, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup Kalamata olive, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup scallions, minced

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted.

Garbanzo beans (if desired)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.

 In a small pan, warm oil over medium-low heat. Sauté garlic until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer garlic and whatever oil remains in the pan to a bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and pepper; whisk to combine. Add spinach and toss lightly. Add orzo, olives, capers, feta cheese, scallions, oregano and cumin. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with crumble feta and pine nuts. Refrigerate and serve cold.

 

 

Carimañolas, Buñuelos de Arroz & Pícaros (Cassava Patties, Rice Fritters & Pícaros)

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Another thing to die for!

Don’t know how easy it is for many of you to get yuca (cassava). It is sometimes a little difficult in NYC, but not impossible. I always try to buy fresh, unwaxed, because it takes a lot of flavor.

If you don’t want them fried, no problem. Carimañolas and buñuelos de arroz can be fried oven. Picaros on the other hand, well, would not be picaros if they are not fried.

Carimañolas

You need about 2 pounds of yucca. Peel and put in a pressure cooker for about 10 – 12 mins. If you don’t have pressure cooker is kind of the same, boil some water in a deep pan and cook for about the same time.

One is done, let it cool and grind until you can form a compact mass. Add water gradually if necessary. Form a small circle in your hands, put the filling that you like, and close it.

You can cook immediately or freeze until ready to eat.

Buñuelos de Arroz

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Picaros

You need about 2 pounds of yucca. Peel and put in a pressure cooker for about 10 – 12 mins. If you don’t have pressure cooker is kind of the same, boil some water in a deep pan and cook for about the same time.

One is done, let it cool and grind until you can form a compact dough. Add water gradually if necessary. For this dough, you will need to add sugar, anise and cheese (do not recommend mozzarella, double cream or similar). Mix all together, form a roll and close to form a thread. You can cook immediately or freeze until ready to eat.

Enjoy!