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DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Cantucci

March 31, 2020

Our Recipe Of The Week is Donna Franca's Cantucci!

Cantucci or Biscotti di Prato are crunchy almond cookies from Tuscany.
These almond cookies are very easy to make: you shape the dough into a log and bake it. Then slice the log with a sharp, serrated knife and bake the cookies again. It’s during this step that cantucci dry out and become crispy.

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CANTUCCI:
Ingredients:

  • flour
  • 165 grams (3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest or lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 grams (4.4 ounces) raw unpeeled almonds

HOW TO MAKE:
Heat the oven to 356°F.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Add the eggs, honey, orange zest, amaretto and mix all the ingredients.
Once you have a crumbly, soft mixture, add the almonds.
Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into 2 logs that are approximately 12 inch long, and 2 inch wide.
Wet your hands, it will be easier to shape the dough.
Place the logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or with a silicone mat.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove the logs from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Place a log on a cutting board and using a sharp, serrated knife, cut it diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.
Put the cookies back on the baking sheet and bake them for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the cantucci from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
Store them in a sealed container for several weeks.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Saltimbocca alla Romana

March 22, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is the Saltimbocca alla romana!
Traditional Saltimbocca alla romana consists of slices of veal cooked with slices of Culatello di Zibello PDO and sage.  Whilst there are those traditional Italian recipes that can be time-consuming and also difficult to conquer without the help of some experienced hands, saltimbocca alla romana is luckily not one of them, and is quick and easy to prepare. Serve this meat dish with a mixed salad or, as a second course, following a first of pasta from the Lazio region such as spaghetti alla Gricia or a delicious carbonara.
This recipe is so quick to prepare that it comes in handy as an emergency solution to a family dinner, but moreover it is great as a snack when you are feeling hungry in between mealtimes. This is also an easy meal to prepare on weeknights when you don’t feel particularly keen to cook, as it’s ready in just 15 minutes.

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SALTIMBOCCA ALLA ROMANA
INGREDIENTS:
• 4 slices of veal
• 4 slices of Culatello di Zibello PDO
• 4 sage leaves
• 2 tbs butter
• 1/2 glass white wine
• salt and pepper

PREPARATION:
Pound the veal slices with a meat tenderizer until soft and thin, which also helps to reduce cooking times. Remove any gristle, if present. Gently rinse and dry the sage. Arrange a slice of Culatello di Zibello PDO on top of each slice of veal followed by the sage. Pin the three layers together using a toothpick. 
Melt a knob of butter in a non-stick pan over medium high heat and as soon as it starts to bubble, add the meat carefully and let it sear gently on each side for a couple of minutes to brown the veal and crisp the Culatello di Zibello PDO. Pour some white wine over the meat and let it continue cooking on a medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. 
Serve immediately with some fresh bread.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Mimosa Cake

March 10, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is the Mimosa Cake!

An Italian Mimosa Cake is not only pretty to look at but really delicious to eat. This Cake isn’t just any cake it was made to honour women on March 8th for International Women’s Day.
The first International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, 1946. The Mimosa was chosen by the “Italian Women Association” probably because of the beautiful yellow flowers and the fact that the flower blooms in the beginning of March in Central Italy.
Most believe it was a Roman Female Pastry Chef that invented the Mimosa Cake, she cut up pieces of the cake and sprinkled them on the cake’s surface in an attempt to produce the Mimosa flower.

MIMOSA CAKE

INGREDIENTS
For the Cake
• 5 eggs
• 1 cup sugar 200 grams
• 1 tablespoon baking powder 15 grams
• 2 1/2 cups of flour 300 grams
For the Cream Filling
• 3/4 cup milk 172 1/2 grams
• 3/4 cup cream whipping or whole cream, 172 1/2 grams
• 4 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar 112 1/2 grams
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 2 1/2 grams
• 2 1/2 tablespoons flour 11.7 grams
• FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM FILLING
• 3/4 cup cream whipping or whole cream, 172 1/2 grams
• 1 1/2 tablespoons icing/powdered sugar 22 1/2 grams

HOW TO MAKE IT:
Pre-heat oven to 350° (180° celsius), lightly grease and flour a 7 x 3 inch (18 x 7 1/2 centimeter) round springform cake pan and an 8 inch (20 centimeter) round cake pan.
Beat on medium-low speed eggs and sugar until well mixed (1-2 minutes) add flour and baking powder and continue to beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Pour into greased cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean and dry. Let cake cool completely. Remove the top from the 7 inch cake to make a flat surface (do not toss the cut cake**) then slice cake in 3 layers (set aside),remove the golden crust parts from the top and sides of the 8 inch cake (again do not toss**), then cut into 2 layers and cut each layer into long narrow strips and cut the strips into small square pieces (see photos) set aside.
FOR THE ITALIAN CREAM FILLING
In a medium pot, heat over low the milk and cream, do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to warm. In a medium pot add yolks and sugar, whisk together until combined, then add flour and vanilla, place pot over low heat, add warm milk/cream, whisking continuously until thickened. Remove to a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap (make sure wrap touches the cream mixture) and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM FILLING
In a medium bowl beat until stiff whipping cream (or whole cream) and powdered/icing sugar.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE
To make it easier to assemble place the first layer of cake back into the spring form pan, spread half the Whipped Cream Filling and approximately 1/4 of the Italian Cream Filling on top, place the 2nd layer on top and repeat with fillings, top with third layer and cover the cake with the remaining Italian Cream Filling.
Cover the frosted cake with the small pieces of cake, refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours, overnight is even better. Dust with powdered/icing sugar before serving if desired.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Schiacciata alla Fiorentina

March 3, 2020

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina*
Our Recipe Of The Week is the Schiacciata alla Fiorentina, a sweet flatbread for Carnival!

During Carnival, or Mardi Gras, the schiacciata it appears in every bakery, pastry shop and bar in Florence. There is even a real competition aiming to nominate the best Florentine schiacciata!

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SCHIACCIATA ALLA FIORENTINA

INGREDIENTS:
For the dough
• 2-½ cups flour sifted
• ¾ cup of sugar
• ⅓ cup whole milk , at room temperature
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 3 eggs at room temperature
• 1 large organic orange + zest at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise and seeds scraped

For the decoration
• 3 tablespoons icing sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• For the bottom of the mold
• 2 tablespoons soft butter
• 1 tablespoon flour

PREPARATION:
Preheat convection oven to 350° F.
Whisk eggs, icing sugar and vanilla seeds for 5 minutes using your mixer. Add orange zest and olive oil, and continue beating, at low speed. Add the orange juice and beat for one minute.
Add the milk, and beat for another minute. Mix the baking powder and flour, and gradually incorporate them with a spatula, adding one spoon at a time and making sure they are entirely absorbed before adding the next spoon. Dust butter and flour the bottom and all the sides of a 10x8 inch pan. Pour the batter. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, check if the cake is baked by inserting a toothpick. Unmold and let the cake cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface. Create a fleur-de-lis stencil, put it on the cake and sprinkle cocoa powder.
Gently lift the stencil so that no cocoa powder spills onto the icing sugar.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Tortelli (Carnival sweet)

February 26, 2020

These tortelli are typical of Carnevale in Italy, the famous festival in the days leading up to Lent. Each region, and indeed each family, has its own recipe. They are flavored with anise liqueur, grappa, and lemon zest.

 

TORTELLI 

  • 12 fluid ounces water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1+3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 fluid ounces anise-flavored liqueur
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons grappa
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups lard, or oil

 

HOW TO PREPARE:

Combine water, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in flour until well mixed. Return saucepan to medium heat; cook and stir until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir anise-flavored liqueur, sugar, grappa, and lemon zest into dough. Cool dough to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Beat egg yolks into the cooled dough until well mixed. Cover bowl with a clean towel and let rest for 3 hours. Beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form; gently fold into the dough until no white streaks remain.
Heat lard in a heavy saucepan over medium heat or in a deep fryer. Form dough into balls the size of golf balls; fry in the hot lard in batches, until doughnuts are lightly browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Bagna Cauda

February 18, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is our Bagna Cauda!

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Literally translated as "hot bath," this dipping sauce for vegetables often appears in many Italian homes as part of the Christmas Eve buffet. Although cardoons (an edible thistle related to the artichoke but resembling celery) are traditional, celery makes a fine substitute and any combination of vegetables will do. In Italy, the routine goes like this: Vegetable pieces are dipped into the sauce (a fondue-style fork will help) and then eaten, with a slice of bread held underneath to catch the drippings. Once the bread is soaked with sauce, it's eaten, too. Then everyone starts over. It's fun for a party appetizer no matter where you live.

BAGNA CAUDA

INGREDIENTS:
• 3/4 cup olive oil
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 12 anchovy fillets
• 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
• Assorted fresh vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 1-pound loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 2-inch sections

PREPARATION:
Blend oil, butter, anchovies and garlic in processor until smooth. Transfer oil mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, stirring, occasionally. The sauce will separate. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce into fondue pot or other flameproof casserole. Set pot over alcohol burner or gas table burner to keep warm. Serve with vegetables and bread.
Buon Appetito!

 

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Pastrizzi

February 11, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is the Maltese Pastrizzi!

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Maltese Pastizzi are the Maltese version of an empanada, hot pocket, calzone, etc. You get the picture. Dough on the outside and a filling of your choice on the inside. The most popular fillings are ricotta cheese (called pastizzi tal-irkotta) , curried ground beef with peas, or curried peas (called pastizzi tal-piżelli).

PASTRIZZI

INGREDIENTS:

For the dough:
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup of water
• 2 tbs oil
• pinch of salt
• use Crisco to rub the dough.

For the filling:
• 30 oz of ricotta
• 1/2 cup Parmesan
• 1/4 cup mozzarella
• pinch of parsley, salt and pepper

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the dough ingredients all together until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and is elastic. Take it out of the bowl and rub it sparingly with Crisco. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes and then put it into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

 

When the dough is ready to be worked. Lay it on a cold counter top. Because the dough has been rubbed with Crisco, you won’t need to flour your surface. Cut the dough in half and work one half first. You will want to stretch and roll your dough into a thin and long rectangle. Then rub down again with Crisco. Now you roll the dough. This is what give the dough it’s flakiness.
Once it is rolled. Set aside and roll the second half of the dough you had set aside into a rectangle.
You will then set your rolled up dough on top of your new rectangle at its edge.
And then roll that together. Lay it in a coil. Freeze it until almost hard so it’s easier to cut and work with in a bit.
For the ricotta filling, you will have to mix 30 ounces of ricotta with Parmesan cheese, a bit of shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parsley, salt and pepper.
Now it’s time for assembly: first cut a slice of your dough. Take your slice of your dough and place it between two pieces of plastic wrap. You will want to see the interior layers facing up. Roll into a circle shape. Then you will fold one side over until it meets the edge of the other side. Lay onto a cookie sheet and and seal.
Place the pastizzi in at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until brown.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Spaghetti with Meatballs

February 4, 2020

Our Recipe of the Week is Donna Franca's Spaghetti with Meatballs!

Spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti with meatballs is an Italian-American dish consisting of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs.
It is widely believed that spaghetti and meatballs was an innovation of early 20th-century Italian immigrants in New York City, who had access to a more plentiful meat supply than in Italy.

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SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 large package (1½ pounds) of Barilla thick spaghetti
• ½ pound of ground veal or lean beef
• ½ pound of ground lean pork
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
• ½ cup of grated Parmigiano cheese
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• ½ teaspoon of ground coarse black pepper
• 2 slices of Italian bread soaked in milk
• ½ cup of olive oil
• 5 cups of tomato sauce

HOW TO PREPARE:
In a large bowl, mix the meat with parsley, salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Add the bread, after squeezing out the excess milk. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs; and then add them to the meat mixture in the large bowl. Take one large tablespoon of meat and roll it in your hand to form a small ball. Repeat this for each meatball.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil; and pour in the meatballs. Do not fry them; just cook them for 5 minutesby turning them around. Place the meatballs on a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil before you put them in the sauce. The meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce.
In a saucepan of salted water, cook the pasta al dente. Strain the pasta, and pour it into a large platter. Mix it with sauce, and sprinkle some grated Parmigiano cheese over it. Decorate the platter with the meatballs. Buon appetito!
 

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Fettuccine Cacio e Pepe

January 28, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Fettuccine Cacio e Pepe!

Fettuccine Cacio e Pepe

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 package of fettuccine egg pasta
• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon of coarse black pepper
• ⅓ cup of light cream
• ½ cup of grated parmigiano
• salt to taste

HOW TO PREPARE:
In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the light cream, pepper, salt, and most of the grated cheese. Mix everything for 3 minutes. Boil the fettuccine pasta “al dente.” Strain and pour the pasta into the fry pan. Mix everything quickly over a light flame. Pour the pasta in a large platter and finish it with the rest of the grated cheese and the coarse black pepper.
Buon appetito!

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DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Lasagne

January 20, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Lasagne!
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Lasagna (for 6 people)

INGREDIENTS:
• 12 ounces of fresh, lasagna pasta (can be purchased at supermarkets)
• 2 cups of cooked ragùsauce
• 2 cups of cooked spinach
• 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
• 1 stick of butter
• 2 cups of besciamella (béchamel)

HOW TO PREPARE:
First of all, prepare the besciamellamilk sauce. Pour 3 cups of milk in a pan; mix in one stick of butter, 6 tablespoons of white flour, salt to taste. Bring the ingredients to a boil on medium heat, constantly stirring the milk sauce. When the sauce starts to thicken (in about 3 minutes), remove the pan from the stove to cool the mix.In a large baking Pyrex pan rubbed with soft butter, put a layer of lasagna, cover it with a light layer of ragù, a layer of besciamella, a layer of spinach and sprinkle over a handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the procedure to the last piece of lasagna. Cover the top with some ragù sauce, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, besciamella, and a few cubes of butter. Bake the lasagna at 365 degrees for 25 minutes. I am sure you will enjoy the results!
Buon appetito!

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