Tag Archives: Pecans

Albicocche Ripiene con Caprino e Noci (Apricots Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Pecans)

16 Jul

Fruit is the real star of this recipe which, although very simple, is exquisite and perfect for a tasty summer aperitif. This should hardly be called a “recipe”; you just assemble three ingredients: apricots, fresh goat cheese and nuts. The result is extraordinary!: colorful and tasty. The slightly acidic taste of goat cheese goes well with the apricot’s sweet taste and the crunch of the walnuts. You can enjoy this dish at room temperature, this enhances the apricots’ delicate aroma. Apricots are one of the summer’s symbols, rich in vitamin A, C, PP, minerals and dietary fiber, and for those who enjoy being in the sun, offers some additional natural protection. In fact, the high content of pro-vitamin A stimulates the production of melanin, the substance responsible for tanning and skin protection from the sun.

Preparation time: 10 minutes                            Servings: 4

Albicocche con Caprino
6 apricots
160 g (6 oz) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
18 pecan halves or walnuts

1. Wash the apricots under running water, dry them, cut them in half and remove the core
2. In a bowl, work the goat cheese until it is creamy.  Chop 6 walnut halves and add to the cheese. Stir
3. Fill the center of each apricot generously with cheese mixture and nuts. Decorate by putting a walnut half in the center of each.

Note: When buying apricots make sure they are firm but ripe. In winter you can substitute fresh apricots with dried ones.-Paola


Datteri Ripieni con Mascarpone e Noci (Stuffed Dates with Mascarpone Cheese and Nuts)

6 Apr

This is a simple, simply delectable recipe that you can make as a tasty appetizer to serve in a special occasion.  This is certainly a Mediterranean-inspired dish, a succulent combination of flavors, creamy and caramely, that you can easily get addicted to. The date tree originated around the Nile and Euphrates rivers of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Now, however, the date palm grows in warm climates on all continents.  Wonderfully delicious, dates are one the most popular fruits, packing lots of fibers, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals; they are an excellent source of iron.  I love dates: by themselves, stuffed or in sweets.

Preparation time: 10 minutes                                       Servings: 4

Datteri con mascarpone2_small

10 large dates
150 g (about 6 oz) fresh mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon whisky or bourbon
10 pecan or walnut halves

1. Make a slit in the center of each date.  Remove the pit
2. In a medium bowl combine mascarpone and whisky
3. Fill center of each date generously with the mascarpone cheese mixture and place a pecan halve over the filling.

Note: I think that Middle Eastern dates are the best, and I prefer large dark dates to the smaller, pale-brown ones that are commonly found.  You can store dates in a cool place, in an air-tight container, where they keep well for several months.  You can substitute the mascarpone cheese and whisky with either sweet Gorgonzola or brie, for a non-alcoholic version that is just as tasty.  -Paola

Terrina di Gorgonzola, Fichi, Noci e Marsala (Gorgonzola Cheese, Figs, Nuts and Marsala Wine Terrine)

27 Jan

Gorgonzola terrine is an elegant recipe that you can serve at a buffet or as an appetizer, either with crackers or Italian ciabatta bread, and accompanied by nice glass of fruity white wine or an aged Port wine.  This delight is also suitable as a cheese course in an important dinner.  The pungent and distinct Gorgonzola flavor blends well with the sweetness and tenderness of the figs and the crunchy flavor of the nuts.  This is a rich recipe, but there also a healthy side to it, of course!!!!.  In fact figs are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals while walnuts, in addition to vitamins and minerals, also pack high amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which as we know is beneficial to keeping your heart healthy and your cholesterol low.  (At least this is something to balance out the gorgonzola!)  With Italy’s reputation as the country of love and passion, it’s no wonder that a popular legend ascribes the origin of Gorgonzola cheese to a love story.  One evening a young boy working as an apprentice in a dairy factory neglected his job, because he was “distracted” by a visit from his girlfriend and forgot to tend to his daily task.  The next morning he found the milk curds covered by mold!  He tried to cover his negligence mixing the curd from the day before with a new batch.  He didn’t get rid of the mold, but the result was a new cheese never produced before and that now enjoys a solid and devoted following.  This is, of course, only a legend to lend a little extra passion to this delicious cheese, which is made by adding a species of mold to fresh curd from whole pasteurized cow’s milk.  It was already being produced in the Middle Ages, and its name comes from the town of origin, Gorgonzola, to the east of Milan.  Nowadays several cities in Lombardy and a few in Piedmont are the main centers of Gorgonzola production.  During these cold winter days I would also suggest enjoying sweet Gorgonzola spread on warm polenta. (for more on polenta, see the Brasato al Barolo con Polenta recipe https://passionandcooking.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/brasato-al-barolo-con-polenta-breased-beef-in-barolo-wine-with-polenta/ ).

Preparation time: 40 minutes + 3-4 hours refrigeration                         Servings: 6-8

Tortina zola small

10-12 dried figs
½ cup dry Marsala wine
400 g (14 ounces) sweet Gorgonzola (dolce) cheese
280 g (10 ounces) goat ricotta cheese
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) + 4-5 nuts to garnish
80 g (3 ounces) mascarpone cheese

1.Finely slice the figs and soak in the Marsala in a small bowl for at least 30 minutes
2.Line the inside of a loaf pan with baking paper, allowing it to extend amply beyond the edge of the pan.  Divide the gorgonzola into 3 equal parts, remove the crust and place a gorgonzola cheese layer (about 1 cm, ½ inch thick) into the pan.  (I use a regular loaf pan as a form, filling only one end of the pan.)  Cover the gorgonzola with half of the figs, then place half of the ricotta cheese on top (about 1 cm, ½ inch thick).  Add half of the nuts on top of the ricotta
3.Repeat the same procedure, and finish with the third Gorgonzola cheese layer
4.Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
5. Remove the plastic wrap and lift the terrine carefully from the pan holding the baking paper.  Place the terrine on a serving plate and remove the baking paper.  Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of mascarpone and garnish with some nuts
6. Let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature, then serve in slices. 

Note: You can store the left over terrine (if there is any!!!) in the refrigerator for one day in plastic wrap.  (Fresh ricotta does not keep very well once opened)  Anyway this recipe is tastier when it is eaten the same day it’s prepared.  There are two types of Gorgonzola: sweet Gorgonzola (dolce) and aged Gorgonzola (piccante, or zesty).  The first one has a distinct but mild flavor and a creamy texture, while the second one has a stronger taste and a hard, crumbly consistency.  You can freeze sweet Gorgonzola cheese, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for a few weeks.  -Paola

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