Tag Archives: Raisins

Torta di Riso (Rice Cake)

31 May

A light and delicious cake, perfect for a gluten-free diet.
The rice cake is an Italian classic, prepared with some variations in the different regions of Italy The recipe that I am proposing is typical of Emilia Romagna; in the past it used to be prepared only at Easter, but nowadays we eat it all year long. It is too tasty for just one occasion! Actually I like it as a summer dessert because of its fresh lemon taste. The simple recipe with milk and rice can feature a variety of different other ingredients, according to your personal tastes (see note). The rice I use is the Arborio or Carnaroli rice, rich in starch, that gives a smooth texture to this dessert. The traditional recipe calls for some butter (about 3 tablespoons); I omit it to make the recipe lighter. You can serve it as a dessert after dinner, or I also like it as an afternoon snack with a good cup of coffee.

TORTA DI RISO (RICE CAKE)
Preparation time: 1 hour      Cooking time: 45 min.     Servings: 6

Torta riso fetta

INGREDIENTS
950 ml (4 cups) whole milk
200 g (7 oz) Arborio rice
1 vanilla bean
70 g (½ cup) blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
100 g (2/3 cup) raisins
1 lemon, grated rind
130 g (1/3 cup) sugar
3 medium eggs
1 pinch of salt
Rum
Powdered sugar for decoration

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 160 °C.
1. In a small bowl soften the raisins in the rum for about 10-15 min. The amount of rum should be enough to fully cover the raisins
2. Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean. Then remove the vanilla and add the rice. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or more, until the mixture is similar to a “risotto” (pretty dense mixture). Stir often with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and allow to cool
3. As soon as the “risotto ” is cold, add the raisins and rum, almonds, salt and lemon zest
4. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar using an electric mixer until creamy. Add the rice mixture and stir. The batter should be pretty liquid
5. Coat the bottom of a spring form pan (diameter 18 cm, 7 inch) with a disc of baking paper and pour in the mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the surface is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack. As soon as the cake is cool, loosen the cake from the pan by running the blade of a knife around the edges, and then release it. Remove the baking paper. Place on a serving plate and enjoy!

Note: The almonds can be replaced with an equal amount of pine nuts. You can also add 50 g of dried apricots, cut into small pieces. Vanilla can be replaced with a pinch of ground cinnamon. Some recipes use fresh fruit such as pitted cherries. Paola

Advertisements

Pasta con i “Broccoli” (Pasta with “Broccoli”) – Vrocculi Arriminata

27 Apr

This tasty primo piatto (first course) is typical of Sicily, but it’s not uncommon to find variations in the ingredients if you eat it in another province. Perhaps it is better known by its name in Sicilian dialect pasta with vrocculi arriminata, which translated into Italian means pasta with broccoli in the pan. I should specify that in Palermo they call broccoli what, in other parts of Italy, we call cauliflower. This appetizing pasta recipe is prepared with cauliflower sweetened with onion, raisins and pine nuts, and colored with the king of spices, saffron (see pasta with saffron ). The type of pasta which I commonly use is bucatini, because it goes well with this type of sauce.Bucatini is a thick, hollow, spaghettilike pasta. Anyway, spaghetti is a good substitute for this recipe, in case you cannot find bucatini. The taste of this dish, savory and sweet, reminds me of the Arabic traditions. In fact, Sicilian cuisine was strongly influenced by the Arab domination and shares close historical, cultural and “flavorful” ties to it.

PASTA CON I “BROCCOLI” (PASTA WITH “BROCCOLI”) – VROCCULI ARRIMINATA

Preparation time: 25 min. Cooking time : 10 min. Servings: 4

Pasta con i "Broccoli"
INGREDIENTS
340 g (12 oz) bucatini
1 medium cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
80 g (½ cup) toasted pine nuts
80 g (½ cup) raisins
4-5 saffron threads
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Trim the tops of the cauliflower. Wash under running water and cook for 6-8 minutes until al dente. Drain with a slotted spoon. Set aside and keep the cooking water for the pasta
2 . In a pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic at medium-low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Add the anchovies , raisins , toasted pine nuts and the cauliflower. Dissolve the saffron in 50 ml of water in which you cooked the cauliflower and add it to the sauce. Mix (arrimina) with a wooden spoon and cook for 5 minutes. Remove garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper.
3 . Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the cooking of cauliflower you get salty. Cook the pasta al dente for about 10 minutes (follow the cooking time indicated on the package ). Strain and pour into the pan with the sauce. Stir and serve hot .

Note: To give an extra of sweetness, add the ” muddica atturrata ” prepared as follows: in a nonstick frying pan toast 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs over medium heat. When it is well colored remove from heat and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. When oil is well absorbed, add a tablespoon of granulated sugar and serve over the pasta. Paola

Insalata di Songino, Noci e Uva Sultanina (Songino, Nuts and Raisins Salad)

31 Mar

This colorful salad can be either a great side dish for a main course, although the addition of goat’s cheese makes this salad a perfect wholesome, standalone meal, too. I love it after exercising at the gym: it is light and nutritious. The color of nuts and raisins contrast with the bright green of the lettuce and add an exotic flavor to this dish. The dressing , sweet and spicy, is prepared with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard. This mix of flavors goes very well with the taste of songino lettuce.

Songino also known as lamb’s lettuce, has a slight sweetish taste and numerous nutritional properties and health benefits. It is rich in vitamins (A, B and C ) and minerals (phosphorus , potassium, iron and magnesium). It also has diuretic and detox properties, so it is a great choice for cleaning out our bodies in preparation of the summer. Do not forget that nuts are very rich in vitamins (especially vitamin E), minerals and unsaturated fatty acids, therefore an healthy choice too!

INSALATA DI SONGINO, NOCI E UVA SULTANINA (SONGINO, NUTS AND RAISINS SALAD)
Preparation time : 10 min. Servings: 4

Insalata songino

INGREDIENTS
150 g (5.3 oz) lettuce salad
4 tablespoons walnuts
3 tablespoons raisins

Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS
1. In a small bowl prepare the dressing by mixing oil, vinegar, honey , mustard and salt
2. Wash thoroughly and dry the lettuce . This type of salad retains dirt easily, so it must be washed several times. Set aside
3. In a large bowl toss the lettuce, walnuts and raisins (keeping aside a tablespoon of each of these ingredients for garnish) with the dressing. Serve immediately. You can garnish with goat cheese cut into small pieces.

Note: The type of nut is purely personal. I suggest pecans, typical American nuts. They have an intense and buttery flavor, they are my favorite. When you taste pecans, you’ll want to replace walnuts in your diet with them in the future, I guarantee! – Paola

 

 

Pan dei Morti (Bread of the Dead)

28 Oct

The Pan dei Morti are traditional Italian cookies prepared for the Day of Dead (Commemorazione dei Defunti) celebrated on November 2nd, the day following All Saint’s Day (Ognissanti).  On these two holy days Italians honor the souls of deceased relatives and loved ones, and many believe that the spirits return to Earth to visit those ones they have left behind.  In fact, the use of other cookies (amaretti and savoiardi) or left over sweets as ingredients clearly symbolizes the transmutation of the old into the new.  It is also interesting to note that dried fruit and figs, also fundamental in this recipe, were always present in pre-Christian offerings to dead people. Cacao is a modern acquisition to render these sweets as dark as the earth in a burial ground.  In ancient times, honey, browned on the stove with a little butter, was used to get the same result for color and sweetness.  The Pan dei Morti recipe has as many variations as there are regions in Italy, and this particular one is a specialty of my own region, Lombardia.

This version has the advantage of being easy to prepare, but at the same time it is delicious and fun to eat.  The cookies are dense, chewy and moist, with a little crunch from the ground cookies and toasted pine nuts to remind of dead people’s bones.  (My husband remarks that the ghoulish background to these cookies makes them perfect for Halloween, too.)

PAN DEI MORTI (BREAD OF THE DEAD)

Preparation time: 40 min.               Baking time: 15-20 min.

INGREDIENTS
150 g (5-6 oz) dry amaretti cookies
350 g (12 oz) ladyfingers (large Italian savoiardi are best)
130 g (1 cup) blanched whole almonds, toasted
130 g (1 cup) pine nuts, toasted
120 g (4 ¼ oz) dried figs
120 g (4 ¼ oz) raisins, soaked in Vin Santo
300 g (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
300 g (about 1 ½ cups) sugar
10 g (2 teaspoon) baking powder
60 g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 large eggs (4 egg whites and 2 whole eggs)
100 ml (½ cup) Vin Santo
Powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 170°C (350°F)

  1. Toast the pine nuts and the almonds separately for about 5 to 6 minutes on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 170°C (350°F) or stirring constantly in a non-stick skillet on the stove.  Keep separate and set aside
  2. Soak the raisins in Vin Santo
  3. Using a mixer, finely grind the ladyfingers and amaretti cookies, and place them in a very large mixing bowl
  4. Finely grind the almonds, and then separately grind the figs as well.  Add both to the cookie mix (the damp figs may clump together; just add the clumps into the dry ingredient mix). Add raisins.
  5. Sift together the flour and the baking powder, then add to the cookie-almond-fig mixture.  Stir in sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and pine nuts.  Toss until completely blended
  6. Pour the eggs and the Vin Santo over the dry ingredients and mix well until smooth and doughy
  7. Line the baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper
  8. To form the cookies, first flour your fingers.  Scoop out a ball of dough of a size somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball.  Using as little flour as possible flatten the ball into an oblong shape with pointed edges, about 4 ½ -5 ½ inches (12-14 cm) long and about 2 ½ inches (6 cm) wide.  Use just enough flour to work the dough and keep the cookies from sticking to the baking paper.
  9. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving some space between each.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly puffed, with a brown color and crisp look
  10. Dust with powdered sugar sprinkled on top
  11. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.

Note: This recipe makes about 48-50 cookies.  These butter-less cookies are light and pretty healthy, and they are rich in nuts and dried fruits.  Some recipes also call for candied orange peel, another good flavor for this time of year, so feel free to throw in a handful if you wish. This “dead man’s bread” is best eaten fresh, although the cookies keep well for several days, too.  -Paola

%d bloggers like this: