Mozzarella In Carrozza

If you like grilled cheese, then you’ll love mozzarella in carrozza, Italy’s version of the iconic American sandwich. The dish — melted mozzarella cheese hugged by two slices of crunchy deep-fried bread — comes from the Campania region and is frequently found as street food in Naples. Mozzarella in carrozza translates to “mozzarella in a carriage” and the origins of the dish vary, depending on your source.

Some say it’s called that because the bread originally used was round, like the wheels of a carriage. Others say it’s because the  strands of melted mozzarella that pull from the sandwich resemble the reins of a horse and carriage. Still others claim that it was invented by housewives in Southern Italy as a means to use up leftover mozzarella and stale bread. Whichever version is true doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s delicious and that you try it. Lots of people use a loaf of square white bread, with the crusts removed, but for this recipe, I used a loaf of Italian bread that produced slices more oval than square.

I trimmed the crusts and placed a piece of mozzarella in the center, with enough room to seal the edges using a paste made with milk and flour. It helps in keeping the melted mozzarella from escaping when you’re frying it. Don’t worry about using the finest quality mozzarella either. Most bufala mozzarella will be almost too liquid, even though you can pat it dry it with paper towels first if that’s what you have or want to use. Regular fior di latte mozzarella is perfect for this recipe, whether freshly made by an Italian deli or purchased from a supermarket. Just don’t use that yellowish industrial stuff that’s been injected with additives that belong in a chemistry lab. I used a slice of cheese about 1/4″ thick. A little bit of anchovy inside the sandwich would be a perfect marriage too, if you like anchovies, but alas I didn’t have any when I was making this.

Generally when I deep fry foods, I use a three-step process – flour, egg wash, then bread crumbs. But for this recipe, you really need only the egg wash and bread crumbs. Use the coarse Japanese bread crumbs called panko if you have them. They’ll give even more crunch. I added some grated parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs and a little minced parsley and black pepper.

After you’ve sealed the edges of the bread with a little flour and milk mixture (use your fingers dipped in the slurry and spread it around the rim, then press the edges together), dip the sandwiches into the beaten eggs and then the bread crumbs. Coat all around the sides too, not just the front and back.

Deep fry in plenty of hot oil. You don’t need to use olive oil unless you don’t mind spending the extra money. Peanut oil works very well for deep frying.

Flip them over carefully when they get golden brown. Be careful not to have the temperature of the oil too hot, or they’ll likely brown before the cheese melts. But you don’t want the temperature of the oil to be too low either, or the bread will be greasy.

If you’ve got a bit of tomato sauce on hand, serve it on the side.

It makes a great dinner, served along with a salad on the side. It’s also addictive, and once you try it, you’ll find out why.

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Mozzarella In Carrozza
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of mozzarella cheese (1/4" thick each)
  • 8 slices of sturdy white bread, crusts removed
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour mixed with a little water
  • tomato sauce of preference
  • peanut oil or another vegetable oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. Cut the slices of bread from a sturdy loaf and trim the crusts.
  2. Take one slice of mozzarella and place on each slice of bread.
  3. Cover with a second slice of bread.
  4. Mix the flour with the water until you have a loose slurry.
  5. Using your finger, spread a thin layer of the flour mixture all around the edges of the bread.
  6. This will help seal it when it fries.
  7. Press down on the sandwich with the palm of your hand.
  8. Beat the eggs with the milk.
  9. Dip the sandwiches in the eggs and coat thoroughly.
  10. Mix the panko with the parmesan or pecorino cheese and minced parsley.
  11. Dip the sandwiches into the panko mixture and press the coating firmly into the bread.
  12. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy frying pan to a medium temperature, and sample the temperature using a small piece of bread dropped into the oil.
  13. When the piece of bread sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
  14. Carefully place the sandwiches in the hot oil, cooking long enough to brown each side.
  15. If the heat is too high, it could brown the bread without melting the cheese inside.
  16. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  17. Serve with tomato sauce on the side.

Ricotta and Chocolate Crostata

As soon as I saw this recipe by Domenica Marchetti in Italy Magazine, I knew I had to make it. Domenica’s recipes are always sure-fire winners, from soups to stews to desserts. That chocolate topping! That ricotta base! It’s a seemingly simple recipe, with basic flavors that complement each other perfectly — from the slightly lemony tang of the crust to the sweetened ricotta and dark, bittersweet chocolate.

Yes, you can buy your own crust, and I sometimes do, but in this case, homemade is infinitely better. The recipe makes enough for two tarts — one of which went into the freezer — and with the trimmings, I eeked out enough for two mini tart tins as well.

Follow the directions exactly to make sure you don’t have a soggy bottom. That involves resting the dough in the refrigerator for a bit, then pricking the dough and “blind-baking” it for ten minutes or so.

Fill it with the ricotta/sugar mixture and bake some more.

Then cover it with a ganache of dark chocolate and heavy cream. It will be hard to resist cutting into this one right away, but refrigerate for an hour or two to firm up the chocolate.

Serve as is, with some strawberries on the side, or if you’ve got any growing in your yard, mince some pansy flowers for a confetti of edible color.

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Ricotta and Chocolate Crostata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups (390g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup (115g) cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pound (500g) fresh sheep’s milk or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250ml) plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 ounces (250g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  2. Remove the pastry disk from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the disk into a 12-inch (30-cm) circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a 10-inch (25-cm) round tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the overhang. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the crust. Bake until the filling is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
  5. In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and cocoa and stir until the mixture id dark, glossy, and smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Carefully spread the chocolate ganache over the cooled filling, starting in the middle and creating a thick layer that stops just short of the crust.
  6. Refrigerate the crostata until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours. Remove the sides from the pan and set the crostata on a serving plate. Let stand a few minutes, then cut into wedges and serve
 

 

Green Goddess Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

Ready for a succulent, flavorful roast chicken with crispy skin that’s ready in less than an hour? You’ll need to marinate it for six hours or overnight in this green goddess recipe, but it cooks in just a half hour to 45 minutes. The recipe was created by Melissa Clark for the New York Times and calls for a chicken cut in half and roasted at 500 degrees F.  Rather than cut it in half, I spatchcocked it, which is easily done in five minutes if you’ve got a good sturdy knife or kitchen shears. Cut down one side of the backbone.

Then cut down the other side of the backbone, flip the chicken over and press down hard to flatten the breastbone.

Place it in a pan (I used a disposable aluminum pan to make cleanup easy) and pour about 3/4 of the marinade all around the chicken. Save the rest of the marinade to serve with the chicken. The marinade is also delicious as a salad dressing or used as a sandwich spread (if you use yogurt rather than buttermilk). Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to roast it, pour out the marinade, rinse out the pan and wipe all the marinade off the chicken. Then drizzle with some olive oil and place skin back in the pan side up.

Roast the chicken at 500 degrees (F.) for a half hour to 45 minutes, until juices come out clear and the skin is crispy. Serve at once with the remaining green goddess dressing. 

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Green Goddess Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves (I used lemon balm and parsley)
  • ¼ cup packed chives
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional, but highly recommended to use)
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken, halved through the breast and back bones, patted dry with paper towels (I spatchcocked it - follow photos in blog post to show you how to do it - or ask your butcher to do it.)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Instructions
  1. In a blender, purée buttermilk, herbs, garlic, anchovies, scallion, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper until smooth.
  2. Put chicken halves (or the spatchcocked chicken) in a bowl or large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and cover with three-quarters of the Green Goddess marinade.
  3. (Save the rest to serve as a sauce.)
  4. I used a disposable aluminum foil pan and roasted it in the same pan, after I drained out the marinade and washed the pan.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
  6. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
  7. Remove chicken from the marinade, shaking off as much liquid as possible, and lay the halves (or the spatchcocked chicken) on a rimmed baking sheet.
  8. (Discard the used marinade.)
  9. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and drizzle with oil.
  10. Roast until cooked through, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving, with some of the reserved sauce if you like.
 

 

 

 

 

Very Berry Crostata

With all sorts of berries coming into season right now in the Eastern U.S., it’s time to make this tart. Two extra containers of blackberries were unexpectedly included in my last food delivery, so I had plenty to make this tart. I actually made it twice — the first time with a purchased puff pastry shell, and the second time with this dough recipe, from Domenica Marchetti. We liked the crostata made with puff pastry well enough, but the texture of the crust with Domenica’s recipe was so far superior, retaining its crispness on the bottom after baking, that I doubt I’ll use the puff pastry again for a crostata. Plus the flavor, with its touch of lemon, is better with Domenica’s recipe. Her recipe makes enough for two crostate, tarts or pies, so keep one tucked away in the freezer. By the way, a crostata in Italy is generally presented as a tart with a lattice crust, as in this recipe for fig crostata, but many recipe writers use the term interchangeably with galette, the French word for a rustic, open-faced tart. If you’re inclined to call it a galette, go right ahead, but I gravitate to the Italian word whenever given the choice.

Roll out one half of the dough to a diameter of about 16 inches. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, just get it close enough, then slide it onto a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator in the 15 minutes it took to prepare the fruit, to help the butter bits chill and solidify, making for a flakier crust.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the center of the pastry. It helps as a barrier to keep the crust from getting soggy, but also adds more flavor and texture.  Mix the berries with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Carefully place the fruit in the center of the crust, over the almonds, leaving a border of about two inches all around. Flip up the border, pinching it together all around the perimeter.

Brush it with a liquid like beaten egg yolk or milk. I had buttermilk in the house, so I used that. Press some almonds all around the edges.

Placement in the oven is very important in order not to have a soggy bottom. Place the crostata on the bottom rack of  a 375 fahrenheit degree oven for a half hour. Then remove it to the highest rack for another 15 minutes. You may get some spillage of the liquid, as I did, if any of the edges had a split, as happened when I poked my nail through the crust. Don’t worry about it though, there will be plenty of other juice within the crostata.

After it has cooled, carefully slide it off the Silpat or parchment paper onto a serving dish. The fruit has a “dull” appearance when it comes out of the oven, but to give it a “glistening look,” melt a bit of quince or apple jelly and spread it on top of the fruit.

Here’s a photo of the bottom crust to show you how well baked it should be if you follow the directions exactly.

Sprinkle the edges with some confectioner’s sugar and dig in.

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Very Berry Crostata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTRY (Domenica Marchetti's recipe makes enough for two crostate)
  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE BERRY FILLING:
  • 4 cups fruit (I used two cups strawberries, and the rest a mix of blueberries and blackberries)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted, plus more for the top
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • FOR THE TOP:
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk, milk or beaten egg
  • slivered almonds
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks.
  5. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use.
  6. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  7. Remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out to a diameter of about 15-16 inches.
  8. Carefully transfer the pastry to a Silpat- or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on the dough.
  10. Mix the ingredients for the filling and pile on top of the slivered almonds inside the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches all around.
  11. Gather the border and crimp to encase the fruit.
  12. Spread some of the milk, buttermilk or beaten egg on the edges of the crostata.
  13. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
  14. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove it and place on an upper rack for another 15 minutes.
  15. When it cools, spread a little quince or apple jelly over the fruit to make it glisten.
  16. Sprinkle the edges with a little powdered sugar.
 

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Potato Salad

Grilling season is right around the corner, and while most of us aren’t likely to host a big gathering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can still enjoy a backyard barbecue with the friends and/or family who are in your bubble. If you haven’t got an outdoor grill, it’s just as easy to cook this on the stovetop, using a grill pan to get those characteristic marks and flavor. Flank steak is not a tender piece of meat, so you’ll need to marinate it first, for a minimum of a few hours, or overnight.

Use a thermometer to test for the level of doneness you prefer — taking it off the heat about five degrees before the meat reaches the temperature you’re looking for. The meat in this post was cooked to about 125 degrees, then rested for a few minutes before slicing. While the meat rests, the temperature will rise a few degrees. Slice it thinly against the grain, on the diagonal.

What’s the perfect side dish for your meat? Well, potato salad, of course. While I love potato salads of all kinds, I am partial to the ones with an oil and vinegar base, the way my mother used to make them when I was growing up. But inspired by my friend Marie, whose food is always tempting, I took a cue from her and made a dressing with lemon juice instead of vinegar, and using some “balsamic pearls” that were included in a food basket I won at a charity event. They are totally optional, and may be hard to find, but worth seeking for the unique look they add to the salad. Since chives are in full bloom right now, I added some chive flowers to the bowl too. For best results, use small yellow potatoes, like Yukon Gold, or fingerling potatoes, rather than the large starchy, baking potatoes.

Drizzle the chimichurri sauce over the meat for even more flavor, serve with the potato salad and a green vegetable and you’ve got a meal fit for company or a family backyard barbecue. The only thing missing is a bottle of good red wine. The recipes below will serve about six people, but if it’s just two of you, the leftovers are good the next day too. The meat is great served cold in a sandwich with the chimichurri sauce smeared on the bread, or made into a cold beef salad. If you get bored eating the potato salad a couple of days in a row, add it to some leftover vegetables and beaten eggs and turn it into a frittata. Leftovers never tasted so good.

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Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Potato Salad
 
Author:
Serves: serves 6-8 people
Ingredients
  • FOR THE MEAT and MARINADE:
  • 2 lbs. flank steak
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley and lemon balm, but have also used cilantro, which not everyone loves)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (I used some homemade candied jalapenos)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • FOR THE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE:
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (I used some homemade candied jalapeños)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano,( or if you prefer, cilantro)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • FOR THE POTATO SALAD:
  • 2 pounds small yellow potatoes, like Yukon Gold
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • about ¼ cup parsley, minced
  • about 4 tablespoons chives, minced
  • chive flowers, optional
  • dark balsamic pearls, optional
Instructions
  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients for the meat and place in a container at least four hours ahead of grilling..
  2. Cook over an outdoor grill, or an indoor grill pan until the interior of the meat registers about 120-125 degrees F. for rare, 125-130 for medium rare and 130-135 for medium.
  3. Take it off the heat a few degrees before the desired temperature because it will continue to cook slightly as it rests.
  4. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice it thinly, against the grain, on the diagonal.
  5. Serve with the chimichurri sauce.
  6. FOR THE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE:
  7. Mix all the ingredients together and stir, then drizzle over the cooked meat.
  8. FOR THE POTATO SALAD:
  9. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and let cool to room temperature.
  10. Peel if desired, or leave skin on.
  11. Mix the dressing ingredients together with a fork or whisk, except for the chive flowers and the balsamic pearls.
  12. Toss the potatoes with the dressing.
  13. Place the salad in a serving bowl, and scatter the chive flowers and balsamic pearls on top.
 

 

Sausage, Potato and Cheese Savory Tart

A few weeks ago, my friend Lilli dropped off a piece of this savory tart in a “quarantine package” that also contained some of her biscotti — a recipe I posted more than a decade ago in the early days of my blog. It’s my favorite biscotti recipe of all time. Lilli hails from Salerno and is one of the best home cooks I know. Anytime she makes something, it’s always a hit, including this delicious tart. I made it myself over the weekend and my husband and I loved it. I can’t wait to make it for my Italian chit-chat group, when we can once again meet face-to-face for a “chiacchierata.”

The tart is easy to make, especially if you use a packaged pastry as I did. I chose to use puff pastry, but a regular pie pastry would also work just fine. Start by boiling a couple of large potatoes. Peel them, mash them with a fork and add some parmesan cheese and a beaten egg.

Remove the skin from some Italian sausage and fry, then drain of any residual oil.

Crumble the sausage into the unbaked shell. You could choose a round tin, or pie plate if you prefer.

Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Then take the potato mixture and using two teaspoons, place dollops on top of the mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, on the bottom rack of your oven, then turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes until the top is nicely browned.

Slice and serve with a salad for a complete meal. Or cut into smaller slices and serve as an appetizer.

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Sausage, Potato and Cheese Savory Tart
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (or pie pastry)
  • 2 large potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups parmesan cheese
  • ¾ lb. - 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Line a standard tart pan or pie tin with the pastry.
  2. Chill in the refrigerator while making the rest of the recipe.
  3. Boil the potatoes until tender and peel. Cut into chunks and place in a bowl, then mash with a fork. Beat the egg and when the potatoes have cooled a bit, add the beaten egg and the parmesan.
  4. Remove the casing from the sausage and break into pieces and fry in a bit of olive oil, cooking thoroughly.
  5. Drain the cooked sausage.
  6. Crumble the sausage into the pastry shell, then cover with the mozzzarella cheese.,
  7. Using two spoons, place dollops of the potato mixture over the sausage and cheese until the whole pan is covered.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, then place until the broiler for a couple of minutes until nicely browned.
  9. Be careful not to stray and check on the broiler in a couple of minutes or you may burn the top of the tart.
 

Orange Chiffon Cake

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and I can’t think of a nicer treat to bake and decorate for your mamma (or for yourself) than this fluffy orange chiffon cake. This cake makes me think of my own mother, who used to bake angel food and chiffon cakes when I was a little girl (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). By the way, if you’re wondering if a chiffon cake is the same as a sponge cake, it’s related, but not the same. Sponge cakes have lots of separated and beaten eggs, as do chiffon cakes, but no added fat or baking powder, while chiffon cakes do contain both oil and a leavening agent. I haven’t made a chiffon cake in decades, but I pulled out my ancient tube pan for this and it was well worth it. The cake was light and with a soft texture that provides a perfect foil for the glaze and pressed flower decoration. You can choose to simply dust the cake with powdered sugar, but the orange glaze really adds a pretty finishing touch. I picked edible flowers and leaves for the decoration – pansies, lemon balm leaves and the flowers of wild winter cress — and pressed them for a couple of days until they were dried and flattened. You could use fresh flowers or omit them entirely. If you do use fresh flowers, do an internet search to make sure they’re edible, since so many have toxic qualities (like buttercups).

The preparation takes a bit of time, but if you follow the directions carefully, you’ll have no trouble. I found a lot of recipes for chiffon cakes online, and ultimately culled what I thought to be the best of a few recipes, cutting out some of the excess sugar and adding a bit of orange blossom water I had bought in Italy a few years ago to give it a little extra orange umph.

Make sure you DO NOT grease the pan. This is to allow the cake batter to grip the sides of the pan and allow for a higher rise. I did place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom portion of the cake and it allowed for an easy release.

This is how it looked as it came from the oven.

You need to immediately flip it over onto something like an inverted funnel to let it cool upside down. Otherwise, the cake might sink in the center.

After it is completely cooled, run a long knife around the sides and along the inner tube of the cake, then flip it onto a rack, releasing the metal piece and removing the parchment paper from the base.

I poured the glaze over the top and spread it on the sides. As you can see, the sides are quite bumpy, but if you let the glaze dry slightly (an hour or two should do it), you can spread another layer of glaze on the sides to get a smoother look. Or you could just pour the glaze on the top and let it fall down in large “drips” on the side, another way to get a decorative look.

But since I wanted to use the dried flowers on the sides, I added the second layer of glaze. It’s not as smooth as glass, but much smoother than just leaving the one layer of glaze (and it sure tastes good.)

Decorate with the pressed, dried flowers.

You don’t even have to use pressed flowers. You could just choose freshly picked, unpressed flowers instead.

The cake serves a lot of people, so if you’re not having a crowd anytime soon (and who is, in this Covid-19 environment?),spread a bit of good cheer and leave some at your neighbors’ or friends’ front porch. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Orange Chiffon Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon orange flower water
  • 8 large egg whites
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice (or more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • edible flowers
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CAKE:
  2. Sift together the flour, ¾ cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt.
  3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are foamy, then add the cream of tartar and beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks.
  4. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar, a little at a time, and beat the whites until they hold stiff glossy peaks.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, the egg yolks, the orange juice, the zest, the orange blossom water and the vanilla.
  6. Whisk the mixture into the flour mixture, mixing until the batter is smooth.
  7. Stir one third of the whites into the batter to lighten it and fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
  8. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of an ungreased 10-inch angel food pan, with a removable bottom.
  9. Spoon the batter into the pan and bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 325°F. oven for 1 hour, and five to ten minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Invert the pan immediately onto a funnel and let it cool completely.
  11. Run a long thin knife around the outer and inner tube edges of the pan and turn the cake out of the pan onto a cake rack.
  12. Remove the parchment paper.
  13. FOR THE GLAZE:
  14. Mix the confectioner's sugar with the orange juice until smooth, glossy and thick.
  15. Pour the glaze over the top of cake and spread over the sides as a first layer.
  16. Let the glaze dry, at least an hour or two, and spread a second layer of glaze over the sides to smooth out the first layer.
  17. Decorate with pressed, dried edible flowers.
 

 

 

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Pears and Red Onion

While pears are still in season, why not buy a few and try combining them with red onions and a pork tenderloin? They complement each other perfectly, and it’s an easy way to serve a luscious dinner. Most of us are cooking for just our immediate families during this Covid-19 pandemic, and this recipe uses only one pork tenderloin, which will serve about three to four people. But it’s easy enough to add another pork tenderloin and more pears and onions to the pan for when you can start entertaining again — or even better — deliver some to an elderly couple who aren’t able to cook or a young couple with children, struggling to work at home and take care of their kids at the same time too. This recipe starts out by roasting the pears and onions first in a butter and white wine mixture.

Sprinkle the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, and smear with the honey/mustard/herbs mixture.

Add the meat to the pan and roast for about 1/2 hour or until the temperature registers 140 degrees F. You will need to keep a watch on the onions and pears and remove them before the meat is cooked. Keep them covered to seal in the heat while the pork finishes cooking.

Slice the pork and arrange with the pear and onions, as well as green vegetable, for a colorful and delicious meal.

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Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Pears and Red Onion
 
An easy, elegant restaurant quality meal that's ready in a little more than a half hour.
Author:
Serves: serves 3-4 people
Ingredients
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 Bosc pears, quartered and cored
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 T. butter
  • ¼ cup sweet white wine
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 Tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • salt, pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a roasting pan and add the lemon juice and sweet wine.
  3. Add the pears to the pan, tossing them so each side is coated with the mixture.
  4. Push the pears to one side, then add the onions, also coating them with the butter/wine mixture.
  5. Roast for 10 minutes.
  6. While the pears and onions are roasting, prepare the meat.
  7. Dry the pork with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper.
  8. Mix the mustard, honey and herbs together.
  9. Push the onions and pears in the roasting pan to one side, and place the meat on the remaining portion of the pan,
  10. Spread the honey/mustard/herb mixture all over the meat and return the pan to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  11. The onions and pears might be ready a few minutes before the meat is cooked, so remove them to a warm serving platter while the meat finishes roasting.
  12. The meat will be ready when a thermometer reads 140 degrees F.
  13. Let it rest on a chopping board for about 5 minutes, then slice.
  14. Arrange everything onto a serving platter, then pour any juices from slicing the meat over the top.
  15. (There will be little to no juices from the pan, but there should be some when you slice the meat.)
 

Sour Cream Donuts

During this trying period of Coronavirus quarantine, is anyone trying to lose weight? I didn’t think so. We’ve all been spending more time cooking, and now is the time to indulge in whatever comfort you can conjure up in the kitchen, from pizza to popcorn to pastries. Add donuts to that list too — in specific, these sour cream donuts that are soft and tender inside, with a crunchy, sugary sweetness on the outside. They’re from a website called Handle The Heat, and they’re much easier to make than most donuts, since the recipe doesn’t involve yeast, which is in short supply right now anyway.

You will need to use cake flour to give them the lightness they need. After you’ve rolled out the dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness, cut out a circular shape for each donut, then cut out another smaller circle within the larger circle for the donut hole. I used biscuit cutters, but you could also use a drinking glass and a shot glass for the donut hole.

The recipe below is for a dozen donuts, but I cut it in half and made only six. (I am one of those crazy people actually trying to lose weight right now.)

The donuts must be fried, not baked, in order to get that fresh-from-the-bakery taste.

They come out of the frying pan with lots of nooks and crannies, which are perfect for holding onto that sweet glaze.

They don’t keep very well, and are best eaten the day you make them. But make the full recipe and share the love. You’re bound to put some smiles on friends and neighbors you already have, and maybe make some new ones in the neighborhood too. Just make sure to keep that safe social distance when you deliver these tempting treats.

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Sour Cream Donuts
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE DONUTS:
  • 2¼ cup (255 grams) cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (29 grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (113 grams) sour cream
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • 3½ cup (350 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1½ teaspoons corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup hot water
Instructions
  1. FOR THE DONUTS:
  2. In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until sandy.
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix until light and thick. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, ending with the flour.
  5. The dough will be sticky.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  7. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about ½ inch thickness.
  8. Use a doughnut cutter or two differently sized biscuit cutters to cut out as many donuts as possible, dipping the cutters into flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
  9. You should get about 12 doughnuts and holes.
  10. Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a heavy bottomed pot with a deep-fry thermometer attached.
  11. Heat to 325°F.
  12. Fry the doughnuts a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry on each side about 2 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Let drain on a paper bag to soak up the excess grease.
  13. FOR THE GLAZE:
  14. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Immerse each doughnut into the glaze.
  15. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze.
  16. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.
  17. Doughnuts are best served the day they are made but may be store in an air tight container at room temperature for a few days.
 

Spaghetti with Tuna Fish

I don’t know about you, but if you’re trying to avoid contracting the dreaded Coronavirus, you’re taking far fewer jaunts to the supermarket these days.  I’m trying to stretch out my trips to every ten days or more, (and I enter the store donned in a mask and gloves) and that’s mostly to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m sure that even before this health scare, I had enough provisions in my pantry to keep us fed for a couple of weeks — dry beans, pastas, canned tomatoes, rice, canned sardines, tuna and even some canned artichokes are all staples I normally have on hand. I decided to put some of the tuna and pasta to work and make a meatless meal on a Lenten Friday. It’s a recipe that I learned from my Abruzzese mother-in-law decades ago but I hadn’t made in ages. Now seemed just the right time to dust it off, with a few additions of my own. It comes together in the amount of time it takes to boil the pasta, so it’s a great time saver and kids generally love it too. I added scallions and capers to mine, which my mother-in-law never did, but they amp up the flavor quite a bit. You could even add some anchovy if you like, as I saw in a recent New York Times recipe. The recipe is very adaptive to what you have on hand, so don’t make a special trip to the store for anything. If you haven’t got scallions, use minced onion or shallot, or leave them out altogether. I also used a fair amount of parsley and chives that seem to have sprung up overnight in my deck planter. Feel free to substitute and improvise with other herbs if you don’t have those handy. Even dried herbs will work in a pinch.

Mix all the ingredients together while the pasta is boiling, then add the cooked pasta to the pan just before it reaches the al dente stage, along with some pasta water. Stir everything together for another minute or two, adding more water if necessary, to finish the cooking to the al dente stage.

Sprinkle with more fresh herbs just before serving and dig in. Stay healthy readers. And wear a mask if you must go out in public.

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Spaghetti with Tuna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 6 small scallions (or three large ones)
  • 1 5 oz. can tuna fish, drained
  • two tablespoons capers
  • ¾ cup pasta water, more or less
  • freshly minced chives and parsley
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound spaghetti or linguini
Instructions
  1. Place the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and scallions.
  2. Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta.
  3. Sauté until soft, then add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork.
  4. Add the capers, red pepper flakes, half the herbs and about ¼ cup of the pasta water.
  5. Finish cooking the pasta until almost al dente and add the drained pasta nto the pan with the tuna.
  6. It's fine if a little water comes with the pasta since you'll want to add more water anyway.
  7. Add some of the pasta water and swish the pasta thoroughly through the sauce, adding more water if necessary to finish cooking the pasta.
  8. Add the other half of the herbs and serve immediately.