Results tagged Italian from David Lebovitz

Pine Nut Syndrome

pine nuts

I noticed something weird this week: just about everything I ate tasted odd. No matter what it was, from bland rice cakes to strong, dark coffee, a few minutes after I ate or drank it, there was an odd, bitter flavor lingering in my mouth.

Being me, naturally, I assumed the worst: That they were going to have to remove my mouth, or something.

Continue Reading Pine Nut Syndrome…

Making Ricotta, at Simply Recipes

It’s easy to make your own cheese at home. All you need is a bottle of milk, a scoop of yogurt, a touch of vinegar, and a few minutes over the heat.

ladling milk

Don’t believe me?

Continue Reading Making Ricotta, at Simply Recipes…

Chocolate Biscotti Recipe

chocolate biscotti

The pastry department is always the most popular part of the kitchen amongst the rest of the staff. (Unless I’m in it, though. Then that’s debatable.) For one thing, anytime there’s a staff birthday, you’re called into service to make the cake. And since everyone has a birthday, folks are usually nice to you the other 364 days of the year. Another thing is that regular cooks like…no, love to snack on anything sweet.

Whenever I made biscotti, the ends and broken bits would end up on a plate in the pastry department, and almost immediately the staff would swoop down for the kill the moment the rounded end hit the plate.

After chewing for a moment, invariably, someone would always say, “You know…(pause)…I like biscotti better only once-baked.”

I’m sure they were certain I was hanging on to their every word, and how I managed to resist the urge to say, “So what?”—I’ll never know…

But since biscotti refers to being twice-baked in Italian, you can’t have biscotti unless they are, indeed-twice baked. I believe truth-in-advertising extends to pastry professionals.

cioccolato

Another thing I found constantly annoying, since I’m on a roll, was that anytime I had to walk through the kitchen or staff area carrying a cake or tart, without fail, a cook (usually a new one who didn’t know me better) would say, “Hey! Is that for me?!” followed by a smug chuckle at their brilliant humor.

Little did they realize that each-and-every new cook said that, and while they’ve only said it once, it was hardly original and I’d heard at least 973 times prior. The first few times, I just smiled gamely and let them pretend they were actually amusing me.

But after a while, like nine years, I finally got to the point where I would say, “Sure! Here’s ya go…” hand them an entire cake or pie, and walk away.

I like to think of it as a lesson in be careful what you wish for. So if you want to only bake biscotti once, that’s fine with me. But crisp, twice-baked biscotti are the perfect dunking cookie for a shot of espresso or glasses of vin santo. I’m particularly attracted to these chocolate biscotti, which are slightly-sweet but pack a nice wallop of chocolate flavor. I make these a lot since it’s nice to have on hand something chocolaty to snack on, but isn’t rich, sweet, or loaded with butter.

Just don’t ask if these are for you, because I think you already know the answer to that question. Instead I’m handing over the recipe. And you’ll need to come up with your own smart-alecky retorts.

Chocolate Biscotti
50 to 60 cookies

Use a good-quality cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch-process for these, whichever one you like. Just remember that the chocolate flavor of the finished cookies is dependent on the quality of cocoa powder you use. So it’s worth using a decent one. I used Valrhona. See notes below on ingredients.

If you like extra-crisp biscotti, you can flip each one over midway during the second baking, in step #6. I sometimes smear one side of the cookies with melted dark chocolate. When dipped in a warm espresso, I can’t imagine anything better.

For the biscotti

  • 2 cups (280g) flour
  • 3/4 cups (75g) top-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup (125g) almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
  • 3/4 cups (120g) chocolate chips

For the glaze

1 large egg
2 tablespoons coarse or crystal sugar (see Notes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.

5. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. (You won’t use it all). Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.

6. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

Notes: The sugar I use in France, is called cassonade, a coarse-grained, naturally-colored sugar that resists melting.

In the United States, one can find similar sugars, such as C & H Washed Hawaiian Sugar or Florida Crystals demerara, available in supermarkets or natural food stores. Turbinado or demerara sugars are also available online. If you don’t have any, you can skip the egg wash and sugar glaze.

Valrhona cocoa powder is available in bulk at ChefShop. The best-value is the 3kg pack, which conveniently comes in three separate sealed bags so if you have two baking friends, it’s easy to go in on a shipment.

Related links and recipes:

Chocolate FAQs

Cocoa powder FAQs

Chocolate-dipped Florentines

American Baking in Paris

How to Temper Chocolate

Chocolate Idiot Cake

Cheesecake Brownies

Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons

#3: Grom Gelato Comes to Paris

Grom

This week, Grom opens a branch of their famous Italian shop in Paris.

Originally from Torino, Grom uses all-natural flavorings, which include growing some of the organic fruit they use in their sorbets and graniti, grinding up vivid-green Sicilian pistachios for pistachio gelato, and melding the exquisite hazelnuts from Piedmont with Venezuelan chocolate for their ultimate, silky-smooth version of Gianduja.

I first tasted their exquisite gelato in Florence with my friend Judy and was hooked. It truly is one of the best in Italy, and now you can savor it in Paris.

Continue Reading #3: Grom Gelato Comes to Paris…

#1: La Briciola Pizza

During the next week, I’m going to do a series: Five Great Places in Paris That You Might Not Know About. In a city that hasn’t been overrun by chain stores and restaurants, it’s nice to be able to profile some of the smaller places around town that I frequent.

pizza

When I’ve had friends come to visit and suggested we go out for pizza, they balk.

Pizza? I didn’t come to Paris for…for…pizza!”

To which I always want to reply, “Honey, well I didn’t come to Paris to listen to you diss my dining suggestions.”

But when you live somewhere, no matter how good the local cuisine might be, one cannot live on duck confit and galettes de sarrasin slathered in butter forever, you know.

Continue Reading #1: La Briciola Pizza…

Pesto Recipe

I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep, and last week I promised myself that I’m going to eat pesto every day for the rest of my life. So far, I’ve made good on that promise.

more pesto

The only thing that might thwart me is a lack of big, copious bunches of fresh basil. Or my pounding arm wears out. No taking bets out there on whichever comes first, but I have a pretty good idea which it’s going to be.

Continue Reading Pesto Recipe…

Espresso Granita Affogato Recipe

In terms of desserts, it doesn’t get much easier than this.

Espresso Granita

Affogato means ‘drowned’ in Italian, and any frozen dessert can meet this fate by tippling a little liquor or coffee over it. Classically, espresso is poured over Vanilla Ice Cream, but you’d have to be pretty hard-core to pour espresso over Espresso Granita. If I did that, I’d be ricocheting off the walls around here.

And because I live on the roof, I’m one caffeine-fueled tumble away from meeting my maker. Not my coffee-maker, mind you.
And we wouldn’t want that to happen, now. Would we?

I still have so much to accomplish…like tackling those chocolate marshmallows

Continue Reading Espresso Granita Affogato Recipe…

What Is Gelato?

gelato

How does one explain, in a few short paragraphs, something that’s such a critical part of Italian life, like gelato? If you’ve spent any time in Italy, especially in the summer, it’s hard to look anywhere and not see an Italian balancing a cono di gelato, often while balancing the omnipresent cell phone at the same time.

But everyone, from suave businessmen in Armani suits to grandmothers chatting on a stroll with friends—they all eat gelato. And like the tiny shots of espresso taken from morning ’til night, it’s a part of Italian life and consumed everywhere, all-day long. Granita di espresso on a roll for breakfast anyone?

Gelato‘ means ‘frozen‘ in Italian, so it embraces the various kinds of ice cream made in Italy, and that’s the best definition one can offer.

More than most countries, food in Italy is fiercely regional: in the north, near Torino (Piedmonte), the food is very earthy with white truffles and hazelnuts appearing in various dishes. At the other end of the boot is Sicily, where the climate is far warmer so the flavors lean towards citrus and seafood. And in between are lots of villages and regions, including the Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Campania, Tuscany, and Puglia, among others.

The gelato made in the north of Italy, where it’s cooler up near the mountains, the gelato is richer, often made with egg yolks, chocolate, and most famously, with gianduja, the silky-smooth hazelnut and milk chocolate paste. In the south, ice creams tend to be lighter, and flavored with lemons and oranges. In Sicily, granite are prevalent; slushy shaved ices that are almost served like a drink, with a spoon and a straw to slurp them up, as well as fruit-flavored sorbetti.

But getting back to gelato…as mentioned, gelato means Italian ice cream. But what makes it different?

Continue Reading What Is Gelato?…