Category Archives: Desserts

Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights…

Click on the photo to enlarge and then the back arrow to return to original size.

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well. 

I have been away from posting for quite a while and missed all of you. I was away because I had a lot of things going on at once. I had a wonderful few weeks with my son who was visiting during his vacation. We had a great time and we were out and about every day and I had no time to post.

 

For my husband and I, having our son home makes our home complete.

Also during my absence, I celebrated a milestone birthday and turned 60-years old!

Photo Apr 11, 11 47 20 AM (1) 60 Balloons @2

I don’t know where the years have gone and it seems the older I get, the quicker the years pass but I am very happy to celebrate this milestone birthday. My son was still home and having him celebrate my birthday with me was the best gift I could have ever received. 

I apologize to those who wrote and wanted a new Easter tablescape. I promise you, you will have one next year. And I want to thank those who sent e-mails to see if I was okay when I hadn’t posted. I was overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.

Now for today’s post …

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The name of this post is “Memories of Grandma’s Polenta Nights”.

 Some of you who have been members since DishingwithDiane began three years ago will remember the story I told about my grandmother and eating polenta with mushroom sauce off of her special pastry board. When Grandma called for “polenta night”, you dropped everything and headed over to her house. No questions asked and there were no excuses not to show up. It was as sacred as going to church, you couldn’t miss it.

(This photo is an idea of how the polenta was served on the board at grandma’s house minus the bowls, and Grandma made a lot more polenta.)

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 16 PM -INTRO 1- POLENTA AND BREAD -BOARD

Not too long ago, I went to lunch with some of my friends and we were talking about family traditions and I mentioned eating polenta off the board at Grandma’s house. Some of my friends remembered the earlier post and some never heard the story.

(Here is a recap of my original story for my new members.) 

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For those of you who are not familiar, Polenta is cornmeal. Sort of like “Italian grits”. The original polenta was cooked stove top, low and SLOW.  And I mean slow. I remember my grandmother and Mom mixing the polenta in simmering water and salt for close to 45 minutes, then adding grated cheese and butter once it became thick and creamy. 

Grandma even had a special spoon to turn the polenta and when I see this spoon in Italian specialty shops, it always makes me smile. 

(A polenta spoon can be purchased online at Fante’s Italian Market if interested. Their website is always fun to browse). 

14227 polenta spoon fantes italian market

Thank God polenta now comes in an instant version that you only need to stir for less than 5 minutes, so I never bought myself the polenta spoon.

I find the best polenta to be “de la Estancia” brand.

Organic and “not gritty” at all, very creamy.

(I purchased this bag at Whole Foods but you can also order it online on Amazon.com)

Photo Apr 21, 2 48 33 PM (1) POLENTA BAG

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As I said before, when Grandma called and said it was “polenta night”, everyone went over. Her wooden polenta board made a grand appearance at the table. It was huge and spanned the entire table. She had it stored all wrapped up in a clean bed sheet in her hallway closet. And after every use it was washed and oiled before putting it away for the next polenta night.

We all sat around the board at the dining room table and Grandma would spread the hot polenta out of her saucepan onto the board and top it with her famous mushroom sauce (very thick, almost like a Bolognese) and grated cheese. Everyone picked their spot and started to eat and talk and talk and talk. 

As with any Italian family there was more than one conversation going on at a time- we got used to jumping in and out of conversations. 

Back to the polenta…

Polenta starts to get hard around the edges at room temperature and that was always the time that my cousins and I wanted to become creative and make a design in the polenta.

I can’t tell you how many times we ate the polenta with the goal of making it look like the boot of Italy – never happened.

If Grandma had company for dinner outside the immediate family, she served the polenta in bowls with her sauce. Not nearly as much fun.

So after strolling down memory lane at the diner with my friends, I decided to make them polenta on the board so they could experience it first hand. Of course, I will set a place setting with bowls in case eating off the board is not what they had in mind.

I am serving the polenta with a favorite salad of mine, that both my grandmother and mother made all the time. It is so simple, delicious and refreshing – Orange and Fennel Salad. 

Salad was always served in my house after the main meal, so I will be following that tradition with this luncheon as well.

My grandmother served fennel at the end of every meal (especially holidays) to aid with digestion, because God forbid you had heartburn or felt bloated after one of her meals, she would be insulted.

The salad is simple and consists of orange slices or segments, salt, pepper, sliced fennel and olive oil. Done… 

I add some fennel fronds and orange zest before serving for garnish. (olives & sliced red onion are optional).

Photo Apr 21, 7 24 00 PM FENNEL SALAD

I don’t really have a specific recipe for this salad since I just toss it together, so I am printing the recipe at the end of the post from the website Memorie di Angelina with their link if you want to see step by step instructions with photos.

Every Italian meal has bread and I will serve this meal with homemade olive bread. Yes, I said homemade. We all know, I am not the baker but I am going to give this a try. I have to use the no knead bread recipe because homemade dough and I are not best friends – I added kalamata olives.

(Link to Bob’s Red Mill Bread Recipes will be posted at the end of this post.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 08 17 PM OLIVE LOAF

Photo Apr 21, 8 04 39 PM SLICED BREAD

Usually I tell my guests what I am serving for a lunch in case there are food allergy concerns but this is a “surprise lunch” and I have other lunch options on stand by. I made my version of polenta with Grandma’s mushroom sauce, but I added hot sausage for a little kick. 

Photo Apr 21, 8 31 49 PM FOOD CLOSE UP

 While purchasing all the ingredients for this luncheon, I was basking in the memories the polenta brought back to me. The days when all my family was still with us and we were laughing and eating. 

We were always eating!

Polenta, which was once thought of as a peasant meal, has now become quite popular in Italian restaurants.

I hope you try this recipe (with the instant polenta) and enjoy.

If you have any leftover polenta from the saucepan, spread it out onto parchment paper in a jelly roll pan as flat as possible. Once the polenta has hardened, cut rounds out of the polenta (with a wine glass or cookie cutter) and save them wrapped in wax paper in a container in the refrigerator. Perfect for any leftover sauce.

You can refrigerate for up to 5 days or store frozen for up to 3 months.

Another great tip from my Mom…

Fry the polenta slices the next morning in a 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Add a fried egg and you now have a polenta breakfast.

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Since my last post about polenta three years ago, I have purchased my very own polenta board. (How I wish I had my grandmothers. I don’t know what happened to that.) and I have polenta night on occasion and think of Grandma. 

My polenta board is actually made to serve pizza but I have adapted it for polenta and it is also great to add some extra height to a buffet table.

Photo Apr 21, 8 32 06 PM -INTRO FULL TABLE

If you decide to have a polenta dinner party with friends, make different sauces in addition to the mushroom sauce. You could have marinara or pesto sauce if your guests want a lighter sauce. The mushroom / sausage sauce is a bit heavy.

So let’s start a tablescape…

I want this tablescape to feel as if I was eating at a farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany.  I am sure that it would be just a picnic table I would be eating on but I decided to start with one of my favorite tablecloths. 

I am using a cream tablecloth with an olive branch design to transport us back to Italy.

I love anything with this design and I think that is one of the main reasons my kitchen has a Mediterranean theme.

(This tablecloth is polyester which is one material I usually stay away from, but works perfectly for this meal because it is stain resistant. Between the tomato sauce and not eating off a plate, I didn’t want to take the chance and ruin the tablecloth because of a spill. It has a non-stick coating and liquid spills bead up as well.)

Photo Apr 21, 7 00 21 PM TABLECOTH

The napkins are olive green and I am using wooden napkin rings with a sprig of fresh rosemary for an earthy touch.

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 13 PM NAPKIN AND RING

Here is something new for me, NO placemats or chargers for this rustic table.

Just a salad dish and a pasta bowl. Pasta bowl for the polenta if you’re not ready to eat off the board and a salad dish to enjoy my salad at the end of the meal. I wanted to make this meal exactly as Grandma did. 

I do have the perfect dishes for this tablescape…It is very rare for me to purchase a square plate, but I saw these dishes and knew they would be a perfect addition to my Mediterranean kitchen. 

The dishes are cream porcelain with a pattern of green and black olives. The pattern is part of the “Olive Branch” Dinnerware Collection and is manufactured by Lorren Home Trends. As an added bonus, the dishes are both microwave & dishwasher safe.

Photo Apr 21, 7 09 02 PM DISHES

My only complaint with the set, is that the coffee cups are the size of demitasse cups and nothing you could use for morning coffee.

Photo Apr 21, 7 11 07 PM DISH SET

Flatware will be brown for that earthy feel… 

Photo Apr 21, 6 58 41 PM FLATWARE

and my glassware will be clear stemless wine glasses.

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 19 PM GLASSWARE

And now for the star of the show…the polenta board. It also doubles as my centerpiece.

Photo Apr 21, 6 55 27 PM POLENTA BOARD

 I just love this board. I found it while getting in some retail therapy and searching Google for a polenta board. 

(I do my best shopping online late at night).

Before I used it, I washed it with a damp cloth and then oiled it with food grade mineral oil, that you can purchase in Bed, Bath & Beyond.

For my table accents, I am borrowing everyday items from my kitchen. Starting with olive branch salt and pepper shakers. As you all know by now, I LOVE to use salt & pepper shakers to carry a theme. It is an easy inexpensive accent that adds so much to the table.

 The salt and pepper shakers are by Bonita Home and match the dinnerware in cream ceramic with the olive branch design.

Photo Apr 21, 7 57 25 SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS

Another accent is an 8 inch artificial olive tree wrapped in burlap purchased at Ballard Design that I keep on my kitchen window sill. It adds so much to my kitchen and is a cute accent for this tablescape. (If you’re are not familiar with Ballard Design, it is a European inspired home furnishing store. There are a few retail stores but most items can be purchased on their website.)

Photo Apr 21, 6 59 38 PM OLIVE TREE

Adding to the olive branch theme is a water pitcher that I bought in Sur La Table a few years back. Not the same manufacturer but it blends in perfectly.

You always have to shop your house first.

Photo Apr 21, 7 01 49 PM PITCHER

Some matching dish towels from the kitchen for any spills and now I am done.

Photo Apr 21, 6 56 05 PM TOWELS

Well almost... The polenta board tablescape may be complete but not the polenta board lunch.

In addition to the salad and homemade crusty olive bread, there is always room for dessert and I chose to make another Italian favorite- Olive Oil Orange Cake. I remember my parents eating this cake for breakfast with coffee.

It is close to a sponge cake and doesn’t have a strong taste of olive oil at all. It has the hint of orange flavor and Bob tells me that it tastes like the filling of sfogliatelle pastry.

Photo Apr 21, 7 06 54 PM OLIVE CAKE

Photo Apr 21, 8 07 03 PM CAKE SLICE

I don’t have my grandmother’s original recipe, so I adapted this cake recipe with a few tweaks from the recipe on the website Italian Food Forever. Deborah Mele is one of my favorite chefs and I have been following her for years. I suggest you visit her website, ItalianFoodForever. (The link to this site is posted with the recipe.)

All my friends were good sports and ate off the board (made clean up a lot easier) and some are going to try this dish with their families. It is a lot of fun. Between the salad, bread, polenta and cake, this was the perfect meal.

Table Setting

(I set the table just in case bowls were preferred).

Photo Apr 21, 7 58 55 PM TABLE SETTING

(Don’t forget the recipes at the end of the post)!

Enjoy!!

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to become a member of DishingwithDiane.com by entering their e-mail in the box in the right hand column of the home page or join via Facebook.

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post again.

Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE hearing from you.

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Recipes 

Polenta with Mushroom and Sausage Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz.) box or bag of instant polenta 

1- 1/2 lbs. mixed mushrooms (white button, baby bellas, shiitake and oyste are a good choice)- diced

4 sausage links- I usually use 2 hot and 2 sweet- casings removed

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 large onion- chopped

2 cloves of garlic-minced

salt and pepper to taste

dash of red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine 

1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth

2 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced

2 tsp. corn starch OR 1/2 cup heavy cream … (I use the heavy cream method)

8 oz. unsalted tomato sauce

5 oz. unsalted butter – divided

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 tsp. ground fennel (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the sausage meat and brown.

Add another pinch of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground fennel and mix well with the onion / sausage mixture. (Adjust spices to your liking).

Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft with a golden-brown color. 

Add the wine and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan from the sausage.

Cook until wine has evaporated.

Add the 8 oz. can of unsalted tomato sauce and 2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley. 

Add the beef or vegetable broth –reserving 1/4 cup of broth if you are using corn starch.)

Stir the 1/4 cup broth with the 2 tsp. cornstarch until dissolved. Add the cornstarch and broth mixture to the skillet to thicken the sauce. OR * 1/2 cup heavy cream can be substituted for the cornstarch and broth mixture.

Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Taste for seasoning.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare your polenta according to package directions. 

When the polenta is done add 3 tbsp. butter and 1 cup (or more) grated cheese. Mix well and then take off the heat.

Once the sauce is off the heat, add 2 more tbsp. butter and mix well.

Ladle the polenta into shallow bowls if you are not going to be using a polenta board and top with the sauce. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

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Fennel and Orange Salad

Recipe courtesy of http://memoriediangelina.com

Ingredients

  • 3-4 fennel bulbs, preferably not too large
  • 4 or 5 oranges
  • Best quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few black olives for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Prep the fennel: Trim the fennel bulbs top and bottom. If you’re working with a larger, older fennel, particularly one that is spotted like this one, remove the outer layer. Now cut the bulb into quarters, then slice each quarter very thinly from top to bottom, making sure that each slice has a bit of the base, which will hold the slice together.
  2. Prep the oranges: Trim them top and bottom, then take a paring knife and cut from top to bottom along the sides, between the pith (the bitter white stuff just under the peel) and the flesh. Once the orange is peeled, trim off as much of any remaining pith as you can, then slice the orange horizontally into thin, rounds.
  3. Compose the salad: Arrange the fennel and orange slices decoratively on a serving plate (or, even better, on individual plates if you have the time). Season with salt and, if you like, freshly ground pepper. Garnish with the black olives if using and drizzle everything very generously with the olive oil. And for an elegant final touch, if you like, top with bits of fennel frond.

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No-Knead Artisan Olive Bread

Recipe Courtesy of https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/

 

Ingredients:

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Add in chopped olives and gently mix in with your hands just enough to incorporate them . Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature for 10 hours (or overnight).
  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a 4 qt. Dutch oven into the preheated oven, without lid, for 30 minutes.
  3. While Dutch oven heats, turn risen dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball with floured hands, dust loaf lightly with flour. Cover dough loosely with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. Then, with floured hands, carefully place loaf in preheated dutch oven.
  4. With a very sharp knife, slit the top of the loaf in several places.
  5. Cover Dutch oven with its lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 12 minutes more.
  6. Remove loaf from Dutch oven and cool completely before slicing.

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Olive Oil Orange Cake 

This delicious recipe brought to you by Italian Food Forever 
http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2013/07/olive-oil-orange-cake/

ingredients:

  • 2 Small Seedless Oranges
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin!)
  • 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Dash of Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

To Garnish:

  • Powdered Sugar

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring-form pan.
  2. Cut off a small slice of the thicker top and bottom parts of each orange, discard these pieces, and then cut the rest of the oranges (flesh and peel) into chunks.
  3. Place them in a food processor and puree until blended but with some texture left.
  4. Add the oil to the oranges and pulse until blended.
  5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy and then slowly add in the sugar.
  7. Begin to add the egg mixture in three parts alternating with the orange mixture just stirring until combined. (Be careful not to over mix which will deflate the eggs and create a dense cake.)
  8. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool before slicing.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Roses…Sweet and Savory

Photo Dec 03, 2 09 55 AM SWEET AND SAVORY

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

Well, I am back from my mini vacation visiting my son in upstate NY. In between going out and about on my visit, I spent my time cooking my son’s favorite foods along with a Thanksgiving dinner.

His refrigerator and freezer are stocked and now I am a happy mom.

He doesn’t have time to cook for himself with his work schedule and I feel better knowing that he is eating a home cooked meal instead of fast food.

While upstate, I had to visit my favorite grocery store, Wegmans. You all know by now that I just love that store. I am waiting for the day that they build one where I live.

Bob calls it Diane’s Disney for good reason. (I even went during snow flurries. Nothing was going to stop me.)

Anyway, we bought the most delicious (& huge) apples in Wegmans. On the way home, Bob asked if I wouldn’t mind making a dessert with them even though I had been cooking all week. So in the car, (I had eight hours to think driving home) I was trying to think of something to make with the apples. The usual apple pie and apple turnovers came to mind and then I thought about apple roses. They look beautiful and can be served warm with vanilla ice cream.

I always have puff pastry in the house and I had the other ingredients as well, so apple roses it is.

I had this recipe for a long time. I copied it from a post in Pinterest and I really don’t remember the original site I was on to tell you.

In addition, I have the perfect apple shaped dishes to serve them on.

I bought the apple dishes in Sur La Table when I went in to shop for a cast iron pan and found the dishes instead, along with an apple platter.

Here is a pic of my apple roses. They are Huge!

I told you the apples were big. Normally, I would serve 2, but with this size I chose to serve only one per plate. (Recipe will be at the end of the post.)

Photo Dec 03, 2 00 41 AM APPLE -CLOSE

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Since I was making a sweet “rose”, I decided I should make a savory rose and complete the meal. I had the perfect entree in mind too.

On our last trip to Boston, Bob and I ate in a great restaurant in the North End of Boston on the Freedom Trail called “Restaurante Limoncello” and I highly recommend it. I loved everything about this restaurant.

I had the best mussels and clams Calabrese style (spicy) appetizer I ever had. No other restaurant ever came close to the taste of that dish.

On the menu, their signature dish was “Rosette Limoncello”,  rosette means rose. Pasta roses? I had to order it and a beautiful plate of pasta shaped like roses in a cream sauce filled with ham and fontina cheese came to the table-  just delicious.

One day while browsing the “Chowhound” website, there was an article by “farmersdaughter” about pasta roses using the renowned Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan’s recipe. I finally had my recipe.

All in all they didn’t look too difficult. Much easier than I had imagined, but time consuming. Of course I had to make a little tweak. Her recipe calls for ham and Fontina cheese; I made mine with prosciutto and Asiago cheese. A combination that Bob and I like a little better.

The roses make a beautiful presentation for a primo piatto (first course) for a dinner party or the holidays.

Two or three roses with some basil for a garnish and you are done.

Here is the pic of my Rosette di Pasta (Recipe at the end of the post)

Photo Dec 02, 7 14 00 PM CLOSE UP

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I hope you try either of these recipes and add them to your holiday menu.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

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RECIPES

Apple Roses

Photo Dec 03, 2 00 06 AM APPLE ROSES

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 apples (pink lady, braeburn, or honeycrisp)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
3 tablespoons apricot or strawberry preserves
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a standard muffin tin.

Core the apples and slice in half. Using a very sharp knife or mandolin on the second setting, slice paper thin 1/8-inch slices and immediately sprinkle and toss in lemon juice prevent browning.

Toss in the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Microwave the slices for 45 seconds, or until soft and pliable enough to mold.

Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Cut six 2-inch wide strips of dough.

In a small bowl, combine the preserves with 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave for 30 seconds if it was refrigerated. Spread evenly over each strip of dough.

Arrange about 10 apple slices lengthwise in a straight line, overlapping slightly, on a strip of dough.

Fold up the bottom part of the dough and begin tightly rolling the dough to form the rose shape. Press the edge to seal. Repeat for all the pies and place in the muffin tin.

Make ahead: at this point the unbaked assembled roses can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 1 day before baking as directed.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Pastries are best served the day they are baked but can be stored in an airtight container and rewarmed in a 300°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until warmed through and flaky again.

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Pasta Roses

Photo Dec 02, 7 14 00 PM ROSES 2

Recipe for Roselline di Pasta alla Romagnola (Pasta Roses with Ham and Fontina) from the Chowhound article…

Serves 6

Ingredients:

about 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut about 4″ wide and 10″ long
salt
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 T tomato paste
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs boiled, unsmoked ham, sliced very thin
1 pound fontina, shredded
about 3 T grated parmigiano-reggiano

Cook the pasta strips 2 or 3 at a time in boiling salted water for a few seconds, then remove from the water with a spider and shock in ice water. Rinse each pasta strip well in cold water and rub together to remove as much starch as possible—as Marcella says, “as if you are doing a fine laundry.” Lay the strips out on the counter on a towel and repeat with the remaining strips.

Preheat the oven to 450. Put butter and cream in a small saucepan and heat to medium and reduce the cream a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the nutmeg and whisk lightly to dissolve the tomato paste, continuing to cook to thicken the sauce to about buttermilk consistency, about another 5 minutes. Spread a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

On each pasta strip, place a single layer of sliced ham and then cover with a layer of cheese. My ham slices were exactly 4″ wide so no trimming was necessary, but the ham should fit the slice without overlapping it on the sides. Roll up the pasta like a jelly roll and place seam-side down on the towel while you do the other rolls. After you have done all the rolls, cut them in half so they are about 2″ thick. Then with a paring knife on one side of each ring, make an “X” about 1/2″ deep. This will help the roses “bloom.” (Mine didn’t bloom as much as I wanted, but they still looked very pretty.)

Put the roses in the baking dish with the cross cuts face up and distribute the remaining sauce over them with a pastry brush. Press down a bit on the roses to help them open slightly. Sprinkle with the parmigiano-reggiano and bake for about 15 minutes, until a light crust forms on top. Let them sit for about 5 minutes before serving. (Everything but the baking can be done in advance, just make sure that if you make it ahead and refrigerate it that it’s at room temperature before you put it in the oven.)

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Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think.

Photo Dec 03, 2 09 55 AM SWEET AND SAVORY

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

 

 

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Amarena Cherries

Photo Oct 14, 5 20 38 PM LEMON RICOTTA CAKE WITH AMARENA

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi everyone,

Well, here is another recipe to share, Lemon Ricotta Cake.

Recently, Bob and I went to Eataly, NYC to shop and we fit in some time for pistachio gelato too (my favorite flavor).

For those of you who are not familiar with Eataly, it is a 50,000 square foot Italian Market in NYC that has just about everything you could possibly imagine. Fresh pasta, fresh bread, butcher shop, cafes, sit down restaurants and a cooking school. The list goes on and on. It is owned by celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich.

While I was there I spotted a jar of Amarena cherries which are basically the Italian version of a maraschino cherry. I don’t really know how to describe them. They are small but very sweet and intense and come in a sweet syrup that you can put in a cocktail or club soda.

When I was a child my grandmother would serve these cherries over ice cream or she would make the most heavenly cookies with them. The cookies were a combination of the cherries mixed with cocoa powder covered in a sugar glaze. (Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for the cookies).

The cherries come in a beautiful blue and white jar ceramic jar. As soon as I saw the jar, I had a memory of grandma and I just had to buy them.

Photo Oct 15, 3 11 47 AM AMARENA CHERRIES

When I got home, I tried to find an Amarena cookie recipe like grandmas, but I wasn’t lucky enough to find one. 

However, I did come across this recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cake from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Deborah Mele, of Italian Food Forever and thought this lemon ricotta cake would be perfect to go along with the cherries.

You know that I am not the baker, but this recipe was no fuss and easy to put together and it was lemon, another favorite flavor of mine. So I started to bake. 

Bob and I loved the cake and the cherries were just perfect. I put the photo on DishingwithDiane instagram and immediately received requests for the recipe, so here it is.

It doesn’t have to be topped with Amarena cherries, whipped cream or strawberries; even plain, the cake is delicious.

Try it and enjoy. 

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LEMON RICOTTA CAKE

A simple lemon flavored cake that includes ricotta cheese, keeping the cake ver moist.

ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Softened Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • Zest From 3 Large Lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 1 Cup Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • Dash of Salt

To Serve:

  • Fresh Strawberries or in this case, Amarena cherries

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 7 or 8 inch spring-form pan.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon zest, extract, egg yolks and ricotta cheese and beat until smooth.
  5. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, and beat into the butter mixture just until combined.
  6. Wash your beaters well, and then beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff.
  7. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter then spoon the batter into your prepared tin.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester stuck into the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

**************************************

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

Good-bye Summer 2017

Photo Sep 20, 7 16 17 PM INTRO

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone, 

I know many of you consider Labor Day as the last day of summer, but not me. I want to hold on to this season to the very end and strictly go by the calendar.

This year Autumn starts on Friday, September 22, 2017, so I am holding on.

The nights have been getting cooler with a subtle reminder that my favorite season is saying good-bye; so to pay tribute to summer, I decided to post one more summer tablescape.

As you all know by now, I just love the beach and it is a big part of the summer season for me. The sand, sound of the waves and the peaceful feeling the beach brings. Maybe because I live on an island but the beach is definitely my happy place.

I was trying to think of a theme for this end of summer tablescape, and then I read a newspaper article that some of the local waterfront restaurants here on the island with private beaches, are planting palm trees to enhance the tropical island atmosphere of their restaurants. 

Well, I just found my theme to say good-bye to summer- palm trees. And I have the perfect set of dishes for this theme.

***********

So lets get started…

The tablecloth…. I am using a tan, sage green, cocoa brown and beige tablecloth embossed with palm trees. I like the muted colors because I have candlesticks that blend perfectly with this tablecloth.

Photo Sep 18, 3 48 10 PM TABLECLOTH

I used outdoor placemats that I bought for the patio table that are made out of PVC covered jute netting. You have probably seen similar placemats, they look like rubber. I bought the placemat in the shape of a palm tree frond.  

(FYI- the material used for this placemat is top rack dishwasher safe.)

Photo Sep 19, 11 25 04 AM PLACEMAT

Along with the frond placemat, I am using my a brown rattan chargers once again. I get the most use out of these chargers.

Photo Sep 18, 3 19 40 PM - RATTAN CHARGER WITH FRAME

The set of “palm tree” dishes was a birthday gift from a friend a few years back and I only had the opportunity to use them once last summer. So I decided to use them for this post and I hope my friend enjoys seeing her gift on the blog.

The dinner plates and salad plates have the same design. A beige background bordered in sage green and a cocoa brown around the rim with two palm trees in the center, also in sage green and cocoa brown.

Photo Sep 19, 3 50 43 PM SALAD AND DINNER

The complete set comes with dinner plates, salad plates, bowls and mugs.

Photo Sep 19, 2 48 36 PM COMPLETE SET

I think the dishes match the tablecloth perfectly.

The napkins are 20″ x 20″ over sized cotton napkins with a tropical leaf pattern along with the cutest gold palm tree napkin rings that I picked up from a great store in Florida that specializes in coastal home accents.

Photo Sep 18, 5 18 30 PM - BANANA LEAF NAPKIN

The glassware are acrylic highball glasses featuring sage green and cocoa brown palm trees with a cocoa brown rim on the top of the glass and a cross hatch pattern on the bottom of the glass.

Photo Sep 18, 2 55 23 PM - PALM TREE GLASS

 The flatware is bamboo. I love using this set for my summer tablescapes.

Photo Sep 18, 2 56 46 PM BAMBOO CUTLERY - 1

As I mentioned before, I have the perfect candlesticks for this tablescape. They are  polyresin palm trees in shades of olive green and brown along with off white pillar candles.

Photo Sep 19, 11 49 06 AM CANDLESTICKS

I told Bob that I was planning on a “palm tree” tablescape and my honey went out and bought me a tabletop palm tree. It’s perfect and I love it; and it is the new centerpiece.

Photo Sep 19, 2 45 48 PM PALM

Complete centerpiece with candlesticks.

Photo Sep 19, 2 44 51 PM CENTERPIECE

My addiction and love for salt and pepper shakers continues and I found the cutest set of palm tree salt & pepper shakers on Amazon that look like the palm trees on the dishes.

Photo Sep 18, 3 48 22 PM PALM TREE SALT AND PEPPER

I added an additional table accent, imitation succulents wrapped in burlap. I am sure with my NOT so green thumb, I could kill a real succulent in record breaking time so I am sticking to artificial.

Photo Sep 19, 11 48 09 AM SUCCULENT 2

I thought an Acacia wooden bowl filled with tropical fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, bananas, and starfruit; would be a nice touch for the table as well. 

Photo Sep 18, 3 47 52 PM FRUITBOWL 2

 So to say good-bye to summer, I just had to plan a meal to go along with the tropical feel as a send off to my favorite season, so I chose sticky pineapple chicken served in a pineapple boat with coconut rice and a tropical fruit salad.

Photo Sep 18, 8 41 53 PM PINEAPPLE CHICKEN

My dessert choice was Ambrosia & cinnamon sugar sand dollar cookies.

Photo Sep 20, 5 51 17 PM AMBROSIA

(All recipes at the end of the post)

Well, unfortunately for me, the time has finally come to say good-bye to Summer. See you in 273 days when Summer starts again on June 21, 2018. I am starting to count down already.

Wouldn’t you know, the rest of this week we are supposed to have weather like a hot Summer day. Temperature in the 80’s. 

Thank you Summer for one last hurrah! Now I feel a little better.

Although, I still think I need some pumpkin ice cream and an apple cider donut right about now to ease my pain for Fall arriving tomorrow…

See you in the Fall…

I hope you try some of the recipes on today’s blog and enjoy.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Photo Sep 20, 7 15 13 PM GOOD-BYE BUFFET

Place Setting

Photo Sep 20, 7 10 30 PM PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Palm tree tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops

Tropical leaf placemats from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Palm tree dishes from a friend as a birthday gift

Tropical leaf napkins from Amazon

Gold palm tree napkin rings from Wilford and Lee

Palm tree acrylic glasses from Homegoods

Bamboo flatware from Amazon

 Palm tree candlesticks from Amazon

Tabletop palm tree from my honey

Candles from Michael’s Arts & Crafts

Acacia wooden fruit bowl from Homegoods

Palm tree salt & pepper shakers from Amazon

 Succulents in burlap from Amazon

**************************************************

RECIPES

Photo Sep 18, 8 41 59 PM CLOSE UP CHICKEN

Sticky Pineapple Chicken

 (justataste.com)

Ingredients:

 1/2 cup pineapple juice

 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

 1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock

 1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup diced pineapple

 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews (optional)

Rice for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, chicken stock, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, garlic and cornstarch.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup and is the consistency of thick syrup. Set the sauce aside.
  3. Add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and season it with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain off any liquids then add the sauce to the pan and stir until combined.
  4. Add the pineapple and cashews and cook, stirring, for an additional 1 minute.
  5. Serve the chicken atop a bed of rice.

*****************************************

Coconut Rice

 (Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1- 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1- 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

**************************************

Photo Sep 20, 6 35 30 PM AMBROSIA CLOSE UP

 Ambrosia

(thecountrycook.net)

Ingredients:
  • 1 8 oz tub of whipped topping thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1- 20 oz can pineapple tidbits drained well
  • 1- 15 oz can mandarin orange segments drained well
  • 1 cup red or green seedless grapes sliced in half
  • 1- 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1- 1/2 cups mini marshmallows – (see note)
  • 1- 10 oz jar of maraschino cherry halves drained very well
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream.
  2. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows.
  3. Then gently fold in pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes and maraschino cherries and nuts (if using).
  4. Once combined, put some plastic wrap on it or put it in a bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

COOKS NOTE: You can make this dessert look more festive if you can find the multi-colored mini marshmallows.

 

*********************************************

Photo Sep 20, 5 48 24 PM SAND DOLLAR COOKIES

Cinnamon Sugar Sand Dollar Cookies

(sally’s baking addiction)

yield: 2 DOZEN COOKIES

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick and you may have to stir the rest by hand.
  3. Scoop a large section of dough (about 1 Tablespoon of dough each) and roll into balls. Make sure the balls are taller, rather than wide.
  4. Make the topping:   Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Roll each dough ball into the cinnamon sugar. Press 5 sliced almonds onto the tops of each dough ball, as pictured above. Chill the balls of dough for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This step will prevent spreading in the oven.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Arrange cookies 3 inches apart on baking sheets.
  6. Bake chilled cookie dough for 10 minutes. The cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes and move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Cookies stay soft & fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature. Cookies freeze well. Cookies may be rolled into balls and frozen up to 3 months to bake at a later date. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

***************************************

palm-trees-beach- thetreecenter - blog

photo courtesy of thetreecenter.com

 

Peach & Plum Crostata

 

Photo Sep 02, 1 52 19 AM PEACH AND PLUM CROSTATA

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi Everyone,

Happy Labor Day weekend!

This morning at 3 am I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up and bake!

Yes, me the person that never bakes. We had some peaches and plums and I always keep an “emergency” prepared pie crust in the house; so I decided to make a crostata.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with a crostata, it is an Italian baked tart. Also know as a galette in France.

This is the type of baking I can do; quick, easy and always delicious.

The perfect breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.

Once again, I posted the picture to Dishing With Diane Instagram page and requests for the recipe started to pop up.

So the recipe is printed below along with a recipe for homemade pie crust if you don’t like store bought and a photo of another crostata I made with cherries.

Enjoy the weekend…

Peach and Plum Crostata

Ingredients:

  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 3 large peaches, thinly sliced
  • 2 plums, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten OR 1 tbsp. apricot jam* with 1 tsp. water
  • Sugar in the raw

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set the uncooked pie dough onto the baking sheet.
  • In a bowl, gently mix peaches, plums sugar, and flour together. Pour fruit mixture into the center of the pastry round, leaving about 2 1/2 inches around the edge.
  • Fold up the edge of the pastry dough over the filling to make a rim. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.
  • Brush pastry with the beaten egg OR the jam & water and sprinkle edges with sugar in the raw.
  • Place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  • Cool the crostata on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite ice cream.
  • COOKS NOTES:
  • I used Stonewall Kitchen Bellini jam* for this crostata instead of the egg or apricot jam. 

Photo Sep 02, 7 34 53 PM BELLINI JAMYou can change the fruit as you like.

I also made a cherry crostata with this recipe.

Photo Jul 28, 6 31 08 AM.jpg CHERRY AND PEACH CROSTATA

For those of you who prefer a homemade pie crust, this is the recipe that I use…

Basic Pie Crust by Martha Stewart

  • YIELD: ONE 9-INCH CRUST

Ingredients:  

  • 1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough; press to shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  3. On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough to a 14-inch round with a floured rolling pin. Wrap dough around rolling pin, discarding paper; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate (opposite). Gently fit into bottom and up sides of plate (do not stretch dough).
  4. Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold under itself to form a rim, and press to seal. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp rim of crust. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

COOK’S NOTES

To freeze: Wrap in plastic and foil; freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator.

**********************************************

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com 

Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post…

Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

 

 

 

St. Joseph’s Day 2017

photo courtesy of zazzlefeast_day_of_st_joseph_card_march_19-r5ffbc83794be45c1a16d208c74e4073e_xvuat_8byvr_400 HAPPY FEAST OF ST JOSEPH

Hi Everyone,

 Every year on March 19th we pay special tribute to St. Joseph.

I am posting this a day early, just in case you want to look over and include one of the traditional recipes for your St. Joseph’s Day dinner.

There really is no tablescape to set for St. Joseph Day, so I am re-posting about the history of this holiday and all the traditional delicious food on the St. Joseph’s Day menu.

Especially the sfinge di San Giuseppe and zeppole pastries many people are familiar with. Enjoy !

All recipes are at the end of the post…

***********

(Click PHOTOS to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size)

happy-st-josephs-day

Saint Joseph is the patron saint for my family, so instead of a tablescape, I decided to share with you some of my family traditions and customary foods for this special holiday.

Before we start, a little background for Saint Joseph or San Giuseppe that might help you understand the holiday a little better. Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary. It is in Sicily where Saint Joseph is regarded as their patron saint for preventing a famine during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought and the people prayed to Saint Joseph for rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers and the rain came they would prepare a feast in his honor.

Well, the rain came and the people prepared a large banquet. Legend has it that the fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and that is always part of the Saint Joseph day dinner.

Some people keep painted fava beans as a good luck charm.

DSC00639 PAINTED FAVA BEANS FOR ST JOSEPH for blog

When I was younger (much younger), on Saint Joseph’s Day my Grandmother would take me to bring food to the Saint Joseph’s Day altar of her local church after Mass. Many of the older generations set up altars in their homes, but we did not. We always wore red to honor Saint Joseph, in the same way that green is worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.

The altars are quite a sight to see and they have 3 tiers to represent the Holy Trinity. The top tier holds the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by flowers (especially lilies). The reason is that – “The lily is associated with Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, through an ancient legend that he was chosen from among other men by the blossoming of his staff like a lily”. 

 The other tiers hold candles, figurines, special breads, pastries, lemons for luck, fava beans, pineapple for hospitality and wine. There is also a basket on the bottom tier where you can place prayer petitions.

 Here is a picture I found of of a Saint Joseph’s Day altar just to give you a better idea. Definitely wouldn’t work in my dining room.

5547597178_9560e0b681_z- st joseph altar USE

(photo credit-isitsauceorgravy.com)

 In my family, my Grandmother (even though we are not Sicilian) believed deeply that praying to Saint Joseph would protect her family and she bought all her grandchildren, at a very young age, a statue of Saint Joseph.

This is a photo of mine that I proudly display in my bedroom today. It is over 50 years old. In fact, my son’s middle name is Joseph to honor Saint Joseph.

st joseph statue

In addition to the celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day, I have always enjoyed the FOOD for Saint Joseph’s Day.

Many of you know this day only by the pastry (zeppole or sfinge di San Giuseppe) but we had a fantastic meal before the pastry.

(There were no words to describe how fantastic these pastries are).

2015-03-07 23.40.39 - St joseph pastry for blog

Purchased at Alpine Bakery- Smithtown, NY

My family (especially my dad) would make the pilgrimage each year to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx because we wouldn’t run the risk of buying ingredients at a local grocery store and be disappointed. No, ingredients had to be Italian and imported. No questions asked.

If you ever have the chance to visit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY you will be thrilled. The food is so fresh and it is like stepping back in time with the mom and pop shops. But Arthur Avenue isn’t just shops, it’s restaurants as well and the food is fabulous.

A real Little Italy.

Different regions celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day differently but all involve meatless foods (because this holiday always falls during Lent), minestrone soup and pasta with breadcrumbs (The breadcrumbs represent saw dust since Saint Joseph was a carpenter), seafood, and fava beans for luck and for dessert, the star of the show, zeppole and sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Here is a picture of my minestrone soup.

Photo Mar 20, 9 44 10 PM.jpg MINSTRONE FOR ST. JOSEPH.jpg WITH BLOG NAME

In my family, we made minestrone soup followed by bucatini with anchovies and breadcrumbs. (For those of you who are not familiar, bucatini is basically a larger spaghetti with a hole inside. Another pasta that is traditional is mafaldine; this looks like thin strips of lasagna noodles). Sicilians usually make the dish with sardines (Pasta con Sarde) instead of the anchovies.

Here is a picture of my bucatini with breadcrumbs.

Photo Mar 20, 8 09 49 PM.jpg BUCATINI WITH ANCHOVIES.jpg WITH BLOG NAME

The Saint Joseph’s Day bread was another special part of the meal and my Dad would buy the bread and have it blessed before he brought it home.

It is a round crusty loaf scored with a cross and flavored with anise.

joebreadsm2- ST JOSEPH BREAD

(photo credit-bennisoncakes.com)

And now back to the pastries. They are called zeppole or sfinge di San Guiseppe and I am sure you have all seen them. It’s a sweet dough like a big cream puff split and filled. They can be filled two ways. One with cannoli cream with tiny chocolate chips and candied fruit and also with custard cream; both topped with powdered sugar and a cherry and both delicious. Every year I always have to have one with each filling.

A fine tradition I passed along to my son.

st joseph's pastries 2

(photo credit-homestyledessertsbakery.com)

A lot of the old traditions unfortunately are not practiced as much today. Grandparents and parents have passed on and lives have become much busier, but I try to keep as many traditions going in my family as I can. I do make the bucatini with anchovies and the minestrone soup, but I buy my pastries because baking is just not my thing. (I have included the recipe at the bottom of the post, in case you want to take the baking challenge). I personally don’t make the fava beans for this holiday either, but I wanted to mention it again because it stands for “good luck” in case you wanted to include them on your menu.

All in all this holiday brings back great memories for me when I was younger and my family was still here with me, enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

Here is a picture of me (I am the toddler) with my parents, grandmother and two older sisters. All of my family have passed on now and all are missed every day. I keep the traditions alive to honor them; and thank them for all they have taught me about traditions and being proud of my heritage. 

Squeglia Family

I don’t have many photos for this holiday but at the bottom of this post, I will leave you with some traditional recipes if you want to celebrate St Joseph’s Day with your family.

It has been my pleasure to share my traditions with you for this special day. I hope this post gave a few of you some inspiration to try some new Saint Joseph’s Day holiday recipes.

Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!

Diane

Saint Joseph’s Day is also the birthday of my dear friend Sue Tetonic.

Happy Birthday Sue!

RECIPES

Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs

Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. I add a little grated cheese to the breadcrumbs as well. You can never have to much cheese.

*********

Bucatini with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs

Revised

Ingredients:

12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, finely chopped with the oil from the can (small can- 2 oz.)….for a stronger anchovy flavor add two cans.

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound bucatini

1/2 cup olive oil + 3 TBSP

4-6 large garlic cloves, sliced and divided

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Grated cheese

1 and 1/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs (1 cup for sauce * 1/3 cup for garnish)

 Directions:

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve pasta water.

In a small skillet, add 3 TBSP of olive oil and approximately 3 cloves of sliced garlic and warm on a very low temperature (you want to flavor the oil)

While the pasta is cooking, heat ½ Cup of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat

Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and the finely chopped anchovies. 

Cook, stirring until the anchovies dissolve. (Be careful of splatters)

Remove from the heat. 

Add 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs and stir for 1 minute to combine the oil and breadcrumbs

Add 3 ladles of pasta water to make a sauce 

Return to the heat on low and stir in the parsley

Add the drained cooked pasta to the pot with the anchovy sauce. Toss until the strands are well coated

Slowly add the warm garlic oil with sliced garlic and mix well.

Season with salt & pepper

Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved breadcrumbs and grated cheese.  

**********

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup celery, with leaves, chopped

1 carrot, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes, with juice

1 large can of cannellini beans

5 cups of beef or vegetable stock

½ cup flat parsley, finely chopped

1- 2 cups finely sliced, then roughly chopped spinach

2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into little cubes

½ cup small pasta (like ditalini)

Freshly grated Parmesan or Locatelli cheese

1 tsp. dried basil (optional)

1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until soft. Toss in the garlic and stir for another minute.

Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pot and cook down for 15 minutes.

Stir in the beef or vegetable stock and the bay leaf and beans and bring to a boil. Add half the parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, pinch of red pepper and lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes

Add the spinach, zucchini and pasta and cook at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. * If you are not serving the soup immediately, make the pasta separately and add to the soup when serving otherwise the pasta will absorb all the soup if left in the pot to sit.

When ready to serve, stir in the rest of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the crusty bread and topped with grated cheese

**********

Fava Beans
(I do not remember who gave me this recipe).

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried fava beans
1 bunch green onions
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook dried fava beans in boiling water until tender, adding more water as needed. Sauté seasonings in olive oil ’til tender, then add to beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls.

**********

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Recipe credit-mangiabenepasta.com)

(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles

Ingredients:

 Pastry:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Filling:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

 Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maraschino cherries

 Directions:

 To make the pastry:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a

boil.  Remove from heat.  With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.

Return to low heat.  Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves

side of pan.  Remove from heat.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard

after each addition until smooth.  Continue beating until dough is satiny and

breaks in strands.  Allow the mixture to cool.

 Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.  For each pastry,

pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.  Bake

for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool before

filling.

 To make the filling:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, whisk together

milk and egg yolks  Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.  Place the

saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking

constantly.  Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in rum, orange zest,

and vanilla.  Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic

wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then

refrigerate until cold.  Fold in the whipped cream.

 To assemble the zeppole:

Cut the pastries in half horizontally.  Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry

bag with a star tip.  Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom

half of each pastry.  Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.

Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.

Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Dust the pastries with

confectioners’ sugar.

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Fig Cookies (Cuccidate)

Courtesy of Paula Carbone Gati from facebook page- Born Again Italian

Dough:

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of Crisco, cold and broken into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 tsp vanilla

Filling:

One 12 oz pkg of dried figs, I use either mission or calimyrna
1/2 cup almonds… chopped,,,not to fine,,,more on the course side
1/2 cup of dates -no pits
1/2 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange marmalade
1/4 cup whiskey
1 tsp of good cinnamon

Icing:

4 cups confectionary sugar
a few table spoons of milk
nonpareils

Directions:

In stand mixer…mix all dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt set aside….to this add butter pieces little at a time, then cold Crisco, then have all wet ingredients mixed and slowly add this to the flour until a nice smooth dough forms…after the dough comes together..put on table and knead a few minutes till the dough is smooth, add more flour if necessary… make a smooth ball and cover in saran and refrigerate …while you prepare filling

I double this recipe..because I make a big batch and for the amount of work that goes into this its best to do it at once…it makes approx 5 doz cookies for this recipe…. which is a good amount..but you can freeze these cookies..I usually pack 6 at a time in a Ziploc then put in glad ware container and take out as needed..they freeze really good.

I remove the dried stems from the figs, and put all the dried fruits through the meat grinder
when all the fruit is ground up I add the rest of ingredients,,, and mix really well…I usually let this sit over night for all the flavors to really marry.

Start the assembly…taking a piece of dough at a time roll out to make approx a 3 inch by 12 inch rectangle..cut with knife to square off…then take the fig filling and make a log approx 12 inches long….place this log onto the rectangle of dough and roll and have seam side down….cut approx 1 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment lined cookie sheets…..350 degree oven for approx 15 minutes, till bottoms are slightly golden…
Make icing and after cookies are cool….spread a little icing onto each little bundle and sprinkle with some nonpareils…

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Holiday Breakfast Table

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(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then hit the back arrow to return to original size)

Hi Everyone,

Wow, another Christmas is over. The days and years seem to fly by too fast.

I was quite busy preparing all the fish for our Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes” dinner and didn’t have time to take pictures of my tablescape.

But Christmas morning was a different story. Every year we have our traditional breakfast and the main course is always Williams Sonoma croissants. I always order the combination of plain and chocolate.

Not to sound like an advertisement for this product, but they are delivered frozen, you take the quantity you want out the night before you want to eat them to let them rise for 9 hours. In the morning you bake them and the house smells “Wonderful”. Nothing like the smell of fresh baked goods.

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The other additions to our breakfast table are eggnog muffins with rum. If you are serving children, omit the rum, increase the eggnog and add vanilla. I love these muffins. Delicious and easy.

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( Recipe at the end of the post).

Of course we had to have Panettone on our breakfast table. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Panettone is an Italian Christmas Cake with candied orange peel, raisins and citron. You must try it at least once.

Every year I buy a different variety to change things up a bit; sometimes traditional, sometimes pear, chestnut and my favorite chocolate. This year it was chocolate. The company I love the best is Bonifanti – fantastic. I usually order mine from Eataly, NYC.

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You can eat Panettone at breakfast with coffee, as a snack with berries and whipped cream and at dinner with wine. This year I made Panettone two ways.

I served it sliced from the package and then I made overnight Panettone French toast.

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I had never tried to make the overnight French toast before so this was a new experience. I have made Panettone French toast on the griddle in the past, but I was trying to make life easier. If you prepare this, keep in mind it takes 40 – 45 minutes to bake, so you have to plan your time accordingly.

Add a nice dusting of powdered sugar before serving for a pretty presentation. It must have been too early in the morning for me because I forgot to do that.

(Recipe at the end of the post).

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 Bob and I liked the French toast a lot and it will be back on our Christmas breakfast table next year.

And I always add my Honey Bow Tie cookies to the breakfast table – another family tradition. The recipe and the story behind it was in my previous post of the same name, posted 12/21/16.

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This year Bob surprised me and bought me one of my favorite snack items to add to my breakfast plate. I very rarely eat them but I have loved them since I was a child.

“Hostess Sno Balls”

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Has anyone had these?  Pink or white it doesn’t matter. 

There is just something about the coconut and marshmallow chocolate covered cake with a creamy center that I love. Twinkies can move aside.

Well, with a Christmas breakfast, you have to have a Christmas tablescape.

We use the same dishes each year for this occasion. Another part of our tradition.

I am using dishes and mugs from Williams Sonoma called “Christmas Carols”. An off white porcelain dish rimmed in red with a variety of scenes depicting lyrics to Christmas songs.

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But before the dishes, I started out with the matching off white tablecloth 

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and napkins with red and green woven napkin holders.

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Followed by red charger plates and green dinner plates just to use the Christmas colors.

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The glassware that I am using is another exclusive to Williams Sonoma and they are called “Santa and Reindeer”.

They are sold as juice glasses but they are 14 oz. and I think that is a little too much for a juice glass. I would normally serve water or soda in a glass this size.

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My flatware is red of course for Christmas.

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To serve our breakfast goodies, I am using a white cake plate with red ribbon .

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The three tiered cake stand that matches the dishes.

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And the cutest red sleigh cupcake holders for the eggnog muffins displayed on a Christmas tree cutting board that was hand made by my cousin Frank- he is so talented.

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My centerpiece is a tabletop size real Christmas Pine Tree that I have been watering every day and keeping it alive (with Bob’s help of course). It was touch and go for a while when some of the pine needles started to fall off, but I kept the faith and it’s still alive. (I have a reputation for killing ALL plants, shrubs, and bouquets I come in contact with).

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The last addition to the breakfast table was a Willow Tree figurine -“Treasure 2016”. This year has been very important for us and we wanted her on the table to remind us of our blessings.

I collect these figurines. I just love them.

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Place Setting

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Well, that was our Christmas breakfast table. I hope I gave you some ideas to incorporate into your Christmas morning breakfast table for next year or a New Years Day breakfast table- wishing you many blessings in 2017.

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Diane

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Don’t forget the recipes.

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Eggnog Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

Serve these muffins with butter or jam … very yummy! If you plan on serving them to children, leave out the rum, increase the amount of eggnog, and add vanilla extract.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup prepared eggnog
1/2 cup dark rum
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease one 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake about 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
Cool slightly before serving.

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Overnight Panettone French toast

Courtesy of Naptime Recipes

Ingredients

1 loaf panettone (about 2 lbs. on the box)
6 large eggs
2 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Slice the loaf of panettone into about 8 to 10 even sized slices. Generously butter a 13 x 9 baking dish and fit the panettone slices in, allowing them to overlap. You may have to turn some slices sideways to make everything fit snugly – this is fine!
  2. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and pour the mixture evenly over the bread in the baking dish. Push the bread down so it soaks up as much of the custard as possible. Cover the baking dish and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours, or up to 12.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and allow the bread and custard to come to room temperature. Then sprinkle the top lightly with some granulated sugar and bake it in the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the French toast is puffed up. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with warm maple syrup.

This tasty treat appeals to both kids and adults and is even great for entertaining! To dress it up a bit try dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar.

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes prep time, 40 minutes cook time

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Table Details

 “Christmas Carols” dishes and mugs from Williams Sonoma

“Christmas Carols” tablecloth and napkins from Williams Sonoma

Three tier “Christmas Carols” cake stand from Williams Sonoma

“Santa and Reindeer” glassware from Williams Sonoma

Red and green woven napkin rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Red chargers from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Green dinner plates (Gibson)-pattern Green Aruba from Amazon

Red flatware from Homegoods

White cake plate with red ribbon was a “good luck” gift when I started the blog in 2015

Red Sleigh Cupcake holders  from Crate and Barrel

Willow Tree “Treasure 2016” from Hallmark

Panettone from Eataly, NYC

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