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April 13, 2008

Sunday Slow Bakers: Italian Crumbly Cake (Sbrisolona)

I joined the Sunday Slow Bakers in trying this Italian Crumbly Cake (page 82 of Dolce Italiano).

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My 10" springform pan died in it's last use (spring no longer works, so bottom falls out), so I used a nine inch springform. I tried CAKE FLOUR instead of 00 flour, and used Trader Joe's almond meal. The recipe was quick and easy, and all I had to do was adjust the cooking time to 45 minutes. I love the flavor of almonds, and the cake has a nice texture and leaves a delicious scent in the kitchen. This is a great cake with a second or third cup of coffee!

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April 20, 2008

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies

This week's recipe was quick and easy pistachio cookie bars (page 60 of Dolce Italiano.)
The dough is spread into a baking sheet with chopped pistachios and some sugar sprinkled on top. Wonderful scents of pistachios and almond extract will fill your kitchen. I reduced the baking time to 30 minutes. Here they are out of the oven cooling:

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Ready to eat!

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Enjoy a cup of coffee...and put the rest in the freezer to take to work on Monday!

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April 27, 2008

Babbo Breadsticks

Gina's Babbo's Breadsticks, or grissini, are a HUGE HIT at our house! (from Dolce Italiano, page 270)

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I absolutely LOVE this dough! It is cheesy with a kick of picante! The dough is simple to make, and it rose besutifully in two hours. Try these, and a wonderful scent will fill your kitchen.

Last week I ran out of parchment paper (and forgot to buy some), so I baked mine right on the oiled baking sheets.

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I made half sprinkled with sea salt, and half with parmigiano.

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Oh, my lucky staff on Monday will devour these as a mid-morning snack!

I have another idea...I'll let you know what happens!

May 11, 2008

Lemon Semolina Cookies

This week, for the Sunday Slow Bakers, Jerry chose Lemon Semolina cookies from Dolce Italiano. It will be a happy Monday for my staff tomorrow! I used "lemon sugar" (from Bristol Farms) to roll these light, buttery lemon cookies in. It is quite a lovely dough!

The recipe made 56 cookies.

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June 8, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

Today is Sunday, and I missed a couple weeks of Sunday Slow Bakers while we were in Italy. It was time to turn on the oven, before jumping into the pool.

I must admit, when I read this week's recipe for the Sunday Slow Bakers from Dolce Italiano, I was less than enthused, given that I am NOT a chocolate fan, and hazelnuts are my LEAST favorite nut. Well, Brad was excited, so I let him run to Trader Joe's for hazelnuts, and chop the nuts and the chocolate. He was quite pleased with the resulting cookies!

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June 29, 2008

Chocolate Semifreddo

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This week the Sunday Slow Bakers made Nancy's selection of Chocolate-Tangerine Semifreddo from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano. (Page 192-193) It was delightful to not have to turn on the oven on this 115 degree day!

I know I'm weird, but I don't eat chocolate! This saves me lots of calories, as when I make my chocoholic husband a chocolate dessert, I usually eat berries or fruit for dessert, and feel rather smug. However, Brad will not eat chocolate with any fruit involved! He is a purist snob with his chocolate, and feels any fruit on the plate will ruin his dessert. When I told him this had tangerine juice and zest, he gave me a look, and said he wouldn't eat it! I knew I wasn't going to eat it, so I had to come up with an alternative flavor. Brad has one exception to his "don't mess with my chocolate" rule: COFFEE!

I followed the recipe, but substituted Kahlua for the Amaretto, cream for the tangerine juice, and instant espresso powder for the zest. It worked, and Brad loved the finished semifreddo. He WILL "allow" me to garnish with nuts. Forgive me, Gina, for messing with the recipe!

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July 6, 2008

Almond Fingers

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The Sunday Slow Bakers have been at it again, and this week's recipe was "Almond Fingers". What a pretty and delightful little cookie. My guests have been munching on them all weekend (between lots of other baked treats).

I'm off to make a big brunch of fritatta and ricotta-lemon fritters, and I also baked a raspberry-almond paste tart (may have photos tomorrow...

For now, here are the Almond Fingers!

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July 20, 2008

Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake

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The Sunday Slow Bakers, besides being a group of wonderful Slow Travel people who love to cook and bake, are also an amazing group of caring and generous friends.
Gina, our inspiration, is sick, and we wanted to do something. In an instant a couple things were organized to help, or cheer her up, and the Slow Bakers came through!
I am so proud to be part of this. Slow Bakers ROCK!

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This week, we made Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake. I have always used regular (coarse grain) polenta for cooking, so first I had to find "fine" or "instant" polenta. No problem. There it was on the grocery store shelf (made in Italy). Everything else was already in my pantry. When I first read Dolce Italiano, this was the cake that got my attention! At the time, it was Christmas season, and I had an over-abundance of citrus in my yard. I made the "All-of-the-Lemon Tart" first, and this has been on hold.

The kitchen smells like sunshine when the cake is baking. Brad's Friday breakfast is missing!

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The best part of this cake, is that it uses zest from one orange, one lemon, and one lime. Juice from the three fruits is used for the yummy glaze. The remaining juice went into that night's apricot chicken! Someday soon, I will make instant polenta.

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Another yummy WINNER!

July 27, 2008

Taralli

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This was the most EMOTIONAL recipe for me that the Sunday Slow Bakers have made yet. I grew up on taralli. (I don't remember a packaged cracker until I discovered Ritz in high school). I'm sure I must have been given these as teething biscuits. I buy taralli on every trip to Italy, and hoard them, until just before we are leaving to go back. I usually end up with a bag of stale, broken pieces. I don't care. I used to think I couldn't get more, and they were never as good as my memory of mom's. As you can see the freshness date on these expired in May '08.

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About once a month, my mom and three aunts would get together at Aunt Annie's, and make taralli...HUNDREDS of them for each family to share. There were two big pots of water going on the stove, gallon bottles of wine that the uncles were "stealing" glasses of, the huge tin can of olive oil, and "taralli flour" on the formica kitchen table. Each sister had their job: one kneaded and rolled dough (no Kitchen Aid in sight), they took turns boiling and filling stacks of cookie sheets to go into ovens in the kitchen and the "summer kitchen" in the renovated garage. We would bring home huge tupperware containers of the taralli to our house until it was time to make them again. They were a daily snack for me, and ALWAYS served after dinner with wine and fruit at my aunts' houses.

I vaguely remembered that they seemed "complicated", and have not thought of tracking down a recipe to try them myself. During our visit to Puglia in 2003, I was given a regional cookbook with a recipe (in Italian). I was able to discern the ingredients and amounts, but the directions were vague at best. ("Boil until a fava bean floats".)

Gina's recipe from Dolce Italiano is like a smell and taste memory come true. As the scent from the first batch filled my kitchen, I felt 9 years old. I literally cried with the first taste. I LOVE these taralli. I just don't even have words.

Gina's Recipe:

4 1/2 c. "00" flour
2 T. kosher salt
1 T. granulated sugar
2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. finely chopped oregano (I used Rosemary)
1 c. plus 2 T dry white wine
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
* for half the dough I added 1 T. freshly ground black pepper and 2 T. grated Grana Padano
additional flour for dusting the bowl and kneading


I divided my dough into two pieces before adding the herbs and red pepper flakes.
I then added red pepper flakes and fresh rosemary to half and fresh cracked black pepper and grana padano to the other half. Mom made hers with "finnoccio" (fennel seed). You can experiment with herbs.

Place flour, 1 T. salt, sugar, herbs OR pepper and grated cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add wine and oil, and beat to make a smooth dough. Continue beating for about three minutes for a firm and velvety dough.

Lightly brush a bowl with olive oil and sprinkle it generously with flour. Place dough in the bowl, and dust the top with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 2 hours. You can also refrigerate dough overnight in an airtight container, and bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 375 with rack in center of oven.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Season with 1 T. salt. Prepare two baking sheets by brushing them lightly with olive oil. Have paper towels ready to drain taralli as they come out of the water.

Turn the dough onto a floured board or counter, and knead it lightly. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, leaving 3 pieces in the bowl, covered, while you work with the fourth piece. Roll dough into a long rope, and cut into 4-6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ring, and press together, or make a small "knot" at the top.

Working in batches of 4 taralli at a time, drop rings into simmering water. They will sink, and then rise to the surface. Let them float for 30-45 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon or Chinese skimmer. Place boiled taralli on paper towels to drain. Then transfer them to prepared baking sheets, until all your taralli have been boiled. Bake taralli for 25-40 minutes until they are golden. (My oven took about 40 min.) Let cool on a rack. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks. Pour yourself a nice glass of vino and enjoy!

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The dough rested, and I tried to imagine how much 00 flour I will be able to fit in my luggage on our return from Italy in September. I am almost out!

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It was fun to watch the 'little guys" float to the top.

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Later, Brad became my floater/timer, while I rolled out more.

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My anticipation was almost overwhelming when I put them in the oven.

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I called Brad in for the taste test. We ate one warm and the tears started. The texture and taste are exactly what they should be. It was a moment of many feelings. Bittersweet joy, wonder, and much gratitude to Gina.

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I served the first batch to Fiona and Steve with wine that night. Ego stole one off my napkin. This recipe is a TREASURE to me.


This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Palmabella's Passions in the Sunday Slow Bakers category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Sunday Salad Samplers is the previous category.

Sunday Slow Scoopers is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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