Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Take note: useful links i want to save and which you might find interesting as well


I am very likely to forget things, wherei saw them, what i saw exactly, how did that someone make that thing which i don’t even remember what it was?

Well then i’ve decided to write here the links, the notes, i take when surfing here and there on the internet. Let’s see if i get to not forget things anymore…



How to frost a cupcake (no piping) http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/05/le-cinq-comment-glacer-un-cupcake/

Frost with rainbow http://deannasstuff.blogspot.com/2009/05/bring-in-sunshine-and-some-more-glitter.html



Site, blogs, much more…





Saturday, January 29, 2011

And the adventure begins


a dream come true…. a little, tiny dream, but still coming true.


Yesterday an envelope arrived. I had been waiting for that for a long time (well actually just a week, but it contained something i had longed for for quite a long time)

env copiab

i have been “stalking” her for all this time, and she never told me or let me infer i was bothering her too much. I have to thank her if i’m holding the content of that envelope right now. Thanks Martina, for all the support and patience you’ve had.



vanil copia2


here a single pod costs 3 euros (you make the conversion, Saint Google might be of some help… i just don’t want to get it wrong and i’m likely to get it wrong ;))

that’s the reson i had never bought a vanilla pod in my life (until i bought a 2-pod packet for 5 euros last month)

Instead thanks to Martina i got to buy 100 g of vanilla pods for 15 euros (shipping costs included). Amazing!

I’m so happy now! Well what doesn’t really make me happy though is the fact that i have to wait until summer to use it! Only by then the vanilla extract will be ready to use :( Out of sight, out of mind, i’ve hidden the bottles so i won’t risk being tempted and using it too early.


vanilla extract2bf2b

Vanilla extract resources i’ve checked/found helpful: (told you i love “wasting my time” on comparing recipes and sources ;) )

- http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2009/02/homemade_vanilla_extract.php

- http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/06/how-to-make-vanilla-extract/

- http://www.thethriftymama.com/2010/10/homemade-vanilla-extract.html

- http://newlifeonahomestead.com/2010/10/how-to-make-homemade-vanilla-extract/

- http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_vanilla_extract/

- http://userealbutter.com/2010/04/29/vanilla-extract-recipe/

- http://bossacafez.blogspot.com/2010/04/homemade-vanilla-extract.html

- http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/2010/05/homemade-vanilla-extract-and-vanilla.html

- http://kelseyskitchen.com/2010/12/homemade-vanilla-extract/

- http://www.avoision.com/2009/03/02/making_homemade_vanilla_extrac.php

- http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/how-to-make-homemade-vanilla-extract/


- http://aniceecannella.blogspot.com/2010/01/estratto-di-vaniglia-fatto-in-casa.html {it} – (this one calls for a sugar syrup along with alcohol and vanilla pods)

- http://www.cilieginasullatorta.it/2009/08/estratto-di-vaniglia-homemade.html {it}

Friday, January 28, 2011

A bit late… but as they say… better late than never


A long time ago i saw a recipe. It called for tofu and soy milk. Despite these, is sounded absolutely delicious, and it also looked yummy. Wait a minute, i wrote “despite”… just because i knew i was never going to get those. Well MAYBE i could have, but i really doubt about it.

Anyway, i really wanted to try it but… how could i do that?

i came up with a substitution, i asked the blogger whose recipe i wished i was able to make, and yes, she reassured me and told me that the idea i had was not bad. I forgot to say thank you, that was too rude of me. I apologize Grace. I’m thanking you now :) a bit late but better late than never :)

My ice cream probably isn’t exactly like Grace’s, but it’s yummy :)


Praline Chocolate ice cream

adapted from here

(i had only 200 g of cheese so i reduced all the amounts to fit that)

pral2 copia


serves 4-5


200 g philadelphia cream cheese (replacing 336 g silken tofu)

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup hazelnut praline paste (i had already some in the refrigerator-the funny thing is that i only had exactly 1/2 and luckily was enough)

1/2 cup (regular) milk

100 g chopped dark chocolate


2 tbsp cocoa

2-3 tbsp vodka


   pral4 copia


put in a food processor the cream cheese, milk, maple syrup, praline paste, vanillin, cocoa, and blend until well combined and until all lumps disappear;

add the melted chocolate to the mixture, and vodka;

refrigerate if necessary, to get a very cold mixture;

pour into your ice cream machine and process according to the manifacturer’s instructions;

then transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container, cover with the lid and place into the freezer, allowing it to set for at least 4 hours.


i added a little cocoa to make the colour more intense and darker, and vodka to allow the ice cream to keep soft in the freezer for a longer time, and to allow me to scoop it more easily when i take it out of the freezer.


go here to see how you can make your own hazelnut praline paste. I do the same as Grace, i just use the same amount of sugar and hazelnuts.

pral3 copia

pral5 copia

next time i’m making the peanut butter version ;D

Monday, January 24, 2011

Need for some vanilla stuff

Right then. The story goes so.

I had made to make a batch of brownies, for a round-up/contest/dunnohowtocallit. Anyway, since i’ve become the kind of person i didn’t want to become (the kind that sees the picture in their mind before even taking it), i already knew how (i hoped) i was going to serve (and shoot) my brownies. Served with ice cream on top. Well, ice cream is always ice cream, it’s delicious no matter what the taste is. But you all know (don’t you?) that vanilla ice cream and brownies are the perfect match (ok, right, each to his own taste, but…). Anyway, i wanted, needed vanilla ice cream, but didn’t happen to have some in the freezer (how could this have been possible????). So the night before, without working too much on it (i didn’t really want to spend too much time on ice cream-making, that wasn’t the purpose of the whole thing), i tried this.

I also had some yogurt that needed to be used, so i killed two birds with one stone.

Oh and yes, i almost forgot to mention it. No ice cream machine needed. Not even a mixer. You’ll see. This is super easy, i mean it.


No-churn vanilla ice cream (eggless)



serves 6


3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

3 tbsp vodka

9 oz (250 g) plain or vanilla yogurt (no fat free or any other light version) – divided into two

seeds of a vanilla pod

1 scant cup (200 ml) whipping cream

6 oz (170 g) condensed milk (kept in the refrigerator until the moment it is used)



place into a casserole on low heat half of the yogurt with the sugar and the vanilla seeds, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved into the yogurt;

allow to cool completely, then whisk in the rest of the yogurt and vodka;

make sure this mix is very cold (chill it if necessary. If it’s winter, and you don’t live in California, or anywhere else where it’s 120°F {50°C} also in winter, you can put it on your windowsill, covered with aluminum foil) before moving to the next step;

whip cream while adding condensed milk to it (do it very gingerly, almost by pouring it over cream very gingerly)

when it’s stiff and well whipped, fold this into the yogurt mixture, very gently;

very gently scraper this whipped, fluffy mixture into a freezer safe container (i used a 32 oz. emptied yogurt container)

Cover with the lid, allow to set in your freezer for a minimum of 6 hours. All you need to to at this point is scooping into a bowl and eating it.

It keeps always creamy, no matter how long you keep it in the freezer (but i’m sure it won’t last even a week).



enjoy it plain



or topped with caramel sauce, fruit topping, or chocolate syrup


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bake at 400°F, allow to cool, grab everything,… and throw it all away!

which is more or less my mood right now. I was so excited when i saw this, and i was even more when lovely Holly helped me find the recipe. I had to try it. it’s almost pure chocolate, who wouldn’t love it?


(i wonder why the hell i keep asking myself stupid questions, questions whose answers btw i already know, deep inside of me)

my excitement was killed hip and thigh. i’m so frustrated that i’m not even sure about posting this. i’m angry, too.



Chocolate mousse cake

adapted from here



for a 8-inch (20,5 cm) round pan* – serves 8


1/4 pound (115 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup hot brewed espresso or strong brewed coffee

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (133 g) sugar

2 pinches of salt (i used 1)

4 large eggs, separated


cocoa powder for dusting

whipped cream of vanilla ice cream to serve with




(i’ll tell you how i did it)

generously butter the sides of a cake ring, then place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (tip: to prevent parchment paper from moving or slipping, slightly butter the corners of the baking sheet, or “draw” a sort of internal the perimeter 2 inches away from the edge of the baking sheet, then press the paper against the baking sheet, so the little butter you used will act as glue and allow the paper to stay where it’s supposed to) ; preheat oven to 400°F (200°C);

in a microwave safe bowl put chocolate, and allow to melt (it’ll take it around 90 seconds to melt, stop the microwave every 30 seconds and stir the chocolate to keep it from burning);

meanwhile prepare the coffee (i made it with a machine – of course mine is way more essential and simple, and the amount was about one scant coffee cup – it equaled 3-4 coffees of the kind you get in italian cafees, which, let’s say it, is quite an invisible amount of coffee – just complaining, i’m stopping, right);

when the chocolate is completely melted add the hot coffee and then butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring well to incorporate it evenly;

gently whisk in sugar, a pinch of salt, and the egg yolks, one at a time;

in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites (the should be firm but still glossy);

Very gingerly whisk about ¼ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Switch to a rubber spatula, and gently fold in the rest of the whites.

Scrape a generous third of the mixture into the buttered ring on the baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate the remaining mousse.

Bake the mousse in the ring for 15 minutes, at which point it will be puffed. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack, and allow the cake to cool to room temperature. There will be a dip in the center of it. Place the cake, still on the baking sheet, in the refrigerator. (opss i skipped this, i actually didn’t have time – and my cake didn’t actually have any dip in the center either – it was right at this stage that the “omg i’m sure i’ve done something wrong and this cake will never ever turn out as it’s supposed to” feeling started. I tried to be confident – cakes can perceive your fear – and went on as if nothing {wrong} had happened)


Now you have a choice:

TO SERVE BAKED AND CHILLED (recommended – and actually my only option – can’t even stand the thought of eating raw eggs):

Chill the base of the cake for at least an hour (as i said above, skipped).

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scrape the chilled mousse onto the chilled base (still on the baking sheet). Bake for 30 minutes or until top is puffed and dry (30 minutes were fine, maybe i could even have baked it for a little less time – the surface showed some little “burnt” spots). It will crack, and a knife inserted inside a crack will come out almost dry.

Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack, and cool to room temperature. Chill for at least four hours or overnight. Remove the sides of the springform pan (already done, before placing it into the refrigerator). (Run a blunt knife around the edgesi did so - or warm the pan with a hairdryer – mmm no… hairdryer should stay where they are – bathroom zone.) Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate, and dust with cocoa. If you think there’s nothing wrong about it, well then do serve with whipped cream or ice cream. I… let’s say i wished i could save myself some calories – and i was too lazy to get down to the basement to get the spray cream.


or you can:

SERVE BAKED AND WARM: Bake as for "baked and chilled" (above). After you have transferred the baking sheet, with the cake on it, to a cooling rack, wait five minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. The cake will sink, so just let it settle for another five minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and dust with cocoa. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

SERVE CHILLED: Let the base of the cake chill thoroughly. Scrape the remaining mousse over the base. Cover and refrigerate at least six hours, or overnight.

Transfer the springform pan to a serving plate and remove the ring. (Run a knife around the edges or warm the pan with a hairdryer.) Dust with cocoa. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


moussecake003     moussecake006



enjoy (hopefully more than people did here)

i was so extremely happy with succeding in making the cake! (i had really thought it would have been a complete disaster), but as i said, now i’m just feeling like grabbing the plate and “gently fold it into the… rubbish”… :(





the recipe didn’t actually call for a cake ring. Originally it called for a springform pan without its bottom. But i didn’t have a pan of the required size, and i had read something about “not quite right” sizes and the resulting cakes. I really didn’t want my cake to be as thick as a crepe, so i wanted something with the right diameter. Seems like the cake ring worked just fine. It really is a helpful tool, because this way you always have “the right-sized pan”. So i highly recommend buying one if you have the chance to.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My first lefse experience – apparently not as bad as i had thought :D

Someone told me that i am my own worst critic. I think she was right. No matter if what i do is good or bad, i always think that it’s bad, and i always will.

Some days ago (i wonder how i was able to not see it before) i stumbled upon this. Then i went here, and inevitably landed here.

Mmmh… Lefse. {They actually reminded me of our piadina romagnola.}

I was immediately interested in them, and started searching for “THE” recipe. Well it sounds easy if you put it that way.

The good and the bad about the internet is VARIETY. On the internet not only you can find EVERYTHING, but you can also find the ENDLESS VERSIONS OF THAT “EVERYTHING”. You following me?

I’m sure you have already experienced that. At least i have, for sure.

When i want to find the recipe for something, i cannot trust the first recipe i find. How can you be sure that that source is reliable? How can you be sure that someone has really tried that, and hasn’t just copied and pasted that recipe from somewhere else (only god know where from)?

So well my usual approach to recipe searching is: find as many recipes as you are able to find, and then compare them all.

It always takes me quite a lot of time, but pays off almost always eventually. {i’ll hark back to that soon, i’ll write a post only about this matter}

So well, after looking at 20 different recipes (at least), comparing them, thinking a lot, and so on, i chose the recipe.

Today the pictures really do suck, more than usual, i’d say :D i didn’t think i was going to post this, but after the kind, helpful, lovely Erica reassured me about the result i got, well now i’m posting the recipe+(horribile) photos of my very first Lefse, which wasn’t so bad after all then :D



Lefse – Norwegian flatbread {here to read more}

makes 8-10 9-inch round lefse (lefses? do you add the –s for the plural?)


adapted from here (with wonderful photos and explanations)

(my adaptations in brackets, as always)


1 {910 g} pound potatoes

1/2 {113 ml} cup whipping cream (omitted: my dough was already “too wet”)

1/2 stick {60g} butter

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour



peel, quarter and boil in salted water potatoes, until you can easily pierce them with a fork;

drain well;

rice the potatoes quickly, put them back into the pot where you boiled them, add bits of butter and allow to melt completely, stirring well;

allow to cool completely;

add the rest of the ingredients (cream, salt, sugar, flour);

mix at first with a spoon, then knead well by hand on the counter for 10 minutes;

portion out the dough, form it into rounded patties and allow these to set for 5 minutes before rolling them out, really thin, on a very well floured surface (i rolled the dough out and then cut the form of a round using a reverse flate plate, then i rolled the dough just a little bit to allow the rolled out dough to have an even surface and thickness);

cook on the preheated proper griddle or in a skillet (like i did), it has to be really hot when you start cooking your lefse;

cook on one side until bubbles form, and then flip and allow to cook on the other side too;

stuck cooked lefse on a clean towel and allow to cool.


{it takes you around 2 hours to have your lefse ready; it can also be folded – half or quarters – and frozen for up to 6 months}


my lefse was very easy pliable and foldable, which scared me. What went wrong????

Erica tells me it’s ok if lefse has a soft consistency (i’d define it “crepe-like”). {I had expected lefse to be… “crunchier” and “harder” (drier). But that’s not how it should be.}


see? they’re perfect for making wraps-like stuff, you should fill them, roll, and eat.


I read, among other things, that people in Norway are also used to eating it with butter, sugar and cinnamon for breakfast.

Here we ate it with ham, salami, soft cheese (mine was filled with a mix of oven baked vegetables – i’m almost a vegetarian). I actually wanted to stuff it with Nutella… but.. next time ;)


Too bad (too bad) i haven’t the proper stuff to make them :( like the right pin, that gives the texture to the dough, the stick, or the griddle :( maybe some day, if someone i know goes to Norway, i’ll ask them to bring me the lefse equipment ;)


to transfer the rounds from the counter to the skillet i used a wonderful knife with a long, narrow, flat blade (something like that) that happened to be perfect for carrying out this operation! lol



make sure you cut your fingernails before making lafse :D or you’ll risk piercing the rounds of rolled out dough!

(anyway, the dough was much more resistant than i expected! it almost never tore!)


of course any suggestion for improving my lefse-making skills is more than welcome! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

DIH – Do It Homemade – it’s better, it’s cheaper… and way more fun!

Well i am a bit disappointed. Guess what is not fun at all? It’s not fun at all when, in addition to your regular breakfast, you eat two huge scoops of ice cream+syrup, just to be able to take some good pictures of the latter and… the pictures turn out to be horrible, and you get the feeling that you’re nearly going to puke because you’ve eaten too much.

Leaving aside all this (boring, for you, i’m sure) stuff, what i really mean to say is: the picture do not do justice to the subject of this post, this wonderful chocolate syrup.

In fact, i didn’t mean to post it now, not one bit. I really wanted to take a great pic of it first, one that could make you understand how good, delicious, yummy it is (i guess you’ll have to try it yourselves, at this poin), and only afterwards i would have posted the whole thing.

But i have to. Because i want to give thanks for this recipe to the blogger i “stole” the recipe from, and i had to have evidence of the fact that i had actually tried it, didn’t i? ;)


so, thanks Becky :) it tastes wonderful :)



Chocolate syrup

adapted from here


makes almost 2 9-oz. jars (if i had known about that, i probably would have halved the recipe :) i eat that alone, and it’s a bit too much for me – anyway, Becky said it keeps more or less 1 month in the refrigerator – if you don’t eat the hole batch the day after the day you’ve made it – not recommended if you’e trying to stay fit :D like me)


Ingredients: (my adaptations in brackets)

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (flavored with vanilla – just put a pod - whose seeds you’ve already used - into a jar, and cover with granulated sugar – allow the flavor of the vanilla pod to be transferred to the sugar – you actually forget about the jar for a month or two – make sure to shake the jar every now and then cause the sugar will tend to form one single block, due to humidity)

1 cup hot water

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp light corn syrup (it’s not available where i live, so i used the same amount of glucose syrup/liquid glucose instead – well i meant to use the same amount, but since i only had 1 1/2 tbsp, i used that)

1 tsp vanilla extract (1 sachet of vanillin – i know it’s not the same at all, but you have to use what you have – hopefully i’m making my own vanilla extract soon, keep your fingers crossed for me people ;) )



place the dry ingredients in a casserole, gradually add the water stirring constantly (i do so to prevent lumps to form);

add the syrup, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes;

remove from heat, add vanilla, mix well, allow to cool completely and trasfer to a proper container (i used an empty bottle which once had contained store bought syrup).

Store in refrigerator, for up to a month.

(makes 1 3/4 cups syrup)




…and after the “chocolate syrup treatment”


syrup007 on my delicious, homemade, no-churn vanilla ice cream





well, i do not know what i got wrong, but my syrup turned out a little runnier than i had thought it would be. Maybe i cooked it not as long as i should have, maybe the heat was “low” rather than “medium”, i really don’t know.

So i poured it into a glass bowl and put it 5 minutes or so in the microwave oven. You know, MW ovens allow water to evaporate. So i told myself that, if some water, through boiling, evaporated, the syrup would turn out thicker in the end. And it sort of worked. You know, when something doesn’t turn out the way it was supposed or i wanted it to, i take it personally, and i get angry, when i do not surrender. So see? never give up, you can (almost) always make up for kitchen disasters :) just stop, breath, count to 10, and look for a solution :D


happy baking people!


Make this syrup! it’s worth it! (but do not eat it all at once right? lol)




{personal note:

i’ve changed so much over the last months. Once i would say “i’m making this, for sure!”, this would be my usual comment to the recipes i saw on blogs. Now i rather prefer to say nothing, and just “act”. Less words, more concrete stuff. And then i just drop a comment to say “ehi i tried it!! come and have a look!” to the original author… i’m so proud of the cook-blogger i’ve become :D}