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Cappuccino, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Making cappuccino!

Ingredients

1-1/2 cup Strongly Brewed Coffee
1 cup Skimmed Milk
1 tsp Sugar or Splenda

Preparation

Put the sugar in the milk and thoroughly heat it in the microwave oven.
Pour the milk in a blender and blend till it develops a thick layer of froth. You can also use an electric whisk for this purpose.
Brew the coffee till it is strong, and fill only 3/4 of your cup with coffee. Pour in the frothy milk and sugar mixture.
Add in a pinch of cinnamon for a spicy flavor, or garnish the drink with some chocolate.

You have 2 cappuccinos ready to go! Freshly ground coffee can give your cappuccino a fresh and smooth flavor. If you want to add a delicious twist to your cappuccino, add 2-3 tablespoons of caramel or 2 tablespoons of chocolate, or both together, just before pouring in the frothy mixture.

A perfect way to stay warm this winter!

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Bruschetta al Pomodoro

bruschetta, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

On our recent trip to Italy we enjoyed this typical dish on several occasions with the world’s best tomatoes.

4 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons for EVOO
Course Salt and Pepper
8 slices of crusty bread
3 cloves of garlic

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toast or grill bread lightly on both sides, then rub the garlic across the bread’s surface am then top with the tomato mixture.

Buon Appetit!!!

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Pizza Margherita

margarita, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Planning for Italy 2010 is well underway! In my dreams each night Italy comes alive once again. 35 more days and sleeps till our departure makes for great dreams!!! I often have the same recurring dream, that our vacation is about to be over and I have not done everything I have wanted to do our our trip. I have the same dream each year before departure……ahhhhh. So today I am day dreaming about the best best pizza on earth!
PIZZA MARGHERITA
Ingredients

* 1 cup crushed tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or julienned
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1/2 pound mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
* Basic pizza dough, rolled out for 2 (12-inch) pizzas, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and, if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and process until smooth. Divide sauce between the 2 pizzas and smooth to spread evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges of the dough. Sprinkle basil leaves on top of sauce and then top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, divide mozzarella slices between 2 pizzas, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the edges are golden brown.
Basic pizza dough — by hand method:

* 1 package active dry yeast
* 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
* 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus more if necessary
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, add half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly incorporate. Add all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Transfer dough to a pizza stone. Mangia!

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Alla Checca

pomodoro, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

WOW, 35 more days before we embark on our next Italian Adventure! I must say that I have been a bit lax at blogging over the past month, because of personal issues. But as travel comes closer I love to reminisce about our adventures with food and friends along the way. I always love a fresh pasta dish. What is not to love about pomodori and pasta! Here is a great recipe with fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients

* 5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* salt to taste
* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 pound pasta

Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil in a non-metal bowl. Stir in salt. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature at least 2 hours, or as long as 10 hours.
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Pour uncooked sauce over hot pasta, and toss. Add grated Parmesan cheese to your liking.

Mangia…..Ciao!!

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Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite day’s, yeah call me a hopeless romantic! In fact, my husband and chose to be married at a wedding chapel in Gatlinburg Tennessee on Valentine’s Day. This year will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary! Our 10th Anniversary Trip will be to Italy in June. So I am sharing a dessert to share with your loved one this Valentine’s Day….enjoy!!!

INGREDIENTS

* 1 pint fresh strawberries
* 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 cup mascarpone cheese
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur
* 18 ladyfingers
* 1/3 cup chilled espresso
* 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut off the tops of the strawberries and slice the berries. Reserve 2 large whole berries for garnish.
2. In a blender, place 2 cups of strawberries and 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar; blend to puree and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and liqueur; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until thickened.
4. Place 6 ladyfingers on a serving plate and brush each with approximately 1 teaspoon cold espresso coffee. Spread or pipe out 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers, and layer with half of the sliced strawberries.
5. Repeat with the next 6 ladyfingers, espresso, remaining cheese mixture, and sliced strawberries; top with remaining 6 ladyfingers.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until just whipped, approximately 1 minute. Spread cream evenly over top layer of ladyfingers.
7. Dust cocoa over whipped cream, and garnish with 2 reserved strawberries. Pour strawberry puree onto two serving plates. Cut tiramisu in half, and place onto puree. Mangia!

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Childhood comfort

This week has been incredibly stressful. I am so happy that tomorrow brings the arrival of February and soon my favorite holiday….Groundhog’s Day.

I love Groundhog’s Day, it is unpretentious. The day warrants for nothing. A brief anticipation of what Punxsutawney Phil will experience when he crawls out of hibernation….I know, I know! In Maine we have little of no expectations of Phil. All I know is that Winter is not yet over by far. So we all go back into hibernation and wait for spring….in the meantime this is dinner tonight. One my favorite recipes for a cold winter night! Homemade Chicken Tortellini Soup or Brodo. Enjoy! Make sure you have some good crispy bread to mop up every last bit!

INGREDIENTS

* 7 3/4 cups chicken broth
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 (9 ounce) package of fresh cheese tortellini
* 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken

DIRECTIONS

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, combine the broth, tomatoes, spinach, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes; add the tortellini and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes or until tortellini is heated through.

After dinner we are booking our flights and accommodations to Italy…….wooo hooo!

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Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Another great holiday recipe to share!!!!! I am known as the “Queen of Cheesecake” If it can be made I will create it. I am a connoisseur of cheesecake, in fact I have made and sold these to friends, and usually whenever I am asked to bring a food item to a party it is usually cheesecake. Enjoy this recipe!

Crust:
20 chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground coffee beans
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Filling:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature

Glaze:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light or dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup crushed candy canes (see Cooks Note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil.

For the crust: Process the chocolate wafers in a food processor with the butter, sugar, coffee, and salt until fine. Evenly press the crust into the prepared dish covering the bottom completely. Bake until the crust sets, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 75 percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Blend the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream together in the food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides, as needed. Add the eggs and pulse until just incorporated. With the food processor running, pour the chocolate into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust. Bake until filling puffs slightly around the edges, but is still a bit wobbly in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the Glaze: Put the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in microwave safe bowl. Heat glaze in the microwave at 75 percent power until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir the ingredients together until smooth; add the sour cream. Spread glaze evenly over the warm cake and scatter the crushed candy canes over top. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.

Cut into small bars or squares. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Store cookies covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Cook’s Note: To crush the candy canes, remove wrappers and place in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to roll and break the candy up into small pieces, about 1/4 inch or so.
This recipe is from the FoodNetwork.

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