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Monday, December 23, 2013

Tiramisu Recipe: Amaretto Winter Special Edition | You've Got Meal!

Great no bake dessert, Tiramisu, perfect for any occasion. In this version, we spiced things up with some Amaretto and, for that winter touch, we garnished the Tiramisu cake with some fresh red currants.

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert made with lady fingers dipped in espresso, covered with a layer of cream made with Mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, egg whites and sugar and powdered with cocoa dust. Basically, all yumminess. For a no bake and no fuss dessert, is very delicious, moist, fluffy and full of flavor. And, with all that espresso and cocoa, I like to think of it as a great energizer too.

Usually, we don't add any alcohol to our Tiramisu, just pure coffee and cocoa goodness, although traditionally Marsala is used. You can even make it kid-friendly by dipping the biscuits in some hot chocolate or sweetened milk instead of espresso. You can even replace the cocoa on each layer with grated chocolate, it is going to be delicious, even though it won't be Tiramisu anymore.

In our small household of two, we are crazy about Tiramisu. Actually, Mr. G has some instant cravings of Tiramisu just by seeing or talking about Mascarpone. This kind of craving made this post possible. You can't blame him. Because it is so simple, but full of flavor, it can also be great for your Christmas dinner. Nobody will be dissapointed and you will save some room in the oven, it just requires some time in the fridge.

I am so pleased with the Amaretto addition, it goes so well with the coffee, I can honestly say it is the best and the most elegant choice I tasted so far. Although the currants were just for garnishing purposes in the beginning, if you place some on each slice when you serve it, it is pure perfection, just the hint of freshness it needed.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 400 g Savoiardi (ladyfingers)
  • 500 g Mascarpone
  • 500 ml coffee, cooled (espresso will be best)
  • 120 g sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 50 ml Amaretto liquor
  • some cocoa powder
  • red currants or fresh cranberries

  1. Prepare the coffee and let it cool completely.
  2. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix is smooth and creamy. 
  3. Add the Mascarpone to the egg yolks and fully incorporate the cheese. 
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form.
  5. Add the egg whites to the cream mixture, fold it in fast but gently with a spatula.
  6. Add the Amaretto to the cream.
  7. Now you can layer the cake. A rectangular or square large deep dih or tin would be perfect. Dip each biscuit in coffee for 2 second on each side, arrange them on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of cream and powder with cocoa. Repeat the layers until you are out of ingredients. For the top, I didn't use any more cocoa, I just added the fruits and dusted them with powder sugar, I figured it was more suitable for winter.
  8. Let it set in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.
I got 2 layers, you can go with 3 if you want, just be careful that, because of the added liqour, the cream might be less firm.

By now, you know how easy it is, I just hope you will be as excited as we were by the taste. Anytime you want something sweet and impressive, but don't feel like baking, Tiramisu is here for you. :)

Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Persimmon Pudding | You've Got Meal!

This dish is not a very common one for us, and that’s to say the least. The persimmon fruit has been introduced in local markets around here scarcely these past years, and because people liked it, the retailers have been bringing bigger quantities. A traditional fruit in Asia and America, in Europe is seems to be more popular in the Western part. When we first tasted the fruit (the Hachiya version can be found here) we liked the sweet, nectar like taste of the persimmon (the retailers call it kaki, which is a part of its Latin name). Maybe it was just a personal opinion, but it tasted a bit like honey comb, and that’s a plus for any fruit in my book.

I tried looking for uses for this fruit and the most oblivious one was to make a persimmon pudding – we’re heading for Christmas after all. I’m going to be honest and admit that we didn’t really went for the pudding like consistency and rather for more of a moist pie. Why? Because pudding mean something totally different in our kitchen and we LOVE pie. I mean, who doesn’t?

Let’s break down the ingredients:
  • 400 grams of persimmon pulp, 
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour, 
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, 
  • half a tsp. of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, 
  • 1 ½ tsp. ginger (be it fresh or powder), 
  • ¾ cups brown sugar, 
  • 100 grams melted butter,
  • 2 cups milk, 
  • 2 eggs, 
  • 25 ml orange blossom water, 
  • 30 ml of pomegranate liqueur,
  •  mascarpone, crème fraiche and powder sugar for garnishing. 

Making this traditional Christmas desert recipe is as easy as pie – pun intended. 
  1. Remove the skin and the seeds and the skin of the fruits and blitz the pulp in a fruit processor or blender – this way works better especially when you can’t find really ripe fruits that can easily be mashed. 
  2. Mix the fruit with the sugar. 
  3. Next, sift the flour, spices and baking powder and mix them well. Add the fruit to the flour and combine them really well, making sure there are no lumps. 
  4. To the flour and fruit add the milk, eggs, orange blossom water, pomegranate liqueur and butter and incorporate them all in. 
  5. Use some butter to coat the inside of a baking tray (feel free to use some oven proof paper). 
  6. Pour the persimmon mixture in the tray and pop that in the preheated oven (160 Celsius) for 45 minutes. 

The result will be a rather moist pie. And a big warning here: in the oven, the pudding will rise, but as you take it out, it will drop considerably – don’t worry, it’s a matter of taste not of size (a little “That’s what she said” joke). The last 3 ingredients on the list are for the topping. Mix them in your desired quantities in order to obtain a topping to your liking: more Mascarpone for a thicker, stronger mixture, or more cream for a runnier, more malleable outcome.

For the last step, to really make the pudding perfect we wanted to add a little crunch. We wanted nuts, we also wanted some toffee taste, so we went for some toffee nuts. J 
In a skillet, melt 50 g of butter, add 3 tbsp brown sugar and wait for the sugar to dissolve. Add the nuts, coat them in the mixture, and 2 tbsp of milk and wait for the sauce to thicken in order for the walnuts to be nicely coated in the toffee-like dressing.  Once you remove them from heat, the sauce will thicken pretty fast and the walnut pieces will have the tendency to stick to each other. You should try to separate them, you could remove them from the sauce, put them on a flat surface and separate them some more with a knife. Sprinkle them on top of the Mascarpone cream.

What can we say, in conclusion, for this dish (that we’ve cooked for the 1st time )? I think that tradition plays a big role here and the way this pudding will look depends a lot on what you’ve been used to in your past experiences with the dish. For us, it means that we might want to experiment more with spices we throw in the mixture. The slightly spicy taste of this version pudding is a keeper for Christmas, but maybe things can get a turn for the French in a different take (Bourbon vanilla, more butter, some Creme de Cassis, who knows).   

In any case, enjoy this dish and, in advance, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

M&M Cookies | You've Got Meal!

Everybody loves cookies. They are a great dessert, guilty and yummy snacks, great companions for tea or coffee and nice edible gifts. The good thing is that they are easy to make, don't require that much time and (almost) everytime look amazing.

You could say that M&M cookies are a fun way to make chocolate chip cookies. And it is so much fun because of the colors, the simplicity and the continuous snacking on M&Ms while baking.

Once you've tried them, you will look for excuses and reasons to bake a batch of these. What better occasion than Christmas Eve? I bet even Santa will love these with milk in exchange of gifts and even the kids can help you out, just be careful they don't eat all the M&Ms before.

Speaking of Santa, do you remember that M&Ms Christmas commercial when the M&Ms met Santa and Santa fainted? That is a classic, so funny, and it is amazing how they still air it and people still love it!

Getting on with the recipe, the ingredients you will need are:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups M&Ms
Make sure you leave enough space between them as they have to tendency to "hug", as shown above
  1. With a hand mixer cream the butter (it should be at room temperature), add the sugars and cream some more.
  2. Add the aggs and the vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients: cornstarch, salt, baking powder and flour.
  4. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, scrape the sides if neccesary.
  5. With a spatula, slowly mix in the stars of the show, the M&Ms.

That is basically it, your batter is done.
Of course, you will need to bake the cookies.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and either with a spoon or (even better) with an ice cream scoop form balls and bake them for 10 minutes, in a preheated oven, at medium-high temperature until they turn golden.
Be carefull especially with the late batches, not to burn them, because the tray is hot, the oven is super heated so they might not need 10 minutes.

Let them cool on a wire rack and store them in an airtight container or a pretty Christmas cookie box. I do like to try some warm ones because the candies are so "melty", but I like them best the next day with a huuuuuuge cup of cold milk. 'Tis the season for hot drinks too, so be free to dip them in some hot chocolate or enjoy them with tea.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet Potato Salad and Simple Salmon | You've Got Meal!

This dish started with us buying a couple of sweet potatoes before Thanksgiving,  with the thought in our minds to use them for a dish for that occasion.  Lazy as we (sometimes) are we missed the deadline,  but that doesn't mean that we couldn't make a delicious dish nonetheless.

The pairing between the sweet potato and the fresh salmon works really well, but you can choose to serve just the salad, in which case just use some smoked salmon pieces.

The ingredients for 3-4 portions (depending on who is eating them):
  • 600 grams of sweet potato, cut into bite size pieces, 
  •  soy sauce, 
  • olive oil, 
  • pepper, 
  • the juice of 1 orange, 
  •  pomegranate seeds, 
  • 4-5 scallions,  
  • sesame seeds, 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, 
  • ginger, one thumb sized piece 

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes with 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, the same amount of olive oil and some pepper. 
  2. Place the yams in oven proof tin lined with cooking paper, making sure they're not too crowded. 
  3. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and mix in the tin. 
  4. Put the potatoes in the oven, 170 Celsius,  for about half an hour or until the yams are done- do a taste test, they get creamy on the inside and with a slight crust on the outside. 
  5. Put the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle the chopped scallions on top, same for the pomegranate seeds and the thinly sliced garlic. 
  6. For the dressing mix the orange juice, 1tbs of olive oil, salt, pepper and 1/2 of a teaspoon of finely grated ginger. 
  7. Pour the some of the dressing on the potatoes and mix to coat.

The salmon: we had a couple of steaks, 200 grams each.

  1. Make sure they are boneless, move your hand on top of the meat, looking for anything resembling the pinch of a bone. Remove them before cooking. I've seen most of these bones especially in thicker pieces of meat. 
  2. Sear the salmon on high heat, in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for 1 minute on each side. 
  3. Next, pop the fish in the oven,  skin side down,  160 Celsius,  for around 10 minutes.  
  4. In the last minute, pour a few drops of the salad dressing on top of the fish, and, if you feel like necessary, turn it up side down in order to get more of a crust on the meat. 
  5. Don't put the orange juice too early, the sugars in it will burn.
  6. Garnish the salmon with some chives and serve it with the sweet potatoes salad. 
Crazy-simple and goooood!

The fish and the yams go great together and, like I said before, you can choose to use smoked salmon. Or you can decide to use the yams as a side dish for something else.  In any case, the sweet potatoes are (even if a little late) a great Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish recipe.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Leftover Fish Salad- Express Post | You've Got Meal!

I remember watching this cooking show on TV once and seeing this lady being asked what she and her family eats during the week.  She named some dishes, but there was one thing that kept being repeated: leftovers.
I honestly believe that, sometimes, we waste our food way too easily, creating waste and, at the same time, emptying our wallets. So this is why (maybe not often enough) we make a couple of easy, super fast dishes, that make most of leftover cooked foods or leftover ingredients. In our last post we cooked some haddock and had a couple pieces of fish left. One of the things we love to make when dealing with leftovers is salads, so we’re going to show you how we saved a couple of on the verge of being thrown away ingredients.
We used: 
  • about 200 grams of haddock fillets, 
  • 1 ripe avocado, 
  • a salad mix (of your choice, or you can just use the leaves that you have in your fridge as long as they are eatable fresh), 
  • the juice of 1 lemon, 
  • olive oil, 
  • chives, 
  • rosemary, 
  • 1 garlic clove, 
  • salt, pepper.

Heat up some olive oil and throw a rosemary twig in there. Cook the fillets until they can be easily broken into flakes. Arrange the salad  mix in a plate (we had iceberg, red cabbage and carrots mix) and flake the fish on top. Finely slice a garlic clove and do the same to the avocado, add to the salad and fish. Pour the lemon juice and a good splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with some chopped chives. And, the most important part of the recipe, open up a chilled bottle of Prosecco, pour yourself a glass and enjoy your leftovers. Because, sometimes, these can truly be the star of a meal.  


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Haddock with Jerusalem Artichokes | You've Got Meal!

From a farmers market lover point of view I don’t really like winter – the veggies are scarce, they don’t have the same taste and it’s cold (that has nothing to do with farmers market, I just hate cold). But sometimes, even this harsh time of the year, you can get pleasantly surprised by some not so popular veggies, in this case Jerusalem artichokes. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this (half frozen) lady selling them in the market – in this area they’re called by their German name: topinambur. 

Jerusalem artichoke has nothing to do with the city or with an artichoke, instead its most common relative is the daisy. The parts you eat are the tubers, and the taste brings notes of sweet, sunflower seeds, slightly earthy, nutty. We used them in this dish as a substitute for spuds, even if Jerusalem artichoke have little to none starch. Both the fish and the veggies are Jamie Oliver inspired – I find that when you are trying to find clean, simple, dishes that hold distinctive flavors, The Naked Chef is the man for the job.

For the Jerusalem artichokes: 
  • 600-700 grams of the tubers, 
  • 2-3garlic cloves, 
  • 4-5 bay leaves, 
  • salt, pepper, 
  • olive oil, 
  • red wine vinegar. 
For the fish: 
  • 500 grams of haddock fillets, 
  • a dozen strips of smoked bacon, 
  • 2 tbs. of finely chopped fresh rosemary, 
  • the zest of 1 lemon, 
  • pepper. 

You can easily cook both the fish and the veggie at the same time. 

  1. Start of by cleaning the Jerusalem artichokes – either by thoroughly washing them or by peeling them. 
  2. In 50 ml of olive oil, on medium heat, pop the tubers and the bay leaves in and cook them until golden on all sides – keep an eye on these bad boys as they can easily burn. 
  3. Next, add 40 ml of the vinegar in the pan with some salt and pepper, toss around to mix. 
  4. Cover with a lid and cook until you can easily skewer the artichokes with a fork. 
  5. 5 minutes before being done pop the garlic in the pan.

  1. In order to cook the fish, place some bacon strips, slightly overlapped on each other on the working surface. 
  2. Place the fish in the middle of the bacon and sprinkle some rosemary, lemon zest and pepper on top. I didn’t add salt as the bacon was quite salty, adjust accordingly to your meat. 
  3. Close the bacon on top of the fish and cook in a couple tbs. of olive oil on both sides, for a minute each. 
  4. Next, place the fish in the oven for 10 minutes – you might need more if the fish is thicker. 
  5. Garnish  with some chopped chives.

While cooking this dish I realized that these Jerusalem artichokes go really well with two flavors: smoke (thus the bacon) and nuts. For the last one I decided to make a simple dressing that would compliment both the fish and the tubers: 300 grams of 10% fat Greek yogurt, the juice of half a lemon, 50 grams of roughly chopped walnuts, 1 crushed clove of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, some saffron threads that have been kept in a tbs. of warm water. Mix all the ingredients and create a great sauce that can be use a lot of your fish dishes or even as a great companion for some baked potatoes.

In the end, what can I say? The fish was the great, the Jerusalem artichokes were good (I love my spuds and I’m not going to replace them). Definitely going to try and bring this ingredient to some other dishes, maybe some that will require boiling/steaming them. 

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