Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sformato di Asparagi e Cipolla (Asparagus and Spring Onion Bread Pudding)

This is a great springtime dish using seasonal ingredients. Perfect for Mother's Day brunch at home.

- 1 rustic loaf or ciabatta, diced and crust removed
- 2 spring onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup parmiggiano reggiano cheese.
In a medium sauté pan over low heat, cook the spring onion with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add the the asparagus, a pinch of salt and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the zest and juice of the lemon.

Whisk the heavy cream, the milk, the eggs, the nutmeg and the salt until combined.
Oil a baking dish with the rest of the oil. Place half of the bread cubes and top with half of the asparagus mixture. Sprinkle half of the cheese over. Repeat layering. 

 Pour the milk mixture evenly on top of the sformato. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Bake the sformato at 350F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve hot or warm.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Sicilian Pistachio Cake

This recipe is from Bronte, a Sicilian town at the foot of mount Etna rich in volcanic soil and where Bronte Pistachio grows. This pistachio variety has the DOP certification and its production is regulated and controlled. It is definitively a valuable ingredient among chefs in Italy and in Europe, not only because of its bright green color (it is called “green gold”) but also because its refined taste.  It is also quite expensive as its harvest occurs every two years between late August and early September and is done exclusively by hand. 

If you happen to find this exclusive variety try to use it in this cake. Otherwise, any pistachio variety would work amazingly.  The recipe is very simple but the results are impressive. It is also very soft and moist and its flavor improves over time. 
  •  4 ounces pistachio (about 2 ½ cups), grounded
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼cup flour
  • 2 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

Oil a round cake pan 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches high.
In a mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on medium speed to beat the eggs with the sugar until they are light and form a ribbon when the beaters are lifted out. The batter should triple in volume. 

Add the vanilla and bourbon to the egg mixture.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the nuts into the egg mixture until fully incorporated.

Using the spatula, fill the cake pan with the batter, gently smoothing its surface. Bake until center feels springy when lightly and quickly touched, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. To serve, cut into wedges and transfer to individual plates. Dust with powdered sugar, spooning the sugar into a small, fine-meshed sieve and tapping it over each portion.