Torta Caprese (Chocolate Almond Cake)

Although we have been to Campania a number of times, during our latest trip in September it was the first time that we got to enjoy a slice of Torta Caprese, which was at Villa Rosa. It is a flourless … Continue reading Torta Caprese (Chocolate Almond Cake)

Scallops Gratin with Almonds (Capesante gratinate con le mandorle)

Another delicious seafood antipasto at La Perla in Calasetta was scallops gratin with almonds. The nice thing about Italian cooking is that once you know the ingredients (vocabulary) and cooking techniques (grammar), you can very easily reconstruct dishes (sentences) without … Continue reading Scallops Gratin with Almonds (Capesante gratinate con le mandorle)

Homemade Amaretti

Amaretti are those crispy Italian almond cookies that are crumbled and used for cakes, and in fact are not made of almonds but of apricot kernels. The word “amaretti” means “little bitter ones”. The home made variety is in fact made of almonds and it is initially more chewy than brittle. The recipe is easy: almond meal, egg whites, caster sugar, almond extract, and a pinch of salt. I’ve created my own recipe for cookies that was based upon this, adding lemon zest and coconut to the mix. I’ve been making them for so long that I wanted to make simple amaretti again just to see how I’d like them. The verdict is that I like them, but I like my enhanced variety better 🙂 Continue reading “Homemade Amaretti”

Butternut Squash Tartlets

Oops! On November 25, I blogged about Duck Breast Sous-Vide with Duck Red Wine Demi-Glace and promised that my next post would be about the side dish shown on the plate: butternut squash tartlets. Then I got so excited about the homemade Barolo Chinato I had just tried for the first time that I wanted to blog about that straight away and completely forgot about the butternut squash tartlets. So with a bit of delay here is finally the post about butternut squash tartlets… Continue reading “Butternut Squash Tartlets”

Ancho Chile with Chocolate Mousse and Amarena Cherries

Guess whose idea it was to use chile peppers for dessert? Who else but Richard McGary! I found his recipe for Cinnamon Candied Chile Relleno with Red Wine Chocolate Sauce very intriguing, and knew I had to try something similar. I thought it was very appropriate to use the ancho chiles that Richard had sent me to prepare this very unusual but very tasty dessert. The base of the dessert is a chile pepper stuffed with chocolate mousse. Richard soaks the chiles in cinnamon syrup and serves them with pecans and red wine chocolate sauce. I made my own version with an Italian twist by pairing the chocolate stuffed chile with tart amarena cherries and almonds. It was really good, and definitely something I’ll make again. Thanks Richard! Continue reading “Ancho Chile with Chocolate Mousse and Amarena Cherries”


French macarons are almond and meringue-based airy cookies that are commonly filled with ganache or buttercream. The image of two macarons with filling in between has always reminded me of a hamburger, but perhaps that’s only me. I’ve had lots of macarons at the end of fancy dinners in restaurant, but until now I had never made them myself. A great post by the Cooking Chook inspired me to try making them for myself. Lo and behold: my first attempt was successful and they were outstanding stuffed with orange curd. My first attempt looked a bit rustic because I hadn’t piped the meringue very neatly, but that didn’t take away anything from the great flavor. The brittle crispiness of the shells combined very nicely with the creamy curd, and the sweetness of the almond shells went nicely with the tangy orange. Paired with a passito di pantelleria dessert wine, it was sublime. Continue reading “Macarons”

Cauliflower Risotto (Risotto al Cavolfiore)

A few weeks ago I dined at my favorite Italian restaurant in Amsterdam: Bussia. The risotto I was served there was a cauliflower risotto and it was the inspiration for the risotto I created. This risotto is very creamy with most of the cauliflower used to make a cauliflower puree and the remainder roasted in the oven for some additional flavor and crunch. As a finishing touch I added some roasted almonds. I was happy with the result and will definitely make this again. If made with vegetable stock, this is an outstanding vegetarian dish. Continue reading “Cauliflower Risotto (Risotto al Cavolfiore)”

Cake with Plums, Almonds and Orange

I served this delicious cake to my parents for dessert when they came over for dinner, and everyone loved it. I got the recipe from the newspaper a long time ago, and found it when I was sorting out old recipes. It’s so good I regret not making it earlier. Ingredients 500 grams (1.1 lbs) ripe plums 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar juice and zest of 1 orange vanilla bean For the dough 150 grams (11 Tbsp) butter at room temperature 150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar 2 eggs 85 grams (1/2 cup) flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 100 grams … Continue reading Cake with Plums, Almonds and Orange

Penne with Cauliflower and Almonds (Penne Cavolfiori e Mandorle)

Summer still seems far away here in the Netherlands, so I felt like making this hearty pasta dish. It’s a simple dish with an original flavor, and very filling. This is not an original Italian dish; the combination of cauliflower and almonds is my own invention. Ingredients For 2 servings 150-200 grams (1/3-1/2 pound) penne pasta 300 grams (2/3 pounds) cauliflower florets 50 grams (2 oz) blanched almonds 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 cup home-made chicken stock (or vegetable stock) 1 cup whipping cream salt and freshly ground white pepper 6 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded 1/4 cup freshly grated … Continue reading Penne with Cauliflower and Almonds (Penne Cavolfiori e Mandorle)