Friday, May 31, 2013

p to the seventh panini

The school year has finally come to a close, and I've accumulated a lot on the way.

Confession: I lug around a lot.  You can tell by the weight of my backpack as I struggle up the metro escalator (I believe that life's to short to stand on an escalator).

So I like to hang onto things, and it comes in handy sometimes.   My friends put up with my embarrassingly large bag so they can take advantage of my phone charger.  I'm kind of like Mary Poppins when she pulled a lamp post out of her enormous diaper bag. 


Oh so you need a pencil for your test? I have a pencil case full of mechanical pencils (one of which works).
Just opened your yogurt and need a spoon? I have a set of clean silverware in the front pocket.
Getting a pedicure during your free period? Don't fear, I have extra flip flops.
Forgot you have to wear shorts in PE today?  I have a razor and travel soap.
That boy from 7th period texted you and batteries at 2%?  I have three iPhone chargers.  Worship me.
See? All my mismatched items come together harmoniously into one, supercharged survival kit.


... kind of like this sandwich (that was not the smoothest transition, but bear with me).  This sandwich has a crazy hodgepodge of things: sweet pears, seedy raspberry jam, an assortment of cheeses, seedy bread, and bacon... lots of bacon.  However, it all comes together harmoniously into one, supercharged sandwich.  It also has an awesomely nerdy name: P to the 7th Panini, because I was procrastinating from my math homework when I invented it.


Pears, prosciutto, preserves, Parmesan, provolone, poppyseed bread, and a panini press.
7 words that all start with P.  Mash-bang them together and you have this beauty of a sandwich. I'm a genius, what can I say. 

With love, 
Erica


Ingredients
  • 4 slices poppyseed bread 
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry preserves
  • 2 thinly sliced red pears
  • 6 strips cooked bacon (or other salty meat like speck, prosciutto or even ham)
  • White cheddar
  • Provolone
  • Parmesan
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat griddle or panini press to medium-high heat.
  2. Assemble 2 sandwiches in this order: bread, 1½ tbs. preserves, pear, 4 slices bacon, 2 slices cheese, bread.
  3. Spread butter on top and bottom of sandwich, sprinkle with Parmesan, and grill for 4-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Note:
My slices of bacon were pretty small and thin, which is why I used 4 on each sandwich (gulp). I think 2 regular slices per sandwich would be plenty. 

  © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

sweet bread from valtellina

If everyone in the world had to bake a loaf of bread from scratch, the world would be a better place. 

Let me elaborate.


Basically, bread baking is a huge pain in the butt.   It requires patience, planning skills, and upper body strength -- all things that I lack...

If it's such a pain, then why do I bake bread from scratch?  Because baking bread has taught me many life lessons... and because that first slice, fresh out of the oven with a big smear of melted butter (because I totally deserve it) is worth all the hassle and *minor* mental breakdowns. 


Anyways, here are the things that bread has taught me: 

Bread has taught me to plan ahead.  I've learned the hard way that if dinner's at seven, I better start the loaf at four.  There are few things more painful to watch than hungry people crunching on spinach salad while the bread is still in the oven -- especially when they can smell all of that carby-goodness wafting out of the oven. I've also learned not to run out the door while the dough is rising.  Personally, errands always take twice as long as they should.   Thus, I end up  returning to a kitchen that smells like a brewery and being confronted by a ball of dough the size of a large toddler. 


Bread has taught me perseverance (and given me some *somewhat* defined biceps).  Sure, there are dough hooks, bread machines, and other fancy kneading gizmos -- but I'm a firm believer that the best loaves come from some good, old-fashioned pounding.  The glutens in the dough need to be stretched and warmed by human hands.  It's a labor of love.  With every loaf of bread, I knead a little bit of my soul and spirit into the dough.  That sounds so incredibly cheesy, but you can taste the difference, I swear.  


Bread has taught me that patience pays off.  I am the kind of girl who seldom uses measuring cups and has no idea where my teaspoons are.  I have one "cup"-ish sized mug that I use for everything.  I've got to admit I love to cut corners (and hate doing dishes).  I feel like I'm totally winning at life when I make a layer cake in one salad bowl with a fork.  But bread baking requires patience and a lot of spoons. I've learned to even break out the kitchen scale when baking a loaf of bread.  Crazy stuff, I know...  But it's all for the love of bread.  


Lastly, sometimes, yeast can just be a little bit of a bitch.  You can use all the measuring spoons in the world, and your bread will still sometimes come out of the oven looking like a hot mess.  Bread has taught me how to say "hey, it's ok."  When my country boule ends up looking like a giant chicken McNugget, I've learned just to call it "rustic." No one complains. Trust me.  Especially when I serve it with Vermont maple butter. 

This my adaptation of a traditional recipe for bisciola -- an artisan fruit and nut loaf from the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland.  The addition of figs and anise seeds makes it both sweet and savory.

Have you ever made bread from scratch?

With love, 
Erica
 

  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water 
  • 1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dried mixed fruit (I used apricots, figs and dates)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise seeds 
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour, warm water, and yeast in a large bowl, and stir well with a whisk. Cover and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Add the nuts, 1 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, dried fruit, anise, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, salt, and egg to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms (dough will feel tacky). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 
Knead dough until smooth and elastic; add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.  Place dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Shape into an 8-inch round loaf. Brush dough with 2 teaspoons oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Uncover dough. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.
Adapted from La Cucina Italiana
 
© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

banana nutella eggrolls


Surprises can be sweet.  I've talked a bit about surprises before -- about how I'm kind of in the middle, loving to surprise other people but enjoy being "in the know" myself.


I realized that the reason I had this outlook was because I had never really, truly been surprised before. When I was little, I would always plan my little birthday parties down to the napkins.  I peeked behind the teacher's desk on the last day of 2nd grade, so I knew that she had bought us all popsicles for the last day of school.  And, as I told you before, I have a different ringtone for all of my contacts so I know who's calling me before I pick up the phone.
 

Well, it's that time of year again -- prom season.  After Spring break, I look forward for my entire school going on hold for all of the brief interruptions that break up the otherwise monotonous day.


For a girl with a limited attention span, having marshmallows, posters, and an ever-growing number of rose petals littering the floor of the forum is a wonderful thing.  A Cappella groups bursting into song in the middle of a math quiz? Yes.  Boys flying in the air holding prom posters? Double yes.


A lot has changed since my mom was in high school.  Most boys don't just call a girl up and ask her to prom like they used to.  It has grown into a big production, and as the years go by it gets harder and harder to think of something that hasn't been done before.  Some boys will even go so far as to wear gold sparkly booty shorts and twerk on their high school crush until she says yes.   For those of you who need a refresher on what "twerking" is, look no further than the link above.


Anyways, I'm somewhat glad that I'm not a boy who has to worry about thinking of something clever, funny, entertaining, and original every year. 



Sometimes, it's nice to let yourself be surprised.  Which brings me to this recipe.  Banana Nutella Eggrolls.  Deep-fried Asian cuisine on the outside, and sweet, classic crepe fillings on the inside.  You think you're in for some shredded cabbage, pork, and eggs (classic egg roll fillings), but then BAM, you bite through the crunchy deep-fried crust to discover nothing but caramelized banana covered with oozing, melty Nutella.  Mindblown.  This is what happens when I'm at home alone for too long with leftover wonton wrappers.  Maybe that should happen more often.

With love,
Erica


Ingredients 
1 package refrigerated spring roll/egg roll wrappers
6 bananas, halved
1 cup Nutella
Oil for frying

Slice all of the bananas in half.
Lay out a wonton wrapper like a diamond.  Spread a spoonful of Nutella lengthwise (see image).  Place a banana half on top.  Roll burrito-style.  Seal with water. 
Heat 2″ of oil to 375 degrees and place about 3 egg rolls into the oil at a time, cooking for about 2 minutes or until they are nice and golden.
Carefully, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the egg rolls from the oil. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve warm with ice cream!

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.