Yum! Apple Cake. This recipe is a favorite in our household as the days begin to get shorter and colder. The best part, of course, is going out to the apple orchard to pick the apples. Since Molto Mayhem takes place in the spring and summer, I don't write about Lucia picking apples. But I can imagine she and Aiden goofing off in the branches of a tree. And the recipe is so simple, even Aiden wouldn't mess it up.
While apple tress are much less prevalent than olive trees in Tuscany, there are still plenty of recipes for Tuscan Apple cake (Torta Di Mele) - more like a flan than my cake recipe below.
Fresh Apple Cake - Courtesy of Winterthur's Culinary Collection
- 5 apples, peeled and cubed (note: this is the most arduous part of the recipe:>)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups sifted flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Put the apples into a large bowl and cover with the sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Blend oil and eggs into apple mixture. Add dry ingredients and nuts, blending just to mix. Pour into a greased 13X9 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (I have found this to take less time, or more depending on the size of the pan I use. Check after 30 minutes. Should be firm but not hard.) Let cool for 10 minutes then sprinkle granulated sugar over top of cake. YUM!
Limoncello di Villa Maria - courtesy of David Rocco
Every year at this time my husband begins to make what has become his famous Limoncello. It is a labor of love. But as Lucia's Uncle Gianni would have said, the best deserves the effort. It also makes a few bottles, so be prepared and be generous: Aunt Christina would have used it to keep her friends close and her enemies closer.
4- ¼ cup 95% alcohol
7- ripe lemons, thoroughly washed and dried
4- ¼ cups water (I liter)
1 lb sugar (450g)
Shave off yellow part of the lemon rinds using a potato peeler. Put lemon rinds in a large glass container and add alcohol. Cover the container with plastic wrap to prevent alcohol from evaporating and let rest for 12 days at room
- Boil water. Remove from heat and add sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and let cool.
- Drain 12 day old alcohol of the lemon rinds and add it to the sugared water. Set aside for an additional 10 days in a sealed glass bottle.
- After 10 days the limoncello is ready. It is best served chilled as a digestive after a meal.
Yields approx. 1.75 liters
This recipe is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and Food Network
Lucia's uncle would have shown her how to clean the mussels and clams (including pulling off the beard -toward the hinge end). Not having Uncle Gianni handy I had to do some research on the computer. Thankfully the shrimp came cleaned and deveined. YAY!
Ingredients1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds total), scrubbed
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add
the garlic, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper. Saute until
the garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the
tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatoes begin to break
down and the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Stir in the clams. Cover and cook
for 5 minutes. Stir in the mussels. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels open, about 5
Using a tongs, transfer the opened shellfish to serving
bowls (discard any shellfish that do not open). Add the shrimp and basil to the
simmering tomato broth. Simmer
until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes. Divide the shrimp
and tomato broth among the bowls. Serve with the warm bread.
Compliments of Tastes of Italia - May/June 2009
2 C mascarpone cream cheese
¾ c sugar
grated zest of 3
Juice of 3 lemons
2 C heavy whipping cream
36-48 lady fingers, or 1 pound cake sliced in ½ - inch slices
½ c Limoncello
zest from three lemons for garnish
Raspberries and powedered sugar (if desired)
In a large bowl, beat together the mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest
and lemon juice until well blended. Pour in whipping cream, one cup at a time, while continuing to beat mixture. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Arrange one layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of a 10 X 10 inch baking pan (or a dish of similar volume). Pour the limoncello into a bowl. Take pastry brush and lightly brush the layer of ladyfingers with the limoncello. Spread ½ the cream mixture on the ladyfingers, then spread a second layer of ladyfingers and repeat with the limoncello and cream until it covers them completely. Chill overnight. When ready to serve, grate additional lemon zest on top and add fruit and powdered sugar, if desired.
Compliments of La Cucina Italiana Magazine
1 hour plus resting / 6 servings
2 ¼ cups “00” flour or unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon evoo
2 ½ cups fresh ricotta cheese (about 1 1/3 pounds)
3 oz freshly grates Parmigiano-Reggiona or Grana Padano cheese
2 Tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
FOR PASTA: in a large bowl whisk together foulr and salt. Mound the flour mixture, then form a well in the center. Add egg, egg yolks, oil and 2 tablespoons tepid water the the well. Using a fork, gently break up the yolks and slowly incorporate flour from the inside rim of the well. Continue until liquid is absorbed (about half of the flour will be incorporated), then knead in bowl until dough forms a mostly complete mass (this first section can also be
completed in a food processor).
Transfer dough and any flour in the bowl to a clean work surface to knead together. If using a pasta machine to roll out dough, knead five minutes more to form a moderately smooth dough (machine will complete the kneading process). If rolling out dough by hand, knead until dogh is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
FOR FILLING: In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, Parmisiano-Reggiano, Parsley, salt and nutmeg. Set aside
filling. Roll out dough in 4 sections keeping each one wrapped in plastic until previous section is finished
Feed pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), to thinnest setting. Dust pasta sheet with flour and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Cut sheet in half lengthwise to form two long strips. Put dots of 1 teaspoon filling along center of dough 1 ½ inches apart. Brush bottom edge of one strip with finger dipped in water, then, with dry hands dusted with flour, fold strip over filling tucking top edge back from bottom edge by about 1/8 inch (e.g. bottom edge of pasta will stick out from top edge by 1/8 inch.) Use your fingertips to gently but firmly press pasta around filling to remove any air bubbles and seal edges, then fold past over on top of itself to double seal edge (filling mound will now be underneath). Gently press again to seal. Using fluted pasta wheele cut between caramelle, then gently but firmly pinch at the joint and twist ends, shaping the caramelle like a piece of wrapped candy. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. (Caramelle can be prepared and frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze first on parchment paper in single layer. Do not defrost before cooking.)
CARAMELLE ALLA ERBE EMILIA-ROMAGNA
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs, including sage, rosemary and parsley
1 recipe ricotta caramelle
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter then stir in herbs and a pinch of sea salt; remove from heat and set
aside. Cookcaramelle in the boiling water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with butter sauce. Serve immediately.
(Note: I added a little parmigiano-reggiano and pepper on top at the very end!)
The heroine of Molto Mayhem, Lucia, is sent to Italy to learn the fine art of cooking from her Aunt Cristina. In a twist, it is actually the uncle who teaches her the beauty of Italian cuisine.