Truffle Surprise

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Truffle Center and Strawberry Sauce

When I found out that two of my favorite food bloggers, Stevie and Heavenly Housewife were hosting a Truffle Mania event, I knew I couldn’t pass it up!

One of my all-time favorite treats are the Christmas truffles that magically appear every season in one Vienna’s most tempting pastry shops, Kurkonditorei Oberlaa. They are sublime creations made of a velvety milk chocolate ganache flavored with cinnamon and cardamom, which is enveloped in a soft milk chocolate shell and coated with crunchy sanding sugar. The contrast of textures and flavors is fabulous, and knowing that these are only available for a limited time each year turns them into truly irresistible objects of desire.

However,  perfection should not be messed with, which is why I immediately decided that trying to recreate them was out of the question. But I had recently come across an interesting recipe in La Cucina Italiana for vanilla scented rice puddings with a truffle center and strawberry sauce. I just had to wait for the perfect occasion to have an excuse to give this recipe a try! The original recipe was relatively rich though, so I made some (minor) alterations, and I must say the result was simply delicious.

Now before you put your apron on and start making truffles, go check out the fabulous truffles everyone else has been making. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Donuts To Delirium

Weird Combinations

The More Than Occasional Baker

Suvelle Couisine

Franish Nonspeaker

Taste of Beirut

Life’s Too Short To Skip Dessert

Truffle Surprise (serves 5)
600ml milk
200g arborio rice
80g sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, cut in half
200ml heavy cream
100g best quality dark chocolate (70%)
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
butter for forms
200g strawberries
extra sugar

1. Break chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl.
2. Bring half the cream to a boil.
3. Add liqueur to cream and immediately pour over chocolate. Let stand for a few minutes and then carefully stir chocolate into cream.
4. Let cool to room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
5. When ganache has firmed up, make truffles (about 1 generous teaspoon per truffle). Keep truffles refrigerated.
6. In a small pot, bring milk, remaining cream, sugar, scraped vanilla seeds and pod, and a pinch of salt to the boil.
7. Remove vanilla pod and add rice.
8. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is soft and has absorbed all the liquid.
9. Uncover and let rice cool to room temperature.
10. Butter small metal forms and fill halfway with rice. Transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
11. Make a small indentation in the rice with your thumb and add one truffle per form.
12. Top up forms with remaining rice and refrigerate until ready to serve, or at least 30 minutes.
13. In the meantime, blend strawberries, a dash of water and sugar to your liking in a blender.
14. Before serving, remove rice puddings from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
15. Remove puddings from form and serve with strawberry sauce.

This recipe yields extra truffles, which are delicious rolled in cocoa powder.

Thanks again Stevie and Heavenly Housewife for hosting this great event! I hope everyone had as much fun making their truffles as I did. And please don’t forget to check out everyone else’s exquisite recipes!

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Risotto With Soybeans And Caramelized Lemon

Risotto with Soybean and Caramelized Lemon

I don’t know about you, but every trip I go on leaves me wanting to travel and discover even more. Immersing oneself in foreign cultures and exploring local cuisines is such a thrilling experience as it offers glimpses of the incredible cultural diversity among humans. It also makes one realize that we are all a lot more similar than we think, and that the “otherness” is often nothing but an expression of the dreams, fears, and desires we share in different terms. Traveling to a foreign country with an open mind allows us to leave our own point of view behind, and try out something new, and what better way to do that than through food! Which is why I was so excited to find out that the lovely Devaki from Weavethousandflavors has put together a fabulous Epicurean Voyage across Sicily where she will explore the local culture and food scene with a small group of people. The itinerary sounds fantastic, but space is limited to 16 people, so make sure to head on over to her blog and check it out for yourself.

In the meantime, you can ease any symptoms of the Italian travel bug with this delicious risotto, which features a medley of wonderful flavors and textures. The creamy saltiness of the risotto and soybeans contrasts beautifully with the sticky sweetness of the caramelized lemon peel and the earthy flavor of marjoram. I hope you’ll enjoy cooking and eating it as much as I did!

Risotto With Soybeans And Caramelized Lemon (serves 4)
300g risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano)
150g onion, finely chopped
200g frozen soybeans (edamame)
parmigiano reggiano, grated
extra virgin olive oil
fresh marjoram, finely chopped
about 750ml hot vegetable broth
dry white wine
butter
salt, pepper
zest of 2 lemons
80g sugar + 80ml water

To make the caramelized lemon peels:
1. Using a sharp knife, peel lemons. Be careful to only peel off the outer yellow zest. Cut into very fine strips. Alternatively, use a zester for this task.
2. In a small saucepan or pot, bring sugar and water to the boil and cook until sugar starts to slightly change color.
3. Add lemon zest and continue cooking until sugar turns a light amber.
4. Deglaze with a few tablespoons of water, and cook until reduced to a sticky syrup.
5. Set aside and let cool.

To make risotto:
1. In a large pot, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and sautee onion until translucent.
3. Add rice and cook, stirring for about 1 minute (do not brown rice!).
4. Deglaze with white wine (about 125ml or to taste) and stir until wine has evaporated.
5. Add enough broth to cover rice. Stir and boil uncovered until broth has been absorbed.
6. Repeat with remaining broth.
7. About 5 to 7 minutes before risotto is done, stir in frozen soybeans and continue cooking and stirring risotto until desired consistency has been achieved.
8. When risotto is al dente, remove from heat and stir in some grated parmigiano, a walnut sized piece of butter, and some freshly ground black pepper. Season with marjoram and salt to taste.
9. Plate risotto and garnish with lemon zest and some of the sugar syrup.

Enjoy!

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Istanbul’s Bazaars – A Food Lover’s Paradise

Istanbul

Istanbul is one of those cities that instantly wows you with its crazy energy and seemingly contradictory mix of east and west, old and new. Nowhere can you feel the heartbeat of this great city more than at its many bazaars. They are truly spectacular places that make you wish supermarkets were never invented. People come to socialize as much as they come to shop, and even if you don’t want to buy anything, browsing and people watching are so fun, you’ll never want to leave. At least, that’s how I felt.

Istanbul Bazaars

My favorite were the food bazaars with their sheer endless amount of delicacies. If you lingered for a second admiring the goods on display, someone would usually offer us a little sample – an olive, a piece of cheese, a dried fig stuffed with walnuts, a pickle, or a slice of pastirma (air-dired, cured beef). Spending the morning or afternoon getting lost among the hundreds of little shops around the Spice Bazaar, sampling the plumpest dried apricots, nibbling on crunchy hazelnuts, stopping for tea and some baklava, and enjoying a simple lunch at a Börek shop was inspiring, relaxing, and exciting all at once.

Spice Bazaar Istanbul

We had heard a lot of people raving about the famous Spice Bazaar, but it didn’t take us long to figure out that the real market takes place outside of the covered bazaar area – that’s where the locals shop. Even better were some of the small street markets on the Asian side across the Bosphorus where I bought a bag of beautiful dried sage. It makes the most delicious cup of tea, and I wish I would have bought at least three times as much!

Spice Bazaar Istanbul

Now that I’m back home, I frequent the Turkish neighborhood bakeries and döner stalls a lot more, but it’s just not the same. And I’m on a quest to find Sarelle pure hazelnut spread, which (as impossible as it may sound) puts Nutella to shame. I first discovered it at a delicatessen shop around the Spice Bazaar, and then later bought it in a supermarket on Istanbul’s Asian side. If I’m able to find it here, I’ll make sure to purchase a few jars and dream about our next trip to Istanbul and beyond…

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Asparagus Tartes With Caprino Di Capra

Asparagus Tarte with Goat Cheese

No other vegetable can compete with the elegant asparagus. Here, flaky layers of warm, buttery puff pastry cradle a simple filling of asparagus that lets its delicate flavor shine. And with every bite there’s a melt-in-your-mouth cool topping with a hint of goat’s cheese, complemented by marjoram and extra virgin olive oil.

These individual tartes make a lovely appetizer for a spring lunch, or serve them as an elegant snack with drinks at a party. Caprino is traditionally made from goat’s cheese, but it is also widely available made from cow’s milk. If you can’t find caprino, you can substitute with cream cheese (for the caprino vaccino) and your favorite fresh goat’s cheese (for the caprino di capra).

Asparagus Tartes With Caprino Di Capra (serves 6)
900g puff pastry
600g green asparagus
100ml milk
2 egg yolks
2 shallots, finely chopped
finely chopped parsley
finely chopped marjoram
120g caprino di capra
120g caprino vaccino
40g grated grana padano, plus a little extra
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

1. Cut asparagus stems into thin rounds. Cut tips in half lengthwise.
2. Reserve some of the tips for decorating the tartes.
3. In a pan, combine sliced stems, shallots, milk, 160ml water, and 40ml olive oil.
4. Season with salt, bring to the boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is tender (but not too soft) and liquid has evaporated.
5. Put asparagus in a bowl and add yolks, 40g grated grana padano, and parsley. Season with pepper.
6. Blanch reserved tips in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and briefly drain under cold water.
7. Cut puff pastry into six rounds that fit into 12cm round pastry forms with 2.5cm tall sides.
8. Divide asparagus filling evenly between pastry cases.
9. Top each pastry with reserved asparagus tips, forming a lattice. Sprinkle with extra grana padano.
10. Bake in preheated oven at 190C for about 10 minutes or until puff pastry is golden.
11. In a bowl, combine caprino di capra, caprino di vaccino, marjoram, pepper, and 20ml extra virgin olive oil. Mix until combined.
12. Let tartes cool to room temperature and top each with a tablespoon of cheese spread. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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