Category Archive: Gourmet Recipes

Pizza Tricolore

Pizza Tricolore

Pizza is one of my favorite Italian dishes, as long as it resembles the real deal, and not some bizarre concoction from a fast food chain. I know everyone likes their food differently, so no offense to anyone, but pizza crust stuffed with fake cheese and topped with clumps of mystery meat is not pizza. That’s about as far removed from pizza as instant coffee is from cappuccino made with an espresso machine. The ultimate affront though are those awful garlic sticks on the side, especially when they are pimped with one of those slimy sauces that come in little plastic containers.

Whether you like your pizza crust thin or thick, one thing is for sure – making pizza at home is fun and tastes so much better than the frozen or delivered stuff. In fact, there’s no comparison. While I am partial to tomato sauce on my pizza, I don’t always feel like making it, especially in the summer when I like dishes to be light and easy. Representing the three colors of Italy’s national flag, this is probably the easiest pizza you can make at home. With the aid of a food processor, making the dough is a snap, and once the dough has risen you’ll be eating home made pizza fresh from the oven in no time. It’s a real treat in the summer when ripe tomatoes and fresh basil add their intense flavor to this dish. Buon appetito!

Pizza Tricolore (serves 2)
For the dough:
1 tablespoon dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup warm (not hot!) water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, depending on the flour

your favorite ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
a few tablespoons of ricotta
some grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling
chopped garlic
salt, pepper
fresh basil leaves

1. Put the water, yeast, and pinch of sugar in a small bowl or cup.
2. Let stand for a few minutes until foam and bubbles appear on the surface.
3. Put flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough hook.
4. Add olive oil and water and yeast mix, and process until a smooth dough forms.
5. The dough should be elastic but not too dry or too sticky.
6. Knead dough a few times on a floured surface. Form into a ball.
7. Put dough in a bowl lightly brushed with oil, and cover.
8. Let rest for about 20 – 30 min. or until doubled in size.
9. With a rolling pin, roll out dough on floured surface to desired thickness.
10. Transfer dough to baking sheet.
11. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese onto dough.
12. Sprinkle with chopped garlic
12. Distribute tomato slices evenly, and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
13. Season with salt and pepper.
14. Bake in a preheated oven at 220C/425F for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
15. Let pizza cool, sprinkle with basil leaves, and drizzle with some olive oil.

Enjoy!

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Spaghetti With A Sweet Pepper Cream, Arugula, And Speck

Spaghetti With A Sweet Pepper Cream, Arugula, And Speck

I’m usually a bit suspicious of sauces made with bell peppers, because they tend to have a rather bitter and unpleasant taste. Roasting the peppers is a good way to avoid this problem and add a layer of smokiness, but I have to admit I avoid the process of roasting peppers myself like the plague. For some reason, it always ends up such a mess – the peppers first come out of the oven in all their roasted glory, but when I set out to peel them, it goes downhill from there. What I am left with is a battlefield of shriveled up peel that sticks to my fingers like glue, and pieces of bell pepper that are smashed beyond recognition. Not a good idea. I don’t like store bought roasted peppers either though, because they just don’t taste that good and have a strange “preserved” texture to them.

Enter this wonderful sweet bell pepper cream. No roasting or peeling required at all, and the best part? The sauce is incredibly creamy, yet there’s not a lick of cream in it! And making it couldn’t be any simpler. Just simmer onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers in extra virgin olive oil and water until they are tender and the water has evaporated, give it a few spins in a blender, and voila, you have an exquisite sauce for spaghetti!

The subtle sweetness of the bell pepper sauce forms a lovely background for the sharp arugula and the salty Speck in this dish. It’s great with some crusty Italian bread, and a nice glass of red wine. If you need inspiration for picking a good bottle of red, head on over to Stevie and Heguiberto’s great blog, Weird Combinations where you’ll find lots of fun reviews of (Californian) vineries and their liquid products!

Spaghetti With A Sweet Pepper Cream, Arugula, And Speck (serves 4)
400g spaghetti
200g red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
100g red onion, thinly sliced
100g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 slices Tyrolean Speck
arugula
extra virgin olive oil
salt

1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a casserole pan and add onions and peppers.
2. Sautee over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Add tomatoes and 500ml water.
4. Salt to taste and let simmer uncovered until peppers are tender and the water has evaporated.
5. Blend in a blender until creamy.
6. Cook spaghetti al dente in plenty of boiling and salted water.
7. Drain spaghetti. Do not rinse.
8. Mix sauce and pasta in the same pot you cooked the spaghetti in.
9. Divide spaghetti among plates, and top each plate with a slice of Speck and a few stems of arugula.

Enjoy!

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Cantaloupe Salad

Cantaloupe Salad With Parmesan Croutons

Some flavors are a match made in heaven. Think of sticky rice with mango, or cantaloupe and prosciutto. Whenever I have cantaloupe, I always want a slice or two of prosciutto with it. The salty prosciutto perfectly balances the sweetness of the melon, and it’s such a perfect combination of flavors that can hardly be improved upon. Or so I thought.

The classic ham/melon pairing gets seriously dressed up in this wonderfully refreshing salad, which makes an elegant appetizer or a light lunch on a hot summer day. For a new twist, I used Tyrolean Speck instead of prosciutto, which has a more rustic and smoky aroma than its Italian cousin. There’s also the mellow taste of mozzarella, while mint and basil add little bursts of summer flavor throughout the salad. For a nice crunch, the salad is topped with lemon and parmesan croutons and dressed with a lovely olive oil and balsamic vinegar marinade. If you can’t find lamb’s ear lettuce, substitute with arugula. If unavailable, use prosciutto instead of Tyrolean Speck.

Cantaloupe Salad With Parmesan Croutons (serves 4)
For the croutons:
90g baguette, cut into small cubes
30g grated parmesan cheese
20ml extra virgin olive oil
finely grated peel of 1 lemon
salt

Dressing:
1/4 garlic clove, finely chopped
50ml extra virgin olive oil
20ml balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt, pepper

1/2 Cantaloupe, cut into thin slices
12 thin slices Tyrolean Speck
250g mozzarella, torn into small pieces
lamb’s ear lettuce or arugula
handful of mint leaves
handful of basil leaves

1. In a bowl, mix bread cubes, parmesan, oil, lemon zest, and salt to taste.
2. Sautee coated bread cubes in a pan over high heat until crunchy and golden.
3. Set aside and let cool.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing.
5. Cut melon into small wedges.
6. Arrange lettuce on plates, and top with melon, mozzarella, and Speck.
7. Drizzle dressing over salad right before serving.

Enjoy!

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Thai Red Chicken Curry

Thai Red Chicken Curry

After last week’s fun truffle indulgence, it was time to cook something a tad bit healthier, so my husband requested one of his favorite dishes, Thai red curry. Perfect, I thought, because I had some curry paste at home that needed to be used up. The funny thing with Thai curries is that while I love Indian and Sri Lankan curries, I very much dislike Thai curries. I’m not sure what it is that I find so awful about them, but I suspect it’s the combination of the curry paste and the coconut milk. Those ingredients are each delicious on their own, but when they come together in a Thai curry, it’s all over for me.

However, and I know this is going to sound somewhat bizarre, I greatly enjoy cooking Thai curries! There’s something very satisfying about the way these highly fragrant curries are put together. It only takes a few ingredients (all of which are available at Asian markets, and most even at regular grocery stores), a little bit of chopping and stirring, and almost no cooking skills to produce a complex and intensely flavored dish that is as easy to prepare for one as it is for a whole crowd.

The secret though to a great Thai curry lies in the curry paste, because it is the single ingredient that’s responsible for 99% of the final product’s flavor. Nothing, of course, compares to home made curry paste, but I find that store bought brands produce fabulous results. So far, my favorite brand is Maesri (no, I am not getting paid to say that), which is available in the US. I haven’t been able to locate it in Austria, so I’ve had to resort to importing it myself. Luckily, so far I’ve always made it passed the Austrian customs officials unnoticed…

Feel free to substitute the chicken in this recipe with lean pork, and the zucchini with eggplant or bamboo shoots.

Thai Red Chicken Curry (serves 4)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon thinly sliced Kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen)
1lb chicken breast, cut into small strips
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 – 2 zucchini (depending on the size), cut into small pieces
1 handful of fresh Thai basil leaves

1. Heat oil over high heat in a wok. Add curry paste and stir-fry for a few minutes.
2. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and the Kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for a minute, stirring.
3. Add chicken and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add remaining coconut milk, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add zucchini and cook until the chicken and zucchini are done.
6. Remove from heat and stir in basil leaves.
7. Serve with jasmine rice.

Enjoy!

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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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