Posts from February 2014

Rosolio di Limone, Lemon Liqueur As Digestivo or to Add Extra Zest to Biscotti di Ceglie

Life beyond Africano Cake Rolls with Pasta di Nocciola (Hazelnut Paste) from Southern Italian Desserts, Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily (Ten Speed Press, 2013) by Rosetta Costantino with Jennie Schacht.

Rosolio di Limone, Lemon liqueur

Makes 12 cups (3 L)

Limoncello is made in homes all over Southern Italy, where lemon trees grow in abundance. Less familiar outside Southern Italy is Rosolio di Limone, a lower-alcohol, sweeter variation of the liqueur that I find makes a better choice for using in desserts, such as Zabaione al Limoncello (page 97) and Biscotti di Ceglie (page 162).

To make limoncello, simply follow the instructions below, using 4 cups (1 L) of water and 2 cups (400 g) of sugar in place of the 6 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar below. An equal quantity of limoncello can be substituted for rosolio di limone in any of the recipes.

As a digestivo (after-dinner drink), both rosolio and limoncello are served cold; once you’ve opened a bottle, store it in the refrigerator or freezer. The alcohol will prevent it from freezing solid.

Here in California, I use Meyer lemons from my garden, but you can use any variety.

If you purchase the lemons, look for ones that have not been sprayed or waxed, the fresher the better.

2 pounds lemons (about 8 lemons)
1 bottle (750 ml) Everclear (151-proof) neutral grain spirits
4 cups (800 g) sugar
6 cups (1.5 L) water

SIDE Rosolio di Limone image p 201

Remove the peel from the lemons in strips with a vegetable peeler, taking only the yellow part and carefully avoiding even the slightest bit of white pith, which will turn the rosolio bitter.

Pour the alcohol into a clean quart (liter) jar with a tight-fitting lid, such as a European-style canning jar with a rubber gasket and clamp lid. Add the lemon peel.

Close the jar and let steep for 1 week in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or wine cellar.

After the alcohol has steeped, stir the sugar with the water in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. The mixture should be clear. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. (Do not be tempted to rush into the next step; if the sugar syrup is not completely cool, your rosolio will be cloudy.)

Remove the lemon peels from the alcohol (discard the peels) and pour the infused alcohol into the sugar syrup, stirring to combine. Pour the mixture through a finemesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then decant the rosolio into clean bottles and seal with a cork or lid.

Let the rosolio mature for 15 days in a cool, dark place before using it, then refrigerate.

(* Reprinted with permission from Southern Italian Desserts 'Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily' by Rosetta Costantino with Jennie Schacht -Ten Speed Press, © 2013- Photo Credit: Sara Remington.) 

Bake it Green, Matcha Mini-Cakes with Lemon Verbena Ganache from 'Sweet'

Take heart, there's more to Sweet (Artisan Books, October 2013) by Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections (Los Angeles) than her Valentine's Pie...

Her Matcha flavored cakes sounded perfect for today's Tokyo Thursdays

Matcha Mini-Cakes with Lemon Verbena Ganache

Makes Eight 3-inch Square Mini-Cakes

Lemon verbena is a perennial herb that imparts the bright flavor of lemon without the acidity. The combination of lemon and green tea tastes light, refreshing, and clean, making these cakes the perfect finish to a spicy meal. The tops and sides of the cakes are left unadorned for a minimalist look.

For the Cake
1 ½ cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 ½ tablespoons matcha tea
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Lemon Verbena Ganache
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup (4 grams) dried lemon verbena
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 ¾ cups (9.5 ounces) 31% white chocolate chips or fèves or chopped 31% white chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground dried lemon verbena

100_Matcha Mini-Cakes with Lemon Verbena Ganache

To make the cake

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 13-by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with nonstick baking spray or butter and line with parchment paper. Smooth the parchment, making sure there are no air bubbles.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the matcha and beat for 30 seconds, or until the color of the butter mixture is uniform.

4. Whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, and vanilla in a small bowl, then pour into the creamed butter and beat until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle and mix for 30 seconds.

5. Beating on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition. Scrape the bowl again and mix for 15 seconds.

6. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the cake appears firm and has a matte finish. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill the cake for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes before building the mini-cakes.

To make the Ganache

1. Put the cream, corn syrup, and ½ cup dried lemon verbena into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and poke a few holes into the top to allow steam to release. Let steep for 1 hour.

2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, until the gelatin softens.

3. Put the chocolate into a medium bowl and set aside.

4. Strain the cream mixture and return it to the pan. Add the gelatin and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved and the cream has almost come to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.

5. Using a small rubber spatula, begin stirring the white chocolate mixture in one direction, concentrating on the center, until smooth and glistening. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon ground dried lemon verbena and stir until well incorporated. Put the ganache in the coolest part of your kitchen and let set, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, for about 1 hour before using. (The ganache can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; see instructions below.)

To Assemble the Cakes

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a ruler as a guide, score lines 3 inches apart, both vertically and horizontally, on the chilled sheet cake. Then cut into 24 squares with a very sharp knife.

2. Place 8 cake squares on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread approximately 2 tablespoons ganache over each one. Top each with a second cake square and 2 tablespoons ganache, then top each with a third cake layer. Let stand until the ganache has set, then gently cover the tray pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.


The cakes can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Using Leftover (or Chilled) Buttercream and Ganache

Leftover buttercream or ganache will keep in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, to be used for another dessert. And it will taste like fresh-made if you follow a few simple steps.

Chilled buttercream is very hard, so you need to let it come to room temperature and then aggressively whip it. Put the room-temperature buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, and use a handheld mixer) and beat on low speed. As the buttercream starts to break up, increase the speed to medium. After about 1 minute, the buttercream will soften and separate. This may make you nervous, but just continue mixing, and within another minute or so, the buttercream will come back together and appear brand-new.

Ganache is not as malleable as buttercream, and leftovers require a more delicate handling. Let the ganache come to room temperature (do not try to rush the process—firm chilled ganache is likely to separate and become grainy when beaten). Then put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, and use a handheld mixer) and whip on medium-low speed until the ganache forms soft peaks. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes, then spread it with an offset spatula.

Baking it Green for Tokyo Thursdays # 279

(*Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk.)

Polenta, Once a Stomach Filling Staple for the Poor, Here with Tomato, Feta and Mushrooms

Third excerpt from Take One Pot (Kyle Books, October 2013) by Georgina Fuggle after Hollow the Loaf, Quiche in a Suitcase is based on polenta, once a stomach filling staple for the poor to fill their stomachs, now gracing the best restaurants tables.

Polenta Bake with Tomato, Feta and Mushrooms

Years ago, ground polenta simply provided hunger-defying gruel to the poor, but today it’s found cooked with the expensive additions of Parmesan and butter. The transformation has put it back on the map of Michelinstarred menus and into the repertoire of enthusiastic cooks. Here, instant polenta is used, so there are only minutes from package to plate and the peasant price tag still holds strong. It’s well worth
stocking a package in your pantry.

Prep time 10 minutes,

Cook time 20 minutes,

Serves 6


1 cup instant polenta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
31/4 cups hot vegetable stock
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
11/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (any type really; mypreference would be mini portobello)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, some halved, some not
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
A handful of delicate arugula
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat your broiler to high.

2. Put the polenta and chunks of butter in a deep, 10-inch diameter ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Gradually pour the hot stock onto the polenta, beating with gusto to prevent any large lumps forming. Keep beating until the mixture has thickened and is starting to bubble like erupting volcanoes, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season well with black pepper and salt.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the Parmesan. You could clean the sides of your skillet at this stage to remove any obvious volcano larva (spitting polenta). Top the polenta with the mushroom slices, tomatoes, and crumbled feta.

4. Put the pan under the hot broiler until the tomato skins have burst and the mushrooms have wilted with the heat, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before dressing.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Take One Pot' by Georgina Fuggle- Kyle Books, October 2013- all rights reserved- Photo by Tara Fisher)

Cigarrummet Pipes and Cigars, Djurgardsbrunnskanalen Boat Ride, Stockholm Holy 10 do's and don'ts by Bahar

After St. Louis (Missouri), 10 do's and don'ts take us to Stockholm courtesy of Iranian born Bahar Borna Faraz who I got in touch with thanks to her Portraits of Onions...

Here's Bahar Holy List, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Stockholm

1- Visit the photography museum Fotografiska. It is one of the largest photography only museums in the world.
2- Visit the Moderna museum if you are interested in contemporary art.  
3- If you want to enjoy good quality cigars, visit the Cigarrummet. they offer good asortment of cigarrs and pipes and have a nice staff. 
4- Take your time and go for a walking tour in Gamla stan, the old town.
5- Visit the Sky bar (26th floor) on top of Skrapan skyscraper and Himlen restaurant (25th floor) in southern district of Stockholm called Sodermalm.
6- Visit the Vasa Museum, named after Vasa ship which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961.
7- Take part in swedish nightlife, try a random pub or bar or disco or all together 
8- Try a boat trip to Djurgardkanalen
9- Looking for some excitement, then Try Grona Lund amusement park.
10- Enjoy the beauty of Stockholm. Take it easy and be Happy. 
1- Do not forget your Id card when you want to buy alcohol. 
2- Do not take black (unregistered ) Taxi. it is not safe.
3- Do not waste your time on shopping. Stockholm is more beautiful than that. 
4- Do not expect to buy cheaper from Ikea in Sweden. It is a myth. 
5- Do not visit Fjäderholmarna island unless you have lots of money to spend. 
6- The only Casino in Stockholm is not worth a try!
7- Do not pee in public. there is always a toilet nearby but do not forget your pee money (10 swedish korons ) , Nothing is free.
8- Do not run after bus or train from SL (Stockholm Public Transport). There will be another one in just a few minutes. Take it easy. As mentioned before, you can also take local boat service like Djurgarden ferry which "depart for Djurgården from Slussen; they are a classic feature of life in Stockholm and they carry city slickers and tourists to Skansen, Waldemarsudde or the Rosendal gardens."
9- We do not smoke indoor in Sweden. including while standing in bus stop. 
10- Avoid drunk people. Stockholm and Sweden is mostly safe but there is no harm to avoid drunk people or dark areas during the night. 
(* Photo credits, Fotografiska from Facebook page, Cigarrummet from Facebook page, Djurgarden ferry from Visit Stockholm website)

Eat to Support Alzheimer Fight with Mediterranean Feast Fundraiser for Paula Wolfert, LA, April 27

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer, Paula Wolfert has become a leading spokesperson on Alzheimer's.

You can join her and help fight Alzheimer at Mediterranean Feast Fundraiser for Paula in Los Angeles on April 27, 2014 from Noon to 4 PM.

Event in a nutshell:

"Renowned and beloved cookbook author, Paula Wolfert, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In true fighting spirit, Paula has become a leading spokesperson for Alzheimer’s; championing preventative measures and ways to mitigate symptoms of the disease.

Mediterranean Feast for Paula is a grassroots fundraising and outreach campaign organized by chefs Farid Zadi and Susan Park with the support of Paula Wolfert and the Alzheimer’s Association. All proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association."

More details on Menu and Silent Auction on Mediterranean Feast for Paula website...


The Event takes place April 27th, 2014, Noon-4:00 pm at Sarkis Vartanian’s The  Daily Dose  (pictured above).

located 1820 Industrial St #104, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Tickets are $75 and $125 (VIP).

If you cannot attend you can also make a $100 donation to the effort.

(* Photo of Daily Dose Cafe from their Facebook page)

Found out about this good deed thanks to Ruth Reichl piece on her blog.

Dog and Bone, from 101 Sandwiches to Cook your Date into Bed, on Helen Graves Trail

After taming the beast with 101 Sandwiches (Dog and Bone, October 2013), Helen Graves of London Review of Sandwiches blazes post Valentine's Day trail with Cook your Date into Bed (also Dog and Bone, February 28, 2014).


"Frustrated at the ‘cheesy pile of utter toss’ usually written about the relationship between food and romance, Helen Graves decided to do something about it. Cook Your Date Into bed is an ant-cliché cynical sideways glance at the genre backed up by food and drink recipes that will make you look totally slick with minimal effort.

Every situation is covered, from the classic evening dinner date scenario to the morning after (wahey!), the picnic date, the cinema date, right through to the post pub munchies. There’s a lot of bitching about silly assumptions along the way, like the concept of aphrodisiac foods, tirelessly rolled out every year around Valentine’s day, the pros and cons of the various dating scenarios and some horror stories involving food and dating, collected from Graves’ (brave) friends."

I have not had the pleasure to read either book yet.

Postwar Japan in 'Chewing Gum and Chocolate' Photos of Shomei Tomatsu

Postwar Japan is on display in Chewing Gum and Chocolate (Aperture, US publication, May 31, 2014) featuring photography of Shomei Tomatsu (1930-2012).

Some context:

"Shomei Tomatsu originally named this series Occupation, but later retitled it Chewing Gum and Chocolate to reflect the handouts given to Japanese kids by the soldiers--sugary and addictive, but lacking in nutritional value. And although many of his most iconic images are from this series, the best of this work has never before been gathered together in a single volume. Leo Rubinfien, co-curator of the photographer’s survey Skin of the Nation, contributes an essay that engages with Tomatsu’s ambivalence toward the American occupation and the shifting national identity of Japan."


Life in Japan after the war for Tokyo Thursdays # 278


In Search of Japan, Japan 8-9-3 Achim Duchow Photo Exhibit at Weltkunstzimmer, Dusseldorf

Bid, Art on Skateboards from Joi Ito to 1st Female Indian Skateboarder Atita Benefit We School India Skatepark

She knows how to make things happen in her many projects including currently We the School India an We Magazine- Middle East. Ulrike Reinhard is always generous with her time and advice so when she asked me to give a hand in spreading the word on an auction she is spearheading to raise funds for a skatepark in rural India, I could not say no.

This effort reminds me of model that was adopted for Menu for Hope (the brainchild of Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim) of which i was happy to be a small part.

Ulrike and her team put together a nice international roster of creative minds and asked them to offer their Skateboard designs for Artboard/ Skateboard...

BIDDING OPENS ON MARCH 20...Bidding Links will not be active until that date.

Among the 20 pieces, I picked 3 

Bollywood style by Kanhaiya Prasad Singh


Goddess like by Atita Verghese listed as the 1st female Indian skateboarder


Visions of Bamboo by Joi Ito 



To get your chance to help the project and hopefully be the proud recipient of one of these unique pieces, all you need is a minimum of 300 Euros ($ 411 at today's rate) and a little chance.

Rules of the Bid

ARTBOARD / SKATEBOARD IS AN INITIATIVE OF WE_SCHOOL, INDIA. Over the last year we’ve done various skateboard workshops – now we decided to build a skatepark in rural India. To raise funds for the skatepark we’ve asked designers, photographer and artists to “design” a skateboard. This site is set up to auction the artboards.

100% of the auction proceeds will go into the project!

The auction will be live from March 20 until March 26, 2014. During this time the YOUR BID button will be activated.

The minimum bid for each ARTBOARD / SKATEBOARD is 300 €.



Get your bids going and spread the word.

(* Images shared with permission, all rights reserved)

Quinoa in Breakfast Bowl, Breakfast Quinoa with Raisins and Manuka Honey from 'Amazing Grains'

Taking a break from comfort food for winter days, I found healthy inspiration in Amazing Grains (Kyle Books, US edition, February 2014) by Ghillie James.

Let's not jump the gun, it's not time yet for her 'Soaked Summer Muesli' recipe.

Instead we put quinoa in your breakfast bowl

Breakfast quinoa with raisins and honey

Personally, I feel that quinoa when cooked by itself as a hot cereal is not that exciting. However, I am a big fan of the expression “whatever floats your boat,” and in the case of this recipe if you like the fresher taste of pure quinoa, then go for it and don’t add the oats as I’ve suggested. For me, this combination is tasty as well as good for you, and my children adore it for breakfast. I have used
coffee mugs in this recipe—when measuring early in the morning, why not keep it simple?

Serves 2 generously

1/2 cup or small mug quinoa flakes, rinsed in a seive
1/2 cup or small mug quickcook oats *
2 tablespoons chia seeds, preferably ground (optional)
3 cups milk (or 2 cups milk and 1 cup water)
A handful of raisins or summer fruits
Honey, preferably Manuka

Breakfast Quinoa

Put the quinoa, oats, chia (if using), and milk or milk/water combo into a pan and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 8–10 minutes, stirring every so often, until just thickened. Add the raisins for the final 2–3 minutes; if using fresh fruit, just sprinkle it onto the bowls of cereal once cooked. Serve straight away, drizzled with honey.

* see page 235 for a note about uncontaminated, gluten-free oats

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Amazing Grains' from classic to contemporary, wholesome recipes for every day by Ghillie James -Kyle Books, US edition, March 2014- Photographs by Jonathan Gregson- all rights reserved)