Recipes updated and reblogged from December 2013.
Italian Breakfast Sweet Bread
- 1 cup warm milk (70° to 80°)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 egg, for egg wash
- 1 tablespoon water
- Sugar for topping
Place the first seven ingredients in large mixer bowl with paddle attachment and mix until combined.
Switch to the dough hook and knead dough until smooth and elastic.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and divide in half. Shape each portion into a ball; flatten slightly.
Place each ball of dough in a greased 9-inch round baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Beat egg and water; brush over the dough and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).
SCHIACCIATA CON ZIBIBBO (ITALIAN SWEET BREAD WITH RAISINS)
Double the ingredients to make two loaves and put one in the freezer.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm (105 to 115 degree) water
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 1 egg
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Stir in raisins, sugar, oil, orange peel, egg and enough flour to make a soft dough.
Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Shape into a round, slightly flat loaf about 9 inches in diameter. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Cover; let rise 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until bread is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on wire rack. 1 loaf.
Italian Braided Sweet Bread
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water ( 110 degrees F)
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg
Mix yeast and warm water and let sit so that the yeast can react. The yeast should begin to foam.
Mix dry ingredients together.
In a small saucepan, heat milk, butter and egg. Be careful not to let the egg cook and become solid.
Mix yeast/water with dry ingredients in large bowl of the mixer with a paddle attachment. When thoroughly incorporated, mix in milk/egg mixture until a dough is formed.
Switch to the dough hook and knead dough, then cover and let rise about 20 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Times vary depending on warmth of environment.)
Punch down the dough and divide in half to make 2 smaller loaves. Divide each half into three equal pieces and braid the ropes together and tuck in the ends. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover and let double in size. Bake bread at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and the water over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and stir in rum. Let cool to room temperature.
Brush all over bread as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let bread cool before slicing.
Rustic Raisin Walnut Bread
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 2 cups lukewarm water (105° to 115°)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
In a large electric mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, stir together honey and 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water.
Stir in the whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and salt. Mix until well combined. Keep adding the rest of the white flour until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
Be sure not to add too much flour.
Switch to the dough hook and knead 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Preheat oven to 425°F.
Punch the dough down and place it on a floured board. Gently knead the raisins and walnuts into the dough. Shape (round, long, square,) into 1 large loaf and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
Using a spray bottle, spray loaf with water. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on rack before slicing.
Ricotta Crumb Cake (Italian Breakfast Cake)
- 2/3 cup toasted almonds, ground
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold butter
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions for the Crust:
Mix the almonds, flour, baking powder and brown sugar in a bowl. Using a pastry blender cut in the cold butter with the dry ingredients. Pour the egg and vanilla over the butter mixture and toss together just until moistened. Spoon half of the crumb mixture into a 10 inch springform pan and set the other half aside.
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup slivered almonds
- 3 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 3/4 cup sugar
Directions for the Filling:
Put 1/3 cup sugar and the almonds in the processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to grind the almonds into small pieces. Do not ground too fine.
In a bowl mix together the ricotta, rum and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Stir in almond/sugar mixture. Spoon ricotta mixture over crumb crust in the springform pan.
Spoon remaining crumb mixture over the ricotta filling and pat down to make top flat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes, Let cool and sprinkle top with powdered sugar.
Sweet Bread from Valtellina (Bisciola)
Makes 1 (8-inch) oval loaf
- 1 tablespoon grappa or rum
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg, for egg wash
- 15 dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped (3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, roughly chopped
Heat oven to 350º F with oven rack placed on the middle shelf. In a small bowl combine raisins, grappa or rum and water; set aside.
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely, then roughly chop.
In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until just warm, then remove from the heat. Transfer warm milk to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the milk. Let mixture stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, all-purpose flour, rye flour and salt. With mixer at medium-low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix until well blended, then add remaining flour mixture and butter. Reduce speed to low and mix 5 minutes more.
Drain raisins; discard liquid. Add raisins, hazelnuts, figs, walnuts and pine nuts to the dough; mix on low until just incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and knead dough to form a stiff, wet dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On prepared baking sheet, form dough into a 8-inch-long oval loaf. Cover loaf with a lightly dampened clean dishtowel and let rest, in a draft-free place, 2 hours.
Heat oven to 350º F. with oven rack in the middle.
Brush dough with beaten egg, then bake, rotating pan once halfway through, until bread is deep golden, about 30 minutes. Let bread cool completely on pan on wire rack.
The first Jews began arriving in Rome as far back as 160 BC, creating one of the oldest Jewish communities in Western Europe, and with over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas. Hanukkah 2014 begins in the evening on Tuesday, December 16.
Hanukkah celebrations last for eight days, with the dates being dictated by the Hebrew calendar. Each night a candle is lit on the nine-branched candle holder called the menorah until all eight candles are burning. The shamash; the ninth candle is raised above the eight others, its purpose being as a flame to light the religious candles below. On Rome’s via Sacra, near the Coliseum stands the Arch of Titus, built in AD81, shows a sculpture of a procession following the raid on the Temple of Solomon and, above the heads of the triumphant Romans, a menorah is held aloft. Today, a twenty-foot menorah is erected in Piazza Barberini and this becomes the central focus for Rome’s lighting ceremony. In Milan the large public menorah is traditionally set in Piazza San Carlo with the hope that its light will reach the hearts of the people.
While in Venice, following the lighting of the menorah, the Cannaregio neighborhood is brought to life with music and dancing. Once the home of the world’s oldest Jewish ghetto, the five synagogues remain intact and are still used for worship by the local community. Florence’s past is also steeped in Jewish history with the Jewish museum on Via dei Giudei (street of the Jews) where the city’s ghetto once stood. Nearby is Tempio Maggiore, built between 1874 and 1882, and is the Synagogue of Florence where the city’s Jewish community gather to celebrate and light the Menorah before the feasting begins.
The fried foods that are served during the holiday commemorate the miracle of the one day’s supply of olive oil that burned for eight days after the destruction of the temple. The Jewish communities celebrate with traditional recipes, such as, chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon and nutmeg before being dredged in flour and fried, thin slices of fried eggplant and potato pancakes. Frittelle di Chanukah (sweet fried dough fritters) are the traditional end to all Italian Hanukkah meals; balls of bread dough are stuffed with raisins and flavored with aniseed, fried and drizzled with hot honey.
Fennel and Orange Scented Challah
By Joan Nathan (New York Times)
- 1 ½ tablespoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
- Grated zest from 2 large oranges plus 1/2 cup of the juice, strained
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 7 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
In the bowl of a standing mixer, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 cup of lukewarm water.
Using the paddle attachment, stir orange zest, juice and oil into yeast mixture, then add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, and remaining sugar and salt. Switch to the dough hook and gradually add 6 cups of flour, kneading for about 5 minutes and adding more flour as needed to make a slightly sticky, smooth and elastic dough.
Grease a large bowl, turn dough into it and then turn the dough over to grease the top. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When the dough has almost doubled, punch it down, remove it to a lightly floured counter, knead it briefly until smooth and divide it in half.
Roll each piece into a cylinder about 27 inches long, making sure there are no seams in the dough. Bring one end of the dough up to the other and twist to form a spiral. Push both ends together to make a squat 12 inch loaf.
Repeat with the other piece of dough and arrange loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. You can also twist the long spirals into a circle if you like; the dough is very malleable.
Beat remaining egg and egg yolk and brush about half the mixture on the loaves, reserving the rest. Let the dough rise uncovered another half hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
If dough was refrigerated, bring to room temperature. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and in a small bowl, combine fennel, poppy and sesame seeds. Brush the loaves with egg again and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden and firm when tapped with a spatula. Cool on a rack.
- 1 chicken, cut into eighths
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- The juice of a lemon
- Olive oil for frying
- Salt & pepper to taste
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, seasoning them well with salt and pepper. Mix the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, nutmeg and the lemon juice in a measuring cup and beating the mixture well with a fork. Pour the mixture over the chicken pieces, turn them to coat on all sides and let them marinate for about an hour, turning them several times.
When it comes time to cook, heat the oil in a pot. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat them dry.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, seasoning them lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, then dip them in the egg and slip them into the oil. When they are well browned on all sides, remove them from the pot, drain them well, and serve them.
Butternut Squash and Sage Latkes
- 1/2 medium onion, grated
- 6 cups grated butternut squash (1 3-pound squash)
- 1/4 cup chopped or slivered fresh sage(more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons oat bran
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Sour cream, for serving
Place the grated onion in a strainer set over a bowl while you prepare the other ingredients. Then wrap the onion in a dishtowel and squeeze out excess water. Place in a large bowl and add the squash, sage, baking powder, salt and pepper, oat bran and flour. Add the eggs and stir together.
Begin heating a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Place a wire rack over another sheet pan.
Take a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill with 3 tablespoons of the mixture. Turn out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining latke mix. You should have enough to make about 30 latkes.
Add the oil to the pan and when it is hot, use a spatula to transfer a ball of latke mixture to the pan. Press down with the spatula to flatten.
Repeat with more mounds. Cook on one side until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the spatula underneath and turn the latkes over. Cook on the other side until golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the rack set over a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Serve hot topped with low-fat or regular sour cream.
Couscous With Olives, Lemon And Fresh Herbs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) pareve margarine
- 6 cups chopped onions
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1 cup pitted halved brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups couscous (about 13 1/2 ounces)
Melt margarine in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions; stir to coat. Cover pot and cook onions until very tender but not brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
Mix in ginger and turmeric.
Add broth, olives, basil, mint and lemon juice. Bring to simmer. Mix in couscous.
Cover pot, turn off heat and let stand until couscous is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour couscous into a bowl and serve.
Honey-Glazed Doughnuts With Raisins And Pine Nuts
MAKES ABOUT 32
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F), divided
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 large egg, beaten to blend
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus more for frying
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Combine 1/4 cup warm water and sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is foamy, about 6 minutes.
Whisk flour and salt in large bowl to blend. Make a well in the center. Add raisins, pine nuts, egg and 1 tablespoon oil to well. Pour remaining 1 1/4 cups warm water over, then pour yeast mixture over. Stir until a smooth dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; cover bowl with plastic, then a towel. Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pan and heat oil to 360°F to 370°F. Working in batches of 5 or 6 doughnuts, dip a metal tablespoon into the hot oil to coat and, without deflating dough, gently scoop up a rounded tablespoonful. Drop dough into the oil. Fry until deep golden, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to prepared sheet and drain.
DO AHEAD Doughnuts can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm on the same sheet in a 350°F oven about 15 minutes.
Whisk honey, 3/4 cup water and cinnamon in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until syrup comes to boil. Remove pan from the heat. Dip warm doughnuts into honey syrup and pile onto a serving platter. Pour remaining syrup into bowl. Serve doughnuts with remaining syrup.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country, sharing a border with Switzerland. Lombardy’s northern borders are formed by the Lepontine, Rhaetian and Orobic Alps. It also includes the major Italian lakes: Varese, lseo, Como and the northern part of Lake Garda. The regional capital is Milano. Other important cities are: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Lecco, Lodi, Varese, Sondrio, Pavia, Cremona and Mantova.
Take a tour of Lombardy through the video below.
The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina. In summertime, the area offers mountain climbing, as well as rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months. Visitors can tour the vineyard-covered terraces and hills, stopping off at wineries and local producers to taste the well-known local specialties.
While the terrain of northern Lombardy can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving, water from snow on the mountains refreshes many of the streams and rivers branching out into other parts of the region, as well as other parts of Italy. Freshwater fish like trout, perch and whitefish are abundant. The mountains tend to shelter the southern parts of the region, which allows for milder and more ideal growing conditions further down into the Po River Basin.
Rice grows well here, so it’s no surprise that risotto dishes find their way onto almost every table. The cattle industry is healthy, providing shanks for the well-known dish, ossobuco. Agri d’ Valtorta, Bagoss, Bitto, Branzi, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Provolone Valpadana are just a few of the many excellent cheeses crafted in Lombardy. Peppers, greens, lettuce, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and tomatoes are all abundant harvests. Lombardy is also the home of the Christmas favorite, panettone (a rich bread made with candied fruits, citrus and raisins). Stews, soups, heavily sauced polenta, hearty filled ravioli and slow-braised meat dishes are all-around favorites.
Recipes From Lombardy
Makes: 6 servings
- 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2½ cups carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 cups hot chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat until melted. Add sage and cook until fragrant. Remove and discard sage. Remove sage butter from heat and set aside.
Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent. This process is known as tostatura or toasting.
Add wine, stirring, until it is mostly absorbed, then add 1 cup of broth and the saffron. Simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Continue adding broth in ½ cupfuls, stirring often, and allowing each addition to mostly evaporate before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still slightly firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy (you will have broth left over).
Stir in the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, reserved sage butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt to taste.
Add an additional cup of broth, stir to combine, and serve “all’onda” (a “wavy” or wet-style risotto) immediately.
Skillet Perch with Lemon and Capers
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 cups each: flour, fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lake perch fillets, skinned
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and milk in another medium bowl. Drench fillets in egg-milk mixture; shake off excess. Coat fillets evenly with seasoned flour; shake to remove excess flour.
Meanwhile, heat large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to cover skillet bottom. Place perch, one by one, in the pan cooking until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove to paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining fillets.
For sauce, discard oil from the skillet. Add lemon juice and capers to the skillet; cook about 1 minute or just until bubbles appear. Add chives, salt and pepper to taste. Place fillets on a serving plate. Top with the lemon sauce and lemon slices.
Asparagi al Forno (Classic Roasted Asparagus)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
- 2 bunches asparagus (40 asparagus), woody ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tips facing in the same direction (this will make serving easier later).
Pour the water into the baking sheet.
Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top and still slightly crisp. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6
The Traditional Recipe for Panettone
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Make the sponge:
Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons apricot jam and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.
Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sponge, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.
Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Return the dough to the mixer and add salt, vanilla, lemon and orange flavoring, honey and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute.
Add 3 egg yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead until dough is soft, shiny and very stretchy, about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Combine the chopped raisins, cherries and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper (you can also use a baking dish). Make a small cross in the top of the dough with scissors.
Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size, which may take several hours since the dough is cold from the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Place the panettone in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).
Let the panettone cool in the pan on a rack.
Make the icing (optional): Melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk into 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing decoratively over the top of the panettone.
Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.
Note: Traditional Italian panettones are made with a special flavoring called “fiori de sicila”, which you can purchase at gourmet stores and online. Use in place of the lemon and orange extract.
How did finger foods come about? Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor. Even before the law took effect in 1920, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, which outlawed the sale of “intoxicating beverages”—defined as any drink containing 0.5 percent or more of alcohol.
Of course, no amount of legislation could transform all Americans into teetotalers; instead, Prohibition simply drove alcohol consumption underground. Millions of people in small towns and large cities imbibed at secret taverns and bars called speakeasies. Many were drab, makeshift saloons in basements or tenements located in shabby parts of town. Some, however, were fine restaurants in their own right, including New York City’s swanky 21 Club, which featured two bars, a dance floor, dining rooms on two levels and underground passageways leading to a secret wine cellar.
To help soak up the booze and drive up sales, some enterprising speakeasy proprietors began offering more than just popular cocktails of the day. Rather than heavy meals, customers were offered assorted bite-sized canapés to snack.
It was also during this period that the custom of hosting cocktail parties at home became fashionable. The rise of these parties led to the popularization of an increasingly wide array of finger foods. Hosts paraded out such popular foods as lobster canapés, caviar rolls, crab meat cocktails, shrimp patties, oyster toast, jellied anchovy molds, radish roses, devilled eggs and savory cheese balls. Sweet selections included fruit cocktail cups topped with powdered sugar or marshmallows.
Even after the 1933 repeal of the 18th Amendment, the practice of serving finger foods at restaurants, bars and cocktail parties lived on and quickly became a popular American culinary tradition. Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book,” contained many finger food recipes and became widely used in the United States throughout the 1920s.
Care to whip up some Prohibition-era finger foods at your next holiday gathering? Try the easy recipes below.
Mini Appetizer Pizzas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (5 ounces)
- 1/2 cup pitted olives, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup jarred or frozen and thawed artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes (chili)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat each of two rimmed baking sheets with olive oil. Divide prepared pizza dough into 32 equal pieces.
On a lightly floured work surface, press each piece into a 2-inch round with the palm of your hand. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, turning once to coat lightly in oil.
Season with salt and pepper. Divide mozzarella, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts among rounds. Sprinkle with red-pepper flakes.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and dough is crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
- 2 cups assorted unpitted olives, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 thin orange slices
- 3 thin lemon slices
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- Red-pepper flakes (chili)
In a medium saucepan, combine olives, olive oil, orange slices, lemon slices and fresh thyme. Season to taste with crushed red-pepper flakes.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer olives, fruit and herbs to a serving dish; reserve oil for salads.
- 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, stemmed
- 12 ounces pancetta, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Bring vinegar, water, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cloves to a boil in a small saucepan. Add figs, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, to bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer figs to a cutting board using a slotted spoon; cut in half. Wrap a pancetta strip around each half. Transfer, seam side down, to a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake until pancetta is browned, about 30 minutes. Secure each with a toothpick. Serve warm.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups grated cheddar (1/2 pound)
- 1 pound bulk pork, chicken or turkey sausage
- 1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and baking powder. Add cheddar and toss to coat. Add sausage, onion and butter.
With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Pour olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven until the oil is hot, 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, cayenne pepper, and cumin seed. Season with salt and toss to combine. Place chickpea mixture on hot baking sheet and spread in a single layer.
Bake until chickpeas are crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
- 8 slices (1/4 inch thick) baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 jar (6 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make crostini: Brush baguette slices on both sides with a total of 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake, turning over once, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, make topping: Finely chop artichokes, and combine in a bowl with Parmesan, parsley, and remaining tablespoon oil.
Dividing evenly, spoon topping on crostini and garnish with additional Parmesan, if desired.
Shrimp Salad Canapes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Thin crackers, for serving
Bring water, wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half the shrimp, and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a plate, and let cool. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in creme fraiche. Fold in shallot, chives and shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 4 hours). Serve on crackers.
Just because the farmers’ markets are closed for winter doesn’t mean you have to do without fresh veggies at the dinner table. Unfortunately, in the winter months, we often retreat from fresh produce, thinking it’s not as available or as tasty. From hearty root vegetables to bright, sweet citrus, winter produce delivers a surprising range of flavorful fruits and vegetables for you to cook. You may be surprised by how many locally grown root vegetables and cabbages are available from cold storage and how many greens are coming out of local cold frames and greenhouses at this time of year. Here are some recipes from appetizers through dessert that use winter fruits and vegetables.
Winter Vegetable Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 10 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, leeks and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the barley. Add the vegetable broth, water, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
Add the celery root and parsnips and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderately low heat until the barley and root vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
Stir in the spinach and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve in deep bowls.
Seafood with Grapefruit-Onion Salad
8 First Course Servings
- 4 small ruby red grapefruits (about 2 pounds total)
- 3 tablespoons pickled cocktail onions
- 2 tablespoons packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
- 24 sea scallops or medium shrimp (about 2 pounds) or a combination of both
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Using a very sharp paring knife to peel the grapefruits, carefully removing all of the bitter white pith. Over a mixing bowl, carefully cut in between the membranes of the grapefruit sections and let them drop into the bowl. Stir in the pickled cocktail onions and parsley leaves and season with pepper.
Pat the sea scallops or shrimp dry and season them all over with salt. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil until it is shimmering. Cook the scallops over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Spoon the pickled onion and grapefruit salad onto small serving plates and arrange the scallops around the salad. Drizzle with additional olive oil and serve at once.
Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash
- 4 acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery
- 2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
- 10 ounces day-old rustic bread—crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
- 7 ounces vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock or chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil and season the cavities with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on two baking sheets covered with parchment paper and roast for about 25 minutes, until just tender.
In a large skillet, melt the butter in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the celery, leeks and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add the apples and thyme and cook over moderately high heat until the apples just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Add the bread, chestnuts, parsley, cream and stock and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
Turn the squash cut side up. Spoon the stuffing into the cavities and bake until the squash are tender and the stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.
Braised Beef over Butternut Squash Polenta
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck shoulder pot roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 medium parsnips (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion (1 medium)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 teaspoons browning and seasoning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup cold water
- 3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
- 2/3 cup butternut squash, fresh cooked or frozen and thawed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Fresh parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Trim fat from beef. Cut meat into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
In an ovenproof 4-quart Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook meat, half at a time, until browned, stirring frequently. Remove meat from the Dutch oven.
In the same Dutch oven cook celery, carrots, parsnips and onion in the remaining oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown. Stir in wine and rosemary.
Add the 1 1/2 cups water, beef broth and Kitchen Bouquet; cook and stir over medium heat until boiling, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven.
Place pan, covered, in the oven and bake about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
For the polenta:
In a medium saucepan combine milk and 1/4 cup water; bring to boiling. In a medium bowl stir together the 1 cup cold water and polenta or cornmeal. Slowly add the polenta mixture to the boiling milk mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in squash, salt and pepper.
Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently, and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow boil.
To finish the stew:
Stir together the 1/4 cup cold water and flour. Add to the meat mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more.
Spoon soft polenta into shallow serving bowls. Top with braised meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley leaves.
Upside-Down Cranberry-Ginger Cake
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350° F.
For the topping:
Heat a 9-inch round cake pan over medium heat and coat the pan with cooking spray. Add brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons butter to pan, stirring until melted. Stir in ginger; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; arrange cranberries on top of the brown sugar mixture.
For the cake:
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Combine 1/4 cup butter and granulated sugar in an electric mixer bowl; beat at high speed until fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture; mix well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form in another bowl. Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter over cranberries in the prepared cake pan.
Bake for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes; run a knife around outside edge. Place a plate upside down on top of the cake pan; invert cake onto plate.
When it comes to giving this holiday season, be creative and make a truly personal gift for your friends and family. Homemade mixes are also one of the best Christmas gifts. There’s nothing like a homemade food gift, beautifully packaged along with recipe cards, to add warmth to the holidays.
Makes about 8 cups
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3 cups raw almonds, sliced
Adjust the oven rack to an upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.
Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet, spread across sheet into a thin, even layer (about 3/8-inch thick). Using a stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact.
Bake until lightly browned, 50 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break into pieces of desired size and package in decorative containers for gifts.
Apple Tea Mix
- 2 tablespoons loose green tea
- 2 tablespoons snipped crystallized ginger
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 6 dried apple slices
- 6 3-inch cinnamon sticks
In a small bowl combine tea, crystallized ginger, allspice and cloves. Divide tea mixture and dried apple slices among six paper tea filters. Tie the tops of the filters with kitchen string, tying a cinnamon stick at the top of each. Place filled tea filters inside six decorative heat-proof mugs.
Attach the following directions for serving:
To Make Spiced Apple Tea: Add 6 to 8 ounces of hot water to one mug. Add a tea bag and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bag. Place cinnamon stick in the mug and serve.
Hazelnut Brownie Mix
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ounces milk or dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup mini marshmallows
In a 1-quart decorative jar layer sugar, cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Spoon over chocolate in the jar. Top with hazelnuts and marshmallows; fasten lid.
Attach the following directions for making brownies.
To Make Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. Grease the foil; set pan aside.
In a large bowl whisk together 2/3 cup melted butter and 3 eggs until well combined. Add the contents of the jar to the butter mixture; stir until well combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. (Moist crumbs will remain attached to wooden toothpick inserted near center of brownies). Cool brownies in the pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of the pan. Place on a cutting board. Cut into bars.
Coconut-Pecan Muffin Mix
Makes: 1 gift (4½ cups)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- One 7-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut (2 2/3 cups)
- 3/4 cup pecans (chopped)
- 12 muffin paper cup liners
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugars and salt. Mix in the coconut and pecans.
Transfer the mix to a resealable decorative paper bag. Wrap with ribbon and affix with a label and a gift tag with the baking instructions.
Copy the following instructions on a gift tag or label to include with your gift:
“Heat oven to 350º F. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs and ¾ cup canola oil. Add the muffin mix and stir just until combined. Divide among the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin lined with the paper liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.”
4 dozen truffles
- 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
- 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Coarsely chop both chocolates and set aside.
Heat the cream and instant coffee in a saucepan, stirring to blend. When bubbles start to form along the edge of the pan, remove from the heat. Scatter the chocolate over the cream, stirring gently until melted. Set aside for 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the liqueur and vanilla. Stir gently, just until evenly blended. Scrape the chocolate into a shallow bowl. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 1 week.
Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop up enough chocolate to make balls 1 inch in diameter. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Thoroughly combine the cocoa and powdered sugar in a bowl, making sure all the lumps are removed. Roll the balls in the cocoa mixture, shaking off the excess, then transfer to wax paper. Place each truffle in a candy paper cup and package in a decorative gift boxes.