Sunday, February 7, 2016

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

This is a very easy cake. It is good by so un-fancy that it can go with your morning coffee. It seems perfect for this season as beautiful oranges are on display in most food stores. There is nothing complicated or unusual about this cake other than that it is made with olive oil rather than butter. And I would like to believe that this also makes it healthier. The olive oil also gives it an almost savory flavor, contrasting with its sweetness. And it is even better on the next day when it catches some extra moisture.

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

4 large oranges, preferably organic or as many as needed to squeeze out 1 and 1/2 cup juice,
4 large eggs,
1 and 1/2 cup extra olive oil, very mild in flavor,
2 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar,
3 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour,
1 tsp salt,
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder,
orange zest from two oranges
icing sugar for dusting.

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a large bundt cake form.
2. Break the eggs into a bowl of a standing mixer and beat for about a minute, until well combined.
3. Add sugar and beat for about 3 minutes, until well combined and pales.
4. In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder.
5. Add a third of the flour mix alternating with 1/2 cup oil, beating after each addition, until both ingredients are all used.
6. Grate the orange juice from two oranges and squeeze 1 and 1/2 cup juice.

7. Pour in the orange juice, add the zest, and beat gain to combine.

8. Transfer to a baking form and bake for about an hour until dark gold and the top is well set.
9. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fettuccine with Cheese and Black Pepper (Cacio e Pepe)

This recipe is just another proof of the culinary genius of the Italians. Simple and wonderful. I decided to share this recipe today as I think this is the kind of comfort dish that tastes particularly good on a cold winter day. Besides, it is the recipe that my son asked me to write down, so he could cook it one day, when he goes to college.

I never heard about this pasta until my last visit to Rome. My friend and host explained to me that it was in fact a very Roman dish and gave me the recipe. After I came back I made this pasta at home for my kids and instantly it became their most favorite pasta dish. Another simple and tasty dish that makes everyone happy.

There are basically two ingredients in this pasta black pepper and cheese. And again they should be of the best quality. Pepper should be full of flavor and fresh, Tellicherry would be most desirable, and cheese should be Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano, preferably imported. If you have these ingredients, a delicious dinner is ready in no time.

Fettuccine with Cheese and Black Pepper

3 tbsp coarsely, freshly ground black pepper, preferably Tellicherry,
2 tbsp olive oil,
2 tbsp unsalted butter,
1 lb fettuccine pasta,
1 cup freshly ground Pecorino Romano, plus some to finish,
1/2 cup tbsp freshly ground Parmigiano Reggiano to finish

Preparation: 1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until still firm but cooked.
2. Grind the pepper and cheese.


3. While pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive in a large frying pan. When bubbles appear add ground black pepper and fry while stirring continually for about 2 minutes until the flavor of the pepper is released.

4. Drain the fettuccine, saving about a cup of drained water.
5. Add pasta to the pan with pepper and toss it so it is covered with pepper. Add about 4 tbsps of the saved hot water.
6. Pour in both cheese and mix with pasta. If pasta is still too dry add extra water and mix. Serve immediately and finish with freshly ground Parmigiano Reggiano.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Banana Pudding

Sometimes we buy too many bananas and don't know what to do with them before they turn brown and no one will touch them. So this dish is another, next to banana bread, recipe for using extra bananas. It is even simpler than banana bread and can make a nice Sunday brunch dish, something like a dessert but not too sweet. There is no sugar added and the whole sweetness comes from bananas and raisins. Also, there is only a tablespoon of flour. If you want to make this dish more fancy, after bananas are fried you can add two tablespoons of rum to spice up their taste.

Banana Pudding

Ingredients: 4-5 medium bananas, yellow but not too soft, peeled and cut into cubes,
4 eggs,
1 tbsp all purpose flour,
1 12-oz can of unsweetened condensed milk,
1/3 cup raisins,
1 tsp vanilla essence,
1/2 tsp salt,
2 tbsp unsalted butter,
2 tbsp rum, optional,
2 tbsp brown sugar,
a dash of icing sugar to finish.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Butter a 10-inch oven proof dish with one tbsp of butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.
3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with flour until smooth. Add evaporated milk, vanilla essence and salt, and beat all together again.
4. Melt a tbsp of butter in a large frying pan. Add banana cubes and raisins and fry for about 2 minutes turning them gently. If you use rum add at the end of frying.

5. Spread the fried banana cubes on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour over the egg and milk mixture. Put the pudding in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
6. Dust with icing sugar, cut, and serve warm.