Tiramisu, anyone?

It has been awhile since I posted last here.  A lot has happened in the past month.  For starters, I finally found a new job after being off the market for about a year.  So far, it’s going really well.  One of the best things about it is that my commute is less than 20 minutes each way, all highway, which beats the 45 minute stop-and-go commute I had going in toward the city at the last place.  I have gained an extra hour in my day, which is so great!

Secondly, I spent a week in Italy earlier this month.  It was absolutely beautiful — more than I had expected.  I visited the Amalfi Coast, including the island of Capri as well as Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.  During my time in Italy, our group took a cooking class in Sorrento, which was amazing.

The food that we cooked was nothing out of the ordinary, but I think the quality and freshness of the ingredients really lent a lot to the final outcome of our meal.  Also, I received a lot of helpful advice on how to deal with and correct mistakes that may happen when cooking or baking.   I will be posting the various recipes we made here, with all measurements converted.

I’m going to start with the best thing first…forget saving it for last….tiramisu!  It seems that we all loved tiramisu so much that we had it for dessert pretty much every other night (including tiramisu-flavored gelato).  However, the one that we made in the class was hands-down the best of the week — because it was freshly made.

Tiramisu is a very simple Italian trifle-like dessert that takes ladyfingers that have been soaked in coffee, and layers them with a rich custard.  A simple search online will give you not only a basic recipe but millions of variations using different ingredients.  We each made a basic tiramisu in individual dishes, but the recipe below is for approximately 6-8 people.

Tiramisu – before

Tiramisu

(serves 6-8)

  • 5 eggs yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz whipping cream
  • 14 0z (400 g) package of Savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers)
  • Unsweetened coffee
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate shavings, optional

Whip the cream until soft peaks form.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy in consistency.  Add the mascarpone and a little bit of the rum.  Gently fold in the two mixtures  along with the whipped cream.

Soak the lady fingers in the coffee — in and out, not too long in the coffee.

Depending on the serving bowl chosen (whether one large or several small), place a layer of  ladyfingers on the bottom.  Pour half of the cream mixture over the ladyfingers and repeat with one more layer, finishing with a layer of cream.

DP Note #1: The bottom layer of lady fingers should be lightly soaked in the coffee, but the second layer should soak for longer.

Dust heavily with cocoa powder.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

DP Note #2:  You can add good-quality-chocolate flakes to the cream mixture if you’re a chocoholic.

Enjoy!

Tiramisu – after!

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Have Camera, Will Travel (for Food Photos)…

About a year ago, my favorite blog “Food52” held a travel food photo contest.  Contestants were invited to submit a photo that represented something that they saw while traveling, whether it was something that they ate, something that they saw in a window, or even someone that they saw cooking something.

The reason I bring up this contest is because I saw a photo today of nutmeg in its purest form, with a cover of mace.  It reminded me of a similar photo that I was drawn to during the contest last year.

While I had submitted a photo of my own for the contest (the octopus pic), some of the pictures that were submitted were absolutely stunning and looked like something you’d see on “National Geographic”. 

Click on the links below to see the amazing photos of finalists of the two contest rounds. 

Finalists Round 1

Finalists Round 2

My favorites were:

  • Pure nutmeg and mace (Round 2, top photo)
  • The market in Istanbul (Round 2, second photo)
  • The market in Uzbekistan (Round 1, last photo)

The picture of the women cooking green onions in Spain looks like it could be a painting.  Gorgeous!

Ultimately, the winner of the contest was the photo of the man in China walking home carrying a chicken in his hand — I believe it is a good representation of how other other cultures outside of the United States relate to their food.

Enjoy!

And Speaking of Travel Photos…

Below is a common site throughout the seaside ports and restaurants of the Mediterranean.

This photo is of the day’s catch of octopi (yes, that’s the plural) laid out to dry in the hot Mediterranean sun in preparation for that evening’s dinner.  This picture was taken in the port of Naoussa on the island of Paros, Greece.  Octopus is hung to dry so that the meat will become more tender when it is cooked.

Octopus Drying in Paros

And here is the dinner that I shared with a friend while in Greece — the freshest seafood (it’s a tight competition with New England seafood).  Simply grilled, nothing but a little bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, if you’d like.  Personally, I prefer not to have lemon, as I don’t want anything to interfere with the fresh taste of the seafood.  Also, notice that there are no sauces or toppings of any sort to take away from the highlight of the dish, which unfortunately, is what you tend to see in many restaurants here in the US.

La Boqueria

The Mercat de Sant Joseph de la Boqueria, or “La Boqueria” is a large, bustling food market in Barcelona, on the famous Las Ramblas.  Although it is a local market, it draws a huge tourist crowd.  Here you can find the freshest meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheeses, chocolates and more.   Everything is so beautifully, almost artfully, arranged that you can’t help but sigh in amazement.  There are even tapas bars scattered throughout so you can walk right up and have some of the market’s fresh bounty prepared for you.  It’s a gastronomer’s (and a photographer’s!) delight.  

I have visited European food markets in other cities and La Boqueria is the most impressive, IMHO.

Here are some pictures that I took when I visited in August 2006.  Click on the arrows on the pictures below to advance to the next…or just let them scroll through on their own.

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