Make these little Chocolate Biscuit People with any cutter on hand. They are lovely and crunchy and can be decorated with all kinds of colourful shiny bits and pieces. I have also included some postcards from food travels in Italy.
My kitchen is a bit neglected in the last couple of weeks my teenager, Skater has been in charge ( help!). I ‘ve just returned from a trip to Milan and Rome to visit food producers. I have all kinds of ideas and look forward to sharing some of these with you in the coming weeks along with lots of pictures. I joined an exotic food walking tour in Bangkok on my way back from Rome that I would love to take you on this week.
Meanwhile I have these cute VIP- Very Important Pastry cutters I bought while at Eataly in Rome.
Eataly have you heard of it? It is 4 floors of food and 18 restaurants. There is cheese making in fact a whole mozzarella section with glass walls so you can watch them make it fresh. There is gelato making & several gelato bars, seafood – all kinds of exotic stuff here, a butchery- aging/cutting, bread & pastry making, pizza and pasta making . Staggeringly, all processes can be watched via open kitchens and walls including a mini brewery. The vegetarian restaurant is situated next to the fresh vegetable sales. There are pizza bars with so many slabs of pizza you can’t tear your eyes away, foccacia made in thin elegant slabs topped with anything your heart desirers . Big rotisseries with meat roasting that can be bought whole or sliced or eaten there with sides of beautifully cooked beans and vegetables, or choose another restaurant and have meat grilled or as a ragu, may be with some fresh Caserecci pasta?. Fish can be grilled while you sit up at the bar or on a giant plate as Fritto Misto or why not a three tired mixed seafood platter? The mozzarella bar is busy while panini lure you with soft prosciutto and oozing condiments of artichoke and olive pastes. There is a coffee bar, the very Italian way to throw down a coffee while you are standing, as well as comfortable lounges where you can get a coffee or a coffee cocktail . There are gelaterias, beer and food matching, it goes on. Naturally there are books, wine, schools, kitchen equipment, even a travel agency. I think you get the idea…… the offering swings wildly between artisanal and industrial so you need to be aware that this is a style of supermarket/store. According to the publicity, Eataly is the 3rd biggest tourist attraction in New York, today. This is the chains 15th store. I hear it is an interesting trek by public transport. I arrived by car.
You may be wondering why then, I would buy these cutters, and that’s a great question that I can not answer. There is however,a great crunchy biscuit recipe attached so you can make your own chocolate shapes even without these cute cutters for biscuits that hang on the side of your cup.
I am very excited to have all of these Macadamias in my kitchen so I can create lots of recipes this winter. It can take up to 10 years for a Macadamia tree to reach maturity so I have a very precious cargo here. The Macadamia industry encourages native bees to help pollinate the crop, protecting bee populations with the extra bonus result of delicious Macadamia honey.
And finally, these Amarena cherries. Italian sour cherries are grown around Bolognia and Modena, they are prized for their texture, colour and the incredible sourness that works so well in cooking. Paola Calciolari is the owner, manager and tastebuds behind Le Tamerici artisan products. Her use of mustards in fruit (a regional speciality- Lombardy) and combinations of surprising tastes, flavours and textures are legendary. She has built her business around using almost entirely all local seasonal ingredients and supports the revival of heirloom fruit and vegetables from the Northern Italian region. The cherries are a subtle mixture of just poached deseeded cherries in a sugar syrup with just the right touch of local (IGP) balsamic (Modena is just down the road). All of her jars are a magical combination of the flavour and texture of the ingredient, even though it has been preserved. I met her at the cooking school in Mantova, Lombardy, a town 2 hours from Milan, it’s on the same property as the small production facility. The school is light and bright and it was here that she cooked lunch and matched a local ‘Mantovan’ risotto (this is a rice growing area) as well as cheese with her cutting edge products. The cherries were paired with a local creamy goat/sheep milk cheese and also stirred into a semi freddo with hazelnuts. A gorganzola was paired with mustard oranges and the risotto with lemon mustard fruit. What an experience for me! Thank you also to the gorgeous Alessandra Cazzaniga with her perfect English, who made sure I understood everything x
- 150 gm butter room temperature
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 275 gm plain flour
- 1 egg ( small)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 25 gm cocoa
- chocolate chips optional ( 2Tablespoons)
- Put the softened butter in the bowl of a mixer and cream with the sugar. I used a food processor to cream my butter and sugar.
- Add the egg to the processor or mixing bowl, and mix well. Add the sifted dry ingredients and the salt and process until the mixture comes together in a ball. Do not over mix
- Add the chips if using
- Flatten out into a disc and refrigerate till chilled.
- When ready take out of the fridge and roll to between two pieces of baking paper to a thickness of 3mm. Rolling and cutting the dough will be a little like rolling pastry. The flour you use will stay on the baked biscuits if you use a lot. Brush off excess with a pastry brush. Using baking paper will make the dough nice and smooth and you wont have to use as much flour to stop it sticking ( you can use Icing or confectioners sugar to stop the sticking too) Use your cutter to cut out shapes. Put onto a lined tray and bake for 7-10 minutes or until firm.
- As they cool they will become crunchy.
- Decorate or sandwich with nutella and eat!
Just a word
I visited le Tamerici and Eataly as part of a work trip researching products. The macadamias are for writing recipes c/o www.australian-macadamias.org and www.crossmancommunications.com.au. If you are making a trip to Mantova and would like tastings of Le Tamerici products or would like to go to cooking classes . Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
see what others are doing in there kitchen this month by visiting Celia www.figjamandlimecordial.com