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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Where am I?

1.
It’s a romantic country, they say.

2.
It’s somewhere you wouldn’t want to visit on a cruise.

3.
It’s in the northern emisphere, in fact it’s freezing cold here.

4.
Its food it’s…well…very famous.

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What happened, you might wonder, how come we didn’t know?
Truth is, until Thursday, I didn’t know either!

I woke up on Thursday, looked up the first flight and said to L.
“I am going to Italy tomorrow”
even if I had never flown such long distances alone before.

25 hours later my family picked me up from Milan Airport,
everyone quite shocked and surprised to see me back after two long years.

nullWhat’s more romantic than fog?

I can’t even describe what I am feeling right now,
two years is a bloody long time!

Nothing has changed very drastically in my foggy little town,
however everything seems smaller in size than how I remembered it.

And, yes, the food is still amazingly tasty and delicious!

nullTortelloni di Zucca col Ragù – (Homemade) Pumpkin Tortelloni with Bolognese Sauce

I will try to keep you updated with my Italian cooking adventures,
although instead of baking amazing Italian sweets,
people here would rather have me busy with cupcakes, a novelty for most Italians!

Roasted Banana Cupcakes with Caramel and Buttercream

Is there something you always wanted to know about Italy/Italians?
Go on, ask me anything!

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Roasted Banana Cupcakes

This week has been a very sweet and busy one, I have to admit that I am relived Sunday has arrived! Today will be dedicated to reckless relaxing, I tell you.

It all started on Thursday when I started baking my biggest cake yet: a chocolate starfish cake for 25/30 people. Chocolate with chocolate filling covered in chocolate and frosted with buttercream. It was quite tiring, especially the part where I stay up till 2 am piping thousands of dots of buttercream on the cake.

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But what an amazing feeling when I finished it, my baby!
(She says, munching on a piece of her “baby” as she writes, unfit mother..)
A few facts: it weighted about 7 or 8 kgs, it was formed by 6 cakes cut and shaped and the base was 40cm x 50cm.

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Then it was time to bake Roasted Banana Cupcakes, deliciously full-flavoured little treats. I was in the quest to find a cupcake that would be light and fluffy enough to bake for the 1st birthday of my favourite baby, and that wouldn’t be too rich either. These were amazing!! The recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book, slightly tweaked to adapt my lack of some ingedients.

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Roasted Banana Cupcakes
3 Ripe Banana
2 cups Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
3 Eggs, Separated
1/2 cup Greek Yoghurt (recipe originally calls for sour cream)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the unpealed bananas on a tray lined with baking paper and roast for 15 minutes. The peal will darken, don’t worry. Remove from oven and cool before peeling. Recude temperature to 150°C.

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing in between.
Add the roasted bananas (you won’t have to mash them, they’ll be very soft) and mix until well combined.

Add the previously sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in three times, alternating with the greek yoghurt. When the flour is well combines, add the vanilla extract.

In another bowl, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the cupcake batter, being careful not to over mix it.

Fill the cupcake liners until slightly more than half full and bake for 15/20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

nullFor the buttercream, I decided to use a recipe I had never tried before and was very surprised by the texture. It might be my new favourite!

Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup Butter
3 cups Icing Sugar, Sifted
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 or 2 tblsp Thickened Cream (depending on consistency required)
1 pinch of Salt

Cream the butter until light and fluffy, add sugar in, a bit at a time, and mix until well combined, about 3 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract, salt and the cream and continue mixing for another minute at medium speed.
nullMy week’s highlight, apart from finishing the huge Starfish Cake, was receiving a beautiful present for my wedding from my overseas friends Sempro, Ilaria and Nanì. It was an amazing surprise and me and L. were so moved by it! I love you guys!!!

If you want to have a sneak peak into the wedding photos, which arrived 2 days ago, I truly recommend you tune in for next post. Or follow My Lovely Bites on Facebook, so you never miss out!

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Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

New week, new post!

What is one of the worst things that could happen on a weekend morning?
In my household, it would running out of breakfast material aka biscuits to dip in the coffee/tea/milk!

Last weekend, people were aimlessly opening the cupboard, staring at its emptiness for a few minutes, just to close it and open it again 15 minutes later hoping something would have materialized in the meantime. You know, it’s not because of laziness that no one went to do some shopping: in a household of 7, it’s often difficult to predict how often the shopping has to be done or what everyone will be craving during the week.
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Homemade Chocolate and Almond Biscotti looked like a great idea, perfect to dip into my morning coffee (or my mid-morning coffee, or after-lunch one..) and not overly sweet like most store bought cookies.
Home baked is (almost) always better, right?
nullCan you believe that I have never really appreaciated these babies while in Europe?
I am discovering more and more things about my country of birth now that I was ever aware of while living there!

Chocolate and Almond Biscotti
300gr plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
30gr cocoa powder, sifted
165gr caster sugar
200gr blanched almonds
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F.

In a bowl, mix the sifted flour, baking powder, cocoa, sugar and almonds with a wisk until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and hand mix until a dough forms.

Place in a floured surface and knead until smooth, then divide the dough in two and shape into logs, slighty flattened.

Place the logs into a baking tray previously lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 35 minutes. They will rise more tha they will expand, so you can place them about 5 to 10cm apart on the tray, just in case. After 35 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool down completely.

Cut the logs into 5mm slices and bake for a further 20 minutes or until biscotti are crisp.

Store in any biscuit container in your cupboard!

Recipe slightly adapted from Donna Hay.

nullIs there anything you rediscovered as an adult that you never really appreciated as a child?
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