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Belgian Waffles

These waffles are super crisp on the outside and light as a feather inside and so scrumptious! Avoid removing them from the waffle iron too soon; they should be a golden brown. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1⁄2 cup oil
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Separate the eggs.
  3. In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  4. Mix together the egg yolks, milk and oil and stir slightly.
  5. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Fold in beaten egg whites.
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Strudel di Mele

Apple Strudel — a dessert of apples, pine nuts, and raisins or currants rolled up in paper-thin pastry — is the defining dish of Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region. This autonomous province borders Austria to the north and is squeezed between the Veneto and Lombardy regions to the south. Knowing this — and that the region was part of Austria until after the first World War– helps explain why this Austrian favorite is also beloved in Italy. Despite the look of the recipe ingredients and method, this is actually a rather simple dessert to prepare and won’t take nearly as long as you might think.

For the pastry:

  • Two 1/2 cups (300 grams) flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white wine or apple cider are best)

For the filling:

  • 4 apples (Golden Delicious preferably), about 750 grams
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons (50 grams) currants
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) butter
  • 2 tablespoons rum, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. For the pastry: Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Place the water, egg, 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and vinegar in the center and whisk with a fork to combine, until it begins to get too difficult to whisk. From here, knead the dough until soft, elastic, and well-combined. Brush the dough with olive oil and let rest, covered, in a bowl for 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling: Peel and core the apples, and chop them into thin slices, then place immediately in a bowl with the zest and juice of the lemon and toss. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the currants, pine nuts, turbinado sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside
  4. In a small skillet, toast the breadcrumbs in half of the butter over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the breadcrumbs become coated in the butter. Set aside.
  5. For the assembly: Divide the pastry into 2 balls. Roll out 1 ball of pastry on a floured tea towel to a rectangle roughly 12 x 16 inches (30 x 40cm) and thin enough to see your hand through the other side.
  6. Brush melted butter over the whole pastry. Scatter half of the toasted breadcrumbs evenly over the pastry, leaving a border of about 4 inches (10cm). Combine the chopped apples with the currant mixture and the rum (if using), then toss to combine. Place half of the apple mixture over the breadcrumbs and, with the help of the tea towel, gently fold the pastry from the long side, then roll to close the pastry firmly (but not so tight that it stretches and breaks!). Fold the ends underneath. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with melted butter to cover entirely. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling to create the second strudel.
  7. Bake the strudels at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a baking rack. You can serve this warm or cold, with a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar or a dollop of unsweetened, fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
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Focaccia Bread

This focaccia recipe is easy to make and easy to adapt. Try adding herbs such as rosemary or thyme, or perhaps some chopped chilli.

Ingredients:

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400ml/14fl oz cold water
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • fine sea salt

Preparation method:

  1. Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.
  2. Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.
  3. Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
  4. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions. Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, pushing to the corners, then leave to prove for one hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Drizzle the loaves with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.
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Carnival Fritters

This is a little one-bite cookie that, like many fried cookies in Italy, is typically prepared during the carnival time in February.

Ingredients:

  • Two 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed orange and lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Marsala
  • Peanut or olive oil for frying, as needed

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, and citrus zest. Blend in the eggs and Marsala. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into small balls about 1/2 ounce each and about 1/2 inch in diameter.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees F. Cook the castagnole, in batches, until they have a dark color, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.
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Popovers in Oven

By adding cheese (such as Parmesan), sugar, or spices to the batter, popovers can be suited to any occasion. For ease of use, a popover pan with a nonstick coating is the ideal baking vessel for popovers, but you can also use six-ounce custard dishes or a muffin tin. This recipe was featured on Martha Stewart Living TV.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing tin
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a popover tin.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Pour over flour mixture, and fold until just blended.
  3. Fill the popover cups two-thirds to three-quarters full.
  4. Transfer tin to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes. Remove popovers from the oven, and unmold onto a rack. Puncture the sides with a sharp knife to let steam escape, and serve immediately.
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Grissini Breadsticks

Are you familiar with grissini? A far cry from their soft, chewy pizza parlor cousins, grissini are long, thin, Italian-style breadsticks. They are crisp all the way through and can be flavored with various herbs, seeds, and spices to complement whatever else you may be serving. You can wrap them with paper-thin slices of prosciutto for a classic presentation, but they’re equally delicious served just as they are. Read on for the recipe and technique for this easy-to-make, dramatic addition to your next party.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 package (1 scant tablespoon) active-dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil for the bowl

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the whole wheat flour, water, honey and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and let sit for 10 minutes. The mixture should be foamy and show some liveliness.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Add the all-purpose flour, olive oil, and salt. Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment until combined, and then on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny.
  3. Let rest. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and transfer it to a small bowl. Drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil over the dough and roll it around until it has been coated. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let sit undisturbed in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Preheat the oven and prep the baking sheets. When the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 425°F and line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Divide dough (optional). If you would like to make several different varieties of grissini from a single batch, punch the dough down and divide into portions. For this post, I made plain, rosemary and black sesame seed grissini, so I divided the dough into three pieces.
  6. Shape the dough. For plain grissini, shape the dough into a rough, flat rectangle. Slice a finger-sized piece from the long length of the rectangle with a sharp knife or a bench scrapper. Roll it into a long, irregularly shaped snake and place on the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough, placing the dough snakes about 1/2″ apart. Note: The dough contains enough olive oil that you shouldn’t need flour to roll it out. If, for some reason, it is sticky, sprinkle a small amount of four on your surface before rolling.
  7. Add flavor to the grissini (optional.) To add herbs, knead about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh herbs into the dough and roll into snakes, as above. To add seeds, make the snakes as above. Measure out a couple of tablespoons of seeds and coax them into a long, thin line — as long as your snakes but fatter. Lay your snake over the seeds and press gently to make the seeds adhere. Place snakes on the baking sheet. Pick up one end and twist several times to create a swirl.
  8. Let the grissini rise until puffed. Let the grissini rest for a few minutes before baking, so they puff up a bit, about 15 minutes.
  9. Bake the grissini. Place the baking sheets with grissini into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. At 5 minutes, rotate the pans and check their progress. The grissini are quite thin, so they will burn easily! Keep an eye on them and take them out when they are golden brown.
  10. Cool and store. Carefully move the grissini to a cooling rack to cool. Once they are cool, store them in an airtight container (for up to 2 to 3 days) until ready to serve.