Category Archives: Desserts

Raspberry Corn Muffins

Raspberry Corn Muffins

I got this recipe from our neighbor Kate’s Still Life with Menu cookbook. It’s a simple recipe, doesn’t take very long and makes a great breakfast.
Raspberry Corn Muffins
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp. melted butter
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • 1 cup raspberries
Preheat the oven to 400o. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter.
Raspberry Corn Muffins
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl making sure to blend the baking powder and soda thoroughly.
Add the egg, butter, yogurt, and juice in another bowl and beat well.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and after they are mixed add that orange zest and raspberries. Mix gently.
Raspberry Corn Muffins
Distribute the batter in 12 muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool for 10 minutes before removing.
Raspberry Corn Muffins

P.S.  Be sure to check the ‘sell-by’ date on the baking powder and soda. If it’s expired you’ll make bricks instead of muffins.

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Regina Biscotti

Regina BiscottiRegina Biscotti

Biscotti and coffee are one of my favorite breakfasts. And Reginas are my favorite biscotti. Their name means Queen’s Cookies. This was my Aunt Vicky’s recipe except for the lemon zest. That was my idea.
Ingredients:
  • 9 oz. all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. olive oil
  • 3 eggs (separate yolks & whites)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 oz. milk
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1 cup sesame seedsRegina Biscotti
Regina Biscotti
Start by mixing the flour, sugar, salt, and oil in a bowl. Add the beaten egg yolks, honey, milk, and zest and mix with your hands until dough forms. You can do this part with a food processor. Roll it into a ball, wrap with Saran, and refrigerate for an hour or more.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they start to darken. Immediately remove them from the hot pan and put aside on a plate.REGINA BISCOTTI

Beat the 3 egg whites and 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl.
Cut the dough ball into 4 sections and roll each section into a 1-inch-wide log. Cut the log into 1 to 1 ½ inch sections. You should get 5 or 6 pieces from each log.Regina Biscotti
Dip each piece in the egg white–water mixture. Roll them in the sesame seeds, covering all sides. Arrange them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
Regina Biscotti
Regina Biscotti

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Pomegranates

pomegranates

Pomegranates

A friend unexpectedly stopped by for dinner. I took him shopping with me to get something to cook when he noticed pomegranates at the grocery store. He mentioned that he’d seen them before but never tried one.

pomegranates

I said, “What? How could you live in New York and never have had a pomegranate? Let’s get a couple and I’ll show you how good they are.”

How to cut and remove the seeds –

pomegranates

pomegranates

Cut the skin around the top and remove it.

pomegranates

Make 5 shallow cuts along the sides and pull apart into sections.

pomegranates

Break up the seeds into a bowl.

pomegranates

Fill the bowl with water so the membrane floats and can be removed.

pomegranates

Ready to eat.

Pomegranate Juice – 

On the street in Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast.

pomegranates

Put the seeds in a blender with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and blend for a few minutes.

pomegranates

Strain the mixture, squeezing the seeds in a sieve.

pomegranates

Ready to drink.

Pomegranate Liqueur –

After we’d made my Aunt Lena’s Coffee Sport and it turned out so well, Bridget and I got adventurous and decided to try making pomegranate liqueur. I went to the nearest Korean grocer. In NY, Korean grocer means general merchandise and very fresh and varied fruit and vegetables. I picked out 12 pomegranates and went to the cashier. As I started to unload them from the basket to the counter, a couple got on line behind me.
When they saw what I was buying the woman asked, “What could you possibly do with all of those pomegranates?”
Her husband looked embarrassed and so did she. “I apologize. Those words just fell out of my mouth.”
“There’s no need to apologize. And since you asked, my wife and I make some old Italian cordial recipes and this is for one we one we made up.”
The cashier who knew I shopped there regularly said, “These are very expensive. And you’re buying so many.”
“Maybe but that will turn into a bottle of something that will be worth it.”
The woman who apologized asked, “Why can’t you just use bottled pomegranate juice?”
Maybe I looked a little indignant when I said, “Bottled juice just won’t be a good as fresh. We squeeze the juice, strain, then simmer it until it’s  thickened a bit. Then we mix it with simple syrup and grain alcohol, and it’s done. That’s it, a simple cordial and ready to drink.”
Here’s the recipe for Pomegranate Liqueur as well as Coffee Sport.


The Myth of Persephone

Persephone and the Pomegranate Seeds  pomegranates


Helpful Hint – Don’t wear a white shirt anywhere near a pomegranate.

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Gingerbread

Gingerbread

My Aunt Lena made the best gingerbread. Whenever she made it, usually after I asked her to, I’d have it for dessert and breakfast. I recently tried some gingerbread recipes and came up with this one that’s a lot like hers.
gingerbreadIngredients:
  1. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 tsp. ground ginger
  3. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  4. ½ tsp. salt
  5. 1 tsp. baking soda
  6. 2/3 cup coffee
  7. 2/3 cup mild-flavored molasses
  8. 4 tbsp. butter
  9. 2/3 cup brown sugar
  10. 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease a 9-in square pan with butter. Mix dry ingredients 1 to 5 in a bowl.
Heat but don’t boil the coffee, molasses, butter, and brown sugar in a small pot. Let it cool and then whisk in the egg.
gingerbread

gingerbread
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour it into the buttered pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
gingerbread
Gingerbread is  perfect plain but you can also dress it up with fruit and heavy cream.

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Cranberry Lemon Bars

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Too late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas and Hanukkah. Cranberry Lemon Bars have a sweet-tart topping on a butter cookie base. I got this in the New York Times.

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Cranberry and Lemon Topping –
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large lemons
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • Confectioners’ sugar
The Crust –
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
9 by 13 inch pan, lined with foil and coated with cooking spray

Cranberry Topping
Combine the cranberries, ¾ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water, and the zest of 2 lemons in a small pot. Bring it to a boil, stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the berries burst.
The Crust (heat oven to 350o)
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Mix until dough forms. Press the dough into the pan in an even layer. Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until brown around the edges.
Lemon Topping
While the crust is baking squeeze the zested lemons for ½ cup of juice. Squeeze another lemon if needed. Mix the ¼ cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and the beaten eggs until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and mix until smooth.Cranberry Lemon Bars

Assembly
After the crust has cooled for a few minutes spread the cranberry topping over it. Then slowly pour the lemon topping on the cranberry.

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is set. Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use the foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut into bars and sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar.

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Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

This is an old desert recipe that’s not too common in most restaurants today but still very popular in New Orleans, especially Brennan’s where it was invented.  It’s prepared and served table-side and the flaming presentation is impressive.  Be careful when you light it – use a long reach lighter or wooden match.

Bananas Foster

Ingredients (1 banana per serving):
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 banana cut lengthwise and in half
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. banana liqueur
  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1 scoops of vanilla ice creamBananas Foster
Melt and mix the butter and sugar in a pan on medium heat. Brown the banana pieces lightly on both sides, sprinkle with cinnamon and remove for the pan to a dish with the ice cream. Pour the banana liqueur and rum to the pan and carefully light it. Bananas FosterSpoon the sauce over the bananas and ice cream and serve it while it’s hot.

Banana Rum Old Fashioned

If you’d like something else to do with your Banana Liqueur, try this variation on an Old Fashion. I got this a recipe in Food & Wine magazine.
Bananas Foster
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. white rum
  • 1/2 oz. banana liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel garnish
Put all of ingredients except the orange peel in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with the orange peel.

Bananas Foster

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Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

The peach season is almost over in New York. I thought I’d make Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake while I still could. It’s an almost fool proof recipe but there are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Use ripe but firm peaches.
  • Don’t overcook the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Use less sugar in the batter if you want it to taste more like corn bread than cake.

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients:
  • 8 tbsp. room temperature unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2  cup sugar, divided
  • 3 ripe peaches, sliced into wedges ¼ inch thick
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2  cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350o.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake
Place 4 tbsp. butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan on medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and stir until it melts and begins to color – about 4-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and place the peach slices around its edge and cover the bottom in one layer.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cream the remaining 4 tbsp. butter and ¼ cup of sugar in another bowl. Beat each egg and add one at a time and mix into the creamed butter. Now mix in the vanilla and cream.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Spread the batter over the peach slices in the pan and smooth it out with a spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top starts to color. Let the skillet cool for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Cover the pan with a large plate and flip it over. Tap on the bottom of the pan and let it rest for a few minutes while everything settles then remove the pan.  It’s a perfect desert but I like it for breakfast.

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake 

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Desserts Made with Olive Oil

Desserts Made with Olive Oil

I came across this article on desserts made with olive oil in Gambero Rosso.

Traditional Desserts Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

THE RESULT OF ANCIENT TRADITIONS AND OF A HUMBLE BUT TASTY CUISINE, DESSERTS MADE WITH EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE ITALIAN TABLE. 
“There are those who use it. to replace butter, for reasons of intolerance or food choice, or to reinvent classic recipes making them lighter, not to mention the many vegan versions of all the traditional desserts. In order to find fine quality extra-virgin olive oil cookies, there’s no need to search among specialized websites and magazines: just look to the past, at the recipes of a time when olive oil was the absolute protagonist. . . “

For the complete article, click here.desserts made with olive oil


For my recipe for  ciambelline al vino mentioned in the article, click here.

desserts made with olive oil

Ciambelline al Vino

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Little Bird Cookies

Little Bird Cookies

These Little Bird Cookies were a typical Easter dessert when I was growing up. Well, Easter was different this year due to COVID 19 so we’re having them in August. My Aunt Vicky’s family was from Abruzzo where these cookies originated. When she made them, they really did look like little birds. Some of ours resemble chickens and others look more like fish but they still taste good.

Little Bird CookiesDough –
  • 16 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup white wine:
  • 3 tbs. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the liquids, sugar, and salt. Mix and knead to form dough. Cover and let it rest for at least 1 hour.

Filling –
  • 5 oz. blanched almonds, toasted and ground
  • 2 oz. grated dark chocolate
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 10 oz. Montepulciano grape jam (not so easy to find – I used raspberry preserves)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. dark rum

Dried currants for eyes

Place the almonds in a dry frying pan and toast on medium heat until they lightly color. Grind them in a food processor to a coarse powder. Chill the chocolate in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to grate. Put all the filing ingredients in a pot and heat on low for 15 minutes. Let it cool before using it.Little Bird Cookies

Pre-heat the oven to 340 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into a thin sheet. Use a bowl or glass to cut circles. Re-knead and roll out the scraps. The bowl I used was 4 ½ inches in diameter and I got 15 cookies.Little Bird Cookies

Put a teaspoon of filling in the center of a circle. Fold it in half and press the edges to seal. Shape a head and make a triangular cut for a beak. Use a current for an eye. Poke a few holes where the wing should be to let the steam escape and cut a few lines to represent feathers in the tail. If you’re artistic and take your time it should look like a little bird. If not, just shape it into a half moon. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool and serve.Little Bird CookiesLittle Bird Cookies

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Wine Cookies (ciambelline al vino)

Wine Cookies (ciambelline al vino)

I’ve only recently heard of these. They aren’t something that anyone in my family ever made. I read about them in an article in L’Italo-Americano and decided to give them a try. Easy to make, not too sweet, very crunchy and just right for breakfast.

Wine Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sugar for glazing

Wine Cookies
Mix the wine, oil, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Add in the flour and make dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it stops sticking. Put it back in the bowl, cover it and let it rest for ½ hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wine Cookies
Lightly oil the baking sheet.
Pinch off a walnut sized piece of dough and roll out to form a log about 4 inches long. Overlap the two ends of the log and pinch to form a ring. Pour some sugar onto a small plate. Dip one side of the cookie only in the sugar and place, sugar side up, on the baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.Wine Cookies

L’Italo-Americano  Wine Cookie article here.Wine Cookies


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