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Monday, December 21, 2009

White Chocolate and Cranberry Shortbread

We had our annual christmas baking party this year where I tried an adapted recipe for shortbread cookies from the LCBO Food & Drink. I found the recipe made the dough way too dry, in fact it would not combine at all. Therefore I added more butter and some milk (did not measure, just added a bit at a time until the dough would combine) and hoped for the best. It turned out really well. Rather than roll the dough out and cut out shapes as originally planned, I rolled the dough into a log and sliced the cookies. The end result was a nice crunchy shortbread with
sweetness from the white chocolate and sourness from the cranberries.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Shortbread

¾ cup granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup dried craisins (cherry flavoured)
1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 300°F.
Add sugar into food processor. Turn on and off twice to grind sugar a little finer. Add flour and salt to food processor. Add cold butter and process until combined. Combine 1 cup (250 mL) dried craisins with 1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate. Stir into cookie batter before combining into a ball. Do not form into a ball in food processor.

Scrape mixture into a bowl and knead together gently to form dough. This is where I added a bit of milk to combine and make a dough. Divide dough into thirds and roll into a log using wax or parchement paper and put in the fridge for a couple hours.

Take out and slice the log into 1/2 inch cookies.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet and prick each round with a fork.
Bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes or until a creamy colour. The shortbread will not be firm. It hardens as it cools.6. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets.

Makes about 40 cookies

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wine Bars in Rome

If you have ever been to Rome, you know that, the concept of forming a line is non existent, so do not bother being polite and waiting at the counter for someone to serve you, just go right up there and blurt out what you want. (fyi: the above photo is not mine, but the rest are)

Secondly the crowds near some of the tourist places are overwhelming and although the places are packed with history, art and great food, the crowds sort of lost the allure and romance these places can exuded in solitude.

Don’t get me wrong I loved seeing these places, but near the end of the day I was in the mood to find a quieter place away from the crowds where I could relax and hear myself think. My husband and I found this solitude in Rome wine bars. This was also true for Venice.

Wine bars in Italy are known as enoteche. One particular wine bar we found was near the hustle and bustle, but tucked into a little cobble stone side street that was not overcrowded or hot. The place was called Enoteca Cavour. It featured a large oak bar, great selection of wines, and platters of cheeses, meats, olives, frittatas, to nibble on as you sipped your drink. We enjoyed some wine and nibbles and later returned for a perfect dinner out in the cobble stone street. We enjoyed Veal Scallopinni.

Veal Scallopinni

We found another wine bar for lunch close to the Monte area called Urbana 47. A lesser touristic area, and highly recommended place to stay away from the tourism. Tons of local shops and restaurants around.

The wine was fabulous here, and the spread was mainly vegetarian and all organic foods. The buffet style allowed us to try different Italian foods featuring a lot of roasted red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, artichokes, and cheese. The place itself was really modern and funky.

This is a wine bar across from our Hotel i the Monte area. I loved the Pulp Fiction mural. Never had wine hear, but they had a great coffee.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Veal Marsala

During my travels in Italy there were a few traditional dishes I had to try. Although I was fortunate to try lamb ragu, veal scaloppini, mussels, nutella crepes, pizzas, antipasti and an abundance of wines there were many more I did not get to try. I guess that just means there is an excuse to go back.

One dish that stood out was veal marsala. The cut is obviously extremely tender with a warm silky smooth textured wine and mushroom sauce coating it. The whole porcini and cremini mushrooms absorb so much of the liquid that they pop in your mouth. Desiring that culinary experience again and to reminisce about the cute cobble stoned alley where we dined my husband and I made a mouth-watering veal marsala. The recipe was from non other than Cooking Light, an Italian magazine and website that provides some wonderful quick yet delectable Italian dishes.

1 pound veal scaloppine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2/3 cup beef consommé
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup dry marsala wine
1 cup presliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Dredge veal in flour. Combine 1 T flour and broth, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add veal, cook 1 1/2 minutes. Turn veal over; cook 1 minute. Remove veal from pan.

Add wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth mixture, mushrooms, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until thick. Return veal to pan; sprinkle with parsley.