Saturday, October 19, 2013

a secret ingredient

Back after a while to my cooking sessions... in the last few months my kitchen was completely ripped off and redone with a bit of troubles but now it's working fine, and I'm back enjoying cooking for family and friends.

Sherry rich scones
I know my husband love to be woken up by the smell of baking cakes. He loves piping hot scones with home made raspberry jam, another specialty of the house :) (his in that case) so I really want to make him a surprise, if only...
I was kneading my scones when I realized there was no milk in the house, too late I was already hands-on and I had to quickly find a solutions because the dough would started to rise anyway. Add water? Boring. Add another liquid? yes, but which one... Sherry!! That is known among my English family as my "secret" ingredient, because I'm able to use it in almost anything: meat, mushrooms, cakes, fruit salad, never tried in a soup but you never know...

Here is the recipe, hope you give it a try ;)
the scones ready for the oven

225 g of self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
50 g of butter (I usually recommend to reduce to half the quantity of fat, but not in this case especially if you do without milk)
25 g of caster sugar
50 g of sultanas
1 medium egg. beaten with enough Sherry yo make 150 ml liquid

Pre-heat the oven to 220C and put some baking paper on a baking tray.
Mix flour, salt and rub in the butter till it is completely absorbed by the flour. Add egg and Sherry leaving a little aside from brushing the tops. I forgot that time as you can see from the photos, but they taste good anyway.
The dough will be of a lightly pink colour and should be soft and spongy but not sticking to your fingers.
pink dough
Knead lightly on a floured surface and roll out to 1 1/2 cm in thickness, cut out with a round biscuit cutter, if haven't any use a glass  or a coffee cup.
Re-roll the trimmings and cut more scones.
Brush the tops with the egg and cherry mix and bake in

warm oven for 10 mins or till they become golden brown on top.
the scones just out of the oven

Have them with home made jam, any red fruit will be good, but the raspberry one is my favorite.

Enjoy them with coffee or tea.
ML xx

Cantine Florio

Long time ago I promised I would have dedicated a post to Cantine Florio, eventually I kept my promise and here we are to talk about the visit of the famous cellars.
doors of the shop 

The visit of the Cantine Florio is a must do if you stop in Marsala, 10 euro well spent for the guided tour, there is also the opportunity to do it in English, our guide was Sarah, she is very good and jaunty, with a wide knowledge of wines and wine making.
The cellars are located in a huge baglio in front of the sea, on the outskirts of Marsala in an area where other cellars are located.
The cellars are enormous with packed-earth floor and lines of piled barriques that forms corridors  that went to America at the beginning of the XX century for an exhibition and few other stuff.
the cellar
where you walk through. Those cellars have been rebuilt after Second World War because they were severely damaged during the bombing of the area, unfortunately most of the Marsala production went lost, but they saved a huge barrel
The symbol of the Florio family - a sick lion in search of relief - refers to their main activity: they were chemists and they had the government permission for selling quinine to treat malaria a very common disease in the late XIX century in many areas of the South of Italy.
There are more memorabilia of Garibaldi and Mille's landing here rather than in the actual
the Florio family emblem
Garibaldi's museum in the town centre.
Going through we spotted a barrique filled the same day my husband was born, great coincidence!
a special barrique

Don't miss the tasting at the end of the tour: it's really emotional involving, I had shivers tasting those superb Marsala wines! Better to do in small groups as far as possible, you need silence to meditate those wines.
wine tasting

So don't wait any longer go and enjoy a glass of Marsala!
ML xx

Auditore - a little village on the boarder

Auditore Town Hall
If I'm back to posting on the blog I should really thank Lisa from Renovating Italy, her last post it's so emotionally powerful that really gave me the kick to get back and write something about my beloved Italy.

One day in early autumn I took my husband on a drive among those fantastic hills that are the border between Romagna and Marche, where my grand parents came from and where I used to go visiting older relatives or cemeteries with them at least once in the summer when I was I little child.
I don't remember the places but I absolutely cannot forget how my grand father got animated as soon as the car stopped in the village square and he jumped out and greeted the people who was coming to say hello to him. It was like being brought into the past and being a little observer who nobody took any notice of. I enjoyed that atmosphere which brought my child like being into an ancient past, I loved to hear their stories and I loved the smile on my grandfather face.

Anyway, going back to that famous trip with my husband, we didn't really plan to stop in Auditore, when I saw the edge of town sign on the road I immediately turned the car and stopped in front of the Town Hall (Comune). As I said, I really did not remember the place, but as I breathed the air every thing seemed  familiar.
the road up to the church belvedere
coloured houses 
We walked around the small streets of the tiny village, not coming across many people, but the noises from the houses kept us company. We arrived at the village bar (as far as I could remember just one in the main square under the church) and I loved the yellow curtain waiving in the breeze. We entered for a coffee but surprising nobody was there serving, two old men sitting at the table pretending to play cards but probably keeping an eye on the place, after we searched for somebody, eventually came in our help: "Go next door, you'll find someone". We exited the modern bar (what a pity they re-modern the old little bar osteria so full of colour, for an impersonal all granite and wood modern version of a bar) and entered a tiny little grocery and bakery with a wonderful smell of freshly cooked bread. First thing the man behind the counter told us, serving an old woman in front of him: "I'll be with you in a minute". How did he know we were in the bar craving for a coffee only a second ago? The two old men? a secret camera or bell informing him of any movement next door? No, there was no sign of technology in that little shop, he knew.
the bar and the bakery shop (the door with the yellow curtain on the side)
Eventually he made us a coffee which was at all memorable, in the mean time in the bakery we bought a slice of  spianata, an oily and flavorsome white pizza that is made locally with lots of lard (ahime'!). After our drink we both enjoyed the spianata sitting on the belvedere in front of the church, it tasted so good.

spianata with a view
Montefeltro hills

the village walls
a tiny window

buildings opposite the Town Hall
What did that unexpected stop leave in my memory and my heart? It brought back the stories my grandfather used to tell me about those places and his youth, which was nothing similar to mine. But it also made me enjoy fantastic views of
my beloved homeland.
Worthless to say, I'm in love with Italy. :)

Enjoy your journey in Italy every bit of that country is worth visiting regardless the bad propaganda the unhappy political situation of the moment can make.
Hope you enjoyed it.
ML xx