|Francine Segan’s “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets”, Available Now
Francine Segan, noted food historian and cookbook author, nominated for the James Beard and IACD awards, shares recipes from her new cookbook “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets”. She is frequently quoted as a food expert for publications including Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, L.A. Times, and Chicago Tribune. Read More »
Semifreddo con Radicchio e Yogurt
Essere un lecca pentole
To be a pot-licker, a compliment for a food-lover
Many pastry chefs from the Treviso area have been inspired to create a variety of dessert dishes using the region’s famed raddichio di Treviso. This one is my favorite!
Radicchio is transformed into an exquisite marmalade and added to yogurt to create an exceptionally sophisticated semifreddo.
I’ve remade this recipe, without the radicchio, dozens of times. It’s a terrific basic! I really love the fact that with just a container of yogurt and some gelatin I can create a quick and healthy dessert. Substitute other flavor marmalades or make it without marmalade just topped with a drizzle of flavored honey.
For the marmalade:
8 ounces Radicchio, preferably Radicchio Variegato Castelfranco or Radicchio Treviso
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter
½ cup granulated Sugar
Zest of ½ Lemon
2 tablespoons sweet Liqueur such as Amaretto
2 tablespoons Grappa, optional
For the semifreddo:
1 packet unflavored Gelatin
16 ounces plain European style thick Yogurt
½ cup chestnut honey or flavored Honey, warmed
Add the butter and sugar, stir to combine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, at least 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon zest, liqueur, and grappa, if using. Reserve.
For the semifreddo: Put the gelatin into a bowl and mix with 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until the gelatin dissolves, then mix 7/8 of the reserved radicchio marmalade until well combined, reserving the rest of the marmalade for garnish. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then stir in the yogurt until creamy and well combined.
Divide the mixture between 6 ramekins or in one mold, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
To serve, unmold the semifreddo onto a serving plate and drizzle with honey and garnish with the remaining radicchio marmalade.
Sfogliata di Mele
Di Maggio ciliege per assaggio, di giugno ciliege a pugno
In May a mere taste of cherries, by June cherries by the fistful
A deeply flavorful crisp crust filled with slow-cooked apples and dark chocolate. The piecrust is actually multiple thin layers of dough, like the French millefeuille puff pastry, but made with olive oil instead of butter. Inside each layer is a sprinkle of aromatic homemade cinnamon sugar.
I wasn’t going to include Italian apple pie in this book because I’ve always assumed that American apple pies can’t be beat. Then I tasted this one made by a spry grandmother in Teramo, a region in Abruzzo and changed my mind.
Be sure to select a top quality olive oil. You’ll taste the difference! And here is a hint from the author: “I used only the weight of the flour in all the recipes. It’s really the best way to bake as cup measures of flour vary dramatically. Some people pack it tightly into the cup and get more in, some use a light touch and get a fluffy, but lesser amount in.”
For the Pie Crust:
1 ½ cups dry White Wine
1 cup granulated Sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
16 ounces all-purpose Flour, about 1 ¾ cups, plus more as needed
1 cup of best quality Olive Oil, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon Salt
1 2-inch stick of Cinnamon
For the Filling: Peel, core and slice the apples, and toss them with the sugar in a saucepan. Cook, covered, over low heat, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick applesauce-like filling. Allow to cool to room temperature and then stir in the chocolate, almonds and zest. Reserve.
For the Pie Crust: Combine the wine and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Put the flour onto a work surface, making a well in the center. Pour the oil, heated wine, and salt into the well and, using a fork, slowly incorporate some of the flour into the liquid until dough forms. Knead the dough, by hand, for about 10 minutes until very elastic and smooth. If you like, you can knead the dough by passing it through the thickest setting on a pasta maker until elastic and smooth.
Meanwhile, in a mini food processor or coffee grinder, process the remaining cup of sugar and cinnamon stick until the cinnamon is pulverized and fully combined with the sugar. Divide into 4 parts and reserve.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan with olive oil.
Divide the dough into 5 sections, 3 for the bottom crust and 2 for the top crust.
On a sheet of parchment paper or on a lightly oiled work surface roll one section of dough to a thin disc, just large enough to cover the bottom of the pan. It does not come up the side of the pan as in traditional pies. Drizzle on a little olive oil and one-fourth of the cinnamon sugar.
Take another section of dough and roll it out into a thin disc and put onto the first layer. Drizzle with olive oil and one-fourth of the cinnamon sugar. Top with a third disc of dough and spread on the reserved apple filling.
The top crust is two-layers thick. Top the apple filling with a disc of dough, drizzle with olive oil and the remaining cinnamon sugar. Finish with a final layer of thinly rolled out dough. Pierce the dough with a fork all along the edge of the pie to seal all the layers. Note that the crust is flush with the edges of the pan, more like a cake, than our traditional pinched piecrusts. Also piece the top of the pie in several places.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Torta dei 7 Vasetti
Tutto fa brodo
Everything makes soup
Almost every Italian knows this recipe by heart! Embarrassingly simple to-make, the name comes from the fact that the ingredients equal 7 “cups,” using a yogurt container as the cup measure.
Since the yogurt container determines the proportions of the other ingredients, you can use a smaller or larger container of yogurt, depending on how big a cake you’d like. I’ve tested the recipe with not just the 6-ounce container noted here, but also with 4 and 8-ounce containers. The cake came out perfect in all cases, but with the larger containers it needs a little more time in the oven.
1 container, 6 ounces, plain Yogurt
1 container Olive Oil
2 containers granulated Sugar
3 containers 00 or cake Flour
3 large Eggs
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a tube pan and dust with flour.
Empty the container of yogurt into a bowl, and using the empty yogurt container as a measure, add 1 container-full of oil, 2 of sugar, 3 of flour, plus the eggs and baking powder. Using an electric hand mixer blend the ingredients until well combined and free of lumps. The dough is fairly dense.
At this point, if you like, you can add flavorings such lemon zest or fruit. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Apple Rosemary Cake: Add 1 1/2 cups diced peeled apples and 2 tablespoons minced fresh Rosemary.
-Chocolate Cake: Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 2 ounces chopped Slitti Dark Chocolate.
-Spice Cake: Add 4 to 6 ounces chopped panforte or panpepato.
-Quick Torta della Nonna: Add 1 cup pine nuts
-Sublime Citrus Cake: Add orange, lime or lemon zest.
-Peach Cake: Add 1 1/2 cup diced fresh peaches.
Serves 10 to 12
Francine Segan, noted food historian, is the author of four cookbooks including Shakespeare’s Kitchen and Opera Lover’s Cookbook, nominated for both James Beard and IACP awards. She co-edited Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Superbowl, a 2-volume encyclopedia that was a finalist for the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Her fifth book Dolci: Italy’s Sweets will be out in the fall 2011.
Ms. Segan is frequently quoted as a food expert for papers such as Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, L.A. Times, and Chicago Tribune. She is a regular contributor to several newspapers and magazines, including Food Arts, Gastronomica, and Berkshire Living.
In December 2009 Dolce Italia, Italy’s National Association of Confectioners (AIDI), named Ms. Segan the USA Ambassador for Italian sweets. She visits and writes often on Italian food, wine and travel for both American and Italian publications.
Her many TV appearances include Today Show, Early Show, and Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. In addition she has been featured on many specials for the History and Discovery channels and the Food Network. Ms. Segan is a frequent radio guest and a regular on Martha Stewart Living radio.
Ms. Segan lectures across the country for organizations such as the Smithsonian Museum, the Virginia Fine Arts Museum, Abigail Adams Museum, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Museum of Natural History. She recently moderated a panel for the Tribecca Film Festival on food in film with Isabella Rosellini and Stanley Tucci.