Tag Archives: Italian

International Flatbreads-An Easier Version of Pizza

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

International FlatbreadsThis International Flatbreads post started with my interest in exploring 00 flour. The recipe I chose to work with was for a pizza dough from Roberta’s restaurant in New York. The recipe came from the New York Times.

I suggest you get a cup of coffee, tea or whatever you drink, find a comfy chair and get ready to read this rather lengthy blog.

Pizza my way is something I really love to make. It is simple and satisfying. But more than pizza I love flatbreads. The lack of a sauce allows the ingredients to come through with a power they can’t otherwise.

Anyway, back to the flour. The recipe calls for 00 flour, which has recently become the new darling of the flour world. So I went to my Italian grocer and bought a bag. I found the flour to be incredibly smooth and fine. I loved the feel and texture of it. Continue reading

Torta Rustica – A Savory Italian Pastry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Torta RusticaThis Torta Rustica is a savory Italian pastry which I am assuming means Rustic Tart.  Its memorable crust holds a filling of spinach with cheese, eggs, onions and bread crumbs to bind it.  It is layered with red peppers, artichokes and provolone.  It is hard to go wrong with these ingredients.  The one caveat here is to thaw the spinach completely and squeeze all the water from it.  It is important it is dry when combined with the other ingredients.

We would squeeze 30 pounds of spinach to make 12 Torta Rustica at a time.  No matter how long we thawed the spinach it would be freezing cold when we squeezed it.  We would keep a bowl of warm water next to us to dip our hands into to  warm them as we prepared the spinach. Continue reading

Amaretti Cookies

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Amaretti Cookie photoI haven’t found anything to date made with almond extract that I don’t love. These Amaretti cookies which are Italy’s version of a macaroon are a perfect example. Crunchy, gluten free and low in fat, these are the perfect accompaniment to lightly sweetened or macerated fresh fruit or ice cream.

While these can be found in Italian grocery stores, it can be difficult to find them in state side grocery stores. But Amaretti cookies are so easy to make you don’t have to search them out anymore.

There are several ways to make them. I prefer to use almond paste rather than ground almond. No matter how much the almonds are pulverized  in the processor, they will never be as smooth as almond paste with its distinctive bitter almond flavoring. Do not use marzipan. While almond paste is an ingredient in marzipan, it is not pure almond paste.  My store carries an eight ounce package which is perfect for this recipe. Continue reading

Italian Calzones

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished cutWhat’s better than Italian food?  Italian Calzones that you can hold in your hand!   Eat them for a snack, lunch, supper or just because it seems like a good idea.

One of the things I like so much about this recipe is that it does not use a yeast dough for the crust.  That eliminates a lot of waiting time.  This crust is so full of flavor and is very easy to use and to make.  After the initial roll out of the crusts, I trim them into perfect 9″ circles by using an 9″ cardboard circle.  This isn’t because I am seeking perfection but because it is easier to enclose the filling if the circles are relatively perfect.

The calzone pastry is an all purpose savory pastry that I used for the  Goat Cheese Pesto Tart.  It makes great crackers rolled fairly thin, brushed with egg white and sprinkled with more cheese.

If you want a really great pastry use Kerry Gold butter with garlic and herb.  Lacking that any butter makes a great savory pastry dough for calzones. Continue reading

Tiramasu Parfaits

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoWhile Tiramasu was all the rage a few years ago, it has since been relegated to the “not hot” list of desserts for many restaurants and you don’t see it on menus as much.

However, Tiramasu is a classic Italian dessert and one that is really easily executed once you have made the sponge – which can be done a month ahead if desired and stored in the freezer well wrapped.  Simply thaw it for use.  This amount of sponge is more than you will need  but it can’t be cut down any further and have a quality product.

While  many recipes for Tiramasu use the premade Italian ladyfinger sponge cookies, Savoiardi, we made our own sponge and it worked perfectly for us.  This was a version I made for Tony’s, the restaurant at which I preform my pastry chef duties.  I made it in wine glasses for a beautiful presentation. Continue reading