TGIF!!!! Yay!! This has been one of those weeks that never seemed to end. But here it is- Friday!!- and we're linking up to Michael's place at Design by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
It's been a bit of a crazy week here. I've had one of those never-ending, just-bordering-on-migraine-but-not-quite headaches, and not enough hours in any day to get it all done. To top it off, I've had this horrible insomnia which just leaves me dragging all day.
Last night I started thinking about my Nonno in Italy. He swore by a cup of hot chamomile tea every night before bed. He claimed it settled the stomach and insured a good night's rest
So here I was at 1 a.m. digging through the pantry looking for the chamomile that I KNOW I bought....
Oh, well, something good did come out of that sleepless night. In thinking of my Nonno, I stirred up some memories of places we had gone and things we had done during our summers together. In particular, I thought of my Zia AnnaMaria. She was one of my Nonno's sisters and was known for her baking and desserts. One that she made often was Torta di Riso. this is a typically Tuscan dessert- a rice "cake" traditionally served cut into small diamonds. Zia would always have an Amaretto infused heavy cream whipped up alongside. I was thrilled some years ago to get a recipe. We were eating at a wonderful restaurant in New York and happened to strike up a conversation with the Italian owner. He ended up sharing the wonderful meal with us and I went home with his mother-in-law's recipe
A decadent dense mixture of arborio rice, ricotta, heavy cream and Sambuca
Personally, I like it best slightly warm or at room temperature, but also delicious cold from the fridge.
As many of you are aware, besides being a decorator and cooking teacher, I'm a trainer. My days start at 5:00 a.m. at a local gym. I have the best clients! One in particular is a hard-core foodie. he and his wife love to cook and dine at wonderful eateries for inspiration. Most of our training hours have been spent discussing food while working out. The gym regulars find it amusing to hear me with him-
"Get that butt down lower. I said SQUAT! By the way, did you roast those beets with balsamic?"
Yes, I am the trainer that feeds my clients. Last week I brought an entire tray of chocolate eggs and biscotti to the front desk staff. My husband tells people I'm pretty smart. I keep feeding my clients as I whip them into shape- he calls it "job security"!
It's very common for me to scribble notes on the bottom of a client's workout log.
Usually a recipe :)
One morning M. was telling me about an incredibly good dinner he and his wife had prepared the night before. They had based it on something they had seen on the Food Network- he didn't remember when or who had made it. He never followed a recipe as written, so simply told me what HE had done. I scribbled my usual one or two word shorthand which of course I promptly forgot so that by the time I got home and made dinner, my version probably bears no resemblance to theirs.
In this case, it didn't really matter because what I ended up with was wonderful. This can be on the table in 20 minutes. The tartness of the grapefruit, the sweetness of the honey, and the little kick of the red pepper flakes meld into a flavorful sauce that is wonderful spooned over brown rice or wilted spinach. Tonight I braised some baby artichokes that I needed to use up. He told me that the original recipe was done with salmon, he used sea bass, and I used mahi mahi tonight (because it's what I had in the freezer).
Mahi Mahi with Grapefruit Sauce
Mahi Mahi- I used 2 thick fillets (you may also use salmon or sea bass. I suggest thicker cuts, not a very thin fillet)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet till hot. Brown fish on 1 side- about 3 minutes. Flip and slide pan into oven. Roast for about 8-10 minutes till fish flakes easily. While fish is roasting, prepare sauce.
Red grapefruits- I used 3. 1 was juiced and 2 peeled, membranes removed, and segmented. If you can find the Ruby variety (our market was out) you'll have gorgeous color on the plate
1 large or 2 small shallots, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
red pepper flakes, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
handful of fresh basil, julienned
salt and pepper
Saute shallot and garlic in small amount of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper. Add grapefruit juice and honey. Simmer till reduced and thickened. add grapefruit sections and basil- simmer for 2 minutes and pour over fish.
Tuscan Torta di Riso
adapted from a Maccioni family recipe
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup water
4 Tblsp butter
zest of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/4 large orange
Combine all in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes till all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups ricotta
3 whole large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tblsp. Sambuca or Anisette
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tblsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11 x 7 baking pan well and sprinkle with bread crumbs. In a small bowl mix together the flour and baking powder.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and cream. Mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix. Blend in the cooled rice and stir in the Sambuca and vanilla.
Spoon into the pan and spread evenly. Pour the melted butter on top. bake about 30 minutes till golden and center is set. It shouldn't jiggle. Let cool for 1 hour and dust top with confectioner's sugar. Serve warm, room temp, or chilled. Try it with whipped cream infused with Sambuca. Buonissimo!
Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,
Pattie and Allie