Category:  Fun Foods

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Marzipan Easter Eggs

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods, Holidays On April 5, 2012 0 Comments

Marzipan has its origins in ancient Arabic countries, including Persia (modern-day Iran). It was introduced to Europe by medieval Arabs and Persians who had mastered the art of confectionary. Made with simple ingredients such as almonds, sugar and rosewater, marzipan is so delicious that you just can’t stop reaching for it.

These marzipan delights resemble eggs, except that they’re round instead of oval. Children will become expert confectioners as they transform marzipan into candy eggs.

In the end, you’ll have to go hunting for Marzipan Easter Eggs , since the kids will surely hide them from you!

Active prep time: 30 minutes (for marzipan)
Inactive prep time: 30 minutes (for soaking almonds)
Makes: 50 to 55 Marzipan candies

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups raw, unsalted almonds (skin on)
1 quart boiling water
2-1/4 cups unbleached, granulated sugar (for marzipan)
3 tablespoons rosewater (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
50 to 55 candy paper cups
25 slivered almonds (for garnish)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into slivers (for garnish)

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil.

2. Set almonds in a 3 or 4-quart glass or porcelain bowl; pour boiling water over almonds to cover completely. Set almonds and water aside 10 to 15 minutes or until almonds slip out of their skins easily.

3. Drain almonds and discard water; pat dry the almonds with paper towels.

4. In a food processor, grind together the almonds, 1-1/4 cups sugar, the rosewater and 2 tablespoons water.

5. Process the mixture until it is smooth. To test: with slightly wet hands, grab 3/4 teaspoon marzipan mixture and roll it into a ball. If it is too dry, add 1 extra tablespoon water and process; set aside.

6. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1 cup sugar in a shallow bowl – you will use this to coat the marzipan balls.

7. With slightly wet hands, shape the marzipan into 3/4-inch balls.

8. Roll balls in sugar, coating them evenly. Shake off the excess sugar and place marzipan eggs in candy-size paper cups.

9. Set  paper cup swith marzipan egg on a serving platter.

10. Garnish marzipan eggs with slivered almonds and slivered strawberries.

Note: Marzipan can be made up to two weeks ahead in the following manner: after rolling marzipan balls in sugar, place them in double freezer bags and freeze. When serving, thaw marzipan balls for 1 hour; garnish with slivered almond or slivered strawberry.

Text & Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Snowballs

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods, Holidays On December 11, 2011 0 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

Every year in December, my thoughts return to Montreal where I spent my early childhood. In Canada, the holiday season was synonymous with my cousins and me enjoying those great snowball fights.

Here in Los Angeles, these delicious Snowballs are made with bananas that are cut into chunks, rolled in sour cream and then in coconut. Rather than throwing these Snowballs at anyone, it’s best to serve them on a festive platter, surrounded by lush, fresh strawberries.

While Snowballs are fun to make, if anyone’s around during the process, these treats will never make it to your holiday table. But if they do, they’ll be the hit of the party – guaranteed!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 15 snowballs (or pieces)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
Juice of one lemon or lime
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut®
1 quart fresh, whole strawberries

1. Peel and cut the bananas into one-inch chunks (approximately 5 chunks per banana).

2. Place bananas in a shallow bowl and gently toss in the lemon or lime juice.

3. In a separate, shallow 10-inch bowl, gently stir together the sour cream and Amaretto liqueur; set aside.

4. Place coconut in a separate 10 or 12-inch shallow bowl and set aside.

5. Using two forks, lightly coat each banana chunk with the sour cream mixture followed by the coconut (roll each banana chunk in the coconut until it is thoroughly coated and looks like a snowball).

6. Place snowball on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining banana chunks and arrange in a mound on the serving platter.

7. Fan each strawberry by making two vertical cuts into it. Arrange strawberries in a circle around the Snowballs.

8. Refrigerate Snowballs up to three hours (covered in plastic wrap) or serve immediately.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Salami Mozzarella Quesadilla

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On September 20, 2011 0 Comments

This simple-to-make snack, lunch, starter or dinner is fast and fun. I’ve always enjoyed a plain cheese quesadilla, but when I created my own version with Genoa Salami and Mozzarella, it became exquisite!

Top these Italian-Mexican quesadillas with my Salsa and … Whatever recipe. It’ll be amore or amor at first bite!

Prep time: 5 to 8 minutes
Makes: 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:
Four 10-inch flour tortillas
16 slices Genoa Salami, thinly sliced
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, warm up two tortillas at a time on medium-high heat by flipping them over at 1 to 2-minute intervals.

2. Set burner on low heat setting.

3. Working quickly, lay 4 slices salami on the half side of each tortilla.

4. Top the salami with ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and fold each tortilla in half (you have made a quesadilla).

5. Flip the quesadillas over immediately (to avoid charring the underside).

6. With a spatula, gently press top of each quesadilla to flatten slightly.

7. Flip quesadilla over once or twice or until cheese has melted and starts bubbling along quesadilla edges.

Serve hot with Salsa and … Whatever (published on this blog on June 28, 2010).

Wine pairing suggestion: chilled Pinot Grigio (white) or Cabernet Sauvignon (red).

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mochi Watermelon Ice Pops

In Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On August 21, 2011 0 Comments

Yesterday was a HOT day and I felt like eating something fresh and fun! I immediately thought of picking up a sweet, crisp watermelon at the supermarket – a delicious summer fruit. For the fun part, I was thinking of frozen treats or yogurt and all the toppings that I go crazy over (especially those chewy bits of mochi). I think you figured it out, right?

These watermelon pops are lots of fun – each bite is a curious surprise!

Active prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours or overnight (for freezing)
Makes: 10 ice pops

Ingredients:
4 cups watermelon chunks (1-inch pieces)
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
10 plastic ice pop molds
1 cup mini mochi pieces (available at most frozen yogurt stores)

1. Put the watermelon, lime juice, water and sugar in a blender and “pulse-blend” until ingredients are mixed, but not watery. Taste and adjust sugar or lime juice levels.

2. Divide the watermelon mixture evenly among 10 ice pop molds.

3. Place a few mochi pieces on top of the watermelon mixture in each mold.

4. Add plastic ice pop stick or wooden popsicle stick and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

To Unmold Mochi Watermelon Ice Pops:

1. Place exterior section of ice pop molds underneath hot, running water until the ice pops fall out.

2. When unmolding, if ice pops are watery all around, place them on a metal baking sheet and return to freezer for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve.

Text and Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza

In Fun Foods, Pizzas, Savory Tarts & Quiches On May 15, 2011 2 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

If you’re not in the mood to make pizza, go and enjoy it at your favorite Italian restaurant.

By popular demand, I’m sharing my recipe for pear and gorgonzola pizza. And, all you need is pizza dough, pears, gorgonzola, mozzarella and oil. The best part is that all the ingredients (including premade dough) can be found at Trader Joe’s® stores. Prepare this pizza in less than 15 minutes.

Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as an appetizer)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
One 16-ounce Trader Joe’s® plain, refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 large ripe pears (any variety), peeled, quartered, cored and cut into 1/16-inch thick slices
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese*
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.

2. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, spread the vegetable oil evenly on a 12 X 16-inch rectangular or 16-inch round baking sheet.

3. Place the dough over oiled sheet and flatten slightly.

4. Flip the dough over and begin stretching the dough gently with fingertips until it fits into sides of baking sheet.

5. Brush the dough with olive oil. Arrange the pear slices evenly over dough, followed by the gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses.

6. Place sheet with pizza on a rack positioned in upper third of oven and bake 10 to 11 minutes or until cheese begins to turn light golden.

7. Transfer the pizza to bottom rack and bake an additonal 4 to 5 minutes or until bottom of pizza is golden brown.

Serve the pizza hot with a green salad.

Wine suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon

*Note: When assembling the pizza, use the lesser amount of the cheeses. If you are a cheese fanatic, feel free to add more.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real