Monthly Archives: March 2015

Meringue nests with pomegranate seeds

springSpring has sprung, cherry trees are blossoming, and it’s almost time to put away winter wear. It’s Palm Sunday, and while we enjoyed our cappuccino in the morning sun, church bells pealed and people wandered by holding olive branches from Mass. At home we have piles of oranges to make spremuta, fresh orange juice.

orangesSpring is delightful in Rome! It’s high allergy season, but besides that, wonderful. Time to pull out pastel jumpers and lighter shoes, do some spring cleaning, and make meringues. A light finale was needed for TV night (dinner in the sofa) the next day, I had a pomegranate, so this was dessert.

meringue nests

Meringue nests with pomegranate seeds

2 fresh egg whites
100g golden caster sugar
icing sugar to dust

One pomegranate for serving

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form stiff peaks. Now, whisk in the sugar, little by little.  Dollop the meringue mixture onto a baking sheet, with a little hollow in the centre. Bake them at 150C for 30-35 minutes. Now, turn off the oven but leave the meringues in the oven to dry out, 4-5 hours.

meringue nests with pomegranate seeds

The next day, hollow out the pomegranate with a teaspoon and sprinkle some seeds over the meringue nest to serve. Easy!  I am bringing these to Fiesta Friday 61 @fiestafriday.net  with many thanks to  this week’s co-hosts Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole.

Fiesta Friday

Marzipan-stuffed baked apples

three apples Spring is here, the cherry trees are beginning to blossom here in Rome, and I still had Christmas marzipan lurking in the fridge. Our basket of mysterious, old, or challenging pantry items to use up is shrinking (samples: Chinese salted black beans, cod liver pâté, dusty  meringues, alici piccante – spicy anchovies, which turned out to be amazing on pizza) and now it was time for that marzipan to go. It’s been sitting in the back of the fridge in a desolate row of jars with leftover bits and pieces: fondant, harissa, truffle butter, tamarind paste, and more of those ingredients that would be great for something, eventually….. No, now we had a friend coming over for our weekly TV night, and we needed an easy dessert. Hmmmmm…. I’d seen Baked Marzipan Apples on Recipe Reminiscing, a very enjoyable and highly recommended Norwegian-English blog with delightfully retro recipes, and took that as my inspiration. The original includes marzipan, rum, raisins and cream, and looks amazing! This is is a more stripped-down weeknight version.

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I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #59, with many thanks to the hosts  Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and Mila @milkandbun and Angie@thenovicegardener.

Marzipan-stuffed baked apples for three
3 apples
70-80 grammes marzipan  (what we had left…)
2 tbs butter
2 tsp golden caster sugar

Heat the oven to 220C. Peel and core the apples. Stuff the cores with a sausage of marzipan, and slather some butter on top to seal the gap. Sprinkle some golden caster sugar on top. Place the apples in a greased ovenproof dish. Bake 15-20 min until they feel soft. Enjoy!

baked apple

Not so pretty, but these were very nice just like this, and the sweet marzipan core contrasted well with the lingering tartness of the apples. Custard or cream on the side would be good too, but our visiting friend is on a diet, so we were trying to be morally supportive (despite the marzipan).

We have TV nights on Tuesdays with this friend, and we are currently watching Forbrydelsen series 3 (with subtitles), so dessert also has to be easy to eat when on the sofa. I’m wondering if I could do chocolate stuffed pears in a similar way, maybe sliced in two and wrapped in foil to hold them together while baking? Pears are harder to core, unless I found really firm ones, but that might just work. To be tested!

Happy FF59 to all!

Fiesta Friday

Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)

artichokesSpring is in the air, it’s pollen season already and yesterday I came home to find my husband in shorts (well, he is English). Though the rain is bucketing down tonight, winter seems to be on the way out, and I feel like packing away winter jumpers soon. Oranges are cheap and wonderful, the artichokes are still good and some terribly early strawberries have been observed. We were having Sunday lunch with visitors at Tanto per Magna, an excellent Garbatella trattoria, when I saw carciofi ripieni being carried to a nearby table. Stuffed artichokes: hmmm, interesting! Here’s our attempt to recreate that.

Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)
4-5 artichokes
4-5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
One onion, chopped
pinch of dried thyme
salt, pepper

Buy your artichokes already cleaned from your friendly neighbourhood fruit and veg guy. Otherwise, get a small sharp knife and cut them down so the prickly outer leaves are removed. Cut off the stem as well (that is edible so save it for something else.) Boil the artichokes upside down for 10-12 minutes (you might need to weigh them down with something to stop them turning right side up.) Test with a knife to see when they start getting tender.

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Take them out, let them cool slightly, then scoop out the thistly bits in the centre with a sharp teaspoon. Try to keep them roughly intact, not always easy. Put them together in an ovenproof dish.

In the interim, crumble your sausages into a frying pan with a little salt and pepper and the onion, and cook them, draining off fat of needed. Tip into a bowl, and add breadcrumbs and cheese. You could add an egg to bind it, but ours held together well anyway.  Stuff each artichoke with as much of the cooked sausage stuffing as you can, then bake it at 200C for 10-15 minutes.

stuffed artichoke

Note: We should have cut these down further at the top before cooking them,  maybe 1-2 cm more, as they were still quite bristly after being cooked. Very nice flavour through! Next time I’d probably just enjoy the carciofi boiled without stuffing them, but it was fun to try something new. Might be nice to try these stuffed with mushrooms and breadcrumbs and the artichoke stems, with a little cheese on top.