Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chocolate Brittle

Dark chocolate, sultanas, dried apricots + cranberries, cashews and sugared ginger add up to a lovely dessert

Love this quick and easy dessert from Ina Garten.  (But most of her recipes are quite simple with major flavor that look and taste like you have slaved in the kitchen when you really did not.)  Perfect to bring over to a dinner party with a bottle of port.

Toast the cashews in the oven for 8-10 minutes, just to brown them and bring out their nutty flavor, try to use salted cashews or add some salt after toasting, the combination of sea salt and chocolate is great
Chop 7-8 ounces of dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate, I like Green + Blacks 
Mix the chopped chocolate together and temper in the microwave watching it like a hawk, there is nothing worse then overcooked chocolate you have to throw away
After the chocolate bits are just melted continue to stir, stirring makes the chocolate glossy
Smooth out the melted chocolate onto your parchment lined baking sheet
Add the toppings in a specific order: ginger, cashews, cranberries (cherries are better, but I only had cranberries on hand) finally apricots and sultanas
Let the chocolate harden, I probably have too much toppings for the amount of chocolate I used, but that's okay
After the chocolate hardens break into pieces, this would be a great gift too, as it looks beautiful

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Up by the Sea

My husband's lunch, paccheri with vongole

Our last day of the long weekend was a cloudy, damp one.  All of the day was connected to the sea, from waking up to the beautiful sunset at the end.

Picturesque views from the town of Montemarcello
Montemarcello is high on a hill with lovely sea views
Down by the sea at Bocca di Magra (where the Magra river meets the Mediterranean)
Being here made me a bit homesick as it reminded me a lot of Balboa Island, also we spied the little boat named Luna

Stunning sunset in Marina di Massa

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bar Apuan

This bar is in Massa, Tuscany

We took a long weekend and escaped to Italy.  One of my favorite things to do in Italy is to go out and have colazione, (breakfast.)  This means a coffee and a pastry, basically.  I always order a cappuccino (as this is the time of the day to do so) and whatever pastry turns my head that day.  It is great to sit and enjoy the dolce far niente.

Colazione for the day, cappuccino and pasta con mele 
Beautiful array of pasta (pastries)
Crostata selection
Construction going on at the Piazza degli Aranchi, see how it used to look here:

Elena the cat sleeping
Gelato in the fall, I know you wouldn't think one would be in the mood, but this is so good you are always in the mood 
Gigante crostata!