15 September 2011

Casa Fiore #61: Published, Posted and in the Mail!

This month's offerings include:
  •  Celebrating Year #9 as a Real Estate Broker
  •  From the Chef:  Antipasta!  "Like the opening of a great opera, antipasti set the stage for the proper Italian feast to come."
  • From the Chef:  What's Hot in My Kitchen ~ No-kneed Bread, 98103 honey, Ballard Market, liquori casalinghi
  • From the Realtor:  How's the Market? 
  • Referral Thank-yous, Just Listed:  Darling & Done in North Beach; 2 Sold in Green Lake
Stay tuned to CasaFioreOnline.com for the web release of selected articles.  Care to join the hundreds who receive the old-fashioned, snail mail version of Casa Fiore at their door step?  Send along your address and let me know!


10 September 2011

From the Chef ~ Homemade Liqueurs

As I noted in my most recent edition of Casa Fiore, I currently have several homemade, home-grown liqueurs.  I've shared with you recipes for limoncello, the famous lemon-based liqueur from Italy, latte di suocera, a potent milk-based liqueur, and fiorino, my own herbal creation (this year's blend shown above).  Below you will see some concoctions I am currently working on.  From left to right: 
  • wild Vashon Island blackberry collected at my folks place on Sylvan Beach - my Dad loves this one;
  • nocino, a walnut liqueur from Italy... green walnuts from mio amico John Welch at Pleasant Hill Winery in Carnation;
  • red currant from my Grandma Elaine's - may God rest her soul! - bushes in Tacoma... first try at this one... should be great;
  • and black currant from my garden - could be my favorite berry liqueur.

The basic recipe I follow for berry liqueurs (I also have a tasty mulberry liqueur from my stunning and prodigious mulberry tree - may God rest her soul!) is as follows:
  • Combine 1 lb. bruised or barely mashed fruit and 1.5 cup pure grain alcohol.  Let sit for 2 weeks or so, shaking every few days.
  • Strain through cheese cloth-lined mesh strainer.
  • Prepare simple syrup:  heat 1.25 cups sugar in 1.5 cups purfied water until just dissolved.
  • Mix alcohol and syrup.  You may drink right away, though most of these will improve with age.
Nocino is different altogether with several other ingredients.  I am happy to share the recipe I use, just let me know.  Fiorino, or loosley translated, "Fiore's little liqueur", is a mix of herbs from my garden with some spices I cannot grow here.  The picture up top shows this year's batch macerating away.  Like a craft brewer reimaging a seasonal brew, each year for the past 3-4 years, I've used a different combination.  I just prepared this year's batch and I kept it simple:  just a bunch of rose geranium and lemon verbena, a tiny bit of chamomile, plus a little bit of cinnamon and cardamon - no bay, sage, lavender, tarragon, or other herbs.  Once my cultured and feral fennel is in full seed mode, I will make some anisette - very simple but very good.  Think of your typical anisette or anisone or Sambuca.

09 September 2011

From the Chef ~ No-kneed Bread

This bread is hot, hot, hot in my kitchen right now!  Love this stuff!  Recipe and video links below.  Don't sweat the details, this is REALLY easy and REALLY addictive.  It takes me literally 5-6 minutes to mix the dough, then very little time preparing the rest.  Once your get the timing down, this is so simple and satisfying. You can play around with it a bit:  I just used semolina flour to heavily flour the towel in the recipe below and loved the resulting extra crunch in the crust.  I have used tipo 00 flour, the flour commonly used in Italy for pizza, bread and pasta, with a lot of success; I think it makes the chewy part a bit chewer and the crust a bit crustier.  I also just made a 50/50 mix of standard flour and semolina flour, which resulted in a more substantial loaf.  Remember that every oven seems to cook differently; my gas oven seems to cook cooler, so I have mine set to 500 degrees and 70 minutes.  Let me know how it goes and enjoy!



01 September 2011