Salty Coffee Chicken

Salty Coffee ChickenThis recipe will make enough for 6-8 people to eat. I would suggest serving it up with green beans and mashed potatoes, or serving it cold, picnic style. Either way, it’s delicious! Just make sure to use low-sodium soy sauce, or it might be just a bit too salty!

Ingredients:

1 ⅓ cups reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup cooking sherry*
½ cup strong brewed coffee**
½ cup olive oil
12 chicken legs
ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium, nonreactive container, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, coffee, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place chicken legs in the mixture. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken from the marinade mixture, and set aside. Transfer the marinade to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with pepper, and brown on all sides in the skillet. Pour the hot marinade mixture into the skillet. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Cool slightly before serving.

* If you don’t have any sherry on hand, or wish to make this dish alcohol free, substitute by using ¼ cup vinegar + 1 tablespoon sugar + ¼ water OR 1 tablespoon vinegar, plus chicken stock or water to make ½ cup.

** For strong brewed coffee, I suggest using 1 ½ times the amount of coffee to water that you usually use to brew a cup.

Due Finali Dolci

TiramisuTiramisu

This dish, again seems to be a bit labour intensive, but again, worth it! The best advice I have for you is to make it at least a day in advance, if not two, so that the flavours have a chance to meld and develop. If not, you might find it somewhat bland and unbalanced. I also recommend serving it chilled.

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
½ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature (espresso is even better)
4 tablespoons rum or alcohol of choice
2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, don’t stop, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth, you may wish to use an electric beater for this if you have one, it will make the job easier and give you a silky texture. In a separate medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Take each lady finger and dip it into the coffee mixture. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set, but preferably overnight or even a day or two.

BiscottiItalian Biscotti

This recipe is for a basic almond cookie, but the flavour options are endless. You can replace the extracts with ones of your choosing, such as anise, orange or lemon. You can add, remove or change the nuts used, or use chocolate chips or poppy seeds instead. Add citrus zest or dried cranberries! You are truly only limited by your imagination.

Original recipe makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

12 ounces butter/margarine
1 ¾ cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 ounces chopped almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, and then add eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then incorporate them into the egg mixture along with the chopped almonds. Stir the dough with a spoon until it begins to come together. I find it easier, once the basic dough has formed, to then dump it out onto a clean floured surface and knead by hand at this point. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each piece into a log about 15 inches long (or as long as your baking sheets are). Place logs onto cookie sheets, two to a sheet, the long way. Flatten the logs out until they are about 3 inches wide with a slight hump going down the middle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove them from the oven. The loaves should be firm to the touch. Transfer the logs to a rack to cool slightly, and then using a serrated blade, cut the loaves into diagonal slices ½ inch wide. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Stand the slices upright on the baking sheet and bake for another 40 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Time for Dessert!

Time for DessertFor even the most disciplined traveller to Italy, it is hard to say no to all the delicious temptations that await you. It seems that every bar-caffè or pasticceria has an endless display of cookies, chocolates or some other enticement. Italian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a wine. However you’ll find that most Italians generally avoid sugary pastries in favour of “Dulci per Adulti” or “Sweets for Adults”. When an espresso and some fruit isn’t enough to suffice, Italians reach for something both savoury and sweet. Traditionally, dulci per adulti consists of a pairing of cheese and sweet lipids and most visitors to Italy will experience the tradition as a cheese plate stacked with thin slices of aged pecorino – parmesan’s salty cousin – drizzled with honey. The two flavors are profoundly complimentary. The taste of the mild, nutty cheese and the taste of the honey melt into each other quickly, unifying on the palate into something extraordinarily delicate.

But dulci per adulti isn’t limited to one blockbuster combo. Gorgonzola cheese, spread across a thin slice of bread and drizzled with honey is a memorable after dinner treat that leaves a wonderful taste in the mouth and compliments a full-bodied red wine. A more toothy option comes from dipping chunks of crumbled parmesan into aged balsamic vinegar, drizzling lightly with honey, and consuming (typically, with relish). For those that cheese and honey won’t suffice, there are countless choices such as tiramisu, gelato, cannoli, biscotti… the list goes on and on. So for today, to end Italian week, I’ve given you two dessert recipes; one a little heavier than the other, depending on your mood (and your diet). The tiramisu is great for a crowd, and the biscotti are perfect for a quiet night, or curled up with a cup of espresso. No matter what you choose to finish your meal, it will be a dolce notte!