Saturday, November 5, 2016

Baba Al Rum

Setting out to make this Baba al Rum recipe was no easy task.  It took 3 separate test recipes to get an accurate resemblence to a classic Neapolitan, spongy cake.  Then the fun really begins.  Which Rum to use?  I took the advice of my Pastry chef uncle, who advised me to always use a good quality liquor.  A little for the recipe, a little for the cook.  All kidding aside, it is the most logical.  I have never understood people who want to buy the least expensive wine or liquor to add to your recipe.  Just remember, if you would not buy it to stock your bar at home, why would you put it in a recipe?  Enough about that, let's get cooking.

For this recipe, you will need to either use 8 non stick cups about 2 1/2 inches tall/ about 1-1/2 round.  Any size will do. You can re-use your pans almost immediately.  Don't fill them up to much and you will get 12.  Be sure and watch that cooking time.  Nonstick is ideal.  Just be sure and watch your cooking time and check your oven.  
 Be sure to line the cups with butter.  I used a non-stick popover pan.  This works well too.
Food processor Method
Baba al Rum
2-1/2 cups of all purpose flour plus extra in case it looks to wet when mixed (You may not need it)
4 large eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
one cup Dark Rum
1/2 cup Apricot Jam (Optional, however traditional)

Begin by adding your yeast to your mixing bowl of your food processor.  Add your milk and one tablespoon of sugar and pulse.  Let stand about 5 minutes until bubbles form on the outside rim.
Add your flour and pulse.  Turn your mixer on and add your eggs, salt.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides.  Turn it back on again and mix for a few minutes, until your flour is incorporated.  In a separate bowl, beat the remaining sugar (2 tablespoons), with your butter.  Scrape the butter into the bowl and mix.  Yes, the butter needs to be added last. This will ensure a pretty, shiny coat on the outside of your Baba. 
 Here is a review:

Gather your ingredients
Add your yeast, milk and tablespoon of sugar to the bowl. Add your flour.    Follow directions above.
Add you eggs and salt, when all incorporated, add your butter mixture last.  Just mix for a few minutes until incorporated.

Remove your mixture from your mixer and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm place (inside of a kitchen cabinet), for up to 2 hours.   Your mixture should almost double in bulk.   Butter your pan or cups.  After this time, unwrap and scoop your mixture into your cups. 
Preheat your oven to 400 bake.

Once in their cups, cover again with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.  They will be spongy. Your mixture will bounce back.  This is what your looking for.  Do not be concerned.  If you have gotten this far, they will be good. 
After this time,  place in a hot oven for 10 minutes.  Turn your oven down to 350 and cook for 5 minutes more.
(Don't worry if they look a little uneven, just shake the pan and let rest.  They will continue to rise).
Special Note:  Oven times will vary.  Keep a watchful eye.  They might be ready ahead.  Cup sizes vary too.  These were quite large and required longer cooking time.   Check if they are done by inserting a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, they are done.
Melt your sugar and water, until clear and dissolved.  Add your apricot Jam and continue stirring until dissolved.  Add your rum and turn off your heat.  Let both your Baba's and syrup cool for 30 minutes.  

Place your Baba's on their side and begin poking holes all over your Baba's.  They will not cause your Baba's to break, so don't worry.  You want to enable the syrup to sneak into your cakes while soaking.
Then, into their rum bath.  You can either place them for a few minutes 2 at a time.  Or place them all into a container over night, covered in Syrup.  Remember, the longer you let the sit, the better they are.  So they will  keep well in a tight container for several days.

Don't be afraid to let them soak.
Before serving, try splitting them open and add some Whipped cream or serve them with some additional Rum on Top.

Which ever way you like, it's all delicious and hard to resist just one. 

Buon Appetito!
Thank you to my sweet, Uncle Johnny at The Swiss Bake Shop in Scotch Plains New Jersey, for convincing me,  you can make them at home and sharing this recipe with you!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pasta con Sugo di Carne (Meat sauce), Calabria

Brutti ma buoni, is the perfect description for this pasta sauce.   Translation?  Ugly but delicious, is what you call Pasta that breaks apart, but would never be thrown away.  Especially when it's covered in a flavorful meat sauce, that doesn't have to cook all day long.
After a trip to Calabria, to visit cousins,  I was told, this Ragu' has it's roots in Calabria. Traveling about in Italy, you might find similar versions.   In Calabria, it is always served with "Pasta fatta in Casa," or Home made pasta made in a tubular shape.
In much the same way, my Mother made this dish, I found a few sausages and a pork chop in the freezer.  Lucky for me, I have a good memory.   A little onion for garlic, some olive oil is all you need.  I am sure this dish has it's roots in Naples too , as my Nonna Barbara, would often throw together Ragu's in much the same way.   The browning of the meat, directly in the pan, creates a richness to this Ragu' all it's own and it doesn't have to cook,  all  day long.   
Make some this weekend.  
Buon Appetito!
Ingredients:  4 servings
14 ounces of chopped, fresh tomatoes (or store bought)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 small cloves of elephant garlic or 1/2 sweet yellow onion diced
One handful of chopped Parsley or Parsley torn apart with your hands.
One teaspoon of salt
One teaspoon of pepper
One pork chop
2 sausages
1/4 red wine
Optional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sprinkled on right before serving.
One pound of Rigatoni or any Tubular pasta.  Works well with Buccatini too.
A large pasta pot, filled with water brought to a rolling boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt.
Large open skillet
Method:  Heat your olive oil to low/medium and  Add your meats, turn up your heat and brown on both sides.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.   The meat does not have to be cooked through, just browned.  It will continue to finish cooking in the tomatoes.  Remove them to a separate plate to cool.  Add a drop more olive oil if the pan looks dry and add your garlic or onion, mixing until fragrant. 
Turn your heat down some and add your wine, carefully scraping your brown bits out of your pan.
Once you have loosened them up with a wooden spoon, add your tomatoes, salt, pepper and carefully slip your meat back in.   Cook on a low, steady simmer until your oil separates from the pan, about 20-25 minutes.  Carefully cook your pasta and remove al dente.  Toss to coat with your sauce and serve.

. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese!
Buon Appetito!