Nibbling Venetian Butter Cookies while wandering Venice… August 2015

Of some places there is really nothing that needs saying. Some places you just see. You  look, absorb, ponder on and wander in. Of some places so much has already been said. Well said and beautifully said. One of these places is Venice, Italy. A city of mystery & infinite beauty. One of the world’s best cities for wandering while nibbling on Venetian Butter Cookies.

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De Chirico-like shadows, small intimate corners, reflections & slices of light on water are what grab my attention. The large, all-encompassing, well-known, travel book images do not particularly enchant me. This is probably a lacking on my part, but one I accept. I am seduced by the little moments wherever I travel. Here are some of them……

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One needs nourishment to sustain lengthy wanderings….frothy cups of cappucino and Venetian Butter Cookies help as do glasses of vino,  all which are on offer at every corner.

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All images taken with iphone 6 the summer of 2015 while wandering Venice without & with my friends Terry and Julie. Two more intrepid wanderers who shared their trip with me. Grazie.

“Venetian Butter Cookies” are ubiquitous in Venice and pretty much all over Italy. They are not too sweet and are the perfect coffee-dipping cookie.

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Venetian Butter Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp (10 Tbsps)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn mixer to low and add vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt.
  4. Turn mixer too medium and add egg yolks one at a time until well combined.
  5. Turn mixer to low and add flour 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down bowl as needed, until all flour is incorporated.
  6. LIne cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Form cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each into a “rope” about 3 inches long and then shape into an “S”. Repeat with all dough, placing “S” shapes on parchment paper lined cookie sheets as you work about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until cookies are firm and light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These cookies are found all over Italy in groceries, little markets, bakeries..fresh or in bags. They will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container and are very good dipped in your favorite Italian coffee.

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Teresa Blackburn       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

(Based on a Martha Stewart cookie recipe)

Watermelon-Jalapeno Agua Fresca

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Agua fresca = Cool waters

Between my last post and today I have really not posted one single thing to my site! Call it post-European-travels-torpor if you will, but whatever it has been it seems to be lifting or at least moving horizontally! My brain and body have both been over stimulated and it took a few weeks for me to settle down. Basically I had to re-enter my domestic life and world of work gently and purposefully. I have traveled abroad quite a few times over my lifetime and this happens every time upon re-entering my “real world”. C’ est le vie!

In a later post I will share with you some of my photos and a recipe to two. While in my post re-entry period I will keep it sweet and simple with this recipe for “Watermelon-Jalapeno Agua Fresca” which will hydrate & cool you down with a little spicy bite. Good for the dog days of August.

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I had a quarter of what might be the best watermelon I have ever eaten and a wee jalapeno pepper lying listlessly at the bottom of my produce drawer. A thirst-quenching duo!

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Melon and pepper, seeds and all tossed into my blender….with a little icy cold water.

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Ah….just what I needed after a morning of yard work!

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You can use a honeydew or cantaloupe as well for this hydrating agua fresca as well.

Watermelon-Jalapeno Agua Fresca

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sweet, juicy watermelon
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper

 

 

Directions:

  1. Place melon, water and pepper in a blender and puree until liquid.
  2. Chill and serve or drink immediately over ice.

Notes:

Garnish with thinly sliced jalapeno peppers for more “kick”

Add your favorite chilled white wine.

Make with any of your favorite melons.

Teresa Blackburn    website: teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

“The Little Things – Bread, Butter & Nutella”

 “Grilled Nutella Sandwich”

It’s funny what sticks in your head when it comes to food. I was talking to my daughter & business partner, Whitney, a few days ago about our recent trip to Chicago to work on a photo shoot. As well as work time, we also had some time to play. Eating was a big part of our play time. We had some fantastic food, some a bit fancy, some very ethnic, some homemade…but the most memorable of our edibles for both of us was a little grilled Nutella sandwich. It came as a dessert after a perfect light meal of little plates at a restaurant we wandered into on a snowy night called “Quartino”…it is often the little things that linger.

I admit I have been thinking about that buttery grilled Nutella since I ate it that snowy night  over a week ago. Vivid food moments from the past. The warm cheese burgers I ate as a child with a homegrown tomato spread thickly with mayonnaise, the croissant & cafe au lait in Venice at dawn about 25 years ago, freshly caught fish ceviche eaten on a boat in the Caribbean minutes after the fish was caught last year.  Taste recall isn’t so much about the food, but the moments around the food, where I was, who I was with, what I was doing. I am sure you agree?

Not being able to recreate the moment, I was able to recreate that little Nutella treat to perfection this week. A hot steamy cup of milky coffee alongside turned this into very nice moment in the middle of a busy day.

 3 Ingredient list:

Butter room temperature, Crusty Bread,  Nutella

Instructions:

1. Smear one side of each slice of bread with softened butter.

2. Slather a generous portion of Nutella on the non-buttered side of each slice.

3. Place a heavy skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Or use a Panini grill if you have one.

4. Make sandwiches with the Nutella on the inside, buttered side out.

5. Grill sandwiches in hot skillet until golden brown on both sides just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich. If you grill them in a Panini grill they will be flat sandwiches, but either way they are delicious.

6. Cut sandwiches in half or quarters and eat warm.

Stack of little Panini grilled Nutella sandwiches.

Now, how easy is that?

A little food for thought:

One other little thing that is very easy to do would be to donate  just one meal’s worth of your hard-earned money to Planned Parenthood. This is one of the little things we can all do…just one meal’s worth to a good cause. Just go to http://www.plannedparenthood.org to donate. Thank you.

A Little Chicago Image Gallery:

It snowed!
Cobra Lounge.
Sushi.
Ruby roll.
Michigan Avenue.
Monument.
Atzec hot cocoa, XOCO
Outside of studio.
Museum fragment.
Subway Entrance.
Octopus Salad, Cafe Spiaggia.
Museum fragment #2.
Cotton.
Outside studio window snowing.

A Little Bit About Nutella:

Today is “World Nutella Day”!

It is a spread made up of roasted hazelnuts, sugar, skim milk & cocoa & has not artificial colors or preservatives according to the label.

Nutella was created by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker & founder of the Ferrero company in the Piedmont region of Italy. During the 1940’s there was a cocoa shortage due to World War II rationing and as hazelnuts were plentiful Nutella spread was developed.

Nutella can be stored at room temperature.

It’s all the little things. No?

eat, drink, Malaysia…a photo story…

Tuesday morning, Kuala Lumpur,  Malaysia.
These photos hopefully reflect the cuisine, style and interesting asides from Malaysia.
Around each corner delightful food carts, tucked away restaurants, fruit & vegetable vendors offering
up yet another sample of the vast array of foods that make up Malaysia. So, feast your eyes on what I have been
eating and check back for the next entry from Malaysia. Bon Apetit.