Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

Happy fourth of July!!!

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

Here is the very special red, white and blue low carb and keto friendly Italian dessert that I promised you in last week’s marinara sauce post.

This dessert was on the menu of my first Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  I am now making the time to post the recipe in full.

Zabaglione is an Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet Marsala wine.  The eggs are from our own chickens, making this custard extra special.  I played around with the traditional zabaglione recipe to find a way to cut down the sugar.  The classic recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of sugar for 2 egg yolks along with 1 Tbsp of sweet Marsala wine.  I was able to cut the sugar down to 1 tsp by adding a pinch of fennel powder.

FENNEL POWDER ADDS THE ILLUSION OF SWEETNESS ALLOWING YOU TO DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR.  The fennel powder also works in this recipe because it is a classic Italian flavor.  I use the same trick in my marinara sauce. An Indian cooking trick carried over to Italian Cuisine.  I really like that.

INGREDIENTS:  Each serving requires 2 yolks.  I am going to list the ingredients for 1 serving.  Multiply the recipe for additional servings as needed.  For my cooking class/pop up supper club, I had 16 people so I used 32 egg yolks.

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione Ingredients

  • Yolks from 2 eggs.  Save the whites for an omelette or another dish.
  • 5 medium sized strawberries (you can also use raspberries for the red color)
  • 3 oz of blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp of sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 2 pinches of fennel powder (1 pinch for the custard and 1 pinch for the whipped cream topping.)
  • 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • a dash of vanilla bean paste for the whipped cream topping

PREP:

Berries Prepped

  • Leave the blueberries whole
  • Remove the green leafy tops of the strawberries
  • Chop them to match the size of the blueberries

MAKING THE ZABAGLIONE CUSTARD:

CC 1 making Zabaglione

  • Bring water up to a simmer in a pot
  • Use another mixing bowl, that is the right size to float on top of the simmering water, without touching the bottom of the pot that has the simmering water in it.  This is how you create a double boiler if you don’t have one.  We need to use a double boiler so that the custard can be brought up to temperature slowly while it is cooking.  This method will prevent the egg yolks from scrambling.
  • In the mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar and fennel powder
  • Whisk to combine
  • Place the egg yolk mixture on top of the simmering water
  • Whisk while slowly drizzling in the Marsala wine
  • Keep whisking until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon

The photo above is from my cooking class.  One of the students, Roy is drizzling in the Marsala wine, while I am whisking.  If you don’t have someone to help you,  just add a little Marsala wine at a time.  I am using an electric mixer.  A hand whisk can also be used.

Once the Zabaglione custard is ready, transfer it to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Make sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the custard.  This will prevent a skin from forming.  Let it sit at room temperature while you make the whipped cream.

MAKING THE WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:

  • In a cold stainless steel bowl, add the heavy whipping cream, a dash of vanilla bean paste and a pinch of fennel powder.  NOTE: no sugar is added.  The high quality vanilla and fennel powder add so much flavor that the sugar will not be missed.
  • Whip to soft peaks

ASSEMBLING THE DESSERT:

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  • Start with adding a spoonful of zabaglione at the bottom of your glass serving dish
  • Next, sprinkle in a few berries
  • Then repeat twice

Top with a big dollop of the whipped cream topping, and a few berries for color.

Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione

This is a very low carb version of the original Berries and Zabaglione.  My students and guests couldn’t believe that is tasted so good despite the reduced sugar.

Other than myself, there was one more guest who also follows a Ketogenic Lifestyle.  She has actually lost over a 100 pounds and wants to keep it that way.  The two of us had just the berries and whipped cream topping.  That is the best dessert for Keto purists.

I know that many Keto desserts are made with sugar substitutes, but most of them upset my stomach or give me an unpleasant after taste.  I prefer to reduce the sugar and use high quality ingredients, for those few but special times that I have a dessert.

Please try this and give me your feedback in the comments sections.  Also, if you have any questions, I will be happy to help you with answers.

Ciao for now 🖐💕

Marinara Sauce – An Italian Essential

Marinara Sauce is a basic Italian ingredient that can be used in many recipes.  My  marinara sauce has no added sugar.  Ground up fennel seeds are used to give the illusion of sweetness.  This is actually an Indian cooking tip that I learned from my great grandmother.  TIPUse fennel powder to impart the illusion of sweetness without using any sugar or sugar substitute.  

Marinara Sauce Feature

When I was 12, my family moved to America.  We settled in Queens, New York.  We lived in a very Italian neighborhood.  Most of the Italian families were related to each other, and everyone had vegetable and herb gardens in their backyard.  I had never even heard of Italian food, much less tasted it.  The Italians I met were full of joy and very generous.  They loved to feed me whenever I visited.  This was my introduction to Italian food, where I learned how to make marinara sauce from one of the Italian grandmothers (nonnas.) They always seemed to have jars of homemade marinara in their cupboards.

I learned from the nonnas, the great TIP of having marinara sauce on hand because it can be used to make so many dishes.  I have already created and photographed two recipes using my homemade marinara.  They will post on July 11th and July 18th.  For the 4th of July, I have planned a very special red, white and blue Italian dessert that is low carb and keto friendly.  I named the dessert Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

  • 8 large ripe tomatoes ( these beauties came from my neighbor’s garden.  I have the best neighbors 😃)
  • a large handful of basil ( the basil in the photo was grown by me.  I grow herbs in pots in the sun room just outside my kitchen.  This way I can get fresh herbs when I need them.  I feel truly blessed to be able to have the luxury to do this.)
  • 1 large white onion (this one was grown by my neighbor.  He brings us vegetables and we give him eggs from our chickens and ducks.)
  • 3 Tbsp of the best extra virgin olive oil you are able to find (the can of extra virgin olive oil in the photo, was picked up in Tuscany while I was taking a pasta making class.)
  • 1 bell pepper and 1 Serrano pepper (optional.  I like adding the peppers for an extra kick.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of red chili flakes (leave these out if you want to make the dish less spicy)
  • 2 tsp of fennel seeds ( grind these to a powder in a spice grinder)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind.  TIP: Keep leftover cheese rinds in the freezer and use them to add flavor when making marinara sauce.
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPPING THE TOMATOES:

  • Score an “X” mark in the skin at the base of each tomato
  • Boil a large pot of water
  • Get an ice bath ready
  • Blanch each tomato in the boiling water for 30 seconds
  • Immediately place the blanched tomato in the ice bath to stop the cooking process
  • Once the tomatoes are cooled, peel off the skin starting at the scored “X” mark.  It should peel off easily.
  • Dice the peeled tomatoes and place them in a crock pot

TIP: Use a crock pot to make the sauce so you don’t have to spend hours stirring the sauce like the Italian nonnas, who taught me to make the sauce did.  

Its a good time saver.  If you want to make it like the nonnas, feel free to make it the traditional way in a large sauce pot.

PREPPING THE OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Marinara Sauce Prep

  • Add the bay leaf and cheese rind to the tomatoes in the crock pot
  • Turn the crock pot to high, and put the lid on while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Dice the onion and bell pepper
  • Mince the garlic and Serrano pepper
  • Tear the basil into small bits

COOKING THE AROMATIC BASE (SOFRITO):

  • Coat a stainless steel pan with the extra virgin olive oil and place on medium heat
  • Add the onion, garlic, peppers, basil, red chili flakes, oregano and fennel powder
  • Saute until lightly brown
  • Add the tomato paste, stir it in and cook for another minute
  • Add the cooked sofrito to the crock pot that already has the tomatoes in it

COOKING THE SAUCE:

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  • Add 1 cup of red wine
  • Turn the crock pot to low and cook for about 4 hours.  At this point the sauce should have turned a deep red color.
  • Now add salt and pepper to taste
  • Turn the crock pot to warm and let it sit for 30 minutes to let all the flavors marry

I wait until the end to add salt and pepper because it allows me to balance the flavors once everything has already blended and come together.

You can use the marinara immediately for many recipes, or you can put it in mason jars and keep in the frig for up to 2 weeks.  It will keep in the freezer for 6 months.

On a final note, I want to credit Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela, in Ravello, Italy for making the beautiful bowl and plate that I used to present my Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce Feature

I visited their shop when I was in Ravello and fell in love with their ceramics.  I ended up ordering a whole set.  I use it frequently and remember Italy fondly.  I get no compensation for mentioning Carmela’s lovely art work here, but I like giving credit where credit is due.

Please use the comments section to let me know what you think if this recipe.  I always love hearing from you.

Ciao for now.  🖐😃

 

 

Carrot Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta

Carrot Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta, is the fourth in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

Carrots Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta Feature

The fresh carrot tops in my vegetable basket, inspired me to create a playful twist on the classic pesto made with basil.  Another twist is that I mixed in cabbage with the pasta.  The addition of the cabbage ups the nutritional value and lowers the carbohydrate content.  It also tastes great.

INGREDIENTS:

Carrot Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch of carrot tops
  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic–1 clove for the pesto and 2 cloves for the pasta base
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 3 small sweet bell peppers
  • 3 twigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of white wine (use the same wine that you will have with the pasta.  This way the wine and pasta will pair perfectly.)
  • 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil for the pesto.  A little bit extra to coat the pan for the pasta base.
  • 2 cups of dried gemelli pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Carrot Tops & Parsley Pesto Prep

  • Separate the parsley and carrot top leaves from their stems–set aside for the pesto
  • Toast the pine nuts–set aside a handful for garnish.  The rest will be used in the pesto.
  • Chop the head of cabbage into strips that are about the same size as the pasta
  • Chop the red onion, peppers and garlic
  • Separate the thyme leaves from their woody stems

MAKING THE PESTO:

  • Add the parsley, carrot tops, 1 clove of garlic, and extra virgin olive oil to a small food processor
  • Blend till smooth
  • Add the grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts
  • Blend till smooth
  • Taste the pesto.  Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

COOKING THE PASTA BASE:

  • Coat a heavy duty stainless steel pan with extra virgin olive oil and place it on medium heat
  • Add the red onion, peppers, 2 cloves of garlic, thyme and oregano
  • Saute till lightly brown.
  • Make a hot spot in the center of the pan by moving the sauteed vegetables aside
  • Add the tomato sauce, let it cook down for 2 minutes
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine
  • Add the cabbage and saute till it is ‘al dente’ (firm to the bite)
  • While you are cooking the cabbage base, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  The pasta should also be cooked ‘al dente’.
  • Add the pasta to the cabbage and toss.

Since the cabbage is about the same size and shape as the pasta it doesn’t even get noticed.  Next add the pesto to the pasta and toss.

Adding the Pesto

Plate the pasta onto a beautiful platter and garnish with toasted pine nuts and extra grated Parmesan.

Carrots Tops & Parsley Pesto Pasta Feature

Serve with a glass of the same wine that was used during cooking.  You will be surprised at how good the cabbage in the pasta tastes.  It adds an unexpected twist of flavor and texture.

I hope you like this dish.  Next Saturday, I will be posting the fifth in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.

I am having a lot of fun creating these recipes.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.  Bye for now 🖐

 

Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

I am finally doing my first cooking class/pop up supper club to benefit the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  This is event is a trial run for a small group at my  home.  I am opening a cooking school on my ranch in September and am planning to do a larger event for Hunger Action Month.

As stated on  feedingamerica.org,  “September is Hunger Action Month-a month where people all over America stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger.  It’s a month to spread the word and take action on the hunger crisis, and dedicate ourselves to a solution.”

My trial event is this Saturday, July 27th 2019.  I will be featuring an Italian menu paired with Texan wines from Messina Hof.

BCEFP Event 2

I am happy to say that the event sold out before I even had a chance to send out e-mail invites.  Believe it or not, besides being delicious, the whole menu is gluten free.  The main course is the first recipe that I posted on my blog, Stuffed Dover Sole.

Today is 4 July 2020.  I am updating this post to direct you to the Berries & Fennel Scented Zabaglione recipe from this menu.  I decided to post this very special, red, white and blue, Keto friendly dessert recipe in honor of our Independence Day.

I am in charge of the food and my husband is in charge of the drinks.  In addition to the wine, he will be making cocktails and mocktails.  Some of our guests don’t consume alcohol, so we want to accommodate everybody.

Tresha Silva, the director of the food bank, has kindly offered to help me serve.  I am very excited that I finally managed to make time in my life to do this.  There is a lot of work to do between now and the event.  I will let all of you know how it went.  I have never done a cooking class/pop up supper club before.

WISH ME LUCK !!!

Happy Fourth of July–Roasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to everyone!!!

Happy Fourth of July 2019My husband and I are just about to go to a neighborhood pool party to celebrate with our friends.  I came up with this easy red, white and blue appetizer for the party pot luck.

INGREDIENTS:

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers Ingredients

  • 48 ounces of grape tomatoes
  • 24 ounces of basil and cheese ravioli
  • blue toothpicks
  • olive oil to coat and toast ravioli

PREPPING THE RAVIOLI

Boiling the Ravioli

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil
  • Add a table spoon of salt
  • Add the ravioli and boil till they float to the top and puff up.  This takes about 4 minutes.

Placing the Ravioli in an Oiled Baking Dish

  • Drain cooked ravioli into a glass baking dish that has been oiled with olive oil.  This prevents the ravioli from sticking to each other.

Toasting the Ravioli

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and place on medium high heat.
  • Place the cooked ravioli in a single layer and toast on both sides.
  • Do this in batches and keep adding the toasted ravioli to a glass baking dish.

Toasted Ravioli

Follow the instructions from my Blistered Tomatoes post to prepare the tomatoes.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes

ASSEMBLY

Skewer Assembly

Assembling the skewers is very simple. Gently pierce the center of the ravioli and push it to where the blue decoration starts. Then pierce the stem end of the blistered tomato placing it on top of the ravioli.  Arrange on a platter to resemble an American Flag.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes Feature

 

Let me know what you think in the comment section.  We are off to the party now.  Hope you are all having a good time with your friends and family. !!!

Italian Spice Mix

I use my Italian Spice Mix in a lot of my recipes.  I have posted it here so that you can refer to it.

To make a dry rub, mix equal parts of:

Italian Spice Mix

  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Garlic Powder
  • Red Chili Flakes

You can also just sprinkle each item on individually.  It is a simple but flavorful spice mix.  I have linked this as a reference tip in each recipe where this formula is used.

If you want to make it less or more spicy just increase or decrease the amount of red chili flakes.