Archive for the 'Life' Category

Pistachio Gelato & Pistachio Brittle

This post is in memory of my dad who loved pistachio gelato. I remember being in Venice w/ him at a gelateria, and even w/ so many flavors to choose from, he of course picked pistachio! So here you go papa. With love, your son.

This recipe is based on one from Martha Stewart w/ a few variations. The main variations are: 1) I used six egg yolks, compared to Martha’s five, to give my gelato additional richness; and 2) My version leaves in the ground pistachios for a boost of flavor and a nice textural element. I’m guessing that Martha strained out the pistachios to get a smoother, more elegant finished product, much like many French sauce recipes require removing bits of shallots or mushrooms prior to serving for that very reason.

I made the pistachio brittle to use as a garnish because I think it’s fun to eat and delicious too! The brittle reminded me of a funny and true story: My childhood dentist would sometimes have a bowl of peanut brittle sitting on the table in her waiting room. I don’t know if she was just being nice to her sugar loving clients, or guaranteeing return business to fill all the cavities this created!

Pistachio Gelato (recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pistachios (unsalted and shelled)

1 quart half & half

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

Procedure:

1) Coarsely chop pistachios in food processor.

2) Place pistachios in a heavy pot w/ the half & half  and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover w/ lid and let mixture steep for 2 hours.

3) Strain pistachios from mixture using a fine mesh sieve, pressing down firmly on solids. Reserve pistachios.

4) Return half & half to pot and scald, then remove from heat.

5) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

6) Very slowly whisk half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

7) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

8) Stir in reserved pistachios and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

9) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

10) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container then place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm.

Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts

 

Pistachio Brittle

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup pistachios (shelled and unsalted)

3 1/2 tablespoons water

Procedure:

1) Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot and boil until light amber in color (333 – 335 degrees F on a candy thermometer), brushing inside of pot w/ water occasionally to prevent crystals from forming; stir in pistachios.

2) Quickly pour onto a baking sheet lined w/ parchment paper and let cool.

3) Break brittle into large pieces and store in an airtight plastic container, placing a piece of parchment paper between each layer.

 

Happy cooking…

Bruno

Providing Unconditional Love…

That’s the feeling I get from my furry friends and good food… not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year!

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Cheers…

Bruno

 

First Signs of Spring

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Thank God, because I definitely need some inspiration!

Bruno

Let It Snow!

Santa delivered us a beautiful snow for Christmas! These are pictures of my garden taken from my kitchen window this morning. Looking forward to greener days in the garden next year, but at the moment I’m enjoying this beautiful, relaxing and lazy day!

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Christmas garden1 2010

Happy Christmas and may 2011 bring you health, joy and great meals enjoyed w/ your friends and family!

Bruno

Carrot Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts & Rum Soaked Raisins

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For LiveSTRONG Day – A tribute to all those living w/ cancer. Barbara of Winos and Foodies is once again hosting A Taste of Yellow to support LiveSTRONG Day and to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. She’s asking food bloggers to cook up something yellow as a way of showing support for this cause and for sharing their cancer related stories if they have one.

My contribution to A Taste of  Yellow 2009 is this carrot gelato which is orangish yellow but it’s the thought and effort that counts - For LiveSTRONG Day – A tribute to all those living w/ cancer.

Carrot Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts & Rum Soaked Raisins

Ingredients:

1 cup grated carrots (packed tightly)

3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts (skins removed)

1/2 cup raisins (soaked in dark rum)

1 cup sugar

1 quart half & half

6 large egg yolks

Procedure:

1) Puree carrots in food processor w/ a small amount of half & half

2) Place rum soaked raisins in a small pot and heat to burn off alcohol

3) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and  sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow

4) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded 

5) Very slowly add warm half & half to egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture

6) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling

7) Stir carrot puree into cooling mixture

8) Once cool, refrigerate mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight

9) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding raisins and hazelnuts when mixture begins to thicken
10) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container and quickly stir to evenly distribute the raisins and hazelnuts
11) Place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of  gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm
Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts 

 Stay STRONG!

 Bruno

Veggie Garden Update

I now realize a lot can happen in a garden in a short amount of time. When I arrived back in town last weekend I noticed that my zucchini plant had rotted from all the rain we had while I was gone. I’m not sure how to avoid this next year. Veteran gardeners, any suggestions?

Also, my tomato plants have become so loaded down w/ fruit that the stakes I’m using this year are having trouble supporting the plants. Solution – I used twine to tie the stakes to the fence for added support. Next year I think I will use tomato cages to contain the plants more effectively. I harvested my first ripe Lemon Boy tomato and it was delicious!! The heirloom tomato plants are loaded, but no ripe ones yet.

Much to my surprise, the broccoli plants (one of my favorite vegetables) are still producing so there’s no need to buy any at the grocery store this week! My first butternut squash has grown so tremendously that I may be making a home grown butternut squash dish next week!

My orange bell pepper plant died and my other bell pepper plant has yet to start producing. The hot banana pepper plant dropped the only fruit it had on it and no new fruit is appearing. Possibly this due to their location in the garden – the plants are being crowded out and overshadowed by the gargantuan tomato plants! Lesson learned for next year – better plant placement and spacing according to potential size and height (how was I supposed to know how big or little things would get… after all, I’m a novice). Veteran gardeners please don’t hesitate to share your knowledge… I would love to hear your pearls of wisdom!

July 17th photos:

First Lemon Boy; more broccoli; baby butternut

Heirlooms; lone banana pepper; more Lemon Boys

July 27th photos:

Rigged tomatoes; yet more broccoli; rotten zucchini

Adolescent butternut; newborn butternut; thriving zinnias

Happy gardening…

Bruno

My First Veggie Garden

Two years in the making, but well worth the effort…

In the summer of 2006 I put up a retaining wall to keep the ivy from taking over a corner of my yard. I then tried to kill it w/ regular Roundup but the ivy won that battle. The following spring I mixed a batch of extra strong Roundup. It took 3 or 4 applications but the ivy lost this time! Fast forward to 2008… It was an exceptionally rainy and cool spring in St. Louis so the planting of my garden was delayed by a few weeks. I had a brief window of opportunity in mid-May to get my plants in the ground, and I do mean brief! As I was getting the trenches finished for the asparagus it started raining again, but I pushed on and was able to finish. The weather remained cool and wet until early June. As a result, my plants didn’t prosper very well. The tomato plants were dropping their flowers, the squash plants remained small, the bell pepper plants were wimpy and the asparagus struggled to pop out of the dirt! I thought I was doing something wrong, but as the weather became drier and warmer things started happening – the broccoli ripened, the tomatoes started appearing, the asparagus ferned out, the squash has gone crazy (so much I’ve had to cut back the leaves so they wouldn’t block out the sun for the other plants!), and my wimpy bell pepper plants are starting to get bigger and flower. The zucchini is flowering like crazy but is not producing much fruit yet. As you can see in the photos, two of the zucchinis rotted before ripening. I don’t know why, so if any of you veteran gardeners have any answers please share them w/ me.

Below is a photographic chronology:

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June 2006

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June 8th, 2008

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June 22, 2008

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July 4, 2008

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Broccoli; Lemon Boy tomato; zucchini

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Hot banana peppers; butternut squash flower; herbs

Things are looking good, and the broccoli and first banana peppers were delicious!! I will keep you posted as the summer progresses.

Ciao for now…

Bruno

Daring Bakers Challenge for April

Unfortunately my blog has been malfunctioning for the past couple of weeks due to some malicious hackers corrupting my template. I had a friend help me reinstall everything but it’s still not working properly. So, as a result I cannot upload any photos and when you click on the photos from previous posts they no longer enlarge. This whole situation has me very frustrated!!

I have completed the challenge for April, took photographs and have feedback from my taste testers but all this will have to wait to be posted until I can get brunosdream operational again (hopefully within the next week). I figure what’s the point to post the text without photos since my fellow Daring Bakers want to actually see the end results, not just read about them!

Please check back within the next week. Hopefully I will have this mess resolved by then and have some visuals for your viewing pleasure.

 Until then, Happy Baking!

 Bruno

The West Coast Tour – Seattle and Napa Valley

It’s 2008, I’ve got the blues, and I’ve lost my cooking mojo! I’m going to a pie making workshop on Sunday so maybe that will help inspire me.  

Until then, here are some photos from my last work week. I got some great shots of the Seattle skyline but unfortunately we didn’t get to spend any time there. We did however get to spend a few hours in Napa Valley. It was torture going to wine country and not being able to taste any wine! (we were on duty) Thankfully we had the opportunity to eat a nice meal at Mustards Grill and stop by the French Laundry in Yountville to take a look around. I was able to go in the kitchen because the restaurant was closed for a few days for a tune-up. We also had time for a short visit to Copia (the center for wine, food and the arts) in the city of Napa.  

Enjoy the views! (click on photos to zoom in)

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Mount Rainier; Seattle skyline

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Mustards Grill

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 Mustards menu; Larry & Kim (the pilots); Kim & me

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hanger steak; seafood tostada; cherry & pear bread pudding

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Napa Valley scenery

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entering Yountville; The French Laundry

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more of The French Laundry

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inside the kitchen

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Copia

Until next time…

 Bruno

Bastille Day 2007

It was a great day to celebrate the storming of the Bastille. This is the second annual Bastille Day party chez Paula’s maison. She really outdid herself this year! The menu was magnifique and she even had a French music ensemble playing some Edith Piaf, among other tunes, to set the mood!  There were many more people attending, however my friend and former co-blogger, Duane, was not present this year to chronicle the event as he did last year. Unfortunately he recently found out his cancer has returned and he is once again battling this horrible disease. My thoughts and prayers are w/ him. I wish him the best and hope he will be present next year and able to announce his cancer is once again in remission. Duane, since you were unable to be there, here are some photos for your vicarious enjoyment. I tip my glass to you my friend, may you be back in action soon…

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Le menu; amuse bouche

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Le dinner

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Paula avec ami; Herve’; la music

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Mon tutti fruitti; autre dessert

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Les party people

Salut…

Bruno