Thanks, mom. And Betty Crocker. This recipe looks unassuming but once you unleash it in your kitchen you must eat every single one of them. Yes, they are that good. Even if your first bite does not tip you off. It’s the how-often-you-go-back that proves the point.
It all starts with a biscuit recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook (copyright 1950). Take the dough, roll it out, add the butter, cinnamon & sugar and make the twists. Bake ‘em, then top with vanilla glaze. Ear-re-SIST-able.
Here’s my demo on WSMV Channel 4 Nashville’s More at Midday show (with Holly Thompson). And the recipe is below.
2 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
¾ cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp & spreadable
5-6 teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add 4 1-tablespoon pats of cold butter. Cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or knife until butter pieces are small specks. Add milk and whisk together with a fork until a dough forms. Knead just enough to press into a thick disc of dough.
Roll out on a floured work surface to ¼ inch thick. Spread the 4 tablespoons of soft butter to cover surface of dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar evenly over surface. Fold dough in half and rolled lightly to seal together. Cut into 1-inch strips. Lift each strip and twist into a loose spiral. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Let cool then drizzle glaze.
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Place sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Run tap water until very hot. Add water to sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring, until you have a semi-thick icing. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle over cinnamon sticks.
Shrimp Fritto Misto
Oh yeah. This is easy and this is spectacular. You use Prosecco in the batter to make this luscious shrimp fritto misto. It’s so easy it’s sinful. It’s so tasty it’s decadent. It’s so just what you hope it will be.
Shell and devein 35-40 large shrimp (leave tail on if you like). Blot dry with some paper towel. Toss with a little flour to lightly coat. In a medium bowl whisk together 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, salt & pepper, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Add 2 cups Prosecco and whisk till smooth. It will be a thin batter which is great because it will just lightly adhere to the shrimp and let the real shrimp flavor shine.
Heat a mixture of canola oil and olive oil (about 2/3 canola, 1/3 olive oil) in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. About 2 inches worth of oil. Let it get hot enough (not smoking) so that a bit of bread sizzles and pops quickly to the surface when tested. Be careful as you cook the shrimp. Monitor how hot the oil is — if it’s “boiling” too much lower heat. Be extra careful all around — this is HOT stuff.
Put about 5-6 shrimp in the batter and lift them out one at a time with a slotted spoon. Let excess batter drip off before putting it in oil. Fry about 5-6 shrimp at a time, cooking till they turn golden, about 3 minutes. Lift out with another slotted spoon or fish spatula. Drain on paper towels (or brown paper bag). Season with some salt. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp, lifting out loose bits of batter so they don’t burn. Serve hot/warm with lemon wedges.
You’re welcome. (YUM.)
Vegetable Market in Rome
My new Winter 2014 cooking class series is out! Some classes are already sold out. Hope you like these menus!
Winter 2014 Cooking Class Series Newsletter
Punt e Mes
When I first discovered Punt e Mes I felt like I’d been initiated into a secret club. It was in the 80′s. I was taking an Italian language class (one of the many I’ve taken over the course of too-many-to-mention years). There were just 5 of us around our teacher’s dining room table delving into Italian in a conversational, relaxed and fun way.
Bretta Bracali was our teacher. She was a stunningly beautiful woman with a sharp Italian-Roman style. She taught with enthusiasm and class. And we all loved her, which helped us learn. I was living in NYC at the time and Bretta’s apartment was in the world-class Ansonia “Hotel” on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The building is impressively ornate and huge. It always felt like a privilege just to have someone to visit there (later my tax accountant had offices there, too).
About The Ansonia
Bretta was on one of the highest floors. She had porthole-sized windows that were near the floor. If you leaned down and peeked out you’d see Broadway stretching out with its army of taxis.
One night she brought out a few small glasses and a bottle of Punt e Mes. No one had ever heard of it and I believe she had just brought it back from Italy. She didn’t describe it or say much about it, just gave us all some to taste as we struggled through speaking and understanding Italian.
I understood the Italian of Punt e Mes right away. The drink, on some rocks and maybe with a lemon twist, tastes like Italy. It’s a fortified wine, a vermouth, but it’s filled with subtle essences that are a little bitter and little floral and a little tart. If I want to feel like I’m in the atmosphere of a Roman street or an Umbrian hilltown or any number of quintessential Italian locations, I drink a little Punt e Mes.
I always remember one of Bretta’s language teaching points. To demonstrate how to pronounce a double consonant in Italian, she took your hand and pulled as you hung on. She’d say: “spaghet-ti.” And let your hand go between the two “t’s” (like pulling taffy together that just suddenly broke) …you got the idea of pronouncing both “t’s.”
Writing about her made me look her up on Google. She’s still teaching Italian. Here’s her website:
Bretta Bracali’s Italian Lessons
Punt e Mes
Roman Peas & Asparagus
Ahhh. A simple but luscious vegetable dish from Rome. Roman Peas with Asparagus & Pancetta. So easy to make and so satisfying.
Slice a medium onion into thin half-moons. Saute in a little olive oil. Add diced pancetta (from about 3 thick slices) and saute till they cook through and onions soften. Add asparagus that has been cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook about 3-4 minutes. Add peas, cook till simmering. Add about a 1/4 cup of white wine. Cook till evaporating. Season with salt & pepper.
Easy. All these flavors come together creating a palate piazza where your taste buds congregate on their Roman passagiata and say: “Che Buono!”
Carciofi alla Romana
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love and admire artichokes. In Italian: carciofi. Also, my favorite Italian word. If I had the opportunity to change my name I would change it to carciofi. First name or last name. Or both. Carciofi Carciofi, pleased to meet you.
I can’t remember the first time I had artichokes. It had to be very young. My family takes the artichoke in stride. Artichokes are as common, and as likely to be part of the table, as a plate or fork. Or possibly bread. Ridiculously easy to prepare. And so tastebud fulfilling, you always feel confident in the meal when artichokes are brought to the table.
My recipe has evolved over the years. I used to stuff the leaves with parsley and garlic. Now I simply put parsley and garlic in the cooking water with a heavy douse of olive oil, salt & pepper. First, trim the tops. Cut off about a third. Snip the thorns from the tips of all the leaves. Cut off the stems. Set them up, standing tall, side by side in a heavy sauce pan. Fill with water about halfway up. Drizzle a bunch of olive oil on artichokes and in water. Season with salt & pepper. Let cook for about 30-40 minutes until very tender.
Enjoy by nibbling the leaf tips. And if you’re drinking a glass of wine, with each artichoke bite your sip of wine will taste Odd/Strange. Some chemical reaction. But that never stopped me. Don’t let it stop you.
Come “Like” my Facebook page for frequent posts on classes and fun!
Chef Paulette Facebook page
Rialto Market, Venice, Italy