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Torrone Morbido (Italian Soft Nougat) and Journeys to True Love #Foodie Reads


I recently breezed through The Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley,* finishing the book one evening after I had done and put away all the dishes. So, it's not a particularly deep or difficult read. But it was a nice way to spend the evening.

On the Page
photo from amazon.com

I have already mentioned that it wasn't a particular deep read. But it was well-written albeit predictable. A grandmother passes away and, in her will, leaves a restaurant that no one knows she owned to her three granddaughters. 

"My girls, I know this will come as somewhat of a shock, but I am the sole owner of Mimi’s Place and have been for forty-three years, since I won the restaurant in a bet. A game of poker actually, but that’s too long of a story to go into here. As you know, Mimi’s Place is special to me and always has been" (pg. 34).

They must, however, work in the restaurant for a year or the restaurant will belong to the head chef.

It was mildly amusing that none of the three women have normal, healthy relationships. The workaholic sister doesn't realize that she's actually in love with her long-time business partner. The married sister, with no children, had no idea that her husband was having an affair...with a man. And the married sister, with children, was clueless that her husband was using an online dating site to arrange extramarital affairs. Flash forward to the end: happy endings all around. Okay, that's not a surprise, right?

The best part of the book: the grandmother's diary!

There was, of course, lots and lots of food, wines, and cocktails mentioned. Baked Alaska, Dill Pickle Dirty Martinis, and more. They own a restaurant, after all.

"The scallops are local, from Nantucket Bay. The chef brushes them with an orange butter sauce before they go on the grill. There’s also sliced avocado, pecans and crumbled goat cheese with an orange, sesame, and ginger vinaigrette. Emma closed her menu. 'I’ll have that.' 'Me too,' Jill and Mandy both said at the same time. 'Can you tell we’re related?' Jill asked with a grin" (pg. 36).
               
I have never had Veal Marsala, but this passage made me consider it. "She fed the kids at about six, chicken Marsala for them, and then she set about preparing the rest of the meal that she and Cory would share. At six-thirty she put the asparagus on a sheet of tinfoil, sprinkled a little parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil over them and a quick squeeze of lemon. She threw them in the oven, next to a casserole dish of tiny fingerling potatoes that were glistening with butter and starting to brown nicely. At a quarter to seven, she poured herself a glass of chardonnay and began sautéing the veal cutlets, which only took a few minutes. The sauce came together quickly and was a simple reduction of the pan drippings scraped up from the bottom of the pan and stirred into a bit of Marsala wine, butter and sautéed mushrooms. It smelled heavenly" (pg. 45).
               
 As they begin to restructure, the four owners decide on their nice: luxurious comfort food. Think 
"lobster pot pie, lobster mac and cheese, and tater tots smothered in short ribs, melted cheese and sour cream" (pg. 179) where the "pot pie was delicious, full of creamy sauce and veggies with big chunks of sweet lobster and flaky pastry" (pg. 195).

Definitely don't read this book if you're hungry. Every other page or so will have you reaching for a snack...or a drink.                    

On the Plate
Though I do not have much of a sweet tooth, when I crave sweets, I generally look to Italy treats. One of my favorite Italian treats is torrone, an Italian nougat with nuts. My version uses pistachios instead of almonds and lemon instead of orange. But get creative...this recipe is a breeze to make.

And I was inspired into the kitchen when I read this passage in The Kitchen from Rose's diary: "Jay is a true Italian, born and brought up right on Hanover Street. We met at Mike’s Pastry. I was buying some cannolis to bring home for dessert and he couldn’t decide what kind of Torrone to get and asked my advice. Well, you know how I feel about Torrone, that delicious nougat candy? I told him that the vanilla almond dipped in dark chocolate was the way to go. We kept chatting, and he asked me to dinner the following night and we’ve been dating steadily ever since" (pg. 56).

Ingredients
  • cornstarch for dusting
  • 3 cups whole, roasted and unsalted pistachios
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a birch-smoked salt from Iceland...just for kicks)
  • 3 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste
  • finely grated zest of one organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • Also needed: candy thermometer, parchment paper

Procedure

Put egg whites and salt into a medium mixing bowl.

In a heavy saucepan, heat sugar and honey over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture begins to simmer and sugar is mostly dissolved. Drop a candy thermometer into the pan.

Cook until temperature reaches 315 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take approximately 15 minutes to reach temperature. As it gets close, the mixture will begin to foam and darken in color.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites on medium speed until firm peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until fully incorporated, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

When honey mixture reaches 315 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from heat; stir until temperature drops to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully remove the candy thermometer.

With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour honey mixture down the side of the bowl. The egg mixture will double in volume, then decrease. Continue to beat until mixture is cooled to just warm and begins to lighten in color, approximately 5 minutes.

Add vanilla and zest; beat for 1 minute more, then, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, fold in pistachios. The mixture will be very sticky.

Turn out candy onto a cutting board; dust hands with cornstarch. Knead for 5 to 6 turns, then transfer to parchment-lined, cornstarch-dusted baking dish. Dust hands with more cornstarch, then press candy to flatten and fill pan. Put pan on wire rack and let candy cool completely, about 1 hour.

Using parchment paper, lift out candy from pan; cut candy into pieces. Layer in a sealed container, between sheets of parchment paper and let stand overnight, with container sealed and at room temperature, to dry, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Candy can be kept, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in a sealed container at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

 
Click to see what everyone else read in November 2020: here.

Comments

  1. Every once in a while it is nice to be able to relax and enjoy a book without having to think about anything.

    ReplyDelete

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