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Cannoli

29 Nov

Last month I finally got the courage to join The Daring Kitchen. The main reason why I hadn’t joined before was simple…I was scared of the commitment…kind of like a relationship. Well I’m glad I did, my first challenge was a dessert dear and close to my native land, Cannoli.
The irony is that I actually bought the Cannoli forms a few months back and they just sat in my cupboard unopened. So if this challenge had not come along they may have very well sat there much longer.

The challenge for November was brought to us by Lisa Michele from, Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. The recipe was a combination from various cookbooks; Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
I followed the dough recipe as was written. We had the option of using white wine, Marsala or grape juice….trying to keep the recipe as authentic as possible I went with the Marsala. The dough itself was very simple to make. I made it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. At first I was a bit put off by the amount of Marsala in the dough, but once fried it turned out just fine.


The dough was simple to work with; I used a pasta machine to roll out the dough…it cut down on the elbow grease and the time significantly.
For the filling I went with a Ricotta sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla. I also made Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Crème Patisserie, which by the way is out of this world! Again to save some time I made the fillings the day before.
Ok, so far so good. I got up on Saturday morning and started rolling out my dough and heating up the oil ready to fry. I really despise frying and not for the reasons you may think, I despise it because it just stinks up the house…and did it ever. The stench stuck around for days, and I swear when I walk into my house I can still smell it!

Nevertheless, the end result was just unbelievably delicious. My husband devoured the Cannoli and actually said, “I don’t think I could ever eat another bakery Cannoli after having these”…I would say that’s a success because my husband takes his Cannoli very seriously.
Would I ever make these again? Sure I will, but it will have to be warm enough to fry outside..and considering it’s almost December in Toronto I probably wont be making these for at least another 6 months.
So if you love Cannoli, I urge you, I beg you to try to make them at home, you will not regret it.

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Fig & Walnut Biscotti

5 Nov

I’ve been out of touch as of late.  Yes, the bug got me and put me out of commission for the last couple of days.  I’ve been stranded on my living room couch too weak to even watch TV or surf my favourite blogs.  And in case you’re wondering; no I did not get the “swine flu”, just a really sore throat and a killer headache to accompany it.  Believe me at the first hint of my sore throat I asked my husband to look up H1N1 symptoms.  Luckily enough I did not develop and fever, congestion or cough.  But let me tell you if I do get the opportunity to get the vaccine, I’m all for it.  I find that as I’m getting older it becoming more and more difficult to shake things off, even something as simple as a cold.

Well I’m doing better today, not 100% but getting there.  And as soon as I started feeling better I thought that I should post something new on my blog even though I’ve been too ill to make anything this week.  Lucky for me last week when I made the Chestnut Cake I also made Fig Walnut Biscotti which I documented for a rainy day such as this.

This is another recipe that I came across on a website. I printed it out so long ago I had almost forgotten about it.  I have always limited myself to making the standard Almond Biscotti and wanted to try something different.  Walnuts in a biscotto is different, but adding dry figs is way different.  Believe it or not dry figs is something I always have in my pantry, my husband is a sucker for these.Growing up we always had dry figs in the house, and we just wouldn’t eat them plain either.  My dad used to split them in the middle and add an almond, orange peel and then stack them with layers of sprinkled cinnamon in a tin cookie can.  Back home in Italy he went a step further, there are fig trees everywhere. The figs would be sun-dried much like the process of sun drying tomatoes and then prepared the same way I just described above.

Chestnut Cake

29 Oct

I love when the seasons change, there’s always a different variety of foods to choose from and I find that my pallet also changes with the season.  The summer staple of berries is replaced with apples and tangerines, I don’t know why but those seem like winter fruits to me.  I’m pretty sure it was the way I was brought up. 

As the winter months and the holidays approach I also find that I start baking with different ingredients.  I so cannot wait for the holidays to make gingerbread; sure I can make it all year round but it just doesn’t taste the same in the sweltering summer, know what I mean?

Yesterday I was inspired to try something different using something wintery, what’s more wintery then chestnuts.  There’s this great shop, Consiglio’s my place that sells an array of Italian products (did I mention I live in one of the two little Italy’s in Toronto?).  This is my go to place for Italian goodies, so naturally that’s where I went when I was looking for chestnut flour I needed for a recipe I found on a great Italian blog; Menu Turistico

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Italian Apple Cake

20 Oct

 

You know that feeling you get when something triggers a memory and you’re suddenly transported back to your childhood? 

It can be something as simple as the smell of bubblegum, for me it was a little Italian recipe book from Bertolini that my mom has had for years.  I was over my moms the other night and I asked her for her apple cake recipe or torta di mele.  She then came back with this little recipe booklet that I haven’t seen in years. 

Aside from the great recipes it holds, the one thing I remember most is the story at the end of the booklet, the story of Maria Rosa. As a child I used to beg my mother to read it to me over and over again, I loved the characters, the pictures and of course the story.   Flipping through the pages I felt like a little girl again in my mother’s kitchen, I almost asked her to read it to me …almost.   The booklet itself according to my mother is 40 years old and she has kept it in pretty good condition.  I asked her to borrow it so that I can scan it to have a copy for myself (not sure if I am breaking any copyright laws here, no copyright notice on the booklet itself). 

 

The first recipe I made was the Torta Di Mele or Apple Cake.  My mom has been making this for years and everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe.  Continue reading