Coco Cooks has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds.

If not, please visit and update your bookmarks and RSS feed.


New Post On Cup Cakes in the Age of Uninnocence

Check out my latest article on . Cupcakes, love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Hear several cupcake experts discuss the trend and where it is heading. Also get some some great cupcakes recipes from Check it out and voice your comments there about why you love or hate the cupcake.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Daring Bakers Make...Cherry Brandy and Chocolate Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the 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 am noticing my Daring Baker Challenges of late have been pink in color. Wonder what that means on some psychological level?
Recently on a visit to Boston wandering the North End, I purchases some Cannoli tubes, tucked them away in my pantry,and never really got around to doing anything with them. Also on my trip ,I found a old fashioned Coffee, Tea,and Spice shop which sold all sorts of flavorings to make Liquors and such. I loaded up at Polcari's . One such extract was a deep red Cherry Brandy.

I will admit I wasn't in the frame of mind to this challenge. When one has many things on their mind, it is hard to focus. But I started my dough, sweetened with juice rather than sweet wine, and began to assemble Sunday evening. My lack of concentration contributed to me only buying half the Ricotta I needed and not straining it. I added a block of cream cheese to the mix and chocolate chips hoping it would firm up. But it didn't. I photographed it anyway, and it was good, just runny and not suitable to bring to work.

I dreaded wasting all those beautiful shells I fried up and coated in chocolate. On Twitter , the talented LemonPi DM'd me and suggested I try to strain after the fact. At this point , why not! I wanted to salvage the Cannoli to bring to work the next day. So into a strainer lined with cheese cheese cloth, and the mixture firmed up beautifully. I barely filled them at the front desk in the office before the lot was gone. Scavengers. One person said why don't I just inject the filling the their arms, the sugar crazed bunch.
Cannoli are much easier than I thought they would be. I would love to fill them with a savory filling next time.If you don't mind occasionally deep frying, they are easy to make.


Cannoli forms/tubes - optional, but recommended if making traditional shaped cannoli. Dried cannelloni pasta tubes work just as well!
Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
Deep fat frying thermometer. although the bread cube or bit of dough test will work fine.
Metal tongs
Brass or wire skimmer OR large slotted spoon
Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
Cooling rack
Paper bags or paper towels
Pastry Brush
Sieve or fine wire mesh strainer
Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
Food Processor or Stand Mixer – also optional, since you can make the dough by hand, although it takes more time.
Rolling pin and/or Pasta roller/machine
Pastry or cutting board
Round cutters - The dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife.
Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
Plastic Wrap/Clingfilm
Tea towels or just cloth towels

Required: Must make cannoli dough and shells. If you don’t have or do not want to purchase cannoli forms, which I would never ask of any of you, you could simply cut out circles, squares, or any shapes you want and stack them with the filling of your choice to make stacked cannoli's aka Cannolipoleons (directions below). If desired, you can channel MacGuyver and fashion something heat proof to get traditional shaped cannoli (6-8 inch sawed off lengths of a wooden broom stick or cane, sanded down and oiled, is THE authentic cannoli form!), or non-traditional shapes such as creating a form to make bowls, or even using cream horns if you happen to have them. Mini cannoli would be great too, and I've provided links to retailers of cannoli forms of all sizes.

Also, for those who don't like to cook or bake with alcohol - grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, apple juice..any sweet juice of a fruit, especially ones used in or to make wine, can be substituted. Just add a little more vinegar to insure you get enough acid to relax the dough

6-8 inch long by 3/4 to 1 inch circumference cannoli forms aka your basic cannoli form size

Variations: The filling is YOUR choice! Anything you want to fill them with is perfectly fine, sweet or savory, or you can use the filling recipe provided – making whatever changes you want to it. Cannoli would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert table/spread. In many Italian households, during the holidays, cannoli is always part of the dessert offerings. You could also make a Thanksgiving themed cannoli, like pumpkin cannoli (I came up with a great pumpkin filling recipe below) or apples, pecans, walnuts, any dried fruits etc. An idea to gussy up your cannoli is; dipping the rims of the shell in melted chocolate and rolling in chopped nuts or sprinkles, then letting them set prior to filling. Dipping or pressing mini chocolate chips into the filled ends OR just stirring mini chocolate chips into the filling prior to stacking or filling whatever shaped shells you come up with, is another great idea and makes a nice presentation The sky is the limit here, be creative! Naturally, if you have any dietary restrictions, by all means, go with it. I’ve provided a link to a gluten-free cannoli recipe and a slightly savory vegan cannoli recipe to help get you started.

Bonus option: Make your own ricotta and/or mascarpone cheese!

Technically, I know, this is not baking, and if you prefer to steer clear of the deep fry, you can bake the shell. You won’t get the snappy, blistery texture and appearance that make cannoli so special, but I’m sure it’ll taste good nonetheless. Here’s a link where the cook bakes some of his cannoli shells:

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes


2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Cannoli shell preparation, cutting out the dough circles, sealing the dough around the form, frying the shells, finished shells ready to fill

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells

1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.

Top row - left to right: Filling the cannoli, variety of cannoli Bottom row - left to right: Stacked cannoli, pumpkin cannoli

- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded

- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.

- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.

- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.

- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.

- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.

- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.

- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.

- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.

- Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.

- When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling..TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.

- Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.

- If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.

- Practice makes perfect. My first batch of shells came out less than spectacular, and that’s an understatement. As you go along, you’ll see what will make them more aesthetically pleasing, and adjust accordingly when rolling. My next several batches turned out great. Don’t give up!!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Coconut Cream Pie... You Can't Have Enough Pies for the Holidays

As a kid, I always hated coconut. You know that sweetened shredded stuff would make me recoil instantly. As an adult I have come to like it a lot in its various forms. Coconut milk, cream, flakes,etc. And lately I have been obsessed since visiting Tom Douglas Palace Kitchen in Seattle. Their Coconut Cream pie blew me away. Large unsweetened coconut flakes and shavings of White Chocolate.
So on my birthday I decided to bake myself a pie , rather than cake. Ironically I found his recipe in one of those bargain books created by Kitchen Aid. A compilation of previously published recipes. I decided to use his Triple Coconut Cream Pie as a Guide. A guide, as I decided to swap out regular milk for Creamed Coconut from Goya. This is a solid block of creamed coconut that's beyond and different coconut milk or cream. Its often called for in curry recipes and is very rich. The swap worked and worked double as it provided the texture of shredded sweetened coconut that the custard base called for as well as providing that creaminess and thickening factor as it sets without adding corn starch or flour.. Another change I made was using ground almonds in his short crust. Lot of changes, but it all came together beautifully. I didn't have a block of white chocolate, so I melted chips, spread it thin on parchment and chilled it. The I broke it up into shards to adorn the pie with large toasted flaked coconut.

Coconut Cream Pie
( inspired by Tom Douglas' Triple Coconut Cream Pie, but with significant changes)

Pie Crust
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water

Pastry Cream
1 (200 grams) 7oz block Pure Creamed Coconut (*not coconut milk or cream)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
unsweetened large coconut flakes for garnish
white chocolate shavings for garnish
1 packet Dr Oetker's Whip It optional

Making Pie Crust
In a stand mixer combine flour, ground almonds, butter,sugar, and salt. Mix until a crumbly mixture . Add ice cold water gradually. Dough should hold together when held together between fingers. Dough should still be crumbly and not form a ball.Take the dough and gently place crumbly dough on waxed paper or plastic . Cover with another sheet and form a flattened disc . Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before rolling out.

Roll out dough and flatten dough on lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, transfer and shape into pie tin or baking dish. It may break apart, and that's OK. Form with hands in baking tin. Make sure you let the dough overextend edge, as it will shrink while baking.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.

Take Parchment paper and cover unbaked pie crust. Fill with dried beans or pie beans. Blind Bake in preheated oven at 400 F. Bake for 25 min or until golden. Remove form oven and remove paper and beans. Place back in oven and finish baking for 10 more minutes or until golden all the way through.
Allow to cool before adding filing.

Pastry Cream
In a sauce pan melt the Pure Creamed Coconut over Medium heat. Add Milk. Bring Mixture to a boil.Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl whisk eggs , sugar, and vanilla. Gradually temper a bit of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisking. Then add the tempered egg mixture to the hot milk mixture. Be careful as you don't want cooked eggs. Once all in saucepan heat while constantly whisking until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming on top and bring to room temperature, then refrigerate. The cream will thicken as it cools.

Whipped Topping

On a shallow parchment lined baking sheet, toast coconut flakes at 350F until they start to brown. Be careful not to burn and remove quickly.
Make you white chocolate shavings and set aside.

Whip cold heavy cream , sugar , and vanilla in stand mixture with balloon. Add Whip It if you want a thicker stabilized cream.Do not over whip, but whip until stiff peak stage.

Spread Pastry cream in Pie Shell. Top with Whipped Cream. Smooth and make decorative opeaks with off set spatula. Garnish liberally with toasted coconut flakes and white chocolate shavings.


Stumble Upon Toolbar


Duck Fat and Garlic "Toasted" Camembert Mini Grilled Cheese...Holiday Cooking With Ile De France

I love small plates and little nibbles. I also love all things rich ( my men, my life, my food). One of the most most beautiful and richest cuisines out there is French. I look back at long ago my school years in Paris and wish I took advantage of the resources out there then. But I was young and Paris was my Movable Feast.

This past week was the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau. My old friend Terry treated me to the Annual Fete at the French American Chamber Of Commerce. This is an opportunity for many restaurants to display their food in the small plate format. One place was making grilled Camembert sandwiches on a hot plate. I took a bite and noticed the Camembert didn't melt through the grilled bread. Terry and I were talking about earlier and I had a revelation. I was going to make this dish with the duck fat I rendered that was in the freezer.

Forget butter, but use the duck fat for that extra dimension. I also decided to add mushed blanched garlic to create a Gascony style Butter. Before the health police start, did you know Duck Fat is better for you than butter? Duck Fat has less saturated fats than butter 32% versus 62%. Duck fat has higher Mono Saturated Fat than butter and is more comparable to Olive Oil (read about it here).

So when I received my Ile de France sample, I was ready. With the Holidays you want a quick easy recipe to assemble and that will keep warm with minimal fuss. Toasting in the oven , rather than frying works very well and insures the cheese is melted through.

Duck Fat and Garlic "Toasted" Camembert Mini Grilled Cheese
makes 12 and can be increased easily increased
24 slices of Baguette
1/2-3/4 cup Duck Fat (can be purchased )
5 cloves of Garlic ( or to taste)
Ile De France Camembert Cheese
Dried Thyme
Water to blanch garlic

In a small saucepan , blanch garlic cloves until tender( about 1 minute).
In a small mixing bowl mash the garlic into the duck fat. You can use a immersion blender or food processor to make smooth.
Take a pastry brush and brush each slice of Baguette.
Assemble small wedges of Camembert into two slices of bread.
Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with dried Thyme.
Bake at 350 F until golden, approx 15 minutes. Turn/flip sandwiches midway and press down with spatula to aid the cheese in melting. Turn up to 400 F the last few minutes to insure crispness and browning.
Serve on passed platters or on small plates with dressed greens.
*Can be kept in warming oven until ready to serve.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


My Non Tradtional Thanksgiving Meal on

Are you you looking for some ideas of what to serve on Thanksgiving. Maybe it's just a smaller crowd this year? Check out my latest post on

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Fried Smelts , A Meme, and A Request

Over the next months most of us will be eating out fair share of Turkeys, Geese,duckings, and other game to celebrate the holidays depending on our cultures and regions. Some people like the Italians even manage to create seafood feats around the holidays.
A fish that has always captured my attention and liking has been the lowly smelt. I'm not sure of its popularity in other areas of the world, but in the this salt water fish found at the mouths of rivers,can be found Midwest, and even east and west coasts. Tiny and and sardine like that are eaten by salmon and lake trout and are often served fried or eaten whole and live. Used as bait, they are relatively cheap and very good for you. The roe is used as a garnish for many sushi.
Michele of Big Black Dogs turned me onto a great fish fry batter from Tyler Florence for fish and chips that I wanted to try out with my bag of flash frozen smelts. Rice flour, seltzer water, baking powder,egg, salt and pepper make a crunchy light delightful batter that cant be beat. Try it. These fried smelts even tasted good the following day in a sandwhich with some sauce and squeezed lemon

My new blogger friend Jamie at Life's A Feast( where has this sensation been hiding in my world, I'm so out of it!) awarded me The Over the Top Award. Never has that been so true. Now you all know I'm awful with sort of thing but I will answer this One Word Meme because its' my Birthday and I'm just fooling around today.

1. Where is your cell phone? Hand
2. Your hair? Nappy
3. Your mother? Heart
4. Your father? Peace
5. Your favorite food? Asian
6. Your dream last night? None
7. Your favorite drink? Wine
8. Your dream/goal? Success
9. What room are you in? Main
10. Your hobby? Cakes
11. Your fear? Poverty
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Europe
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something you aren’t? Unsure
15. Muffins? Meh
16. Wish list item? Weightloss
17. Where did you grow up? D.C
18. Last thing you did? Email
19. What are you wearing? PJ's
20. Your TV? On
21. Your pets? None
22. Friends? Many
23. Your life? Fascinating
24. Your mood? Wishful
25. Missing someone? Marc
26. Vehicle? Audi
27. Something you’re not wearing? Cosmetics
28. Your favorite store? Pete's
29.Your favorite color? Burgundy
30. When was the last time you laughed? Night
31. Last time you cried? Friday
32. Your best friend? Mommy
33. One place you go to over and over again? Store
34. One person who e-mails you regularly? Marc
35. Favorite place to eat? Home

Now I have to choose 6 bloggers to follow suite.

Jeanne Cooksister
Louise Month of Edible Celebrations
Michele Big Black Dogs
RJ Flamingo Flamingo Musings
The Duo Dishes
Marye Baking Delights

I know a lot of the over the Top People because birds of a feather flock together, just Im not so sure many actually do Memes. So it's hard to choose.

I'm awful at promoting myself. I guess that's something I need to work on more this year. I created this wonderful recipe ( Chestnut Stuffed Sesame Pork Chops with PAMA Balsamic Reduction) for the PAMA contest. I need you to make this Birthday Girl happy and vote for me. Vote every day if you like, because I really want to go to Aspen for the Food and Wine Classic. I think this recipe is worthy of that. Vote Here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Marzipan Fruits You Can Make Yourself... Ideas For Giving

Assorted Marzipan Fruits ( Sugar Plums,lemons, bananas, oranges, limes,pears, strawberries)

I adore Marzipan. In Europe its used much more commonly than in the United States for cakes and sugar crafts decorations. Come Christmas one will see all sorts of marzipan fruits, pigs ( Glückschwein) for luck, and coco covered potatoes. While browsing through the store (World Market) I saw all sorts of pricey Marzipan offerings from Spain and Germany and "I said you know. I can make this myself!" I love working and shaping marzipan. I don't know if any of you readers recall my holiday rabbit, which some people mistook for a rat ,for a Yule Log.

Its Not a Rat, It's a Rabbit

So this year I am making less frightening Marzipan objects. Marzipan is essentially ground almonds and sugar and has a rich tradition dating back to Medieval Times starting in Persia and other Arabic cultures, then spreading to the Mediterranean and Europe. Manufacturers may add essences of Rosewater and highly guard their recipes and ratios. At one time Marzipan was associated with medicinal abilities, as only Pharmacists sold it and other high priced confections. Marzipan was mainly associated with Royal houses and the upper classes due to the high price of sugar. Today, Lübeck Germany is the leading center of Marzipan production where you can find 200 varieties of the delicacy.

If your looking for fun craft that the family can do , or just want to get creative buy a few bars of Marzipan. I found some decorative tins form the dollar store and sealed each Marzipan fruit in a individual plastic cookie bag. There is some debate on weather Marzipan should be refrigerated or not. It will turn hard over time and needs a cool dry place. I always take the safest route and refrigerate in a air tight container up to a month or so. These fruits would be beautiful displayed at your Holiday party, given as favors, or sent to someone far away to bring Christmas Cheer. You could even decorate a Christmas cake with these.

I used powdered food color and petal dust to get my effects. A little marzipan goes a long way. Two 4.9 oz bars of Schluckwerder bars (60% almonds) make more than two small tins of assorted fruits. Use cloves for realistic stems on oranges, strawberries , lemons, etc. Tint your marzipan, and finish with textures effects and brushed petal lustre, edible glitter . When you are done set your marzipan, as you would gum paste, on a rack over a steaming pot of water for a few seconds, rotating .The longer you steam ,the glossier it gets. Remove and let dry completely. If you don't feel you have artistic abilities, roll little balls of Marzipan, infused with a little liqueur if you wish, and dust with coco powder to resemble potatoes.

Have fun with it and enjoy. Certain Someone loves his marzipan and its really the only sweet he loves besides chocolate.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Cooking With PAMA... Chestnut Stuffed Sesame Pork Chops with PAMA Balsamic Reduction

Did you miss me? I missed you. Not having a computer is unfathomable. And to top that off the car has been in shop for a week. No computer, no car, no man ( Certain Someone is away again) makes for a very bad time. But I've been cooking up a storm , so I cant wait to post. I want to thank my good friend Kat for fixing my antiquated computer circa 2005 and ridding it of all the bad guys. Its brutal out there is cyber space. Get checked people!

Anyway I was fortunate enough to receive a sample of PAMA Liqueur. I have had my eye on this spirit for while . I was asked to create a recipe as November is National Pomegranate Month!

Did you know that November is National Pomegranate Month? At the peak of their growing season, pomegranates are the perfect fall fruit. Packed with powerful anti-oxidants and Vitamin C, this super fruit is not only delicious but has even boasts proven health benefits, such as the prevention of anti-aging signs and heart disease. Make a toast to this amazing super fruit with PAMA, the first true pomegranate liqueur. This liqueur truly captures the essence of all-natural pomegranates with their complex, sweet yet tart taste and seductive ruby color. Made from all natural pomegranate juice, premium vodka and a touch of imported tequila, this liqueur is highly mixable and incredibly versatile.

Rather than reinvent the wheel with a cocktail or dessert, I decided to adapt my PAMA to a savory meat based dish inspired by Fall. There are elements of Asian fusion in here with the spices and use of Sesame. The dish went over well and is one I can see myself serving at an elegant dinner again. Enjoy.I will also enter this into the Cooking with Pama Contest. Just made the deadline!

Chestnut Stuffed Sesame Pork Chops with PAMA Balsamic Reduction

Balsamic Reduction

3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 inch peeled ginger cut into pieces

2 tbsp brown sugar

3 whole allspice

1 clove

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup PAMA Liqueur

Additional Ingredients

2 Butterflied Pork Chops

1/2 onion chopped

5-6 chestnuts chopped

Fresh sage leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Sesame Seeds to crust

1 egg white

In a small sauce pan bring Balsamic vinegar , brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, clove, and ginger to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Add PAMA and continue to reduce. Strain Mixture and set aside to cool. Pour into a squeeze bottle.

Make a stuffing of chestnuts , onion, a few leaves of fresh torn sage, slat and pepper to taste. Take your butterflied pork chops and add a few tablespoons of mixture.

Seal Pork chops with toothpicks at 1/2 inch intervals. This will prevent the stuffing from spilling out when baking.

Season chops with salt and pepper. Carefully brush the edges of the chops with egg whites and dip into a plate of sesame seeds.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a oven proof pan, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Sear Pork chops for a few minutes on each side( being careful not to brush the sesame crusted edges). Place in preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature of 160.

Plate with a few decorative squeezes of Pama Balsamic on plate and over meat.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Having Some Technical Difficulties

Something fishy is going on with my computer.Hope to be back soon.

Stumble Upon Toolbar