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Manchi ma ci sei Silenziosamente
Dentro ai giorni miei

My friend, your love, your laughter, your support….YOU, warmed my days.  The winter wind blows, the candle flickers and extinguishes, yet I know the ember you ignited in my heart will never fade.  A transition, a short absence, I know, is all that this is…

…yes, you’re silently here.  I will forever bake with you in my heart and in my mind.


Quando chiudo gli occhi stai ridendo
Qui con me


Recipe Compliments of:


No this is not a post about cows, their milk or their cream…at least not directly…it is a post about Tiramisu.  Specifically, The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge which was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Not the beauty I had envisioned!

Currently we are in the Lenten season and even though I am no longer a practicing RC, I think this is going to be a post of confessions.

Confession #1–  I was not overly fond of this version of Tiramisu, forgive me Aparna and Deeba…it is not that there was anything wrong with this one, other than the fact it is not the version that I often make.  In my version I do not combine the zabaglione, pastry cream and whipped cream but I alternate layers of lady fingers, zabs, lady fingers, pastry cream to the top, I then just put a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish and to help cut the richness of the entire dessert.

Confession #2– I had visions of grandeur as far as presentation, unfortunately that was all they were but visions.  I did not end up with the gorgeous savoiardi rimmed dessert I saw in my mind.

Confession #3– I thought that this was going to be a fun joint endeavor with Ray, you may know him as my partner in life but now he too is a partner in the DB.  So, I figured a joint effort and fun for all.  Apparently not!!  On baking day I overheard him say, “I am going to take you out”.  When I called him on this he then said, “that is NOT what I said.  I said, “I am going to BAKE you out!””  Rivals in the kitchen it shall be!!!!!!!  He isn’t exactly kitchen savvy but can hold his own and if I figure out how, I will give him props on his non-blogging post of his Tiramisu.

Confession #4– This is the part where I actually learned something I didn’t really know but it is also something that could cause me to become an ex DBer…… I did NOT make my own mascarpone!! May the powers that be hear my defense, please!!!!!  Apparently, there is a huge difference between Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized dairy products.  Pasteurization is a lower temp longer time method which kills off the “bad critters” but leaves beneficial enzymes still intact.  Ultra- Pasteurization is a high temp quick time method which basically zaps everything in the milk, both good and bad.  Well, here in the States, Federal regulations make it a difficult task to find any dairy that is not Ultra-Pasteurized.  So, unless you are a dairy farmer or live damn close to one, finding only Pasteurized cream is almost impossible.  Off to Sunseri Bros. I went for my ready-made mascarpone.  I know I broke the rules but I confessed, so please, please, please Aparna, Deeba and the Powers that be forgive my indiscretion and let me remain a member of the fold!!!

Now that I have confessed and also sought absolution, let me tell you about the challenge.  Despite the fact that it was not my Tiramisu, it was a very good one at that.   I still prefer the separation of flavors as opposed to combining them.  The zabs and pastry cream recipes were pretty much on course with what I am used to.  The Savoiardi recipe is a little different from what I have used in the past but turned out stellar.  So much so that I think I may never buy a store-bought lady finger again.  If one actually breaks it down, especially in these times of tightened budgets, why purchase something pre-made when it can be done so easily and much more cheaply at home?

Final thoughts on the challenge would be to give it a go.  Aparna and Deeba came up with a great challenge which encompassed different techniques which when combined truly do come together in a heavenly fashion.  Thank You Ladies, Thank You Very Much!!!!

I will now leave you with an almost step by step pictorial on my making of the Savoiardi.  You can find the recipe for the Savoiardi/Lady Fingers and all other components here.

Starting the whites
Finished Whites- looks like a snowball, appropriate considering the weather we have h ad.

Incorporating the yolks into the whites- Love egg yolk gold!!!!!

2 steps later the fingers are piped- Not enough hands to photograph the folding in of the flour or the piping.

An attempt at creative flair, I dusted some cocoa stripes onto the fingers before baking.

Lady Fingers fresh out of the oven.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

So today is the 3rd* and final reveal day of this months Daring Baker Challenge for March and well…..I am writing this actually before I have even begun!!!!

*apparently sometime between the last time I visited the site and yesterday the reveal date kinda changed on me!!

When I first joined the DB, 11 months ago, I was soooo good at gettinig it done early and having the time to contemplate a post, not so much as of late.  Lately, I have been scrambling and today I am scrambling HARD!!!!

Let me first off get the formallity out of the way….

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

…now let me drive this baby home so I can get in the kitchen!!!!!

I am of Italian descent so I am more than familiar with fresh pasta, bechamel, ragu and of course lasagne, so this month didn’t really phase me much.  However, being that this particular version of lasagne is much lighter than mine, I have decided  to deviate very little  from the recipe Mary, Melinda and Enza have chosen.  My version of lasagne is laden with layers of sausage, ground veal, ground beef, garlic scented ricotta and pasta (a typical pan of my lasagne goes at least 15lbs).  This is a much lighter version and I figured give it a go!!!

Why then, if it is something I am comfortable with and actually a bit less work than I normally put into, am I scrambling…..and again, scrambling HARD??  Well, this “cake thing” of mine is kinda “taking off”, this week alone I have done 7 cakes (5 paying, 2 gratis), along side of the normal 2 stores to run, 2 dogs to deal with, a house that NEEDS attention and of course my very own RAY!!!  It’s sunday you say, the day of rest…not around these parts, I have a cake due for tuesday, one I have always wanted to try but was always intimidated by, well today is the day…this cake is a 3 tiered, carved, fondant coated work of engineering….one of those wobbly wacky looking Dr Suess cakes.

That’s the scramble, so why are you now going to laugh?

As I said earlier, I am not deviating from the recipe much, initially I thought we had no choice but to make spinach pasta and Ray doesn’t “do” spinach, so I told a couple people about it and they are waiting for a taste…this then means I have a sunday meal to make as well, and guess what picky boy wants!!!!

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes!

So go ahead and giggle kids, as I am off to …

Peel potatoes

Chop onions

Make Bechamel

Make Pasta

Bake 9 cake layers

Form meatloaf

Put lasagne together




BTW It is 10:58am and I vow to have this post finished, photographed and posted by the end of the day…I refuse to be late this time!!!!!!  So more later.

2:44pm- First snag of the day came at 11:30am, the girl that was to open one store was going to be late, as the subway in PGH was down for some reason, so I had to go in.  Got the pasta made there, here are some bad pics from cell phone camera.

Mise en place!

Mise en place!

a'kneeding we will go!!

a'kneeding we will go!!

Time to rest!!

Time to rest!!

5:34pm-Snag number 2, camera batteries dead, so no pics of me rolling sheets, but it is a quick charge and you will see them drying.  Along with the first of the cake tiers cooling.


6:46pm-Snag number 3, no this one is much more an EVENT!!!  While making the bechamel I let the dogs go out in the yard for a bit, as per usual when they returned they pranced around the kitchen.  However, I was working on my roux and was being careful not to go past “blonde” on it, so I paid no mind to the happy romping pooches.  Long story short…there was a pail of driveway tar out back, somehow it was knocked over and here is the result!!!!

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

Many STEPS!!!!

Many STEPS!!!!

8:18pm-Things are looking up, dinner is done, more cakes in the oven, camera battery is good to go and Mr. Picky Eater is on “floor patrol”!!!!

Cute but bad dog on a clean floor!

Cute but bad dog on a clean floor!

9:07pm-Taking a Celebrity Apprentice break!!!!

To hell with the time checks, the water is boiling and it will be done in time.  The complete recipe can be found here.  The only variation from the original recipe was in my Bechamel.  When I make this sauce I typically dice a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic and simmer that in the milk, I then strain the milk into the roux and cook as directed in the recipe.  I used my own sauce and not the recipe given, I would share that recipe with all of you but then it would no longer be my secret sauce and I would not be a happy boy and let’s face it, after the day I have had we all want me to be a happy boy!!!!!!  So I am in the final stretch, it is finally in the oven, obviously I am not going to be eating it tonight but I can say the cooked pasta was divine!!!!  It was perfectly “to the teeth”, just as any good pasta should!

TADA, out of the oven with 20 minutes to spare…the only thing is I may not get a plated photo in time, so here is one that has been edited a bit so as not to spoil what I hope will be the surprise!!!!!

A bit more color than it should have...yummy nonetheless!!!

A bit more color than it should have...yummy nonetheless!!!

And now, one last picture and hopefully a surprise… we are the Daring Bakers, which to me means we go a bit beyond the norm on occasion.  Since I have been so into cakes and I have never to my recollection seen a round lasagne…. well, I dared!!!!

Lasagne in the Round!

Lasagne in the Round!

Ok, so all done but it was a LOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG day and the only way to sum it up would be to quote my dear Mrs. P, “FAAAKKKK!!!”.

Stephanie of “The Happy Sorceress” has hosted a Blog Party for 3 years now and I just got lucky enough to get to know her through the Daring Bakers and a chat/baking group a few of us have gotten together. I am now pleased to say that I will be on hand for her 3rd anniversary Blog Party.

I first came across it awhile back when she hosted a Buffy the Vampire themed party…I really wanted to attend as I am a huge Vamp fan but truly I have never watched Buffy a day in my life!!! So I thought I would wait …the only requirement for attendance is that you must bring an appetizer/finger food and a bev!!!! That’s pretty easy and from what I hear well worth it for the fun to be had!

For her 3rd anniversary party she is allowing our contributions to be our choice, usually these shindigs are themed but sweetie that she is we are allowed our hearts content on this one.

I decided on a twist on a simple italian Bruschetta for my app. I have seen quite alot of cool things being done with watermelon as of late….grilled, in savory salads…all kinds of different takes on this summer classic!!! Easy as all get out and and mighty tasty.

Simple and basic recipe is to replace watermelon for tomato in your favorite bruschetta topper.

My bruschetta is a baguette cut on the diagonal and grilled, rub with a clove of garlic, top with a shaving of dried mozzarella then a mix of watermelon dice, balsamic/olive oil blend, red onions (sm dice) and torn basil. ( I found regular basil to be a bit overpowering with the watermelon on my first go round, so I have since used a cinnamon-basil I got from the local farmer’s market). Top all that with a generous sprinkle of grated ParmigianoReggiano.

As for my beverage/cocktail….yes, I am definitely bringing a cocktail, it’s been a hectic week!! I had made candied orange peel and had quite a lot of leftover syrup from it and thought that it might be a nice sweetener for iced tea. Ok, so let’s keep the Italian thing going on here, what to do…..

In keeping with the simple thing as well, I basically made a strong brewed tea, sweetened it with a bit of the leftover syrup, gave a few hefty glugs of limoncello and then garnished with orange and lemon slices. Now I am no bartender but I would think a more proper recipe would be…

  • Fill an 8 oz rocks glass with ice
  • Add 1.5 oz limoncello
  • Top off with sweetened tea
  • Garnish

Can’t wait to arrive and get a sampling of everyones fare. Looking forward to meeting some new folks as well. I think the invite is still open, so if you have the time and have the desire drop Stephanie a line and I hope to see ya there!!!

Keeping the Flour Flying!!!

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