I’ve been cooking for over a month, but haven’t perfected anything for a while. Sometimes cooking magic happens the first time I make something and I can blog about it right away. But usually, I make it and it’s not quite as amazing as I know it could be, so I have to make it again, then tweak it and make it again and again before I can write about it.
Like the homemade pasta I made a few weeks ago. It was good, but too thick and needed salt. I wanted to make it like my Aunt Milena from Italy did. So I rolled it out by hand, but I lacked the million pasta rolling experiences my Aunt had, so it was not a masterpiece. I should have rolled it on the pasta machine in my cupboard that’s been patiently waiting for me for years. It was good, but not great – who knew homemade pasta grew when cooked? So, back to the drawing board on that one.
And I made some really good Chinese eggplant with red peppers and Sweet Chili Sauce, but I wasn’t sure the photos did it justice. This one is easy, just saute a couple of chopped Chinese eggplant and a couple of chopped red peppers in canola or peanut oil in a large skillet or wok. (I used canned roasted peppers because I was out of fresh and they worked OK –not as crisp, but still good flavor. (You could add onion too, if you want.) To help them cook, add a few tablespoons of water or chicken broth. When cooked, add salt and pepper and pour in about 1/4 cup of Sweet Chili Sauce (you can get it in the Asian section) and stir to combine, then serve. It’s really good!
There was the Beef Bourgignon recipe I got from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network’s website, that was a lot easier than it sounds. (Why does everything French sound hard?) It was delicious! My son devoured it. You can click on the above link and get it. I changed nothing in it! You usually can’t go wrong with the Barefoot Contessa.
Maybe that’s my problem, I don’t have a catchy name yet. I’ll start thinking about that. The Cooking Divorcee? Pastry Princess? Feel free to send your ideas.
Then there was the cannoli, which did make it to a post. (I’m still happy about that little trip back to childhood!) Then there was the Cream of Broccoli Soup, which was good, but I think I lost the recipe to it. If I don’t write it down immediately, it goes poof!
And tonight I made a Leek and Broccoli Quiche. But I think I went too heavy on the veggies and not enough on the egg filling, so I want to make it until it tastes like the ones I had in Paris. Their crust was so buttery and their filling, so creamy, I honestly thought I would die from happiness. The only two places here in L.A., I’ve tasted one to equal that was at the La Brea Bakery and a place called the Coffee Commissary. There’s one in Kenneth Village in Glendale, and one on Olive Ave. in Burbank. Their quiche is fantastic!
And then there was a Tiramisu I made for my friend, Camilla’s birthday, and even though that dessert saw it’s heyday in the 80’s, I’ll put that recipe up against anyone’s. It’s really good. It’s another one so delicious, I only made two minor tweaks.
So, since I only give you my tried and true recipes, you’re getting my Tiramisu recipe. It’s a great Easter dessert. I’ve made it many, many times and it’s really good, even if Tiramisu isn’t terribly hip anymore. Maybe we can bring it back. Plus, I promise to perfect the others.
This recipe was from my favorite Italian place in LA in the 80’s. It was called, Chianti. It was on Melrose Avenue. There was a Cucina side that had big black and white linoleum squares on the floor and casual seating, where you’d go for lunch, and a Ristorante side with deep leather booths, that was more formal, where you’d go to propose.
The food was just delicious. No matter what you got, it was always excellent. It’s closed now, but I found this recipe years ago and it’s my go-to one for Tiramisu. (Tiramisu means pick me up in Italian because of the espresso.) I still get requests for it today.
6 Egg yolks (I know this freaks people out, but I’ve made this dozens of times and no one’s ever gotten sick.)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups mascarpone cheese
1 3/4 cups whipping cream, whipped to form soft peaks (Use heavy cream for a less runny dessert)
2 1/4 cups cold espresso coffee (the original recipe called for 1 3/4 cups but I always run out when I make it, so I increased it by half a cup and it works great.
4 tablespoons of brandy
(The original recipe called for two tablespoons of grappa and two tablespoons of brandy, but I’m not a grappa fan, so I use all brandy.)
48 ladyfingers (I never count, I just use them until the thing gets put together Just buy a large package. You’ll have some left over, but that’s not a bad thing. They’re great dipped in your latte in the morning.
Powdered, unsweetened chocolate for topping
Take your whipping cream and beat it into soft peaks (the stiffer you make it, the less runny your dessert will be).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream yolks and sugar until smooth and a lighter color. Add mascarpone and mix on low speed two minutes. Fold in the whipped cream and reserve.
In a medium, flat-bottomed bowl, combine coffee and brandy. Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture about 1 to 2 seconds, letting some coffee drip out, then place them on the bottom of a 10 X 15 inch platter, or a round glass bowl. They get soggy quickly, so don’t dawdle. I use a round glass bowl that’s at least 8 inches deep because it looks so beautiful in there and you can get more layers that way.
Put enough in to make a bottom layer, then pour some of the cream on top, and do it again, with another layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers, then more cream, repeating layers until you leave about two inches left at the top.
Then take a package of ladyfingers and cut them in half and push the cut end slightly into the top layer around the edges, so you create a border of ladyfingers. Then take your chocolate powder and sprinkle it on top, being careful not to get it on the ladyfingers. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator, and serve chilled. If you want to get fancy, you can pipe dollops of whipped cream in front of the ladyfingers and put chocolate covered coffee beans on each dollop.