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Sunday, February 22, 2015

  Homemade pasta

 I love pasta, most shapes, and of course we all have our favorites. Mine are angel hair, linguine , fettucini, ziti,  rigatoni, Ok, I love pasta.
Considering Fridays dinner choices, came up with homemade pasta, with clam sauce, white for the misses and red for me, a coupla fish cakes, salad and some wine , perfect!

Homemade pasta is easier then you might think, have a food processor it's a snap!

Semolina flour, available at most health stores that carry bulk grains and flours will have it.

 It is also available in 2 lb bags at some markets, but will be very expensive, bulk is the way to go.

 What you will need to make about one pound of fresh pasta:
2 cups semolina flour*, 2 large eggs, 3-8 Tbs water. Optional, dried herbs to add flavor to your pasta, spices etc.

Add semolina flour and eggs to the processor bowl, run for 5 seconds till it looks like cornmeal.
With motor running add 1/4 cup water, process till it forms a ball.

If by hand use a stand mixer, with flat beater, then switch to dough hook.
Dough should be well blended but not sticky, if it is, cut into 3 pieces and put back in processor with a Tbs. of APF (all purpose flour)

 If it's crumbly ,add 1Tbs. of water at a time till it comes together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times till smooth.

Wrap in plastic wrap , let rest 30 minutes while you clean up. 

 Take 1/4th of dough, keeping rest covered,  and proceed as follows:

By Hand roll dough to desired thickness, flouring as needed to keep from sticking.

If by hand, fold floured sheet of dough 3-5 times depending on length of sheet , like a letter, and cut desired widths. Gather, flouring if needed to keep from sticking, into a pile ,place on floured tray cover with plastic to keep moist, while you cut rest of pasta.

 If by pasta roller, start with  1/4 dough, flatten, run through lowest setting on roller twice, folding dough each time to widen to width of roller, repeat if needed. 

Run through next setting , increasing setting to next thinnest each time till desired thickness.


Cut pasta by hand or if you have an attachment cut with that.

 Fresh pasta needs only 3 -4 minutes to cook!  

Freeze  what is not needed for another time, place into a container that will accommodate the pasta without pressing it into a mass, keep loose.

You may use a floured storage bag .placed inside another container so pasta doesn't get broken from being moved around in freezer.

 *Pasta can be made with all purpose flour also, it will not have that springy texture or flavor as semolina pasta does but will be delicious none the less.

 Thanks for visiting!

Comments welcome!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

                                                   Italian Casatta Cake

This is one of our favorite dessert cakes, easy and delicious; The recipe was given to me by a co-worker more years ago then I care to admit.

The components are easy , lady finger sponge, homemade or store bought, ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, maraschino cherries , mini semi sweet chips and vanilla.



The frosting is slightly sweetened stabilized whipped cream.

I used the base of the spring form pan,  to cut 2 rounds ,use trimmings to make center layer 
recipe is here

the filling is divided between two layers, I did moisten the layers with some  brandy and sweet  Marsala  wine, which is optional
It is best to let this cake ,still in spring form pan top plastic wrap covered in refrigerator for  at least one day, after frosting and decorating keep in covered container another day ,two more is even better.

Stabilized whipped cream coating, recipe is here


I made a piped chocolate design to go around cake, method is in the post A Dessert Challenge.
the pink top border is tinted whipped cream
 Cake can be as simple or decorative as desired, just whipped cream frosting and shaved chocolate and toasted sliced almonds on top is classic.




 Chocolate design ,top and base border complete, I made the chocolate design too high ,had to pipe extra pink top border to support the excess

fantasy stabilized whipped cream flowers

I am still learning to pipe flowers, added stems and leaves all are whipped cream

top view


finished cake

filling recipe
9" spring form pan,  1  1/2 sheet pan (13"x18") lady finger sponge
32 oz. container whole milk ricotta
1 cup powdered sugar
about 10  maraschino cherries diced 
2/3 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 blend all together with spatula till smooth and well mixed

Thanks for visiting!

Comments most welcome

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tera Mi Su Sheet Cake


A  Birthday Cake for Friends David, Nancy,& her Mom Bonnie

All three planned to celebrate their 60th  Birthday at a combined gala to be held at David & lynette's  home.

What a perfect reason to make a cake!!! Not that it's one of my favorite hobbies , but also to honor their day with a homemade delicious creation!

 I immediately compiled a list of cakes and possible fillings and frostings then submitted them to Nancy for a selection.  She was given the choice as her birthday is closest to the party date.

 Have you ever looked at a dessert tray arranged with beautiful luscious looking  to die for creations.

How do you select just one when you really want all of them!

After , which I am sure was pure frustration  for her to make a choice , Tera mi su  it is .

I have posted the recipe for this dessert before, which there are probably endless variations, this one is adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe.

Componets:  lady finger sponge layer 2 needed . Note this is a 1/2 sheet cake
                     2 quart containers whole milk ricotta
                     2 quarts heavy whipping cream
                     2 10 oz. bags + 4oz. Gheridelli 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips
                    1 + 1/3 ( approx.) (25oz.) bottle Florio brand sweet Marsala wine
                    2 cups granulated sugar
                   12 large eggs , for cake layers
                   16 yolks from large eggs, for custard  ( save whites for breakfast)
                   1 envelope unflavored gelatin (to make stabilized whipped cream )

Stabilized whipped cream: will hold it's shape and not break down:
 to a 1 cup bowl add 1/4 cup  cold water, sprinkle on 1 pkt. gelatin let bloom 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add 1/4 cup boiling water to gelatin in bowl, stir to dissolve completely.
 Put mixture into a container or small jar with a air tight lid, place in fridge.
When needed remove 1 tablespoon and melt in microwave safe bowl 3-4 seconds at a time till melted, DO NOT BOIL.
 Whip 2 cups heavy cream when it is almost at the desired consistency slowly pour in melted gelatin continuing to whip till desired consistency.


 Make 2   1/2 sheet Lady finger sponge layers,  link to recipe:

Recipe link for custard , I  increased the quantities by 1/3rd for each single batch


 Need 8 cups chocolate sabayon (egg custard)   make 2 double recipes

single recipe:
 4 large egg yolks
 4 TBS sugar
 51/3 oz. sweet Marsala : 1/2 cup +2 Tbs +2 tsp   ( 1 oz. =2 tbs =6tsp , 1/3 of 6 =2  )
 6 oz. .melted  chocolate chips

 (1 +1/2 cups ricotta ) for this sheet cake need 2 quarts ricotta (8 cups total)
1+1/2 cups heavy cream
in heat  proof bowl over simmering water beat egg yolks and sugar till light and thick,  and hot to the touch (170) do not boil! or they will scramble.
add the 1/2 cup  + 2  Tbs  +2tsps. of  Florio Sweet Marsala and continue beating till very thick, remove from heat
add the  melted dark chocolate to the egg mixture, fold in well set aside to cool to room temperature



gently fold into the  chocolate  egg custard  when at  room temperature, set aside

to the 1+1/2 cups of ricotta add 1/4-1/3 cup strong coffee , I use freeze dried coffee 1+1/4 tsp and water , it's quick and simple, blend well set aside




whip heavy cream to soft peaks,add the Tbs sugar and whip to stiff peaks


  NOTE: you will need to make 4 recipe quantities for a 1/2 sheet cake, easiest to make 2 double batches . RICOTTA USE 2 QUARTS, AND 1 QUART HEAVY CREAM , PLUS 1 QUART FOR FOSTING AND PIPING


  after brushing cake with about 6-8 oz. of Florio sweet Marsala, spread on 4 cups of the coffee flavored ricotta 

 spread on 4 cups of the chocolate sabayon (egg custard)  the kitchen knome watches carefully!  

then cover with 4 cups whipped cream

Top with second sponge layer and again brush on 6-8 oz. of the Marsala
repeat process with ricotta, chocolate custard then whipped cream.
At this point place in fridge to firm up.
 while you whip the second quart of cream. I found whipping 2 cups at a time worked best for me.
NOTE: don't forget to stabilize the cream!

 frost cake as desired, pipe base border and top border, many instructional videos on you tube for this. Place in fridge let set. this type of cake is better if you can wait 2-3 days before serving, in this case  it was assembled  1 day in advance. Although the ricotta and custard can be made in advance just allow the custard to come to room temperature before using. 


 The finished cake,  David is a musician  ,singer, song writer, Nancy is an artist and author, her mom Bonnie an avid gardener. Roses, electric guitar, palette, brushes and garden tools  are made of tinted white modeling chocolate.
link to making modeling chocolate:
The cake was delicious, but the moisture from the whipped cream softened the chocolate, would have been best to add just before serving. If a cake is frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream they would be fine.
Swiss Meringue butter, recipe from Gretchen Price at Woodland bakery Blog.
I changed the cooking temperature of the egg whites from 115* to 140-150 degrees


Swiss Style Meringue Buttercream Yield 6cups
(enough to ice 30 cupcakes, or fill and ice 1- 8″cake
***THIS RECIPE CAN BE STORED 4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer

Fresh Large Egg Whites 180g (6 Large)
Granulated Sugar 300g  (1 + 1/2 cups) or less
Confectioners Sugar 240g (2cups) -was too sweet use ½ -1 cup  or none
 Solid Vegetable Shortening 170g (3/4 cup) **See Note Below
Unsalted Butter 454g (2 cups)
Vanilla Extract Or Vanilla Paste 1 Tablespoon

  • Over a double boiler, in a large metal   stand mixer bowl  whisk with handheld beater together the granulated sugar and the egg whites stirring constantly until the mixture reaches approximately 150 degrees F and the sugar grains have dissolved and are not longer gritty to the touch.
  • place metal bowl of your stand mixer in an ice bath to  help cool down whisking to help. When  cool whip add to stand mixer,  with the  whisk attachment  whip on high speed until it is thick, glossy and white in color.  The peaks should be as firm as firm can be.
  •  If using, In the meantime you can sift your confectioners sugar, and once you have achieved STIFF peaks meringue, add the confectioners sugar all at once with the mixer on very low speed to avoid having a snow shower of sugar all over your kitchen!
  • Once all of the sugar has been incorporated you can turn the mixer speed to med-high until it is all nicely mixed in.
  • Do not add butter ,shortening if whites are warm!!! must be cool!! or butter will melt!
  • Be sure your butter and shortening are at room temperature and they are the same consistency. Add it in about 2-3 additions, but FAST Additions.
  • Continue to whip till smooth, it will appear curdled at first, keep whipping.
  • May be flavored ,colored etc.
    To flavor add chocolate 8oz. melted cooled or cocoa powder ¼ -1/2 cup
    Add about 1 cup canned pumpkin and spice for pumpkin cake frosting.
  • try caramel, or flavored liquors.
 Thanks for visiting!     Comments welcome!








Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Dessert Chalenge

A Dessert Chalenge

Friends of ours were moving to another state and as a farewell dinner party was being planned by other friends for them, of course I would offer to make the dessert.
 I told Dan I would be more than happy to make any dessert he and Kathryn would like.
Dan was very appreciative of my offer but he had one condition.

He said it had to be a dessert worth remembering!  Ok, He has had other desserts I have made including a Christmas Stollen , I was taken aback at first, worth remembering, I considered all my desserts worth remembering!

 I settled down and accepted the challenge, after  all I love challenges, I thrive on them, I look for them, even create them !

 So the bar has been set!

 The criteria for the dessert, yeah , worth remembering, but his was a personal challenge, one that had to go above and beyond were no man has gone before! A little Star Trek humor. Nevertheless it was personal to me!

 Our lovely hostess & host Nancy & Chris Hertz, she a talented painter and author, He an accomplished musician singer song writer. Check out their page


 Nancy is gluten intolerant so this dessert not only has to excel but has to  be gluten free!

I made a test cake of flourless chocolate cake with a filling of rich dark chocolate pudding topped with diced maraschino cherries another cake layer with a center filling of cherry vanilla pudding another cake layer chocolate pudding, diced cherries and a final cake layer top.

It was frosted with chocolate whipped cream and wrapped with a chocolate wrap topped with whipped cream. I placed a doily on top and dusted it with cocoa powder  then added  dark modeling chocolate roses.
 Deliciously rich chocolate layers of varying flavors, beautiful ! But impossible to cut neatly because of the wrap.

The solution : individual cakes .
Four layers of a light flourless chocolate cake, each moistened with cherry brandy, topped with dark chocolate pudding and this time I used diced fresh pitted diced Bing cherries. Each filling  layer was alternated with creamy milk chocolate pudding.

   I placed them in the refrigerator to firm up before coating with lightly sweetened whipped cream, then back in the refrigerator to firm up again while I made the chocolate lace wrap.

draw design on parchment paper flip over pipe melted chocolate
 onto design  place tray with design in refrigerator 1 minute to set slightly

remove from refrigerator gently line up parchment and wrap cake
place back in refrigerator to set hard

when set gently peel off parchment

using a sharp knife warmed in hot water carefully cut off excess

you may have a piece break, let it be back of cake

pipe whipped cream around edge to support lace wrap

pipe a mound of whipped cream onto center

place tinted white chocolate rose on mound

one each for  geusts

add piped whipped cream around base

I used fresh chocolate mint leaves from our garden to finish 

 note: any frosting of choice may be used, I chose whipped cream to 
soften the rich chocolate flavors


here is a links to the chocolate lace wrap and roses
 there are many on you tube




 Thanks for visiting !!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Basket weave cake

 Basket Weave cake

This is my first attempt at using a basket weave piping to decorate a cake, it was a lot of fun  and more difficult then it appears.
Mainly trying to keep the vertical piping straight and maintaining even spacing between the horizontal piping.

The reason for the cake is to bring one to our niece's home for thanksgiving dinner, with that in mind I chose to use the flavors of the holiday in the cake.

I made a sweet potato sponge cake baked in a 1/2 sheet pan which gave me 4 layers 12" x 4".
The filling is an apple pie filling (made small dice apple pieces) topped with a brown sugar vanilla pudding drizzled with caramel sauce.

The frosting is a Swiss meringue  buttercream , since most are very sweet I used a minimum amount of sugar  yielding a mildly sweet flavor.

The recipe for the cake  the Swiss meringue buttercream and the apple pie filling are from Gretchen Price at woodland bakery in NJ. wood land bakery blog
Originally posted as a pumpkin sponge cake and since any pureed vegetable will work , I simply used roasted pureed strained sweet potato, using brown sugar in place of white.

 The flavor was amazing even without embellishment!
 For the final version I'll use whipped cream for the filling dam and to crumb coat as it was way too  much buttercream . And more buttercream flowers on top!

For topping the cake I'll make sugar gumpaste flowers which are edible or may be removed before slicing 

 I did not do a photo process of the individual components since the recipes are easy enough  to follow.

These are the photos of the assembly of the cake:  

                                         Thanks for visiting!! Enjoy!    Jim

Brown sugar vanilla pudding:

1/3 cup brown sugar , you may use 1/2  for a less sweet  taste
6 tablespoons cornstarch if making a filling 4 if for regular pudding
1/4 tsp salt
10 oz. whole milk
10 oz. heavy cream  here you may alter  the type of milk  & cream ratio to suit
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract  ....homemade vanilla extract  ( you may also scrape seeds from 1 vanilla bean to add instead of extract, put scraped bean in milk/cream mix when warming for a fuller flavor, remove before adding milk/cream to saucepan)
In a large saucepan blend sugar, cornstarch , salt
Warm milk/cream mix till very warm almost hot ( this reduces cooking time, of course you may use cold)
on medium heat add milk/cream mix to saucepan, stirring constantly till it thickens.
 When it comes to a boil cook 1 full minute to activate cornstarch.
Remove from heat stir in vanilla, pour into a heat proof bowl, place plastic wrap on surface to prevent a skin from forming.
 When cool refrigerate 4 hours or over night.