Tiramisu

Tiramisu Close Up

The hardest part of tiramisu for me is parting with so much money for the mascarpone. It’s costs a fortune! Years ago, I found a little hack by Gemma overย @biggerbolderbaking that allows me to make a fake mascarpone that saves a LOT of money so here we go. Get your big girl panties on, ladies, and let’s get assembling!

The base is comprised of however many lady fingers you can manage to fit into each layer times two or three layers, breaking fingers in half if you have to. (Depending on the pan I use, I can make up to three layers using a bread loaf pan, or two layers using a 9″x9″ square pan.) It’s not an exact science, so if you run out of the coffee/liquor mix, just make a bit more until all of the fingers get a quick soak.

Tiramisu

20-30 lady fingers

1 C room temp coffee brew

1 tbsp Amaretto (optional – I sometimes sub it out for 2 tsp hot chocolate powder whisked in)

Note: The filling is a two step process that will get folding into each other to make the ‘fascarponey’.

STEP ONE:

1C 35% Cream

1/3 C Sugar (white or superfine icing)
1 tsp Vanilla (this is the time to bust open the expensive stuff)

Whisk this on medium speed for about 5-8 mins, until the cream starts to thicken up. Then bump it to full speed for another 2-3 mins to incorporate a lot of air allowing the cream to fluff up.

Scrape the whipped cream into another mixing bowl. Set aside while assembling the second cream mixture in the mixer.

STEP TWO:

6oz/168g Cream Cheese, room temp (cut it into small cubes to speed up the temp change)

2 Tbsp Sour Cream (if you’re not using full fat, why are you even making this dessert?!)

3 Tbsp 35% Cream

Using a paddle attachment, cream this mixture to a smooth consistency. Drop on heaping spoonful of this mixture into the whipped cream bowl, and fold it in so the whipped cream thins out a bit. Add the rest and mix to incorporate both only.

Start the layering assembly at this point.

Drop each lady finger into a shallow dish with the coffee mixture and quickly roll it over a full rotation. Immediately place each soaked finger into the loaf pan or the glass dish. When one layer of lady fingers is assembled, top it with either one half or a third of the fascarponey mixture. Smooth it out. Optional: dust the cream layer with coco powder or hot chocolate powder. I do this sometimes, but often I forget to do it. Oh, well.

Continue with more of the same two layers until you reach the top of the pan with fascarponey. Top that with either coco or hot chocolate powder. Cover and let the dish set itself up in the fridge.

To be honest, you only need ten mins for the lady finger to soften up from all of the moister you rolled them around in and even more moisture from the creams, but the longer it sits chilling, the better it ends up tasting if you ask me. So, yeah – quick dessert for sure when you need something nice at a moment’s notice. Even slapped together quickly can produce a lovely to eat tiramisu.

I’ve never tasted a shitty tiramisu using this recipe (or anywhere else if I’m being honest). This dish is fool proof. If you find a way to screw it up, I need to be the first person you tell. And I will need a full explanation of just how you did it. Deal?

Jalapeno Boats

I love making these little boats as part of our ‘Pub Night’ meal, or as a starter to a longer cooked meal. Easy to make, easy to fill, easy to bake.

Jalapeno Boats:
6 Jalapenos, washed, stem end cut off, halved, and hallowed out
1 Bacon Strip, cooked, tiny dice
4 Tbsp Cream Cheese, tiny dice
1/4 Cheese Shred of choice
S&P

Wear gloves when working with the jalapenos, and I tend to wash my hands three times after I take the gloves off. Add everything but the jalapenos to a small bowl. Squish it all together with one gloved hand, making sure everything gets evenly smushed together. This is your filling.

Take a half jalapeno at a time and using the back of a spoon, add a bit of the filling to each cavity at a time. Using the hand holding the jalapeno being filled, start molding the filling to the cavity so it stops trying to fall out. I tend to make each filling flush with the tops until I get to the end of the jalapenos I need to fill. If there’s extra left over – depending upon how much is left – I may store the rest in the fridge for more jalapeno boats the next day or simply plump up the ones in front of me.

1/4 C Breadcrumbs (optional: with seasonings and grated parm cheese)

Dip each jalapeno boat into a small bowl filled with the breadcrumbs. Gently push down so the breadcrumbs stick into the filling.

Place each finished boats onto a baking tray and pop into a pre-heated oven set to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 mins. Let them rest on the tray on top of the counter for another 10 mins. Serve hot, but not blazing hot straight from the oven.

Note: If you’re like me, lactose intolerant, good news. Walmart sells their own lactose free cream cheese now, and it totally works in these jalapeno boats. And the price is on par with regular cream cheese, which, btw, is almost unheard of for a specialty product!

Chocolate Pasta

ChocoPasta-1This is for Olivia, whom I started to tell this story to at work but we got busy and, as always, I forget I even started the story or where I left off, and it never got told or finished. Sorry about that. So, here it is. Because you didn’t seem to believe me.

About a year ago, I stumbled over a pin for chocolate pasta over at Pinterest, and I was immediately struck with curiosity. I HAD to try this at home. It was a strong compulsion. I really, REALLY wanted to make this. And I was so SURE we would fall in love with it. I mean, how could we not?!

ChocolatePasta-DoughMaking-2 ChocolatePasta-DoughMakingI know this looks like I’m making a chocolate cake, but I’m really not. It’s the funniest thing to look at and know I have to convince people this really is a thing, and people do make this, and it starts out looking like a baking project. ๐Ÿ™‚ ChocolatePasta-Dough2 ChocolatePasta-RestingSo after making this just like any other yellow egg pasta dough, I let it rest before I start cutting it up into noodles and then eventually boiling it hot salty water. All very straight forward, all very normal so far. ChocoPasta-Strands ChocoPasta-Drying ChocoPasta-Dry ChocoPasta-Cooking And the final product… ChocoPasta-CookedIt was very pretty like this, and it cooked up nicely, but no matter what I paired it with or topped it with, it wasn’t for us. The husband asked me never to make this for him again. Period. End of story. ๐Ÿ˜€

Herb Tomato Sauce & Chocolate Pasta

ChocoPasta-1

This year I decided to grow oregano in my garden in addition to flat leaf parsley and my old standby, sweet basil. It’s been working out well. I’ve added small sprigs of the fresh oregano to a lot of different dishes, including some sauteed vegetables we ate over pork loin meat on buns last week. This week I made my favourite tomato sauce from scratch, and decided what it really needed was fresh basil and fresh oregano. The sauce turned out so well, I dreamt of making a pot of pasta to top with the sauce for breakfast. All night I thought about my freshly made pasta sauce in the fridge. All.Night.Long.

‘Mmm… So mouth watering.

This tomato sauce uses Marcella Hazan’s infamous tomato with butter sauce as the base.

Fresh Herb Tomato Sauce:
40 oz Jarred Tomato Puree
5 Tbsp Salted Butter
S&P to taste
1 M-L Yellow Onion, chopped coarsely
1 Tsp Fresh Oregano leaves
1 C Fresh Basil, torn or julienned
Jars with tight fitting lids (enough for about 50 oz of cooked sauce)

Bring tomato puree, butter, onion and seasonings to a boil. Reduce the temperature to a low rolling boil and add oregano and basil leaves. Simmer uncovered for at least 30-45 minutes till the sauce thickens. Remove the sauce from the burner to cool a bit while running your clean jars under hot water so the glass don’t burst when the extremely hot pasta sauce touches it. Pour the sauce into the jars and finger tighten the lids.*

Let the jars rest on the counter till you hear each of the lids pop or snap (about 30 minutes). This happens when the hot air in the jars evaporate and the seal is formed with the lid ring. You can then store the sauce in your fridge at that point. The popping will only happen if you screw the lids tight enough, but if you have a jar that doesn’t pop, and you can push down in the lid still after 30 minutes, just make a point of using that jar first within a week or two.

* Finger tight is a term used for screwing a canning lid on till tight with your fingers only, not your whole hand and muscles to apply force.

Digression: The first dish I used this gorgeous tomato sauce over was my homemade chocolate pasta. I was still trying to nail it down to one or two different ways we can enjoy it at home when the husband asked me to not make these noodles again. Ever. He’s not into chocolate pasta. At all. And he’s a pasta fiend. (!!!) Oh, well. :-\

So, instead of doing a whole separate post on how to make chocolate pasta at home from scratch, here are a few pix of the attempts and some of the production of the pasta itself to give you an idea of what it was like, and what efforts I put into it.

Side Note: I previously served these pasta noodles with an Alfredo sauce and the same meatballs awhile back. We disliked that dish. So much it took me a long time to come around to cooking these noodles again. But I really needed to figure out if it was the sauce or the noodles we didn’t like so I could correct what was holding this pasta idea back from becoming a staple in our home.

So, with that in mind, I made a repeat pasta dish – with the only change being my tomato sauce instead of a creamy white sauce. All in the name of science, you understand. ๐Ÿ™‚ย As it turns out, for me it was that I didn’t like the Alfredo sauce over these noodles but found my tomato sauce worked quite well with chocolate pasta, whereas with the husband, as previously stated, he didn’t like the taste of the chocolate pasta in this dish either. So…

Given this whole experiment ended in a stalemate (and not at all how I imagined when I first discovered its existence), I’ve decided to give up on chocolate pasta. It’s not going to happen in this house. If you want the recipe, ask in the comment section of this post. I’m sure I can scare it up for you in the blink of an eye.

Below are the basic steps you’d make to produce the pasta from start to finish. Pretty, no?

ChocolatePasta-DoughMaking-2Two eggs, pinch of salt, flour and coco powder. I forget the exact measurements offhand, but my rule of thumb for pasta dough making has always been 1 egg : 3/4 C flour if that helps. And I think this recipe calls for a ratio of 3:1 flour to coco powder, but don’t quote me on that. It makes sense given I used 2 eggs for there to be 1 1/2 C flour to 1/4 C coco.

ChocolatePasta-DoughKnead by hand on a floured surface. You can start the kneading in the mixer if you like. I’m not a fan of sticky fingers myself. I stop when the dough pulls away from the bowl and then turn it out onto my work bench to hand knead.

ChocolatePasta-Resting

I wrap the dough ball to let it rest at least 30-45 minutes before I dig in to make the noodles with my pasta attachments and bench scraper.

ChocoPasta-DryI don’t have a proper drying rack, so I use an old coffee mug stand to air dry my pasta noodles after I loosely wind them around my hand after dusting the dough with flour. Once it air dries on the rack, I carefully (because it’s so frah-gill-eh) slide it off and slip it into a plastic baggie to seal up for storing. You can also make the noodles and then dump them straight into a pot of boiling water if you’re planning to eat them immediately.

ChocoPasta-Cooking

They look so lovely and tasty swimming in the pot, and only look better as they rest in the bowl before being sauced. Remember, they are fresh and fragile, so resist the urge to toss this pasta with sauce. Only top it with your best sauce, and serve it with your best cheese.

ChocoPasta-Cooked