Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trader Joe Find #2 - Garlic Naan & Veg Masala

Okay... so I am going to start posting my great finds at Trader Joes... you know, stuff that you wouldn't normally taste or buy, but that is TOTALLY worth getting!

Some of you may have already discovered alot of great things at Trader Joe's! Please feel free to share those on here!

I last posted the croissant find!
Now, I have found a vegetarian little number that, seriously, I can't get enough of!!! It is Indian, so it has a bit of a bite to it, a little spicy, but for me it is really perfect! My Trader Joe's had a tasting of the two of these together, Garlic Naan and Vegetable Masala and oh my.... I had to buy it on the spot. Just got my second round this morning!

This takes like 6 minutes to make. I put my oven on Broil and spray the Naan with a little olive oil and put it in.
Then I turn on my skillet to med high heat, spray with olive oil and put down the veg masala. I set the clock for 3 minutes and then turn both of them and set it for another 3.
Thats it. Fast, easy, and OH SO GOOD!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blog Reader Shares Tiramisu!!!!

I love this! One of my friends ... and obviously also a blog reader... made a tiramisu following my recipe! Here is the photo shared with me of their masterpiece!
(Now I am waiting till tomorrow to hear how it really turned out!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


There are lots of different ways to make Tiramisu in each region of Italy. But this is a recipe that I got from my husband's sister-in-law, Simonetta, from central Italy in the Marche Region. It is the best tiramisu that I have EVER had... Seriously!


What you need:
4 eggs
1 container of Mascarpone
A cup of cooled espresso (we use Lavazza and LOVE it)
(You can use a regular cup of coffee is you don't have espresso... but its not as good!)
A small container of whipping cream
1/3 cup of sugar
Cocoa for dusting

First things first, make your coffee and set it aside to cool. 

I crack all the eggs and use only the yellow parts for my tiramisu. (Lots of people will use the egg white instead of cream. Save them if you plan on doing this. I prefer cream because it is a smoother, creamier texture).
The original recipe from my sister in law only calls for 2 eggs for this size tiramisu. I use 4 because it adds a richer flavor (sometimes I even use 6!)
If you are doubling this recipe, use 8 eggs for a richer recipe. 

Pour 1/3cup of sugar over the eggs and start mixing with a large spoon.

This process will take about 10 minutes to get it right.
This is NOT ready:

You will need to mix it with your spoon for 10 minutes. You can use an electric hand mixer if you are in a hurry and it works great! I personally feel that using the spoon, you really incorporate the sugar better. I mix and scrape the sides, mix and scrape the sides. You are able to break up the sugar and mix it into the eggs. The eggs and sugar will grow and get smooth and light in color.
THIS is ready:

Now you can add your marcapone into the egg mixture and set it aside. Just put the whole container in and mix it up and set it aside. If your marscapone is lumpy, it is just because it is too cold, no worries, just set the mix to the side and let it warm up. It will smooth out when you come back to it. Another tip for this is to set out the marscapone and hour before you start your tiramisu. 

Now you will need to whip your cream. I use a hand mixer for this. I use a small regular or heavy whipping cream. Now, if I were doubling this recipe, I would use 16 oz. of heavy or regular whipping cream.

Pour it in a bowl and began whipping it on high speed. It will come to a peak pretty quickly; within a minute or 2!

Now you pour your egg and mascarpone mixture into your whipped cream. (The magic begins!!!)

Just fold it all together,  it should be nice and smooth.

On to your coffee and lady fingers.
Pour your cooled coffee into a shallow bowl or plate and begin dipping your lady fingers. You really just want to touch each side into the coffee. DON'T DUNK IT or sit it in the coffee. It absorbs so much so fast!
(click on the picture to see it larger)

I use a deep square glass dish with a lid. I like to make my tiramisu 2 layered. You can do as many or as few layers as you wish.
Now you can begin placing them in your dish. Cover the entire bottom of the dish with cookies.

Then pour half of the mixture on top of that. It will look like this:

Then you basically repeat.
Layer your cookies on top

Then pour the rest of the mixture on top of that

Now is when the Cocoa comes into play. I use a little sifter to sprinkle the chocolate on top of the tiramisu. Make sure you cover every single part, but only a dusting, don't make it too thick or it will have a chalky taste. You just want a light layer.

Then you have a masterpiece!!!

Here's side view, because its just to pretty not to share!

Put it in the fridge and wait about 24 hours. It needs to set and have the cookies absorb the moisture from the cream. Its so good, you won't be able to stop eating it!
Buon Appetito!


Bonus Idea:
You can add a liqueur to your coffee or use a liqueur only, if you don't like coffee!
Any kind you want! Fruit flavors, chocolate flavors... TOTALLY UP TO YOU!
There is an amazing italian cherry liqueur that would be great too and you can top with cherries. That is the beauty of this desert; you can customize it to your taste!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Okay... I know there are a few people who asked for this and may possibly have been waiting on this.
I am going to tell you. SUPER SIMPLE! And soooo worth the time!


4 heaping cups of all purpose flour
handful of sugar (I use organic, non bleached, granulated sugar)
1 pkg of Italian yeast (HERE is where I get mine)
fine sea salt
Olive Oil
2 cups of really warm water

Okay... First things first. My pizza is my pizza, I believe, because of this wonderful machine... My Kitchen Aid Mixer!

But if you don't have one... you can still do this too!

Start with 4 HEAPING cups of all purpose flour. Mine is a huge mix of flours, whole wheat, organic all purpose, semolina... whatever.... its good!

Put that in your mixing bowl and add a small handful of salt

A handful of sugar (the amount is totally up to your tastebuds)

Package of yeast... seriously, get this yeast, it is the best for pizza!
I think if I could find fresh yeast, the pizza would probably be so good it would make you cry!!!!

I use a whisk to mix it all together. Get the yeast distributed.

Now, put your 2 cups of water in the microwave for about 60 seconds... I know this is hot. Some people may argue it is too hot for the yeast, but for me, it works. So, whatever your heart tells you, you go for it! ;)

(If you don't have the mixer, add you oil and water in a well in the middle of the flour mix, and begin mixing with your hands. Once the dough comes together, move it to your floured countertop and knead it for 10 minutes, pushing and pulling and folding. Keep extra flour near for dusting.)

I add the dough hook on my mixer and start it up! I set mine to the lowest, slowest level. You want to knead the dough... not beat it.

Now, while its turning or kneading... add your oil. Call me crazy, but I count to three. That's how much oil I use, to the count of three.

While that is getting into your flour, I add in the very warm water

Here is what it looks like while its mixing. I mix the dough for about 6 minutes.
Some doughs may be more wet and some more sticky and some more stretchy. I think alot of it has to do with the water you use (I use tap water) and your altitude and the weather. But anyway, its always good!!!
If it is terribly too sticky, you can throw in a handful of flour, no worries!

Once the dough is ready

Flour your work surface. I use a big hunk of wood, but a countertop or a table would work just fine!

Get all the dough out of the mixer and put it on the flour.

I fold and press the dough about 3 or 4 times

Then I make a ball with the dough before I cut it up.

Okay... now you cut it up into smaller workable pieces for whatever pans you are going to use. I use whatever I have. Cookie sheets, pizza pans I got from my mother in law, cake pans... whatever!
Now, I begin rolling out my dough.

Now, I roll out my dough to the shape of the pan I am using. Here I am using my cookie sheet... sort of nostalgic for me, kind of like the pizza my mom would make when I was little.

I like my pizza thin and crispy, so I make each piece smaller. But you can cut that ball in half and use 2 cookie sheets for a nice, thicker, crunchy crust.

Make sure that you grease your pan... but not too much. I spray a little olive oil on mine. (Pam or put a dab of olive oil on it and spread it with a napkin)

Since your surface is dusted, it should be fairly easy to pick up. Just run your hand under it and don't let it fold on itself. Mine is never the exact size of the pan... no worries, just stretch it to fit. Stretch and press.

And here you go!

I cover it up and let it rise for like 2 hours, or more if I have the time. But 2 is PLENTY!

2 hours later... here it is!

Set oven to 500F. The oven HAS to be hot when you put the pizza in. I cook focaccia or white pizza for 8 minutes and pizza with sauce and cheese for 10-12 min. The thinner it is, the less time you need. But you know your oven better than anyone, so just watch what happens after 8 minutes and get your pizza how you want it.

I like mine crunchy on the bottom, so I will sometimes take it out of the pan once its ready and slide it on the lowest rack for 1 minute. Gives the bottom a nice toasty crunch!

If you want to hit it with a 1 minute broil to get the cheese really good and cooked, go for it!

Now.... it is really up to you what you do with the pizza!
You can sprinkle some olive oil, salt and fresh rosemary on it for a FABULOUS focaccia. Or you can go traditional with pizza sauce and cheese.

Super Simple Pizza Sauce!
(if you are actually making a pizza now, pre heat your oven up to 500F now)

San Marzano Tomatoes (okay, you can use Del Monte or whatever, but just use the kind that is JUST tomatoes. No spices. Just canned goodness.)
Sea Salt
Olive Oil

First I put the tomatoes in the blender and blend it on the chop option.

After you chop it, add salt

And Olive Oil (as much or as little as you want. I count to 2)

Then I use the mix option on the mixer for a quick turn to get the oil and salt all together. I don't cook my sauce. It is such a thin layer and it cooks on the pizza. Plus I like it with that fresh tomato taste.
I put about 7 or 8 TBSP on the prepared dough.

Spread it around with your spoon. You can really do this as thick as you want. But, in Italy, sauce is usually not overwhelming on a pizza and I developed a taste for that. I like my sauce simple, delicious and light.

Put as much mozzarella as you want. Fresh is best for sure. But I am using shredded today.

Put it in a hot oven (500F) for about 15 minutes.
I try to make my pizza earlier in the day and then pop it back in the oven right before we eat, without a pan, just to crisp it up. I just think the second time it is cooked, it is better. But that is just me!

(The round pizza has grilled zucchini and parmesan on top of the tomato sauce and mozzerella. I add the parm after I take the pizza out of the oven. I love that to be fresh.)
It is so good, you'll think you just got pizza from Rome!
Buon Appetito!