Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Friday, February 23, 2007

Death By Chocolate

What a sweet, sweet way to go. Actually, I've always thought just the opposite about death and chocolate.. there is a strict rule between myself and a friend of mine - if I were ever to get hit by a bus or happened to be frolicking in the forest during deer season and was accidently mistaken for a 9 pt. buck and shot in the head - she is NOT to perform CPR on me.. she is to shove a chocolate bar in my mouth.. either that chocolate will miraculously bring me back to life (because it's good for you, dammit!).. or it will be the last thing I taste before I go.. and that's alright by me. :D

Have you guys ever wondered..
how long of a run on sentence I can make..
with lil ..'s in between thoughts?

Anyhoo.. This month's "challenge" and fun crosspost with my baking blogger buddies was a bit different. We've decided to add a few people (or baking bitches) each month to our lil "club", or brigade, or as I like to call it, Team Tasty. This month's inductees are 3 lovely and talented bakers: Tanna, Hester and Mary. And, of course, for those of you who follow our lil monthly excursions into the baking unknown, you already know the rest of the crew by now - My second in Dorkdom command, Brilynn. The loves of my life, the apples of my eye, the creams in my coffee, the ménage in my trois, Ivonne and Helen (the quiet one). The extremely talented baker, photographer and the gal I now call Gracie, Peabody. My twin sister (at least in my mind), Veronica. And last, but certainly not least.. as she's the cutest Mommie Baker, I know, Jenny.

It was also decided that we'd each submit a suggestion for the month's challenge then we'd all vote - whichever suggestion gets the most votes is what we'll be trying to accomplish by some set date that we also all decide on.. kinda cool, eh? This month's winner was Peabody's suggestion for a flourless chocolate cake. And a damn fine winner, if I do say so myself.

Choc Intensity Ingredients

As we wondered which recipe we'd all bake.. Ivonne suggested the recipe in Tish Boyle's The Cake Book. I still do not own this book, but if the rest of her cakes turn out as magically delicious as this cake did, then I seriously need to fork over the cash to purchase it.

Done baking! Hot cream and chocolate

Dear sweet baby Jebus was this cake heavenly. No, orgasmic.. the kind of orgasmic that makes your eyes roll back in your head and your toes curl like the locks on lil Cindy Brady's head. Here's what happens when you take your first bite:

It's chocolate and then more chocolate

  • Your throat will lock up because your mouth refuses to let go of the velvety, creamy, chocolatey goodness.

  • Your eyes will roll so far back in your head, that you'll be taken for one of the Undead.

  • The sweetest of shivers will slowly work it's way down your spine until it reaches your toes.. see above for what happens next.

  • When your mouth finally allows your throat to swallow - you'll hear angels singing and harps playing.. the light will get a little brighter and the colors will get a lil more vivid.

  • You'll lose all train of rational thought and will only be able to focus on the task of scooping up more deliciousness with your fork.

  • Ohh.. and your dogs will look at you in what seemed to be confusion and fear with a lil nervous excitement thrown in.

My magazine submission

This cake is to be made on special occasions.. if you want to W.O.W. your guests, this is a must serve. When you've had a bad week and nothing will make things better than velvety chocolate - you will make this cake. This is like no other flourless chocolate cake that I've ever experienced - and lemme tell ya - I've experienced quite a few FCC's before. When the cake is left out to come to room temperature it takes on a light texture.. like a dense chocolate silk pie - silky but not as heavy as your average flourless cake. When it's eaten straight out of the fridge it is fudge like - but not your ordinary fudge.. the creamiest, deepest, richest chocolately fudge you've ever had. (I know this because I had a room temp slice for LUNCH people - and then I had a straight outta the chiller slice during Grey's Anatomy - do NOT tell my doctor.)

Slice o'heaven

Okay well.. seriously? How much more can I rant and rave about this cake? Copy this recipe and make it at your next earliest convenience. If you aren't having guests over any time soon, then either invite some or consider the dust bunnies under your bed as the guests of honor. If there is no special occasion comin' up - then make one up. Just make the cake and enjoy the eye rollin-spine shiverin-toe curling experience.

Why yes.. she is

Holy Crap! I got so quivery over the pictures I included in this post that I fakkin' forgot to include the recipe! Special thanks to Mary - because I'm going to be way lazy and just copy from her post. heeee! :D

I couldn't stop taking pictures
Chocolate Intensity
from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book

Makes one 9-inch cake

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 62% cocoa), finely chopped
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brewed coffee
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and butter the parchment. (If you're using a pan with a removable bottom like a springform, make sure to wrap the pan with 2 or 3 layers of foil.)

Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir butter, sugar and coffee until the butter is melted and mixture is boiling. Pour the hot mixture over your chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs vigorously until blended. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add about 3/4 cup hot chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. (Tempering the eggs with a little bit of the hot chocolate mixture will prevent "scrambled eggs" when combining the two mixtures.) Add the egg mixture to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine well.

Strain the batter through a sieve (to catch any cooked egg bits) and then pour batter into prepared pan. Set cake pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is shiny and set but still a bit jiggly. Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cardboard round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove pan and carefully remove the parchment paper. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing with chocolate glaze.

Bittersweet Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.

To glaze the cake:

Place the chilled cake, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.

Scrape the extra glaze from the baking sheet and put it in a small ziploc bag. Seal the bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. Gently squeeze the bag over the top of the cake to drizzle the glaze in a decorative pattern. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour before serving.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Recycling Really is a Good Thing

I've always been an adamant recycler.. we've got several bins to sort our trash in. Gotta do my thing for the environment, yanno? Well actually for the fishies, if I'm to be truthful.. I saw a picture of a poor lil fish that was strangled by one of those plastic thingies that links the cans in a 6-pack. So now, not only do I recycle my plastic 6-pack thingies, but I also cut them up into lil pieces - just in case. No one will ever be able to say that I killed a poor innocent lil schmelt.

Okay well now that I've given a lil too much information on one of my weirdnesses, I should explain that this post is not about recycling my aluminum and plastic products. No.. this post is about recycling banana cake! Dorie's banana cake, to be specific. =)

Banana Bread Pudding

I've probably made this cake about 8 times since November when I originally tried it. We both love it and think it's the best banana cake ever. This last time that I baked it, I wanted cupcakes/muffins to take to work, so I baked the batter in my cupcake tins. The good thing is they turned out wonderful, the bad thing is - the batter made 36 cupcakes! Not that's a really bad thing.. just way too many cupcakes for us to eat before they started going a lil stale.

I really didn't want to throw the last dozen or so out but it was too late to freeze. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to make Peabody's bread pudding again - I'll just sub the banana cupcakes/muffins in lieu of the croissants. Sheer genius! This time the pudding was even creamier as the cupcakes were still pretty moist. I added the jumbo raisins and they lent the perfect chew (I heart those jumbo raisins) to the very banana-ey bread pudding. And that's just it - this banana cake gets better with time - so the banana bread pudding had an outstanding banana flavor because the cupcakes were made about a week prior. I also made the toffee sauce and although these were plenty sweet on their own, yanno me.. gotta go for the over kill. =)

Banana Bread Pudding

I'm very happy with my first attempt at recycling a baked good and I look forward to trying this with something else one day.

As for a recipe.. I just made the banana cake batter as always, baked it in the cupcake tins for about 20 - 30 minutes. I stored them all in an airtight container, and a week later I tore them up and divided them up into 6 ramikins and then made Peabody's custard to pour over. Baked them for about 45 minutes until the tops were golden.. served 'em warm with a drizzle of the toffee sauce. *swoon* If you decide to recycle your own banana cake into bread pudding - be warned that the sauce, although big D lil licious, really is overkill as the pudding is sweet enough. =)

Banana Bread Pudding

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Honey-Gingered Pork Tenderloin


I apologize (again) for the lack of posts lately.. I'd like to blame it entirely on the upper respiratory infarction I was dealing with for a couple weeks, but alas, I can not. I just haven't been inspired much to cook new and exciting(to me) things lately.. I've got the culinary blahs. *sigh* Hubbs has become the chef and chief bottle washer of late and he's made some interesting dinners. He even attempted a "Dorie"! Unfortunately the crust got burned and that took away from the rest of the cake, but I give him a BIG A+ for effort! You have to give the man credit, he's terrified of baking and doesn't attempt it often. God love him. ;)

In case you're wondering, it was his own creation of Dorie's Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte and her Quick Classic Berry Tart or Dorie's Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Classic Berry Tart-Torte. Mmm hmm.. Yeah, he wanted cheesecake and I wanted the berries I had bought to be used up.. so there ya have it. =)

Quick hidden berrry cream cheese berry tart-torte
Slightly burnt but lovely none-the-less ;)

Moving along..

Last night I decided to give him a break and got my arse in my lil kitchen. And although I have a huge fear of pork (yes, my dislike of most cuts of pork has turned into an all-out-terror because of this lil gem that about made me hurl.) I had pork tenderloin hanging out in the freezer so I figured I should use it up. After perusing Recipezaar, I found exactly what I was looking for - something sweet and savory with a lil Asian kick to it. This recipe boasts that it tastes like the lil BBQ ribs that many Asian restaurants serve. The author didn't lie. The sauce is very reminiscent of those BBQ ribs. And I even took a major shortcut by not marinating the tenderloin. I just seared the meat and threw it into the oven to finish cooking, while I made the sauce seperately so that I could spoon it over the tender pork medallions. I can just imagine how even more flavorful this dish would have been had I the time to marinate.

So the good news is, if you don't have the time to marinate the pork you'll still end up with quite a delicious dinner.

Honey Gingered Pork Tenderloin
Honey Gingered Pork Tenderloin
Courtesy of "FlemishMinx" and

The recipe below reflects my changes.

2 (3/4 lb.) pork tenderloins
Salt & Pepper
2 tsp. vegetable oil

1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. oyster sauce
2 TBS. packed brown sugar
1 TBS. fresh minced ginger
1 TBS. minced garlic
1 TBS. ketchup
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. chicken stock
1 TBS. cornstarch (or enough as needed) (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400º F.

Sprinkle tenderloins evenly with salt and pepper; rub seasoning into meat. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place both tenderloins in skillet; cook until well browned, 3 minutes. Using tongs, rotate tenderloins 1/4 turn; cook until well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all sides are browned. Transfer tenderloins to rimmed baking sheet and place in oven (reserve skillet if making pan sauce); roast until internal temperature registers 135º to 140º on instant-read thermometer, 10 to 16 minutes. Once out of the oven, cover loosely with a foil tent and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

In still hot skillet, combine the first 9 sauce ingredients with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the chicken stock and cornstarch (if using). Continue to simmer until desired thickness.

Slice well rested tenderloin into 1/4 to 1/2 inch medallions and arrange on plate. Drizzle sauce over medallions before serving. If serving this dish to guests, keep in mind the sauce is quite strong and might be best to be served on the side.

My Notes: If you are going to marinate the tenderloin first - place pork into a large ziplock bag or a shallow baking dish, whisk together first 9 sauce ingredients in a bowl, and pour over pork. Close bag or cover dish and place in refrigerator to marinate at least 8 hours, but 24 is better. Turn at least twice during this time.

When ready to cook, continue on with recipe as instructed above, using reserved marinade for sauce.

No no!! Don't go anywhere yet, I'm not done!

I need just another minute or two of your time to show off the bestest Valentine's Day card I've ever received before. Ya'll know how I love home made cards, right? Well feast your eyes on this masterpiece:


My sweet friend and fellow monthly baking clubber (uhh girls? We really need to decide on that name), Brilynn, made me this V-day card, ya'll!! I cropped the top of it where she writes that this card should get her into the dork club (Which I am President, CEO and Queen of) - which made me chuckle and also confused me a bit.. As I had inducted her MONTHS ago and made her Vice President of All That Is Dorky - apparently she didn't get the memo. huh.

Thank you, Bril! I heart my hearty homemade card! :D

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Two reasons for this post..

The first is, I made this soup again this past week and Oh. My. Dear. Jebus. is it good - if you haven't tried this yet and like soup.. please make yourselves a batch ASAP. =)

Secondly, I noticed that Alanna of A Veggie Venture is hosting an all month blow out celebrating Soup! Glorious Soup! and I thought what better a submission than this tasty and filling soup that I simply am in love with.

For those of you who are wondering when I made this soup the last time, it was almost a year ago - right after I started this lil blog. I thought I was going to be making a whole different soup, but realized after I read the recipe again that it wasn't what I thought it would be. But I ventured on and am I happy I did! If, by chance, you did see this recipe here way back then, take note that I have since changed the recipe to reflect the way I make it, instead of giving you the original with my additions or substitutions noted.

What are you waiting for??? Go make this soup! :D

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup
Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I just used bulk sausage)
2 TBS. Extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
6+ c. beef stock
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. red wine
2 regular size cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes with the juice
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1 c. diced yellow bell pepper
1 (1 lb.) bag of baby spinach
1 TBS. packed fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini or 1 1/2 c. celery - leaves and all
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 lb. fresh tortellini pasta
3 TBS. chopped, fresh parsley *I bought it but didn't use it.. went with more basil*
1/8 c. soy sauce (Optional - *See Note)
Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

In a 5 qt. Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage & drain, reserving 1 TBS. of drippings.

Saute onions & garlic in drippings and 2 TBS. of EVOO. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, all the veggies, basil, oregano, tomato sauce & sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini, tortellini and parsley. If the tortellini are fresh, add them in the last 10 min. of simmering. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. *This would be the hour mark and I still felt it needed more saltiness and flavor - so I added 1/8 c. soy sauce*

Sprinkle with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top of each serving.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

BPW - Valentine's Here!

Yay! How exciting to open my mailbox today and see such a cute apple-hearted Valentine's postcard waiting for me!



My card traveled all the way from Germany! My BPW partner is Susanne of creative.mother.thinking and I am just tickled to meet you, Susanne! Thank you for such an adorable card =)

This was the 2nd round of Blogger Postcards Around the World hosted by the gorgeous Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? fame. Thank you again, Meeta, for organizing and hosting such a lovely blogger's event! =)

Okay, I'm off to go hang my card in the kitchen so everyone who comes in can see it. Thank you again, Susanne! =)


Monday, February 05, 2007

WCC No. 13 or Nigella, the things I do for you...

Sick sick *sniffle* *cough* *nose blow* *sniffle* *sneeze* *cough* *cough* *cough*

I believe that sums up my weekend. How was yours?

I've always liked participating in sweet Sara's Weekend Cookbook Challenge and being sick wasn't going to stop me this month. Sara picked the theme of finding a recipe from a newly acquired cookbook, figuring most of us foodies more than likely received at least ONE new cookbook for Christmas. Well, at least for me, she was right. :D

I was given Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson, because I've gushed so many times over Nigella's Feast cookery book in the past. As I've said more than a few times on this lil blog o'mine, Nigella Bites did not thrill me. I had even considered taking it back and trading it for something else, like Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits (why do I find this man so very sexy??), but I ended up holding on to it hoping that I just wasn't in a true Nigella mood each time I've looked at it and that one day I'd browse again and fall in love with Nigella anew.

'kay so I am lazy and kept forgetting and now the 30 days has ran out so I can't take it back. What. Ever. :P

Well this month's WCC gave me the perfect opportunity to see if I could look beyond the hum-drumness (It's my new word. Shaddap.) of this book and find something that will just knock the damn socks off everyone who lays eyes upon my wonderful salute to Nigella. Mmm hmmm...

Nigella's Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding

Yip, looks gorgeous doesn't it? Kind of like a can of wet dog food that's been inverted on a plate.. you know - the kind that has that slimy gel on the bottom? Mmm Mmm Good! *blech*

That's Nigella's Easy Sticky-Toffee Dessert, and not really a can of dog food. Honest. I knew the minute I stuck a spoon into my pudding that something had gone drastically wrong. The sauce wasn't a deep rich brown color and it definitely wasn't sticky, it was goopy and thin. I wasn't exactly sure what went wrong until I tasted it. There is nothing like a spongy brown sugar cake laying over a pool of toffee sauce whose flavor has been washed away by too! much! water! NOTHING.

So why am I wasting everyone's time looking at a nasty picture that tastes almost as good as it looks? Because, I have to admit, this was not Nigella's fault. It was mine. *sigh* You see, I didn't want to make one big pudding like her recipe suggests, I wanted to make 4 smaller puddings in my ramekins. And because I didn't alter the recipe at all and just divided it into equal amounts, I did not alter the amount of boiling water to be poured over the top of each lil pudding. I should have. Because I didn't, that extra water just washed out the flavor of the sauce completely. My bad. So, I firmly believe that this is most likely a fabulous, rich and ooey gooey dessert that deserves a chance. Do you know why I'm such a firm believer? Check this out.. go ahead, I'll wait.

*tap* *tap* *sniffle* *cough* *whistle* *tap*

Welcome back! Drooling, aren't you? Ivonne made this pudding the correct way and she was rewarded with caramelly toffee goodness. Pay attention to Ivonne's example when making this recipe! Or be a rebel like me and make it in individual portions but cut back the water by at least half.

Nigella's Easy Sticky-Toffee Pudding
Easy Sticky-Toffee Dessert
Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson

For the cake:
scant 1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 c. plus 2 TBS. self-rising flour
1/2 c. whole milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. plus 2 TBS. chopped, rolled dates (I'm not fond of them so I subbed jumbo raisins instead)

For the sauce:
3/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed
Approx. 2 TBS. unsalted butter in little blobs
2 1/4 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 375º F and butter a 1 1/2 quart capacity baking dish.

Combine the sugar with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring cup, beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring - just with a wooden spoon - to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the prepared baking dish. Don't worry if it doesn't look very full: it will do by the time it cooks.

Sprinkle over the sugar for the sauce and dot with the butter. Pour over the boiling water (yes really!) and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes, though you might find the dessert needs 5 to 10 minutes more. The top of the dessert should be springy and spongy when it's cooked; underneath, the butter, dark brown sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche or heavy or light cream as you wish.

Serves 6-8.

Oh and if you were wondering about the title.. the things I do for Nigella? Yes well it was roughly around 3º F. yesterday with a wind chill factor of -18º. While gathering my ingredients to make this delicious dessert, I realized I had no dark brown sugar in the house. God. Rather than find something else to make, I got dressed and went out into the antarctic elements to buy dark brown sugar. While I am SICK, people. *sneeze*

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble

No, I wasn't concocting a brew made of baboon blood and toad's eyes. Although, that might have been a good idea to ward away the snifflies I've caught this weekend. *sniff*

Calamari alla Veneta
Kind of looks a lil like what you might find in a witch's cauldren, eh?

I can't truly vouch for how good this dinner was myself, as my tasters feel as if they are covered with a thin sheet of visquene, but Hubbs raved about it. Which is good because there's no reason for him to suffer just because I can't taste anything and I know I can make this again once I feel better because it was very easy and quick.

There is one thing I learned though.. I do not like the texture of tentacles unless they've been cooked for hours or fried until golden brown and delicious.

Anyhoo.. what I wanted to accomplish a couple nights ago was picking out something from a newly acquired cookbook for my submission to the WCC #13. Unfortunately, the only cookbook I received for Christmas was Nigella Bites. Unfortunately because after my first flip through it, I wasn't impressed like I was with Feast and after my more in-depth look into it Friday afternoon I still didn't find much that tripped my trigger. At least nothing I could make for dinner. I did find something that I'll be making later today.. stay tuned! Same bat channel! Same bat time!

So I tossed Nigella to the side and picked up my 1,000 Italian Recipes book that I bought many moons ago and haven't really cooked much from. And it was from this book that I chose to make Calamari alla Veneta or Venetian-Style Calamari. This recipe was very easy to put together, very quick to cook with the flavors melding as if they'd simmered for hours (so says Hubbs) and the sauce was very creamy with the addition of a little Parmigiano Reggiano. I decided to serve this with penne, but the recipe says it's traditional to serve with white polenta. I also threw in some sliced kalamata olives just because they were sitting there staring at me.

By the way, if you are looking for a terrific cookbook jam packed with lots of traditional and contemporary Italian recipes, this book is worth the cash. Michele Scicolone is of Italian American descent and like many of us, learned how to cook by watching her parents and grandparents. She has collected recipes from traditional family favorites, to tried and true recipes given to her by friends as well as authentic Italian recipes collected in all regions of Italy in her travels. There is definitely something for everyone in this book. =)

Calamari alla Veneta over Penne
Calamari alla Veneta or Venetian-Style Calamari
Adapted from 1,000 Italian Recipes written by Michele Scicolone

1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled (I gave mine a good smash)
2 lbs. calamari (squid), cleaned and cut into rings
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or 1 c. chopped canned tomatoes
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. sliced kalamata olives (My addition, optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. Penne, cooked to al dente or Polenta (both are optional)

Pour the oil into a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion and garlic to cold skillet (*See note) and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onion is golden, about 10 minutes. The recipe says to discard the garlic at this point, but to me that's sacrilege - so my garlic stayed in ;)

Add the calamari, tomatoes, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thickened and the calamari are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. In Venice, fish is often served with Polenta with white rather than yellow cornmeal. I chose Penne cooked al dente.

*My Notes: When cooking with garlic and onions in oil or butter, it is best to add all the ingredients into a cold skillet then bring them, slowly, up in temperature together to avoid burning of the vegetables.

If you want to serve this with pasta, your sauce might reduce quite a bit after 30 minutes. I added a couple ladles of the pasta water and maybe 1/4 - 1/3 cup of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano to make the sauce creamy. Make sure to taste often as the cheese will bring a lot of saltiness to the dish - especially if you decide to add the kalamata olives.

If you decide to serve this without pasta or polenta make sure you have a good crusty bread to sop up the sauce. ;)

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Self-saucing Pudding??

huh? A pudding that self-sauces? What the hell does that mean? And there is definitely cake involved... so how can it be called Self-saucing Pudding? Another one of those mysteries I might never find the answer to.. basically because I'm too lazy to look it up on the net.

To end the month of January, my dear man - known to the blogging world as "Hubbs" - made his girl a loverly dinner PLUS a dessert! Talk about being a happy camper when arriving coming home after travelling through the frigid and icy weather from my 8 in the dungeon. The house smelled wonderful, the kids were cleaned up and looking especially cute and furry and there was even a tall glass of iced white tea waiting for me at the dining room table. Holy cow!

Actually this isn't a rare occassion.. when he doesn't work (due to the icy frigidness) he will clean and cook because he can't stand laying around all day. I don't get that, but God bless him anyway! hehe

After eating his, really quite good, salisbury steak with roasted potatoes, we waddled to our designated sofas and hunkered down under our over-sized warm blankets for an evening of Tivo'd shows. I'd say, maybe, an hour or so later, he jumped up announcing he had a surprise and then dashed off to the kitchen. While I sat there and wondered if he'd been hittin' the crack pipe what the surprise was and thanked my good fortune for being with such a good man, I heard dishes clanging and the microwave buzzing. Soon he reappeared with two bowls that were slightly steamy and covered in powdered sugar.

Lemon Self-saucing Pudding

When he handed me my bowl, I stared in wonderment at the fluffy cake sitting upon a pool of lemony sauce and took in the lemon scent that was wafting up through that steam. I looked up at him and thanked him.. and then said, "It looks and smells KICK-ASS, but what the hell is it?" He said it was a lemon self-saucing pudding, as if I should know what it was. "What is self-saucing pudding? And how did you make this?" He said he didn't know exactly what it was but it looked good in the picture. "Ahhh", I said.

He had gone through my huge pile of cookin' mags put out by Kraft. Free magazines that they send out monthly that I can't seem to throw away after looking through them. And now I'm kinda glad I didn't. *grin* Anyhoo, he found this recipe and said he knew I'd like it. He was right. Firstly, it was warm and gooey.. such a wonderful combination. Secondly it smelled of lemons and that really is one of the best scents in the dead of winter.. Thirdly, it was warm and gooey. Did I mention that already? The cake on top was very fluffy and not too sweet and the "pudding" on the bottom was not as thick as pudding, but not thin like a sauce either - kind of in the middle'ish. It was sweet and tart, a nice balance of both. And lemme tell ya.. it was super easy to shovel it in, because the next thing I knew, mine was gone and I knew not much time had passed while I was blissfully enjoying his creation.

The picture above may or may not be my second slice. *blush*

Being a supportive husband of a blogger, the dear man actually snapped some before and after pictures and he dog-eared the page so that I could share with you the recipe. After checking it out, I can say that for a tiny amount of effort and a huge amount of lurve - you will be rewarded with the perfect warm and coozy dessert for a freezing cold winter night!

Lemon Self-saucing Pudding
Lemon Self-saucing Pudding
Adapted from Kraft Foods Magazine

1 yellow double layer cake mix (He used a butter cake mix)
Ingredients to make the cake from directions on box - usually a few eggs & some water
2 pkgs. (4 serving size) instant Jello lemon pudding/pie filling
2 c. cold milk
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. water
2 TBS. confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 9" x 13" glass Pyrex dish.

Prepare the cake as per the box's directions and pour into prepared baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine pudding mixes, milk, sugar and water and whisk for 2 minutes or until thoroughly incorporated. Gently pour the pudding over the cake batter.

Lemon Self-saucing Pudding before bake

Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let set for about 30 min. and serve warm with a sprinkle of confection's sugar.

*Hubbs' Note: He suggests putting the cake on a lipped cookie sheet while baking, because some of the pudding ran and is now a black and smoking puddle on the floor of our oven. =)

Also, this is going to be our submission to the so sweet and talented Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Sweet Love. Because, really? Look at those pictures - they scream "lurve" in a lemony, warm and coozy way. :D

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