Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daring Kitchen 2009 Holiday Gift Guide is Here!

HEY! You three over there – yes, you! My last 3 readers!! Pass this along, will you? Mucho huge-o thanks!! ;)

The Daring Kitchen 2009 Holiday Gift Guide! Featuring 100 hot, unique and affordable gifts for those hard-to-find-for people on your list!

Several merchants in the top 20 items have given Daring Kitchen members a discount on either their merchandise or shipping.. can’t beat that!

Click HERE to read all about it and to also download the guide in .pdf format. Oh yeah, we gotcha covered! ;)

My friend, John, just posted this to his FB account. I had to share here to get us all in the Xmas spirit while we're online shopping! hehehehehehee!

PS - I wouldn't drink any beverage while listening to this.. you might cause harm to your monitor and/or choke. ;) xoxo


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Friday, November 27, 2009

Holy Cannoli! It's Reveal Day!!!


I haven't moved much today. Tripto-whatever is still kickin' it in my blood stream. Completely forgot it was reveal day. And then I remembered because I had to get the recipe up on the Daring Kitchen website.. and then I forgot about it again.. or more specifically, that I ALSO had to post on my own lil blog.


The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book

It's now 11:30 at night.. Neither of us, or the kids, have moved much from the sofa and love-seat today. I have drank what I believe to be 1/4th of Lake Erie since awakening this morning at 6:30 (I slept in! WOOOOO HOOO!). Unfakkinbelievably dry pipes today kids. WTF?

If you've friended me on Facebook, you might have noticed how proud I was yesterday when I managed to cook 99.9% (my mom still makes the bird, bless her heart) of our Thanksgiving meal, INCLUDING the Daring Baker challenge, with 1 whole hour to spare before the family arrived. Keep in mind that I even whacked a few mobsters, planted a field of grapes, fed and then sold 1000's of fishes, and cooked two dishes eleventy billion times for my virtual cafe as well. Oh yes, yesterday was a BUSY day. Also? My Name is Lisa and I'm an FB games addict. *sigh*

Here's what I DIDN'T DO - I didn't photograph my cutsie lil mini cannoli. Basically because as soon as they were filled, the vultures zoomed in and they were all GONE. I got ONE. I filled TWENTY. But fear not, you lovers of horrible photography! I saved 6 shells for W and I because I knew we'd want some today. :D

But.. then.. I was wrong. We didn't want them today. When I brought them up to him, he went kinda green around the gills. Frankly, when I mentioned them, I got a lil nauseous myself. No! NO! Not because they were horrible - they were DELICIOUS - everyone declared they were the best cannoli they'd ever had. Seriously. It's just that we gorged so much yesterday that the thought of most food made us queasy today. I ate a handful of chips around noonish (washed 'em down with a gallon of water).. he had toast just before that.. and then I managed to make spaghetti tonight.. and I think we both ate maybe 8 strands before we fluffed up the pillows and sank down into our respective sofas again.

I just came into my office to reply to a few emails and realized.. oh shit. I never posted. I blame that f'n bird, folks. I don't ever want to see another turkey for AT LEAST 11 months. :P

Anyhoo.. nothing exciting (or chaos related) to say about this challenge.. pretty simple, except for the rolling of the dough - or should I call it, elasto-dough? I tried as much as I could with my puny muscles (which are being suffocated under all my fat) and the brace I am sporting on my right hand for the next two weeks! Are ya'll ready for this? Leave it to me. I swear to the baby Jebus, I am the only person I know who physically hurts herself IN HER SLEEP.

My doc figures that's how I did it.. she says I must be gripping my hands in my sleep. Like a death grip on the blankets or something. I managed to cause scarring to the sheath that wraps around the tendons in my right palm and between the thumb and index finger. She called it "trigger finger". I guess this happens mostly to the index finger and not the thumb? Anyhoo.. the scarring on the sheath causes the tendon to stick when it's moved.. so when I bend my thumb at the first joint, it sticks and HURTS LIKE HELL. Gawd and there's this awful clicking sound when it finally releases and my thumb goes back to it's natural position. Squick!

So yep.. rolling that dough was not going to happen by myself. So W stepped in, bless his cotton, reinforced toe, socks. The first few were too thick, so they were binned after frying.. but the rest were paper thin and blistered up nicely. I added a lil extra cinnamon to the dough and filled with a pumpkin/cream cheese filling that was divine. Frying was a cinch, since I'm the Frying Queen of NE Ohio. Oh and the only thing I did differently for me is that instead of makin' big honkin cannoli, I made minis because I figured no one would eat big ones since no one attending our Thanksgiving was really a fan of them (except me.. and I still only got ONE).

Lis.. you did an amazing job as hostess.. and your recipe is THE cannoli recipe I will use from now on. I also loved the idea of cannopolitans and plan on making those in the future as well. Love ya, chickie! :)

Photos will be added tomorrow.. it's now midnight and I must hit the sack, because God knows, I didn't get enough rest today. :P


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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

Recently Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen published her first cookbook and I'm tickled pink to be able to share with ya'll how wonderful this book is. :)

I received it a few weeks ago and have since made 5 recipes from it. Out of the 5 there was only 1 that didn't thrill us, but other than the Cooking Light cookbooks that I constantly cooked out of a few years back, and Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours, no other cookbook has given me consistent results until I started cooking from The Steamy Kitchen cookbook. Seriously.

Jaden's recipes are easy to follow, and for people like us, who live in a pretty metro area, ingredients are not hard to find. I can see a few being hard to find for those who aren't lucky enough to have an Asian grocery near-by, but honestly most ingredients you can find in the ethnic aisles of your local mega-mart. Regardless though, those extra hard to find ingredients can be left out or substituted and I'm sure you'll still get great results.

The photography is phenomenal. Each dish is styled so perfectly and makes you not only "want" to cook the recipe, but makes you NEED to cook it. The biggest bonus is each recipe, although looking and tasting as if you have to spend hours preparing it, can all be made in less than 1 hour. Again, for people like us, who are more than exhausted after each day of work, these recipes are a Godsend.

I'll start off with my absolute favorites and those were the Asian Style Brussels Sprouts on page 123. Holy Christmas. I could eat this side dish every day. Hubbs agreed. This simple dish was super easy to make, and it was like fancy for us! Who ever would have thought to shred wee Brussels spouts?? I felt like a giant grating huge heads of cabbage. :P No seriously, the flavor is amazing.. TRY IT!

Secondly is her Crab and Pork Wonton Noodle Soup on pgs. 60 & 61. Easily and unarguably my most favorite Wonton soup EVER. Hey, I'm an Italian who loves Asian food.. add extra noodles to an Asian dish and well, we've got a winner. The wontons were super easy to make.. they take a lil time, but once you make a whole batch, there are plenty left over to freeze. So the next time you've got a hankerin' for the stuff, all you have to do is drop them in the hot broth and cook until they're done. Another great thing, and this is just specifically for us because we have a great Asian grocery store not too far away - is that the egg noodles are sold in their freezer section and they are packaged into little "nests" about 5 to a bag.. so all I need to do is take out two noodle nests and drop them into the hot broth as well. The baby bok choy is another favorite. I think I like this green leafy vegetable in a soup even better than spinach. Add the green onions and yeah, the best wonton soup you can imagine. I just served this again to friends this past weekend at my sushi party and they LOVED it.

Taking third place was Mom's Famous Crispy Eggrolls on pgs. 50 & 51. These are the exact kind of eggrolls that I enjoy the most. Not too fat, not too thin and crispedy with just a tiny chew towards the center when you bite into one. I fried and baked these eggrolls and they were equally delicious.

Fourth was the popular Garlic Butter Noodles on page 134. I didn't make this dish, my husband did. He decided to follow Jaden's suggestion of turning this simple side dish into a main course by adding shrimp. He did a great job cooking it and it was just what I needed that night (I had the sniffles). The garlic really came through, and it had that sweet/salty flavor that I love. For such a quick preparation for the shrimp - first you fry in butter, then take them out leaving as much butter as you can in the wok, then using that butter to saute the onions, garlic and noodles before adding the shrimp back in - the shrimp really took on the garlicky flavor and I thought were the perfect addition to an amazing noodle dish.

Finally, our least favorite was the Grilled Steak with Balsamic Teriyaki on page 90. First off we didn't have steak in the house that day. Instead of running out to buy one, I decided to try it on thick pork chops. I know pork is great with both balsamic and teriyaki, so I figured they'd be great in this sauce. We felt the sauce needed something else. Not sure exactly what.. maybe more garlic? Maybe rosemary or thyme? Something to give the sauce more oomph. The glaze was nice and thick and covered the meat well. We got the char on the chops that we love.. it was good, just not great. Course I served it with the Asian Style Brussels Sprouts, so I was still more than happy with the meal when it was all said and done. ;)

A couple other features of the book I think should be mentioned is that Jaden took the time to add a Tools section. Each tool is given a description of why it's important to Asian cooking and just gave me another excuse to add gadgets onto my already long list of "must-haves". ;) The other section that I think is just brilliant, is "The Basics". Full of recipes for basic sauces, salts, pestos, pickles, and stock. She also includes step by step photo tutorials in this section, as well as a tutorial here and there in each recipe page throughout the book. Very helpful when you are so dang tired that text just isn't seeping through to your brain matter, if yanno what I mean? :)

One last thing I want to mention is this.. the night I was sick, when Hubbs made the Garlic Shrimp Noodles? He told me that he had book marked about 20 recipes he wants to try. Did you hear that people? I'm going to be on the receiving end of 20 recipes in the near future. That means I won't be lifting a finger. Hello? Now that's the mark of a great cookbook. ;)

In a nutshell, if you buy this book and give it a good run through, sure you're going to end up running into a recipe here or there that doesn't do it for you. That's not unusual. What's unusual is finding so many recipes that are appealing, that you really, really like. And all of them are fast enough to make after a grueling day in the dungeon.. or with the kids.. or on the crew.. or even after a day of being lazy when even making dinner sounds like too much effort. Open this book and you'll find something that's quick, easy and delicious.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009


No disaster! Can you believe it?? Sushi.. I thought for sure I'd be crying in my Ebi. But no.. everything went beautifully and our sushi not only turned out very pretty, but muy delicioso!

I had to wait until the 14th to make it as I had a couple friends over for a sushi making/movie watching party. Both gals were an absolute delight and we all really enjoyed making the sushi.

Sushi making is very time consuming due to the prep work and because of this, it is assured that our favorite sushi place will not be losing our business. *grin* Well there's that and there's the fact that the sushi chef, Jonathan Hirsch, from our favorite sushi restaurant (Lure Bistro in Willoughby, Ohio) helped me to make this party a sucess for myself and my friends! He gave great advice and hooked me up with some excellent fish and a few tools of the trade to make sushi making much easier than I ever thought it could be. Well, let me rephrase that - BASIC sushi making is easy.. the kind of sushi that looks like art work, well that's a whole different story. I could never put out sushi plates that look as beautiful as Jonathan's - and I'll tell you why I know this...

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

I watched a video that Audax and Rose gave us the link to. It was of a pretty basic dragon roll, but what I was most interested in was how sushi chefs get the avocado to lay so perfectly on top of the roll. This video really illustrated how it's done and it's the method I used - which turned out perfectly. I was so excited! The next step was to cut the dragon roll and then plate it and decorate it. That part didn't go so well. We chose to use tempura shrimp in our dragon roll because none of us like eel. Well, even though I was using a sharp knife, when it hit the harder tempura shrimp, I over compensated by pushing the knife down to break through it (not that it was rock hard, just harder than avocado, rice, tuna and cucumber) and that ended up squishing my beautiful roll and the delicate avocada squished off and all over the place. Gah.

This happened after 4 hours of prep (we also had tempura sweet potato to munch on - YUM! and I made Jaden's Pork and Crab Wonton soup again) and ya'll know me.. I was f'n starving, tired, and annoyed. So I didn't even bother decorating it. :P

Mindy made gorgeous spiral rolls and Amy excelled at the Nigiri. All in all it was a most fabulous evening and we were all super impressed with our mad sushi making skilz that we didn't even know we had! Thanks Audax & Rose! It was one of the best challenges yet! And thanks Jonathan!! You made a daunting task, so much more accessible and fun!


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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Drop In and Decorate!

Drop In & Decorate is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

Founded by food writer Lydia Walshin of The Perfect Pantry

The idea behind Drop In & Decorate is simple: bake some cookies; gather a group of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, your worship group or book group to decorate the cookies together; donate the cookies to a nonprofit agency serving basic human needs in your own community.

It’s a simple idea in a complicated world, and something anyone can do.

If you’d like to host your own Drop In & Decorate® event, Pillsbury and Wilton would like to help.

Pillsbury has donated 50 VIP coupons, worth $3.00 each, off any Pillsbury product -- including sugar cookie mix, icing and flour -- to be distributed, first come, first served, while supply lasts, to anyone who plans to host a Drop In & Decorate event (max. 5 coupons per person). And we'll include a Comfort Grip cookie cutter, donated by Wilton, while our supply lasts.

Write to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com for more info on how to get your free coupons and cookie cutters.

This is a fun and wonderful event.. I hope ya'll can participate! :)



Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wanna Go To NYC For A Few Days?

I've been meaning to do this FOREVER and thanks to a cup of espresso with a second shot of espresso in espresso flavor, I have the wits about me this morning to let all of my 4 readers, and anyone who mistakenly happens by, that The Daring Kitchen is co-hosting a most excellent cake decorating challenge!

You've got until midnight of November 9, 2009 (eastern standard time) to decorate a 9" cake in whatever Autumn means to you. You can use any shape of cake, as long as it's 9 inches. You CANNOT sculpt or add additional size cakes. You CAN slice layers and fill them to get more height. All decorations MUST BE EDIBLE.

For full details check out the announcement on the Daring Kitchen. Once you've made your cake, to submit it you must go to our public forum entitled "Daring-NYCC Cake Competition" and upload a photo of your naked cake, a photo of the decorating process mid-through, and finally a photo of your finished cake with a brief description about how you went about making it.

I know I've wait way too long to let readers here know, and I do apologize.. but there are still 4 more days to enter, so get decorating kids!!! :)


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