Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Friday, August 31, 2007

La Festa Reminder...

La Festa al Fresco 2007

Hi guys and gals!

Just a quick reminder about how honored Ivonne and I would be if you could join us at our 2007 Festa table! Remember - any course you'd like to share with the rest of us would be greatly appreciated, be it appetizers, a side dish, the main course, a dessert or even beverages - all would be welcome with open arms!

This would just not be a party unless you are there! =)



Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Worthy Cause Indeed..

Hi kids!

Hey, I just wanted to take a moment and mention to ya'll about a great charity event going on right now at Ari's Baking and Books blog.

Ari is a gorgeous gal who is quite talented in the kitchen and just a joy to know. She's started working at a non-profit organization called Hazon and their goal is to educate the world regarding our environment, the foods we eat and the effect that this relationship has on our spirituality. I find this not only fascinating, but also extremely important for our generation and the generations of the future to take to heart.

To raise awareness, Ari has started an online book raffle. There are 76 prizes up for grabs and tickets only cost $5.00 each. Check out this link to read all about it.. and while you are there - what's $5.00 for such a worthy cause, yes? Not only will you be helping to educate and improve our world, but heck - you could also win an awesome cookbook! A pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. :)


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Daring Tart

This month's challenge was simply wonderful and very surprising. At least to me. =)

Our beautiful hostesses this month are my sis, Veronica and the incredibly sweet Patricia. These two lovely ladies chose the Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart from Eric Kayser's Sweet and Savory Tarts for us Daring Bakers.

I have to admit, (don't hate me Sis!) I was at first tickled when I saw the recipe - but then immediately bummed as well. You see, I am a milk chocolate non-liker type person. It's just too sweet. Pairing it with caramel, of all things, and my teeth were screaming in outrage. All I could think about was how sweet this tart would be and therefore I dragged my considerable arse through most of the month without making it.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

I know. I KNOW! I am an idiot. How dare I not trust my Sis and the lovely Patricia? How could I not know that they'd never pick something sickeningly sweet? How silly of me not to realize that the buttery goodness of the caramel layer would completely off-set the sweetness of the milk chocolate mousse? I have no good excuse and I am hanging my head in shame.

'kay I'm over it already. :P

This tart was amazingly good! It was not overly sweet (to us anyway), the sandy crust, the velvety caramel and the creamy mousse were a perfect combination texture wise. The buttery and slightly smoky hits from the caramel were to die for and I believe the whipping cream also lended a hand in taming the sweetness of the chocolate because this mousse had a nice little tang to it. I really enjoyed this tart (too much! *blush*) and so did Hubbs.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

All in all, this recipe was pretty easy. We, as Daring Bakers, had already been through the basics of caramel and I had made my first mousse a few months ago so I didn't think I'd have any problems.


As if.

Okay well to be honest, it wasn't a huge problem.. but annoying enough to make me call my Baking Guru and leave a panicked message on her cell phone.

*beep* "Hi! It's me! This is my monthly panic call! Where the hell are you? Anyhoo, my fakking caramel has turned into giant clumps and looks as dry as the fakking Mojave!! What the hell do I do now? CALL ME. PLEASE!!!"

Of course she wasn't available. Of course. Just my luck - also known as The Bad JuJu.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
You'll notice in this shot, especially, how the mousse is slowly sliding off the gooey caramel.. HAR!

While I waited for her to call me back, I lowered the heat and just kept stirring the sugar until it started to melt again.. in the process it turned into a lovely dark amber and smelled SO GOOD. It took awhile, maybe 5 minutes or so, but eventually and with a lot of stirring, I had perfect caramel.


I added the warmed cream.. she sputtered, she burped, she threatened to overflow - but once she calmed down a bit, I had.. uhhh.. a saucepan full of cream and a big knot of solidified - boulder-like - caramel. WTF? I've made this kind of caramel before and it never did that.. I don't geddit?

So once again.. I stirred.. and stirred.. and then I stirred some more. Finally, it all came together so I could add the butter. Phew!

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

I baked the filling for the directed time of 15 minutes, but when I took it out it was still pretty liquidy. I figured that a nice long wait in the fridge would solidify it, but unfortunately over 24 hours later, that wasn't the case. It did thicken up to a gorgeous goo - I mean, as gorgeous as goo can be, yanno? - but it did not look anything like the picture Veronica posted for us. Actually, as of yesterday when I finally remembered to take a photo or two, it was still gooey. But I gotta tell ya.. goo is good. Especially when your talking caramel. So even though my filling didn't look like the picture, I was rather happy with it.

I will make this tart again, as I was suppose to bring it to a friend's house the evening of the day I made it, but because it was so liquidy at that point, I couldn't travel with it. I promised him if it turned out, I'd make it again - so next time the only changes I'll make is to bake the filling until I see that it's thickened properly.

A huge thanks to Veronica and Patricia for being lovely hostesses and picking a truly yummy recipe this month! And as always kids.. don't forget to go check out the other NINETY THREE blogs to see what an amazingly creative group of bakers we've got here. =)


Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

PS - My Baking Guru did call me back - about 5 minutes after I put the tart in the oven, and bless her heart, her advice was exactly what I ended up doing.. so I was quite relieved. :D Thanks sweetie! xoxo

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Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm Gonna Make Him an Offer He Can't Refuse

When my lovely friend, Sara announced that Paige from Chef Girl was hosting WCC No. 19 and had chosen "Dinner and a DVD" as this month's theme, I knew I had to get in on it.

There is something about the Weekend Cookbook Challenge and me. We live on different parallel universes I think.. because for the life of me, I can never be on time. I either run out of time completely with no idea of what I could have made in the first place.. or I try to sneak in under the wire and beg Sara to include my lil recipe at the very last minute.

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

Which is what I thought I was going to do this month.. hahahahaaa! That Paige though.. she's a fast rounder-upper! But that's okay, I'm still going to share this with yous guys because A- the recipe is KICK ASS and B- the movie is SUPER KICK ASS. And C- I went through the whole day dating everything the 19th :D

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

First the movie - what every Italian daughter should own in her DVD collection - The Godfather. Of if you are like me, you would own The Godfather DVD Collection, which contains The Godfather Parts I, II and III as well as a BONUS materials DVD. And ya'll know me.. I'm always up for a bonus. :D This was a gift from my mom after my father passed.

Do you find that odd?

My father was The Number One fan of The Godfather Trilogy (although he'd never admit to liking Part III even though he watched it, easily, over 50 times). The man owned pretty much every gangster/Italian related movie ever made, but The Godfather was the movie he watched over and over again. Seriously, if I had a dime for every time I came home from school, woke up in the morning, came home from work at night, was helping prepare dinner, brushing my teeth, doing my homework or talking on the phone and heard the theme song to The Godfather start up on our TV, I'd be a fakking millionare. I do not joke nor exaggerate about this. His VHS copy is barely holding together, it's been played THAT MANY TIMES. It's too bad he passed before DVDs were the thing.. he probably would have thought he'd died and gone to heaven anyway had he known he could watch HIS MOVIE in high def. =)

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

Did I ever mention that at my father's calling hours, we had The Godfather Waltz piped through the funeral home speakers? Oh yes. Yes we did.

And so.. as you can imagine, I too have seen the Godfather movies a bazillion times and can pretty much recite Parts I and II from memory. Yes yes, I hold the same grudge as my father regarding Part III - so sue me. :P I knew this would have to be the movie I would chose for this month's challenge. And what goes better with a lil Marlon Brando, James Caan and Al Pacino? Why Mama Cream Puff's Lasagna! That's what!!

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

I know I've blogged about this phenomenal recipe before.. but it is THAT good and goes SO WELL with a bulletproof vest fulla dead fish that I just had to blog about it once again. This time though, it's not exactly Mama Creampuff's recipe for I have tweaked and twiddled with it a bit. Not by much - you really can't screw with perfection too much, yanno ;)

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

This being maybe the 5th or 6th time I've made it.. I've gradually added a lil somethin' somethin' to it - such as the rinds from parmigiano reggiano wedges and a handful or two of the grated good stuff. I also added a lil garlic.. my father would have shot me if I did not add garlic. And lastly, something I've done from day one, is use pork shoulder steaks instead of veal because I just can't do veal.

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna

So there you have it, friends.. The Godfather and Mama Creampuff's Lasagna - a true match made in heaven. :D

Mama Creampuff's Lasagna


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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mine Don't Look Like Gracie's :P

I thought about titling this post "Kitchen Disaster Pt. 1,408" but the more I think about it, the more I realize this was just a near-disaster.. they turned out very nicely - although I had to go through a panic attack and a near call to 911 to get there.

I had some friends over for dinner last night and these particular people are the friends I invited over a few months ago for dessert. I had planned on making my Daring Baker challenge that day to share with them. The challenge? The Martha's Crepe Cake. Yes, well.. we all know how that first attempt at crepes turned out. I'm still picking dried crepe pieces/parts off my kitchen walls.

The original plan was to make them this month's Daring Baker challenge.. but well.. uhmm.. I decided that I'd better not press the "bad juju" button and take the chance that all this time it's not been my horrible baking skills that have put many a dessert in precarious situations - but maybe it was just them. Maybe they were dessert demons. Quite possibly, their karma - obviously a black aura around anything involving sugar and butter - was f*cking with my baked goods. This could happen!

Shuttit nay-sayers!!! :P

And so.. I didn't want to take the chance that I might screw up this month's challenge so I went in search of a dessert that I thought I could whip up without any problems. Something, quite possibly, that I've made before. My usual recipe websites didn't hold anything that sounded good, nor did the several cookery books I thumbed through.. next were some favorite blogs. I did find a boatload of recipes that I really, really wanted to make but I kept coming back to the last photo in this post by the Queen of All That Is Fattening and Delicious, my Gracie. Go ahead.. go look at that last photo and you'll see why I was so mesmerized. I'll wait.

Uhhmm.. you've got a lil drool hanging off your chin.

Now I've made Pate a Choux before AND I've made Diplomat Cream before, both thanks to the lovely and brilliant, Helene of Tartelette, when she hosted a Daring Baker challenge a couple month's ago. She had us making the St. Honore Gateau, which included learning how to make the Pate a Choux, Diplomat cream and revisiting puff pastry.

Chocolate Eclairs
A sea of Eclairs

Gracie's recipe was pretty similar with the addition of cocoa powder to the Pate a Choux and the chocolate added to the Diplomat Cream, and with photos like that, how could I not give these a go??

And so I set off in making the cream first so I could get it into the fridge. Absolutely no problems.. I even tempered my eggs correctly and only had a very small amount of scrambled egg left in the strainer. I was very proud of myself at that point.. you see, tempering eggs always brings nightmarish memories back of the blood orange curd I once attempted. It smelled of ass. Remember? Anyhoo.. I produced this thick pudding consistency pastry cream- so chocolately, so velvety smooth. *swoon* I even whipped the cream correctly to medium peaks and since Helene taught me the proper way of folding, I didn't loose any floof in the diplomat cream! It was magical. =)

Perfect Chocolate Pastry Cream
The perfect chocolate pastry cream cooling before turning it into diplomat cream

Next was the Pate a Choux.. again, no problems whatsoever.. okay so my piping skills blow monkey balls, but that's okay! The paste came together beautifully!

Horrible piping skills - Ugh. Chocolate Eclair Shells
Before and afters of my monkey ball blowing piping skills :P

Here's where the problems start. I'm pretty sure that my constant amazement that everything was going so well is the cause of my temporarily losing my mind for a few minutes as I put both trays of eclair shells in the oven - BEFORE it had even preheated to the instructed 425º F. I realized this soon after I put them in and figured they couldn't even have started the baking process yet, so I removed them until the lil bell went off. (I know. I know! I should have let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes after the bell went off to be sure of even temperature but it's freakin hot out for crissakes!!) Ohh and the bell went off approximately 45 seconds after I removed them. Doh. So I shoved 'em back in, finished washing the dishes and went to plop my fat ass down in the living room to wait for the lil eclairs to puff and turn goldeny brown.

I'd say about 5 minutes had passed when I first smelled it.. smoke.


I ran back into my kitchen to see pillowy puffs of white/gray smoke seeping out the front of the oven. I opened the door and what do I see? My parchment paper was on fire! Scorching the hell outta my lil close-to-perfect eclair shells. I might have shouted obscenities when this was discovered. Oh who the hell am I trying to fool? I called my oven every dirty name I could come up with.. I was like a foul mouthed machine gun - stuck on rapid fire. I couldn't even count how many times the F-bomb was dropped. I might have also cursed my friends at that point as well. I am not proud of that and I do not truly wish bad things to come to them, such as their teeth rotting out of their heads or a nasty case of hives settling in for the next 20 years. Really, I did not mean those things. Honest. But C'MON! Was it just coincidence that this happened? I use parchment paper all the time at all kinds of temperatures - it's NEVER caught on fire before. I make two desserts for these people and both times something HORRIFIC happens. I'm telling you.. BAD DESSERT KARMA played a major part in this almost-fiasco!

Disaster on the road to Chocolate Eclairs :P Disaster on the road to Chocolate Eclairs :P
What happens when one does not read instructions carefully :P
A couple things I didn't mention - somewhere in the process of making these, I knocked over my basket of cooking utensils AND I didn't read the instructions completely as I forgot to take butter out to bring to room temp, so I had to nuke it. As you can see from the butter puddle, I nuked it too long. :P

'kay well the next thing I had to do was get the cookie sheets out of the oven, blow out the fire, turn the oven temp down to 350º and transfer them to another cookie sheet sans parchment paper. They were nice and poofy too.. beautifully rounded and smooth on top. *sob* In the 2 minutes it took to transfer them to a non-smoldering sheet pan, they all collapsed. They looked like lil wrinkly dog turds. :( I had hoped that they would poof up again once they were put back in, but alas, they did not. Ohh and I should mention and probably take a moment of silence here - I did end up losing 10 shells.. they were just too charred to go on living. *sigh*

Once they were dry in the middle I took them out and looked at them in disgust. I walked back to my office and promptly e-mailed Gracie with my story in hopes that A- she'd see the email within the next hour or two and B- have a fantastic suggestion for a way to use my gorgeous Diplomat cream in another way. Unfortunately, she did not see my e-mail so I decided that although I now had wrinkly turd-like looking shells, that after I filled them with the cream and doused the tops in the chocolate glaze that maybe they'd look okay. And if they didn't? TOO F*CKING BAD. I was going to serve them and if I had to shove them down everyone's throats myself! Then I would. I had no time to make anything else - not even time to run up to the store for something.. so these were going to have to do! :P

Chocolate Eclairs

Luckily, as you can see (squint, people!) they didn't end up looking too horribly bad.. a lil flat, a lil mishapen, but otherwise quite tasty looking. And they WERE delicious. I had to quality control them, doncha know. There was just too much chocolate involved to take a chance not knowing how they tasted before I served them, yes?? Diet be damned, my friends. Diet Be Damned. These eclairs were not too sweet, which is what I (and I found out later that my guests agreed) loved the most about them. They were perfect with a cup of coffee and/or a glass of red wine.

Chocolate Eclairs Chocolate Eclairs
Chocolate Eclairs

So there you have it.. a near kitchen disaster. I'm glad I persevered and saw them to the end as they did turn out to be the perfect dessert after a dinner of filet mignon and langoustines. *swoon*

I won't post the recipe here - if you so desire to make these - and really kids, so desire to - you can get the recipe off of Gracie's blog here Thanks for another fanfarkingtabulous recipe, Gracie!! :D

Chocolate Eclairs
Two lil half nekked guys, missing their bottoms (I turned the tops over and filled them) due to FIRE.


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Friday, August 10, 2007

Tartelette's Traveling Eggs Meme!

HAR! Eggs.. that travel!

Traveling Eggs!

These eggs are special.. and crocheted. Yes, you heard me correctly!! I am the proud recipient of Helene's Traveling Eggs! You can read about them here, but I shall attempt to explain the situation quickly here..

Helene saw these cute lil eggs on Hannah's Bittersweet blog and knew she had to have them - course when they finally arrived and after she and her hubby had marveled over the extreme cuteness of them, they both wondered what the hell to do with them. Sure she could set them on a counter somewhere, but would that really do them justice? I mean c'mon.. look how cute!!

Traveling Eggs!

And so in a flash of brilliance, she decided that it'd be fun to package these lil babies up and start a traveling meme. I am the lucky gal who got them first and I shall be sending them along to some unsuspecting, yet gorgeous! blogging friend.

The only rules of the meme are to sign the carton with your name and blog name (I added a short message because, hello? I couldn't keep anything short and sweet to save my freakin' life.), enjoy them for a few days and then pass them along - but always keep the secret of who you passed them along to. After you've done that, blog about it with a photo (or two) of the eggs with something that represents you or your blog.. I chose Nigel. :D

Traveling Eggs!

That photo of him on my desktop was actually taken by Helene when she was here and it's one of my most favorite photos of him.. could he be any cuter? I think not!

So be checking your mailboxes.. you might just be the next lucky recipient of a 1/2 dozen adorable traveling eggs! :D

Traveling Eggs!

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

La Festa al Fresco 2007

La Festa al Fresco 2007

They say time flies and they are most certainly right! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost a year since my “blog sister” Ivonne and I hosted what turned out to be a hugely successful event: La Festa al Fresco 2006!

For those of you that flew in, walked in, ran in, sailed in, beamed in from elsewhere, you’ll recall that La Festa al Fresco was a resounding success with bloggers sending virtual dishes from all over the world.

For those of you that are new to the festa, La Festa al Fresco is the blog world’s biggest patio party.

The premise is very simple: prepare a dish using a fresh, seasonal ingredient, and then send it over. Oh and don’t forget to bring yourself as well.

You can prepare any dish you like. It can be an appetizer; a soup; a salad; a meat, fish or vegetarian dish; a dessert or even a beverage. The only rule is that it must feature a fresh, seasonal ingredient, preferably something that grows in your neck of the woods.

Once you’ve prepared your dish, please post about it on your blog and then let Ivonne ( and myself ( know. The deadline for the event is midnight on September 3, 2007. As we did last year, Ivonne and I will be splitting the round up, which we will post a few days after the deadline has passed.

So to recap, here are the particulars:

Prepare a dish of your choosing featuring a fresh, seasonal ingredient.

Post about it by midnight on September 3, 2007.

Send an e-mail to Lis and myself and include your name, blog name and blog address. Also include a link to your post and 100 x 100 pixel photo of your dish.

In Italian we say, “tutti a tavola” which means “everyone to the table”.

Ivonne and I are polishing the patio and tables as we speak. Tutti a tavola for La Festa al Fresco 2007!



Friday, August 03, 2007

Chicken Scallopini with Mushroom Cream Sauce

'kay this dieting thing is for the fakking birds. And you know what else? So is this heat with 176% humidity we're having. :P

That combination does not make for a happy cook. Other than grilled chicken, fish and pork - my repertoire has dwindled down to practically nothing. We aren't enjoying our food these days - we've been eating to sustain. This heat doesn't even allow you to get fancy on the grill because who wants to stand in front of a 550º grill for longer than it takes to cook a chicken breast?? Not I, friends. Not. I.

Oh I could go on for DAYS with my whining and bitching.. I am sooo damn good at that. But I won't bore ya'll with the same old "Oh it's so hot!" routine. But I still have not cooked anything worth sharing, so I figured it was time to dip into the stash of recipes I've made in the past but never got around to blogging about.

Most likely I didn't feel they were blog-worthy, or I had made something fantabulous the same week and went with that recipe.. but hey, it's better than nothing, yes? I've got two chicken scallopini dishes that were pretty tasty, although not too visually appealing. Especially this first one I'm going to share, but it was delish and I really thought Hubbs wasn't going to be too thrilled, but he was!

This is one of those dishes that I most likely read a similar recipe for in the past and mentally filed it away. I remember the gist of these "mental recipes" and it's enough to allow me to just toss stuff into a skillet or pan and create what I had visualized. The dump and go's, as I call 'em. =)

There's nothing better than an evening pounding your meat, is there?


The satisfaction derived from taking out your frustrations on an innocent chicken breast is by far one of those activities that I look forward to after my 8 in the dungeon. All that's required is a couple sheets of plastic wrap, said innocent chicken mammories and a nice flat pummeling device. Personally, I like to whack my meat in beat to a song I am either listening to or a song that's been stuck in my head all day. Everyone once in a while, I'll even try morse code in the beating of my meat. It's always good to keep familiar - you never know when you might get stuck behind enemy lines with nothing but something to tap on, hoping some one will hear you and understand you are under duress. No, I don't really beat my meat in morse code. That's just plain silly. But I do like to take a running start from the opposite side of my kitchen, jump up right before I reach the counter so that I can slap the breasts kung-fu style. I even make that sound.. "Hiiii YAAAAAA"

We should all have fun with our food, don't you agree?

After I've squeezed every bit of stress out of my poor aching body, I dredge my flattened breast through a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. And then I fry - sweet fry - them in 2 TBS. butter and about 3 TBS. of minced garlic until they are golden brown and delicious.

Chicken Scallopini

Next comes a quick sauce that's made with the pan drippings after you've removed the crispedy breasts. A cup or two of a good chicken stock and a little white wine, some sliced mushrooms and a handful of sliced green onion set to simmer until the mushrooms are tender. Finally I finish it off with a blurp of sour cream. Nope, no calories in this dish!

Mushroom Cream Sauce

I usually serve chicken scallopini over pasta of some sort - I think I went with Pappardelle this time. If I'm making a sauce with my scallopini I try to choose a pasta that will easily hold the sauce. Plop the pasta on the dish, lay the scallopini over it and douse with sauce. Oh. Yeah. Baby. A sprinkling of sliced green onion over top is all that's needed in way of garnish. Serve with a fresh salad and you are all set!

Chicken Scallopini with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Lisa's Chicken Scallopini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

2 chicken breasts, pounded flat
1 c. flour
salt & pepper, to taste
2 TBS. butter
3 TBS. minced garlic - about 5 garlic cloves?
1/2 c. sliced green onion, divided (Shallots would also work here)
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. white wine
1 c. sour cream (I use light sour cream and it works well)
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 TBS. corn starch
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. pasta, cooked al dente

Pound chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a large ziplock bag.

In a large shallow dish, mix the flour, salt & pepper well. Dredge breasts on both sides.

Cook pasta until al dente.

In a large skillet, heat the butter until it's almost browned. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a covered dish to keep warm.

Deglaze skillet with 1 c. chicken broth and the white wine, making sure to scrape up all the delicious bits. Add mushrooms and onions, simmer until mushrooms are tender - about 5 minutes. Add sour cream, salt & pepper, mix well. Test for seasoning at this point.

Sauce will be thin. In a small bowl, heat the 1/2 c. chicken stock in microwave until it's warmed and then whisk in the TBS. of cornstarch. Pour into skillet and stir well until sauce has thickened.

Return breasts to sauce and simmer until heated through. Split pasta between two dishes, spoon a small amount of sauce over pasta then lay breast on top and spoon more sauce over breast. Sprinkle with sliced onion and take pictures and dig in!

Chicken Scallopini with Mushroom Cream Sauce


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