Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Turnips

At Thanksgiving there are certain dishes that we associate with the holiday, whether it's the cranberry relish your Aunt would bring, the stuffing, the sweet potato casserole or the Poppin' Fresh crescent rolls, we all have that dish we need to have on the table or it wouldn't be Thanksgiving. 
At my mom's house it was mashed turnips, and I have to admit that it really wasn't my favorite food on the table.  Some years she would just mash them, and serve them smothered with copious amounts of butter, or some years (and these weren't my favorites) she'd mix them into the mashed potatoes. 
When I began to make my own Thanksgiving dinners, I would leave out the turnips.  I know they are really good for you, but they didn't belong on my table.  After my mom died, I asked  my brothers if the turnips were on their Thanksgiving table, and they both said, "we don't like turnips."  Then, I got it; the turnips were my mom's favorite dish. 
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I wish you all a joyous day filled with the love of family and friends.  Aloha and Mahalo. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


As I write this I am looking out at the rain over the mountain in Maui; yep, I'm in paradise and it's raining!  But I am thankful that I am here with Dr. C. and our son, and we get to celebrate Thanksgiving in this beautiful place, and there is college basketball.
This year has been full, with travel and new experiences and Dr. C. retiring from his Oral Surgery practice.  I am so grateful for our family, friends, colleagues, my students, and the cooking schools that have welcomed me in and allowed me to teach their customers.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I'm also remembering those that aren't with us this year, and celebrating what they taught us. 
Family holidays can be difficult for some, and this year I'm adopting an attitude of gratitude, that I hope will continue, since the consensus seems to be that having an attitude of gratitude makes you live longer, and I'm all for that!
Wishing you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving filled with great food, wine, and the love of family and friends.  Aloha!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Limoncello Tiramisu or Trifle

The dripping trifle bowl is a limoncello trifle that I taught at a class in Indiana a few weeks ago.  When I taught tiramisu at The Kitchen Shoppe on Sunday, I mentioned that you could make a Limoncello tiramisu using lemon curd, and mascarpone....and so I promised to publish the recipe.  So if you are looking for a great dessert for the holidays, this one will do it for you.  Whether you decide to use pound cake for trifle, or ladyfingers for tiramisu, this is a simple, make ahead dessert.  Buon appetito!

Limoncello Mascarpone Trifle
Serves 8
This recipe is for a trifle (using cake rather than lady fingers)  For Tiramisu, substitute 3 packages Italian lady fingers for the cake, and lay them into a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. 

For the Cake
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract

1.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and coat the inside of a 1/2sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray, or with a silicone baking liner.
2.     In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and soda.
3.     In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla; the mixture will look curdled. 
4.     With the machine on low speed, add the flour mixture a bit at a time, until the mixture begins to come together.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until the batter is smooth. 
5.     Pour the batter into the sheet pan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. 
6.     OR:  One Sara Lee pound cake, cut into 1/2-inch slices

For the Lemon Curd
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Limoncello
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1.     In a saucier, over medium heat, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and lemon juice, and cook, whisking constantly until the lemon curd comes to a boil. 
2.     Remove from the heat, stir in the Limoncello, and whisk in the butter a bit at a time.  Push the lemon curd through a sieve into a clean bowl, and press plastic wrap into the lemon curd.  Allow to cool completely. 
3.     The lemon curd will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. 
4.     If you prefer to buy lemon curd, I recommend the Stonewall Kitchens brand—you will need at least 3 cups. 
 For the Mascarpone crème
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese

1.     In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a whisk, beat together the heavy cream and sugar, until stiff peaks form. 
2.     Add the mascarpone, and beat together until blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

For the Limoncello Brushing Liquid

3/4 cup Limoncello
1/4 cup water
Blend together the Limoncello and water, and set aside. 

Cooled cake
Limoncello brushing liquid
Lemon curd
Mascarpone crème

1.     Choose an 8 to 10 cup glass bowl, and cut the cake into pieces that will fit into the bottom of the bowl.  Brush with some of the Limoncello mixture.
2.      Spread a 1/2-inch layer of lemon curd over the cake, and top the lemon curd with 1/2-inch of the mascarpone crème.
3.      Continue layering cake, brush with Limoncello, layer curd, and mascarpone crème, ending with mascarpone crème.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and serve cold. 
4.     Variation:  The trifle can be served in individual parfait glasses, if desired. 
5.     Another Variation:  After spreading the lemon curd, sprinkle the curd with your choice of berries:  sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


 Coming home has its own set of angst.  After being gone for 3 months, half of that in Italy, it’s hard to imagine coming home to my own bed, and kitchen after living out of suitcases for this long.

Leaving Italy was difficult for me.  Dr. C. is still getting used to being retired, and there were a few things he wanted to get settled at home, so he was ready, but I definitely could have stayed on.  Our last few days were in Rome, I stopped by Noi Salon to get my hair cut and had a fabulous time with our friends Rick Breco and Massimo Topo.  I’m hoping we’ll get to see them at Christmas when they come “home” to So. Cal. 

Arriving in the US we are greeted with the 24 hour news cycle.  Italian TV is more civilized, in that a lot of it is old US reruns, dubbed in Italian—you haven’t lived till you have heard Marge Simpson speak Italian. 

Reentry for me involves readjusting to the stress-filled lives that we Americans tend to live.  I’ve been on the road for 2 weeks since we returned, and have tried wherever possible to do deep breathing, to remember the gorgeous views from our terrace, and the laid back life style that we led while in Spello.  It becomes harder to remember the further away I get. 
I am so blessed to be able to do things I love, and to spend time in Italy with our family at Enoteca Properzio.  Next year, I’ve been accepted as a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome to study their sustainable food project.  Dr. C. and I will live at the American Academy for the month of April, and I will study and write about the project.  Building community around the dinner table is something that is near and dear to my heart, and I want to see how the academy fosters collaboration, and collegiality around their table.  I cannot wait.  But until then, I’m 30 minutes away from landing in San Diego, and am excited to reunite with Dr. C., our son Ryan, my friends and my kitchen.  More on that later.  Until then Ciao.    

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dreams Come True


Last year while studying Italian at the local community college, I got an idea.  I wanted to go to the   American Academy in Rome as a visiting scholar in literature to study and write about their sustainable food project.   As I immersed myself into the language each day, I felt confident with my background in cookbooks, and teaching that I might just be able to pull this off. 
On Friday, while still in Rome I got the e-mail that they have accepted me for the month of April.  I am beyond blessed to be able to do this, and to study something that is near and dear to my heart; building community around the table.  So, in April, I'll be heading to Rome with Dr. C. to live and work in this amazing community.  We'll be immersed not only in this vibrant community, but also in Rome, and I for one cannot wait to share this adventure with all of you. 
For now Dr. C. and I are dealing with reentry---what no cappuccino and cornetto for breakfast? We'll get over it!