It’s Friday Bitches.

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I basically start thinking about Friday on Sunday because basically Sunday means my weekend is over. Monday is too early in the week to start drinking wine and by Wednesday I am at the point where I am done wearing pants. I find that with two small children the weekdays are almost more than I can handle. And if I can successfully shower every day without a major disruption, I feel like I have really accomplished something. I’m not sure if all parents feel this way but I’m at the point where I just really need my kids to be in college. I always told myself that I would never alter my personality for my kids but lately my 2-year-old thinks yelling: “Fucking Shit” is wonderful so, I guess some things just have to go. Anyways, enough about them.

For some reason, baking this weekend is just calling to me. I feel like I need to go and purchase large amounts of butter, flour and vanilla and just create. I feel like baking, when recreational, is really calming, especially when the end result is how I imagine. I love putting on an apron, chef style, playing some music and letting my kitchen whisper to me the things I need to make happen. It’s a magical thing you know, putting a powerful woman in a kitchen with all the right tools. We can move mountains. It’s beautiful. Some may say that it’s sexist to say things like that, but I don’t give a shit, men can’t do what women do. We make it look easy. With our hair did and our flashy smiles. It’s just a different sort of thing.

If I had a bakery of my own, it would be all about the vagina. There would be Julia Child quotes written on the windows with giant portraits of her doing everyday things adorning the walls, there would be cake stands scattered with stacked treats and we would play the music of Paris all day long, swaying our hips in just the right way. And of course, there would be a pair of running shoes with an Open & Close sign on each sole.

Obviously I am feeling whimsical today.

Now, for a recipe.

This cake is great for gatherings. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious and goes great with coffee. I make it often, serving it with home-made whipped cream and strawberries that have been soaking in Grand Marnier.

torta di mandorle

Almond Cake

1 & 1/3 cup almond flour

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

Grated peel of 1 lemon

3 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

1 tsp. cream of tarter

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 cup milk

confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grease and flour a pan (I use a 9 inch round pan, you can use whatever you like)

3. Beat all the wet ingredients together.

4. Sift all the dry ingredients together.

5. Combine  and add the lemon peel, make sure all the ingredients are well mixed.

6. Place in your pan and bake.

7. Takes about one hour or until the toothpick inserted into your cake comes out clean.

Serve with vanilla ice cream while warm or any other accompaniment of your choosing.

 

The Italian Gold.

This morning I awoke feeling nostalgic. I don’t know why, it’s  a strange thing that occurs sometimes. I found my little battered book in the office with all of my cherished recipes that I have written in haste, while either taking notes from my Nana over the phone or cooking in the kitchen. It made me feel complete, to hold this in my hand. As I looked through it, I stumbled upon the recipe for Cassateddi di Ricotta which is something that is treasured by my grandmother. It’s a recipe that her mother once made and only on New Year’s Eve. I made them last year and they were simply magical, everything I could have ever hoped for and more. They lived up to her description and were fairly easy to make. I really appreciate tradition, it’s something people wouldn’t always guess about me. But, I hold things like this close to my heart. And I realize that this recipe was given to me for one particular reason: I would honor it and make my relatives proud. This recipe calls for Crisco, yes, Crisco, as my grandmother informed me, years ago, butter was not an option as it was super expensive. People used lard. So, I may not like it, but I’m not about to go against the old Italian folks.

These can be made either sweet or savory, change your fillings to suit.

The Dough:

4 cups of flour

3 tablespoons Crisco

1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

Wine/Cold water, just enough to form the dough (white wine for people lacking common sense)

Savory Filling:

1 to 2 cups of ricotta (depending on how filling you like/how many you are making)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 egg

A handful of parsley

A small cube of *FRESH* mozzarella for each “ravioli” (just buy one ball of mozz and cut it up, eat the rest or whatever)

Sweet Filling:

1 to 2 cups of ricotta

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (as well as plenty more for dusting when they come out)

A smidge of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

*Optional: A little piece of dark chocolate to place on top of the filling

Oil for frying

Mix the flour, Crisco and sugar together until the mixture looks crumbly. This works best if done in a mixer.
Add the wine & cold water slowly, about a quarter of a cup at a time until the dough comes together and forms a nice, elastic but not too sticky mixture. If you add too much, simply add a little additional flour. Now, some people use all wine, I think that’s a bit too much so I do a half and half mixture. Knead the dough until smooth and easy to work with. Now basically, where you go from here is up to you. If you want to make ravioli shape Cassateddi, go for it. Some prefer half moons. I use my pasta maker, cutting the dough into several pieces and then flattening it out. I start on setting 1 and gradually move up to 4. I then place the filling on the dough, about a tablespoon for each, an inch or so away from each other. I take a cube of the mozz and I smush it right on top of the filling. I then wet my finger and run the water along the filling. Then I place the top portion on, securing around the filling, making sure there are no air bubbles. From there you can cut the squares with a knife, if you have a ravioli cutter, that works even better. During this process you will need plenty of flour to make sure that nothing is sticking. Most important thing is to make sure your little bites of goodness are secure. Use a fork to pinch around the sides if you do not have a ravioli cutter.

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Now, dump your oil into a deep pan and turn that shit on. I’m not going to tell you an exact temperature for your oil. The Italians, we’re not that specific. Throw one of these babies in there when you think it’s hot and if it is, it will start frying. There is no better way to know.

Fry all of these little babies up. For the savory, enjoy as is, for the sweet, dust with plenty of confectioner’s sugar.

Oh and if you serve the savory with sauce, please know, that some Italian will come out of a closet and slap you right upside your head.

Enjoy my friends.