Category Archives: Italian



Tiramisu is the all time favorite dessert in our house.  Glenn and I discovered our mutual love of this Italian dessert early in our relationship over a late night dinner at Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown, Washington D.C.  Since that snowy January night, if tiramisu is on the menu, we order it.  Tiramisu was the dessert at our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding (it would have been our wedding cake if I could have figured out how it could have been made in a tiered form), it is the cake I make for Glenn’s birthday every year, and it is becoming a favorite dessert for our formal dinners.

I’ve discovered that not all tiramisu is created equal. Cake that is too dry or filling that is too sweet yields  disappointing results.  This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma and in my opinion is the perfect combination of moist, yet not too wet, lady fingers and rich and delicately sweet filling.  Always make it a  day ahead of time. This lets the flavors meld together.  Of course, if there are leftovers, it is even better the following day.


1/2 cup sugar 

1/2 cup water

2 cups freshly brewed espresso 

1/4 cup dark rum 

45 ladyfingers

1/3 cup sugar 

6 egg yolks 

1/2 cup heavy cream 

1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese 

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting 

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the espresso and let cool to room temperature. Stir the rum into the cooled espresso mixture. 
  • Pour the espresso mixture into a wide, shallow bowl. Working in batches, briefly immerse the ladyfingers in the liquid, then transfer them to a plate. Set aside. 
  • To make the filling, select a heatproof bowl that fits snugly in the rim of a saucepan. Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into the saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer.
  • Meanwhile, in the heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Place the bowl over, but not touching, the simmering water in the pan. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the yolk mixture until very thick and tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and set the yolk mixture aside to cool completely, stirring frequently. 
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, using the mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the mascarpone and vanilla to the cooled yolk mixture. Beat with the mixer on medium speed just until smooth and well blended.
  • Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream just until combined. 
  • To assemble, carefully transfer 15 soaked ladyfingers to a 9-inch square cake pan. Arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
  • Using the rubber spatula, evenly spread one-third of the filling over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of 15 ladyfingers over the filling in the pan and evenly spread with half of the remaining filling.
  • Top with the remaining ladyfingers and filling, again spreading evenly. Gently tap the pan against the counter to settle the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. 
  • Run a small knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the cocoa powder. Cut into slices and serve directly from the pan.
  • Serves 8. 


Italian Meatballs


To finally fulfill my Christmas promise to Sidney I cooked up a batch of meatballs this past weekend.  Not being able to find any ground meat that I liked in the local stores, I purchased whole portions of veal and pork and ground my own.  Yes, I finally broke out the Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment Glenn gave me for my first birthday in Albania (isn’t he romantic?!?) and made my own ground meat. I don’t know why I waited so long.  Not only was it easy but the quality of the meat was so much higher.  It looks like the meat grinder will be getting a workout in 2013.

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1 tsp dried marjoram leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed for frying
1)  Combine bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Breaking out the meat grinder for the first time


2)  In a large bowl combine veal, pork, egg, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, and spices.  Add the bread
      and milk mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.

Everything goes into the bowl


3)  Using your hands, knead the mixture until all of the ingredients are well combined.

Some therapeutic mixing going on


4)  Using your hands, form 1-inch sized balls.  Place on a tray or baking sheet until ready to fry.

Ready to cook


5)   Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
6)  Once the oil is shimmering add the meatballs, in batches, to the oil.  After 2-3 minutes, turn the
      meatballs over so that they brown on all sides.

Frying to a golden brown


7)  Remove the meatballs from the oil and drain on paper towel lined plates.
8)  Continue frying the meatballs until they have all been browned.
9)  Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.
10)  Place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minute until hot and cooked through.
Yields:  50 1-inch meatballs

The meatballs can be served with a tomato sauce over pasta, with ketchup (Sidney’s preferred method) or as is.

Because one can not survive on meatballs alone, I served
these with risotto and steamed spinach
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