Saturday, June 18, 2011


Coffee lover? Got a sweet tooth? Then you will LOVE this classic Italian desert! Tiramisu, (in Italian: Tiramisù), literally means "pick me up". It is a layered desert consists of ladyfingers dipped in strong coffee typically Espresso, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, flavored with liquor, and some cocoa sprinkled between layers. I have made this desert several times using different recipes and my favorite is the one I found on Alessi brand ladyfinger cookies package. It is in a green package. I kept this recipe but sometimes use any brand lady fingers which works just fine. I haven't tried making my own lady fingers. I have been told that they are easy to make. One day, I will try that and will also try making a Tiramisu flavored cake or even a cheesecake.



For making Zabaglione Cream:
5 Large egg yolks
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Marsala wine (sweet)
2 TBS Sugar

1 cup Whipping cream, chilled
2 TBS Sugar

1 lb Mascarpone cheese

2 cups freshly brewed espresso or 2 cups strong coffee
1/2 cup Brandy or Marsala
1 TBS Vanilla
2 packages Alessi Savoiardi cookies, or any other ladyfinger cookies (I used about 24 fingers)
2 TBS cocoa powder
Chocolate shavings to garnish (optional)

Making Zabaglione Cream: In the top part of a double boiler or a heat proof bowl ( I used my glass bowl), beat eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale yellow in color.

In the bottom part of the double boiler or a sauce pan, bring water to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.

Place egg yolk mixture over water and gradually add Marsala, beating continuously.

Scrape bottom and sides occasionally and cook 6 to 10 minutes or until soft mounds can be formed.This is your Zabaglione.

Transfer to bowl (if you didn't use a bowl already), cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Whip cream with 2 TBS sugar until soft peaks form.

Fold whipped cream in Mascarpone and Zabaglione until well blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

In a separate bowl, mix espresso, 2 TBS sugar, Brandy and vanilla. Carefully and quickly dip the lady fingers in the coffee mixture one at a time so they are well saturated but not falling apart. Arrange cookies on the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan (or a spring form pan.)

Note: Some just brush the cookies with coffee mixture using a pastry brush or even sppon the coffee carefully over. Try it one cookie and see what works for you. The goal here is to get the coffee flavor into the cookies without them falling apart.

Spoon 1/2 cheese mixture over cookies and sprinkle with 1 TBS cocoa.

Repeat one more time ending with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight so that cookies can soften as they absorb moisture. (Very important part for all the flavors to marry)

Garnish and serve.

Chicken Pesto Florentine

I came across this wonderful pasta recipe from Simply Recipe when I was searching for recipes that would help me use up the basil that I have in my garden. This recipe calls for fresh pesto and many other ingredients that I love. I followed the recipe and everyone at the dinner table was very happy with this dish. I like creamy pastas but I LOVE this one for the fact that it is not too creamy that it makes you feel guilty after eating, and it also has veggies that I like. I will make this again and again!!

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 6-8.

We've used fresh spinach in this recipe, but you could easily use frozen. Just defrost and drain.


12-16 ounces dried short pasta (bowties, penne, gemelli, etc)
4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow or white onion, chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine or stock
8-16 ounces of fresh spinach*, washed, long stems removed and chopped
Black pepper
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup (or more) pesto, see here for recipe

*To wash spinach, fill up a clean sink basin with cold water and let the spinach soak in the water. Move it around a bit to loosen any dirt. Fresh spinach is usually pretty dirty, so you may need to do a couple of soakings. Remove the spinach and shake off excess water. Lay the spinach leaves down on a clean towel and pat dry.


Bring a large pot of salted water (add enough salt so that the water tastes salty) to a boil. Add the dried pasta and cook until al dente.

While preparing the pasta, cook the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the chicken breasts on both sides over medium-high heat. They don't need to be cooked all the way through, just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the onions cook, slice the chicken into strips. Put any pieces that are cooked all the way through in one pile, and put the ones that still need a little cooking in another pile.

When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the white wine or stock and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the spinach and the undercooked pieces of chicken to the pan. Using tongs, turn them over to coat them with the juices in the pan. Continue to cook, turning and stirring often, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add some black pepper, the pile of cooked chicken pieces and the pesto. Stir to combine. Drain the pasta put it in a large bowl. Add the cream to the saute pan and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl with the pasta and mix well. Serve at once.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fresh Basil Pesto...Straight from my garden :)

Oh what a delicious way to use up all the basil I have in my garden! I am so delightful that I found this fantastic pesto recipe from Simply Recipe. I used some of this pesto in
my chicken pesto florentine and my family quickly ate the rest as an appetizer with some bread while I was making the pasta dish. I did add a little more olive oil than what the recipe called for but I am sure it is fine the way it is too. Pine nuts are expensive and I have heard that using macadamia nuts instead is also delicious. I am not sure how much money you will save though. This little one cup of pesto can get pricy especially if you have to buy everything, but I was able to use my basil from the garden. I made sure the olive oil and the parmesan were also good quality. next time I will try it with Romano cheese to see which one I prefer. This recipe requires a food processor but there are recipes that do not. I will never buy pesto again!!!

Fresh Basil Pesto

Yield: Makes 1 cup.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Equipment needed: A food processor


Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.