"Get Juiced" Dinner Rolls

These are "a variation on a theme" dinner rolls. The recipe calls for pretty classic dinner roll ingredients with the difference of replacing amounts of liquid with juice, subbing some of the flour with a light corn flour and adding a dash of spice to, well...spice it up! "Experiment with different juices and spices", I think you'll find that these rolls will stay in your recipe box for generations. *Just remember to brush the rolls with juice during the baking process!


6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup corn "flour" (NOT corn meal)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packages yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup pineapple juice at room temperature
3 eggs


In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, corn flour, sugar, salt, ginger, vanilla, and yeast. In medium saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120-130F). Add warm liquid, pineapple juice, and eggs to flour mixture. Blend with electric mixer at low speed until well moistened; beat at medium speed for 4 minutes.

By hand, stir in 3 cups of flour to form a stiff dough. On a floured surface, knead in 1/2 to 1 cup flour until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with clean towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Punch dough down.

This is a very light and tasty dough. It can be shaped into dinner rolls of any shape. After shaping the dough into desired forms, let it rise until doubled in size. Bake dinner rolls in a 350F oven for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown). *During baking process brush rolls with an extra amount of pineapple juice, this gives the rolls a beautiful glossy finish.

Basil & Fontina Custard Tart

Over the summer I bought these darling little tart tins, but you know how it goes, a cupboard full of kitchen nick nacks they soon got pushed to the side and disappeared amongst jars, bottles and tupperware. It wasn't till recently when reading a post by Cynthia from Tastes Like Home that it dawned on me that I hadn't even once used mine. After seeing her beautiful tarts, I quickly rescued my tins and took out a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook collections, "Recipes From A French Herb Garden".

These tarts are a rendition of the recipe Tarte Aux Herbes. Although I added Fontina cheese and lessoned the amount of herbs, all of the other ingredients pretty much stayed true to the recipe.. except for my dough, I used the leftover basil laced pastry dough from my Terrine and it was perfectly perfumed for these Herb Tarts! My family loved these herb and cheesy custard tarts and they were quite satisfying for a Sunday brunch.

Basil Laced Pastry Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 basil leaves clean and dried julienned
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2-teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons ice water
5 tablespoons cream or half and half

Add julienned basil to flour. Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Stir together cold water and cream.
Drizzle 5 to 6 Tbsp ice cold liquids evenly over mixture. Gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn't hold together, add more liquid, 1/2 Tbsp at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough. Turn out onto a work surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one. Press into a ball, then flatten into 2 (5-inch) disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, as least 1 hour.

Tart Filling Ingredients
2 Tablespoons shallots (sauteed)
4 eggs
2/3 cup half and half
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup fresh chopped Basil and Thyme
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Filling Directions
Beat the eggs, add the half and half and continue to beat. Add sauteed shallots. Mix well. Add shredded cheese, continue to mix and add herbs. Stir till well blended. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Making The Tarts
Press 2 teaspoonfuls of pastry dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of each prepared mini tart tin. Pierce tartlet dough's all over with fork. This can be done ahead 1 day. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until crusts are cooked but not colored around 10 minutes. Dough will puff up a bit but will go back into place when filled. Turn down oven to 375°F, fill with basil, Fontina custard and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes till custard is baked through and golden on top.

Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Carefully loosen from tins and pop out. Transfer to serving platter and enjoy!

These are great to make ahead. On the morning of Thanksgiving heat them up in the oven so your family has something to munch on while your preparing dinner. I often forget to feed my family during the morning hours because I am so busy in the kitchen. They'll love you for these!

Ciao and Hugs!

Pumpkin Bread with a Cheesecake Swirl

When I first thought about this idea, reversing the pumpkin cheesecake and creating a pumpkin bread with a cheesecake swirl I thought I was brilliant! I hadn't been served it before nor had I seen it at Marie Calenders or other restaurant bakeries. Now how could that be, such a wonderful idea that no one else came up with? Well, I was wrong and as I did some online research I found a slew of recipes with this idea of reversing the Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe and making a moist delicious rich and filling Pumpkin Bread with a Cheesecake swirl.

I decided to use my own recipe for cheesecake, which is a New York Style and also my favorite pumpkin bread recipe with a blend of flour and almond meal and Marsala Wine as part of the wet ingredients. I made the cheesecake but instead of using vanilla I used the Marsala. I set that aside and then mixed the ingredients for the Pumpkin Bread recipe. I took a prepared, oiled and floured loaf pan and poured the pumpkin bread ingredients 1/2 way up. I then spooned dollops of the Cheesecake filling and swirled lightly through so as to leave large dollops of cheesecake filling. I then poured more pumpkin filling on top of that leaving around a 1/4 inch room at the top for expansion.

I loved the way the cheesecake rose through the pumpkin bread, it was so pretty and the taste and texture were perfect! We had a slice pretty soon after removing it from the oven, this I wouldn't recommend, you really can't appreciate the different flavors in the bread when it is too hot. I whipped up some fresh cream and added raw sugar and a dab of liqueur. It was just the right topping for the bread. I also sprinkled a dash of cinnamon on the whipped cream. That also was tasty too!

I still had ingredients left from both recipes and decided to make a Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Cookie Crust.
This was a winning combination but the recipe would have to totally be altered to make this work next time around. The sugar and flavorings were perfect, but the cake came out much to dense. Alone, the New York Style Cheesecake recipe was perfect, but swirling the Pumpkin Bread ingredients through made it much too heavy. When making a true Pumpkin Cheesecake the flour is eliminated from the pumpkin and you are left more with light swirls of pumpkin custard through the cheesecake filling. It makes for a very light Pumpkin Cheesecake.

All in all, the cheesecake was definitely tasty and edible but you wouldn't want to go for a swim afterwards! :)

Pumpkin Bread with a Cheesecake Swirl

Pumpkin Bread Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup ground blanched almond meal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup Marsala wine
15oz pumpkin, canned

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients
1 pounds Philadelphia Cream cheese at room temperature*
(*Very important for smooth filling)
½ cup sugar
1-½ tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons marsala
1/2-cup sour cream
2 eggs

Cheesecake Filling Directions
Mix cream cheese, sugar, flour, and Marsala with electric mixer on medium speed setting until well blended. Blend in sour cream. Add eggs, mixing on low speed just until blended.

Pumpkin Bread with a Cheesecake Swirl Directions

Make Bread
1. Grease and dust with flour the bottom and 1/2 way up sides of 2 loaf pans; set aside.
In a very large mixing bowl beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs and beat well; set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine flour and almond meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cloves. Combine Marsala and water. Add flour mixture and marsala/water liquid alternately to sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Spoon batter 1/3 of the way into prepared pans.
Put dollops of cheesecake filling onto pumpkin batter till around half way in pan. Swirl around to marbleize. Pour more pumpkin batter on top to around ¾ of the way up pan.

3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 55 to 65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool in pans in the oven with door ajar. When cool, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Best if prepared a day ahead of serving. Cool completely before removing from pans.

Serve with whipped cream topping.

Ciao and hugs!

Beurre Manié

Beurre Manié, French for "kneaded butter" is a dough consisting
of equal parts of butter and flour used to thicken soups and sauces.
By blending the flour and butter together, the flour particles are
coated in butter. When the beurre manié is whisked into a hot or warm
liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating

I always have a crock of this on hand in the refridgerator as well as
stock in the freezer.

Beurre manié is the cousin to Ruex which is also equal parts
of flour and butter cooked on heat to which hot liquids are then added
to create a smooth sauce.

1 Stick unsalted butter
1/2 Cup pastry flour

Cut butter into chunks. Add to 1/2 cup flour and blend in food processor
or kneed by hand.

A "Baked Alaska"
& Lessons Learned

Posting mishaps isn't my usual mode of operation, but I came out of this baking experience hopefully a little wiser and
feeling like part of the joy of the foodie community is learning from each other, mistakes and all! Can I share some of my misfortunes with this cake..and also some of the things I would repeat?

First of all I'll start with the repeats, since there are less of them I'll get them out of the way first! For the cake I used a typical sponge recipe that I have used many times before. It is a recipe from the book, "The Harry's Bar Cookbook". Arigo Cipriani states that he uses this recipe in most of his pastry cakes. It has worked well for me and holds syrups and fillings wonderfully. Second, I used the left over rum syrup from my Pisatchio Trifle Genoise. It tasted great as it melded with the cake and ice cream after defrost! Wow, that's about it for what I'd repeat!

Now the lessons learned! :) Contrast with cake and ice cream colors. My son chose the ice cream flavor for this cake because it was for his 15th birthday last weekend. It tasted really good, but it doesn't give the WOW factor when cutting into it! Baked Alaska's are traditionally made with ice cream such as Spumoni or Pistachio. These would be more preferable and much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye! Next, I was horrified at how my meringue turned out, arghh! No gloss at all and it deflated quickly! I am not sure what went wrong, I was trying to retrace my steps but the only thing I could think of was that I didn't let the eggs come to room temperature. They were whipped right out of the fridge! Also I couldn't find my large star tip for the meringue! The last time I made it the meringues looked nice and fluffy, I had used a large tip that I make meringue cookies with! Lastly I would have to say the over all shape didn't thrill me. I made the cake three layers. Two of the layers I sliced to make them even and flat across. The top layer I left alone with a slight dome on top. Well, it really should look full domed or no dome at all. I would have preferred the top being sliced flat and getting the dome look with the meringue!

I'm really looking forward to making this cake again, but totally different next time! If you have made a Baked Alaska before I would love to hear your success stories...or even your flops! :) Ciao and Buon Appetito! Laurie

Sweet Filled Ricotta Cookie

Biscotto Dolce Di Ricotta

The filling for this cookie comes by crossing a Sardinian Pardula Easter cookie with a filled Sicilian Cannoli. Pardula's are a holiday traditional cookie that look like the sun and are made with very little sugar but at the end dusted with confectioners sugar. They have a flavor and cookie texture that grow on you and make it very hard to eat just one or two! Cannoli's as you all know are probably the most delectable filled dessert with it's crisp fried cookie horn filled with sweet ricotta, candied fruit and chocolate pieces. Yumm!

I make this cookie using a sweet tart dough and then fill them with ricotta taking components from the pardula's and canolli's and then coming up with this! These too are quite addictive and hard to pass with just one, and they go wonderfully with coffee..or tea! :)

Ricotta Filling

9 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
3 1/2 Tbsp. Flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of saffron
3 tsp zest of 1 orange
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. Marsala Wine
1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

Press the ricotta through a strainer into a large bowl.
Sift the confectioners sugar into the ricotta.
Add the flour, baking powder, saffron, orange zest, egg yolk and Marsala.
Mix until smooth. Gently fold in chocolate pieces.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to fill cookies.

Sweet Tart Dough
recipe by Nick Malgieri

1 cup all-purpose Flour
3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/2 stick Cold Butter (unsalted)
1 large Egg

* I really like this dough recipe, it is very soft (sometimes a little messy to work with), but I always have good results. Tart and pastry dough's can get stiff by over handling. When Making cookies with my kids, this recipe seems to bounce back from all their kneading and re-rolling!

Instructions for Sweet Dough
To mix the dough by hand, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and add to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients by breaking it into tiny pieces, continuously pinching and squeezing it into the dry ingredients. Be careful to keep the mixture uniform by occasionally reaching down to the bottom of the bowl and mixing all the ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour over the flour and butter mixture. Stir with a fork, continuing to stir until the dough begins to hold together, but still appears somewhat dry. Scatter flour on the work surface and scrape the dough into it. Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth.

To mix the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 3 times at 1-second intervals to mix. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and add to work bowl. Process, pulsing repeatedly at 1-second intervals, until the mixture is fine and powdery, resembles a coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible, about 15 pulses in all. Add the eggs to the work bowl and pulse ten times or so, until the dough forms a ball. Scatter flour on the work surface and knead the dough into it.

Press and knead the dough quickly 3 or 4 times, until it is smooth. Press the dough into two equal disks. Sandwich the disks of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 6-inch disk. Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least one hour.

Extra dough for the princess

Preheat oven to 350
Prepare your work surface and sprinkle with flour. Roll out the dough to the same thickness as you would for a pie or tart base. Using a small disc around the size of a half dollar, cut out as many rounds as you can. I use a shape cutter from my finger sandwich set. Keep enough flour on your surface so the dough almost slides around and makes it easy to transfer after filled and sealed. Count out your circles. When it comes time to filling them, you want to make sure you reserve half of them to use as cookie tops.

For filling the cookies I use a pastry bag without a tip. Moisten the outside of the pastry circles with an egg wash. Fill the circles with ricotta filling. Remember to reserve pastry circles for the tops. Place another pastry circle on the top of the fillings. Press to seal all cookies. For an added decorative touch crimp around the edges the a fork.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for around 20 - 25 minutes until light golden. Remove cookies from sheets onto wire racks. When cookies are completely cool, dust with confectioners sugar.

Buon Appetito!