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  • pixeltheatre 12:02 am on November 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cannole, cannoli,   

    Daring Bakers 25th Challenge: Cannoli 

    The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the ItalianPastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book. After recovering from the mild heart attack after reading Lisa Michele’s tag line in the DB forum : “Sorry all, we’re not baking this month…”, I was glad to see we were heading to Italy this month.

    Deep frying is something I have rarely done, not because I don’t like fried food, but because I never liked the lingering smell in my apartment afterwards. With Hun, though, it is something I’ve had more of a chance to explore. Hun has a backyard. And that’s where we setup the Coleman stove and fry our hearts (or at least, dinners (hum…. turkey…) appies and desserts (hum… deep fried oreo wontons…) out. In moderation, natch.  🙂

    This challenge also brought some bittersweet memories back. The only time I had done some fried Italian pastries was in the early 80’s, following the death of my stepfather, who was Italian. I still remember being in the kitchen of one of his sisters, with the rest of the women of the extended family, frying something called, I think, bugis (sp?) (liar, in italian), a fried strip of dough, with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. These were served at the memorial the following day. I can’t remember how many of those we made that afternoon, but looking back on it, I find it interesting that food not only brings us together in times of celebration, but also in times of mourning.

    I didn’t have any cannoli tubes but following Lisa’s suggestion, I fried my cannoli as sheets instead of tubes, and stacked them with the ricotta filling in between. I made a lemon/limoncello sauce to go with it. This dessert closed an evening of Daring challenges, with sushi as the main course. It was a busy weekend! 😉

    2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
    1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
    3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
    1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
    Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
    1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
    Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
    1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
    Confectioners’ sugar

    Note – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

    2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
    1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
    1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
    3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
    2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
    3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

    Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

    1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

    2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

    3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

    4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

    5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

    8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

    9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

    Cannoli shell preparation, cutting out the dough circles, sealing the dough around the form, frying the shells, finished shells ready to fill

    Pasta Machine method:
    1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

    2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

    3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

    For stacked cannoli:
    1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 – 190 °C).

    2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

    1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

    2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

    1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

    2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

    • Lauren 9:13 pm on November 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful Liz! I agree – a minor heart attack when hearing no baking. Think I held my breath! Your cannoli look fabulous – I’m glad they brought back memories =D.

    • Audax Artifex 6:31 am on November 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your stack of cannoli looks fabulous I love how the filling is oozing yumminess. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: sushi   

    Daring Cooks 7th Challenge: 寿司 

    Sushi rollThe November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. This was a nice throwback for me. When I first moved to Vancouver 12 years ago, I fell in love with sushi. Not a difficult thing to do in a city that sells it on practically every corner, including the grocery store (with full sushi stations) and gas stations. In fact, the first course I ever took in Vancouver at the VSB was sushi making. I still remember standing in that high school hall, one early Saturday morning, waiting for Ron Suzuki, our instructor, to show up with all his paraphenelia, for my sushi making class. In that one day class, I learned about the ingredients used, the techniques, the history and where to shop for those ingredients. I bought my bamboo mat and made sushi at home a couple of times. But it had been years since I had done it from scratch. With Fujiya a few blocks away, there was no need, really.

    Still, I welcomed this challenge to try these recipes. It involved four parts:

    Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
    Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling (broiled eel and japanese cucumber)
    Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut (medley of japanese cucumber, carrots, broccoli, radish sprouts and avocado)
    Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings (raw and seared tuna and salmon)

    Again, thanks to Fujiya, which not only sells fresh sushi, but is also a fully stocked Japanese grocery store, finding all these ingredients was a snap. The recipe for the rice also proved to be perfect. Mind you, my hands were numbingly cold by the time I finished rinsing the rice, but I’m sure it must have contributed to the success of it. 🙂

    PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)4094807696_2dc6ef0c94_m

    Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
    Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
    Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
    Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
    Finishing the rice: 15 minutes


    • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
    • 2½ cups water
    • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

    Optional Ingredients

    • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
    • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

    Sushi vinegar dressing

    • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
    • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
    • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

    Rinsing and draining the rice

    1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
    2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

    4094043915_13c291c919_mSoaking the rice

    1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminium foil to make the seal tight).
    2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu.
    3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

    Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

    1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
    2. Heat on low setting.
    3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
    4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

    Cooking the rice

    1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
    2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
    3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
    4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

    Finishing the rice

    • Turning out the rice4094045059_8b4aeca39b_m


    1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
    2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
    3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

    • Dressing the rice with vinegar


    1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
    2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
    3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

    • Fanning & Tossing the rice


    1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavour, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
    2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

    • Keeping the rice moist


    1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

    4094046691_94eddf6dc9_m* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

    Though I was shocked to see the amount of rice it produced, I was equally shocked to see we nearly used all of it for these recipes. Hun and I dined well that evening, the meal finished with November’s Daring Bakers Challenge (come back on November 27th for the reveal). The bonus was that this was the first Daring Cooks Challenge we didn’t have to worry about our dinner getting cold while we took pictures of it. 🙂

    Snaps, courtesy of Hun (while I dealt with sticky, rice-covered fingers, building the various rolls. 🙂 )




    • Lauren 1:00 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks amazing, I chickened out of using the sushi grade fish, just not my sort of thing!

      I also had problems with taking photos and making the sushi at the same time. Got myself into quite a mess, but it all turned out fine in the end!

    • Audax Artifex 3:23 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      That spiral roll looks like a rare jewell so shiny and gleaming with dewy class. Your sushi rolls are wonderful well done you don’t seem to have lost any for your sushi-making skills. I love how you seared the nigiri topings. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

    • chef_d 9:37 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great looking sushi!

    • Jenny 10:55 am on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks great! I wish I also had access to a Japanese grocery store with all the “correct” stuff (here in Sweden we just have to wing it sometimes). Congrats on a challenge well done!

    • Lauren 2:11 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Stunning sushi Liz! The flavours look delicious =D. Fabulous job on this challenge!

    • Amy I. 2:35 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your sushi looks beautiful! I’m also thrilled to hear that there are great sushi-making resources in Vancouver (although I’m not at ALL surprised), as we’re seriously considering moving there next year. Cheers!

    • Frenchie 6:41 pm on November 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I love the seared tuna nigiri, I wish I had the right fish for this challenge, although I still loved how mine turned out. You did a great job, I think I could learn a thing or two from you. Your pictures are beautiful too.

    • suzon 3:12 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Spectacular. Your sushis are.

    • lisamichele 6:19 am on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I echo Aud’s comment, that spiral roll does look like a precious jewel with the glistening tobiko. Great writeup, with clear and concise instructions. I just sent everyone to the site for the recipe..lazy and not happy with how my sushi turned out, although it tasted great. Nicely done all around!

    • pixeltheatre 8:09 pm on November 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      @all. Thanks for dropping by and commenting! It is appreciated! 🙂 The recipe for the sushi is straight from the instructions put together by the hosts of this challenge: Audax and Rose. They deserve the credit. 🙂

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