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The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

We’re not talking about some namby pampy peanut butter. No, we’re talking gourmet walnut butter here. This was a no fuss, no muss kind of challenge and perfect for summer since it required neither stove nor oven. Plus, it gave me an excuse to indulge in my favorite pita chips.

Walnut White Bean Dip with Rosemary & Sage
Recipe notes: Canned beans tend to be salty, so you may not need additional salt. Taste the dip after blending and add salt as needed.

Ingredients:
½ cup (120 ml) walnuts*
1 (15.8 oz/448g) can Great Northern, Cannellini, or other white beans, drained and rinsed 1 garlic clove, chopped 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh sage, chopped
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) lemon zest (optional) ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper salt to taste

Directions:

  • Make walnut butter by grinding ½ cup (120 ml) walnuts in food processor for about a minute until it forms a nut butter or paste. (*Alternately, start with ¼ cup (60 ml) prepared walnut butter.) Add beans, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, sage, lemon zest (if using), and black pepper to the walnut butter in the food processor. Process the mixture to a smooth consistency. Taste and add salt as desired. Garnish dip with chopped walnuts and/or chopped fresh rosemary or sage, if desired. Serve dip with pita wedges, crostini, or assorted vegetables.

For a downloadable pdf of the recipes, click here and while you’re at it, visit the Daring Cooks’ blogroll for more fun with homemade nut butter.

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.

Before we go any further, I have to give props to my super amazing husband for helping me with this challenge. He grilled the tomatillos, grilled and shredded the chicken breasts, and, most importantly, poured the wine (for us, not this recipe)! 😉

I am in love with this green chile sauce! Just a head’s up – this sauce takes forever to make and thicken, but it’s totally worth it. Since it was rainy this weekend, I didn’t mind being in the kitchen for hours. I have a feeling I’ll be making batch after batch of this sauce all summer long. Margaritas, fresh guacamole, and now homemade green chile sauce…the staples of summertime!

Preparation time: Below are the approximate prep times for each step of the process. The sauce is the most time-intensive, but it can be made ahead and several of the steps can be done simultaneously. See additional information below for more preparation times and tips.

Roasting/preparing chiles and tomatillos: 30 – 60 min.
Assembling/simmering enchilada sauce: 30 min.
Grill chicken: 10 – 15 min.
Assembly/ baking enchilada stacks: 30 min.

Ingredients

1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams – roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Other green chiles (NOT bell peppers) could probably be substituted but be conscious of heat and size!)
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)212 grams – peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional

Directions:

Roasting Fresh Chiles

1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.
5. DO NOT RINSE!

Green Chile Sauce

1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

¡Buen provecho

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I may have cheated somewhat on this challenge. Shhh…don’t tell anyone. I had a freezer full of turkey stock, so I used that instead of making the chicken stock that the recipe called for. I was a little apprehensive as I thought the turkey flavor might be a bit too strong, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. I used some arborio rice and Riesling I already had. Imagine my surprise to find I only had to purchase one ingredient (an onion – of all the things not to have on hand!) for this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge. Pure and utter joy, I tell you!

I may have slightly overcooked my risotto as I didn’t get the creamy consistency I sought. Basically, it was really tasty, plump rice. I’ll give it another go sometime. Maybe I’ll do a sweet risotto similar to this one by Gwen with coconut milk and spices. Sounds good right now, actually.

A printable version of the recipe can be found here or you can pay Eleanor a visit. And, as always, you should take a gander at the Daring Cooks’ blogroll where you’ll find some truly creative and talented cooks. The most innovative risotto I’ve seen thus far has to be by Audax Artifex. He made multiple risotto dishes – vegan umami risotto, cheese-filled risotto croquettes, risotto pancakes, and even risotto focaccia. Another challenge knocked out of the park!

 

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

What a challenge! We had to make our own savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes as well as the zabaglione and pastry cream. Here are the recipe sources:
Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

I started preparing the tiramisu ingredients 3 days before I planned to serve it since many of the ingredients require a long rest in the refrigerator. First, I made the zabaglione and pastry cream since both needed to rest for at least four hours. The zabaglione recipe called for Marsala wine, which I did not have, so I used Port instead. I couldn’t help but sample the zabaglione before I put it in the fridge and, let me tell you, I could have made a meal out of this stuff. And the aroma was absolutely intoxicating!

On Day 2, I made the ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese. Making the ladyfingers was my favorite part of the process since it allowed me to put my pastry bag to good use. 🙂 I had some difficulty with getting the cream to 190 degrees for the mascarpone cheese. I finally did, but it took much longer than the 15 minutes the recipe indicated.

 

Day 3, I made the whipped cream then combined the zabaglione, pastry cream, and mascarpone cheese. Next, I gently folded the whipped cream into the zabaglione/pastry cream/mascarpone mixture.

Finally, it was time to assemble the tiramisu. I dipped the ladyfingers in espresso as quickly as I could. I decided to use a trifle bowl for my tiramisu instead of the 8×8 square dish as suggested. I’m not 100% satisfied with the appearance, but that’s what I get for not listening to Aparna and Deeba (aka the tiramisu masters).

Twenty-four hours later, the flavors had married perfectly! This is hands-down the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. Then again, I’m pretty sure I’ve never had ladyfingers or mascarpone cheese made from scratch. It was a big hit with the gals at last week’s game night. I’ll definitely use this recipe the next time I feel the need to do a little showboating! 😉

After all this hard work, I think all the Daring Bakers deserve a round of applause. Please visit our blogroll and give them an “atta girl” (or boy). I’m drooling in anticipation of next month’s challenge. With this group of bakers, there’s no doubt it will be something exciting and delicious!

The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

If you’re anything like me, you may be asking yourself, “What the heck is mezze?”. Mezze (pronounced “mez-ay”, although many people seem to pronounce it as “mezz”) is more of a style of eating than a specific recipe or recipes. Mezze is a bunch of small dishes served all at once—sort of like the Middle Eastern version of Spanish Tapas. It can be served as appetizers before a meal, or as the meal itself.

Michele gave us a variety of recipes to choose from, but homemade hummus and pita bread were the required portions of this challenge. My mind immediately thought of the Mediterranean hummus from Zea’s. Roasted garlic, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, and basil were calling my name.

I loved the hummus and the pita bread, although my pita didn’t puff up as I’d hoped. Hmm, that may be my excuse for making more. 😉 Click here for the recipes. Be sure to see what the rest of the creative and Daring Cooks concocted this go around and visit me on the 27th when I reveal this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge. I can’t wait to share it with you!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

If you’re looking for a rich, take-me-to-Heaven dessert, look no further than these Nanaimo bars. Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. In order to make them gluten-free, we made the graham wafers ourselves, so that was the first part of this challenge.

I love everything about this recipe! I subbed pecans for the almonds it called for in the bottom layer. Otherwise, I followed the recipe to the letter. If you go all out and make the graham crackers yourself, be sure to have plenty of flour on hand as it is quite possibly the world’s stickiest dough. The graham crackers tasted great, but bare little resemblance to the storebought variety. They make perfect crumbs though. 😉 And I still have plenty of graham crackers left! I see pie or cheesecake in my future, mmm….

If you haven’t had your fill of Canadian goodness yet, take a gander at the Daring Bakers’ blogroll. I can’t wait to see what next month’s challenge will be!

Okay, so I’m really late with this post, but it is so good I just had to share it with all of you, late or not. The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

My husband & I loved this exotic dish! I made the faster/cheaper version of the satay marinade and thought it was out of this world. I can only imagine how intoxicatingly aromatic the traditional marinade must be! And don’t get me started on how much I love this peanut sauce. Seriously, you’ll never get me to shut up once I start. I didn’t make the optional pepper dip or tamarind dip. Between the peanut sauce and two dips, I thought it would be too much. Then again, I’m not a big dipper. Did someone order a side of constellation humor? 😉

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay Marinade

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)

Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)

Directions:
1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Chill Chart

Pork Beef/Lamb Chicken Vegetables Tofu (no oil)
4-8 hrs
Up to 24 hrs
6-8 hrs
Up to 24 hrs
1-4 hours
Up to 12 hrs
20 min – 2 hrs
Up to 4 hrs
20 min – 4 hrs
Up to 12 hrs

Faster (cheaper!) marinade:
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (1 oz or 30 mls)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ginger powder (5 mls)
1 tsp garlic powder (5 mls)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (5 mls)

Directions:
1b. Mix well.
2b. Cut pork into 1 inch thick strips (2-2.5 cm thick), any length.
3b. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Cooking Directions (continued):

4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.
3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Pepper Dip (optional)

4 Tbsp soy sauce (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Tamarind Dip (optional)

4 Tbsp tamarind paste (helpful link below) (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)
1 tsp brown or white sugar, or to taste (about 5 mls)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Now, go pay my fellow Daring Cooks a visit via our blogroll. I promise you won’t be disappointed! And here is my big cake reveal. What d’ya think?

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, 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.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes

CANNOLI SHELLS
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 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

CANNOLI FILLING
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.

DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
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 oiled.). 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

DIRECTIONS FOR 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).

ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
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.

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.

Let’s just say this challenge was a labor of love. If you’re looking for an upper-body workout,  just give rolling this cannoli dough a try. It wore me out, but not before I forced it into submission. 🙂

Instead of purchasing cannoli forms, my dear husband fashioned some for me by cutting a wooden dowel (1-inch in diameter) into 4-inch long pieces. I oiled the wooden forms liberally with vegetable oil and they worked like a charm.

As you can see, I chose a sweet filling for my cannoli – a traditional ricotta filling with mini chocolate chips. Whether your sweet tooth is jonesin’ for more tasty confections or you’re in the mood for some savory cannoli, venture over to the Daring Bakers’ blogroll and take a peek at what the rest of the gang’s up to. Have a great week!

Update: After checking out some of the other Daring Bakers’ cannoli, I felt mine were a little too “vanilla”. I used the same filling, but dipped the ends of the cannoli in chocolate. Here are my jazzed up cannoli – white chocolate & pistachio, white chocolate with mini chocolate chips, chocolate & coconut, and last but not least, chocolate with candied orange peel. The kitchen stills smells citrusy, ahhh!

Daring Cooks sushi challenge

I have been wanting to make my own sushi for quite some time, but I hadn’t been able to muster up my courage. Lucky for me, I’m a Daring Cook. The 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.

The challenge consisted of four parts: 1) sushi rice, 2) dragon rolls, 3) spiral sushi roll, and 4) nigiri sushi. After investing an hour and a half just to prepare the sushi rice, I vowed never to complain again about the wait at my favorite sushi joint.

dragon roll

Smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado…need I say more? Although my “dragon” has a face only a mother could love, I’m still proud of it. Who cares about looks when it tastes so good, anyway?

spiral sushi roll

The spiral roll was the most challenging of them all for me. Actually, I have a confession to make – I enlisted the help of my gracious husband on this one. I committed a rookie mistake and overfilled my spiral roll. I know, I know…less is more. But you should know how hardheaded I am by now.

nigiri sushi

I used sashimi grade tuna for both the spiral roll and the nigiri. The nigiri proved to be the easiest for me as it does not involve rolling, but rather a hand-shaped roll. Next time, I will forgo the thin line of wasabi on top of the rice that binds the sashimi to it. Let’s just say, husband and I will have no sinus issues for the next decade. 😉 I rounded out the meal with a little seaweed salad and some miso soup (thank you, Fresh Market!).

If you want some full on food porn complete with fantastic sushi recipes, visit Audax and Rose. As if that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger, check out the rest of the gang on the blogroll. Join me Tuesday for a very festive bundt cake that’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Vietnamese chicken pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

The husband was off dominating on some folks at the final SCRCS mountain bike race of the season (#1, baby!), so what better way to welcome him home than with a big pot of chicken soup simmering away on the stove. I wanted to like this soup, really I did. The toasted spices smelled amazing, but the finished product…meh. I found myself looking for carrots, celery, something, anything. I guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to chicken noodle soup.

Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions
Servings: Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
Accompaniments:
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
Directions:
To make the Chicken Pho Broth:
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

I added Sriracha chili sauce to the broth and that helped, but even so I doubt I’ll make this again. No offense, Jaden! Please do not let my lackluster review deter you in any way from trying this for yourself.

Remember to visit the blogroll to see what the other Daring Cooks thought and come back tomorrow for some sweet ‘tater biscuits. Oh, yeah!

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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