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Edamame Gyoza With Dipping Sauce For Fiesta Friday #57

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

One of my favorite things to eat besides sushi in a Japanese restaurant is Gyoza. Traditional Gyoza has a minced pork filling, they are succulent and delicious and loaded with umami especially when dipped in the very flavorful dipping sauce. I made these vegetarian combining my love of edamame and gyoza. The edamame are steamed, then sautéed then mashed and used as filling for these lovely little dumplings. The dipping sauce is my version of the typical gyoza dipping sauce. I added some chili paste to give it a little kick, traditional dipping sauce contains something called Rayu, I don’t have it and it’s too cold to venture out looking for it so I adapted and made my own version using soy, mirin, a little sweetness and chili paste. It tastes wonderful with the gyoza.

I thought these little beauties would make a nice addition to the hottest party in town, Fiesta Friday #57. Angie@The Novice Gardener is hosting as always and this week her co hosts are everyone, as in all of us, how about that. We are all tasked with voting for the feature recipes.

Makes 18
Making the edamame filling and gyoza:
1 cup shelled edamame cooked
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1 teaspoon (heaping tsp) light miso paste
splash of sriracha
season with salt and pepper to taste
18 wonton or gyoza wrappers
water to seal the edges
sesame oil and vegetable oil to fry the gyoza
Steam the edamame, I used the microwave following package directions, cooking for 3 minutes on high. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a skillet, add a splash of sesame oil add the garlic and saute until soft, add the edamame and continue to saute for approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add all the ingredients to the food processor and pulse just a few times to break up the soy bean and mix everything together. Test to make sure it will hold together, should be a rough paste. Note: I did not need to add salt, the miso paste added more than enough for me and the dipping sauce is salty from the soy sauce. So use salt gingerly if so desired.

Making the gyoza

Making the gyoza

Place the wrappers on your work surface. Have a cup of water and the filling ready. Place a tsp of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper all the way around and fold over, press on the edge using your thumb and index finger until you know that it’s bonded. Heat a skillet ( I used a 12 inch skillet) on high with a little sesame oil (Note: I used the same skillet I used for the edamame so it was already oiled a splash of sesame oil was all I needed), place the gyoza seam side standing up in the skillet. Brown them, it takes only about a minute or two. Now add about 2/3 cup water to the skillet and cover. Let cook for 4-5 minutes or until the water completely evaporates. Serve immediately.
Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon chili paste (or more if you want it spicier)
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Whisk all ingredients together and serve with the gyoza




Crunchy Noodles, Pork Belly And Vegetables

Crunchy noodles, vegetables and pork belly

Crunchy noodles, vegetables and pork belly

I step a bit outside my comfort zone here. I love Asian food especially anything involving noodles but I usually eat out and don’t make it myself at home. Food52 as you know has recipe contests and this time it’s your best recipe using noodles.

This recipe is really pretty simple and straightforward but the sum of all it’s parts is delicious. Crunchy noodles, marinated pork belly fried until crisp, oven roasted bok choy and steamed snow peas all nestled in a really flavorful broth. The pork belly marinade is so flavorful and the resulting meat is delicious. The noodles are deep fried and retain texture and crunch even in the broth. Now this is not a bowl of soup, there is broth but it’s not a lot of liquid, what I went for was intense flavor.
Marinade and roasting the pork belly:

2 garlic cloves smashed
1 spring onion cut into small pieces white and green part
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 pound pork belly ( I used berkshire 3 strips)
broth (chicken, vegetable,pork. beef your choice) enough to come to middle of the piece of pork (approximately 2 cups).
Mix all ingredients together, place pork belly in zip lock bag or container and pour the marinade on the pork. Squish it around until each piece is coated and refrigerate over night.
Pre heat oven to 325. Place pork belly in a baking dish, reserve the marinade. Cover the pork half way with broth (your choice, chicken, vegetable, beef or pork) Cover baking dish tightly and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 -2 hours. When done remove pork belly and wrap in foil or place in covered container and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight Pour the broth into a fat separator, if you don’t have one refrigerate the broth and skim off the fat, reserve the remaining broth you will use it for serving.

bok toy and snow peas

bok choy and snow peas

Vegetables, noodles and putting together:

4 baby bok choy
1/2 pound approximately snow peas
vegetable and toasted sesame oil
season with salt and pepper to taste only if desired NOTE: the broth is quite intense and has salt so bear that in mind when seasoning the vegetables
1-2 packets fresh chow mien or lo mein noodles
vegetable oil to deep fry the noodles
1/2 tsp minced ginger (for broth)
pork belly and reserved marinade
Pre heat oven to 375. Cut Bok Choy in half and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Brush with vegetable oil, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetable is slightly browned and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside. Steam your snow peas. (I steamed in the microwave for 55 seconds in a glass bowl with a splash of water) Set aside.

fresh noodles

fresh noodles

I used fresh chow mien noodles that came in individual packets. One packet made two servings. Take out a packet of fresh noodles. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a pot to 375 degrees. Divide the noodles into portion size desired and drop noodles in one piece into the hot oil, let fry until golden brown, turn over and fry the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Place reserved broth in a skillet add a little minced ginger and cook until reduced by about half, you want the broth to be slightly thickened and very rich. Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator and cut into slices. Heat a skillet with a little oil, dip the pork belly in the reserved (left over) marinade and fry on high heat until crisped and browned. Place fried noodles in a bowl, arrange, bok choy. snow pea’s and pork belly slices on top of the noodles. Pour some broth over it all, garnish with spring onions.


Dessert And Wine A Valentines Day Tasting And Guest Pairing From Anatoli@ Talk A Vino!

Pug and wine Print (Easy)

Pug and wine Print (Etsy)

This is Part II of my Valentines Post, the cake will be paired with wine,  I am not adept at pairing so I looked to my friends, the experts for the perfect pairing for this dessert. Anatoli whose wonderful, informative blog Talk A Vino is one of my go to sources when I want information regarding wine and everything involving the wine culture. I will be posting the wine pairing in a separate post. Anatoli has gone above and beyond and we will be comparing 3 different wines, I felt that this deserves a separate post. I had no idea pairing wine or Champagne or sparkling wine with chocolate is difficult but it is. Isn’t that pug the cutest, Michelle from Rockin Red Blog tweeted to me and when I saw it I had to have it, found on Etsy, bought it and I am now the proud owner of this print. The pug looks like my Izzy.

I thought it would be fun to invite some friends over on Valentines Day and have them participate in the dessert/wine tasting.  Anatoli chose a sparkling red, a Brachetto di Acqui from the Piedmont region of Italy. He suggested Rosa Regale and while searching for this wine I also came across one that sounded interesting also and Anatoli gave it his stamp of approval so I got both the one I added is Marceno Brachetto di Acqui, now this is not the wine I ordered, I wanted the Marceno Spumante Brochette di Acqui but they sent the wrong one, same grape so we’ll give it a go.  The other suggestion was a Port Wine. When I told Anatoli I didn’t like Port, he asked if I have ever tried a 20 year old Tawny to which I said no I hadn’t. I decided to add  a bottle of Taylor Fladgate 20 year Tawny port also.

The lineup of wines

The lineup of wines

Here is Anatoli’s Write up:

Pairing Dessert with Wine
When fellow blogger and a wonderful cook Suzanne asked me if I would be interested in providing some suggestions for Champagne or Sparkling wine to pair with dessert, I bravely said “of course”. Yes, “of course”, but pairing dessert with wine is generally not an easy fit, outside of nice Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot with equally nice dark chocolate. And Champagne or Sparkling wine don’t bode particularly well with the desserts, unless we are talking about lightly fizzed Moscato, which generally stands a better chance of pairing with the dessert.
Next email brought in more details about the dessert: it will be a “Chocolate cake filled with blood orange curd.cream and frosted with chocolate nutella buttercream”. Urgh. Lots of ingredients, lots of flavors – no straightforward pairing.
Pairing of the wine and food can go in three different ways. Well, to be precise, there is another option, but it it is not worth talking about as the option #4 is called “fail” – this is when wine and food don’t work together. Three positive variants can be called indifferent, complementing and contrasting. Indifferent simply means that even when you take a sip of wine with your food, both wine and food stay in their own realm and don’t bother each other. Complementing and contrasting usually means that your experience is enhanced by adding wine to the food. Big tannic wine is often works well with the steak by complementing the flavors. Cutting acidity of the white wines can be great with appetizers by bringing out sweet notes. So all of this is good in theory, but then we have a particular pairing to do at hand.
So for the dessert above, I need to think about it. First we got chocolate cake – but then we got blood orange cream, and lots of sugar – we need to go into the sweet wines here, and sweet Champagne is simply not something I have a knowledge of. Moscato? Might be, but I wouldn’t do Moscato with chocolate, we need deeper flavors. So, what to do, what to do – ahh, I know – how about some Brachetto d’Aqcui? Brachetto d’Acqui is an Italian wine, produced from Brachetto grape and typically fizzed and sweet. The red grape profile of this wine makes it better suitable for the dishes with chocolate, and sweetness typically is not overpowering, which should make it a good complement. So my recommendation was Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, which also comes in a very nice and presentable bottle (remember, your enjoyment of the wine starts form the bottle and the label, so bottle matters).
Okay, so I found a suggestion for the sparkling wine, but considering the complexity of the flavors (don’t forget “chocolate nutella buttercream”), I wanted to suggest something else to complement this dessert. One of the first thoughts was about Pedro Ximenez Jeres, but it might be way too sweet for this seemingly delicate dessert. So, if not Jerez, then may be Port? Yes, Port should work perfectly! Not any Port – the young Vintage port will overpower the dessert, and the young Ruby or Tony will be lost on it. But 20-years old Tawny ( or anything older that that), should work fine, considering the variety of flavor such port possesses – all of the hazelnut and almond flavors, dry figs, raising, dates – there is a lot in the aged Port profile which could make it an ideal suitor of the this dessert. As an additional bonus, going with 20+ old year’s Port gives an additional advantage – lots of choices. You can go with Graham, Taylor, Sandeman, Burmester and many many others, and they all should work quite well with the dessert.
Well again – for me, it is just a theoretical exercise. For Suzanne? She actually will have to do the hard part – entertain people and drink the wines with the dessert – and I’m really curious to know how did it go.

Well, before I will turn it over to Suzanne to tell the rest of this pairing story, I have to also share my scary moment with this pairing (happy food and scary moments don’t bode well together, don’t they?) After all was said and done and Suzanne got the wines and was ready for her evening, I saw her latest post popping up on Friday, talking about “Tartlets With Blood Orange Curd, Whipped Cream And Nutella”. My heart literally sunk – this is the dessert Suzanne is serving, and it is apparently different from the original – and she has the wines – how is it going to work now? Well, Nutella still was the there, and it technically represents both hazelnuts and chocolate, so I shouldn’t lose the hope…
Now it is really the time for Suzanne to tell the rest of the story…

Dessert is served

Dessert is served

First of all I feel so badly that I changed the dessert, well it really was the same flavors but in a different form. My cake failed mainly because of the pan I bought, long story that I won’t get into now. I decided to make the tartlets, I’m sure you saw my FF#55 post. I planned a Valentines Day dinner party and invited some close friends, we had lamb kofta in a tomato sauce with eggplant, basmati rice prepared in the Persian way,  labneh  and lots of salads, and with this I served a wonderful 2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel (Green and Red from Chiles Mill Vineyards) and it paired very nicely it was really a great wine.

I served the dessert to my friends with the Rosa Regale Brachetto di Acqui. The wine was bubbly, and I served well chilled in champagne flutes. Everyone got some of the tart and I also served the chocolate cake with a simple cream cheese buttercream. The wine was light and fruity, on the nose fresh berries, it’s like springtime in a glass, tasting this wine you are immediately overwhelmed with the lovely taste of fresh fruit, strawberries, peaches and nectarines. It’s a bit sweet but in a very good way. All of my guests including myself absolutely loved this wine with the tart, it was in my humble opinion a perfect pairing, honestly it could not have been better. We finished the wine and dessert and at that point could not have anymore so decided to save the port for the next day.

Rosa Regale

Rosa Regale

I want to thank Anatoli@Talk A Vino  for helping me with this very special and highly successful pairing. It was a wonderful evening and thanks to Anatoli’s expertise and intuitive pairing a really wonderful and delicious dessert. Thank you so much Anatoli!! Please check his blog out, there is a wealth of information about wine, including great recommendations, reviews and tutorials. A definite must read for anyone interested in learning more about wine and the wine culture.

A very special thank you to Maia and Laila my young and willing helpers who decorated the Valentines table for me, isn’t it pretty!!!


Happy Valentines Day, Tartlets With Blood Orange Curd, Whipped Cream And Nutella



This combines two wonderful celebrations, Valentines Day and Fiesta Friday. This post has morphed several times with some failed attempts at a cake (cake pan problems) and I have now settled on tartlets with a layer of nutella and filled with blood orange curd. They are delicious and I hope you enjoy!

This Friday, the day before Valentines Day is very special because we are celebrating two occasions, Valentines Day and Fiesta Friday #55, how great is that?  Thank you Angie@The Novice Gardener for hosting you rock,  the co hosts this week are Sue@birgerbird and me, moi, yep I’m a co host this week no link necessary because if you are reading this you are already here!! Very excited to host with my buddy Sue.

I needed to use the blood oranges so I squeezed the juice ahead of making the curd and froze in ice cube trays, I also threw in 2 mandarins. the color is incredible!!!


Look at the color of the blood orange juice

Look at the color of the blood orange juice can you figure out which is the mandarin

Blood Orange Curd

adapted from lemon cream recipe from Tartine Bakery Cookbook

Makes about 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) (It made exactly 16 oz for me)

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (5 oz/155 ml) Juice from Blood Oranges

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp orange zest

3/4 cup (6 oz/170 g) sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup (8 oz/225 g) unsalted butter

zest of one whole orange (medium size)

Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

Combine the orange juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar, zest and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, not touching, the water. (Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular.) Place the bowl over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180° F on a thermometer. This will take 10 to 12 minutes. If you don’t have or trust your thermometer, don’t worry. It should thicken to the point that your whisk leaves a trail through the curd. NOTE: I don’t use a thermometer, the mixture will thicken and coat the back of the spoon, draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger, the line will stay intact. It took about 11 minutes for mine to thicken properly.

Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool to 140° F, stirring from time to time to release the heat. Again I didn’t use a thermometer, I poured into the blender, and by the time I cut the butter into tbs size pieces it was just the right temperature.

When the cream is ready, leave it in the bowl if using an immersion blender, or pour it into a countertop blender. With the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece add the additional orange zest and pulse once or twice.. The cream will be quite thick.

Blood Orange Curd

Blood Orange Curd

You can use the cream immediately, or pour it into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To use after refrigeration, if necessary, gently heat in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water until it has softened, whisking constantly. Note: Your beautiful vibrant, brightly colored blood orange juice will turn a sort of beige color after mixing with the eggs and butter, you can if you wish add a tiny drop of food color to turn it pink, more fitting for valentines day or go au naturale and as you can see I went natural.

Pate Sucree

From Martha Stewarts Pie’s and Tarts

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks or 8 oz) unsalted butter cold cut into small pieces

2 large egg yolks

2-4 tbs heavy cream or ice water

Pulse flour, sugar and salt in food processor until well combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal. Add the egg yolks and drizzle the cream or ice water and pulse until it forms a cohesive dough. If mixture is too dry add cream or water a tsp at a time until it is cohesive. Remove from processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To blind bake the tartlets:

Pre heat oven to 375 degree’s. Roll out or press dough into tartlet pans and refrigerate or put in freezer for 15-30 minutes before baking. Place sheet of parchment in each and fill with pie weights or place another tartlet pan on top and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes you will notice the edges lightly brown. Remove parchment and weights or pan and place back in the oven another 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.



To make your tarts

Spoon some nutella in the tart shell ( I like to do it when the shell is still a little warm so the nutella is easier to spread) place in the refrigerator for about 15 or 20 minutes so the nutella hardens a bit, be generous, don’t skimp on the nutella. Spoon in the curd, top with some whipped cream and chocolate shavings and serve.

Happy Valentines Day to all!!




The Best of Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2


Look at the incredible lineup of dishes both sweet and savory and big thanks go to Angie for putting it all together and her gorgeous co hosts Selma and Nancy!!

Originally posted on The Novice Gardener:

The Fiesta Friday Anniversary was a stunning success! It was an incredible 2-week event with a total of 226 amazing recipes being submitted. I found it extraordinary how you were able to come up with such exquisite creations. Partying for 2 weeks seemed to have helped those creative juices running, instead of depleting them. Party animals!! :D I want you to know that I find inspiration in each and every one of you. Thank you so much!

These posts are the best of the best! Share them with your readers by posting the collages on your Facebook page, pinning on Pinterest or tweeting about them. You can also blog about them or reblog this post. You have my permission to reblog the post in its entirety. It’s not about me getting more views. It’s about spreading the word on these extraordinary recipes.

The Best of Main Courses

the best of Fiesta Friday main courses

Here’s why they’re…

View original 1,029 more words

Blondies For Fiesta Friday #54 And A Winner For Uncle Steve’s Giveaway!!!


Moist and delicious

Moist and delicious

Who doesn’t love a blondie? I certainly do, and when I saw this recipe for Blondies on Mama’s Gotta Bake, I knew I needed/wanted to make it. If you have never visited Sheryl’s site you are in for a treat when you do. I love her recipes and photography, she doesn’t just bake her savory recipes are amazing too. I had yet to find a recipe for Blondies that I was totally in love with, they were good, some were not, I have had more than my fair share of flops. I am so happy to report that this recipe is a keeper. It’s simple to make and results are fantastic. The recipe/instructions are spot on. Sheryl used chocolate chips, pecans and cranberries. I didn’t have cranberries so I didn’t use any fruit, but I did use both dark and milk chocolate, brown butter and pecans.


After 2 weeks of partying I’m surprised Angie @The Novice Gardener isn’t worn out,  and this week to help keep the party going she has two fabulous co hosts to help her Josette @ The Brook Cook and Sonal @Simply Vegetarian 777, this is going to be one heck of a party.  So for Fiesta Friday#54 I am bringing Mama’s Gotta Bake’s delicious blondies, I hope you all enjoy!!!



Now for the giveaway, the lucky winner of a trio of delicious sauces from Uncle Steve’s NY is……..

Liz from the wonderful blog Liz the Chef!!! Congratulations Liz, send me your address by email and I will forward to Uncle Steve’s NY!!

Uncle Steve's Sauce

Uncle Steve’s Sauce

Mange Molto!!

A Meatball Hero For Super Bowl Sunday And A Giveaway!!

Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce

Meatballs in Uncle Steve’s  Tomato Basil Sauce

The wonderful and very generous people at Uncle Steve’s NY’s have offered to send a lucky reader a trio of sauces (see photo below). This is a terrific gift and you will have the opportunity to try Uncle Steve’s sauce for yourself. To say thank you I am making Steve his favorite meatballs with pine nuts and raisins and I am serving as a meatball hero. My Mom also made these so when Steve mentioned it was his favorite Sunday Supper it reminded me of my Mom also. The meatballs are first fried and then simmered in Uncle Steves Tomato Basil sauce. I am really loving this, I kid you not it tastes like my homemade sauce. I will still make my own but this sauce is a great alternative when you are in a hurry or just don’t feel like cooking.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment below. The sauce will be sent to you directly from Uncle Steve’s NY and the winner will be chosen through a random drawing via The drawing is only open to those living in the Continental US, I am so sorry my dear friends overseas. The drawing will be on Friday February 6th.

Uncle Steve's Sauce

Uncle Steve’s Sauce

I used my recipe for Meatballs and added pine nuts and raisins, simmered in Uncle Steve’s Tomato Basil sauce and served on a soft roll with lots of melty cheese, now that’s a sandwich!!

Putting it all together

Putting it all together


1 lb ground beef – 80% I like chuck

1 lb ground pork or loose Italian sausage meat, sweet or hot

handful flat leaf parsley chopped

1/2 cup grated cheese – parmigiana or romano or both

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup pine nuts lightly toasted

1/4 cup raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix together, gently, don’t knead the meat or press on it. Form into balls I like them to be about the size of a hand ball. Heat some oil, olive works nicely in a skillet add some meatballs and fry until they are nicely browned on all sides, make sure there is space between each meatball while frying you don’t want to over crowd the pan. When done place in pot of sauce and simmer. Because I used already made sauce I didn’t cook as long if you are cooking the meatballs in homemade sauce I like to simmer for hours, literally hours maybe 3 or 4 hours on medium low heat.

Note: It’s hard to judge the correct seasoning so I add some salt and microwave a small piece to test for seasoning.

I simmered the meatballs in the sauce around 30 minutes. Slice open your bread, pre heat the broiler, brush the bread with olive oil and minced garlic, grate some cheese on both sides of the bread and put in the broiler until just very light brown, remove and add mozzarella to one side and put back in until the mozzarella is melted. Spoon meatballs and a little sauce on one side and close it up. Enjoy the sandwich and the game!! I don’t watch football so I will be enjoying my meatball hero while watching Downton Abbey.

Out of the broiler

Out of the broiler

Pasticiotti For Fiesta Friday #53

Party time

Party time

This is week 2 of the Epic Fiesta Friday First Year Anniversary Party and we are bringing the main course and dessert.   I wanted to bring a very special dessert to the party, so I made Pasticiotti with chocolate filling.  I love these pastries, they are very special to me because it is a recipe that has been passed from generation to generation in my family.  It’s a great party dessert because it’s small, you don’t need a plate and fork, a napkin will suffice and they are pretty neat to eat.  Angie@The Novice Gardener has been working hard on this mega party and thank goodness she has two co hosts to help, so a big thank you to Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Selma @Selma’s Table for always being there to help and doing such a great job of hosting.

Pasticiotti is an Italian pastry, it’s a pastry crust baked in a pustie tin filled with either chocolate or vanilla filling, similar to a pudding. I grew up eating these and always looked forward to my Father bringing home a big box from the local bakery. For years I have gone to Court Street bakery in Brooklyn when I want an Italian pastry, they have been around for over half a century and the pastries are delicious and as close to my childhood memories as I have found. I wanted to try and make my own so I asked my Mother if she had a recipe, she did, it is a very old recipe from my Aunt Dee, Mom said that the recipe was handed down from my Great Grandmother. It was in Italian and measurements were not exact and I am sure it was not originally written using cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. My Aunt who was a great cook took this recipe and made it her own. I was a bit nervous making it, having never tried my hand at anything like this before, it was surprisingly easy and turned out absolutely delicious. The first time I made these I used tartlet pans and they turned out fine. Since then I have purchased pustie tins and they come out even better,  I think its because of the shape of the tin, the pudding is heavy and the crust delicate and the tins are smaller at the bottom becoming larger at the top similar to a brioche mold.There is a distinct flavor in many Italian Pastries and I found out it is from an extract called Fiori Di Sicilia, it is unique in that it is both citrusy and floral.  You can find it at Bakers Catalog (King Arthur Flour)  but you can also add a little orange zest instead and it works just fine. If you do plan to make these invest in pustie tins, they are inexpensive and worth having even if you only make these every now and then, I found mine here. One more very exciting bit of news, this recipe will be featured in The Global Family Reunion cookbook that will be unveiled at the Global Family Reunion event which is being held at the World Fair Grounds in New York in the early summer. The proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will benefit research to help find a cure and treatment for Alzheimers.

Pustie Tins

Pustie Tins

Pasticiotti with Chocolate Filling

Makes:  approximately 18

The pastry crust:
4 cups Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups light brown Brown Sugar (Not packed)

pinch of salt

1 cup (8 oz)  cold leaf lard or vegetable shortening (I used lard because thats what the original recipe used)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cold whole milk

Beat one egg with a teaspoon of sugar to brush on the pastry before baking

In mixing bowl add the flour, brown sugar,baking powder, and salt, whisk to combine making sure any clumps of brown sugar are incorporated.
In measuring cup add the milk and egg, beat egg and milk together then add the vanilla and stir to incorporate
Measure  or weigh (I like to weigh) your lard and add to dry ingredients, use a pastry cutter to cut the lard into the flour mixture it should resemble crumbs. Add the milk, egg and vanilla and with a fork combine. Working quickly gather the dough into a cohesive disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour even overnight.

Ready for the tops

Ready for the tops

Chocolate Filling:

1 cup flour

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa

pinch of salt

4 cup warm milk or water (the original recipe used water)

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fiori di sicilia or if you don’t have add 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)

In medium saucepan add flour,chocolate, sugar, a pinch of salt and whisk to combine. While whisking add the warm milk and keep whisking until its combined and there are no lumps. Turn flame to medium and whisking constantly cook until mixture thickens, add about 1 cup of hot mixture to beaten egg yolks and add back to saucepan. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly until it becomes very thick. Once the filling is very thick remove from heat stir in the vanilla and optional fiori di sicilia or orange zest, pour into a bowl. Lay some plastic wrap directly on top of the filling and let it come to room temperature on the counter top, then refrigerate until cold. Note: I like to make the dough and filling the day before and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Making the Pasticiotti

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Flour work surface,Cut dough in half one half will be bottom crust the other top crust, place half of dough back in refrigerator while working. Have your pustie tins or fluted tartlet pans ready.Either roll or press the dough into the pans it should be approximately 1/4 in thick and should have a small overhang, if dough starts to warm put back in refrigerator. When you have put the dough in the tins, place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough for the tops, roll dough about 1/4 in thick and cut into rounds a little larger than the top of the tin. Take tins from refrigerator fill with the chocolate filling just slightly  below the top of the tin. Place the top on, press making sure the bottom crust and top crust are joined and trim off any excess. Brush with egg wash and place in freezer for a few minutes just to get the pastry cold. Remove from freezer place tins on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven place on cooling rack and let sit at room temperature for 45 min to an hour or until COMPLETELY COOLED. Gently remove from the tins and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap or in an air tight container 4-6 hours or overnight.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven






Uncle Steve’s Sauce, An Interview With Steve Schirripa And a Quick Delicious Meal

Uncle Steve's Sauce

Uncle Steve’s Sauce

I received no monetary compensation for this, I did however get 3 bottles of sauce. I volunteered to do this article and the opinion is 100% my own.

I don’t know about you but I watched every single episode of the Soprano’s up until the very last one. I went through withdrawal after it ended, there was a hole in my Sunday evening TV lineup. If you have watched the show you probably recognize Steve Shirripa aka Bobby Baccalieri, he was married to Janice, Tony’s sister played by Aida Turturro on the show.  A few weeks ago I was shopping at my local Whole Foods and had just gotten my salmon and was browsing and walking with my friend (also named Steve) and I had to do a double take, sitting there in the aisle was Steve Schirripa, he had a table set up with pots of his sauce and some of his entourage was there with him. When I saw him he told me to come over and taste the sauce, besides being star struck I was thrilled to have a taste. I will be honest, I don’t buy bottled sauce, I’m not a snob and I’m all for quick and easy but I really just don’t like the taste of the sauce I have tried. There is nothing wrong with it, really nothing wrong, it’s easy, and after a busy day at work opening a jar of sauce and having a bowl of pasta is a great thing, that is if you can find a jarred sauce you like. Up until that day I had not. I loved how they let you taste the sauce, dip a piece of Italian bread in, that was my favorite thing to do when I lived at home and my Mom made sauce. It immediately brought back very fond memories. Well, it is seriously good. There are three types, Tomato Basil, Marinara and Arrabiata. I bought a jar of the tomato basil which is the one I tasted, now one thing about me is that I am a little shy and become verklempt especially around celebrities so I just walked away thanking him and telling him I am a fan. My friend Steve went up to them and said that I had a blog, they called me over and I told them I would love to blog about his product, they also said Steve would be happy to do an interview and that I could contact them to set it up, I was thrilled. We exchanged cards and I was on my way. Fast forward, life got busy and I remembered I needed to email Steve’s team to set up the interview, I did and they immediately got back to me and asked if they could send me some sauce, the next day I got it. Look at how cute the packaging is and even a wooden spoon is included, you have to love that. Be sure to check out the website also for Uncle Steve’s products!!

So here is my interview with Steve Schirripa.  I really wanted to know more about his company and why he chose to get into the food business. The interview was conducted over the phone, I hope you enjoy I know I did. I have to say I was a bit nervous, he put me at ease and is the nicest most genuine person and really believes in his product. It was such a pleasure talking to him.

1. I know you are a very busy actor and wondered if you could tell us why you decided to segue into the food business.
Steve: My partner Joe Scarppinito had the idea to make the sauce as a tribute to my Mom who had passed away. Joe is an entrepreneur and said to me Lets do sauce!! So we set out to make the best sauce possible, I’ll be honest I don’t eat jarred sauce and we wanted to make a sauce that tastes good. The sauce is so good my wife makes it for me at home.

2.  There are many commercially prepared jarred sauces on the market, what sets your sauce apart from the rest.
Steve: Uncle Steve’s sauce is Organic, Gluten Free, Non GMO and it’s our goal to make the best sauce possible, it’s hard to find a good jarred sauce, with Uncle Steve’s what you see is what you get, you can see the list of ingredients everything is completely natural, no hidden stuff, it’s all good.

3.  I heard that this is your Mother’s recipe, I am sure that her sauce is delicious but that’s a small batch for Sunday supper. How do you maintain the same distinctive and delicious flavor when preparing this for mass production.
Steve: Our sauce is made in small batches and we have good quality control, as a matter of fact we have thrown out an entire batch if it doesn’t meet our standards. We cook the sauce a long time and thats what gives it it’s distinct and authentic flavor.
When I was growing up Mom stayed home and cooked, now days Moms and Dads both work and our goal was not for you to stop making homemade sauce but when you are busy we provide you with the highest quality sauce that actually tastes really good and you can feel good about feeding this to your family.

4.  People from all over the US and world follow my blog, tell us where we can buy your sauce, how many states is it available and what stores?  I met you in Whole Foods Brooklyn and know it’s there, can my friend in Long Island get it at the Whole Foods near her?
Steve: We are in over 2000 stores and are growing every day. It’s amazing really because we have only been in business for a year. If you don’t see Uncle Steve’s sauce in the store go to the website here and put in your zip code we can tell you where to buy but we also have an online shop where you can buy sauce and other Italian specialty items. We are in Whole Foods in the New York area including Long Island and also New Jersey, we are heading to the West Coast, are in Florida, Oregon, Idaho, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and other states also.

5.  I have to ask,do you stay in touch with fellow cast members from The Soprano’s? I never missed an episode and it’s still my favorite show of all time. Have they tried your sauce? Just curious.
Steve: Yes I stay in touch with fellow cast members, Michael Imperioli, I just had lunch with Lorraine Bracco, Tony Sirico. Michael loves my sauce, he is an incredible cook and actually won a celebrity Chopped.

6.  I see you have an online shop on your site can you tell us about some of the products available online.
Steve: The online shop has the sauce, Gluten Free Pasta, vinegar and soon will have olive oil. You can also get gift baskets.

7. I know you have a Twitter account @unclestevesNY can you tell my followers if there are any other ways to find you on social media (FaceBook, Instagram etc…)
Steve: Yes you can follow on Twitter and Facebook but I am not big at keeping up on Social Media.

8. Do you come from a traditional Italian family where Sunday’s were always dinner at Grandma’s house?  If so, what was your favorite Sunday Dish when you were growing up?
Steve: Yes and I remember the fried meatballs with pignoli and raisins, it was my favorite food and the smell was amazing I can still smell it. I remember we couldn’t eat them until we got home from Church.

Rigatoni With Eggplant And Uncle Steve’s Arrabiata Sauce:

I have been craving eggplant, I thought that it would go nicely with the Arrabiata sauce. I decided to make a quick and easy pasta dish using Uncle Steve’s Arrabbiata sauce, some eggplant and rigatoni, top it with a nice big dollop of ricotta and a generous grating of pecorino romano.  Previously when I bought jarred sauce I had to doctor it, you know what I mean, add some basil, garlic, olive oil, why not just make it from scratch then right? Well this sauce does not need to be doctored, it’s great right out of the jar, I did add a pinch of salt but that doesn’t count really. The meal took less than 30 minutes to make, and was delicious. I cut the eggplant into bite size pieces and roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper after the eggplant was done I added to the sauce that was heating on the stove. when your pasta is done add it to the sauce and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Thats it, a quick delicious meal in no time and this is a product you can feel good about feeding your family. Note: Uncle Steve’s Arrabbiata is spicy, they aren’t kidding, love it!!

The entire meal was done in 30 minutes. Here is what I did:

Wash and cut the eggplant into bite size pieces, pre heat oven to 425 degree’s line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the eggplant on the parchment, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

While the eggplant is roasting, put your water on for the pasta, salt generously and bring to a full boil. While the pasta is cooking check on the eggplant, remove when it’s lightly browned approximately 20 minutes.

Look at the ingredients, natural, simple and good

Look at the ingredients, natural, simple and good

Get out your saute’ pan and add the sauce and eggplant and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the pasta from the water when al dente (I used a spider utensil) added directly to the sauce, let the pasta cook in the sauce approximately 2 -3 minutes. Serve with ricotta and grated cheese.

A bowl of goodness

A bowl of goodness fresh, natural and delicious!





Uplifting Photo of the Day Features The Sweetest Old Lady at a Wedding


I want to share this blog with you, it’s positive, uplifting and I really enjoy this site. A little kindness goes a long way and this blog will make you smile. There are great photo’s like the one below that melts my heart, uplifting stories and quotes. I thought this is a great way to start out on Monday. Enjoy everyone.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

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