Monthly Archives: December 2011

La Befana’s Stars

Source: – Gina DePalma

I think it is fun to have another cookie to bake after the rush of Christmas. These cookies symbolize the story of La Befana (pronounced La Bay-fah-nah), who travels around Italy on the Feast of the Epiphany, which falls on January 6 and celebrates the visit of the three Magi to the Christ Child. I like to bake these on the eve of Epiphany and eat them the next day, when I take the Christmas tree down. Rich, rolled sugar cookies spiked with a bit of anisette, they are superb with a cup of hot chocolate.

The traditional shape of these cookies is a star, to signify the Star of Bethlehem and La Befana’s quest for the baby Jesus. I think most kids will agree with my belief that multicolored sprinkles are absolutely necessary; the glaze brushed on top of the cookies helps the sprinkles adhere and gives the cookies a pretty sheen.

Yield : Makes about 4 dozen cookies


  • Course: Dessert
  • Total Time: Under 4 Hours
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Cost: Inexpensive
  • Favorited: 25 Times

Can be made ahead of time.


For the cookies:

  • 3 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons anisette
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

For the glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Multicolored sprinkles


To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk the four, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition, followed by the vanilla extract, anisette, and orange zest. Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed to form a stiff dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill until it is firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the remaining pieces refrigerated. On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a floured 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into stars. Place the cookies ½ inch apart on the baking sheets. Gather the scraps together and repeat rolling and cutting until you have used all the scraps; it may be necessary to refrigerate the scraps until they are firm enough to roll again.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the cream. Using a small pastry brush, lightly brush the surface of the cookies with a bit of glaze and decorate them with the sprinkles.

Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets, then gently remove them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper, for up to 4 days.

Nutrients per serving

Serving size is 1 cookie.

Calories 111 kcal

Calcium 1 % daily value

Vitamin C 0 % daily value

Vitamin A 2 % daily value

Potassium 15 mg

Magnesium 2 mg

Protein 1 g

Sugar 5 g

Fiber 0 g

Total Carbohydrate 12 g

Cholesterol 34 mg

Sodium 33 mg

Saturated Fat 4 g

Fat 6 g

Categories: Feast of the Epiphany | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Brown Sugar, Almond, and Sour Cherry Torta di Uova

Source:  Adapted from Molto Bataliby Mario Batali (Ecco, 2011)
Sour Cherry TortaCredit: Quentin Bacon

This simple variation on a fancy-pants pancake looks very much like a soufflé when it emerges from the oven, but it settles quickly as it cools, becoming a thick and delightful crêpe-like cake. You can substitute any pitted stone fruit for the sour cherries.


  • Butter, for greasing
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for coating
  • 3 cups of fresh tart cherries, pitted*
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 5 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and lightly flour a 9-by-13-inch deep baking dish. Scatter the cherries and almonds into the dish. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and flour together until smooth. Add the milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you pull it out of the oven, it will wiggle a bit which is normal. Do not overbake. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. The torta will have inflated quite a bit and will deflate while cooling.

Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar.

Recipe Details

Serves 8-10

*Note: If you can’t find fresh tart cherries, you can substitute frozen IQF cherries (thawed and drained).

Categories: Dessert Classics | Tags: , , | Leave a comment


Source:  Posted by SlipperCityCakes
I have been on vacation now for just over a week, and I have been sick for just over a week.  Great way to spend the holidays huh!? I had so many great recipes planned for this week, but since I have not really left my couch I will not be able to post them in time for Christmas.  However, I still wanted to make sure that I made something to share with everyone before the busy weekend – enter Pizzelle.

Pizzelle are a traditional Italian waffle cookie and are so simple to make! If you do not have a pizzelle maker you should definitely invest in one! One batch makes around 40 pizzelle and they make wonderful gifts too! Every year I always make a couple of batches and include them in gifts for friends and family.


-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
-3/4 cup sugar
-3 eggs
-1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 3/4 cups flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-Pinch of salt
-Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Note: If you want to make Chocolate Pizzelle, exclude the anise extract and substitute 1/4 cup of the flour for cocoa powder. 

Plug in Pizzelle maker and allow to preheat.  The light will click off once it is ready.

Pizzelle Maker from Villaware

Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together.  Add in the eggs, anise, and vanilla extracts.  Then, sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Once all of the ingredients are fully combined, drop about a teaspoon of batter in the center of the mold (after a couple of tries you can gage about how much batter to drop in because it really does not need much), close the pizzelle oven and allow to cook for about 1 minute.  The pizzelle maker I own has a light that clicks off when it is done.  If yours does not do this then check them after 45 seconds.

When the pizzelle are done they will be soft.  Remove from the pizzelle maker and place on a paper towel.  The pizzelle will firm up immediately.  Break off any edges from the batter spilling over if needed.

Dust with powdered sugar if you would like, and eat up and enjoy!

Categories: Dessert Classics | Tags: | Leave a comment

Polenta Bites with Blue Cheese, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Read More, Recipe by Betty Rosbottom

Photograph by Brian Leatart

Little polenta “tarts” are filled with tomatoes, pine nuts, and blue cheese, then popped into the oven until the cheese melts.
Makes 24
Polenta Bites with Blue Cheese, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts


  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 ounces soft blue cheese (such as Saga blue), cut into 24 cubes
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 12 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


  • Lightly butter 24 mini muffin cups (each about 1 3/4 inches in diameter with 1/2-inch-high sides).
  • Bring broth to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan. Season with salt.
  • Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons hot polenta into each muffin cup. Using back of spoon, pack polenta firmly into cups. Using finger, make indentation in center of each polenta tart for filling. Chill until cold and set, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Using tip of knife, lift polenta tarts from pan. Transfer tarts, indented side up, to prepared baking sheet. Place 1 blue cheese cube in each indentation. Sprinkle green onion and pine nuts over cheese. Top each tart with 2 tomato quarters. Bake until cheese is melted and polenta is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Transfer tarts to platter; sprinkle with basil and serve.
Categories: Food | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

Cannoli are pretty essential to Italians, especially during the holidays. They’re a must-have along with struffoli at Christmas, grain pies at Easter, and cassata cake and profiteroles on New Year’s. They can be large, they can be small, they can be chocolate-dipped, and even chocolate-filled. This recipe, however, is as classic as they come.

My father used to say that my uncle wasn’t coordinated because all he did at the bakery was make cannoli cream. It’s a big fail for my uncle, but a plus for novice cannoli makers because it’s simple!

For a large party, it’s best to purchase the shells. They’re not hard to find (try your local pastry shop or salumeria) and come in large and mini size.


  • 3 pounds ricotta impastata*
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of cinnamon oil
  • 80 cannoli shells
  • 1 pound chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish


Mix the ricotta impastata in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes. After that, gradually add all of the sugar. Add teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon oil.

Fill the shells on either end and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Add powdered sugar on top for garnish and serve.

Recipe Details

Makes: 80 cannoli
Total time: 10 minutes
Cuisine: Dessert, Italian
Notes and substitutions:

*Note: It can be difficult to find ricotta impastata, but it is essential to this recipe. Your best bet is to look for it online.


Categories: Food | Tags: | Leave a comment

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Source:, Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis for Food Network Magazine

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 6-8 servings

Photograph by Gemma Comas


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 table spoon granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest and amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. To wrap, return to the pan and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tuscan-Style Kale Bean Stew

 Cannellini beans give this stew a creaminess and body that will make you forget all about the carbs. If you can’t sit around the house for three hours (and who can, really?), you can try using a slow cooker, or soak the dried beans overnight.

The key to making this stew something really special though, is to make your own stock. But, if you must use store-bought, make sure to get the low-sodium variety. You’ll be cooking this stew for a long time, which means that any salt already present will concentrate.


  • 1 1/3 pounds dried cannellini beans
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, tough stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces


Soak the beans for at least 4 hours in enough water to cover.* Store in a cool place. Discard any floaters and drain the beans. Place the beans in an 8-quart stockpot and add the chicken stock, sage leaves, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for about 2 ½ hours, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and brown for five minutes, or until cooked through. Turn the pieces over with tongs about halfway through. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, over low heat, and add the onions, celery, carrot, garlic, and thyme. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Stir occasionally. Set aside.

When the beans are done, add the reserved vegetables and the kale. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook the kale until tender, about 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and serve.

Recipe Serves 8

Total time: 3 hours

*Note: The longer you soak the beans, the less time you’ll have to spend cooking them. Ideally, you should try to soak them overnight.


Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Kid Made Ravioli “Lasagna”


Prep: 15 mins
Bake: 40 mins 375°F
Cook: 5 mins

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 26 ounce jar low-sodium pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini (3/4 pound total), trimmed and cut into half moons
  • 2 cups mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (from 10-ounce package)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 12 ounce package fully cooked turkey meatballs, quartered
  • 2 9 ounce packages light four- cheese ravioli (such as Buitoni)
  • 1 8 ounce bag shredded part-skim mozzarella

Make It

1. Heat oven to 375 F. In bowl, stir salt, pepper and sauce. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/2 cup sauce over bottom.

2. In a large nonstick saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

3. Scatter a third of the meatball pieces over sauce on bottom of pan. Top with one package ravioli, 1 cup vegetable mixture, 1 cup of the cheese and second third of the meatball pieces. Top with remaining ravioli, vegetables, meatballs, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Uncover dish and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

nutrition facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 8
  • Calories(kcal)450
  • Protein(gm)27
  • Carbohydrate(gm)47
  • Fat, total(gm)18
  • Cholesterol(mg)77
  • Saturated fat(gm)7
  • Dietary Fiber, total(gm)5
  • Sodium(mg)927
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Categories: Food | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: