Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 B.Y.O.A. - Pizzelle Edition

Traditional Italian Pizzelle

Vitania and Anna, and the Peacock..:-)

.Since the holiday season is quickly approaching Vitania and I thought it would be a great time to hold our Annual Christmas Cookie Bake. (a.k.a. BYOA - Bring your own apron). We thought this day could be fun for all the ladies to get together, laugh and help each other bake in company. Plus a great opportunity for us to watch our mothers and learn the family recipes that have been part of the holidays for years.

Our Mom's Rita and Lidia

Our mothers are sisters, and boy are they ever. They both rule the kitchen when it comes to any baking or cooking going on. Days before the event took place, our mothers were shopping, roasting nuts, grating chocolate, preparing filling and barking orders at us. My mother, the head chef, masterfully over saw the many recipes while Vitania's mother ensured quality control on all the recipes being made by the newbies.

Teenagers, aka Cheap Labour.

They giggle alot, complain about everything and listen to loud music while working. They also quit early!
.... Anna and I are pleased to announce, that this year we were promoted to dough rollers! We thought we were safe from the scorched fingers of the Pizzelle Iron, only to learn dough rolling has another set of aches and pains . (more on this next post)

So without further ado, we introduce you to Pizzelle. A classic in our family as well as many Italian families. These thin waffle type cookies are great to snack on, sandwich Nutella between them, or even shape into cones or bowls and serve with ice cream. Such a versatile cookie you can almost eat them with anything.


12 eggs
3 cups sugar
4 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 cups sifted flour
2 cups of oil
rind from a whole lemon
1/3 cup of Sambuca or Anisette

Beat eggs and sugar well
Add lemon rind and continue to mix
Add oil and continue to beat.
Mix baking powder with flour and add mix a little at a time to the egg mixture
When completely mixed, chill dough for 2 hours or overnight to enrich flavor

Spoon batter onto a Pizzelle maker
(a note on the Pizzelle maker - You can use a
traditional stove top Pizzelle maker but even our mothers have traded theirs in for an electric Pizzelle maker. Much easier and faster to use)

Use a fork or a knife to carefully lift the Pizzelle off the iron - they should be a nice golden colour but NOT brown.

Pizzelle cooling

Place on a flat table covered with a table cloth and let cool to harden flat or if desired you may shape into cones or bowls and then let cool. Only stack them once they've cooled otherwise they will stick to one another. Also, placing them in an airtight container, can make them soft. Which some people really like, but we prefer them crispy, so we keep them out where they can remain crisp.

Happy Holiday Baking !
Anna and Vitania

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Ever Happened to Home Birthday Parties?

Over the years something has happened to the Kid's Birthday industry.

Gone are the days when gathering 10 kids in the backyard with a Banana slide and some birthday cake did the trick.

The latest birthday parties include some form of entertainment which usually means going to an indoor playground type place with pizza, lootbags, cake and having it all wrapped up in 2hrs flat. Not even enough time to open gifts!

Wasn't that the best part of your birthday party???

This year, to my amazement when I asked my 6 year old what she wanted to do for her birthday, she rejected the swimming party at the community center and the skating party at the local rink that I suggested. Instead she wanted a home party with her closest friends.

It was a little tight in our tiny basement but I managed to give her the best of both worlds. I hired a Hannah Montana look alike ordered some pizza and made her an awesome Hannah Montana Cake.

She watched me as I carefully decorated her cake, making it extra special for her. And I watched her as she ate every last crumb of cake on her plate, savoring every bite as she ate it proudly, knowing the care I put into making her special cake.

Next time you have a child's birthday party to plan, think about taking a little time and making something special for your little ones from your heart. It'll be memories they'll hold onto forever.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'll bet Michelangelo never sculpted a cake.

Some of you may know I’ve been taking classes with Bonnie Gordon. Saturday I took another class "The Art of Sculpted Cakes" where I chose to sculpt a Nike running shoe.

I showed up for my class with a 9” by 3 1/2 “ square filled cake and a few ideas of what to make. I decided on a running shoe since my cake wasn’t quite big enough for a large purse and I thought a shoe would be a somewhat easy but challenging first project.

My class introduced me to some other great aspiring and practicing cake decorators. I met Carolyn who also has a blog It’s a sweet thing. She created a fabulous hamburger cake.

Some other cakes included a bulldog (I wasn’t quite that brave) a Chanel purse, a piggy bank and a high heel shoe.

After spending about 8 hours carving, covering, and decorating my shoe I was pretty happy with the result.

My next cake, the statue of David... kidding.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cookie Cutter Creations

I’ve been sick since last Friday so I haven’t been able to post my most recent creations.

I wanted to share this with you before Halloween but regardless, cookies are great creations for any birthday, thanksgiving, Christmas or special occasion.

Our baked cookies ready to be decorated.

I owe half the credit to my 6 yr old daughter who together with me helped bake and decorate some Halloween/fall sugar cookies. What a great way to spend a little time with the kids and let them express their creativity.

I just love the cute faces kids make when they're busy creating.

It turned into a practice session for my flooding technique and I ended up decorating cookies till 1 am, but that’s besides the point.

Have a look at some of the fun we had and some of the creations we made.

The Green swirly spider was one of my favorites.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Giveaway over at Verdgris Vie

I am hosting a very special Giveaway over at that other blog I obsess over, Verdigris Vie. It just wouldn't be right if I didn't share it with you guys. A Beautiful Handmade Sophie Dahy Silk floral arrangement. You get to pick your fave. (a $300.00 prize) Pop over to enter for a chance to win.
Good Luck !

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Heart Macaron

On a recent business trip to New York City I checked out a little café just off Broadway called Macaron Café macaroncafe.com for a sandwich and discovered these little French pastries for the first time. I bought one raspberry Macaron and watched as the woman behind the counter packaged and affix a cute little pink bow around the single perfectly colored raspberry dessert.

Image from La tartine gourmande's photostream

Since then, I have spent countless hours researching, downloading pictures and recipes of these perfect little sweets. More so, I have attempted to bake them myself.

Now… I’m no skilled baker and these things are no easy task even if you are. The eggs must be aged; the batter consistency must be perfect and piped onto a cookie sheet in perfect circular shapes. And I haven’t even really explored the fillings yet.

Nonetheless, after 4 attempts of runny, undercooked, overcooked, oddly shaped, flat Macaron, I have almost created the perfect Macaron.

Almost, because I think I overcooked or let them sit too long before baking. They were a little too crunchy.

Through my research I came accross a blog Mélange :: to mix.

It has quickly become one of my favorite blogs so I wanted to share it with all of you. Julia, a baking enthusiast has a fabulous blog. On her blog she shares many recipes, among some of them... the famous Macaron.

She also features Chocolate Eclairs, Salted Butter Caramel Ice cream, Scones and Fruit Buns to name a few. Please join me in indulging in this wonderful blog.

I'm just dying to try out some of her fabulous Macaron Recipes. Stay tuned for the follow up.


Friday, October 23, 2009

A formal introduction to cakes

For years I’ve found baking somewhat of a challenge. My husband even discouraged me from baking Christmas cookies since every year he got stuck having to eat all the rejected ones, which happened to be more than the good ones.

After the birth of my second child, I found myself baking more and realized how much I enjoyed the time to myself, the careful calculations and the warmth of the oven light as I watched my cake rise in the oven.

I started watching shows like Cake Boss and for the first time in a long time I was inspired again. It was time to express my creativity through cake design.

I recently joined Bonnie Gordon School for a few classes to introduce myself to this new world. I have quickly realized I have a passion for this. I find myself constantly thinking, dreaming and researching cakes.

I created my first fondant cake for thanksgiving. A chocolate raspberry butter cream filled cake. Here’s a super simple Chocolate cake recipe that I learned at the Bonnie Gordon School in my B1 baking class. It’s almost as easy as dumping it out of a box and adding water… I promise.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

1 tsp cornstarch

180 g all purpose flour

275 g sugar

1 tsp baking soda

60 g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla

75 ml light oil or melted butter

140 ml buttermilk

2 eggs

130 ml prepared coffee


  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and line pans with parchment paper.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, followed by remaining ingredients. Stir on low speed with paddle attachment for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and lump free.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 325ºF for 20-25 min (or 12-15 min for cupcakes) until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Yields one 8" round, 4" high cake or about 24 cupcakes

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It’s all about balance

There’s something about the orderly complexity of a pattern that I absolutely love.

The busy pattern in this invitation I designed is classic yet it’s application gives it a modern feel.

Over-sized ribbon threaded through the rhinestone buckle demonstrates the sheer elegance of the event and sets the stage for an unforgettable evening.

The booklet design allows you to experience the invitation as a new chapter into the couple’s lives. As you flip through the pages, love quotes guide you through the pertinent information of the event balanced again with the emotional story.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It runs in the family

I’d like to introduce myself as a contributor to the Casarecce blog. I’m Vitania’s Cousin Anna and I too enjoy things “home made”.

Although I too have a knack for home cooked meals (it runs in the family), my other obsession is for all things paper and all things baked.

I look forward to sharing with you some of the creations I’ve made as well as my journey to perfecting my baking and decorating skills. I hope to inspire you with some ideas and help you shape your own beautiful creations.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday Night Chili

Usually, on the first Football Sunday in September, i make a huge Chili to kick off the season. Since we were a little busy this year, I made it yesterday . And boy was it delicious, fortunately there is enough left over for tomorrow night. I took the original recipe from Cooking light, but it had so many complicated ingredients - i simplified into this simple and savoury Chili. That's the great thing about Chili, it's yours to play around with and enjoy! As usual, my recipes are just guidelines, it's more fun to add more of what you like and less of what you don't..:-)

Sunday Night Chili

Photo Credit: Cooking Light via My Recipes

8 servings
Olive Oil
500 Grams extra lean ground beef
500 Grams of lean Turkey sausages, removed from casings ( or pork sausage)
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups sliced carrots, I like rounds
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup lager-style beer (such as Budweiser)
1/2 cup or more of Water or Chicken stock
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 (15-ounce) can or 2 cups of red kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can or 2 cups of Romano beans
2 -3 Cups of tomato passato or crushed tomatoes. I use home made so it's fairly water - canned tomatoes tends to be a little thicker .
1 smoked ham steak (I used Schneiders Old fashioned ham steak ) 175 Grams

NOTE: There is no salt added to this recipe because I found between the sausages and ham, as well as beans that were pre salted, it was not necessary. Watch for salt if you are using commercially prepared ingredients, it can add up quickly.

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco OR Grated cheddar
8 lime wedges

Preparation :
1. Heat oil id dutch oven over medium-high heat. Just a tablespoon. Add lean ground beef
; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to slightly crumble. Transfer beef to side
2. Re coat pan if necessary. Add turkey sausage meat; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Transfer turkey to side dish
3. Re coat pan with olive oil. Add onion and carrots sauté 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 1 minute. Return Ground meat to pot. Add water or Chicken stock to mix. Add chili powder, and all ingredients (through ham stead) to dutch oven.
Cover over Med hi heat until it comes to a boil, and then simmer on low for an hour and a half.. Remove bay leaves. You can taste for salt and add a little if necessary. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve each serving with 1 lime wedge. The lime wedge is delicious with Chili - I also served with some baked tortilla chips.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A perfect day

Is there such a thing as perfect anything? Well no, but this day came pretty close. It was supposed to rain, but the day turned out great with the occasional bursts of sunshine. We decided to head out to a very popular apple orchard, just a few minutes away from our home, Chudleigh's. Not only does it have plenty of things for children to enjoy, but the grounds are just beautiful.
So after a hay wagon ride, and pony rides, getting lost in the hay maze and a little BBQ fresh corn on the cob we finally set out to pick apples. We decided to try Cortland, which is very similar to the McIntosh only 3 x the size. They were absolutely delicious.

It was so much fun to pick and eat and pick and eat! The kids had a ball, and were exhausted on the car ride home. The Grandparents decided to join us for an early dinner. And later on that evening, I made a wonderful Apple Crumble. Which we enjoyed warm, just before putting the day to rest.
The recipe below belongs to my mother in law. Ever since she shared it with me, it has been a request at almost every family gathering. Warm apples, and crispy topping without the butter crust. It's perfect after a Thanksgiving meal. So here it is..
Grandma's Apple Crumble
1/2 cup of Rolled Oats
1/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil ( Crisco)
4 cups of peeled apples
1/4 cup of orange juice
Combine oats, brown sugar, flower and cinnamon. Stir until blended, adding oil. Place apples in baking dish and drizzle with orange juice. Spoon mixture over apples. Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes or until bubbling. Serve warm!
Please feel free to use pics, just give me a link back. Thanks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall knits

Just a few years back, I was introduced to the wonderful world of knitting thanks to my incredibly talented Mother In Law. I was amazed to find all the beautiful things that could come from a couple of skeins of yarn. When I first started exploring, I found this exceptional knit Designer, Debbie Bliss. I was amazed to find a fine collection of wools, cottons, silks and cashmere's, as well as new and stylish patterns and books available.
Since Fall is just about here, all i can think of is bundling up under a warm knit sweater. I have yet to complete my first sweater, but I have a small collections of scarves, and working on a hat. But I absolutely can't wait to get good enough to conquer some of these below. You can visit Debbie Bliss's site to view a collections of the yarns and books available. But I would suggest a trip to your local knitting store to truly appreciate this very fine art of fabric making.