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Cream Puffs In Venice

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Last Build Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2017 23:42:17 +0000


Keeping Warm

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 23:42:17 +0000


Well hello out there! It has been awhile. I don't think I've ever been away from my little blog for as long as I have. My last post was in October 2016 ... But I've been thinking about this space for some time and how I feel like it's time to come back. So here I am. During the Christmas season, after Christmas Eve, December 26th is my very favourite day. It's the day I sit around in my pyjamas and enjoy the quiet calm after the seasonal storm. Don't get me wrong. I adore Christmas and all that comes with it ... including the crazy shopping, the dishes, the dry hands from washing all the dishes, the chocolate, the wine, the gatherings ... it's all wonderful. But on the 26th, I enjoy the quiet. On the 26th, we curl up, watch movies, drink warm drinks, and enjoy the peacefulness. Today, I took a bit of time to quietly go into the kitchen and bake something for me. A lot of butter, flour and eggs passed through our kitchen in the days leading up to Christmas. I baked my seasonal favourites and happily gave them away as gifts and tokens. But today I baked for me and I decided to make this Almond Puff Loaf from King Arthur Flour. Buttery, soft, sweet, smothered in apricot jam and almond-flavoured icing ... all the things I love. More than anything I loved being in the quiet kitchen with the wintery light coming in from the window, quietly mixing and baking. My photography skills are rusty to be sure and it was kind of dark when I took these pictures but what joy I got from doing this again. I'm glad to be back.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 15:26:46 +0000


Wishing everyone the happiest of Thanksgiving and a lovely fall season! (We are celebrating with all the delicious bounty of the season and this Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread from Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop(image) by Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell.)

Well Hello Again …

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 19:55:47 +0000

Well hello there again little blog! It has been a while. I don't think I've ever been away this long. What's been keeping me away, you ask? Oh ... this and that. But you've never been far from my thoughts. Every now and then I sat down and started this post, only to stop mid-draft and walk away to focus on other things. I'm not about forcing it. I always knew I'd finish the post when I was ready. You've been on my mind so much lately. I've missed you. I've been thinking about you as much as I've been thinking about Italy, which always happens at this time of year. This is the time when I know that soon ... very soon ... I'll be in Italy again. Wrapped in that warm blanket of family and love and memories and the sea and the mountains and yes ... food. This morning, when I woke up, I knew that I would finish this post. I just knew it. Just as I knew that with my morning espresso I would have our favourite add-in of crema. What's crema, you ask? It's a little Italian secret that we use to make your espresso that much more enjoyable. When I was little and asked what the origin of this mix was, I was told that it was a way of faking the elusive schiuma that everyone loves to see on their espresso. Schiuma, or foam, is that golden top layer that lives on a freshly drawn espresso. It's a sign of a well-made cup of espresso and adds to the experience of that first sip. When you make espresso using the old-fashioned moka, you don't always get that foam layer so apparently, making crema was a way to fake it. It's downright delicious so the origin doesn't really make much of a difference to me anymore. It's a treat. To make crema, you add sugar to a cup and as soon as the first drips of espresso start to flow out of your moka, you add them to the sugar and then you start to mix vigorously. While the rest of your espresso percolates, you just keep on mixing and mixing until your sugar and espresso mix turns into a fluffy, light-coloured, creamy paste. Before you serve your espresso, dollop a generous spoonful of the crema in to your espresso cup and then pour over the freshly brewed espresso. The crema will start to melt and as it does, it will rise to the top foaming a magical foamy layer. The added bonus is that your espresso is pleasantly sweetened. The best crema maker that I know is my mom. Hers always comes out the lightest and fluffiest. My Italian aunts make a mean crema as well. We don't always make it, just once and a while as a very special treat. So I'm bringing you this sweet little gift to say hello again! Crema This is one of those treats where there really is no "recipe" ... as annoying as that can sound. For enough crema for four people, place four heaping teaspoons of sugar in a mug. As soon as your espresso starts to percolate, pour in a tiny bit (just enough to wet the sugar) and then start stirring vigorously while the rest of the espresso percolates. You should end up with a very fluffy and light mixture. Dollop a generous spoonful in each espresso cup before pouring over the espresso. Enjoy![...]

A First Time for Everything!

Thu, 25 Jun 2015 02:46:59 +0000

Do you have a recipe or a classic dish of some sort that you've often thought of making but just never gotten around to actually making it happen? Baked Alaska is that exact dish for me. In my journey along the dessert path I have come across countless recipes that I have bookmarked and thought, "One day, I will make you!" Some have those desserts have come to life in my kitchen and many more are still waiting to be born, just hanging out in the recipe pile with all the rest. For some reason, though, Baked Alaska has always fascinated more than many of those other recipes. Maybe it's because I'm a 70s child. Maybe it's the idea of ice cream wrapped in something else. Maybe it's just the fire. Setting desserts alight is lots of fun. Let me tell you! Whatever it is, every time I came across a Baked Alaska recipe or saw it on a dessert menu (that rarely happens as this dessert seems to be relegated to a time gone by ...), I've always thought, "One day, I will make you!" Well that day has finally come. I was contacted by the lovely people at Ricardo Cuisine who asked me if I'd be interested in featuring a dessert from their Desserts page. They were reaching out to a number of bloggers and as I have always been a fan of Ricardo's magazine and cooking show on Food Network Canada. When I scanned through the recipes to choose from, as soon as I saw the Baked Alaska I knew that my time had come. While there were three components to the dessert: the cake, the ice cream filling and the meringue, the recipe was very easy to make. I think the hardest part was lining the bowl with the plastic wrap! Have I mentioned how plastic wrap and I don't like each other?! After making a very basic sponge cake, I filled a bowl with a vanilla and chopped walnut ice cream base, which I then topped with a layer of strawberry ice cream. I topped it with the cake and pressed down very firmly to ensure all the components fit snuggly together. I've seen recipes where you can the apply some kind of weight as you freeze the dessert to ensure it's pressed together nicely. The dessert went into the freezer for a pleasant 6-hour nap, after which I unfolded it and slathered on a layer of marshmellowy meringue. Finally, the most fun part - setting the dessert alight! After gently warming a bit of vodka in a ladle over the stove, I set it alight and then gently (and carefully) poured it over the dessert, watching gleefully as the dessert lit up and as the meringue browned slightly in spots. The only way it could have been better is if I had been able to do this at night so that you could really see the flames against the darkness. As it was, while I tried to get a good shot of the dessert in flames, I wan't really able to. Once the alcohol burned off and the flames died down, I sliced into the dessert and it was so lovely! The colour contrast of the ice cream layers against the cake layer and against the outer meringue layer just looked so pretty and summery! I had a great time making this dessert and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. It tasted delicious and now I can't wait to make it again and set it alight outside on a beautiful summer evening where the flames will burn bright! I'm really grateful to the folks at Ricardo Cuisine for the opportunity! There's a first time for everything and my first time trying a Baked Alaska was a definite success in my books! If you're interested in trying the recipe, you can find it here.[...]

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming …

Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:17:37 +0000

Woah ... it has been a loooooong time since I've posted. Looooong time. I'm amazed my blog hasn't left me for lack of attention. I hope you're all still hanging around out there as well! As often happens when you've been blogging as long as I have, life brings along it's busy times and it certainly feels like the last few months have been a whirlwind. Not that I've forgotten this special blog world of ours! Maybe it's that spring is finally here (it is finally here, isn't it?) or that I feel like there might be a point, very soon in the near future, where I can finally banish my coat, boots and socks (how I hate socks) to the corner of the cupboard, but I finally feel the urge to sit down and start blogging again! One of the benefits of being gone so long is that I have a veritable back log of posts and recipes and photos to blog about but firs things first ... World Nutella Day 2015. Ummm ... yeah ... you know that event that happened almost two months ago (February 5th), well I actually did participate but just haven't gone around to posting so here goes! By now I'm sure you'll all aware of the brilliant idea that Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso had in 2007 when they decided to entrench their love of Nutella by setting aside one day a year to mark the delicious spread. With the exception of 2008, I have had the pleasure of participating every year and it has been a joy! This year I decided to throw caution to the wind and embrace as many calories as humanly possible in one item that could easily be picked up by hand and consumed in a few bites. Hence, the Nutella-smothered glazed doughnut. Yeah. It was good. The recipe for the glazed doughnut can be found here. And then people, all you basically need to do is grab yourself a spoon (because Nutella must ALWAYS be administered with a spoon) and spread some on top. And there you go. Happy World Nutella Day! See you next year (hopefully on time)! World Nutella Day 2014: Bruleed Nutella-Stuffed Doughnuts World Nutella Day 2013: Thousand (Almost)-Layer Chocolate Chip and Nutella Cookies World Nutella Day 2012: Nutella Scones World Nutella Day 2011: Nutella Meringues World Nutella Day 2010: Nutella Ripple Cheesecake World Nutella Day 2009: Oven Crespella with Nutella Sauce World Nutella Day 2008: This was the year that I failed Nutella. So sad. World Nutella Day 2007: Cheese-Filled Tuiles with Nutella Drizzles[...]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tue, 14 Oct 2014 02:25:14 +0000


It's never too late to say it - Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for so many things ... this pecan pie is one of them.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, 2014 Edition

Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:48:24 +0000

I've been back from Italy for a few weeks now and have been slow to post about my trip. I've been savouring the post-vacation glow and to be honest, I've wanted to hang on to the sweet memories of my trip for a bit before sharing them. To call my summer trips to my father's hometown a vacation is probably inaccurate. While it is fun and restful in all the best ways, as a vacation should be, it is really so much more than a vacation. My trips to Italy are a chance for me to connect with my roots in the spirit of my father's presence, which I feel so strongly there. And I have come to love that place. Toronto is and always will be my home, but Rocca is my spiritual home and I feel very blessed that I get to return each year. While my trip was shorter than in previous years, there certainly was time for all the usual activities. Well, let's be honest. Mostly I ate. That's what we do in the Mellozzi family! Here's what I did on my most fabulous summer vacation: I fell in love with a car. Never thought that would happen! We said goodbye to old doors. And hello to new ones. I met some very cool dudes. I ate a lot. A lot! I spent time with people I loved. I enjoyed this view a lot. I admired a lot of flowers. I discovered some new recipes. I spent more time with people I loved. I learned some new legends. I baked a bit. And drank a lot of espresso. I admired our town. It sure is pretty. I coveted my aunt's pasta-making abilities. I practiced my photography. I reflected upon days gone by. I visited familiar places. But most of all, I looked upon this beauty every day, and I was grateful for all my blessings. See you next year, Italy. A la prossima![...]

The “Third Time is a Charm” Cake

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 03:50:00 +0000

You know that moment, when you're doing something completely routine and everydayish, when suddenly the light bulb goes off? Maybe you suddenly remembered where you hid your spare set of keys for "safe-keeping" or in a moment of total spontaneity, decided which pizza place to pick up dinner from. Or maybe you're on the subway, stuck in the midst of another interminable delay (I'm looking at you, TTC), and you're hit with a moment of inspiration so great you want to jump for joy except for the fact you are wedged in so tightly it would take a shoe horn to get you out. Maybe, in that moment of clarity, you realize that yes ... yes ... you should make that Twinkie Bundt Cake and you should add in some freshly picked strawberries because that would be amazeballs. Yeah. I had Twinkie Bundt Cake on the bake for quite some time, ever since I purchased Shauna Sever's Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques. A lovely book dedicated the joys of vanilla (there are many), the book got a bit lost in the pile of cookbooks that I'd been hoping to try out. But hark! I happened to come across the recipe for Sever's Twinkie Bundt Cake (from her book) on Leite's Culinaria. So there I was, not too long after, languishing during a particularly torturous subway ride when I found myself longing for the end of winter and the first thing my frozen brain latched on to was freshly picked strawberries. And the next thing you know I'm thinking of this sweet little cake that's a riff on those popular little snack cakes (that we were never allowed to have as children) and I thought, "Hey. I'm an adult. I can eat Twinkies if I want to. I can bake a Twinkie Bundt Cake if I want to. I can add strawberries to the filling if I want to." And thus was born the slightly adapted Twinkie Bundt Cake (with a strawberry marshmallow cream filling). So why is it called the "Three Times a Charm Cake"? Because it took me three times before I got the strawberry filling just right. Also. It's delicious. And I wanted to make it three times. Maybe I ate it all myself one-and-a-half of those times. Don't judge me. In a moment of serendipity, perhaps, I got it just right this past Canada Day weekend. So in honour of the great occasion of Canada's birthday, I salute my country with this most charmed of cakes! (The recipe for the cake is here - at Leite's Culinaria. I would, however, recommend picking up Sever's book if you can. It's an ode to vanilla and the recipes are very good. To make the strawberry filling variation, take 3 or 4 freshly picked strawberries and mash them up. Add them to the whipped filling but be sure to not add in too much of the strawberry liquid or your filling won't be as fluffy and as easy to pipe into the cake.)[...]

Jump Right In

Tue, 20 May 2014 02:36:06 +0000

I have been holding on to this post, impatiently, for that right moment. You know that moment when everything is aligned, the timing is perfect, people are waiting with baited breath and you just know the moment is right. The moment in question is the one where spring arrives, with complete finality. Spring is lovely, if albeit short, and there is nothing quite like those first few days where the temperature is finally not cold anymore, all of nature aligns itself to start bursting forth and you simply know that you won't have to deal with frost warnings for at least next four or five months. Yeah, well, it's May 18 and I'm still waiting for that moment. And patience has never been my greatest virtue. Screw it. I'm jumping in anyway. So, inspite of spring's inability to commit, I have finally committed to the pavlova. For those of you that have been fans for a while, you'll have to forgive me. I am fairly new to pavlova, having only made my first one last year. For years I admired it from afar, thanks to the dreamy pavlova creations I would regularly spot in Donna Hay magazines and Nigella Lawson baking books. But I was always afraid to try one, which seems strange to me now, given that not a lot scares me when it comes to baking. But you see, we all have our baking mountains to climb! I put my big girl apron on and climbed that pavlova mountain and haven't looked back since. As I recall, I made my first pavlova for Easter 2013 and I've made many since. I simply adore the pristine glossines of egg whites beaten to meringue consistency and there's something about going to bed at night knowing that you have a dessert tucked away in the oven (I like to leave the meringue in the oven overnight to cool completely) that just makes me happy. I am especially partial to the pavlova you see pictured here because of the combination of strawberry and rhubarb, which is a quintessentially spring flavour for me (assuming I lived somewhere where spring actually ever arrived). This dessert is based on this one, from Martha Stewart. I've added in strawberries for the pure pleasure of that flavour match. I know a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of meringue but don't be. It's far more forgiving than you think. The keys to successful meringue, and subsequently pavlova, are to ensure that your mixer bowl and whisk are glean and grease-free. The best way to ensure this is to rinse them with water and some lemon juice. The lemon juice will ensure that any lingering grease is washed away. Thoroughly dry your bowl and beater, as well. Any dampness on the surfaces will make it more challenging for the egg whites to build in volume. When your piping or mounding your meringue on to the baking tray (I use parchment on the tray), add a few dabs of meringue in each corner, under the parchment, to hold it in place on the baking tray. This ensures the paper doesn't move around as you pipe or mound your meringue on the tray. What I loved about the Martha Stewart recipe was the idea to create a valley in the centre of the pavlova to hold your cream filling. I use this trick every time. Finally, keep an eye on your meringue as it bakes to avoid it colouring. Unless your oven is perfectly calibrated (most ovens aren't), you may have a hot spot or your oven may run at a higher or lower temperature than the dial indicates. Checking on the meringue will ensure that it doesn't turn golden or colour too much. If you are a pavlova veteran, my hat's off to you. If you're a newbie like me, just jump right in. Maybe, if enough of us do, we will convince spring to finally commit! Strawberry-Rhubarb Pavlova Serves 8-10 For the rhubarb/strawberry topping: 1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 2-inch pieces 1/4 cup water 1/2 granulated sugar 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered Directions: I like to quickly stew rhu[...]

Misura Giveaway!

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:44:17 +0000


[Thanks to everyone that entered. Contest is now closed. Winner will be announced soon!] It could be my failing memory or the fact that I've been blogging for so long but I do believe that this is my first proper giveaway on Cream Puffs in Venice! The kind people at Misura Canada contacted me not too long ago to see if I would be interested in offering a product giveaway. We use Misura products in our home (Mammina, especially, enjoys them) and my immediate answer was a resounding yes! I came home one day after work to find a beautiful package waiting for me by the door filled with Misura treats (pictured above). For those of you that don't know, Misura is a company that produces a wide array of products from cookies to pastas with a focus on products that are low in sugar. Now I am not one to shy away from sugar or fat, in any way, but as I mentioned above, we do enjoy a number of Misura products here at home. In particular we like their cookies as they're not too sweet and perfect for dipping in your milk and coffee in the morning! I am also not going to lie. I ate all the cornetti alla crema they sent (crossants with cream filling). Maybe I ate them in one sitting. Maybe I didn't. You'll never know. Anyway - the important point - the giveaway! Misura Canada is giving away a package of assorted goodies valued at $100. To enter, leave a comment here on my blog and make sure that you like the Misura Canada facebook page. You can't win if you don't enter! I'll be running the giveaway until midnight on Saturday April 26th. To enter, leave a comment on my blog and remember, you have to like Misura Canada's Facebook page to be eligible to win. Good luck! Buona Fortuna!