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    Cannoli

     

    One of the best things about the job I started last summer are all the new friends I have made. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some real clunkers, but that happens everywhere, every day, with any job. We won’t dwell on them.

    But, take M&J. Starts off just silly giggles while working to take some of the stress away, a lot of guidance and support and suddenly … BAMMO … you’ve realized just how much you like these folks, realized that this should be more than just a work friendship.

    Dinner invitations go back and forth … lots of laughs … lots of wine … lots of good food.

    One last dinner before we all take off for the holidays? Oh, yes, please! M&J were heading to Viet Nam (so jealous!), the Dear One to Antarctica and me to New York to see my dearly missed parents, siblings and friends.

    What to make, though? I need to show off my culinary chops a little bit, right? The rub is, the Dear One and I were flying out the next morning, not returning – well, me the beginning of the New Year and the Dear One WAY TOO LONG AFTER THAT!!

    One pot, easy cleanup, great to freeze if there are leftovers – Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes, a favorite easy go-to of mine.

    With a really easy dinner, I wanted to get a little nutty with dessert. It can’t be a lot – no leftovers, and no one has a huge sweet tooth. I needed inspiration. None was forthcoming.

    Suddenly, while walking around Hanford’s, there in front of my was my answer! Ferrara cannoli shells! All cooked and ready for filling with whatever your heart desired! This was the answer!

    I buy them and bring them home. I stood staring at them, slightly disappointed. They were perfectly fine. But … well, they just looked too plain to me. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making a fabulous filling, why not dress up the shells a bit!

    I melted some chocolate, dipped the edges on each end in the chocolate and then dipped them in chopped pistachios.

    The result, was pretty elegant! Well, at least I thought so!

    And before we get to the recipe, just a little pet peeve of mine – and the pet peeve of most Italians I know. Cannoli is plural. Cannolis is not a word. The singular would be Cannolo, not that anybody would know what you were talking about in most places. You wouldn’t say mooses, or mouses, or shrimps, or sheeps … you get the picture. Just remember the Godfather, “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

    Now that my shells are fabulous, I need a fabulous cream.

    • 2 C fresh ricotta
    • 2/3 C granulated sugar
    • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
    • 1/3 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

    NOTE: No time? Buy the best ricotta you can find and drain it a bit. I also added a tiny bit or lemon zest to just brighten it up.

    I tried to be fancy and use a star tip to pipe in the cream. The chips kept getting stuck. Into a ziplock the filling went, cut off the tip, and off we went. You want to try and fill them halfway on each side so there isn’t a space in the middle with cannoli shell and no filling.

    Fill them just before sitting down to dinner. Much before that and the shells will begin to get soggy.

    Delizioso! Divertiti!

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    Pistachio Lemon Bars #SundaySupper

     

    This week’s Sunday Supper is brought by Anne from Simple and Savory. The theme is Easy Spring Recipes. There are so many spring vegetables that I would love to write about, but this is Maine. Spring doesn’t hit until June and we’re pretty lacking in local produce at the moment. I haven’t even begun to think about the garden yet! I am dreaming about it … but in the meantime …

    There’s a little happy dance being done here – a very tentative happy dance, mind you. This is, after all, Maine. The snow has started to melt (hard to believe 2 1/2 weeks ago there was 4 FEET of snow out there), seems as though the grip of winter has started to ease. I realize, that merely typing these words can bring upon us another snowmageddon, but we’re hopeful.

    We have a short growing season here, so vegetables that take a longer time to mature grow in our greenhouse, all else in the garden. I CAN NOT WAIT!

    I’m not quite sure why lemons and pistachios remind me of spring, but they do. Perhaps it’s my Greek roots. Perhaps it was my Papoo’s love of pistachios and sneaking handfuls out of his night stand drawer – though, those were the red dyed ones. Not easy to be sneaky when your fingers and lips and tongue are dyed bright red!. Perhaps it was his idea that lemons were good for everything – softening your hands, flavoring things, making you feel better, taking away unpleasant smells.

    So, Papoo, this one’s for you …

    THE CRUST:

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • ¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

    THE FILLING:

    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    •  cup shelled unsalted pistachios
    •  Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (if using foil, lightly butter it). Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add butter and process until well combined. Stir in chopped pistachios. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup (if it sticks, place a piece of parchment paper on the dough before pressing).

    Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust is baked, pour the filling into the pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

    Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 2-inch squares.

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