Saturday, Feb 5, 2000

Sopa de Ajo



I wish to shew how the Tiramisù is made. It was invented by Venetian courtesans, but you need not be Venetian or even a courtesan (unless you feel the urge). The canny adept will first prepare the coffee. Coffee is vital to the Tiramisù. If coffee displeases you, then do not make the Tiramisù. Better still, develop a taste for coffee.

Make 500 ml (2 cup measures) of coffee. Espresso is the best kind. The best espresso is obtained in the Strip District, at the La Prima Café. The La Prima Café also sells sandwiches, croissants, and fine baked items. Purchase these if you feel the urge, but do not add them to the tiramisù. Add ½ cup brandy, marsala, vin santo, or other liquor of your choice. If you desire, add more than ½ cup. Let the quantity be sufficient to cheer but not intoxicate. Let the coffee cool.

Meanwhile beat 5 large egg whites. Beat them, ruthless adept, until they are quite stiff. The feeble adept will find that his arm is also quite stiff. Such a one should procure an electric beater. The cheapest kind are obtainable at WalMart.

Now combine 5 large egg yolks with ½ cup sugar. Add 500g (1 lb) Mascarpone cheese and beat it in. Mascarpone is a very soft cheese made from extremely contented cows. It is Italian in origin, but may also be purchased in Denmark and the supermarket. The frugal adept will journey to the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, where it can be had for a lower price. When the mascarpone is combined, add the beaten egg whites. Exercise great care during this step. Give thanks to God.

Take 1 pack (60) savoiardi biscuits. These are known to the uninitiated as ladyfingers. The wise adept will refrain from mutilating his female acquaintances. Instead he will proceed to the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, purveyors of Biscotti Savoiardi and other fine Italian goods. Soak half the biscuits in the coffee and arrange them on the bottom of a wide serving dish. Ensure your dish is at least 4 cm (1½ inches) deep or you will come to grief. The skilful adept will ensure that each biscuit is wetted through but does not disintegrate.

Spread a layer of the mascarpone-egg cream over the biscotti. Be generous but not profligate: you will need a similar quantity for a second layer. Soak the remaining biscotti and arrange them on top of the cream. Then spread a second layer of cream on top. Now refrigerate the tiramisù for at least 3 hours. Do you wish, good adept, to fly a kite the while, or listen to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, or surf the Web? Do so, and praise God.

Before serving, sprinkle cocoa powder lightly over the tiramisù. Use unsweetened cocoa of the best quality. Do not, careful adept, use sweetened or drinking chocolate. Now the tiramisù is prepared. Serve it to your guests. Restrain your prideful thoughts, and praise God.

Sunday, Feb 6 2000

Prosciutto e melone²

Prosciutto, curious adept, comes from Parma, where they also make (it is said) cheese. Parma is in Italy, but you need not go there, unless you feel the urge. If you live in Pittsburgh, unfortunate adept, you may obtain prosciutto at the Parma Sausage Company in the Strip District. These noble merchants also purvey other high-quality products made from bits of pigs. Purchase, frugal adept, 8 oz. prosciutto (called by the vulgar One Half Pound). Slice it thinly, or you may request the purveyor to slice it.

Buy also one melon, of the kind known as cantaloupe. Ensure that it is ripe and of a good weight (about 3 lbs). Cut the melon in half, and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds, for they are eschewed by the righteous. Slice each half into 6-8 wedges and remove the rind. Cover or drape the melon with the prosciutto, and sprinkle fresh ground pepper thereon. Do this, and be content. Give thanks to God, unless your God is prejudiced against pork products.

Spaghetti with spinach-feta sauce

Postre Tres Leches²

I wish to shew how the Sponge Cake with Three Milks is made. It is much consumed in the Americas where Spanish is spoken. The adept will preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F if you possess a glass baking pan). Grease your pan well, Gentle Adept, and let it be of size 9 X 9 inches or 11 X 7 inches.

Take then, stout adept, 1 cup all-purpose flour and 2 tsp. baking powder. Sift them well and set them aside. In a large bowl, beat 3 large egg whites, of the sort that are laid by contented chickens. The urban adept may lack chickens. Such a one can obtain eggs at the Supermarket. Beat the whites quite mercilessly until they form little peaks, then beat in at high speed 1 cup sugar. Use white granulated sugar of a good quality. The best sugar comes from Cuba, but this is considered Communist.

Beat in 1 at a time, 3 large egg yolks. A large egg yolk is obtained by removing a large egg white from a large egg. So do that and praise God. Now add in the flour mixture (do not forget the flour, good adept) a quarter at a time, and mix well. Finally add ¼ cup milk. The Spanish refer to this Sublime Fluid as Leche. This is because they are less advanced. The subtle adept will avoid this error and beat until the mixture is smooth and evenly mixed.

He who is skilled will now spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes. At the end of this period, the cake must be tested for doneness. I wish to shew how a cake is tested for doneness. Take a toothpick made of wood. One kind is of White Birch and is available at the Giant Eagle. Insert the toothpick into the middle of the cake, and pull out. If it comes out clean, then your cake is Done. Take it it out of the oven and praise God. If your toothpick does not go in at all, discard the cake and bake another one, or become a Chartered Accountant.

Let the cake cool for about 10 min. Meanwhile, eager adept, do not be idle, but prepare the Three Milks. Mix well 1 cup heavy cream, one 12 oz. can evaporated milk, and one 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk. Be respectful. These Milks may be had at the local Supermarket, or any other purveyor of fine Food Club products. Do not buy the products of Nestlé, since they are bad for Women in Third World Countries. Resist, fickle adept, the temptation to consume the sweetened condensed milk. Then you will only have Two Milks, which is blasphemous. Also, you will be sick.

Prick the cake all over with the toothpick. If you have discarded the toothpick, careless adept, use another one. Then pour the Milks carefully over the cake, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Spend this time in rest and repose, and contemplate your sins.

When the cake is ready, hungry adept, prepare the meringue topping. I wish to shew how this is done. Combine 2/3 cup corn syrup and 2 large egg whites. Corn Syrup is much used by Americans. This is because they are Less Advanced. They eschew sugar, as it is Communist. Corn Syrup may be purchased at the Giant Eagle; do you obtain the light variety and not the dark. Set the bowl in a water bath, and beat until the temperature reaches 140°F. The determined adept will then beat harder for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and beat for 2-3 more minutes. Spread or pipe the meringue over the cake and serve it to your guests. You may also throw it at the face of a Famous Personage. However, it is probably best to eat it.

That is all. That is what I wished to shew. So do that. In some parts, the cake is topped with fruits in sugar syrup, but the making is the same. Do as I have shewn and praise God. And if he who is ignorant follow not my directions he is hapless. God is great.

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2002

Portuguese Custard Pie

Friday, Jun 14, 2002

Torta Dura³

`What ho, Jeeves', I said, propping one eyelid carefully open as he shimmered in with the tea tray. `Good morning, sir', said that most amazing cove. He put the old oolong by the bed, and I prepared to suck down the refreshing beverage. As I took the first sip, I was conscious of a distinct rumminess. `Tut, Jeeves,' said I, `Your standards have declined. You must eat more fish.' `I beg your pardon, sir,' said that fine fellow, `but I was much hampered by the local conditions. The quality of infused potations in the Apennine peninsula is not all that could be desired.' `You mean the tea's no good in Italy,'I said, following him like a hawk. `Precisely, sir,' he replied. `Rem acu tetigisti.

I became conscious of a further rumminess. I couldn't put my finger on it for a moment, and then it dawned on me. There was no toast! By Jove, not a crumb! This was going too far. I decided to put my foot down and display the velvet fist in the iron glove, or do I mean the other way around? `Jeeves,' I said gently but sternly, `this is inexcusable. There is no toast!' `I beg your pardon, sir. But civilisation in these parts has not advanced sufficiently to the correct and proper toasting of bread. Instead, sir, you will have Torta Dura for breakfast.'* `What? I mean to say, what, what?' I gurgled.

`Torta Dura, sir. In the Italian language, it means Hard Cake.' `What asses these Italians are, Jeeves! Why don't they speak English like everyone else?' `Early upbringing had no doubt much to do with it, sir. Possibly they are more to be pitied than censured. But perhaps you would like to hear the recipe, sir?' `Very well, Jeeves,' I sighed. `Get on with it.'

Pre-heat the oven to 350°C (180°F). Melt 200g butter and allow to cool. Whisk in 3 egg yolks, 3 pinches salt, and 200g sugar. Combine 200g chopped almonds, 200g chopped or crumbled amaretti, 500g flour, and 8 g (1½ tsp) baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter-egg mix. Add three bottlecap-fuls Marsala (or port), and knead until combined. Spread the dough in a greased 12-14'' pan, even it out, and press lightly. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and bake for 30 min. Let cool in the pan for an hour and remove carefully. Let it sit for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

¹ courtesy Andrea Bertonasco
² from The New Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.
³ courtesy "Nonna" Lina Garini, "Zia" Mariella Garini, and "Nipote" David Petrou
ª Ancient Roman saying, meaning roughly "you give me a sharp pain in the tits."
* I would not actually advise eating this for breakfast. It is sweet, rich, and overpoweringly almondy. It's really a dessert.
The Trotter-Nama, the style of which has infected this web page somewhat. Sir PG Wodehouse is also to blame.