Dolce Italiano: Six Degrees of Separation and Chocolate Salami

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This has been a lucky year full of wonderful surprises and accomplishments. I stepped out of my comfort zone to pursue my dream of working in food, turning my passion for Mediterranean cooking and leftovers into a job description I made up for myself:
Professional Foodie. I am still not exactly sure what path lies ahead of me, but I am sure I am at least going the right way as it seems I have been rewarded each step of the way. I have met so many lovely foodies online from all over the world and have gotten little signs everywhere confirming that I am on the right path. One of these signs is a great honor I have been given. I am so excited about it that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. I have been asked to participate in a very special food blogging event.

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Shelley from At Home in Rome lives in Rome (Obviously), which just so happens to be Roberto’s hometown. She also just so happens to know Gina DePalma, the pastry chef for
Mario Batali’s Babbo Restaurant in New York City.
Gina’s newest cookbook: Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen has just come out and in order to commemorate this event, Shelley, along with a few of us fortunate food bloggers have had the honor to try two recipes from Gina’s new cookbook and blog about it. How fun is that?!

But that is not where the fun ends – oh no siree – you too can join in too. Go blog hopping with us and comment on each Dolce Italiano post on each of our blogs and you will be entered in a contest to win a Dolce Italiano cookbook signed by Gina herself (who is such a nice person to boot!).
Here is how you enter: Check out each of these blogs on the days mentioned (if you are just hearing about this contest for the first time, be sure that you go to visit all these blogs for their posts THIS week) and then comment on the post about Dolce Italiano. Do the same next week and you will have 10 chances to win that book! Here are the other great blogs and the days you need to visit them:

MONDAY: Sara – Ms. Adventures in Italy
TUESDAY
: Ilva – Lucullian Delights
WEDNESDAY
: Sognatrice – Bleeding Espresso
THURSDAY
: Shelley – At Home in Rome
FRIDAY: Jenn – The Leftover Queen – RIGHT HERE!

Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano is a must have for foodies that love Italian food. Even for someone like me, who does not fancy herself a baker or pastry person, despite all the baking I have been doing through the Daring Bakers, I found the recipes to be well-explained, unique and wonderful – just full of the flavors of Italy. It is also a fun book to read! I can really relate to Gina’s intense passion for the food she makes and also her story as an Italian American deeply in touch with the foods of her roots. I am so excited to have this wonderful cookbook in my collection as I know I will be using it often!

So on to the great recipe!

One of my choices of recipe just had to be Salame di Cioccolato. This is a dessert that every child in Italy has had. It is like Nutella, ubiquitous when talking about the foods of Italy for kids. I first heard about Chocolate Salami from Roberto when I asked him what the first thing he remembers cooking was. This was it. Apparently there is (at least when he was a bambino) what he describes as a Disney/ Boy Scout guidebook for kids in Italy known as Manuale delle Giovani Marmotte (Jr. Woodchucks Guidebook) and a recipe for Chocolate Salami was in his version of the book. In his memory it was crushed up cookies and cocoa powder rolled up, chilled and then sliced. Well, as soon as I saw the upgraded, new and improved version in Gina’s new cookbook, I knew I had to make it for Roberto and bring him back to his childhood. So we spent the afternoon in the kitchen making this delicious concoction and having a wonderful time. In his opinion it is WAAAAY better than the one from Manuale delle Giovani Marmotte, shocking, isn’t it? ;)

Try a chocolate salami today!
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Happy Thanksgiving! (part II)

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I adore Thanksgiving. It is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. For me it really is all about the holiday – the celebration of the harvest, the coming together of family that creates the warmest of feelings of home and comfort. Taking stock of what you are grateful for in your life – your priorities. The food, which draws to the table all the stars of the bounty of the season – squashes, hearty herbs and tubers. There is always such an array of color at the Thanksgiving table and putting together a feast like this gives me a great amount of joy and pleasure. I was so happy to be able to host Thanksgiving this year at my mom’s house. She and I and Roberto spent a lot of time in the kitchen as a team – cutting, chopping, stirring. It was great! So with no futher ado –

The rest of Thanksgiving Menu:

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Happy Thanksgiving and Another Daring Bakers Challenge! (part 1)

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If you thought I hadn’t enough to post about this week, step in Daring Bakers Challenge!
This month the Daring Bakers Challenge had good company at my Thanksgiving table. I figured, while I was in the kitchen slaving away at the Thanksgiving meal, what was one more thing to make?
Plus I figured my family would really enjoy this month’s challenge: Tender Potato Bread.
I “unleashed the Daring Baker within” as encouraged by this month’s hostess: Tanna by adding roasted garlic and rosemary to my dough and forming the bread into rolls – which turned out to be the size of mini loaves. I also had enough leftover dough to make a small foccaccia. So it makes a lot of dough! The recipe was very straightforward and easy to follow. It just takes a long time to proof at various stages, like most other yeast breads.

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The addition of mashed potatoes gave the dough a bit more body and a lot of softness – this dough is VERY soft. I have mentioned before my aversion to kneading bread and this was my worst nightmare – sticky dough ALL OVER MY HANDS – YUCK! But I was happy that it turned out so well. This recipe made 18 HUGE rolls and a small foccacia. The only problem occured when I went to bake the rolls and baked a few sheets on the bottom rack – the combination of the buttered sheets and the high temperatures, burned the butter and scorched the bottoms of some of my buns!
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Two Amazing Foodie Contests: Royal Foodie Joust and Dolce Italiano!

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This is a busy busy week on the internet. Sometimes there does’t seem like enough to pst about, but this week, I have too many posts that are time sensitive. So grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

On Saturday we begin the voting for The Royal Foodie Joust . This month’s ingredients are: Chocolate (any kind but white),Chilis/Chili Powder (any type),Grains (like wheat, rice, oats, etc., in any form).

So please remember to post your entry before December 1 to be considered for the voting. The prize for each month is your own RJF apron with the name of your blog on it!

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There is another exciting event beginning tomorrow. The Dolce Italiano Contest of which I have been asked to play a pretty big role in. This is a very exciting event for all those lovers of Italian pastries and sweets.
Shelley from At Home in Rome, the mastermind behind this event explains it in her words:

“So?! What the heck is the Dolce Italiano contest, anyways, you ask? Have you ever heard of Mario Batali? What about Babbo Ristorante in NYC? Temple of fine Italian cooking where I dream of one day sitting down to a nice plate of pasta and… let’s not forget dessert…Which is where my friend Gina comes in! Gina DePalma has been the executive pastry chef at Babbo since it opened in 1998, and has just released her first cookbook, Dolce Italiano. The book is getting truly rave reviews from both professionals in the field and reader chefs, just came in an impressive #3 on Amazon’s Best Books of 2007 (Cooking, Food and Wine), and was chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Best Books of the Year (Lifestyle). Now I know you want one, don’t you??I have joined forces with four other fantastic bloggers to bring you a chance to win this book, and along the way, to admire and perhaps even try your hand at making up to 10 different recipes from this amazing Italian dessert masterpiece.
Every day for the next two weeks (starting next Monday), one member of the aforementioned Dolce Italiano Blogger Team will be featuring a recipe from Gina’s Dolce Italiano cookbook. We’ll have Ms. Adventures in Italy on Mondays, Lucullian Delights on Tuesdays, Bleeding Espresso on Wednesdays, back here to At Home in Rome on Thursdays, and The Leftover Queen on Fridays. All you have to do to enter the contest is stop by, check out the post, and leave a comment! Semplice!
You can therefore enter up to 10 times to win the cookbook, which, by the way, will be personalized and signed just for you by Gina herself!!You can only enter once on each post (two comments or more will count as one entry) and the winner will be randomly chosen by number from among all the entries.Get excited, this is going to be fun!”

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So please check out all the entries and beautiful desserts these bloggers (including myself!!!!) are whipping up and at the same time enter to win a copy of this amazing book. My first recipe will be posted on Friday November 30th. There are so many wonderful recipes in here you will certainly want this cookbook as part of your collection.

Recipe: Clarence’s Throw Down Teriyaki Chicken

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Roberto and I have a good friend Clarence who lives in Toronto, Canada. You can read all about Clarence and what a wonderful host he was when Roberto and I went to Toronto about a year and a half ago here. Clarence enjoys cooking and eating and he sent me a recipe for his Thrown Down Teriyaki Chicken. I think you all will appreciate this fast and quick but delicious meal. Perhaps you could even substitute leftover Thanksgiving turkey for the chicken?

Oh and don’t forget – only a week to get your entry in for this month’s Royal Foodie joust!

So take it away Clarence! (Stay tuned – Clarence should be sending me a foodie tour of his trip to Hong Kong).
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A Fall Feast: Roasted Root Vegetables and Cider Cheese Fondue

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Everyone always knows when it is Autumn in my house because I always commemorate it by making my Roasted Roots. I like a combination of Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Carrots, Red Onion and Garlic. I toss them all in fruity extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle them with salt pepper and sprigs of fresh rosemary (dried works good too) and I roast them on cookie sheets in the oven at 450 for about 1 hour, stirring the vegetables once about halfway through. I decided to pair this dish up with a cheese fondue with a hint of apple cider. Served with chunks of French bread and the roasted veggies it was a fall meal of total satisfaction!
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New England Foodies

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There is just something about the food in New England that is just inspiring. Maybe it is all the fresh, local produce and the focus on organic raw ingredients that makes everything taste so refined. Maybe it is the crisp air that clears your palate and helps you to taste the flavors or perhaps it is just the ingenuity and creativity that foodies in New England bring to the plate. Whatever it is, I love it. Pretty much anywhere you go in New England you can find a good cup of coffee and delicious and healthy treat, or some inventive mixture of ingredients that makes it impossible for you not to try it. During our trip to Massachesetts and Vermont in October we really enjoyed the food New England has to offer.
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Chocolate Volcano Birthday Cake: An Ode to My Mom

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This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday and I wanted to share with everyone the cake I baked to commemorate this special day and tell the story of my mom and I and our love of food. I have been thinking for a while how best to participate in Jeni and Inge’s blogging event Apples & Thyme which is dedicated to all the women relatives in our lives that helped influence the way we cook and eat. I have discussed often the influence my family has had on my cooking here, I have shared some of my Nana’s signature recipes here and here. I have also posted other family recipes like my Aunt Theresa’s Zucchini Cake and my Aunt Sylvia’s Easter Bunny Breads. But this time I wanted to talk about my mom, the person who taught me how to really experience and LOVE food and who I have shared a great passion for food with all my life.

I grew up near Washington DC and that in itself greatly influenced my food philosophy. My mom and I always tried different restaurants of various cuisines and really relished in all the variety that surrounded us. It was our way of experiencing the world and other cultures through our palates instead of a plane. We then always took those flavors and creations home with us in our memories and re-created it at home to suit our needs. Therefore my food philosophy and relationship with my mom has always been about trying new things and re-inventing old favorites with a twist. I have learned a lot when it comes to cooking from my mom. She is very exacting with the way she cooks which makes her a great baker and decorator. I am more of a cooking with a whim kind of a person. Through watching her I have learned that some dishes take patience and practice and in the end you appreciate it all the more. Read the rest of this entry »