Take the Cannoli

I’ve now had another revelatory meal while on my travels. Three weeks ago, while on my Sicily trip, we had lunch at a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna.  Wineries really know how to feed you and it was a fabulous meal of small bites and a lot of wine.

Then the chef rolled out a little tray with a plate of cannoli shells. They were unfilled and I didn’t think too much about it.  I’ve had cannoli many times but always in the same circumstance – off a tray of assorted small desserts brought by a caterer to my office.  (Often when suppliers come to visit us they have lunch or snacks catered as part of their presentation.)  The cannoli on these trays are sweet and soggy – I often go for something else on the tray, because I’ve never been impressed with Don Corleone’s favorite dessert.

Imagine my surprise when the chef’s assistant brought out a pastry bag of ricotta mixture and the chef proceeded to fill the little cannoli shells right in front of us (talking the whole time). Then imagine my additional surprise when I bit into the pastry and realized that I’ve never had a cannoli properly in my whole life.  Not once.  Crisp shell surrounds the creamy ricotta filling.  Heaven.

Those of you who know me, know that I was googling where to purchase cannoli molds before I even got back to the States. I tested the first batch on Linda and tim at Blevins two weeks ago.  They were OK but I hadn’t been able to roll out the dough think enough so they weren’t as crispy as they needed to be.  I fixed that over the weekend by running the dough through my pasta machine.  Perfetto!

Not sure when I’ll get around to making cannoli again, but now that I know how and have the gadgets, who knows.

When was your last revelatory meal?

36 thoughts on “Take the Cannoli”

  1. In Salt Lake City the attendees at the cnference were fed buffet style for every meal. The food was plentiful, but heavy. I think it was cooked with canola oil. I could taste it. The food disagreed with me. Husband and I don’t usually cook with canola oil. It was originally used as a machine lubricant. We use olive oil or sunflower oil or butter. I decided I will never use canola oil again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Canola oil is the worst and should be banned IMHO.

    The first time I tried sushi was a revelation to me. We don’t go out to eat much and I’m not very experimental in the kitchen. One time at a food share, Jim picked up a couple packages of frozen sushi. I know, I know it’s a pale comparison to the real thing, but it was the first time we tried it. You just let it thaw and then eat it — and we loved it! I think it was the California roll because there was avocado in it, so that really sold it for us. Someday I’ll have to go to a good restaurant and get the real thing.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Renee, I know that a lot of people have trouble getting over the idea of it, and I was skeptical myself, but I’ve had it many times, and if it’s prepared right, sushi is delicious. It’s even fun to fix at home.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I recall the first time I ate an artichoke, peeling off the leaves one by one and dipping them in the lemon butter sauce. it was amazing. I was in England at the time and was 21. I also had my first Indian food on that trip. I ordered Lamb Vindaloo in a Pakistani restaurant in London. it was searingly hot, and I was so frustrated because it tasted to good but it was too hot to eat. I have loved Indian food ever since.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We have a family story about artichokes. My mother, sister, youngest daughter, and I were traveling on the East Coast and ordered artichoke at a restaurant in NYC. My sister ate a leaf and immediately commented quietly to the rest of the table to not eat the artichoke, it was horrible. My daughter, 10 years younger than her aunt, said, “You know you’re supposed to dip it in butter and scrape it between your teeth, right? You don’t eat the whole leaf.” My sister asked how she knew that. Daughter replied, “It’s common knowledge. It’s like the Doxology, everyone just knows it.” You probably had to be there, but the legend is alive and well, and hilarity ensues every time someone brings it up.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Monday night I attended a cooking class at Cooks on Crocus Hill.The class was titled “Squash: from Savory to Sweet.” The idea was to explore the many varieties of squashes available this time of year. I happen to have four different kinds of squashes on hand that I picked up at the local farmers’ market last week, so I was looking for ideas of what to do with them other than just baking them.

    We started making the dough for squash mini-biscuits. While they were baking we prepared a pumpkin apple streusel cake so that could bake in another oven while we moved on to making squash gnocchi. We used canned pumpkin in the batter for the cake, and pureed red kuri squash for the gnocchi dough . Finally, we made a creamy red curry squash soup.

    Each of these dishes was easy to make, and provided lots of opportunity for improvising. We served the biscuits with a choice of fillings: smoked salmon, watercress, ham, grainy mustard, and thinly sliced turkey. They were scrumptious. I grow my own micro greens, they’ll make an excellent substitute for watercress when I make this at home.

    Our gnocchi were really rustic to look at (read not pretty!) but they were oh so tender and tasty. We served them with a mascarpone sage sauce. Delish.

    For the soup we used a red kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut in bite size chunks. Other ingredients were pan roasted shallots, red curry paste, coconut milk, vegetable broth, a little tamari sauce, firm tofu, black rice and Thai basil. Very filling and satisfying. When I make this at home, I’ll kick up the flavor a bit by using my own, hotter curry blend.

    We ended our meal with a chunk of the pumpkin apple streusel cake served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

    This whole production, including eating and sipping wine, took less than two hours – we had a ten minute break to go shopping in the store. I’m not a huge fan of tofu and never use it at home, but I’ll use it in this soup for sure. The black rice added a surprisingly nice jewel-like quality to the soup. A delightful evening, learning and sharing with friendly people.

    One funny little incident happened prior to the class. I had arrived about fifteen minutes early and spent the time browsing in the store. I bought myself a ticket for the glass of wine I intended to sip with the meal. As fellow students trickled in, we were milling around in the store. We weren’t allowed upstairs where the class was held because of last minute preparations for the class. That’s when I was approached by a woman who asked if I was there for the class. When I confirmed that I was, she asked me if I would buy her a glass of wine. I was a little taken aback, thinking she didn’t have enough money, but said, sure, I’ll buy you a glass of wine. She then said, I have the money, but I didn’t bring an ID, and they won’t sell me the ticket without it. We both had a good laugh at that. It wasn’t as if you could have mistaken her for being underage; she looked to me to be in her mid fifties.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The coq au vin I used to get at the Harbor View was like nothing available anywhere else. Or so I thought, anyway. Probably if you’re in France you can get something like that anywhere. The sauce was so flavorful I was tempted to lick it off the plate.

    The restaurant changed hands a few years ago, and the coq au vin is not always on the menu these days. When it is, it’s not quite the same – they are doing something different with the sauce.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Or not that interested in food. I know that’s the case with CB, at least. At this point, however, there’s hardly a topic we haven’t touched on, if not exhausted, so what are you going to do?

      Most of the memorable meals that I’ve had were not memorable because of the food. It had more to do with surroundings or a certain circumstance. I’ve written before about the meal we served some friends who were visiting St. Paul. Both couples had previously lived in the Twin Cities, so were not unfamiliar with St. Paul, and we knew better than try to impress them with an expensive meal somewhere. We wanted it to be memorable as an event rather than a meal.

      At the time, Hans an I had been married only a few years, and he had his own woodworking shop, and we had very little money. When we learned that two couples who didn’t know each other, one of which at the time lived in Cairo, Egypt, and the other in Syracuse, NY, were going to be visiting the Twin Cities at the same time, we decided to kill two birds with one stone. We invited them both to dinner at our house on the same night.

      I asked Hans to make a low table that would seat six people that we could easily transport on the roof of his car. I got busy sewing six large pillows to sit on. I had picked up from various estate sales misc. silver plated candlesticks and serving pieces.

      I recall having fixed a large ceramic platter of cantaloupe moons wrapped in prosciutto for an appetizer followed by a chilled cucumber soup served in ceramic bowls. I don’t recall the rest of the menu, but I know it was equally simple and lent itself to be served cold, but there was white wine served in crystal glasses to wash it all down.

      What made this meal memorable was not the meal itself, it was how and where it was served. We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous Minnesota summer evening. When our guests arrived at our house, we loaded up both of their cars (ours was already packed) with everything we had prepared and headed the short distance down to what at the time was called Navy Island, a small island in the Mississippi River across from downtown St. Paul.

      In front of the Minnesota Boat Club was a floating wooden pier from which they launched their boats. It was rarely used. It was accessible only by climbing over a bunch of large boulders, but Hans and visited it often. We’d sit there gazing at all the city lights of St. Paul right across the river. We called the spot our summer cabin. This was our destination.

      We carried the table, the candlesticks, the cushions, the food, dishes and the wine down to the wooden pier. We lit the candles, and sat there on the gently undulating pier floating in the river across from all the downtown lights. Every so often a paddle wheeler full of tourists or other boat would sail by, setting waves in motion and causing our raft to bob up and down on the waves. They’d wave and otherwise acknowledge our small party, while we held on to our crystal glasses and the candlesticks with lit candles to prevent them from toppling over.

      When I think about it now, it seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through for a simple meal, but in retrospect it created a memory that will stay with me forever.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve been out of town most of the day. Linda’s France reference reminded me of how eating in France (and elsewhere in Europe, I’ve heard) was a revelation – taking at least three hours for your evening meal and no one “chomping at the bit” to be elsewhere was a new experience for us.

    All these stories make me want to try out some new recipes, especially squash!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My daughter has informed me that we will have Brussels Sprouts with bacon for our Christmas dinner. She is the only one in the family who likes them. She is planning the dinner. We will cook it. I will make as small a batch as I can.

    Liked by 2 people

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