Recipe: Diana’s Tiramisu by da-AL

How's about a slice of tiramisu? Here's how...
How’s about a slice of tiramisu? Here’s how…

Do angels exist in everyday life? Indeed, Cousin Diana was one. Her life was far too short, but such can be the case with the sweetest among us…

Photo of Cousin Diana.
Cousin Diana.

Years ago, when my husband and I visited her in Italy, she prepared a fantastic multi-course vegetarian meal that ended with this nirvana-inducing tiramisu. Diana Ferretti Ruberti. Upon our return to the States, Diana sent me the instructions and helped me with it over the phone.

Recipe can evoke great memories…

Born in Argentina, she moved to Italy as a teenager and later worked as a teacher, married, and raised three great kids. Diana was lovely in every way and an amazing cook!  Her son, Stefano Ruberti, generously lent us these photos of her. Diana with her husband and small children.

Tiramisu Recipe

  • 8” x 8” x 2” serving dish or pan
  • 3 medium eggs, extra fresh
  • 2 cups strong coffee, either lukewarm or cold. Decaf and instant work great.
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules to stir into pudding
  • 8 ounces mascarpone, which tastes like an amazing cross between butter and cream cheese.
  • 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks, 72% to 99%. Grated, or knife chopped, or put the chocolate into a plastic bag and take a hammer to it.
  • 24 regular-sized ladyfingers

Optional Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over the final layer

Before You Begin

  1. Assembly takes anywhere between half an hour to an hour, depending on how fast you are around the kitchen. It won’t be ready to eat for another six to twelve hours, as it needs time to set in the fridge. I like to prepare it the night before, then serve it the following afternoon with milk or coffee — or wine!
  2. Review the recipe and visualize the best way to organize things.
  3. Then you’re ready to lay out ingredients and tools such as bowls, pan, whisk or mixer, and mixer or blender for pudding, stuff you’ll use to grate chocolate.
  4. Unwrap ladyfingers and put them into a separate bowl.
  5. Raw eggs are called for and chocolate melts when it’s manipulated too much, so I like to keep things cold and work steadily.

Mixing the pudding

  1. Egg whites: in a separate bowl, whip until stiff.

    Bowl of whipped egg whites.

  2. Yolks: in a separate bowl or a blender, beat in 1/2 teaspoon instant granulated coffee, mascarpone, and sugar. Now’s the time to add any “optional ingredients.”

    Egg yolks beaten with marscapone, sugar, and a little coffee.

  3. Fold egg whites with egg yolk mixture.

    Fold egg whites with egg yolk mixture.

Layering into a pan (you’ll be making 2 layers)

Layer #1

  1. One at a time, dip 12 of the ladyfingers into the coffee liquid and use them to line the bottom of the pan. It’ll take a little practice to figure out how long to let the cookies soak. Too little, and they’ll stay stiff. Too much, and they’ll dissolve. Either way, though, it’ll still be tasty.

    A lady finger being dipped into coffee.

  2. Top the cookies with half of the pudding.

    The 1st layer of cookies covered with half of the pudding.

  3. Finish the first layer by sprinkling half of the chunked chocolate over it. Now it’s time to do everything the same for the second layer.

    Finishing the first layer by sprinkling half of the chunked chocolate over it. Now it's time to do everything the same for the second layer.

Layer #2

  1. Same as above, dunk another twelve cookies in coffee and stack them over the first layer, all in the same direction as the first bunch.

    Dunking the rest of the cookies in coffee, then layering them in the same direction as the previous ones.

  2. Fold any loose sugar from the cookies into the remaining pudding, then spread everything on top.

    Covering the second layer with the remaining pudding.

  3. Complete the second layer with what’s left of the chunked chocolate. Dust with cacao powder, then cover and refrigerate at least four hours (longer is better).The second layer for the tiramisu completed with what's left of the chunked chocolate, and dusted with cacao powder, then chilled for at least 4 hours.

Serving it…

Once it has been refrigerated for at least four hours, cut it into squares — It serves 9 to 12 lucky people. If there’s any of the yummy liquid at the bottom of the pan, spoon it over pieces. Keep any leftovers refrigerated and eat them within three days. Tiramisu, once it’s set in the fridge, freezes wonderfully and is also delicious served frozen or thawed!

Tiramisu makes any day a holiday!
Tiramisu makes any day a holiday!

Does a food or special recipe remind you of a loved one?

Part 2 of 3: Strolling the British Museum by da-AL

There’s so much at the British Museum! I don’t recommend trying to see it all in one go — nor all in one blog post. Here’s Part 1 of our visit, here’s Part 3, here’s our overall visit to London, to Bath, Avebury henge, Stokesay Castle, Harlech and Conwy and Penrith and Ullswater, and to see the Kelpies of Scotland. Let’s start with the Parthenon for the second leg of our walk through the British Museum…

This chariot horse is worn out from carrying moon-goddess Selene to the Parthenon. 435 BC.

Does the Parthenon look inviting to you?…

At the Parthenon, who’s stronger — a centaur or a Lampith?

This maenad, two satyrs, and panther are followers of Dionysos, a.k.a. Bacchus, the god of wine. Roman, about 100 AD.

These Assyrians are hunting through a garden. About 645-635 BC.

“I’m looking at you.” This King Ramesses II was carved from one block that was quarried almost 200 kilometers south of the king’s mortuary temple!

General Horemheb has rather pronounced breasts — yet his wife’s are concave… Hmmm… 18th Dynasty, probably reign of Ay (about 1327-1323 BC), Horemheb’s tomb.

An ancestral figure from Easter Island, Chile, about AD 1000-1200.

The flames of Hindu god Shiva, here as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, demonstrate how one cycle gives over to another. He creates and then he destroys. About 1100, south India.

Only one flap of Garuda’s wings is needed to orbit the cosmos while he protects followers from serpent spirits. 1800s, Tibet.

Is there an era’s art that you prefer?… 

Happy 2019 New Year from 1919 by da-AL

vintage photo from Argentina of a New Year's celebration
1919 New Year’s, my grandmother celebrating with friends and family. Abuela sits in the middle with flowers in her hair.

A lovely cousin recently gave me a copy of this photo of my grandmother, Julia Vaccaro who was an Italian-Argentine of Buenos Aires — ringing in 1919 with family and friends! Like the United States and so many other places, Argentina is a country of immigrants.

My grandmother's mother, dressed in a dark dress, stands in the middle.
My grandmother’s mother, Rosa, dressed in a dark dress, stands in the middle.

It fascinates me to see such an old photo where everyone appears relaxed and candid. The man who’s wearing pajamas in the tree — did he just wake from a nap in what could be a hammock to his left? Is the woman below worried he’ll fall or does she think he’s crazy? At the bottom, the man toasting looks comfy in his socks. That young boy who seems to have skinned his face is my cousin’s dad. The large woman in the dark dress is my great grandmother. Whatever the woman told the flapper in the middle, it’s given her pause for thought…

Close-up of my grandmother, 1919 New Year's celebration.
Close-up of my grandmother, 1919 New Year’s celebration.

Wishing each of you, dear readers, a New Year filled with joy, vibrancy, love, and good fortune!

With optimism and love,

da-Al

Recipe: Panettone Makes Every Day a Holiday by da-AL

Jeff and Zoë's panettone
Jeff and Zoë’s panettone

Panettone, or pan dulce as my Argentine mother calls it, is one of my family’s favorite things that I make. For those of you who don’t already know, panettone is the queen of holiday fruit bread. Shaped like a chef’s hat, fragrant and puffy with yeast, sweet with fruits and honey.

My panettone success is thanks entirely to the melding of my two favorite no-knead bread baking books:

Bread in 5 Minutes book coverPanettone recipe from: “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François

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"My Bread" by Jim Lahey book coverBaking technique from: “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method,” by Jim Lahey

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Heavenly Panettone that even my cousin who lives in Italy says is the best she’s ever tasted!

My loaves aren’t cookbook perfect and I never make the exact same twice. All the same, each of the dozens of times I’ve made this, it’s come out divine.

Deviations, substitutions, and notes about what works for me:

  • I use Lahey’s baking technique of using a covered pot. For the first half of the baking, I leave the lid on. For the remainder, I take the lid off.
  • Instead of a pot like Lahey uses, mine is the ceramic interior and glass lid from my electric crock pot.
  • I don’t wrap the baked loaf with fancy printed paper.
  • I use parchment paper to line the baking pot.
  • Half a recipe works equally great, though leftover baked panettone freezes well.
  • Whole wheat flour substitutes nicely for half of the white flour.
  • More fruit and/or nuts, less fruit and/or nuts — it’s all delicious!
  • For a lighter loaf first measure dry ingredients into a separate bowl, including the dried fruits and nuts. When I tried adding the raisins into the butter as it melted, it made the loaf denser.

Here’s my post on “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François.

Here’s my post on “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method,” by Jim Lahey.