Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not as easy but not as difficult, either

Cannoli Siciliani by way of Suburban Trini Canuck

Well, I finally did it, after all the hunting, and searching, and eating. I made these darling little cannoli above, from scratch. Not an easy feat when you have a child, dog, and spouse running around the house at 9:30 at night, and you're trying to keep them all away from hot fry oil.

Again, in my Masterchef-obsessed mind, they are not perfect. And they're not. But considering that it was the first time I have ever attempted to make this and the first time I have ever used a pasta maker (yes), I think they came out not too badly.

However, I did end up making a list of the dangers of making deep-fried goodies:

1. When heating oil on the stove, make sure you underguesstimate, and not overguesstimate. I saw the fry temp at 340 and said, "Oh I've got a few min." and took a nap standing up in the kitchen. When I woke up 35 seconds later, the temperature had miraculously reached 400 degrees. A little too hot. Murphy's Law dictates that it takes longer for oil to heat up and cool down when you're standing over the pot yelling at it.

2. When binding shells together, do not, and I mean do not let the magical industrial glue that is egg white touch the cannoli form. At all. That must be how they discovered crazy glue. If I ever need to glue two pieces of metal together, sod the soldering iron - I'll bind them with egg white and deep fry 'em. Five good shells sacrificed their lives for me to learn this lesson.

3. Metal heats up in oil to the point that you shouldn't really touch it with your fingers unless you are trying to burn off your nerve endings. However, that same metal will cool down in hot water and soap, and really quickly too!

4. Mise-en-place is the most important thing you can ever do when cooking/baking/deep-frying/piping. That includes kitchen equipment in the mise-en-place. Things like tongs, spoons, oh, and the piping bag coupler and tube that never did make it from my old place to my new one. As I found out at 5:45 AM when I was about to pipe the filling into the shells.

5. Ziploc bags are the greatest invention of mankind. They make great piping bags in a pinch. And the filling never comes out the back!

6. Never wear black work clothes when dusting pastries with powdered sugar, especially if you're dusting pastries before your morning caffeine fix. Before you go to work.

7. When recipes say they make "28", they always make somewhere between 17-23. It's that magic culinary touch I have.

8. No matter what, there is always too much filling. Always. Even if the child and the dog eat half the bowl the night before. Al. Ways.

9. A 280 lb man is a good substitute for a C-clamp when it comes to holding a pasta maker on the counter. A 44 lb boy is not.

10. When a recipe is not working in the stand alone mixer, call upon all of the experience that cooks from the past, especially your mother, who never used a stand alone mixer until she took serious professional cake decorating, and that was after her wrist injury, tried to pound into your brain for the 20 years you lived with her. This tip is also known as "all pastry is pretty well different kinds of roti at the end of the day".

11. Whenever a recipe calls for booze, make sure to always measure out an extra 2 oz, in case the recipe is too dry, and for the shot at the end of the night to say, "Thank God that's over. Now who's cleaning up this mess?"

I am really proud of myself for finally making these. I learned a lot about myself, which, in the end, is the sign of true art, no matter what the end result turns out to be.

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