I'm trying to stick with the summer food tradition I started with the kids a couple of weeks ago, and so far, it's working out just fine! We are still having an adventure in the kitchen! We've tried a few more recipes...one of the more interesting ones was the elk meatballs we had last week with fresh spinach and parsley in a sweet and sour sauce...thank goodness they were good, because I froze about 75 plain meatballs. I love having easy meals on hand. Better yet, home cooked ones with a potential to be used in a variety of dishes such as spaghetti, or meatballs in pineapple teriyaki sauce.
This last week, it was my oldest son's turn for picking dessert...and I've come to the conclusion, that my children are fascinated by the pictures of non-traditional dessert recipes because they haven't seen or tasted such food before. Cake, pie and cookies, just don't pique their interest as much as the unusual choices do. My cooking skills will certainly be put to the test this summer keeping things interesting in the kitchen. My son requested that we make cannoli. If you haven't tried cannoli yet, then you need to meander down to a good pastry shop and find these delicious Italian pastries to try for yourself...they are delicious! If you are feeling adventurous...try one of the many recipes found online--I'm not necessarily recommending the way I made them last week...
We started by making the cannoli shells with a rice and whole wheat flour dough. I was just trying to be practical because I didn't have any white flour in the house. I used my wheat grinder to make a flour out of rice and wheat grain (the rice was added to make the whole wheat less heavy.) It worked fine...but would probably taste a little better with the white flour that the recipe called for.
I often improvise on recipes when I don't have all of the ingredients...there's no reason to go to the store when you have similar enough ingredients at home. This philosophy has allowed me to come up with my own variations on recipes that are often better than the original...but as you can imagine, experimentation has also caused me to see plenty of recipe failures as well. I figure it's worth the risk, as some of my favorite recipe ideas have come from this attitude. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those times. The cannoli shells came out tasting like a cousin of Wheat Thin crackers--they even looked frighteningly similar! Somehow, I don't think that is what the recipe originator intended.
The shells were quickly redeemed when I melted chocolate and drizzled it all over them. Then I sprinkled them with finely chopped pistachios. Not only do most things taste better dipped in chocolate, but they also look prettier as well. So now our recipe stepped up from tasting precisely like Wheat Thins Crackers to tasting like "Chocolate covered Wheat Thins." Everybody say,"oooh" here! LOL. It would really make me feel much better after making crackers by accident.
We made our basic cannoli filling with Ricotta Cheese, powdered sugar, orange zest and vanilla (no substitutions were made here...this is what the Italians do.) I split the basic filling up into sandwich sized ziplock bags then mixed in additional ingredients to create 5 different variations. Anything from pistachio filling, to maraschino cherry, to chocolate chip, then combinations of those additions.
To fill the cannoli, I snipped a corner off of each ziplock creating a mock pastry bag and just "piped" the filling into the center by squeezing the bag. The result...the cannoli shells no longer tasted like chocolate dipped Wheat Thins...they most certainly tasted like cannoli. Everyone was pleased with the result...my son proudly delivered plates of cannoli to his friends and their families for breakfast that morning.
Yup, I did say breakfast. We started making them the day before... intending to eat them after dinner, but they proved to be a little labor intensive, and we were pretty full from dinner already...so once again, we had our dessert for breakfast the next morning. Don't tell Child Protection Services that I've been feeding my kids dessert for breakfast on a regular basis. Surely we will change this habit soon. However, I may have spoken too soon, as I don't know what my daughter has in mind for her dessert choice this week. I'll let you know, but I can bet you one thing...it probably won't be easy as pie.