Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Still Alive People! Plus, Christmas Eve Wrap-Up and Tiramisu Recipe

Apologies for the MIA status. I was working on a super-hectic work project in December, then I took a couple of weeks off for the holidays and now I am just being lazy.

I went to Boston for two weeks over the holidays. My mother, my nephew and I cooked the Italian seafood Christmas eve dishes we usually make, as part of La Vigilia, the feast of the seven fishes. I counted them up and it came to six fishes this year as opposed to seven. This is because no one made the delicious salted-cod antipasto, Baccala, that I love so much. Thanks a lot! This recipe at the Boston Globe comes close to it. I just realized I have an eerily similar post from last year where I did post the Baccala and Stuffed Squid recipes. So, check it out.

The fishes we made were:

  • Scallops wrapped in bacon (bacon deviates from the tradition because it's meat)

  • Stuffed clams

  • Fried smelts (I really perfected the frying method this year - yes!)

  • Salmon with farfalle (bow-tie shaped pasta)

  • Grandma Phyllis' shrimp casserole

  • Stuffed calamari with spaghetti

Most of the dishes we make are some combination of the fish/seafood, tomato sauce, garlic, and Progresso bread crumbs. I swear we use like three containers of those breadcrumbs every Christmas.

We don't really do much of a meal Christmas day; we usually just eat leftovers. We do however have plenty of Panettone in the house for breakfast Christmas week. I looooove Panettone.. the best way to describe it is a light Italian fruitcake but it tastes nothing like regular American fruitcake. It is very difficult to make, so even most chefs don't recommend trying to make it at home.

My mom also usually makes her homemade cannoli but I talked her into letting me make tiramisu which came out awesome! I'll even post the recipe below. It is kind of a fake/poor man's tiramisu because it doesn't use marscapone cheese but it is awesome nonetheless. I got it from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine a few years ago. It's actually one of the reasons why a roommate and I parted ways.. but that's a story for another day.

Poor Man's Tiramisu

  • About 2 packages of lady fingers (cookies)

  • 2 cups of heavy cream, freshly whipped. This will make the 3 cups of whipped cream which will be used for the filling and frosting.

  • Grated chocolate or sifted cocoa for topping/garnish


  • 2 8oz packages of Philly cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup sifted powder sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons Kahlua

  • 2 cups of the whipped cream


  • 1 cup of the whipped cream

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua

For soaking the lady fingers:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup strong, fresh coffee

  • 1/4 cup Kahlua

  1. Now, you can make this in 2 or 3 layers depending on the size of your dish, but you'll need one that's a few inches deep. You can use a longer dish with less height, or a smaller one with more height. The more cookies you use, the more coffee you'll need to soak them. So, go choose your dish and decide how many layers you'll be doing before you get started.

  2. First you should make your coffee and whip your cream.

  3. Prepare the filling: mix together the cream cheese, sugar and Kahlua. Then, fold in the whipped cream. Set aside.

  4. Prepare the frosting: mix together the sour cream and Kahlua. Then, fold in the whipped cream. Set aside.

  5. Combine the coffee and the 1/4 cup of Kahlua.

  6. Now, you're ready to start layering. With the exception of the frosting, if you are doing two layers, use the cookies, coffee mixture, and filling 1/2 at a time. With three layers, use 1/3 at a time.

  7. Arrange your first layer of cookies at the bottom of the pan evenly. If you need to chop off some ends of some cookies, do so. Pour the first part of the coffee mixture evenly over the cookies so that they are all covered.

  8. Spread your first layer of filling over this.

  9. Repeat with the remaining layers. With each layer, arrange the cookies in the opposite manner so as to build strength into the Tiramisu.

  10. After the last filling layer, spread the frosting on top.

  11. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle shaved chocolate or sift cocoa over the whole thing right before serving.