CUCINA CARA MIA.......Random thoughts from "my dear kitchen" about food, travel, Italy, San Diego and life!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Strawberry mascarpone tarts with nutella..Can it get anymore decadent than that??

I was looking for a recipe with an Italian twist for the strawberries that are so bountiful right now in San Diego, and here it is. -I found it on I used a traditional sweet pastry crust and for more deliciousness, I spread nutella on the crust, then added the mascarpone cheese mixture on top of that!

* 1 recipe pie dough

* 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
* 1 egg, whisked

Filling and Glaze

* 2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and quartered
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 12 ounces mascarpone cheese (can also use 8 ounces mascarpone mixed in with 4 ounces of ricotta or 4 ounces of whipped cream)
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
* 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (substitute a teaspoon of lemon juice if you don't have balsamic)


1a Using Pie Dough Roll out the pie dough and line a 10-inch tart pan with the dough. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill at least two-thirds with pie weights - dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights. Bake initially for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, let cool enough to handle, and remove the aluminum foil or parchment paper and pie weights. Return to oven and cook until lightly browned at the edges, about 20 more minutes. Let cool completely.

1b Using Puff Pastry Roll out puff pastry sheet to 15x5 inches or 12x12 inches. Place on a baking sheet. Fold the edges over to form a border. Prick bottom of pasty with tines of a fork. Chill for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a pastry brush to brush on egg wash over exposed surfaces. Place in hot oven and cook until nicely browned all over, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven to a rack, let cool completely.

2 Gently combine strawberries, half of the orange zest, and the granulated sugar in large bowl so that the strawberries are coated with sugar. Let sit to macerate for 30 minutes.

3 Mix together the mascarpone cheese, confectioner's sugar, the remaining orange zest, lemon juice and the vanilla in a medium bowl until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.

4 After the strawberries have macerated for 30 minutes, place a sieve over a bowl and drain the liquid out of the strawberry mixture into the bowl. Take that strawberry liquid and put it in a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Boil until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of syrup, remove from heat and let cool.

5 Assemble the tart. Spread the mascarpone mixture over the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the strawberries on top of the mascarpone mixture. Use a pastry brush to brush on the balsamic glaze.

Serves 6 to 8.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

100th POST

In honor of my 100th post I found a quote that really epitomizes my life since I started this blog...

“Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are.”

- Kristin Armstrong

Through this blog I have discovered more of who I am, and what I am capable has helped me to move in the direction that I always wanted to go, I have met some amazing people through this blog... I have been inspired by other bloggers...I have found some great recipes....I have started a business...and at the age of 57 I am happy to be embracing my creativity...

Thank you for reading, thank you for's to 100 more...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Sicily is known for their blood oranges, and luckily, in San Diego we also reap the benefits of these little gems growing here. February and March are the prime months to enjoy this delicious fruit. I asked a friend at the Leucadia Farmers Market to pick up a few for me (since I couldn't leave my booth). After searching the internet- I adapted this recipe from many containing blood oranges...


1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used greek style plain)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
zest of three blood oranges (mine were small)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or almond liqueur
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees f. grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. (i would recommend using glass) Line the bottom with parchment paper. grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. in another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, blood orange zest, and vanilla. slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. with a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup blood orange juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. while the cake is still warm, pour the blood orange-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. cool.

A few facts about blood oranges - High in Vitamin C, potassium, carotene and fiber.

The most popular variety grown in Italy is the Tarocco and you will find the Moro variety grown right here in San Diego.

I am half Sicilian, and have yet to visit this beautiful part of Italy...I look forward to the day I can sip a glass of freshly squeezed blood orange juice while soaking up some warm Sicilian sunshine.