Archive for March, 2010


Every year my Mom would celebrate my Father’s name day with a batch of Cream Puffs filled with ricotta cream.  She called them Sfingi di San Giuseppe.  The dough itself (pate choux) is a kind of kitchen miracle.  First you boil a cup of water with 8 tablespoons of oil and a half teaspoon of salt.  Then you dump in a cup of flour.  Instead of turning into a lumpy mess, the dough comes together into a smooth,shiny ball.  You take it off the heat and stir in four eggs, one at a time.  With the addition of each egg it looks like you are going to end up with a lumpy mess and then it suddenly comes together.  Then you add the next egg…

pate choux

You heat the oven to an impossibly high 450 degrees.  Drop the batter by spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  They puff up magically creating crispy exteriors and empty centers.  Cut a small slit in each to allow steam to escape so the outsides don’t get soggy.

I always loved the irregular shapes they form, individual as snowflakes. You really need to let them cool before filling.

I use a sweetened ricotta filling (one pound of drained ricotta to 3/4 cup powdered sugar, mixed well in the food processor) and then flavored with a teaspoon of vanilla or some amaretto.  If you like you can dd finely chopped candied orange peels and tiny morsels of chocolate.

I could eat this cream for breakfast on toast.  Let it set up in the refrigerator while the cream puffs cool.  Then just split each puff open and spoon in a nice dollop of cream.  Put them on a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  This is the first year my dad isn’t around for his name day.   I’ve made a batch for my son, his namesake.  And so the tradition goes on.


I’m having post Home Show Let down.  All that planning and shopping and cooking and it’s all over in the blink of an eye.  Thanks to all of you who stopped by for one of our demonstrations and a sample of the dishes we prepared.  It was great to see both ends of our audience spectrum represented.

One of our Saturday RegularsJenel Faust


 We even had a few couples who came to the kitchen stage for every demonstration in a day – sort of a blitz cooking experience.

As usual, it would be possible to do all these shows (and not nearly as much fun) without the generous help of some of Pittsburgh’s finest Chefs and cooks.  We had Gaynor Grant from Gaynor’s cooking School on Carson Street, KC Lapiana (the Gadget Queen) from IN THE KITCHEN on Penn Avenue in the Strip District, Chef Eric Fisher from the Sewickley Golf Club (making Italian Wedding Soup), nie Ricci and his wife Sherry from Ricci’s Italian Sausages(making delicious Sausage Rolls), Randy Tozzie from Market District (making enough food for an army) and Chef Pat Joyce from the 17th Street Cafe on the South Side who brought 5 trays of stuffed hot banana peppers. 

Chef Pat Joyce from 17th Street Cafe

Chef Pat is one of our Steel City Chefs and a great supporter of WQED. 
And then there was Barbecue Stu who came by with his friend Chris and about five pounds of the most tender and succulent pulled pork this side of North Carolina.  The audience got to sample three of Stus fabulous barbecue sauces while he told us the secrets to award winning barbecue.
And then there was Carol Pascuzzi, the cheese lady from Penn Mac.  She brought with her a variety of Italian Cheeses of different styles and from different regions of Italy.  We nearly had to send for crowd control help when she put out a half dozn trays of cheeses, sausages, ham, olives and peppers for everyone to sample.

If you see Carol, ask her about the cheese from the north of Italy that is like a creamy version of Gruyere.  It has a flavor that grows in your mouth.

Dear Heart

Thank you, Dear Heart!

Lining up for cheese from Penn Mac


On my way back and forth from the parking area to the Kitchen stage, I passed Aunt Carol’s Gourmet Dips where they had the most amazing flavor combinations.  My favorite this year? – Bacon Chedder Burger.  No kidding.  You can see all their flavors at  Thank you ladies.  I’ll see you next year.

Aunt Carol's Dips