Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Search for a Cannoli

Can you believe that I was around 23-24 the first time I had a cannoli?  What is wrong with my parents?  I can definitely be added to the neglected child watch list for not having been exposed to this little goody years earlier. My memory is not the greatest, but my first cannoli was at a Johnny Carinos, I think, in Southern California. Is that the place where they give you a piece of butcher paper and some crayons? The girl I was dating learned that I had never had a cannoli so she said we just had to order one... I will forever be grateful for that Krystal, so thank you wherever you are.

So why am I writing about cannolis?  Well, it's because I have been on a cannoli kick lately.  I don't know why.  After that night I spoke of earlier it was years before the cannoli ever even entered my mind again, but now its here and it's stuck.  So I decided to try mind hand at making some.

The problem is that I've not had very many in my lifetime so I'm not completely certain as to what it should taste like.  And in my limited knowledge of cannoli's is the knowledge that people are very particular about how exactly these little boogers are made.  Yep I just referred to a tasty dessert as a little booger.

Just like there are wine snobs, cigar snobs, and even beer snobs, I have discovered that there are cannoli snobs. I was discussing cannoli's at work and one of the ladies told me that we Americans just don't know how to make them. She complained that we always make them too sweet. And honestly it is the cannoli snobs that almost kept me from making them, but then it dawned on me....wait a minute, these are basically a deep fried pie crust stuffed with whipped cream and ricotta cheese.  I'm from the South....I think we practically invented deep frying, so I got that going for me.  I freaking love cheese, so I got the cheese thing covered.  Once I discovered that all it takes to make whipped cream is to put some cream in the mixer and whip it with the whisk attachment, I've always kept some cream on hand and I can't remember the last time I purchased a tub of cool whip. So I'm good as far as the whipped cream goes as well.  So what's the problem?  Like I said this is the South, the home of sweet tea, the place where we fry everything, the place where unbuttoning your pants at small group because you ate way too much gumbo is not necessarily frowned upon.  I am a man from the south, so by golly I can make some cannoli's and to hell with authenticity.

And so I did.

I made some cannoli's.

And they were freakin awesome!

So let me offer up some advice for those of you who might be wanting to make cannoli's.  You pretty much need to eat them within a couple of hours of putting the filling in the shell, otherwise they get soggy and who wants to eat a soggy deep fried anything?  The reason I mention this is because I made mine as soon as we got home from church today.  I put together about 15 of them before it dawned on me that I'm the only one at my home who will eat them and we weren't going to be leaving the house for another 4 hours or so.  So there I was with 15 cannoli's that had to get what did I do????

Ha, you were expecting me to say I ate 15 cannoli's weren't you?  Well I didn't!  I ate 7 cannoli's before my wife suggested it might be a good idea to bring the remainder over to my neighbor who surprised us by mowing our grass last night.  What a guy....we had been out dove hunting,

 so imagine our surprise when we pulled into the driveway at 9:30 pm and our grass was three feet shorter then when we had left.  It was for that, Sam got a plate of cannoli's.  Oh did you catch that part about three feet shorter....yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't need it from you too, my wife gets after me enough.  But you know what they say, the mechanics car never runs, and the cobblers kids have no shoes, so why would the landscaper's grass be mowed?

Oh yeah, if you haven't been following and keeping up with the career path of Brady, I work at a church these days as their jack-of-all-trades, and one of my many tasks is mowing.

So back to the want to be careful about how big you make them.  I had to call a buddy and ask him how big around they should be and he said you should be able to fit your ring finger inside it if the cream filling weren't there.  So that's important, otherwise the recipe only makes about half the amount of filling you need then you have to wait till you get to the store and buy more ricotta so you can make more filling, but then you have more filling than shells so you gotta make more shells.....oh man can you see the dilemma?

And I probably had more I wanted to say about cannoli's but I ate too much and would like to lay down, or is it lie down???? I always get mixed up there.  The most important thing to keep in mind when you are cooking is hell with what it's "supposed" to taste you like what it DOES taste like?  If the answer is yes then you win.  And if others say yes then you're a freakin rock star.....Rock On Homies!!!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cinnamon Toast Roll???

Ok, I did it!!!

I mentioned the other day that I want to experiment with cinnamon and you should all keep a look out.  So I went ahead and tried a cinnamon roll with the crusty caramalized cinnamon and sugar goodness that makes cinnamon toast one of my favorite things in the world (today at least).   And let me tell you, this is the best thing that ever happened to a cinnamon roll, as I had imagined it might be.  And the great thing is you don't have to make your own from scratch to try it out.  I'm pretty sure you could just get the canned ones that you bake yourself and give it a go and it would turn our just as amazing...maybe even better if you suck at making bread.

So what did I do you ask?  Butter, cinnamon and sugar.  And if you've followed me at all or know me you should know that I have no idea how much of each.  Just do it to your liking!  But if I had to guess I'd say I melted about 4 table spoons of butter and spooned it over each cinnamon roll before baking, making sure to get way too much so that it runs down into the cracks and puddles on the bottom of the pan.  Then I combined probably half a cup of sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon in a sandwich bag and sprinkled over the buttery roll.  Go crazy can't get too much.

The first batch I made I went easy on the cinnamon/sugar because I wanted to make sure the butter was able to moisten all the sugar, but once I put it in the oven it was obvious that my concern was in vain.  The butter started bubbling up and making a gooey yummy mess.  So I piled it on for the rest.  Just bake as usual and then enjoy.

Caution: These are not a healthy alternative to ones with frosting!  Just in case you're trying to justify eating the whole pan!!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When you're too broke for Schlotzsky's

Today was kinda disappointing....I woke up this morning excited because I was going to go pig hunting with the guys in my bible study.  We discussed it briefly on Sunday evening and I've been looking forward all week.  So my buddy who was taking us called up this morning and asked if I was ready to go shoot some birds.....Birds???? What happened to pigs?????  Apparently I am an idiot, deaf or just don't pay attention, something about attention deficit or something like that.  He never said pigs! We were never going to wake up Thursday morning and go kill pigs!  It was always birds, so you can imagine my surprise, cuz as we all know, Pigs Don't Fly!  But what the heck, I like shooting up into the air aimlessly and not hitting a thing as much as the next guy, so I was on board.

Random picture of the most beautiful little girl in the world!!!

But then, after dodging out of work early, our fearless leader got tied up at his job, and he's a plumber so it was probably pretty crappy, so we didn't get to go fill the sky with lead like we had planned.  Instead I came home and stared at the wall for a while......

...until I had a most amazing idea.  Cinnamon somethin 'er other!!!!! Just brilliant I tell ya.  I was pondering my love and affection for one of the most blessed inventions of all time, Cinnamon Toast, when the thought struck me that the thing that makes this treat so divine is the caramelized buttery layer of cinnamon and sugar it's not the toast.  And that got me to thinking about other possibilities with cinnamon, sugar and butter....what else in the world could be made more perfect by this caramelized concoction?   What about a pizza crust??? I know there are places that put cinnamon and sugar on top of pizza crust and serve it up, but they don't achieve that perfect dark crystallized bliss that I love so much.  In fact nobody but me and mamma seem to be able to get that just right.  What about cinnamon rolls without the glaze but topped with the special crust?  Would they be the most absolutely amazing thing in the world or what??????  I honestly have no idea.  I couldn't tell you one way or the other so I did what any pig hunter would do, I got barefoot (and my wife's pregnant) and I got in the kitchen!!!!!!!  If you knew the story of the early beginnings of my relationship with the woman to which I am now married, you would have chuckled just a little (not a LOL but just a :) probably) cuz I used to call her the pig hunter.  I know I know, I'm such a romantic and you all are jealous that she snagged me instead of you, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

So I have ripped off Pioneer Woman's cinnamon roll recipe and am going to experiment.  I want to see just what will happen if I try to recreate all that is good and holy about cinnamon toast but on a cinnamon roll.

And what does all this have to do with Schlotzsky's?????? I'm glad you asked!
While I'm waiting on my dough to rise I started reminiscing about the good ol' days in high school when we'd skip out and go to Schlotzsky's for a ham and cheese original which we would then douse each bite in their hot sauce.  Wow!  Now that is what I'm talkin 'bout!

So I made this:

It's a hot ham and cheddar sandwich on toasted white bread with green olives and mustard...if you look closely you'll notice that's 4 pieces of toast there....that's right, I'm takin a walk on the wild side.  And I would have loved to have used black olives, but all i had was green so I chopped them up and threw them on.  Then as you can imagine, I splashed Frank's hot sauce on before each bite and barely slowed down to take this picture!  Aren't you lucky.  It's a great sammich you should try it sometime!  And remember "Frank's, I put that sh*t on everything!"  Hey don't look at me, that's what that old granny said, I'm just the messenger!!!!!  

So look forward to the results of my cinnamon experiments, they're sure to be a delight!