If there is such a thing as a project saturation point, I’ve attained it. I’ve always had a handful of projects that I attempt to juggle – one of the most time-consuming being this blog. Creating a blog post begins with writing a recipe idea, followed by kitchen testing. No small task, the ‘standard’ for food bloggers is to test a recipe seven times before posting. I don’t have that luxury of time – nor the budget for all those ingredients. With a full work schedule, and a life outside of posting, the most I’ve ever tested was four or five times, on recipes that often never make it to prime time. For every posted recipe, there are one to two that never make the cut. A friend joked the other day, “What does it matter if the recipe is any good? No one cares anyway.” Fuck that – I care. If someone tries one of my recipes, I want it to work – and that’s what matters. After kitchen testing, there’s the photography and editing, the writing, the posting, and finally the promoting on aggregators and food sharing sites. If I’m posting twice a week, I’m blissfully happy…and most likely on vacation.
If you’ve noticed I haven’t posted lately, that’s because I’ve managed to make this particular project an even more elusive goal. Amidst blogging and my other projects, I’ve decided the world needs yet another cookbook memoir – and it’s more work than I ever imagined. At roughly 200 pages, I haven’t even begun developing the recipes. The old adage, “writing is rewriting,” is true. I edit a little, hate what I’ve written, move on to another section in the book, hit upon new paragraphs or new chapters while in the shower or driving, write some more, edit, set it down, pick it up. And this process has just begun.
I cannot take credit for this – I have two good friends to thank. Feeling like my COVID time has been squandered in relative isolation, I’ve been desperately searching for a project – any project – to convince myself I’m being productive. And, no, binge-watching an entire season of Peaky Blinders is not productivity. Dozens of people have suggested I write a cookbook over the years, but I could never settle on the correct focus, or hook. These two friends hit upon my unfortunate expertise – comfort food for soothing heartache. The title is still in the works, so I’ll keep quiet on that point for now.
Accordingly, my free time, on the nights I convince myself I have something to say worth reading, has been spent in my ‘writer’s studio,’ picking through my own past loves and losses. It’s been cathartic, eye opening (patterns! patterns! patterns!), frustrating, and gut wrenching. After four hours with the manuscript, tacking on another hour writing this blog is daunting. I usually have nothing left. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Maybe, but it’s given my COVID time purpose, something I sorely needed for my sanity.
I developed two different flavors of cannoli for a friend’s birthday this weekend. Receiving good reviews on both, this mouth puckering lemon-raspberry version was crowned the crowd favorite, although the birthday boy liked the other better.
LEMON RASPBERRY CANNOLI
Springtime Cannoli - tart lemon and raspberry filling come together to make your mouth celebrate the season in this Italian ode to spring.
- Raspberry Jam
- 6 oz. frozen raspberries
- 6 oz. superfine sugar Cannoli Shells
- 12 cannoli shells
- 6 oz. milk chocolate
- 3 oz. freeze-dried raspberries, finely ground Filling
- 10 oz. whole-milk ricotta, drained in a mesh sieve overnight
- 8 oz. mascarpone
- 4 oz. lemon curd
- 2 oz. superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- pinch salt
- powdered sugar (for dusting)
- Make the jam: Combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a small deep-sided saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. When the sugar is melted, increase the heat and boil for another 4-6 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and set.
- Prepare the shells: Melt the chocolate in the microwave by heating it at 30 second intervals and stirring until melted (about 90 seconds total). Dip both ends of cannoli shells in chocolate then in the freeze-dried raspberries. Cool to set.
- Fill the shells: Stir together ricotta, mascarpone, lemon curd, sugar, zest, and salt. Let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to allow sugar time to melt. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle with filling. With a small spoon or knife, spread a little raspberry jam inside each shell. Pipe the filling into both ends of the cannoli, filling completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.