Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ciao Italia Bombs

I have to say that I love Mary Ann Esposito.  I saw her first show and as many as I could after that.  There was a period when I was not near a station that carried her shows, so I missed a few.
One thing bothers me.  I even called the producers to complain.  I was a jeweler for years.  I have cleaned thousands of rings, and even after ultrasonic, toothbrushes, detergents etc., there is nothing dirtier and more disgusting than the interior recesses of a woman's ring.  I say woman's just because the designs tend to have deep recesses and nearly blind voids  Filthy Filthy Filthy.  The response to my complaint that she never removes her rings when she is digging into meatball pulp, or any number of other gooey foods, was that she is set in her ways and she does not care how dirty a practice it is.  She is not going to remove the rings, or warn people about how dirty a practice it is. 
Other than that, I have only one other complaint.  I hate the shows where she is working with a dozen people in a professional kitchen, and you only get a glimpse of the method...the recipes are after all what we watch for.  Why would we want to see how to do it?

Mary Ann has a peculiar fascination for me.  Her background is similar to mine.  She does recipes that remind me of family.   She sounds like family and the set is good looking.

She is a real treasure and I hope she does not hate me for writing this if she ever hears about it.

I saw a show today that I had seen before.  She did a Ricotta Budino...not a fan of Apricots, but it looked like a good recipe to build upon someday.

Her Ice Cream Bomb however was an utter failure.  No problem eating it if she brings it to the next pot luck, but it was very BLAH and not very creative.  Italians are brilliant at many things, but way to match them.  Her Bomb was all the same beige, blah flavors....just not a good recipe as she demonstrated it.

Savoiardi..hard lady fingers...good choice.  However, there are dozens of choices for the outer shell, and indeed they are sometimes just an intermediate layer, with more layers of chocolate or ice cream outside the layer she showed.  But lets do a similar recipe.

Try Bisccotti, Strips of cake, Amaretti, candied fruit...anything for that outer layer, keeping in mind that you must cut through or around the cookies, fruit or whatever.  Don't make too solid a wall.  fish scale patterns would be wonderful with a thin outer layer.

Line the mold....go big, and not too tall.  When you are applying layers to the inside of the mold, a tall narrow mold makes it hard to get your hand in there to put in several layers.  A Steel bowl is a great choice to do the first time till you have had practice.  It will still be tall, but broad enough to get into the center.

Dip the Savoiardi in Marsala...OK... but try something like Amaretto, Frangelico, Limoncello, Chambord, Grand Marnier...or a very good sweet Vin Santo or Malvasia.  Match the alcohol to some of the flavors in the bomb, contrast, but not too much...blend but not bland.

Line the mold with plastic wrap, then dip the cookies or cake etc. in the liquor briefly, and line the mold as tightly as possible, carve rounded edges to fit more precisely, and arrange in a fabulous pattern if the finished bomb will not be covered with cream or fondant or something else.
Freeze for an hour at least

  Put in a first layer that will contrast significantly with the beige of most baked goods that will line the mold.
Try starting with a great cherry with plenty of fruit in it.  How about Pistachio.  Soften the ice cream just till it can be scooped easily.  Mound a quantity in the bottom of the mold, and use a large spoon to drag the ice cream up along the sides, holding the cookies in place.  Dip the spoon in hot water to facilitate the process.

Return to the freezer.

Shave chocolate and press into the inner wall of the first layer.and continue with a second layer.  Try Vanilla, mixed with rum soaked raisins, or toasted Hazelnuts.  There are all sorts of candy bar bits now.  How about York Peppermint Patty bits or Butterfinger bits, toffee or heath bar bits or crushed, etc.  Or you could crush Amaretti coarsely and stir in.  Then smear in another layer. 

Freeze again.

Melt Chocolate(No milk chocolate please) and paint the inside of the last layer with it. 

How about using a nice Sorbet next, what will go well with the first two...Raspberry if you started with Pistachio, Lime if you started with a red or pink outer layer.

In the middle, try something very interesting, and very expensive as it is the smallest layer.  Mix candied pineapple slivers, chocolate chips and toasted coconut with a vanilla ice cream.  Very dark chocolate ice cream with candied orange peel and almonds.  Fill the entire center, or do one or more not go crazy...too much is too much.

The real trick is to be creative, but be careful to use flavors that go together and colors that show off the contrast between them.

Do a whole layer of chopped toasted hazelnuts between two ice creams.  Try regional things like dried cranberries..dried cherries or various jams or marmalade swirled into vanilla like marble.  Chop dried figs and steep them in rum, brandy or some other favorite liquor.  Make and taste a small quantity first.  Drain, or mix the liquor and the fruit into ice cream.  Just do not mix into much liquid, or the ice cream may not harden enough to cut well.

When you unmold onto a plate after many hours in the freezer, try pouring melted dark chocolate mixed with a bit of butter or neutral oil over the entire bomb to seal it in. 
Glue candies, Marzipan, candied nuts, candied fruits(red and green cherries?) or pralines onto the outside with a bit of chocolate.  Generously pipe whipped cream in beautiful patterns on the outside, no matter what you have used for the outer layer.
You might even use marzipan or fondant for an outside layer if the bomb is frozen hard as a rock while you work with it.  You may have to trim and mosaic together pieces as much as you stretch these layers.

You might also use drained ricotta cheese, beaten with more and more confectioner's sugar till a very stiff cream filling like cannoli filling is made.  Mix in candied fruit or chopped dark chocolate and stuff the center with it.

Cut with a hot knife and serve in wedges on pink crystal plates with whipped cream and a sprig of mint....Or use what you have...Ha...Ha!
Mary your heart out!

PS...I love Lidia too, but I like you better for some reason.   

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