Monday, August 13, 2007

Cannoli Controversy

Most people who grew up in an Italian neighborhood can tell you that cannolis are awesome! The time it actually takes to make a real batch of cannolis can vary of course, but it isn't a typically fast event - I know this from experience. I've been trying to perfect the art of cannoli form manufacturing for years - I finally broke down about a month ago and ordered a new set of 4 forms on Ebay. I had an old set from back in the 80's and like anything else made out of metal they started looking a little like I shouldn't be using them anymore - not if food was involved. You know what I'm getting at, you've seen the metal cookie sheets with rust and grime all over the surface in your kitchen. Throwing out something old and metal isn't as easy as throwing out something old and made out of soiled cloth or broken plastic. Metal is so....permanent!

So I bought the forms and within a day I lost them! My good friend Chef Eric Bauer decided my kitchen was too small to properly make cannolis and he's kidnapped my forms. I can visit them on weekends when I have the time - he's been kind enough to bring them out on special dress-up occasions too. When he painted his kitchen he took extra special care of my forms, placing a big plastic sack over them and laying them on top of the dryer in the mudroom so they wouldn't get splashed. That was nice. I thought that was going way over the top, but it was very nice of him to think of me. Still, I faced separation anxiety from time to time when I watched Rachel Ray or Emeril come up with something delicious or decorative - something unique and Italian. I wanted my damn cannoli forms! That's what I wanted!

What I did today, I have no remorse for. I have absolutely no bad feelings and if I admit to the reading public that I actually found my method of fast-acting-cannoli-habit solving to be less than traditional, well, forgive me. What I admit to you now is a true story:

I went to the store, a store not far from my house. There I found ready-made, already in a box, prefabricated cannoli forms from a company called "Alessi". They make dried breadsticks too, I found the cannoli forms on the same aisle as the breadsticks - I was looking for spaghetti. Oh, I did it - I bought the dang box of prefabricated, boxed, aged, preserved cannoli forms for $2.49. I went over to the dairy aisle - I picked up both ricotta cheese (full fat), and a block of cream cheese. I marched my happy butt over to the confectioner's sugar and I bought a little blue box of it. I even went SO FAR as to get a small bottle of the chocolate flavored (artificially flavored I might add) sprinkles - and a little bottle of the colored sprinkles because I know my children would want both.

All I remember after that was the oooohing and the awwwing coming from my mouth as I was mixing the cheeses and the sugar in a glass bowl - I blended and I blended. I didn't even drain the cheese really, just opened up the top of the carton and plopped it into the big empty bowl. The bowl that was screaming "You haven't used me in months, I forgot was it was like to be a baker's tool!" It was now or never! Eric Bauer - take this! Bruhaaaaaaaaaa (That's actually not how you spell out an evil laugh, but I'm not that good at one in real life either).

I took my box of cannoli forms - I opened them. I began stuffing the white mixture into the holes at both ends, allowing the goo to mingle in the middle. I poured out the chocolate sprinkles into one of those really cool specially designed bowls for little ingredients when you cook, because I really think it's fun to look the part sometimes - this was one of those times. I then dipped each end into the sprinkles without, I repeat, WITHOUT hesitation. Without remorse, without even thinking what the women at the neighborhood deli will say when I run in next week for bagels - they read this blog. I will hear about my bastardizing of their mothers' recipes. I know I will.

CANNOLIS in less than 2 minutes. BAM! (No, that wasn't me being Emeril - I can't even imagine trying to do his impersonation....that was me shouting out BAM! because it was just that fast!) I had SOOOOOOO much mix left over. I really did. There were only 6 forms in the box. Oh well, maybe this weekend I'll steal over to the Bauers' home/cafe and maybe make a little suggestion about cooking up a batch of fresh forms - I have the MIX.....maybe not the mix that wins awards and melts the hearts of the little old men on the side of the street who remember standing in line for a special treat during carnivals - but hey, this is 2007 and like Eric said; my kitchen is too small to be too professional about it. The desire overtook me. My senses were corrupted - however, in the end - my senses were just.....fine!

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