14 February 2008

Valentine's Greeting and a heart or two for you

Happy Valentine's Day
Again high hopes of posting on another event that comes to naught.
I keep trying to learn how to use my computer and add on new skills only to find I still haven't mastered the basics.
Never having been Mac user and being a late comer to the computer world I am finding I still can't get even the basics of burning a cd , organizing my photos with out duplicates everywhere and on and on. It's hard to move forward when all the steps seem backwards and the help section doesn't seem to help because I don't seem to know how to ask the right question. I have just spent a few frustrating days trying to sort and organize and still not resolved. Prefer to be cooking or out in the sunshine,grrrr.
Oh yes back to happy VD.
Today is also another happy occasion for us.
Fabrizio and I got up early last year on Valentine's day and surprised our friends and family by going to Loveland ski area in Colorado and participated in their annual, "Marry Me and Ski for Free" event.

We're not your average couple, so we didn't have your average wedding.
We had been together almost 6 years and trying to juggle family, friends and continents and schedules was too complicated for putting together a wedding on more than one occasion, so we opted for a friends suggestion to another friend of ours.Valentine's day wedding on top of the world with 60 others couples(some renewing). I had forgotten about this event even though this area had been my home for so many years. When I told Fabrizio about it he said let's do it. So we did. Many folks thought we were married anyway, so we just had a lovely powder ski day near the top of the Continental divide in the Colorado Rockies. Sharing the day, the mountains, the skiing and the very emotional moment of saying I do in very cold atmosphere, still warms my heart to the core and makes me go all misty. If you want to see my limited photos I have a photo album here.
Many people dressed up, as there was a contest for prizes, but we opted for warmth. We also had to cut the celebration a bit short as we had already schedule a "Cooking in Your Home" class that night with some friends. The hosts, coincidentally, I had made their wedding cake many years previous when I worked at Copper Mt as the resort pastry chef, so that made it even more fun when we told everyone when we arrived for the class that night. We had a great party and our hosts kindly let us pick a special wine from their wine cellar. Our friend who put the evening together took some pictures that I have included with the same wedding photo album. My sister in law bought us red roses, a bit of bubbly and chocolate, waiting at the house for us when we returned as we were staying with her while we were visiting there last year. It was a delightful and wonderfully memorable day, I will cherish always.

So I was trying to make a tasty treat for the double occasion last night with decent results, but ran out of time to nail it completely down. The main idea was a chocolate pasta heart. Most of the recipes I ran across called for too much flour and not enough chocolate, so in the end I ended up with a cross between a sweet pasta and a pastry dough. I think it has potential for versatility and I think I will work on it for the future. Since it has been the season for frying, I continued on in this fashion and fried up the chestnut cream filled hearts and doused them with a bit of white and chocolate ganache . They would be great with a variety of sauces, especially to dip them in, raspberries and strawberries come to first mind, but we haven't been into town for awhile, so I just rustled up what the cupboards had to offer and it was a satisfying treat, even if the presentation lacked from rushing to feed my hungry man. Not overly sweet or chocolate but kind of fun. I think they are tasty with a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar for snacking on for a mid morning or afternoon merenda.
The measurements are fairly loose as my eggs were small and you never know from time to time what size you'll get from the girls, so adjust to get a smooth malleable pasta. I think I just might bake them off as a tart this afternoon.

Chocolate Pasta Hearts filled with Chestnut Cream

For the pasta

3/4 c cocoa
1/2 c confectioner sugar
1/2 c more or less flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten before adding
drop or two of vanilla or other flavoring, optional

Mix the flour, cocoa and sugar.
Add eggs and flavoring if desired.
Knead until smooth and shiny.
Lest rest at least 10 minutes and roll out till about less than a 1/4 inch thick.

I put it through the past machine to make sure it would work.
It worked beautifully as long as you flatten it enough in the beginning that it doesn't break first time through.
I only went down to number 4.
Try and see what works for you.

Fill with
Chestnut cream
I used a ready made chestnut puree that has brown sugar added.
I think a few chestnut bits or chestnut croquant, (caramelized sugar with toasted chestnut and then pulverized)
would be divine.
Or this mixed with a bit of mascarpone or ricotta.
The fillings are endless.
Drop by teaspoons on to the dough about an inch or two apart depending on the size of your hearts.
Spread a little egg white mixed with water around the edges.
Cover with another layer of dough.
Cut out shapes with heart cutter.
Mash the edges together with a fork.
I wouldn't let them set too long before frying or baking as I think the moister will seep through making them fall apart if you're not careful.

I fried mine and kept a watchful eye, as they only take a few minutes and are very easy to burn if you aren't careful.
I'm sure they would bake up also, might try that next time, but didn't feel like turning on the oven.

Quick white chocolate sauce
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c sparking wine or milk
1/c white chocolate, chopped fine
1-2 Tb Grand Marnier

Bring cream and wine to just under a boil, remove from heat.
Add the white chocolate and whisk till melted.
Add the liqueur.
Serve with your chocolate hearts

Sauce ideas
fruit coulis, raspberry is always my favorite
white or dark chocolate sauces
Creme Anglais


Proud Italian Cook said...

Awww, What a great story, Happy Anniversary to you!!! BTW, I'm right there with you about learning things on the computer, as soon as I feel I mastered something, I got something new I need, and want to learn! My 7yr old Grandaughter puts me to shame by the techie things she knows already!!

Bella Baita Marla said...

Grazie...do you think your granddaughter fancies a computer camp in the Italian alps? I know a great little place she could help out!LOL

The Passionate Palate said...

Wow, what a lovely story and great pictures. I like your chocolate pasta hearts too! What a fantastic way to get married and on a perfect day.
Oh, by the way, I see all your pictures now and your blog uploads very quickly. Whatever was happening is fixed.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Wnat a great story :D The young people put us to shame when it comes to techie things. My daughter would put together her own Christmas presents long before we even thought of it :D

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Aw I love that wedding story. I'm not into the whole big production either; wish they had something like that around here....

Lovely Valentine's Day creations too :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Marla,
I love the idea of the pasta hearts. Happy Anniversary and don't worry about the computer skills..they will come little by little. I just started learning code, something that always intimidated me.

Rowena said...

It's a bit late for Valentine wishes but I'm one of those who don't care to make a big deal out of it either. Heck, we just went out for pizza!

The little chocolate heart treats are darling though! Here's to many, many more years wonderful years ahead!

Anonymous said...

It was one of those experiences that transform into memories. A mild September evening in Tuscany having dinner outside under a vined trellis and a starlit sky. The first course arrived and the from the start promised something special is going on here. The next course kept the promise and I could only close my eyes and appreciate the wonderful flavors - a true work of art presented to our group of want-to-be artists. I could only bow in homage when the chef made her appearance. Thank you, Marla for a memory from 2002!

Bella Baita Marla said...

Thank you for all the nice comments, everyone. It is nice to get feed back and know that my stories are of interest. I must say to the anonymous last comment,
that is such an incredible compliment. Thank you so much for that and please feel free to identify your self. I am honored that you would remember the food from such a fabulous setting as the Centro terrace. sunsets there were magical. It was a wonderful time in my life too, and it's where I met Fabrizio while I was cooking for you artists. Thank you for the tribute and conjuring up those memories for me!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story and happy anniversary!

Mmmmmm... chocolate pasta. Does it get any better?

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story and delicious recipe. It's been years since I've made chocolate pasta, but seeing it in pictures and print is bringing back those old hankerings. . .

You are living my double dream life -- one, living in Italy; two, running your own B&B. If we ever make it back to Europe, we will be on your doorstep!

Thanks for stopping by my site . . . I'll trade you web design tips for a breath of your fresh Apline air! ; P

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