November 4, 2010

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Making cookies at the Currier
Chef will show how to create artful holiday treats
By Angel Roy aroy@hippopress.com

Famed chef and cookbook author Mary Ann Esposito will take on a new role when she visits the Currier Museum of Art on Saturday, Nov. 6.

She will be the Sugar Plum Fairy, giving guests ideas for holiday gifts with the wave of her rubber spatula wand.

Esposito, host of the PBS series Ciao Bella, will lead holiday dessert demonstrations during her Artful Dolci presentation at the museum, sponsored by NH Home magazine.

“Christmas and the holidays are about giving and sharing,” Esposito said. “I have always done cookies, so I thought, well, why don’t I do cookies and expand on that and demonstrate Italian desserts, because who doesn’t like treats?”

With little kitchen equipment — no running water and no stovetop at the museum — Esposito said she had to carefully decide what to prepare.

Esposito chose to bring her Pizelle iron to demonstrate different styles of the traditional Italian cookie, including a stained glass Pizelle that has the appearance of a stained glass window after being removed from the press, as well as cone- and basket-shaped Pizelle. Traditional flat Pizelle, Esposito noted, can be used for making an ice cream sandwich, the basket and the cone to hold fruit and whipped cream. “There are infinite ways to use them,” Esposito said. “They are nice to use as gifts.”

Pizelle irons, Esposito said, can be found online and at specialty kitchen stores. She prefers the steel plate style rather than the Teflon-covered presses as the steel enables her to create the desired thinness of the Pizelle.

Another demonstration will focus on the art of biscotti making and will feature Esposito’s chocolate, pistachio, tangerine biscotti recipe, one of her favorites.

“It just wouldn’t be the holidays without making those,” she said. “It is very easy to do. I know that people are busy and their time is limited; that is why I wanted to pick things that were simple, very doable and looked as if you just came out of the pastry shop with the best goodies you could buy.”

“Everyone likes biscotti,” Esposito said. “Most people buy them and they’re OK, but they’re not as good as homemade. I wanted to show people how easy it is to make them and package them to give them away as gifts.”

“I like to give a lot of gifts from my kitchen,” she said.

Like many people who like to get a jump on their holiday shopping, Esposito took a page from her mother’s book and now begins baking her gifts for friends and family every Oct. 12. As of Oct. 28, she had already made five types of cookies and had plans to bake more over the weekend.

During her presentation, Esposito will demonstrate how to make a “New England version” of tiramisu, but she kept mum on the details: “I won’t tell you what that means or everyone will be sleeping in the audience while I make it,” she said.

Esposito will also give tips and answer questions, and share other treats she has prepared, at the museum. She will also sign copies of her cookbooks. “It should be fun,” she said.

Esposito, of Durham, fell in love with Italian food in her early 30s, during her first trip to the country.

“I decided that was the path I wanted to follow,” she said. Esposito enrolled in cooking schools in Italy and “never looked back.”

She soon decided it was time for a “little cable program here in New Hampshire to teach people about Italian food” and pitched the idea to Durham public access television.

“New Hampshire is not known for having a large Italian population, so it became a challenge,” Esposito said. “At the same time, I thought it was worthwhile, something new that people could learn.”

Esposito now writes about food and cooking for two magazines: NH Home and Taste of Italia, the magazine of the National Italian American Foundation.

“[Esposito] is a New Hampshire treasure …. She is just a marvelous person,” said Andi Axman, NH Home Magazine editor.

Esposito said it is seeing the reaction people have when learning new things and the emotional connection that people have with food that she enjoys most about being able to share her passion for cooking.


Mary Ann Esposito will give baking demonstrations at the Currier Museum of Art on Saturday, Nov. 6. Courtesy photo

Artful Dolci with Mary Ann Esposito
When: Saturday, Nov. 6, at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester
Tickets: $25. May be reserved by calling 413-5113 or by e-mail at eauger@nh.com
Info: 413-5113.

Mary Ann Esposito’s cherry chocolate tiramisu

Ingredients:
1 pound Bing cherries, cut in half and pitted, plus 8 whole cherries for garnish
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1½ cups heavy cream
24 ladyfingers (use quick search in recipe box: “Lady Fingers” for how to make)
2 Tablespoons cherry liqueur
¼ pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, shaved

Place the cherry halves in a medium saucepan and add ½ cup of the sugar, and the salt. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture begins to thicken; lower the heat and cook uncovered for 5-8 minutes. Transfer the cherry sauce to a bowl and refrigerate.

Beat the mascarpone with the remaining sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff; fold the cream into the mascarpone and refrigerate.

Pour the cherry liqueur into a shallow bowl and dip each ladyfinger quickly into the liqueur; do not let them get mushy by over-dipping them. Scoop some of the mascarpone mixture into each goblet; layer a ladyfinger or two in the goblet, then spoon on some of the cherry sauce; continue making layers of mascarpone, ladyfingers and cherry sauce. End with mascarpone. Place two cherries in the center of each goblet and sprinkle some shaved chocolate over each goblet. Refrigerate at least several hours or overnight before serving.

Serves four.


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Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
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Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
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Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
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