If growing up in an Italian household and 31 years as a chef and restaurateur has taught me anything, it has taught me that the kitchen has magical powers. The kitchen is where stories are told and secrets are shared without fear of consequence. The combination of the kitchens warmth and the smells of the delicious food waiting to be savored, come together to create an atmosphere of security and comfort.
While filming our fourth season of Return to the Table on TV Cogeco, a new revelation came to be. This season, we focused on HealthyFam, where we featured guests who are committed to the health and well-being of others. One would think that with all the cameras and the bright lights shining upon us, there would be hesitation and distraction. However, what was revealed to me is the power of communication in the kitchen can’t be deterred. The conversation flowed freely, humorous stories were told and sage words of advice were dispensed.
When I asked Louise St. Pierre, president and CEO of Cogeco Canada, what advice she would give to women in business, she said, “the secret to success is a good partner in life, pick a partner who completes you, not competes with you.” These valuable words were spoken all while making Baked Fontina and Chocolate Mousse.
The two recipes featured were two of the many film crew’s favorites. The Pizza Shots that I made with my three sons, Matthew, Alexander and John Paul and the Chocolate Mousse made with Louise St. Pierre. The Pizza Shots are a new way to have a little fun with plain pizza dough and your favorite toppings. The Chocolate Mousse was pure chocolate heaven without all the muss and fuss.
From my kitchen to yours,
- Pre-made pizza dough
- Olive oil for greasing plus extra for finishing
- A selection of 2 or more fillings
- Nutella and banana
- Tomato sauce with finely chopped herbs
- Turn the rested dough out onto a clean counter and, with the flat edge, divide it first into 5×6 ounce pieces, roll each piece into a log, cut each in half, then cut each half into three, to make 30 pieces. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball. Place the balls onto a flat-edged baking tray that has been lightly greased with oil (make sure there is space between them or they will touch as they rise) and let them rest for 15 minutes. Dip the handle of a wooden spoon or your index finger into the flour and then push it into the center of the first ball. Put a little of your chosen filling into the well you have made. Repeat with the remaining balls.
- Put the tray into the preheated oven at 425F and bake for 8-10 minutes until they are light golden brown. Remove and let cool a little, so that they are just warm before serving. Brush with a little olive oil to give a nice sheen and an extra layer of flavor.
Chocolate Ricotta mousse cups
- 4 ounces (1 bar) of dark or milk chocolate
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- Whipped cream
- Raspberries for garnish
- Melt 4 ounces of chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water
- Let cool, slightly
- Blend everything in a food processor for 30 seconds, then spoon into 4 cups and chill for an hour. As a special touch, spoon the mixture into wine or martini glasses.
- Top the chocolate ricotta mousse with whipped cream and chocolate shavings (you can use a peeler to make the shavings)
- Garnish with raspberries