Monday, April 20, 2009

We Are Moving!

ItaliaRican Kitchen is moving.

Our new address is

This Blogger site will remain for those of you who have already links to posts on this site, but this will be the last entry.

See ya there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Collard Greens and Ham Hocks

Serves 10-12 or 8 to 10 Southerners

In recognition of Black History month, I decided to share the recipe for one of my favorite soul food dishes: collard greens and ham hocks. While collard greens are popular year round they are especially eaten in the South on New Year’s Day to attract money to the eater, as the bent green leaves represent folded money. Collard greens taste great no matter what kind of meat you serve them with, but they are traditionally cooked with ham hocks. And when I say cooked with, I mean they are literally cooked in the same pot so that the greens can soak up the essence of the ham hock and vice versa.

Most people have no idea which part of the pig the ham hock comes from. It’s the shinbone of the hog’s legs and the joint that connects to the ankle. While most Americans associate ham hocks with the South, it can also be found in Chinese (cooked with bok choy or Chinese cabbage) and German (in a dish called eisbein) cuisine.

You will need:
  • 6 inch quart pot
  • cold water
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • one tablespoon
  • one slotted spoon

  • 6 pounds of collard greens
  • 3 pounds of ham hocks
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of adobo
  • ½ cup of vinegar, you can use white, red wine or apple cider
The first thing you want to do is partially fill your sink with cold water and rinse the greens thoroughly. This is important because unlike other vegetables that grow straight from the ground, collard greens tend to soak up more dirt, pebbles and grit. So you need to completely submerge the greens and swish them around in the water for about two minutes. Pat your greens dry with a kitchen towel.

Once the greens are relatively dry, separate the leaves from the stems either with your hands or with a knife before placing them into the pot. After the greens are cut dice the onion and garlic about a quarter inch thick and place them in the pot with your cut greens, salt, pepper and adobo. Add enough water to the pot to completely drown your greens and add the ham hocks. Bring the pot to a simmer with a low flame for about an hour, then increase the flame and let the ingredients boil for an hour more until the greens are tender, the garlic has melted away, the water becomes thicker and the meat separates itself from the bone. About half an hour after the pot starts simmering, taste the water with a spoon to see if it needs more seasoning.

Drain the water from the pot and serve your ham hocks and collard greens with biscuits or corn bread.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Most Recent Cake Job

With the holiday season, I've gotten so many requests for custom cakes I haven't had a whole lot of time to update this blog.

So many of my clients ask me how I can decorate a cake as beautifully as I do, so I figured I'd videotape my most recent gig, a half sheet vanilla cake for little girl's christening party.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Peaches & Cream Heaven Cake

Serves 8-10

Are you tired of eating heavy cakes with greasy frosting that sit in the bottom of your stomach like a bowling ball? Well, peaches and cream heaven cake is light, moist and refreshing. I call it heaven because this two-layer cake recipe is literally to die for. When you taste this cake you will feel like you're in heaven.

I originally came up with this idea for this cake for my mom's birthday a few months ago. She wanted a cake that was like strawberry shortcake, but since she is allergic to strawberries I decided to substitute the strawberries with peaches. The result was a sweet (and less tart) alternative that melts in everyone’s mouth and even comes with its own syrupy ingredient.

You will need:
  • 2 round 9-inch cake pans
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 strainer (about the size of your large can)
  • 1 knife (optional)

  • 1 large can of sliced peaches in syrup
  • 1 box of vanilla cake mix
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cup of peach syrup
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 16 oz of fat free whipped cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees then grease your baking pans with the cooking spray. Add the cake mix, egg whites, oil, and peach syrup. Use the strainer to pour the syrup into the mix without letting the peach slices fall in as well. Stir the mix until all the ingredients are incorporated and the lumps are gone.

Pour the mix into both baking pans evenly, then lightly bang the center of the pans so there are no air bubbles that bake up with the cakes. Place both pans into the oven and let them bake for about half an hour or until golden brown. You'll know when the cake is done because the edges will separate from the pans. Another method is to pierce the center of the cakes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean the cake is done.

Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool. It is important to let the cakes cool down before you start working with them because you don't want your whipped cream to melt and your peaches to cook (Note: cooked peaches turn into jelly, and this recipe tastes better with solid peaches). Once the cakes cool down turn the pan upside down and allow the first cake to gently fall onto the cake platter. Spread about two spoonfuls of whipped cream evenly over the cake before arranging the sliced peaches around the center of the cake in circles and covering them with more whipped cream.

If you feel the peach slices are too thick, it’s best to slice them into smaller pieces, especially those slices that are placed in between the two cakes, to make sure the cake will not end up lopsided.

Now flip the other pan and place the second cake on top of the first one and do the exact same thing you did to the first cake. Place your masterpiece in the refrigerator and let it chill out for about 2 hours. This will allow everything to set up and come together.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So Many Jobs, So Little Blogging

Hi all,

It seems that uncutting my competition has paid off. I've had a few new clients since August which has kept me busy. Unforutnately, between school and work, I haven't had too much time to blog.

I promise I will post a new recipe soon.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chinese Spaghetti

Serves 8

Chinese spaghetti is like pizza in the sense that you can add a variety of toppings. But this is much healthier than pizza as it uses seven different types of vegetables. Chinese spaghetti does not have to be a strictly vegetarian dish; you can add fish or chicken or some other lean meat. But even the most loyal of carnivores will not be able to deny the normally meatless sensation that is Chinese spaghetti. This meal only takes about half an hour to make and its cheap ingredients are sure to stretch your dollar.

You will need:

  • A salad spinner
  • A measuring cup
  • A knife
  • A slotted spoon
  • 2 large pots (about six inches deep, enough to hold a quart of liquid)
  • A spaghetti server


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium to large Chinese eggplant
  • 1 head of bok choy (Chinese cabbage)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
  • ½ a head of leeks
  • 10 chopped garlic cloves
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 12 oz. of spaghetti
  • ½ cup of sesame seeds
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound of imitation crab meat
  • 1 pound of mixed bell peppers (about 6 or 7 peppers)
  • Some ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Condiments (whichever you prefer)

  • Hoisin sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Plum Sauce
  • Chinese mustard
  • Duck sauce
  • Red cherry sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce

Start by prepping your vegetables and boiling water for the spaghetti. Take a large pot and fill it with water and add a tablespoon of salt. Follow the directions on the spaghetti box. While the noodles are boiling, start prepping your vegetables by rinsing them under cold water. Take your leeks and bok choy and break them away from their stems then place the chopped leeks and bok choy in a salad spinner. Use the salad spinner so that the dirt and tiny pebbles in these vegetables can sink to the bottom and won’t appear in the food.

Grab your second pot and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Chop your onions, peppers and garlic into the pot and add the diced tomatoes. When you’re chopping up the vegetables they should be about the size of your thumb. I cut them that way because vegetables tend to shrink as they cook. Sauté the vegetable pieces until they soften and then add a teaspoon of pepper. Add the Chinese eggplant later only after the other ingredients are soft because eggplant cooks much quicker than vegetables do.

Like I said before, you can add any meat you like to Chinese spaghetti, but my personal favorite is imitation crab meat. I always thought imitation crab meat came from imitation crabs, but I recently discovered it was made from the finely pulverized flesh of the Alaska Pollock, a white fish whose flesh is shaped and cured to resemble snow crab legs. By now, the water for the pasta should have boiled and the noodles should be soft enough to eat. As soon as the spaghetti is ready, drain the water out and transfer the cooked noodles to the other pot and stir all the ingredients together as the eggplant cooks. Your Chinese spaghetti should be ready in about 10 minutes. Once everything is ready, sprinkle and stir in your sesame seeds and parmesan to add some crunch and cheesy flavor to your meal.

As for toppings, I like to keep the condiments Chinese or at least Asian to keep with the whole Chinese theme of the dish. Once you serve the food, guests should be free to choose whichever condiment they want to add to their Chinese spaghetti. I really don’t have a favorite, so I alternate between the sauces mentioned above.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Homemade Doughnuts

Serves 5

Tired of eating stale doughnuts (is it doughnut or donut?) from a local coffee shop or bakery? Well I’ve got a quick way to whip up a batch of fresh delicious doughnuts as a treat for your co-workers or just to enjoy at home. If you’re diabetic or just looking to cut down on your sugar intake, toppings can just as easily be made with Splenda or any other sugar substitute. After trying this easy recipe, you may never buy another donut again! Believe me when I tell you that they will taste just like any other donut you’d find elsewhere.

You will need:

  • 1 4-inch quart pot
  • 1 measuring spoon or biscuit cutter
  • 1 pair of tongs
  • 1 plate or cookie sheet
  • a few sheets of paper towels


  • 1 can of buttermilk or home-style biscuits
  • 2 cups of canola oil
To make rings and pop-ems:

Start by pouring your canola oil into the pot and preheating it. I use canola oil because it has zero trans-fat and I think it tastes better when I fry certain foods in it. Carefully separate the discs of raw biscuit dough from each other, then scoop out the center of the biscuit with your spoon and place the little ball of dough aside, leaving a ring (check my new instructional video for details). The little balls will be made into pop-ems, or munchkins or holes or whatever you call them. They go by many names.

You will know that the oil is hot enough to fry the dough when you will see smoke coming from it. You can also take the end of a wooden spoon and place it in the oil then if you see the bubbles around the handle then the oil is ready. Make sure you cook them on each side until they are golden brown. After they’re done, place the donuts on a cookie sheet with paper towels to drain all of the excess oil off. These plain donuts are ready to eat once they are dry.


Here’s where you can get really creative as well as give those plain donuts a taste you and your guests will never forget!


You will need:

  • A small resealable food storage bag (at least big enough to hold a few donuts)
  • A cooling rack


  • 1/2 cup of confectionary sugar (or Splenda)
  • 1/2 cup of ground cinnamon.

Pour the sugar and ground cinnamon together into your food storage bag. Confectionary sugar is very sweet, so the cinnamon balances out the sweet taste. Unfortunately, Splenda does not make their product in powdered form (I checked their website). If you want powdered Splenda you can put it into a hand held coffee grinder or a food processor to grind it into a fine powder.

While your donuts are still warm, drop them into the food storage bag and shake the bag up and down so the donuts can be covered as evenly as possible (check out my new instructional video for more details). Carefully remove the doughnuts from the bag and place them on a cooling rack to dry and allow the topping to stick.

Chocolate glazed

You will need:

  • A bowl
  • A cooling rack


  • 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips

Pour your chocolate chips into a bowl and place it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. You will know when it’s done once they are completely melted. While the chocolate is still hot, place one side of your donuts (or flip them over and cover both sides) into the melted chocolate.

Sugar glazed

You will need:

  • A teaspoon
  • A bowl
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of water

Pour your sugar into a small bowl and add water. Stir with the spoon until the contents mix completely and resembles a smooth sticky glob. Place one side of your donuts (or flip them over and cover both sides) into the glaze and let dry. This method works best when your donuts are still warm.

The sticky glaze will make it easier to decorate a donut with sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, or even the sprinkles I used in my besos. The only limits are your imagination.