Sweet Maria’s Italian Desserts by Maria Bruscino Sanchez [read online free]

  • Full Title : Sweet Maria’s Italian Desserts: Classic and Casual Recipes for Cookies, Cakes, Pastry, and Other Favorites
  • Autor: Maria Bruscino Sanchez
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; 1st edition
  • Publication Date: October 20, 2000
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031224133X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312241339
  • Download File Format: azw3


Sweet Maria’s Italian Desserts is baker Maria Bruscino Sanchez’s loving tribute to the desserts her family has enjoyed for generations – desserts you’ll find in Italy and in Italian-American homes on special occasions and, in many cases, any day of the year. These are festive favorites like Traditional Cannoli, Espresso Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Amaretto Chiffon Cake, Spiced Gelato, and many others. The result of years of baking in Italy, in her popular bakery, and in the kitchens of her grandmother, mother, and aunts (many of whom do the baking at Sweet Maria’s), the book includes cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, pastry, sweet breads, frozen desserts, fruit dishes, and other specialties-all made with warmth, tradition, and a love of great desserts.

Presented with simple instructions, tips from the bakery, and a dollop of background information on the customs and history of the desserts, these creative, top-notch recipes will bring delicious favorites to your kitchen.


From Publishers Weekly

In her latest endeavor, Sanchez (Sweet Maria’s Cake Kitchen and Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray) serves up enticing recipes for Italian and Italian-American specialties, including the ubiquitous cookies as well as cakes and tarts. Sanchez’s spirit is casual, and her recipes rely on readily available ingredients as is typical of Italian dessert making, which is often improvisational in spirit. Ricotta and citrus, nuts and fresh fruits are showcased in their full, tasty glory. There are Fig and Walnut Biscotti, perfect for dunking in wine or espresso; Chocolate Calzone, little pockets of chocolate dough enclosing a chocolate and nut filling; and, of course, Italian Ladyfingers, essential for Tiramisu. There are nut cakes and rich chocolate cakes with chestnut cream or Polenta Cake topped with sour cherry filling. An Italian cheesecake features ricotta and is scented with amaretto. Bountiful fruit tarts include fig, pear and pine nut. There are traditional favorites, such as cannoli as well as sweet breads, for Christmas and Easter. The treats beguile but what may be even more appealing is the atmosphere they createAcoffee on the porch and Sunday dinners with the whole family.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sanchez is the owner of a bakery in Waterbury, CT, and the author of two earlier baking books. Here she focuses on the desserts she grew up with, treats baked by her mother, grandmother, and extended family (several of her aunts work at the bakery today): Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti, Tuscan Harvest Cake, Panettone. Nick Malgieri’s Great Italian Desserts (LJ 12/90) includes recipes for many of these, as does Michele Scicolone’s La Dolce Vita (1993), but Sanchez’s earlier books have proved reasonably popular. For area and other larger collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.



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amazing achievement when you think about it: these days R&D (research and development) chefs get paid six-figure sums to come up with what they did.

In my quest to share my love and appreciation of Chinese food, I myself have been blamed for “dumbing down” Chinese cuisine for the Western palate in my attempt to whet people’s appetite for it. But I much prefer to see it as “creative fusion.” If I remained true to the Chinese classics, I would be a copycat cook and not a progressive one. A cook’s job in my opinion is to be creative and push the boundaries of their cuisine and never stop experimenting.

Yes, classics are good, but classics at one point in history came from somewhere too. They were once new—someone invented them, and if they had never experimented, we wouldn’t be enjoying those dishes today.

And are classic dishes the only authentic ones? I prefer the term “heritage.” Dishes can have heritage and influence, but they are not necessarily “authentic” because the question would be, authentic to whom? Authenticity is a matter of perspective. Chinese takeouts have become such a staple of so many countries that you could argue that they are just as authentic within immigrant Chinese cooking as the older, classic dishes.

I am always being asked for takeout menu recipes, so here is my book on the subject. Don’t accuse me of not knowing my xiao long bao from my char siu bao—because I do and I can make both. I want to share my love of Chinese takeouts and show how, cooked well, they can hold their own with the other great cuisines of the world. People also ask me whether I cook other types of food at home, and I certainly do. In fact, I have a soft spot for Lebanese cuisine, and I love Italian and Indian. But my vocation and career is making Chinese food—and please excuse the generic word “Chinese,” for there are over 34 regions in China with over 54 different dialects, and each region has a unique way of preparing food. So until I master all the Chinese dishes there are to be mastered and explored, I won’t be able to venture properly into other cuisines. Chinese cooking alone could keep me going for more than a lifetime.

If you are Chinese and, like my father, snobbish about Chinese takeout, my hope is that, after reading these recipes, you will be cooking and feeding them to your kids instead of the dog and you will feel encouraged to embrace them as part of your culture and be proud of them.

Chinese takeout cuisine is perfectly acceptable at home too, and I want to prove that, when cooked correctly, it can be the healthiest, most economical, and delicious food you have ever eaten. With many low-fat dishes and using plenty of fresh vegetables and lean meat and fish, it’s also good for those who are worried about keeping slim. If you are vegetarian, Chinese food has a huge array of bean curd and “mock meat” recipes made from wheat gluten. Equally, if you are allergic to wheat or gluten or to monosodium glutamate, you can buy soy sauces that are wheat-free and condiments that don’t contain MSG. If you have a nut allergy, use vegetable or sunflower oil instead of peanut oil, and if you are watching your salt intake, you can substitute a low-sodium, light soy sauce. I would also advise using organic or free-range eggs and meat wherever possible.

With this book, I want to give you my twenty-first-century version of Chinese takeout, inspired by this favorite fast food. I want to demonstrate how I think Chinese takeout dishes should be cooked at home. I will look at all the offerings, whether healthy or unhealthy, give my view on them, share tips with you, and show you lots of easy recipes that can be cooked far more quickly than it would take you to order your favorite takeout dish. I will share with you my knowledge of flavor pairings to get the best out of your Chinese pantry (My Top Ten Essential Chinese Pantry Ingredients) and introduce some new ways of eating and cooking Chinese food. In addition, I want to show you how Chinese takeout dishes, when cooked with the freshest ingredients you can lay your hands on (coupled with the right culinary techniques), make for a far superior “fast food” than any other cuisine in the world. If I owned a takeout shop, the dishes in this book are the ones you’d find on my menu.

Enough said. Less talk and more cooking!


1. Light soy sauce

2. Dark soy sauce

3. Shaohsing rice wine

4. Toasted sesame oil

5. Five-spice powder

6. Sichuan peppercorns

7. Chinkiang black rice vinegar

8. Clear rice vinegar

9. Chili bean sauce

10. Chili sauce

= vegetarian

= contains chili


Toast with Avocado, Fried Eggs, and Soy Sauce

Basil Omelette with Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce

Smoked Salmon and Egg Fried Rice

Country Sausage, Green Pepper, and Tomato Fried Rice with Pineapple

Pork, Ginger, and Duck Egg Congee

Big Bowl of Oat Congee and Accompaniments—“The Works”

When I first arrived in South Africa, I was five and a half. After a tearful good-bye to the rest of the family, my mother, brother, and I packed our bags to join my father, who had already left to set up a bicycle business in South Africa. In Taiwan he had been working as a manager in a building company and hated his job. So when by chance he met Robert (“Uncle Robert” to us) and the South African convinced my father to set up in business with him, he jumped at the idea. We liked Uncle Robert: we had met him only once, but he had taken us to a pizza restaurant and given me a cuddly raccoon toy from South Africa. Despite no previous business experience and not knowing a word of English, my father moved us all over there on a whim. It was to be one of the scariest but most fulfilling adventures of my childhood.

At Uncle Robert’s insistence, we stayed on his farm just outside Jo’burg. He and his wife, Susan, accommodated us in a converted barn on their plot of land, which extended for acres and acres. They even had a mini reservoir with their own supply of water and they kept horses and several Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Aunty Susan was a welcoming lady. The day we arrived, while my mother was unpacking and tidying up the barn, she took us food shopping. My brother and I were taken to the most enormous building we had ever seen. It was a hypermarket. Back in Taiwan, I hadn’t even been to a supermarket before. Even in Taipei, the only modern outlets we had were 7-Eleven convenience stores. The only place like it in our experience was the local open market my grandmother used to take us to in the village, so this vast building was a shock.

My brother and I went up and down the aisles, admiring the rows and rows of packaged ingredients. There were even fish tanks with fresh lobsters and crabs. Aunty Susan guided us to a large chilled section; I remember feeling really cold. She pointed to the shelves and gestured to us to pick something, so I picked a small light brown carton and my brother picked a dark brown one. We hadn’t a clue what we had chosen. The rest of that shopping trip is now hazy, although I remember plenty of boxes and paper bags being carted to Aunty Susan’s large fancy kitchen.

She handed us each a teaspoon and we left her to her unpacking. I opened the foil lid of my carton and took a small mouthful, and my brother did the same. The taste was creamy and sour but also sweet; I had no idea that I had picked a caramel-flavored yogurt and my brother a chocolate one. We were used to our Yakult, but this was an entirely new experience. We weren’t sure we liked it, but we went back to the barn and showed the yogurts to Mum. She took a small mouthful and then spat it out: “Pai kee yah!” (“It’s gone off!” in Taiwanese). She stormed over to Aunty Susan’s and started “communicating” with her. They couldn’t understand what each other was saying; in the end my mum threw the pots in the garbage! Aunty Susan looked bewildered and shrugged her shoulders. I thought Mum was rude, but I didn’t dare say anything. The next day Aunty Susan dropped by as Mum was making us fried eggs for breakfast. She brought over these dark green vegetables, which my mum called hulu- or gourd-shaped. Aunty Susan sliced one in half to reveal a large round pit in the middle; she then scooped the green flesh out of one of the halves and smeared it onto a slice of brown bread she had brought over with her. She gestured to my mother to take a bite. My mum had a taste and shook her head, saying, “Bu hao chi” (“Not good eat”). “Avocaaaa-do,” said Aunty Susan, then smiled, patted us on our heads, and walked out the door.

Despite not liking the taste, my mother hated wasting food, so she placed the eggs she had been frying on the avocado bread, drizzled over some soy sauce, and told us to eat it. She didn’t have any herself. Over time, however, avocados became one of my mum’s favorite foods. She now lives permanently in Taiwan, where avocados are hard to get and expensive. When we Skype, she will often ask, “You still eating avocados?” That recipe, washed down with a glass of soy milk, is now one of my favorite dishes for breakfast.

You will notice that my recipes, like yin and yang, tend to be very black and white, very Western or very Chinese, but when recipes work together, East and West can be balanced, like the takeout menu, to give amazing, what I like to call “fu-sian”-style food. You may not associate breakfast with Chinese takeout, but there are many eateries all over Asia that serve warming breakfasts that can be bought on the way to school or work. In addition to Western-style sandwiches, these small eateries (and sometimes street stalls) serve you-tiao, or fried bread sticks, with hot or cold soy milk (sweetened or unsweetened), mantou (steamed buns) with savory or sweet fillings, and of course steaming bowls of congee in a variety of flavors. If I had a takeout shop or diner, I would definitely include a breakfast menu, and I would serve a variety of Western-and Chinese-style treats—just like the snack stalls in the East.

Toast with Avocado, Fried Eggs, and Soy Sauce

Aunty Susan, whom we stayed with when we first arrived in South Africa, once gave my mother two ripe avocados, smearing one of them on some bread. Mum thought it was odd to serve a vegetable in this way, but soon she started to make us fried-egg sandwiches for breakfast with a generous slathering of avocado. Now I don’t hesitate to make this for breakfast, spreading slices of toast with a chunky rich layer of ripe avocado, topped with poached or fried eggs (preferably sunny-side up) and a drizzle of light soy sauce. If I had my own takeout shop or diner, this would certainly feature on the menu!

PREP TIME: 5 minutes • COOK IN: 3 minutes • SERVES: 1

1 tbsp of peanut oil

2 large eggs

2 slices of seeded rye bread

½ ripe avocado (save the rest for a salad later), pit removed and flesh scooped out

Drizzle of light soy sauce

Salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat a wok over medium heat until it starts to smoke and then add the peanut oil. Crack the eggs into the wok and cook for 2 minutes or to your liking. (I like mine crisp underneath and still a bit runny on top.) Meanwhile, place the bread in the toaster and toast for 1 minute.

2. To serve, place the toast on a plate and spread with the avocado flesh. Place the eggs on top and drizzle over the soy sauce, then season with salt and ground black pepper and eat immediately. This is delicious served with a glass of cold soy milk, a cup of rooibos tea with a slice of lemon, or some freshly pressed apple or orange juice.

Basil Omelette with Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce

In Taiwan, there are many night market stalls that sell the famous oyster omelette. A little cornstarch paste is stirred into beaten eggs, then small oysters are added and sometimes herbs. When the eggs have almost set, a spicy sweet chili sauce is drizzled over the top, making a comforting, addictive snack. I adore this dish, but it is hard to get fresh small oysters, so I sometimes make a vegetarian version for breakfast, using sweet basil and free-range eggs, and adding my own spicy sweet chili sauce, made using condiments from my Chinese pantry.

PREP TIME: 3 minutes • COOK IN: 5 minutes • SERVES: 1

3 eggs

Large handful of Thai or Italian sweet basil leaves

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ground white pepper

1 tbsp of peanut oil

Handful of mixed salad leaves, to garnish


1 tbsp of light soy sauce

1 tsp of vegetarian oyster sauce

1 tbsp of mirin

1 tsp of tomato ketchup

1 tsp of Guilin chili sauce, or other good chili sauce

1. Make the spicy sweet chili sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, then set aside.

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl, beat lightly, and add the basil leaves, then season with the salt and ground white pepper.

3. Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the peanut oil. Pour in the egg and herb mixture, swirling the egg around the pan. Let the egg settle and then, using a wooden spatula, loosen the base of the omelette so that it doesn’t stick to the wok. Keep swirling any runny egg around the side of the wok so that it cooks. Flip the omelette over if you can without breaking it, then fold and transfer to a serving plate, drizzle over some of the spicy sweet chili sauce, and serve with a garnish of mixed salad leaves.

Smoked Salmon and Egg Fried Rice

This is my classic breakfast recipe—it’s so good I had to share it with you. Make sure you add the smoked salmon after the rice, as the rice acts as a cushion, helping the salmon not to catch on the side of the wok and flake into tiny pieces.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes • COOK IN: 7 minutes • SERVES: 1

1½ tbsps of peanut oil

2 eggs, beaten

3 oz frozen peas

11 oz cold leftover cooked jasmine rice (Ching’s Tip) or freshly cooked long-grain rice (Ching’s Tip)

5 oz smoked salmon, sliced into strips

1–2 tbsps of light soy sauce

1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil

Pinch of ground white pepper

1. Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add 1 tbsp of the peanut oil. Add the beaten eggs to the wok and stir for 2 minutes or until they are scrambled, then remove from the wok and set aside.

2. Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining peanut oil, allowing it to heat for 20 seconds. Add the frozen peas and stir-fry for just under a minute. Add the cooked rice and mix well until the rice has broken down.

3. Add the smoked salmon slices and toss together for 1 minute, then add the scrambled egg pieces back into the wok and stir in. Season with the soy sauce (to taste), the toasted sesame oil, and white pepper and serve immediately.


If using freshly cooked rice, use 5 oz of uncooked long-grain rice, such as basmati, rinse it well, and then boil in 1¼ cups of water, cooking until all the water has been absorbed. This will take an extra 20 minutes.


If you are not a fan of fish, then use smoked bacon lardons instead—cook them until crisp before adding.

Country Sausage, Green Pepper, and Tomato Fried Rice with Pineapple

A few years ago, I came up with bacon and egg fried rice, which my friends adored. This one is a follow-up recipe. It’s the ultimate brunch dish—so easy to do on a lazy Sunday. Children will love it and the neighbors will hate you as they spy enviously over the fence while you dig in. This is my equivalent of a fry-up, but avoid using too much oil in this dish, as the sausages are quite fatty. It’s best to pour the excess fat away, as described below. For a healthier version of this dish, you could mix in some spinach leaves if you liked and serve with a simple garden salad.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK IN: 7 minutes • SERVES: 4

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks

6 country sausages (12 oz in total), chopped into ½-inch rounds

1 green pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice

1 very large ripe beefsteak tomato, cut into chunks

1 lb 2 oz cold leftover cooked jasmine rice (Ching’s Tip) or freshly cooked long-grain rice (Ching’s Tip)

1 tbsp of light soy sauce

1 tbsp of chili oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Large handful of ripe pineapple chunks

1. Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the sausages and cook over medium heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour away the excess oil.

2. Return the wok to the heat, add the pepper, and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, then add the tomato and toss all the ingredients together. Add the cooked rice, breaking it up well, especially if it has been in the fridge overnight.

3. Season with the soy sauce, chili oil, and lemon juice, then mix in the pineapple chunks, remove from the heat, and serve immediately. Delicious with a glass of cold lemonade.


If using freshly cooked rice, use 9 oz of uncooked long-grain rice, such as basmati, rinse it well, and then boil in 2¼ cups of water, cooking until all the water has been absorbed. This will take an extra 20 minutes.

Pork, Ginger, and Duck Egg Congee

This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. The famous cha chaan teng tea restaurants in Hong Kong serve it, especially the ones located in the old open market at Canton Road in Kowloon. I love visiting the open markets there; I usually go shopping early for ingredients and then reward myself with a steaming bowl of this congee.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK IN: 65 minutes • SERVES: 4–6

2 century eggs, each sliced into quarters and halved lengthwise

1 tbsp of peanut oil

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

7 oz pork tenderloin, thinly sliced

1 tbsp of Shaohsing rice wine, dry sherry, or vegetable stock

3 shiitake mushrooms, finely diced

2 tbsps of light soy sauce

Salt and ground white pepper

Dash of toasted sesame oil (optional)

2 scallions, thinly sliced, to garnish


9 oz jasmine rice or 7 oz jasmine rice and 2 oz glutinous rice

Generous 1 cup vegetable stock

1. First make the congee. Pour the rice into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the stock and 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, place a tight-fitting lid on the pan, and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice does not stick to the side and bottom of the pan.

2. After the rice has been cooking for 45 minutes, add the duck egg pieces and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the peanut oil and ginger slices and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the pork slices and stir for 1 minute, or until they start to turn brown. Add the rice wine (or sherry or vegetable stock) and cook for an additional minute, then add the mushrooms and season with the soy sauce.

4. Add the pork stir-fry to the cooked congee and stir in well. Season with salt and pepper, add a dash of sesame oil, if you like, and sprinkle over the sliced scallions. Serve immediately with chunks of you-tiao (fried bread sticks), if you have any, for a truly traditional Chinese breakfast.

Big Bowl of Oat Congee and Accompaniments—“The Works”

This is not for the faint-hearted—like eating “smelly porridge,” as my other half describes it. But if you are a fan of durian, stinky tofu, and century eggs, then you will love the complex flavors of this dish. The fermented bean curd blends in with the sweetness of the seaweed paste and picks up the fiery pungency of the pickled bamboo shoots, while t


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