Sunday, August 15, 2010

Journal Entry # 2: by Harlow Jane Cassidy

I've realized why people love Bliss so much.  The town square.   Turns out the square of the little one-horse town where I was raised is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Place, it’s that good.  Personally, I think Villa Farina, a beautiful little Italian Pasticceria right there on the east side , is one reason why.  

Pastry chef Bobby Farina, a third generation Italian baker who moved to Bliss with his wife, Colleen, makes mini Italian pastries just like his father did in his original bakery in New York.  Now I’ve never been to the original Farina Pasticceria, even when I was in NY, but I could pretty much live in Bobby’s bakery.  From cannoli to sfogliatelle (super thin layered dough with light orange-ricotta filling) everything chef Bobby makes is to die for.  Lay down in a pasture of bluebonnets and die.  Seriously.
Gina--a college student who works at Farina’s, always greets me from the counter.  “Morning, Harlow,” she says, and she gives me a crooked smile, her pearly white teeth practically glowing compared to her died raven hair.  She looks more like she belongs in the original Farina bakery, what with her nose ring and short straight bangs, but she’s a Texan through and through, right down to her twang.  “I’d ask if you want the usual, but y’all are always gettin’ something different.”
She gets me every time.  I've been away from Texas long enough that I've lost most of my drawl and have forgotten some the lingo.  I always glance over my shoulder to see who she’s talking to since it’s just me, by myself, not me and a whole bunch of other people that warrants a y’all.  
But Gina uses y’all like a catchall for everyone, whether you’re by yourself or not.  
I’ve been back home in Bliss for just a few months now, working hard to keep the doors of what was formerly known as Buttons & Bows (by they way, I could sure use some help renaming my dressmaking shop since Buttons & Bows is taken) and slowly making my way through every one of Bobby’s culinary creations.  From cannoli to sfogliatelle to tiramasu, he’s simply a genius.   

In fact, he gave me permission to share his cannoli recipe!  His mama gets the credit...she’s from Sicily.  I haven’t tried to make them yet.  Maybe when Josie’s wedding’s over and Nell’s murderer is found.

I’m not sure what to try next at Farina’s.  Any suggestions?  What’s your favorite Italian pastry?
And remember, help with the name of my shop, please!!

Chef Bobby Farina’s Cannoli
Cannoli shells
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
1 large egg, separated
vegetable oil (roughly 2 1/2 inches deep in saucepan)
For filling
1 lb. fresh ricotta (2 cups)
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (not dyed red), chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips
pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip or a gallon ziplock with one corner cup off
pasta maker or rolling pin to roll out the dough
2 heavy-duty oven mitts
6 metal cannoli tubes
deep-fat thermometer
4- to 4 1/4-inch round cookie cutter
confectioner's sugar
Make dough for shells
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add 2 tablespoons shortening and blend in with your fingertips until combined. Add Marsala and yolk and stir until a dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Make filling while dough stands
Beat together ricotta, confectioner's sugar and cinnamon in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed 1 minute (do not overbeat). Fold in chocolate chips until combined and chill.
Make shells
Set smooth rollers of pasta maker at widest setting. Unwrap dough and cut in half, then lightly flour one piece (keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Flatten floured dough into an oval and feed through rollers. Turn dial down 2 notches and feed dough through rollers again. Continue to feed dough through rollers, making space between rollers narrower by 2 notches each time, until narrowest setting is used.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Transfer rolled dough to a lightly floured surface and cut out 4 or 5 rounds with floured cutter. Transfer rounds to baking sheet and keep covered with more plastic wrap. Roll out remaining dough and cut rounds in same manner. Gather scraps and let stand 10 minutes. Roll out scraps and cut in same manner.
Heat vegetable oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until it registers 350°F on thermometer.
Meanwhile, lightly oil cannoli tubes. Lightly beat egg white, then brush bottom edge of 1 dough round with egg white. Wrap dough around a tube, overlapping ends (egg-white edge should go on top), then press edges together to seal. Make 5 more shells in same manner (keep remaining rounds covered with plastic).
Fry dough on tubes one at a time, turning with metal tongs, until one shade darker, about 45 seconds. Wearing oven mitts, clamp end of hot tubes, one at a time, with tongs and, holding tube vertically, allow shell to slide off tube onto paper towels, gently shaking tube and wiggling shell as needed to loosen. (If you allow shell to cool it will stick to tube and shatter when you try to remove it.) Transfer shells to paper towels to drain and cool tubes before reusing. Wrap remaining dough around tubes and fry in same manner.
Fill shells
Spoon filling into pastry bag and pipe some into one end of a cannoli shell, filling shell halfway, then pipe into other end. Repeat with remaining shells. Garnish with chopped pistachios and confectioner’s sugar.


  1. Oh, Harlow, you shouldn't have to rename your dress shop. I'm sure no one will confuse my notions shop up here in Pennsylvania with your dress shop down there in Texas. Maybe naming them both Buttons and Bows will bring more customers?

    Whatever, I can't wait to come down there and see your stash of buttons, browse in your dress shop, and yum, yum - shop at Farina's. Thank you for the recipe. I love canolli...

  2. Cassiday Couture

  3. I love cannoli! I can't make them ... because then I'd eat them by the dozen. But what a fabulous treat.

    About your store, how about Bluebonnets? Doesn't get much more Texas than that. :)

  4. Oh Harlow! What a recipe. I have to keep it, but don't know it I can actually make them. As for the shop, I'd love to visit, y'all sound terrific!

    Charlotte Adams

  5. Ah, y'all are so sweet! Love Bluebonnets and Buttons Galore...hmmm, that sounds mighty good together, too.

    LOVE the cannoli at Villa Farina's!

  6. I might have to give this recipe a try. I've never made cannoli, but have eaten plenty! I think my favorite pastry would be Napoleons or maybe cream puffs. Let me know how they are, I might be able to convince my husband that our next trip should be to Texas! :)

  7. Ok, now I'm drooling..both over the cannoli AND the book.

  8. Now you've done it! I'm giving up the diet completely. Book sounds delicious, too!

  9. Wow, you had me at the word "cannoli" and the pictures look mouth-wateringly delish! Thanks so much for posting this.

  10. Sounds delish!!!!! Thank you for the recipe.


  11. I love cannoli, but I think I'm just going to buy them....