CUCINA/LE FESTE – CELEBRATIONS
The 4th of July is a revelation, a not-to-be-missed tradition featuring fireworks, food, and drinking, all of which compliments my Italian heritage. Yet nothing brings out my Americanness quite like celebrating my country’s birth in my ancestor’s Italy. Basically, I throw red, white, and blue over everything and force my pasta-loving friends and family to indulge in American barbecue. (Talk about a challenge; it ain’t easy to make good barbecue in Italy.) While I dress everyone – including Nonna – in stars and stripes and plant flags all over the house and make super-sized burgers or finger-licking chicken wings (which Italians usually throw in the garbage rather than cook and savor), I try to throw the natives a bone.
One year that bone came in the form of the above strawberry tiramisu dessert. Like me, it looks American but has Italian blood in its veins. Normally, tiramisu, which means “pick me up,” is made with Savoiardi cookies, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, and espresso. This recipe, however, replaces the espresso with strawberries. I threw in a few blueberries to get the blue and represent the stars on the flag.
I’ve adapted an old recipe by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis to remove the alcohol and make it kid-friendly. Trust me, however. Giada’s recipe is a winner with the adults; your Zio won’t be able to get enough, and you’ll get drunk on the whipped cream while making it. True story. I hope your people enjoy this recipe as much as mine do. Happy 4th!
1 and 1/4 cups Strawberry jam
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp Orange juice
1 pound Mascarpone cheese at room temperature to soften
1 and 1/3 cup Whipping or heavy cream
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 pounds strawberries, divided
30 to 50 Savoiardi cookies (Giada says you can use ladyfingers, and you can, but the Savoiardi are a must for Italians because they are much better at soaking up the flavors in the other layers)