Book Hostage: Dolce Italiano

Seattle Public Library: The book is overdue.

Me: I know.

Seattle Public Library: Someone else has requested it.

Me: I heard. Thank you for the e-mail.

Seattle Public Library: The fines are accumulating.

Me: So it seems.

Seattle Public Library: We need the book back, Ma'am.

Me: I know, but I just can't seem to give it up. Have you seen the book?!? I want to make every single recipe! The cranberry tart was a huge hit at Thanksgiving. That polenta crust was so easy to work with...I'm just astonished! And the pumpkin custards were divine.

Seattle Public Library: You like the book, we get it. But you must return it now.

Me: But I still have dozens of recipes I want to try! The chocolate and tangerine semifreddo...the mosaic biscotti...honey clouds...chocolate kisses...I tell you, I'm not done yet!

Today, relief came with a thud. Tossed down a flight of stairs, the book smacked on my doorstep. Thank you Now I can release my hostage.

The Seattle Public Library will be relieved....

Honestly, I don't know why I ever bother to check books out of the library. My annual donations (read: overdue fines) accumulate into double digits. For me, books are tools. I scribble in the margins, flag recipes, and write copious notes to myself. No, books aren't for borrowing. Books are for owning. And there's a bit of me in every copy.

Checking a book out of the library is like...foreplay.

It's a long, slow tease before I cave into my desires and just buy the darn thing!

When a new book is in my hands, I confess...there's something soul-satisfying about....cracking the spine. Then I fix myself a cup of tea and pour over the pages, reading through every recipe. And when I'm done, the top is feathered in multi-colored post-it notes full of ear-marked recipes.

My book hostage was exceptionally bad this go around.

I mean really, how did Dolce Italiano slip under my radar? First published in 2007, all I can say is, I must have been in a coma! Gina DePalma is the pastry chef at Babbo and her book is far more than a supporting character to the Mario Batali empire. Her writing style is engaging and yet packed with bits of information. Instantly, I wanted to befriend Gina!

But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The first recipe I made was Pumpkin Custard with Rum-raisin Compote. The custard was smooth and creamy with a subtle hint of pumpkin. Easing the custards out of the ramekin was a breeze. Served with a sweet compote of plump raisins and a hit of was delish!

Cranberry season and a Thanksgiving invite led me next to the next recipe, a luscious Cranberry Tart with Semolina Crust. First let me say that the crust makes even a dolt like me have a small victory in the kitchen. And the end result is not only beautiful, but delicious and memorable. (Warning: the dough is so tasty, you'll be tempted to eat it like cookie dough!) The cranberry filling was a breeze and at Thanksgiving, this tart got high praise. It's an especially nice pop of color next to brown turkey, brown stuffing, brown rolls, and then...viola! A ruby red cranberry tart. It was like Mae West showing up at a coal miner convention.....

Now that I have a copy, I'll release my prisoner to the capable hands of the Seattle Public Library.

Roger that: crisis averted.