Fun twists to classic favorites

December 15, 2008 4:28:18 PM PST
Granny Smith guacamole, Twinkie tiramisu, and stuffed lasagna rolls!

Featured recipes:

TWINKIE TIRAMISU
By George Duran
Prep: 15 minutes / Chill: 2 Hours / Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
8 cream-filled sponge cakes (recommended: Twinkies)
1 cup unsweetened brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 (8.75-ounce) packages mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
10 vanilla water cookies, crushed, and 5 chocolate wafer cookies, crushed (optional)

Directions:
1. Cut the sponge cakes in half lengthwise and fit the bottom halves into an 11*7*1 ½ -inch pan. Drizzle with ½ cup of the coffee.

2. Whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks. In a large bowl, whisk the mascarpone a bit to loosen it; fold in the whipped cream. Pour half the mixture over the sponge cakes; drizzle with the remaining coffee. Spread mascarpone mixture evenly over the sponge cakes.

3. Sprinkle crushed vanilla wafer cookies over mascarpone mixture. Or, if desired, gently place several different-size round cookie cutters on the surface of the mascarpone mixture. Carefully sprinkle the crushed vanilla wafers into a few of the cookie cutters and the crushed chocolate wafers into the remaining cutters. Gently remove cookies cutters. Lightly cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

STUFFED LASAGNA ROLLS
By George Duran
Prep: 25 minutes / Cook: 7 minutes / Bake: 20 minutes / Yield: 5 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
12 no-cook lasagna noodles
2 to 3 hot Italian sausages
1 ½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp kosher salt or ¾ tsp table salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
1. In a large pan of boiling, salted water cook the lasagna noodles for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are just soft (don't overcook them). Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain on paper towels.

2. Remove the casings from the sausages. Crumble the meat into a nonstick skillet. Cook over high heat about 5 to 6 minutes or until browned, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Remove from the pan and set aside. In a bowl mix the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt, and pepper until combined. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a 13X9X2-inch lasagna pan evenly spread half of the tomatoes.

3. To assemble the lasagna rolls, place a lasagna noodle on a work surface with the short side towards you. Put 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on the bottom half of the noodle; add 1 tablespoon of the cooked sausage. Roll noodle starting at the bottom and place in the lasagna pan. Prepare the remaining noodles in the same way, lining them up in the pan. Spread the remaining tomatoes over the rolls and top with the mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.

GRANNY SMITH GUACAMOLE
By George Duran
Prep: 10 minutes / Yield: 8 to 10 servings

I could eat guacamole all day. In fact, on March 12, 2003, I did! That was the day I introduced the sweet tartness of diced Granny Smith apples to my famous guacamole. It was a relevant! Whip up a batch for your friends. They'll beg you for the recipe. But don't talk with your mouth full-just buy them a copy of my book!

Ingredients:
3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
½ cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
½ cup snipped fresh cilantro juice of lime
Bottled hot pepper sauce, to taste
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
Kosher salt or table salt, to taste
Assorted dippers (such as baked fruit crisps, apple chips, and/or tortilla chips)

Directions:
Scoop avocado flesh into a bowl; add the onion cilantro, lime, juice, and hot pepper sauce. Mash with a fork until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir in apple and season with salt to taste. Serve with assorted dippers.

***Useless fact: There is an actual person named Granny Smith! Australian Maria Ann Smith unknowingly cultivated the first version of her namesake fruit from her crabapple seeds in her garden around 1865.

TWINKIE TIRAMISU
By George Duran
Prep: 15 minutes / Chill: 2 Hours / Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
8 cream-filled sponge cakes (recommended: Twinkies)
1 cup unsweetened brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 (8.75-ounce) packages mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
10 vanilla water cookies, crushed, and 5 chocolate wafer cookies, crushed (optional)

Directions:
1. Cut the sponge cakes in half lengthwise and fit the bottom halves into an 11*7*1 ½ -inch pan. Drizzle with ½ cup of the coffee.

2. Whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks. In a large bowl, whisk the mascarpone a bit to loosen it; fold in the whipped cream. Pour half the mixture over the sponge cakes; drizzle with the remaining coffee. Spread mascarpone mixture evenly over the sponge cakes.

3. Sprinkle crushed vanilla wafer cookies over mascarpone mixture. Or, if desired, gently place several different-size round cookie cutters on the surface of the mascarpone mixture. Carefully sprinkle the crushed vanilla wafers into a few of the cookie cutters and the crushed chocolate wafers into the remaining cutters. Gently remove cookies cutters. Lightly cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

About George Duran, author of Take this Dish and Twist It:
Born and raised in Venezuela, George Duran is currently a New York City resident, having worked in the media and food industries for years. After graduating from New York University and working in local New York radio and cable television, Duran moved to Paris, France to attend the Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise Groupe Ferrandi. While there, he was also the of host of "Pop Cuisine" on France's culinary network Cuisine TV, which was nominated for a 7 d'Or (French Emmy)- Best Cable Show award and won a 2003 Silver Grape Gastronomic Award. Upon returning to the U.S., Duran began directing, writing and hosting one of the Food Network's, "Ham on the Street", along with hosting "The Secret Life Of...," both shows aimed at a humorous take on the world of food. For more information on George Duran, visit www.georgeduran.com.


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