ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back for Foodie Friday with a Giveaway and a Guest Post!!!

Happy Friday All!

I am SO happy to be back for this week's Foodie Friday. I've missed my favorite party!

This is a VERY special Friday for us. This is our first week back to blogging after my surgery and it's been spectacular. We have a fabulous giveaway to celebrate (click on the giveaway link under our header to enter!) AND we're doing our very first guest post! How cool is that!?!

I was so honored to be asked to do a guest post on one of my absolute favorite blogs, More Than a Mountfull . Our post will be up Thursday evening, so be sure to check back!

Dennis is just the BEST- passionate about food, the girls he works with, and I am honored to call him friend. Please head on over to read about Autumn harvest foods in Italy and enjoy our recipes for Torrone and Chestnut Pasta

Dennis also has some great giveaways to celebrate his Blogaversary, so be sure to leave a comment to enter!

I'm still a bit limited in the kitchen due to having to work one handed (my left arm has decided to bail on me temporarily), but my wonderful husband and Allie have stepped up to the plate and have helped tremendously.
Poor Irish Mr Bramasole (who is the world's PICKIEST and plainest eater) has had to learn the ins and outs of cooking curries, risottos, and how to roll out pastry dough. 

I think I'll keep him.

When I was growing up and we spent our summers in Italy, polenta was on the table every day in some form or another. Soft and cheesy, or grilled, or battered and fried so the outside was crispy and the inside creamy. 

Now that we live in NC, it's no wonder I love grits! One of our earliest posts was about my introduction to grits

The uses for polenta are endless. This is a dessert that my Nonna liked to make in the Fall. We'd sit on the terrace and eat warm bowls topped with ladles of cream. Enjoy!

(sorry about the terrible picture. "Someone" borrowed my camera and I had to use the kids'!)

Sweet Autumn Polenta 

2 sticks butter
2 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 whole egg and 6 egg yolks
1 TBLSP dark rum (or any liqueur of your choice)
1 1/3 cups of almond meal or VERY finely ground almonds
1 3/4 cups of polenta (yellow cornmeal)
1 cup flour sifted with 2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter over low heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 1 1/2 or 2 quart souffle dish with baking spray. Beat the butter with the sugar (you can reserve a tablespoon or two of the sugar to sift on top later if you like) till blended and smooth. With the mixer going, add whole eggs one at a time then add the yolks. Keep beating and add the liqueur, almonds, flour mixture, cornmeal, and finally, the vanilla
Pour batter into souffle dish and bake for 45- 60 minutes minutes till top is crusty and golden brown and it's cooked through. Cover with a piece of foil if it starts to get too dark. Serve warm, spooning it into bowls and topping with cream or gelato!

Be sure to hop on over and visit us at Dennis' place!

And we'd love to have you as friends on Bramasole's Facebook page- we frequently post Bonus Recipes and we LOVE to hear from you!

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Monday, November 15, 2010

Slowly Healing, Happy to be Back and Celebrating with a Giveaway!

Oh my gosh! I don't even know where to start. 

First of all, I want to say


to all of you. I am humbled and amazed by the outpouring of emails, phone calls (I can't believe that some of you actually took the time to look up my number!! You're amazing!), notes, Facebook comments (both to me and on the Bramasole page- Allie has been monitoring both for me). I am so blessed to have the very best friends and readers in the whole world
And to celebrate our return...

drum roll please..................

CSN Stores is sponsoring a giveaway right here at Bramasole!!!!

I LOVE CSNStores!!! With the holidays around the corner, you can find anything from a beautiful leather briefcase to amazing cookware (you all know where I spend hours browsing!)

I know that several people on my gift list would go crazy over a beautiful bag like this

or if they've been REALLY good maybe Santa will bring one of these....

and on MY wish list........

and I just LOVE this platter


to celebrate our comeback and to thank you all for the amazing support and prayers you sent my way CSN will send the winner a gift card worth 55 dollars good at ANY one of their over 200 stores!! 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment for 1 entry and be (or become) a follower for an extra entry (be sure to leave a separate comment letting us know you're a follower- I get confused easily!) 

That's it- just comment and follow if you'd like to. Remember- you do NOT have to be a blogger to follow. Simply register with (free) .  Also, please be sure that you send us an email address where you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be chosen using a random number generator on Tuesday November 23rd. The lucky winner can spend Black Friday comfortably at home shopping CSN Stores from their favorite armchair! A-h-h-h-h-......

A month ago I expected to have a fairly quick recovery from surgery. Unfortunately, there were a few complications and this recovery has stretched beyond what I had envisioned. I'm a bit exhausted but SO anxious to catch up with you all. Posting may be a bit slow at first as typing is still a bit difficult, but I'm looking forward to getting back to my kitchen and design office! I have had a lot of time to think about upcoming posts so I hope you all enjoy!

I'll be doing a guest post on one of my very FAVORITE blogs soon. So stay tuned for THAT!

 I can't even tell you all how much I've missed spending time in my kitchen. I have a wonderful, amazing husband who has taken over during my recovery, but I am more than ready to resume my place as chief cook and bottle washer. Allie has been begging for quiche and my mom has a list of "cravings" she's been having  :) So come back often~ lots of great cooking in our future!  

I know today would normally be our Meatless Monday post, but since I'm still not "allowed" full kitchen privileges I'm just going to share a simple and very traditional Italian "Torta". When I was a little girl, I remember loving  a dessert that my best friend's Italian grandmother made frequently- "Torta della Nonna" - Grandma's Pie. I grew up thinking it was just a cake that my friend's Nonna made. Then when we went to Italy for the summer with my grandparents I saw it on restaurant menus as Torta della Nonna or Torta di Crema (Cream Pie). It's simple, homey, and simply delicious. For variation the pastry cream can be flavored with ground almonds (a favorite of mine), rum, cognac, or lemon syrup. 

Enjoy! Tutti a Tavola!!

Torta Della Nonna (Italian Cream Pie)

1/2 cup of butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups sifted flour + more as needed
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Cream Filling- see below
Confectioner's sugar for garnishing top of torta

Beat together the butter and sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in the flour till combined- this will be a soft, sticky dough at this point
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch tart pan with baking spray and set aside. Turn dough out onto a well- floured counter and gently knead in just enough flour to enable dough to be rolled out- it should be soft.
Divide the dough in half and roll out 1 half to a round large enough to line the tart pan. I do this between 2 sheets of floured wax paper- it makes the soft dough easier to transfer to the pan.
Mound the cream filling into the shell and cover with the second half of dough rolled out. Roll the edges together to seal
Bake for 40-45 minutes till lightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack then shower the top with confectioner's sugar. Store in refrigerator

Crema Pasticcera Italiana
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat egg yolks and sugar till very pale and thick. Gently stir in flour. Bring the milk to a boil, then remove from heat. Slowly whisk about a half cup of hot milk into egg mixture, then return egg to pan of milk. Return to low heat and cook stirring constantly to prevent lumps. When mixture thickens, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface. Cool completely

I am SO happy to be back. I love you all

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

She must be better!

In pain, but she asked for her laptop! Says she'll be back soon :) :)

<3 Allie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

update on Mom

Hey everybody, this is Allie.
just as an update about my mom, there have been some complications and the recovery from her surgery isn't going exactly as planned. Right now she is in the Cardiac ICU. Thank you so much for all of your prayers, they are very appreciated. We will keep you all posted on what happens in the future. Thanks again,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pasta con Lenticchie and THREE Autumn Desserts!~ Meatless Monday!

Happy Monday!

It's Meatless Monday ! This will actually be my last post this week as surgery is tomorrow. 

This has taken quite a toll on my energy level and I am really looking forward to feeling myself again. 

Since I really needed something comforting today (I'm a big wimp and admit to being a little scared), I decided on a dish that my grandmothers made frequently when the weather cooled and something hearty was called for. This is a very traditional dish of the sort that wasn't meant to be served to company- just simple, warm delicious family fare stirred up by your typical frugal Italian mama.

(This was taken by Tim- the youngest Bramasole)  

Pasta con Lenticchie (Pasta with Lentil Sauce)

You can add sausage if desired, but not on Meatless Monday !    :)

I also would typically add some baby spinach at the very end of cooking, but there was none in the house and I wasn't up to a market run

I decided to leave a couple of my parents' favorite desserts in the house while I'm gone. so a little baking was in order

Pumpkin Pillows are filled with a sweet, creamy, spiced pumpkin mixture and chocolate chips

They can be put together in almost no time if you have the puff pastry on hand and are SO good served warm

Mini Apple Crumb Cakes are my Dad's addiction- he LOVES apple anything and the hazelnut and mascarpone crust just puts a smile on his face. Come join us on Facebook for this yummy recipe!

and the hit of the day here at Casa Bramasole- Candy Corn Cookies!

(I was out of yellow food coloring, so gold had to do!)

I came across this recipe this morning on one of my very favorite blogs ever Wives With Knives

Cathy always has incredibles recipes, pictures, and stories about the beautiful area she lives in. If you haven't visited her yet, do yourselves a huge favor and head on over
Cathy, I was planning on leaving these for my  kids to find tomorrow as a surprise when they get home from school. Well, they sniffed them out today and my Nick has been eating them by the HANDFUL

He says "THANK YOU MS.  CATHY" :)

Pasta con Lenticchie

1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes- break apart with your hands
1 qt of vegetable broth, divided- preferably homemade
1/2 cup water
1 rounded cup yellow or brown lentils, cleaned
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small
salt, to taste
good pinch crushed pepper flakes
3/4 pound pasta- pick a short variety
fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade

In a large saucepan, mix together tomatoes, 2 cups of broth, water, lentils, onion, carrots, celery, salt, and red pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours. As the sauce becomes too thick add more broth to keep it somewhat "loose". When the lentils and vegetables are tender and the sauce is the consistency you like, cook pasta in plenty of well salted boiling water till al dente. Drain and combine with lentil sauce. Stir in a handful of the basil. Serve with shaved or shredded fresh Parmesan

Pumpkin Pillows

1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry dough, thawed
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tblsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 egg beaten with a tiny bit of water for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Unroll the 2 sheets of pastry dough and cut each into 6 pieces. Put a small spoonful of pumpkin mixture in the middle of each piece of dough. Top with 2 or 3 chocolate chips. Brush around the filling on the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold each over in half to enclose the filling and press the edges. I also press the edges with the tines of a fork. Transfer the pillows to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes till puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm

If you'd like the recipe for our Mini Apple Crumb Cakes (and you know you do!),

 come and visit us on Bramasole's Fan Page on Facebook or send me a friend request- we LOVE new friends. If you don't do Facebook, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to send it along

I will be thinking of you all while in the hospital- Mr B has promised to have my laptop in hand when he  sees me in recovery tomorrow! :)

I'll miss you all and can't wait to be back feeling fabulous!!
Thank you all for the prayers and healing thoughts

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Friday, October 8, 2010

Avgolemono and Nut Wedges- Comfort Food for a Friend

Hi All!

So sorry for missing yesterday- I MUST have had a bad day to miss Foodie Friday! 

Surgery is Tuesday and it appears there's a tiny glitch. An abnormal test result now has everyone scrambling to get some more testing in before the pacemaker is implanted. MRIs are problematic afterward :)

One of my former clients and a dear friend called me yesterday and she sounded AWFUL. I was so touched that in the throes of the flu she was calling to check on me. 
When I was very young and felt bad, my Nonna went straight for the soup pot. One of my favorites was her Avgolemono- a rich, creamy chicken broth thickened with egg and lemon. Along with her Stracciatella her reputation as a healer was sealed.

It was only years later when I was older that I found out that my Nonna's soup wasn't an Italian cure-all. It was actually Greek!  No matter where it originated, this is comfort, and love, and healing in a cup.

I've seen "fancier" versions with chicken pieces and vegetables thrown in, but this is simple and basic. The only concession I make to modern times is using my stand mixer to beat the eggs- I think it makes for a thicker, richer soup. I love this soup hot, but traditionally it can be served either hot or cold


6 cups chicken broth- preferably homemade
3/4 cup orzo
3 large eggs
generous 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper
2-3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley or dill

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add orzo, reduce heat, cover and simmer till tender (10-15 minutes). In the meantime, beat eggs till light and thick, then whip in lemon juice and zest. When orzo is cooked, pour about 1/2 cup of hot broth into eggs with mixer running- beat 5 seconds and add another 1/2 cup the same way. Add one more 1/2 cup and beat 5 more seconds. Skim off any foam and pour eggs into saucepan with orzo and broth. Heat, stirring till thickened and creamy- DO NOT BOIL- eggs will curdle. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley or dill. 

I made some tarts for a fundraiser this week and had some pastry dough left. Rolled out and filled with a honey and lemon infused ground nut filling, it made a lovely sweet treat to send along with the soup

Nut Wedges

1 double crust recipe sweet pastry dough- see below
1 cup very finely chopped nuts
1/3 cup sugar
2 tblsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Divide dough in half and roll out each half to a 10-12" round (roll out between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper). Transfer 1 round to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, combine nuts, sugar, honey, cinnamon and lemon juice. Spread on  the pastry round which is on the cookie sheet leaving a border. Top with the other round, press  edges to seal, and trim with a fluted pastry cutter. Prick top with a fork and brush lightly with milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes till lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes before cutting in wedges with a pizza cutter. Melt chips and shortening together (I do it in a ziplock bag in the microwave) Snip the corner of the bag and pipe onto wedges

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Busy Week!~ An Autumn Stuffed Bread, Salmon Pie, and Lemon Curd Cookies!

Whew!! What a week!

My husband is rolling his eyes at me, but I can't help it. If I'm going to be "cooking- restricted" for a while, I need to get in as much as I can now!

Actually, I'm trying to use up anything that might spoil and have a few things around for drop-in guests :)

First up- a Salmon Leek Pie adapted from an old Gourmet recipe. 

I actually had a salmon filet and about a half pound of tiny scallops left from an appetizer party I catered, so this lovely, flaky pie made a wonderful lunch for a friend who dropped by to keep me company for a while (this no-driving thing is making me crazy!)

As I've said before, this time of year, this household revolves around various sports and kid-related activities. Grab and go type foods work very well on those afternoons and evenings spent on bleachers, in cars, or when hungry teenagers descend on the house. 

This bread, stuffed with sweet butternut squash, tart apples and onions, and salty crispy pancetta lasted about 10 minutes with 3 teens :)

I often make these little tea cookies with a buttercream filling, but today I decided to use a fresh lemon curd.  

These will be posted tonight as a Bonus Recipe on the Bramasole Facebook page- come join us and let me know if you make them! As always, if you don't "do" Facebook and would like this recipe, just email me and I'll be happy to send it along.

Salmon Leek Pie
adapted from an old Gourmet recipe (I wrote Gourmet on the paper I scribbled it on, but no other info- sorry)

4 large leeks
2 tblsp butter
1/2 lb salmon filet, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pound bay scallops, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
finely grated zest of 1-2 limes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large egg
1 pkg (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed

Cut white and pale green parts of leeks into 1/2 inch slices. Wash in a bowl of cold water, lift out, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Saute leeks in butter till soft and golden. Remove from heat and cool
Toss seafood with dill, zest, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks.
Whisk together egg and 1 tblsp water to make an egg wash
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 sheet pastry into a 10 inch square. Transfer square to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Mound salmon filling in center. Roll second pastry sheet into a 12-13 inch square. Brush outside edges of bottom sheet with egg wash and drape larger square on top- press down to seal edges. Trim a bit of the excess if desired with a pizza cutter and make certain all edges are sealed. Make 4 steam vents in top with the tip of a sharp knife. Brush egg wash over whole pie lightly and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Bake pie for about 30 minutes till puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temp with a cocktail sauce, if desired. I served it with a sauce made of 1 roasted bell pepper, 1 very small hot red pepper, and 16 ounces of creme fraiche, processed together in a blender

Pattie's Autumn Stuffed Bread

4- 4 1/2 cups flour 
1/4 cup of powdered milk 
1 pkg fast rise dry yeast
1 egg
1 tsp salt of salt
1-1 1/4 cups  water, warm
6 tblsp butter, softened

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix 4 cups flour, powdered milk, yeast, egg, salt, and 1 cup water. Add more flour or water as necessary to form a soft, but not sticky dough (not TOO soft- you want it to hold together). Now add butter and continue kneading till incorporated- this will take a couple of minutes. Set dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. In the meantime make filling: I roasted a butternut squas (peeled and cut into chunks). Drizzle chunks with olive oil, mix, and season well with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes till soft and starting to caramelize. Set aside and allow to cool. I sauteed 1 onion, finely chopped and 3 tart apples (peeled, cored,chopped and drizzled with the juice of a lemon) in 2 tblsp butter. Cook just till the onion is soft and translucent- you don't want to make applesauce! Season with salt and pepper. I also cooked some thinly sliced pancetta till crisp and drained on paper towels- bacon would work just fine. I then fried a few sage leaves in the pancetta drippings till crisp- drain. When the dough is risen, divide it in 2. Working with 1 piece at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a large rectangle. Along 1 long edge, place pieces of the butternut

Top with apple/ onion mixture, 1/2 the pancetta, some sage leaves and a handful of grated cheese (I used Fontiago) With a sharp knife, cut slices in the dough from the filling to the edge

Now just roll the filling up right over the sliced dough. Tuck ends under and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with water or an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Allow to rise again for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I preheated a rectangular baking stone in the oven during the hour the loaves were rising.

Slide the parchment with the loaves on it right onto the stone and bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden. Remove to a rack (right on the parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature

For those of you who've asked, my surgery will be on Tuesday. I am so grateful for all the good thoughts and prayers you've all sent along. I will admit to being a bit nervous (not generally like me)- we've been finding out that I've apparently been VERY lucky so far. I look forward to being my old self again soon

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie