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, February 18, 2010

Foodie Friday! Tuscan Salmon for Lent and a Scone


It's Foodie Friday at Gollum's place and Blogland's best will be there with food to inspire, soothe, and delight. Come and join the fun! Thank you Michael- you're the best!
    We are now officially in the Lenten season and in this Italian/ Irish household that means no meat on Fridays. I remember growing up when the Church rules were even stricter. My grandmothers wouldn't touch a morsel of meat on Wednesdays OR Fridays. Those were the days when going to church on Sundays meant nylons, heels, sleeves and a head covering for the ladies and men in suit and tie. If a woman forgot her hat (or didn't want to destroy a new salon coif) she would pin a dainty lace trimmed hankie on her head. If I walked out of the house with a handkerchief on my head today, my husband would...actually he might not think twice- he knows I'm a little weird.
     I know it sounds funny today, but back then woe to the lady that dared walk into Sunday Mass bareheaded. She faced the wrath of Father Donovan and Sister Joanne- a fate worse than death. 
Even the children were dressed in Sunday best.

Now don't laugh


 My brother and I on our way to church
(our parents were apparently big Frank Sinatra fans)

Note the white gloves I wore

I can't even imagine one of my children in white gloves

though there was that Michael Jackson stage my son went through.....

   These are the memories that come to my mind sitting in Church on Sunday morning. I look around and see flip-flops, and shorts, and scruffy jeans. It's a bit sad, but I am very happy to see families there. It would make my Nonna and Grandma very happy.

      For this Friday, I decided to make salmon. Easy decision- it was on sale :)
I've been blogging a lot about my Italian ancestry, so this recipe is a variation of a Tuscan dish I make with braised lamb shanks. I'm serving it on a soft polenta with creamy Fontina cheese blended in. When we were in Italy for my childhood summers, polenta was a staple on my Nonna's table. We had it served, one way or another, at least 4 times a week.  

Pattie's Tuscan Style Salmon

2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 Tblsp. minced garlic
1 med. onion, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1-2 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
       Saute onion, squash and pepper over medium high heat till softened. Add garlic and saute, stirring often, till beginning to brown. Add:
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or broken up by hand
1 cup chicken broth
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained well and julienned
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    Simmer over low heat. While this mix is simmering, sear salmon

4 salmon fillets or steaks
olive oil
salt and pepper

Brush salmon with olive oil and sear one side on grill pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Remove and place with seared side up on sauce in pan. Cover and cook about 5 more minutes till flaky. Serve over soft polenta, grits, or couscous.

Soft Polenta

48 oz. box (6 cups) vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups polenta (yellow corn meal) 
 3/4 stick butter
1 cup grated Fontina
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy  saucepan, bring 4 cups of the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the polenta and remaining broth. Slowly pour the polenta into the  broth, stirring constantly ( I use a whisk to stir-don't beat it). Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, till thick. Stir in butter till melted, then cheese- stir till melted. Season to taste.
** This is also excellent with sauteed mushrooms stirred in-YUM

I have a bonus for you all this week

     I'm also going to share another of my favorite scone recipes- just because. 
Actually, it's just because I made them this morning for an early meeting and my camera just happened to be sitting on my desk. 

Lucky for you guys- these are so good served with a creamy lemon curd

Lemon Cream Scones

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
Dash of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup currants (I used dried cranberries)

egg glaze (optional)- 1 egg beaten with a little water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to blend (or whisk together in a bowl). In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Cut the butter in small pieces and drop into flour mixture-pulse till evenly combined and it looks like coarse crumbs- small pieces of butter are good ( you can use a pastry cutter and cut the butter in by hand).
   Put flour mixture into a bowl and stir in the cranberries and cream mixture. Stir with a fork to just combine-if it seems too dry and doesn't come together, add more cream by droplets. Turn dough out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and pat into an 8 inch circle. With a serrated knife, cut into 8 wedges and seperate just slightly. Brush top with egg glaze and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes till light golden. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Aw... that photo of you and your brother is soooooooooooo cute!!! I remember going to church with the gloves - I had many pairs of white gloves!

    Salmon is my favorite fish, and I just made a batch of lemon curd the other day. Will be experimenting with it tonight. Stay tuned!


  2. Louwants to know who, in your house, other than you & your parents will eat this? The Irish side of my house turned their nose up but wants me to try the scones. I remember always having a small round lace mantilla (doily size) in coat pockets and bookbag. We wore full dress coat and hat every season- I remember a particular beige one that my dad got me one Easter- I loved it, my mom hated it and for once Dad said it stayed- if she didn't like it, she should have come shopping with us :)

  3. That is a darling photo of the two of you:)I dressed like that too:) Did you take that gorgeous photo of San Gimignano? I loved that town..

  4. I remember going to church exactly the same way with St. Joseph's Daily Missal in hand. I used to pop the elastic string under my chin during the entire mass! Mom and Dad just loved that! The scones sound delicious and will be trying them out this weekend. Thanks for all the recipes and beautiful decorating ideas!

  5. I miss seeing everyone in their "Sunday best". My mom wouldn't even let me wear jeans to the Mall, back in the early '70's! We had to dress properly and show we cared about our appearance. Can't wait to try both of these recipes. I just want to say how very much I enjoy your blog and meeting your beautiful family. Your story brings back so many similar memories of my family story.

  6. I loved your charming picture of you and your brother. I am not Catholic but I used to go to mass with my cousins and they were always scrounging a hat for me to wear. In our school cafeteria we always had fish sticks on Friday and Friday night fish fries were king! I am going to try your scone looks so good. Thanks for your entry in Foodie Friday.

  7. What a GREAT!!! post and I LOVE!!! the story. Your salmon recipe sounds and looks WONDERFUL!!!

  8. wow che buono!!!! mi piace!!! un abbraccio!!! ciaooooooooooooooooo

  9. Wow, does that bring back memories. I miss those white gloves. I go to church today and kids are in cut off shorts. I guess it doesn't matter, and it is more important to be there. But I do miss the respect and dressing for the occassion. Your salmon looks devine (I love salmon) Have a great day and thanks for letting me peek in. :) I came by for Tablescape Thursday and stayed for dinner.

  10. Good morning!

    Your recipes are amazing. The picture is adorable. I, too, wish there people dressed more for the occasion.


  11. Oh, Pattie, you sure brought back memories!

    Remember the days when little girls had 3 coats? One for school, one for play, one for church? And yes, white gloves! I remember especially Easter clothes -- EVERYTHING had to be new, even shoes and socks, pocketbook, hat ... the works. And gloves of course.
    Your little brother is adorable in that Rat Pack outfit. Oh my goodness, the hat!

    As for the recipe, salmon is on sale here, too . . . and this looks fantastic. I love your recipes!

  12. Your brother looks like a miniature don :-). I would like to add Mary Jane's to the clothing required for church - white in the summer and shinny black for winter. I had an awfully good time reading this post. The salmon sounds wonderful. I'll have to give it a try. Blessings...Mary

  13. I love salmon and I love polenta, this sounds fabulous to me!

    Love the photo of you and your brother, I know I have similar ones with my siblings. I loved dressing up and white gloves were like icing on the cake. I still have my mother's favorite pair along with her photo wearing them in a small shadow box. Great memories you shared, along with a delicious recipe!

  14. Love polenta! I became a follower! I will read more of your blog this weekend as I am really enjoying it!


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