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

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My kitchen must-haves

One of the main piazzas in Vicenza where I used to shop with my Nonna Norma

         Can you believe it's already Tuesday evening?? I feel like the weekend just flew and I don't even know where Monday went...
   Now I must say that Tuesday started VERY well. I awoke this morning, staggered to the coffee pot and curled up on the couch with laptop on my knees trying to convince my eyes to open

They weren't listening to me


Am I still sleeping and dreaming?...

      It's a note from Michael at Designs by Gollum (now you all already KNOW that Foodie Friday is a favorite weekly event of ours)!!
Well, she was letting me know that we WON one of her fabulous Blogiversary Giveaways! 

Oh, my! The copper pot that I was drooling over and trying to convince my husband was an absolute necessity is now on it's way to me!! 

        Ummm, well, Allie seems to feel it should be put away for HER, but...ummmm, no.
It will be put to good use and if she's a good girl, I MAY let her touch it, :)
Thank you, Michael. You made 2 newbie bloggers VERY happy
       Now before you start thinking I'm being a mean old mom, I have to tell you that this has been an amazing week for us (I NEVER win anything!- my husband is shocked!). Allie was also the winner of a giveaway at Three Men and a Lady- an adorable pair of vintage marble owl bookends which she immediately proclaimed as HERS. Michelle, you gave her the first pieces for the room redo she's been nagging about! Thank you so much!

       Tonight's post has to be a quickie as I'm trying desperately to finish a bid for a job I'd REALLY love to get- keep your fingers crossed for me, please. 
           I thought I'd answer a couple of questions I get on a regular basis either from this blog or in the cooking classes I sometimes teach. I'm often asked about some of the small tools I use frequently and that can usually be found floating around my kitchen. 

This is probably my most treasured kitchen possession

Understandable, right? I AM the mother of 6 , 5 of whom are VERY rowdy boys

Actually, it's my Nonna Norma's mezzaluna. It's at least 60 some-odd years old and the wood handles fall right off when you pick it up

I've reluctantly replaced it recently, but could never part with it

  Mezzaluna means "half moon". Makes sense now, right? Every memory I have of my Nonna cooking includes that mezzaluna, if not in her hands, then on her countertop on the wooden butcher block that was ALWAYS there. 
I even have a mini version for small quantities which never leaves MY countertop

Hmmm, time for an oiling...

There is no other knife or tool that can mince herbs, or garlic, or nuts as evenly and finely as the mezzaluna
And it's FUN!

I always see surprised faces when I pull out my mortar and pestle

Am I the only ancient that still likes to mash things? (Good thing you can't hear Allie's response. She's grounded!)

This makes the best rubs and flavored pastes and butters!

Finally- this is Ray's favorite
There's something about men and fire

which explains why my torch remains hidden from the boys in this house. 
I thought I'd show it to you because I use it all the time to brown the tops of casseroles and dishes that I don't want to overcook in the oven, but need the browning for a beautiful presentation. 

This is my Nonna Norma on her honeymoon
She was always the epitome of style

Tonight's dessert was thrown together quickly for my chocoholic husband and daughter. My Nonna LOVED custards and pudding type desserts. She frequently made her interpretation of a Crema Anglaise  or a Crema alla Brulee, so this chocolate version is one she would have greatly enjoyed

Crema Brulee alla Cioccolatta

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (can also use bittersweet)
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp good vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Have 4 small ramekins in a heavy baking pan ready. Boil a pot of water.
      Combine, cream, sugar and chocolate in a small saucepan. Heat till just simmering around the edges- remove from heat and stir with a whisk to melt chocolate and make a smooth mix. While cream is heating, beat egg yolks and vanilla at medium high speed (I use a stand mixer, but a hand mixer should be fine) till light. While beating, slowly pour in chocolate/cream mix until blended. Divide among ramekins and put in oven. Pour boiling water in pan till about 1-1 1/2 inches up the ramekins. Cover the whole pan with a sheet of foil and bake for about 25 minutes till set. Remove ramekins, cool and refrigerate for 2 hours. Sprinkle some sugar on top of ramekins to cover (about a tablespoon). Using a cooking torch, caramelize the tops till the sugar is melted- serve immediately or refrigerate

As Always,

Buon Alimento, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. whenever I see a mezzaluna anywhere I think of you!

  2. Congratulations on your winnings! That is awesome and the two of you are soooo deserving!
    We enjoyed looking at your favorite small kitchen tools! I love the pitcher...great idea! Can we request a ravioli recipe sometime! Spied the little tool!
    Smiles sent your way :)

  3. Congratulations to you and your daughter on your wonderful wins. Your pan is indeed fabulous. The owls are stunning too. I love your kitchen tools, but I can asure you I would cut my whole hand off. I can hardly go a day with out a cut of some kind, and I think I am so careful. lol The dessert looks and sounds fabulous. I would love some. Hugs, Marty

  4. Congratulations to you and Allie! Oh, I was drooling all over your pan! I can't wait to see what you stir up in that! As usual I am hanging on every word of your post! Your Crema Brulee alla Cioccolatta (I could just hear you say it in perfect Italian) looks scrumptious! This is a recipe I would make, not too hard but so yummy! As usual, just wonderful!

  5. Pattie, Congratulations to you and Allie on your prizes. What lucky girls you are! Good luck with your bid, too.

  6. Hi Pattie
    Congratulations to you and Allie! I have to admit I was secretly hoping to win that copper pan the first time ML showed it on her blog but I am so happy you won it as you have more reason to use it with your family all at home than this emptynester :-)
    Allie's bookends are beautiful and so unique!

    It looks like we are all on a bit of a lucky streak aren't we ? I can't believe all I won, all at once lately.

    Your Nonna was a beautiful and stylish woman --it's so wonderful you have so many wonderful photos of your family. I love seeing them, and I also enjoyed seeing your favorite culinary tools in this post.

    Her chocolate brulees look fabulous! My daughter is a brulee fan so I am sending this post to her so she can copy the recipe.

    Best of luck in getting the job you desire! I will say a prayer!
    ♥ Pat

  7. Love your mezzalunas, all 3 of them. I almost bought one some time ago. I might have to rethink buying one. I know I would use it.

    Funny you should bring up the mortar and pestle. I just gave my niece a set and she gave me the funniest look when she unwrapped it. I responded. "don't worry you will use it". I use mine all the time and have several of them as well.

    Off to Amazon to look at the mezzalunas!

  8. Ooops forgot to congratulate you on the new copper pan!!

    It's gorgeous and have fun with it!

  9. Congrats on the wins, Allie & Pattie! Both of those prizes are great. Pattie hope you have the winning bid for the job. I have a marble mortar and pestle, stays right on the counter all the time. Guess I'm an ancient too,lol. The recipe is perfect for me to try out my new spring inspired ramekins! You ladies rock!

  10. Your nona looks beautiful and absolutely stylish. She must have attracted a lot of attention wherever she went!

    You are so so so lucky!!! a copper pan....which is in my dreams always.:D and teh book ends are adorable. congratulations to both or you.

    a mortar n pestle..cant live without it!

    Have a nice day Allie and Pattie!^^

  11. Congratulations! you are so lucky to have all these!

  12. Allie and Pattie: Congratulations on your wins! Now I know what a mezzaluna is! My mom loved mortar and pestles. Love your creme brulee recipe and the ramekins. Joni

  13. Hello Pattie and Allie is a pleasure to meet you;) Your blog represents you think its good, I'm really glad to meet you through a common passion: the food! I noticed, I believe, that the grandmother Norma (wonderful) on their honeymoon was in Milan, the one behind it should be one of the entrances of the cathedral! I embrace you and I hope to "meet again" soon.
    Hugs Italy
    PS: excuse my bad English in school, I had help from Google for the translation so any errors or incorrect word to know that the fault is all his; D

  14. Congrats on winning that amazing copper pan. That chocolate creme brulee sounds wonderful.

  15. Congratulations on winning that beautiful copper pan! I never win anything either but it's good to know there's hope ;)

    What a lovely post and picture of your Nonna. Now I must have a mezzaluna too!

    Delicious-looking chocolate creme brulee!

  16. What fantastic wins. You may be Italian but the two of you have the luck of the Irish and sure know your way around chocolate creme brulee. Have a great day...Mary

  17. Hi Girls!

    I can't imagine my kitchen with out a mezzaluna (a new word for me...LOL) or a mortar & pestle. Those two items and a really good set of knives!

    I think I am going to make this dessert tonight. I have all th ingredients and it sounds delish! Thank again for an awesome recipe to try!

  18. WOW!!! The luck of the Irish,
    or Italians :),has been with you this
    March. Congratulations!
    I loved seeing where you used to shop with your Nonna and also that amazing photo of her. We're so fortunate to have these photographs.
    And how fun to read about your kitchen tools. I love that you have kept the old one from your Nonna, when most people would have thrown something like that out. What a treasure.

  19. Congrats!! I deffinately want to make creme brulee now!! It looks really great! Awesome pics!

  20. The cream brulee looks so yummy! My son was just telling this week; No one really has a blowtorch in their kitchen." I disagreed and now evidence! I think I want a mezzaluna especially now that I know what they are called!


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