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, April 29, 2010

Our First Giveaway Part 2!! Foodie Friday Meatball Salad

It's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum! Please join us for the most delicious party of the week!

It's also time to announce Part 2 of our very first Giveaway!

Are you ready??!!

      We were SO excited this week to be contacted by CSN Stores. Who would have thought it?? We're always so amazed that people are interested in what we have to say. They have VERY generously offered to sponsor a super Giveaway right here at Bramasole!! CSN Store are a wonderful online source for pretty much everything you could ever need- things like TV stands , and cookware  (you don't want to know how much time I spent browsing THAT site)- they have over 200 stores !! 

CSN is going to send our lucky winner a 60 dollar gift certificate good in any one of their stores!!! How cool is that! Do you know what you can get for 60 dollars?

You might get this for 39.95

or 6 of these for 49.99 with FREE shipping!

or this (which I LOVE) for  69.99 and FREE  shipping (it's worth the extra 9.99!)

And to top it all off, they have asked me to review a product that I've actually mentioned on this blog- more to come on that

Here's what you have to do to enter:

1) Leave a comment on THIS post- 1 entry (tell us what you'd use the gift certificate for- we're nosy!)

2) Become a follower and let us know you did- 1 entry (you don't have to be a blogger to comment or follow!)

3) Become a fan of Bramasole's Facebook page- 1 entry (let us know!)

4) Blog about this Giveaway on YOUR blog and link back to us- 1 entry (make sure you let us know)

5) If you Twitter and tweet about the Giveaway- 1 entry (please let us know- Allie tweets, I don't)

There you go- you can have up to 5 entries! This Giveaway (part 2) will close on Friday night, May 14th at midnight (eastern time- we're in NC)

Now be sure to go and enter Part 1- you'll find that HERE . To enter Part 1, be sure to leave a comment on THAT post. Part 1 of the Giveaway is ending on Thursday, May 6th at 10 p.m. (eastern time)

Just a quick disclaimer- part 1 of the Giveaway is coming directly from us (Pattie and Allie) and is open to all our followers and readers

Part 2 is coming from CSN Stores and is open to residents of the US and Canada

Good luck to all!!

Allie started this blog as a way for me to write a bit about our family and our history and to share our home and kitchen. Though they never knew the world wide web, I just know that my Grandma Josie and my Nonna Norma would be so pleased to know that you've all been reading about them and sharing your stories with us. We are so grateful for this opportunity and feel so blessed to have made some wonderful new friends.

Grandma Josie~~~~~~~~~~~~Nonna Norma

Today for Foodie Friday, I got a bit off track (as usual). The plan was Pollo Nicoise- you may see that this weekend. :) You guys must be getting used to hearing that from me. I've been working to expand my business a bit, the end of school year chaos has started, and there's been lots of yard work to do. 

My Grandma Josie had the most GORGEOUS roses and gladioli....

 I'm getting side-tracked again

This is a dish that I've made often for picnics and beach outings, or days at the park. It travels well, and best of all, it's made with leftovers- any good Italian cook knows the value of leftovers! I've also made it for evenings at home as a light dinner that keeps the kitchen cool- I make the meatballs in the cool of the early morning and throw the rest together at dinnertime. Enjoy!

Insalata di Polpettine (tiny meatball salad)

First make the meatballs:

about 1 1/4 pounds ground meat- I prefer the "meatloaf mix" of beef, veal, and pork,
3 eggs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
about 1-1 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (I used leftovers that had been mashed with butter and cream cheese- any smashed up potato is fine, even if it's lumpy :) !)
2-4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 tsp minced, pressed garlic (this is to your preference)
1-2 tablespoons prepared pesto
handful of dried cranberries
OPT: I have in the past (when I have them in the fridge) tossed in a handful of finely diced leftover roasted or grilled vegetables- this is made from leftovers, so experiment!)
salt and pepper to taste

seasoned fine dry bread crumbs

extra virgin olive oil to coat bottom of fry pan

Colorful mixed greens
cherry tomatoes
thinly sliced yellow squash or yellow bell pepper
raisins- I used the Jumbo mixed raisins- love the sweetness and color!
thinly sliced red onion

With your hands (this is important- you can't make good meatballs without the love of your hands! My grandma said so), mix together  the meat, parmesan, potatoes, parsley, garlic, pesto, and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper. Smoosh it together really well. ("smoosh" is a professional chef's word!)

Roll mixture into tiny meatballs- about the size of a large walnut. Roll the meatballs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan and toss in the meatballs is batches. Fry, turning frequently, till browned and crisp. This won't take long- the oil should be hot and the meatballs are small. Remove to a rack to drain and cool. 
Arrange salad ingredients on a large shallow platter. Mound meatballs on top and serve with your choice of dressing (I like a good balsamic vinaigrette) When I make them for dinner at home, I like to heat the meatballs in the oven just a bit- the warm meatballs on the cold, crunchy salad is excellent. They're great at room temperature for a picnic too- just pack them separately from the salad and mix on site.

Mix in whatever you like!


Dessert tonight is a simple Panna Cotta (see recipe here ) served over glazed orange segments. I made a simple caramel by melting some sugar with a few tablespoons of water and allowing it to turn golden. That was mixed with some of my homemade ginger/orange preserves which I melted and warmed. I poured this mix over some sliced, peeled oranges and refrigerated. Put a spoonful in a shallow dish and unmold the panna cotta on top. Spoon some syrup or honey over the custard if desired and garnish with a mint leaf

Be sure to enter both parts of our Giveaway by commenting on both posts. Let us know if you're following or linking or tweeting (okay, maybe Nonna wouldn't understand "tweeting"!) We are so excited and looking forward to hearing what you'd do with the 60 dollars.

Thank you to Michael for hosting our very favorite party and...

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our FIRST Giveaway!! And it's Tablescape Thursday!!

Happy Tablescape Thursday!! 

We're really pleased to be joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. The perfect excuse to let us all play with our dishes! Susan, thanks so much for hosting! Just click the badge on our sidebar and come join us.

This is a very special day for our Bramasole blogging team. We are so excited to have reached 100 followers (and then some) that we decided it was time to have our very first giveaway! And since there are 2 of us, we're going to have a double! That's right- TWO giveaways. You'll hear all about the first one here tonight and we'll announce the second within a day or 2 (we're REALLY excited about part 2!)

First off, I have to apologize for picture quality tonight. Something is wonky with our camera and I wasn't able to take the time to play with it today. 

This is the cooktop in our kitchen. That wonderful utensil rack was made for me by my very talented husband from a picture I drew

Uggh- this picture is terrible-sorry!

Anyway, do you see those little white jars up there? I know- it's pretty hard

Here they are

Aren't they adorable? They were a score (great sale) from Anthropologie. I was so pleased when I walked out of the store with them. I was strolling back to my car when the lightbulb went off- "Pattie, these would make an awesome giveaway!" (I do talk to myself sometimes. I've discovered that I'm the only one that listens to me)
Back I ran and scooped up the last set. I think the poor guy at the register thought I was a little loony. I'm sure not too many people get so excited over spice jars- I was dialing Allie to tell her as I was paying!
We also decided to give away something that several of you have told me you now associate with me. I've done several posts on kitchen tools and gadgets and the one item that I've gotten the most emails on is my mezzaluna. Those of you who follow us know that I consider this one of my most valued tools- not the least reason of which is that I have so many memories of my Nonna with hers in hand.

Now this is going to be a shameless plug for a local business here in Chapel Hill. I went to no less than a half dozen stores looking for a mezzaluna- I should have known where to find it from the start. Kitchenworks here in town ALWAYS has what I need and with a knowledgeable and pleasant staff, it's fast become my go-to place for needed gadgets and baking needs.
 Here's what I got- made in ITALY!

and a mezzaluna is useless without a cutting board, so you'll be getting that too

The winner of our  First Giveaway- part 1 will get all of the following:

a bamboo cutting board, a mezzaluna, and 5 Anthropologie spice jars

and our everlasting gratitude to all of you who have welcomed us so warmly to the world of blogging- and stay tuned for Part 2!!

Here's what you have to do to enter:

1) Leave a comment on this post- 1 entry
2) Become a follower and let us know you did- 1 entry (you don't have to be a blogger to follow!)
3) Become a fan of Bramasole's Facebook page- 1 entry (let us know!)
4) Blog about this Giveaway on YOUR blog and link back to us- 1 entry (make sure you let us know)
5) If you Twitter and tweet about the Giveaway- 1 entry (please let us know- Allie tweets, I don't)

There you go- you can have up to 5 entries! This Giveaway will close on Thursday night, May 6th at 10 p.m. (eastern time- we're in NC)
Good Luck to all and stay tuned for part 2!

On to the table!

Originally, I was planning on an island-scape (as in kitchen island), but as usual, things changed a bit. Last night I got a call from a client I've been working with on window treatments. She asked if I might be interested in catering a Ladie's Luncheon celebrating a dear friend's birthday. She wanted something feminine and "Spring-y" . I invited her for a sit-down to go through some options. I decided to throw something together quickly to give her an idea of some options.

I chose to use the large kitchen table so we'd have room for notebooks :)

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Crab

I love these napkin holders- tiny whitewashed flower pots with the bottom cut out
Those roses are from a huge bush on the side of my house

Leek, Carrot, and Pea Risotto and mini Brioches

Mini cakes of risotto...

Mango Puree with a glazed strawberry and mint

Blueberry Green Tea Scones
(these ended up going home with my client!)

Everything was pink, white, and green

a mix of white ironstone

Light and creamy...

This recipe is a keeper- enjoy!

Blueberry Green Tea Scones

about 1 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
3 Tablespoons blueberry green tea leaves ( I found these at Whole Foods)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter cut in cubes
1 large egg
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a very low boil in a small suace pan. Add tea leaves and steep for 10 minutes. Strain into a small bowl and add enough cream to make 1 cup again.Refrigerate about an hour till cold. 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a large bowl, sift  together flour, 6 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter ( I use a pastry blender) until mixture resembles carse crumbs. Whisk egg into cream/tea mixture and add to flour mixture. Stir till combine and then give a quick, light knead till dough holds together. On a lightly floured surface, pat out to 1/2 inch (don't make these too thin). Cut out with a 2 inch cutter (a flower is nice) and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Brush tops with cream, decorate with almond slices and put 1-3 blueberries in the center. Sprionkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake about 12-14 minutes till golden. Remove to racks and brush with melted butter when cooled

Remember to come back for part 2 of our Giveaway. And thank you so  much for visiting with us! Join us tomorrow for Foodie Friday at Gollum's

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Monday, April 26, 2010

Aunt Madame's Petit Gateaux- the biscotti of France

San Remo on the Riviera dei Fiori

        Buona Sera! It's been a busy day playing catch up after last week's busy-ness, but today was productive. While finishing the breakfast dishes, I was casually mentioning that I needed to decide what to cook up for our next blog post. That's when my 13 year old son casually threw out his own observation- "Why don't you just do those cookies?" THOSE cookies. The ones I've made in my sleep over the years. The ones that always bring a flood of memories. The ones even my pickiest son hordes in his room. The ones that seem so simple that it never occurred to me to blog about them. And yet, I've served them at the most formal functions as well as nibbled them while sitting up with each of my 6 babies. And I did have them on my to-do list today...

My mother's parents were born and raised in northern Italy. The foods they knew, cooked and ate were typical to the region and heavily influenced by the cuisines of the borders they shared, one of which is France. During the summers we spent with my grandparents, we made many visits to the area of Liguria and the "Italian Riviera" which leads the way into France. I found this on the wonderful world wide web:

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco

The 'Italian Riviera' is a loose term usually applied to the stretch of coast in Liguria which borders France. Like its neighbour, the more famous French Riviera, this coastline boasts blue seas, stately resorts with casinos and palms waving along the promenade, and attractive inland villages.
The blue waters, the attractive coastline and beaches, and the exceptionally mild climate have long been the Italian Riviera's biggest attractions. Sheltered from the north by the Maritime Alps, the strip of land by the sea has a micro-climate of its own; with sunshine and comfortable temperatures the whole year round.
Riviera dei Fiori
The Riviera of Flowers is the section of the Liguria coast nearest to France. Running from Ventimiglia in the west to Cervo in the east, the coastline is famous for its blooms; the most colourful and elegant resort is San Remo.
San Remo
Liguria is well served by railways. A major railway line follows the coast for its entire length, and the region is easily accessible from Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence and other major cities. Genoa has two railway stations; sometimes you must change here for the trains that run westward towards France. The railway stops in most of the seaside towns in Liguria, and continues into France, with an easy -and scenic - journey to Menton, Monaco, Nice and Cannes. 
The Italian Riviera is famed for its all-year-round mild climate, and was a popular destination for European nobility, who could promenade along the sea front or stake their inheritance on the fall of dice in the coast's casinos. The Mediterranean resort is busier and hotter in summer, but makes a pleasant destination at almost any time of the year. Within Italy, one of Sanremo's chief claims to fame is as the host resort for an annual pop music competition, the Sanremo Festival. Unless you have a real passion for contemporary Italian pop music, it's best to avoid the crowded city in the first weeks of March.
One of Sanremo's principal tourist attractions is the town itself. For a small resort, Sanremo presents an impressive variety of faces to the visitor. There is a harbour where swanky yachts jostle for space, and old men tinker with more dilapidated marine transport. There are busy shopping streets where you can pick up jewellery and clothes, and a hectic market, crowded with French trippers who throng over the border in a quest for bargains. There are broad palm-lined streets where Sanremo's exotic past visitors - from Empresses to poets, via Tchaikowski and Alfred Nobel, resided in luxury villas. And most atmospheric of all is the old town, the Pigna, named after a pine cone for the way the tight-packed buildings cling to a steep hill.
Like other Ligurian towns, Sanremo was built with defense in mind - early foreign visitors were not extravagant tourists but marauding pirates. So the oldest part of Sanremo consists of winding narrow alleys diving under arches and buttresses towards the hill's summit, crowned with a church.
Individual tourist sights of interest in Sanremo include the pretty domed Russian Orthodox church built by the town's many wealthy emigres in the early 1900s. The Casino is one of the town's most famous sights, a glaring white palace with a range of options for those in love with chance. You'll need to dress up to enter some of the gaming rooms, but anyone can have a go on the one-armed bandits in the main halls. If you visit early in the day, the main clientele consists of respectable-looking elderly women with manic gleams in their eyes, clutching their buckets of tokens. (this sounds like my Mom now when she visits Atlantic City!)

I remember my Mom reading her movie star magazines and sighing over pictures of the beautiful and elegant Grace Kelly, then Princess Grace of Monaco. Her grace and beauty were legendary. 
This is what my kitchen looked like this lovely Carolina morning

I love this time of day

I'm not the only one that loves to chase the sun

How could I resist?

     I learned to make these cookies/biscuits from a French friend's Aunt many years ago. I could never pronounce her name and always called her Aunt Madame- she always giggled at that. I make them often and keep them in a canister alongside my biscotti. They are very similar to a shortbread cookie, but richer due to the egg content. According to Aunt Madame, they originated in Breton and are always made (as are all the pastries of the region) with a lightly salted butter  known as “beurre demi-sel” from Nantes. Traditionally, they are cut with a round cutter and scored in a lattice pattern. Today I used a rectangle cutter and used them to make a quick dessert to serve a drop-in friend. I simply whipped some sweetened cream and stirred in a few macerated strawberries. Cut a cookie in half and set it alongside. Simple, but oh so good!

 Butter Cookies- Petites Gateaux Bretons

6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp milk
2 cups flour
7/8 cup superfine flour
7/8 cup lightly salted butter at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter cookie sheets or line with parchment. Mix 1 Tblsp of egg yolks with the milk to make a glaze and set aside. Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, sugar, and butter and work together to make a smooth, creamy mix. Gradually work in the flour from the edges to make a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Flour your hands and pat out to 1/2 inch thick and cut out with a 3 inch cutter. Brush with a bit of the egg glaze and score each cookie with the back of a knife to form a lattice pattern. Bake 12-15 minutes till golden. Cool on the sheets on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove carefully to rack to cool completely. 

Sometimes I make these to serve at a cocktail or wine and cheese event. In that case, I have been known to add a sprinkle of coarse pink salt on top before baking- looks so pretty and makes a wonderful savory snack. I have found this wonderful pink salt at Trader Joes (LOVE that place!)

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici

Pattie and Allie