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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Confirmation, The love of a friend, and Sunday Dinner

We're back from our little break and we have missed you all! Thank you all so much for the kind wishes and all the emails these past few days.

Allie has been confirmed. This week has been a bit chaotic but it's time to get back to normal- as if we've EVER been normal! 
Allie asked my best friend Kathy to be her sponsor and we were so happy to have her here from New York. Kathy has 3 sons and has adopted my lucky girl as a daughter. That beautiful statue above was one of her gifts to Allie

Aren't they beautiful?

Now if you're wondering why my daughter is holding that corsage up, it's because goofy me tried to kill my very best friend. Yes, it's true- I lost my mind (and apparently my memory) this week. I bought 2 beautiful rose corsages for them and handed Kathy a lovely panna cotta smothered in macerated strawberries for dessert. 

Now you should know that the 2 things that Kathy is most allergic to in this world are strawberries and roses. 

Yeah, I'm being kicked out of the BFF club.

She was kind enough to wear the roses for a picture and then they were gone!

Speaking of roses, North Carolina is in bloom!

I love this time of year!

While she was here, we spent some time working on a design for a kitchen remodel Kathy is planning. Now, you all know that the kitchen is my favorite room in the house, so I'm in heaven when I can spend someone else's money on one! (I'm well aware that her husband is probably ready to kill me)

After Kathy left (and I stopped crying) I was talking to a design client about some of the ideas we had discussed- now she wants me to consult with HER kitchen designer about some changes. YAY! 

After spending all day yesterday cleaning and running errands, today was a day for family and Sunday dinner. As my Sicilian grandma's did, our Sunday table usually holds pasta with some kind of tomato sauce- heavier meat sauces in the winter and lighter fresh tomato sauces in the summer

Today was a simple marinara

The colors of Italy...

Time for dinner..

My northern Nonna's cooking was heavily influenced by French and Swiss cuisine

Twice baked mini souffles in a tomato cream sauce

Crumb stuffed artichokes like Grandma's..

asparagus with an orange Hollandaise like my Nonna's...

simple breaded pork cutlets and salad..

We'd love to have you join us

I would have shown you the homemade Italian bread, but SOMEONE got hold of the bread basket before dinner and "had a snack". 

Italian Mini Souffles

I love these and have used them often for catered events- they can be made in advance and simply heated when needed. These souffles are served upside down and I have made them using Fontina, Gruyere, and today, baby Swiss- feel free to experiment. They also make a lovely light lunch entree

1 1/2 Tblsp unsalted butter
2 Tblsp flour
2/3 cup whole milk
grated nutmeg
2 eggs separated plus 1 more egg white (room temp)
2/3 cup grated cheese
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
salt and pepper

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tblsp. tomato puree ( I used a spoonful of my pasta sauce)
1 ripe tomato, finely diced
salt and cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 4 small ramekins and line the bottom with a buttered wax paper round (this is where I put my 13 year old to work cutting out the rounds as he was watching a ball game). Put the ramekins in a large roasting pan and put a large pot of water on to boil. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl till stiff and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook just till golden. Slowly whisk in half the milk making sure you keep it smooth, then slowly add remaining milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the cheese till melted. Carefully stir a small amount of egg whites into cheese mix then slowly fold in remaining whites- I use a balloon whisk. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins- they'll be about 3/4 full. pour boiling water into pan around ramekins and bake for about 20-25 minutes till puffed and golden brown (not white!) Remove ramekins to a rack and allow to cool a bit till they deflate. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.
Bring cream to a low boil, reduce heat, and stir in tomato puree, diced tomato, salt and cayenne (this should have a little "zip"). Put a little sauce on the bottom of a gratin dish large enough to hold all the souffles. Run a thin knife around the souffles and invert onto sauce in gratin dish. Peel off waxed paper rounds, pour remaining sauce over top, and bake for about 15 minutes till hot and bubbly. 

Steamed Asparagus with Orange Sauce

1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted
3 egg yolks
1 Tblsp cold water
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
salt and cayenne
bunch of asparagus

Snap woody ends off asparagus, peel if desired and steam till tender. I use a tall asparagus pot with a rack. Asparagus is tied together and stands up in the pot. I bring salted water to a boil, lower in the asparagus, return to a simmer, and cook about 5-6 minutes. Drain and pat dry- keep warm on platter.
Melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat and carefully skim off foam. Set aside. In a double boiler over low simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, water, lemon juice, 1 Tblsp orange juice, salt and cayenne. Keep whisking constantly till mixture thickens enough that whisk leaves a trail on the bottom of the pan. VERY slowly, whisk in the melted butter being careful to completely incorporate. Whisk in a couple of tablespoons more of orange juice and the zest. Check seasoning and add salt and cayenne if needed. Garnish with a few curls of zest (I forgot!) Pour over asparagus and enjoy!

 We're happy to be back to blogging and wish you all a happy week.
Be sure to follow us- we're putting together our first giveaway and we don't want you to miss it!

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Great minds think alike- I made piccolino fusilli with breaded (and yes- fried) pork cutlets- a light tossed salad.
    Have had a heaviness in my chest since Friday morning but can't decided if it is an all out allergy overload attack or a cough/bronchitis beginning. lol :) not kicked out of the BFF club by a long shot

  2. Hi Allie!

    Congratulations on your confirmation Allie! May many wonderful blessings come your way. You looked very pretty on your special day!

    Hi Pattie!

    Your dinner looks scrumptious! I never made souffle's like that and the sauce sounds so good! Thanks for more wonderful recipes!

    We have to wait another month or two for roses...yours look so pretty!

    ♥ Pat

  3. Congrats, Allie! And Pattie ... YUM! That puts my menu for Maggie's communion to shame!

  4. Oh my... I'm not the only one up late :o)
    Hi Allie and Pattie!
    What a beautiful day you had! All the Italian foods ... what nostalgia for me! Crumb stuffed artichokes... HEAVEN
    That's the part of your dinner that's really sending me down memory lane!
    I love making this... and it IS just the way my mother and Nonni used to make!
    Pattie, I live in upstate NY in a little village near Albany.
    We're behind you in spring blossoms. Right now my apple blossoms are just about to open {a few have already popped open} The pear and cherry trees have bloomed. Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are all open. We've mowed our lawn twice since the snow melted.

    Have a sweet week ladies! ~Maria

  5. Hi Allie, I saw your look so pretty, congratulations!
    I've read also about what you made with the porch..fantastic transformation! I really fall in love with it!
    I like the orange sauce that you made...sounds good, thanks! I'm going to try it.
    Have a good week to both!

  6. Now I'm hungry! Asparagus is on my menu this week so I can't wait to try the orange flavor instead of lemon. The mini souffles sound heavenly.

  7. Best wishes to you, Allie. What a wonderful time it must have been. Even the city put on a beautiful floral display for you. I remember spring in North Carolina and Virginia very well. Pattie, I love hearing about your wonderful friendship with Kathy. I have a long-distance friend like that. We've been friends since grade school. Thank you, as always, for more delicious recipes. Enjoy spring!


  8. Hi Pattie and Allie, Congratulations on your confirmation, God Bless. Your Sunday dinner table setting is just beautiful and the food so tempting. I am so glad I found this wonderful blog and grateful you are both willing to share your decor, recipes and traditions . Please excuse my typos my last comment. Emelia

  9. Glad you're back! I've missed you. Food looks divine, as usual. I'll post more kitchen pictures, just for you! Happy Monday!

  10. The girls..the angel.. the food the flowers..Enjoyed by all..

    What a nice happy lovely post..

  11. Forgetting about the rose and strawberry allergies sounds like something I would do. The more stress, excitement, company, things to do, etc, the more my brain tends to go on vacation!
    What a sweet picture of Allie and your friend; what a neat experience!

    The souffles and the asparagus sound delightful. The orange in the sauce is a fabulous variation that I am excited to try.

  12. Pattie, like always you amaze me how you can get all of this done... Also, the food looks delicious and a peek of that gorgeous napkin makes me want to see more. Is it embroidered?

  13. Congratulations, Allie, and you look adorable with your new sponsor!

    What a gorgeous table and array of food, Patti! I love coming here to see your wonderful Italian cooking and I hope we get to see some photos of your friend's kitchen when it's finished.

  14. Congratulations Allie! Wonderful post. ANd our table and recipes look fabulous. You are something very special dear lady!

    I know what you mean about being wiped out after your big event! Today I did nothing but post my menu. Tomorrow, I'll get back to a little more cleaning up!

    As far as the posts, great minds think alike.
    Blessing to Allie! And love to you both,

  15. Your posts always make me smile! It is like reading a good magazine! Allie looks beautiful!
    Okay do you do it! Every tablescape is so are so talented! Now I am sad I didn't get those dishes!
    Smiles :)

  16. Allie looks gorgeous! And as usual another totally amazing meal! Believe me, I wish I could join you! :-)

  17. Such wonderful photos!

    Your Twice baked mini souffles in a tomato cream sauce and the Asparagus with Orange Sauce both sound so good. It's not even 8 am and I already starving and ready for dinner!


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