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, April 13, 2010

Take me away to Salerno- please!!

Amalfi Coast
          Hello, friends! Sorry I've been missing in action this week, but our household seems to have been hit yet again. We've been working very hard preparing for Allie's Confirmation next week. We'll have guests from New York and we really wanted to get the Spring yard clean-up done and a few small projects around the house.

Spring has arrived at Casa Bramasole. What you are looking at is dessert tonight for the 2 dozen deer that will congregate in my yard and say "Oh, Pattie left us dinner!"

Mulch, mulch, mulch! Take note of the interesting shape of the Arborvitae- The local "barbers" (read DEER) have been giving the bottom half a haircut. I deliberately left out the written guarantee for the yucchy smelling spray the garden center sold me that says "Spray your plants with this and the deer won't touch them". Now somebody has to come and teach my deer how to read!

 And then it arrived- that nasty virus that has decimated so many in our neighborhood this week. Mr. Bramasole just picked Allie up at school after a call from the school nurse. I suppose the upside is that if she had to get sick, it's better done this week! 
One of my wonderful clients surprised me yesterday with a container of fresh lump crabmeat. We had been discussing the Amalfi Coast during a meeting this week and I had told her about the wonderful seafood I remember from visits there as a child.
From Wikipedia: The main town close to the Amalfi Coast is Salerno, the municipalities belonging to its coast are Vietri sul MareCetaraMaioriTramonti,MinoriRavelloScalaAtraniAmalfiConca dei MariniFurorePraianoand Positano. Very close to the territory of the coast (near Furore and Conca dei Marini) is it situated Agerola, located in the Sorrentine Peninsula and belonging to the Province of Naples.
Renowned for its rugged terrain, scenic beauty, picturesque towns and diversity, the Amalfi Coast was featured in Positano (1953) by American writer John Steinbeck.
Universita di Salerno

We often visited Salerno, Positano, and Tramonti and my parents spent part of their honeymoon in Maiori. Salerno is a relatively "small" city with a population of around 140,000. It dates from its establishment as a Roman town in about 194 BC after the wars with Hannibal the Great.  Salerno sits on a natural harbor which has facilitated trade from ancient times to the present, and which was used by the allied forces as a landing place during the Italian campaign in World War II.  Behind the city is a high rock surmounted by an ancient castle, the Castle of Arechi, which overlooks the city and the Bay.

The Port of Salerno

I found this picture online, but remember my Nonno taking one that was almost exactly the same! I need to dig through some boxes and find it!

Anyway.... I thought I'd share what I did with the salmon. It made a FABULOUS quick lunch. I pulled out some of my Peach/ Apple Salsa from last summer and mmmm, mmmmm, good!

Pattie's Crab Cakes Stuffed with Salmon

1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat, drained very well
about 1/3 cup chopped scallions or onions
1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers
1 rounded tablespoon prepared pesto (see note)
2 rounded tablespoons (about) mayo
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2-3 ounces smoked salmon (I used some left from breakfast)
some Panko breadcrumbs mixed with some prepared dry breadcrumbs- season to taste
Canola Oil for frying

Stir together crabmeat, onions, peppers, pesto, mayo, salt and pepper. Form an even number of balls of mixture (I made 8 for a total of 4 crab cakes- it was perfect). Form each ball into a patty and sandwich 2 together with some of the salmon in the middle. Be sure to seal the edges. Coat well in breadcrumbs and fry till golden brown in hot oil. Drain on paper towels and serve. Excellent with guacamole, or fruit salsa.

Last night's dessert was a dear favorite of my Nonna Norma and now of my mother. I frequently make Panna Cotta (literally translated it's cooked cream) as it's so easy and quick to prepare. I do it as my Nonna did by steeping a vanilla bean in the cream, but I'm sure you could just as easily use vanilla extract

Panna Cotta

1 quart heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 packets Knox gelatin
6 tablespoons cold water

 Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan till the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 20-30 minutes.
Remove the bean and reheat the mixture to just below a simmer- very hot.

 Spray 8 ramekins with PAM

 Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

 Strain the Panna Cotta through a sieve over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

 Pour into the ramekins, then chill until firm, at least two hours. Unmold and serve with fresh berries and a fine drizzle of honey, if desired. This can also be made in martini or sherbet glasses if you prefer not to unmold. This is rich, but oh, so good!


  1. I love your Italy stories and photos and all the good food you accompany them with..
    You are sweet to share when so busy~
    Thanks so much~

  2. I feel as if I have been away with you. And, I had a lovely time! Best wishes to Allie on her confirmation. And healing wishes for all of you. Oh, yes, and deer who can read!


  3. I'm swooning over the photos of Italy Pattie........wish we could all go together.....sigh!!

  4. Those salmon/crab cakes sound so good. I really miss living near the coast (albeit the Pacific) and being able to get fresh seafood.

  5. Pattie - Your crab/salmon cakes look delicious! The Amalfi Coast is such a magical place. One visit there and I was smitten. I am hoping to get back there as soon as possible! You must have the most amazing memories of being there as a child. Congrats to Allie on her confirmation!

  6. What an awesome client! food is ALWAYS the best gift! LOL The crab cakes look fantastic! And the panna Cotta, which is one of my all time favorite desserts, makes me drool just looking at the picture. I can't believe I have never made it at home. Whenever it is on a menu, Troy automatically orders it for me.

  7. What a great sounding recipe for the crab cakes. I haven't made those in a long time and the addition of smoked salmon and your salsa! YUM!
    The cooked cream really sounds so good too. I'm going to try these both!
    I always like your recipes and love your stories and pictures!


  8. I just wrote a very long note to you but I don't know what happened to it. Just to recap- Allie I hope you are getting better, you have a big event ahead of you. Congradulations on making the decision to be a disciple of Christ and a member of your church! God bless you and keep you growing in Him!
    Pattie: WOW, pesto in crabcakes. Sounds like love to me!!!!
    hugs to everyone!

  9. Pattie, you're always a delight! Blessings to Allie!

  10. Good luck getting everything ready for Allie's confirmation. I hope that all will be well in your household by the big date.

    The deer sure are frustrating. The problem seems to be bad just about everywhere.

  11. I so enjoyed seeing your photos of Italy. That recipe looks so yummy and I think I'll have Mr. Dreams come by and look at it.
    Allie, congratulations on your big event.


  12. Hi Pattie, I laughed reading your first few paragraphs. The crabcakes look delicious! See you back here again soon.

  13. Pattie, as always I am drooling after I read one of your post. Love the pictures of Italy thanks for all the great info. I also want to thank you soooo much for your faithfulness in reading my blog. It has not gone un-noticed. You are almost always the very first commenter on each post. I think I would be disappointed if I did not see you there. You are the BEST!! thankyou so much ,Hugs Kathysue

  14. Your photos are always such a treat. I also love your recipes crabcakes and panna cottoa. Crab is such a treat and there are few things better than a good crab cake. Your recipe for them sounds terrific. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  15. jolies photos et je trouva la panna cotta sublime j'adore ce dessert
    bonne journée

  16. Fun stories and great recipes as always! Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

  17. Hi Pattie...

    I just read your sweet note and came right over! You have been so sweet with all of your visits...thank you, my friend!!!

    Well...I certainly could do with a vacation to Selerno! It's absolutely gorgeous! The coastline of Italy is sooo beautiful! Ohhh...and I bet the weather is delightful this time of the year! Beautiful photos, Pattie! Ohhh sound like you've been busy...busy lately getting ready for Allie's confirmation! Sending that dear sweet girl, my congratulations and blessings!!! Your flowers/yard look sorry that the deer think so too! I don't know what you can do to detour deer. So much for that spray, huh?

    Mmmm...your salmon stuffed crab cakes look divine! Crab cakes are one of my most favorite foods...yummy!!! And...the panna cotta also looks soooo good!!! What a talented and industrious woman you are, my friend!!! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us!!!

    And thank you again for your visits and sweet's always a pleasure when you come by!!!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  18. I visited the Amalfi coast many years ago -- we went to Capri and Sorrento and saw Pompeii. Just magical, beautiful beyond words!!

    The salmon crab cakes look delicious and mmmmmmm...panna cotta is all time favorite!

    Hope Allis is better by next week for her confirmation!

    ♥ Pat


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