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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Best Kind of Shopping Day!

I love Spring and Summer weekends- Farmer's Markets, Flea Markets, fresh fruits and veggies- it doesn't get any better!

Last night we had another MAJOR storm. The lightening was incredible- several trees in our neighborhood were split in two- thunder roared and the rain was torrential! This morning the skies were trying very hard to be that beautiful Carolina blue we love so much. I figured I'd get out early just in case the weather decided to do a repeat performance and decided to go to the smallest of our local farmer's markets which, despite it's size, happens to have some of my favorite vendors. 

South Estes Market

Box Turtle Bakery

Box Turtle Bakery was my first stop today. Owner/baker Abraham uses only locally grown whole grains (he mills his own flours!) and ingredients and bakes in a brick oven built in his backyard. You all know I'm an avid bread baker, but these breads are wonderful. I was actually hoping for some of his spelt pitas with a Meatless Monday meal in mind, but I was out of luck today on that count. I did treat myself to a couple of yummy, sweet cream scones to nibble on as I browsed the other stalls. I'll be picking up the pitas next week, so stay tuned....

Next stop...

Now, as you all know, I'm Italian. that means that it would be physically impossible to walk by a cheese vendor without tasting- and BUYING. A lovely, very creamy sun-dried tomato chevre came home with me. 

The other wonderful thing about this particular market is that it happens to be right next to a wonderful little mall that houses my very favorite local kitchen shop. Since someone in my house decided to use my kitchen squirt bottles for paint while decorating T-shirts to wear at a concert (not naming names here, but a certain 16 year old comes to mind), a stop was in order.


I LOVE this place!

Kitchenworks is an indispensable source for baking supplies, pans, specialty gadgets, and anything else the die-hard foodie dreams about

The staff is incredibly nice and always helpful. Just look at the sugars, colors, and sprinkles! Sugar heaven!!

How fun is this!

Linens and dishes- I could get lost here


So squirt bottles (and a few other goodies) in hand I headed home. After safely HIDING said squirt bottles, I decided that my husband deserved a special treat- while I was drooling over fresh cheese and cast iron pots, he kept several antsy kids busy and prevented a few battles . 

Though a certain 11 year old is now the reason I have to go to the eyeglass place first thing in the morning to replace the THIRD pair of glasses in as many months. 

"But Mom!! I FORGOT I had them on when I jumped in the pool!"

Is 11 too young for contact lenses??

I digress...

Hubby is a confirmed chocoholic. Here's what I made him. 


 Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, May 2010
 Ganache :
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
Pinch salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate , melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ganache: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
Directions for Cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan with 12 baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
Frosting: Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.
Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, add cooled melted chocolate and vanilla; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until thoroughly combined, about 30- 45 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.
To frost cupcakes, mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. I poured the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and swirled it on. 
Yield:  12 cupcakes

By the way, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I am not in any way compensated for anything I'm posting here. I am a firm believer in supporting your smaller local businesses when possible and I urge you to do the same. My memories of daily walks to local vendors to purchase the days' food needs with my Nonna are priceless to me

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Hi Pattie and Allie!
    Oh I have to see where my Farmers Markets are ... We have a BIG one in Troy, NY I haven't visited yet...
    I love the ones in Schoharie...we go there all the time... but you have inspired me to go find the one in Troy!

    Your chocolate cake /cupcake recipe is so much like the King Arthur flour one that I use. It's the 6-minute cake recipe ... I don't think they have it on their website anymore, but I saved it from a bag of flour I bought {years ago}

    Enjoy a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
    Blessings always ~ Maria

  2. What a fabulous place to shop. It must have been a fantastic day. The cup cakes are divine. Have a great weekend and enjoy the holiday. Blessings...Mary

  3. good thing we didn't visit there when I was in NC- I would have needed another suitcase! I did a lunchtime run to William Sonoma Outlet on Friday- too much damage. Are their dishes and mugs made in China? Did you turn over and look? If not then it might be work another trip to NC- but a drive this time with an empty trunk to fill up!
    Did you ever try that CocoPure Chocolate Tea?

  4. What a fun farmer's market! I had Tony read your post...bread and cheese...two of his favorite foods :)
    That chocolate cupcake looks sooo delicious!

  5. OH Pattie......u make me soo jealous....those linens..those baking stuff..those i wish I was there too. I could live there. Forever.

    the chocolate cake looks to die for too!

  6. That Farmers Market looked wonderful. Wish I could have gone. But I got a kick out of how you LOOOOVE your cooking supplies store just as much as I love my local Scrapbooking supplies store.
    Your cupcake was magazine worthy!!! And I still love your amazing/beautiful porch. You all did such a great job on it. I'm sure you'll enjoy it on Memorial Day too! : )
    Take care,
    Mary Lou

  7. Location, location, location! It's fantastic that the market is located next to other shops! My uncle who is in his seventies and from a small town said that slowly but sure America keeps turning every town into a like kind. His example is that you drive into most towns you will see Wal-Mart, Applebees or O'Charley's, Home Depot or Lowes, etc., and rarely see the small shops and stores that used to be the fabric of our small town commerce. Thanks for the shout out to shopping local.

  8. Thanks for letting us tag along on your shopping trip! I LOVE cheese! In France there are over 400 varieties, so I am sure Italy has a similar number. And your cupcakes look fabulous! I'd have a hard time choosing between chocolate and cheese, but I do believe that cheese would win! Yum! Happy weekend..hugs...Debbie

  9. Wow -- what a shopping trip! Thanks for taking us along -- we do try to support our local businesses -- I have to admit Mr. Mid-Atlantic is a little better in that regard than I am -- but, he keeps me on my toes too. Now, hum, is there chocolate cheese? Thanks for your visit.

  10. Oh what a fun shopping day and to end it with chocolate I think your honey and I would get along famously, Happy weekend, I think I am going to make some brownies,Kathysue

  11. The weather has been nasty here too. Yesterday it looked like the lightening was going straight into the lake! Now, it is starting round two!!
    Fresh bread, good cheese, and a chocolate cupcake - does life get any better????

    BYW, my daughter started wearing contacts at 12.


  12. Thanks for taking us along visually on a great shopping trip. now to top it off i'll take one of those yummy cupcakes..


  13. You have a wonderful farmers market, Pattie. I can never pass up the bread and cheese either. And that kitchen shop. I could spends hours in there. Thanks for showing us your market.

  14. What a great place to shop...I love that every little nook and cranny is filled to overflow with so many wonderful things. You could stand in one place for an hour just looking everything over! I love the cubbies full of napkins! Have a blessed Memorial Day!


  15. This looks and sounds like an amazing day! Would love to have been along with you!

  16. Isn't it illegal to pass right by cheese vendors? I am sure it must be! And I am nothing if not a law abiding citizen!

    I would be in hog heaven in that kitchen store! I would be making a "Diann Christmas list" and copying it to send to all my "might get a gift" people! I like to make other people's lives as esay as possible don't ya know!

    Sorry Ray, but one of those cupcakes has MY name on it! LOL

    Have a great day!!

  17. I am with you and the cheese. I keep telling my family to give me cheese for my birthday, but they think lotion and sweaters will make me happier....they just don't get it!!!

    Does the ganache form a little well of chocolate within the cake? Does the cake bake over it? They sound completely wonderful.

  18. Take me shopping, please! LOVE that kitchen store --wow, what stock! I want to go down that aisle with the baking tins. Now.

    I am not going to make those cupcakes because I would EAT those cupcakes. Like, fast. They are amazingly good looking. I will just have to trust that your husband LOVED them, and vicariously enjoy them.

    We got sundried tomato goat cheese last week at the farm -- love it!

    Be well -- your Carolina porch post was gorgeous, btw. Loved it!

  19. Thanks for sharing! Enjoyed my visit! Shopping is indeed fun!!! The breads looked great and so does your cake.

  20. Everything always looks so delicious here! I wish our Farmers' Market sold cheeses - what a great place and how conveniently located next to a charming kitchen supply shop :) Wish I could take a bite of that chocolate cupcake!

  21. What a great post - I could die a very happy woman in that store! Seriously though, I would need several hours to comb through all they had to offer! How nice of hubby to serve as crowd control while you shopped, and how nice of you to reward him after!


  22. Wow, Pattie! What a wonderful market! If there is one thing I have a weakness for it is kitchen gadgets and supplies. I'd browse there for hours on end.

    I love your "Southern Italian" traditions list on your sidebar. One thing I'd add is eating "al fresco" all summer. My in-laws never missed an opportunity to sit in their backyard under their grape arbor and have a wonderful meal...the more people at the table, the better!

    xxoo Pat


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