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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quickie Tablescape for Thursday- Shrimp with Romesco Sauce and a Unique Ravioli

Hello friends! And I do mean friends. I want to take a second first of all to thank all our newest and latest followers. We have had so much fun with this blogging adventure and have made such wonderful friendships- we'll do our best to visit you all soon.
 We're linking up tonight to Tablescape Thursday at the lovely Susan's place- Between Naps on the Porch. Grab a glass of something cold, curl up in your favorite spot, and join us for inspiration and time with friends

Blogging will be a bit slow and sporadic for the next 2 weeks. We're leaving tomorrow for sunny south Florida where I'll get to hug and cuddle and love 2 very special little angels


Aren't they gorgeous?? (I am NOT prejudiced!)

Anyway, though I would normally be doing a 4th of July table, but since we're going to be in Florida this weekend (and I'm going insane trying to get some spoiled people who want Mom to do everything for them everyone packed and the house in some semblance of order for my parents while working all day) the best I could do was to show you our dinner table tonight. This afternoon I did a tasting for a potential client, so dinner was a bit of a conglomeration.

A starter of garlicky sauteed shrimp with a Romesco Sauce

        Romesco is a sauce originally from Tarragona, in Northeastern Spain. The story goes  that fishermen of the area made it to eat with fish. It is also wonderful with  meats and vegetables and can be served spread on a lovely toasted foccacia. It's a thick puree of roasted peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, and garlic

The client asked for a fresh pasta, so what could be better than ravioli- a roasted red onion ravioli dressed with a thyme- infused cream. This entire meal was inspired by our local Farmer's Market offerings- we'd love to hear what you all are creating with the season's herbs, fruits and veggies

I'll let the table speak for itself this week since it's a simple one- the recipe is at the end :)

Our nod to the Fourth- Liberty Blue bread dishes and butter server

Homemade Honey Buttermilk bread that we made yesterday. The flowers were brought to me by a very, very special little gentleman. I love you Spencer

Must have wine...

Shrimp with Romesco Sauce

3 roasted red bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
about 6 TBLSP olive oil, divided
1 1/2- 3/4 inch slice coarse textured or artisan type bread
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped ripe tomatoes (drain)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TSP sweet paprika
good pinch (about 1/4 tsp.) crushed red pepper flakes
4 TBLSP sherry or wine vinegar
salt and pepper

About an hour and a half before serving, make Romesco. This can also be made in advance and refrigerated- bring to room temp before serving.
Heat 1-2 TBLSP olive oil in a skillet. Fry the bread, turning as necessary, till golden. Set aside. In the same skillet, toast the nuts till golden, tossing frequently to prevent burning
Put all ingredients except vinegar and remaining 4 TBLSP olive oil in food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times. Combine oil and vinegar and, with motor running, slowly pour into processor- you should end up with a thick puree. Season with salt and pepper (taste!) and pulse once or twice to combine. Set aside for at least an hour

Make shrimp:

2 TBLSP olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
chopped parsley to garnish

Heat oil in skillet and saute garlic for 2 minutes, tossing. Add shrimp over medium high heat and toss till pink and just cooked- this doesn't take long. Serve with Romesco sauce and enjoy!

Allie says I should add the bread recipe, so here goes :)

Honey Buttermilk Bread

1/2 cup water, (warmed, no more than 110F)
1 TBLSP sugar
2 packet active dry yeast (I used rapid rise)
3 cups buttermilk, warmed just to a SLIGHTLY warm room temperature
6 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
9 cups flour
1 egg
Combine water, sugar and yeast. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If you use Rapid Rise yeast, this isn’t really necessary- just give it a couple of minutes
In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, combine all ingredients (except egg). Mix until dough forms a smooth, slightly sticky ball. Knead dough on a floured surface for a few minutes, just until you can shape it into a ball. Don't work too much flour into the dough. It should be firm, but still slightly sticky. Place in greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour 15 minutes).
Punch dough down and place in a greased loaf pan. Beat egg slightly and brush top(s) of bread.
Preheat oven to 375F while bread rises.
  Cover and let rise until almost doubled, 40 minutes. Bake 45 minutes, until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Cover loaf with aluminum foil if top appears to be browning too quickly.
Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 2 standard loaves or one pan 16x4x4 1/2 (I always use this pan- I LOVE the high sides it gives the loaves. If you're interested, I think I added a link on Pattie's picks on our sidebar. It was a while ago and the memory is not what it used to be) 

Tutti a Tavola!!

Join us tomorrow for Foodie Friday at Gollum's- we'll be sharing the recipe for Roasted Red Onion Ravioli

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Monday, June 28, 2010

Meatless Monday- Portobello Chard Pizza and Roasted Beet Salad

Buona Sera!

We are in the middle of a self-made tornado here at Casa Bramasole. We've started to consolidate, sort, and generally wade our way through years of household accumulation to decide what can be purged before this house gets listed. How does ONE family collect so much "STUFF"??

Mr B keeps asking how many macaroni picture frames we really NEED to keep. Every single one! I'm an Italian mama- macaroni picture frames are my life!!

Anyway, time to take a quick bloggy break- it's Meatless Monday after all! 
So, for the record, Meatless Monday around here isn't exactly universal- Mr B is a true Irishman who lives for his meat and potatoes. So HE had grilled pork chops tonight.
 I hadn't been well this weekend and didn't make my normal Farmer's Market run, but a wonderful friend surprised me with a big bag of goodies.
Portobellos, chard, fresh herbed goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes right off our own plant

and for those in the house who refuse to eat mushrooms (I know, I know- but it means more for the rest of us!)

same ingredients on a homemade crust

I'm including a basic crust recipe if you choose to make a more "typical" pizza

Chard and Portobello Pizza

1 1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes  instant (quick rising) dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups (about) all purpose flour (unbleached)
Pour  water into large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over and let stand 5 minutes to dissolve yeast. Add oil then flour and salt. Stir until well blended (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto generously floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding just enough flour to prevent dough from sticking, about 5 minutes- you should have a fairly soft dough. Shape dough into ball, place in large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with kitchen towel. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 2 hours. Punch dough down; form into ball. Return to bowl; cover with towel and let rise until doubled, about 2-3 hours. If you choose to only use part of the dough, simply refrigerate the rest- it will be fine for a couple of days- the flavor will actually develop and get better. When you're ready, simply allow to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then proceed.
Meanwhile, season some oil: In a small bowl mix 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 large garlic clove, minced, 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper, and a few chopped basil leaves. Let sit for 30 minutes then strain through a fine sieve and discard solids
If you're making portobello pizzas, gently wipe 8 portobello caps clean and remove stems. Preheat grill at high heat, then lower to medium Brush caps with seasoned oil. Grill on both sides till tender- about 5-6 minutes per side. Place on rack over a pan to drain excess liquid. Then proceed as below using the caps instead of dough- bake for about 10-15 minutes

1 bunch Swiss chard, cut off red or white ribs (spinach may be substituted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, grated
4 ounces soft fresh, herbed goat cheese, broken in pieces
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half horizontally and seeded

Drop chard into a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain. Immediately submerge into cold water to stop cooking then rinse under cold water; drain. Squeeze dry, then coarsely chop. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add chard and stir 1 minute. Season to taste with salt.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Punch down dough. Form into 2 balls; place on floured work surface. Cover with kitchen towel; let rest 30 minutes. (this makes 2 pizzas)
Sprinkle rimless baking sheet or a pizza peel with cornmeal. Roll out dough on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to baking sheet or peel. Lightly brush dough with seasoned oil. Sprinkle mozzarella over dough, leaving 1-inch border. Scatter chard over mozzarella. Top with goat cheese. scatter tomatoes on top. Brush crust edge with some of seasoned oil. Set aside a bit of seasoned oil; drizzle remaining oil over pizza. If using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to a stone in the oven which has been preheated for at least 45 minutes
Bake pizza until crust is brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven; brush edge with seasoned oil and serve.
I have also scattered small spoonfuls of ricotta cheese on these pizzas, but just didn't have any today

I LOVE roasted golden beets and tonight they were the basis of a lovely salad.
I started with some roasted beets and added 3 oranges, peeled and cut in rounds. This would have been prettier with a combination of red and yellow beets, but I used what I had :)

Add some thinly sliced red onion and a handful of toasted nuts- I used pignoli tonight. I threw in a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves and dressed it with a vinaigrette made of olive oil, champagne vinegar, a teaspoon of coarse Dijon mustard, a tsp of sugar, salt, pepper, a couple of chopped mint leaves and the orange juice accumulated in the bowl when I sliced the oranges. Shake till combined and emulsified and pour over the salad. Toss gently

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chocoholic Heaven and We're Reviewers!

Hi All!! TGIF!!!!! 

The weekend is coming and it will be a busy one-but we want to give you all a heads up. We've been asked to review a fantabulous product by CSN Stores and we're pretty excited. 

Have you been to CSN ?? They have over 200 online stores and are well on their way to becoming a household name- they've already managed to become one of the top 3 online retailers nationwide. Everything from dining room tables to rugs to (my favorite) cookware to (be still my heart!) gorgeous tableware !! And for you DIYers like us, even construction equipment !! The prices my husband and I have checked out have been quite reasonable and we're pretty frugal, so that's a definite plus

And how can you not love a company that gives back to it's community?? Stay tuned...

I really had no intention of blogging today, but Miss Allie is insisting I post this as she sits here groaning with chocoholic pleasure! One of my morning blog reads with my coffee is always The English Kitchen Marie is a fabulous cook and makes everyone welcome in her charming kitchen in Chester. When I saw this one, I just KNEW my darling daughter would love it and boy, was I right!!

Fudge Brownie Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie
3/4 cup of flour
1 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of chopped toasted pecans (I omitted because my nutty daughter won't EAT nuts!)
2 handfuls of mini marshmallows
For the frosting:
2 ounces butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup evaporated milk
8 ounces icing sugar, sifted (for me this was about 1 1/2 cups)
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a 9 inch flan pan with a removeable bottom well and then set aside.
     Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the toasted nuts. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Immediately sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return to the oven for a few minutes to melt the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and carefully spread the chocolate frosting over top.
To make the chocolate frosting mix all ingredients together in a bowl, beating with an eletric whisk until smooth and thick. Spread on the hot marshmallows.
Let cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you REALLY want to go over the top.

a little goes a long way...mmmmm...

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie (who is wiping the chocolate off her face)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Foodie Friday- a Farmer's Market Dinner

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's Foodie Friday and we're linking up to Michael's grand gathering of Blogland Foodies at Designs by Gollum. Come join us!

I have to apologize for not being on my blogging game as well as I should be lately. I haven't been feeling well and it's taken a toll- I promise I'll try to do better! 

Today was a busy day and unbearably, brutally hot again here in NC. I actually felt sorry for the deer in my yard as they were chomping away on my plants- even the marauders don't deserve this heat! 

And this was what I saw on my phone this morning- our grand-angel on her way into surgery!

All went well and she's home safe and sound! We'll be seeing her next week and a little birdie told us that she REALLY wants to ride a horse. Last I looked, Grandpa was looking for some chaps and spurs (and I promise to post pics of THAT if it happens!)

I had a counter full of fabulous fruits and veggies that a wonderful, generous friend brought from a Farmer's Market in a neighboring town. I decided on a lovely tart filled with ricotta and honey and topped with grilled peaches and strawberries

I made the tart crust and grilled the peaches early this morning. I also roasted some baby golden beets (oh my gosh, they were good!!) and the oven went off for the rest of the day!

For dinner we had a standoff- a couple of the kids had friends over and wanted pizza- the adults wanted ....well, they didn't really know what they wanted but it wasn't pizza! There were some lovely peas and shallots in the bag from my neighbor and I had tomatoes and pancetta around. I had some pork chops that I'd salted and had air drying from last night in the fridge so they went on the grill too

The pasta disappeared - and I hope you enjoy as much as my family did :)

**NOTE- I used some fresh fettucine I made yesterday. Any wide noodle or short curved pasta would do well to capture the sauce. Also, I added a couple of handfuls of quartered, small Campari tomatoes when I tossed the pasta with the sauce and butter

Fettucine con Piselli, Pancetta, e Pomodoro

4 oz. package of diced pancetta
1/4 cup olive oil
3 shallots, diced fine
2 cups, rounded, of fresh or thawed frozen baby peas
1/4 cup, packed, chopped mint and parsley mix (2 TBLSP of each)
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lb. pasta
4 TBLSP butter- leave at room temperature while you're preparing the pasta

Put a large pot of well salted water on to boil. When it's at a rolling boil, add pasta and cook till al dente. Meanwhile, make sauce: Warm olive oil in a large skillet. Add pancetta and saute till it starts to color and crisp. Add shallots and saute for 2 to 3 more minutes till shallots soften. Add parsley/ mint mix and peas- saute 2-3 more minutes. Add wine and cook till almost evaporated. Add stock, salt, and pepper and brng to a simmer- simmer till peas are tender. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Drain pasta and toss with butter and sauce. Serve with shaved parmeggiano reggiano

Ready for dessert??

You may remember the roses from yesterday's table- I love orange roses!

Ricotta Tart with Grilled Peaches

2 cups flour
2 TBLSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBLSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cups ricotta- preferably fresh
3 TBLSP honey
1 vanilla bean split- scrape out the seeds
3-4 large peaches
light olive oil or canola oil
1 pint strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lime-optional
2-3 TBLSP sugar
Balsamic reduction or glaze- optional

Put flour, sugar, salt, and cold, diced butter in food processor and pulse till the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Mix egg yolks, vanilla and lemon juice together and, with motor running, slowly add to flour mixture till dough forms a ball- don't over process. Form a flat disk, wrap well in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough and fit into an 8 inch tart pan with removeable bottom (or a few individual tart pans) Bake for 20-30 minutes (depends on your oven) till just lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Mix ricotta, honey, and vanilla bean seeds till blended well. Refrigerate till ready to fill tart.
Cut peaches in wedges and rub lightly with oil. Grill, cut sides down for 2-3 minutes till light golden grill marks are formed. Flip using tongs and repeat. If peaches aren't softened to your liking, put them in the oven on a rack in s pan for 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool
Quarter strawberries and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Allow to macerate on the counter at least 15 minutes
Assembly: Remove tart from pan to a serving plate. Spread ricotta mixture in tart till about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Top with grilled peaches in a spoke pattern and a strawberry or 2. Chop remaining peaches and mix with macerated strawberries. Sprinkle tart with sugar and serve with strawberry/ peach mix. I like mine drizzled with a drop or two of balsamic glaze

Michael, thank you for hosting- hope the ducks AND your boys are doing well!

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Tablescape Thursday Sit-Down- a new adventure is coming...

Happy Thursday All!

It is HOT here in NC- I mean brutally, the- streets- are- barren, HOT! And tomorrow is supposed to be hotter. Oh, yay. Thank heavens for central air!

Today's table is for you parents out there. Those of you with children all understand the need for some grown-up time now and then. Time to connect, time to catch up, and sometimes- like tonight- time to discuss.

As it happens my parents, who share our home, had a dinner tonight and all the kids were scattered at various friends and babysitting jobs. I've been hinting to you all about some changes at Casa Bramasole, and tonight Mr B and I took advantage of the "alone time" to do some brainstorming.

The study seemed like a nice quiet spot...

I did some mixing and matching...

a little Noritake...

a little Haviland Limoges...

the white dinner plate is a simple English ironstone

Waterford- cased and clear...

my favorite orange roses

my favorite old crystal bowl holds the roses

on one of my favorite vintage hand embroidered supper cloths

such beautiful crisp linen

this cloth came from a dealer in England that I worked with in NY- he'd probably die if he knew we were eating on it! :)

I love the look of old brass and gold

the sun stays bright till much later in the evening these days, but I wanted candles

so I lit candles (they help me think!)

a simple Caprese salad...

and some garlic cheese bread to start

I just noticed that one of the candles was out here- oops...

decisions, decisions....

so rare to have a quiet house (it didn't last long!)

Well folks, it's not set in stone yet, but it looks like  the time has come for a change. We're looking at putting our home on the market and making a move. We have so loved our time here and many forever friends have been made. Our Miss Allie isn't too happy with us right now, but sometimes parents have to make decisions for the long term good of a family that just aren't very popular. I trust completely that our wonderful children will adapt well and understand. The translation for "Bramasole" is to yearn for the sun- it is a state of mind and a state of the heart. We will carry Bramasole with us and hope you'll come along for the ride.

The reality is, unfortunately, that houses are sitting on the market for some time, so we're not anticipating that this will go very quickly (though it would be nice). I am NOT looking forward to keeping a house "show ready" with kids, parents, clients, and sundry children constantly in and out, so you may hear a few raging vents here and there :)

With everything going on today I simply didn't have time for a recipe, so I thought I'd repost one from a few months back. As it happens, I did make it this week with the wonderfully sweet strawberries I got at the local farmer's market. Enjoy!

Strawberry Risotto
3 cups of milk 
1 cup of coconut milk from 13.5 oz can 
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoon of butter
3/4 cup of sugar 
1 cup of  arborio rice
1/2 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoon of orange liqueur 
1 cup plus 1/2  cup sliced strawberries 
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish
 Heat the milks, sugar, vanilla and lemon peel in a largish saucepan until the liquid is simmering. Blanch 1 cup of berries in liquid for 30 seconds and remove.
Reduce the heat and keep liquid hot.
 Meanwhile in  another saucepan melt the butter. Add the Arborio rice and saute for a minute or two till coated and translucent.  Stir well.Add orange liquer and stir till absorbed.  Add 1/2 cup of hot milk  mixture at a time waiting till each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next and stirring well.
   The process takes about 45 minutes to complete. I've noticed that it seems to take longer with the milks than with broth- I'm guessing due to the lactose and thickness of the coconut milk. Meanwhile puree the blanched berries in a blender or food processor
When done, add the heavy cream, half at a time. Stir well to completely incorporate. Remove from heat and add the puree and sliced strawberries, stir slowly, cover and set aside for about 15 minutes.
Add some more strawberries for garnish and sprinkle with almond slices.

We're linking up with Between Naps on the porch for Susan's fabulous Tablescape Thursday party!! Come join us for some fun and inspiration. And join us tomorrow for Foodie Friday at Gollum's.

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie