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

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandma!

105 years ago today, in a village in Vizzini, Sicily, a baby girl was born. She grew into a lovely, brave young woman who travelled across a huge ocean with her older sister and brother and started a new life in a huge, strange new world. She married a handsome man from the old country who she didn't know very well and together they worked long, hard hours and raised 3 strapping sons. She made sure they got good educations, and more importantly, good values. She instilled a strong sense of family and tradition in her boys and cared deeply for her family and friends. She was absolutely thrilled when she had grand-daughters to spoil and spent many hours passing down her memories of the old country, family stories, recipes, her love of linens, lace, and flowers, and again, those important values. 

She was thrilled when her sons married and gave her "daughters"....
Grandma Josie with 2 of her daughters-in-law at her third son's wedding

She was SO delighted and proud to welcome any new additions to the family

Holding her second great-grandchild....

She LOVED family parties and having fun...
her 75th birthday....

cutting the cake for her 2 anxious great-grandsons (my 2 oldest boys)

My Grandma Josie was my best friend.

I love you Grandma. 

Happy Birthday!

This is what we were doing this weekend

Painting the kitchen elicited a few groans from Mr Bramasole, but when I announced my plan to paint the ceiling....

Well, let's just say I wasn't too popular

This house isn't exactly my dream home (I'm an old house lover) and when I get the itch to paint, I tend to forget that open floor plans generally mean LOTS of painting- the walls just run into each other!
I do love it, but the only pictures I got were at the end of the day (I didn't think you needed to see the "in-process" disaster) so they're a bit dark

He did a wonderful job, as he always does
Hmmm, don't know where this glare came from- it was starting to get dark!

Today, for Grandma's birthday and Meatless Monday, I made one of her favorites (and mine!). Frittatas are an easy, and delicious way to use up those bits and pieces in the fridge (no good Sicilian mama EVER throws away good food!) and they are so versatile. Meats, veggies, cheeses, even pastas can be added to make a hearty, substantial, healthy, and delicious meal.

I'll just tell you the process as there really is no recipe for this particular frittata.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I heated a bit of olive oil in a cast iron pan and sauteed some chopped onions and zucchini. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, I mixed up 8 eggs, some chopped roasted red pepper, some leftover cooked orzo (diced potatoes are good too), some chopped herbs from my pots (marjoram, thyme, and basil today), salt, pepper, fresh grated parmesan cheese, and just a bit of cream (or water). When the onions and zucchini started to brown just a little, I poured the egg mixture on top and plopped in small spoonfuls of ricotta cheese randomly. Then I sprinkled with small cubes of fresh mozzarella, lowered the heat just a bit, and let cook for 5-7 minutes (without stirring) till it starts to set on the bottom and around the edges. Put pan into oven and bake for 20-30 minutes till top is set and center is jiggly, but set. Slide a thin spatula around the edges and slide frittata out onto a plate or board. Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or cold. Molto Gustoso!!

For dessert, I used a recipe from one of my favorite blogland friends, Val at morethanburnttoast

If you've never visited Val, you're missing something special, so head on over and say hi.

In this house, as in most Italian households, Nutella is a mainstay and mascarpone is a staple. When I saw this recipe, it was a given that we'd try it and Val, it's a hit! I barely got the picture taken!

Mascarpone Brownies with Nutella and Toasted Hazelnut Topping
from Valli at morethanburnttoast

1 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room-temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan.
Add the chopped chocolate to a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and bring it to just below a boil. Pour the hot butter over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Sift in the sugar and cocoa powder (I do this through a sieve, not with a sifter). With a wooden spoon, beat in the mascarpone, eggs (30 minutes on the counter brings them to room temperature) and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Gently fold the flour and salt into the batter. Add chopped hazelnuts, reserving 1/4 cup for decoration.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly--this is important since, if the batter isn't spread evenly, it won't bake evenly. Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean (45 minutes did it for me).
Place pan on a cooling rack and let brownies cool for 10-15 minutes.
Spread Nutella over entire surface of brownies or cut into slices as I did and spread each piece with Nutella separately. Decorate with remaining chopped hazelnuts.
For the record- I did not add the chopped nuts as my parents have a difficult time with nuts

We also made chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, but you don't really want to know how to make those do you?? :)

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Happy Birthday Aunt Josie <3 <3 <3

  2. 105--Wow! Happy Birthday to her! I came over to see your kitchen (I read a comment at Kathleen's) I HATE painting ceilings but like your color :) Love this dessert recipe--can you believe I have NEVER had Nutella?

  3. What a sweet post Pattie. Your Grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. My great-grandparents were from Ribera and Alcamo, Sicily - I am going to look on a map to see how close their cities are to your Grandmother's. Your frittata sounds delicious, and yes, I definitely want to know how to make the ice cream sandwiches!

  4. yes...of course we want to know your ice cream sandwich recipe!! Your grandmother sounds perfect! Loved looking at your family photo's and how styles have changed, but family values and love...thank goodness that never changes :)
    What an awesome color for the ceiling, I am so boring...all ceilings are white! We sure do share that same dream of a sweet older home...character an all! Have a wonderful week :)

  5. 105! That's wonderful! I love the brick arch in your kitchen. I've got that on my list for a future kitchen.

  6. Such a wonderful husband to paint the ceiling. I remember our 10 year old home back east had wallpapered ceilings. Mr. Bramasole got off easy...wink...wink...Happy birthday celebrations. I am glad everyone loved the Nutella topped brownies. I always use Nutella instead of icing, just makes sense to me:D I made an Italian dessert on Sunday, stay tuned:D

  7. Happy Birthday Josie!!

    Frittatas are a big regualar here. Which, considering I'm a big "throw it all together" kinda gal! LOL

  8. Pattie! I didn't know it was possible for a brownie recipe to include mascarpone, Nutella, and toasted hazelnuts. You should just call it "Heaven"! Happy Birthday to your nona!

  9. Pattie- what made you change from the white ceiling? Your mother looks beautiful- guess we can tell why Joe brought home his Italian bride. Your Nona never changed- even to the day she past you could tell by this pic that it was her. She was a firecracker all right and I guess you have "a bit" of her in you.
    Happy B'day Nona Acciarito!

  10. Buono compleanno Nonna! (am I close the the spelling?)

    Hope you two are having a lovely day and Bella Festa in your newly painted kitchen.

  11. Happy Birthday to Gradma Josie! I love to come and visit! You always have such wonderful stories and recipes. YOu really should have a show on the cooking channel, and then maybe the travel channel will pick you up too.
    Love the brownies. My SIL loves nutella. I'll make these for him next time my daughter and he comes home.
    Your kitchen is gorgeous! Beautiful and spacious!
    Give a hug to Allie from me.
    Come visit~ I have a little surprise for you!

  12. Buon compleanno e tanti auguri, Grandmother Josie!
    Wonderful photos of a life well lived.

    We love frittatas, Pattie. My husband's specialty!

  13. What a lovely post and happy birthday to grandma.

  14. So much goodness here today Pattie. Love the frittata, brownies and cookies! Loved reading about your Grandmother as well. Happy Birthday to her! xxoo

  15. Good luck with your painting - that is never a fun chore. What you've done so far looks really good. Your kitchen is spectacular!

  16. Happy Bday to Gradma indeed!!! :)

    And I DO, I DO want to know if you made the cookies yourself? Please send recipe, as I have been trying to find the best, moistest? cookie ever!!!


  17. What a sweet tribute to your grandmother Josie! I can see she was well loved by all of her family.

    Beautiful paint job on your kitchen and after all that worked you deserved a delicious treat. Those brownies sound sooooo good. Copying and pasting :)

  18. Happy Birthday to Grandma Josie! For a moment there I thought you were describing my great grandmother! I am going to try those scrumptious sounding brownies! My youngest does not like nuts so I will have to omit them. Your kitchen looks great!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Tracy

  19. Okay, everything looks fabulous, and of course we want that recipe for the ice cream sandwiches. Are you kidding??? YUM!

    Happy Birthday to your Grandma Josie! Do you know this is also my mother's birthday? She would have been in her 90's. It's hard to believe, but true.

    I think your ceiling is turning out great. Love the colors in your house, Pattie. Good job!



  20. Actually, the 7th is her birthday. I see that I'm posting on the 8th. How bad is it when you don't know what day it is? ;-)

  21. Happy Birthday to Nonna..
    you certainly gave her a wonderful party and I know it made her very happy..


  22. Hi Pattie and Allie!
    Happy Birthday to your Nonna...
    What a beautiful woman... inside and out.
    It amazes me what one woman can accomplish!
    It seems that you have taken after her!
    God Bless you both ~*♥*~ Enjoy your beautiful family!

  23. What a lovely tribute to Grandma. I loved reading it all! I'm anxious to see the whole ceiling when you're done. I'm not too popular when I decide to do something like that either! ;-)
    The brownies with Nutella will be a hit here. My daughter (15yr old) talked me into buying some a couple of weeks was gone FAST. It's on my list to buy again and I know she'll want to make this herself! I'll just enjoy the aftermath...yummy brownies!

    As always, a joy to visit your blog.


  24. It sounds like another fabulous meal, Pattie. Your tribute to your grandmother was really lovely and your affection for her shines through every word. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary.

  25. Really a sweet tribute to a great woman! It's beautiful how your Nonna transmitted her values to her family and how she continues to live in your thoughts!

    Buon compleanno!
    Un grande saluto, Anna

  26. joyeux anniversaire à ta grand mère et je lui souhaite une logue vie
    bonne journée


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