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, July 19, 2010

We're Back!!! A Meatless Monday Polenta Cake - Time to Catch Up!!

We're Back!! Did you miss us?? 

We had no idea how much we'd miss blogging! I have SO much catching up to do. I hope our Blogland friends didn't forget us! :)

We've spent the last few weeks in south Florida. HOT, HOT, HOT!!! But then again, it's been pretty steamy everywhere. This week NC will be seeing temps in the high 90s and ridiculous humidity. Lots of cool salads on the menu, I'm thinking.

So, in spite of some health issues,  we had a wonderful time with some of my very favorite people. 

As soon as we arrived a certain little miss asked WHEN we'd be making cupcakes!

So of course, we made cupcakes!!

Aunt Allie had a blast with fondant...

And Uncles Timmy and Nick celebrated "the Decision" (how silly was THAT??) and had fun making space monsters and a princess (notice the crown- Grandpa named her Princess Steroid)

Grandma cried (a LOT) when we left, but we'll be seeing our angels again very soon

While we were in Florida this week, I got an email from a friend who has taken several of my cooking classes. Before leaving, I had introduced her to cooking blogs (her husband is going to KILL me) and she was so excited to tell me that she had found a recipe on a blog which was very similar to one I had made at a class she attended. She quickly emailed me and promptly forgot where she had found it! I would love to know if any of my former students are blogging! How fun it would be to hear that!!

Anyway, as it happens, this is an easy dish that can be an appetizer when made in individual molds as I show here, a fabulous Meatless Monday entree made in a large tart pan, or a carnivores delight with the addition of sausage, chorizo, chicken, or shaved beef to the mushroom mixture

Polenta Cakes with Roasted Mushroom Paste 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon organic sugar
4 cups vegetable stock (homemade preferred- 32 oz. box is fine)
1 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1 pound assorted mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed 
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Olive oil for baking pan and for drizzling
Fresh oregano leaves for garnishing
small heirloom cherry tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, garlic and bay leaf and sweat, adjust heat to prevent browning. Add the sugar and broth and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta until combined and reduce to a simmer. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning. Turn off heat and cover for an additional 10 minutes. 
Remove the bay leaf, discard. Pour the polenta into a large tart pan with removeable bottom or individual molds- make sure they're all well greased (I use Pam)- and spread into an even layer about. Cover and allow to cool completely in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the mushroom mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir and raise heat to 450 degrees. Roast for an additional 10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and caramelized.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Place the mushrooms into a food processor with the thyme and oregano. Pulse until the mushrooms resemble a chunky paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove from tart pans and carefully transfer the polenta to an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottoms are a little crispy. Top each polenta shape with the warm mushrooms, a couple of tomatoes and fresh oregano leaves. 
Serve warm or at room temperature with a fresh basil/garlic aioli. Drizzle with a good quality olive oil before serving
Basil Aioli:
1/3 cup stale bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
6 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup olive oil
Hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil or cilantro

Combine bread crumbs, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and egg yolks in a food processor. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil to make an emulsion. Add pepper and hot sauce, to taste. Add basil  and pulse to combine.

***Note- the basil aioli is excellent on sandwiches or panini as is the mushroom paste

Dessert tonight was made with Mr. Bramasole in mind. We drove the 13 hours home through the night and he would periodically stop and indulge in some gas station snacks (I know- YUCCH!!). His favorite is Drake's Orange Cupcakes, which he hasn't had since leaving NY. Some things just aren't available in NC (can you believe the poor man has to survive without Yodels??!). I thought I could come up with something that would satisfy his craving for orange cupcakes and avoid the chemicals and preservatives that keep them on the shelves for 23 years

If you'd like the recipe, come and "like" us on Facebook- we post our Bonus recipes there and this one for Orange Cupcakes with Orange Ganache will be posted tonight

We can't wait to catch up with you all!

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Welcome back. I missed you!

  2. Welcome home! We did miss you, but who could forget you!!!!
    And your polenta cakes with mushroom pate is gorgeous!!!! It looks so delicious!
    They are company worthy~ and my family would go wild for them too. They LOVE mushrooms.
    I'm so happy you had a wonderful time! But I am equally happy you are back with us!

    Allie, your cupcakes should be in a magazine! Adorable!

  3. Allie, welcome home, I did miss you. I have been pretty busy with family the last two weeks but all from my homefront. Good to see you up and cooking, Hugs Kathysue

  4. Back with a bang! Those polenta cakes look wonderful and I see you had a good time baking and cooking in Florida too.

    What a gorgeous little granddaughter! Just look at those big eyes :)

  5. So glad to here you all had a safe trip and are home safely. The dishes and cupcakes are adorable!The heat waves are getting old now!Hope you all are keeping cool and staying in the air! Take care after your long trip, I know you will have lots to do but hope you all can rest. Take care, Emelia.

  6. YAY! Your home! I am glad you had a good time and got to have some fun times with your beautiful angels!! But, with all that said, I MISSED YOU! LOL

  7. Welcome home! So glad to have you back with us in blog land! You and Allie were missed :)
    Tell Allie her cup cakes are adorable!
    Take care and can't wait to catch up!!

  8. Pattie and Allie: I did miss you and glad you are back home safe and sound! I love the fondant...looks like you had so much fun with your grands! Joni

  9. YES! AS a matter of fact, I have missed you! Glad you had a nice vacation! But its good to have you "home".

  10. Welcome back guys, blogging has missed you too:D I know that even on holiday your kitchen would be filled with fantastic food. What adorable cupcakes, so much fun as a family project.

  11. Of course I have missed you my Dears. But isn't it wonderful to get away and have a different sort of fun? Although I see you were still cooking, gotta eat no matter what and you are like me in that we love to cook.
    Welcome Home.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  12. Welcome home!
    What, there are no YODELS in NC? what kind of state is that?

    We used to live not far from a Drake's Cakes factory, and not only did it periodically smell delicious in the neighborhood, but some of the people who worked there gave out Drake's stuff on Halloween; my kids would come home with those little mini coffee cakes, and Daddy would steal them.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes! I hope you see those precious babies soon!

  13. Yay, I'm so glad you are home! I've missed you in bloggie land but I know how much you enjoyed visiting your family.

    Your little fondant critters are adorable. And those polenta cakes...mouthwatering.

  14. Welcome home, although I know it is so fun to be gone, it is fun to get home. I totally agree with Yvonne, your cupcakes are outstanding. I didn't believe they were cupcakes and had to get a real close look, what fun was that to do! I love polenta and love mushrooms and I bet this was fantastic. I am trying to print off all the yummy recipes, that's what my husband will kill me about. This is one I would love for a dinner party and then for a family meal.

  15. Welcome back! I love these polenta and mushroom cakes. I can't wait to try these!!!

  16. Glad you are home safe and sound! You were missed! LOVE those darling cupcakes!!

  17. I am SO glad to see you! And I'm glad you had a wonderful time in Florida with your grands!

    I'm back in the saddle, and I will be blogging off and on this week. I have MIL and family coming, and that means a wild clean up! ;-) This is also my birthday weekend coming up and my BIL's and all sorts of stuff there.

    I love this recipe. It sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    SO glad you're back. I've missed you girls!


    Sheila :-)

  18. I kept looking on my blog list sidebar to see if you had written anything, indicating you were back. So glad you had a great trip. So glad you are posting again. It's funny how attached we get to each other in blog land, despite not really knowing each other! Welcome home.

  19. Welcome back! Your granddaughter is a heart breaker. She has gorgeous eyes. I love your polenta cakes and can assure you they'll appear on our table in the not to distant future. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  20. Welcome back! It is so good to see you again. Yes, we did miss you.

    I am so glad you are back! Everything looks super, I would not expect anything less.

    Warm wishes,

  21. Welcome back Allie & Pattie! I hope you are feeling better now, Pattie, health wise. I know how hard ot is to leave the grands behind as I go through withdrawal each time, myself

    Your polenta cakes is such a wonderful idea! I'm adding this recipe to my files are such a marvelous and creative chef!

    I know how your husband feels as I have to send Drakes "Devil Dog" cakes to a friend that lives in Texas --she misses them so much! :)

  22. Hello Pattie and Allie, Your granddaughter is adorable, Pattie! Love those pretty cupcakes, Allie! The polenta dish looks beautiful and delicious. Am glad to have you back blogging and am anxious to hear about your new life to come. Are you moving to Florida? Hope job and house-hunting went well. Take care, Beth


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