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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

She must be better!

In pain, but she asked for her laptop! Says she'll be back soon :) :)

<3 Allie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

update on Mom

Hey everybody, this is Allie.
just as an update about my mom, there have been some complications and the recovery from her surgery isn't going exactly as planned. Right now she is in the Cardiac ICU. Thank you so much for all of your prayers, they are very appreciated. We will keep you all posted on what happens in the future. Thanks again,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pasta con Lenticchie and THREE Autumn Desserts!~ Meatless Monday!

Happy Monday!

It's Meatless Monday ! This will actually be my last post this week as surgery is tomorrow. 

This has taken quite a toll on my energy level and I am really looking forward to feeling myself again. 

Since I really needed something comforting today (I'm a big wimp and admit to being a little scared), I decided on a dish that my grandmothers made frequently when the weather cooled and something hearty was called for. This is a very traditional dish of the sort that wasn't meant to be served to company- just simple, warm delicious family fare stirred up by your typical frugal Italian mama.

(This was taken by Tim- the youngest Bramasole)  

Pasta con Lenticchie (Pasta with Lentil Sauce)

You can add sausage if desired, but not on Meatless Monday !    :)

I also would typically add some baby spinach at the very end of cooking, but there was none in the house and I wasn't up to a market run

I decided to leave a couple of my parents' favorite desserts in the house while I'm gone. so a little baking was in order

Pumpkin Pillows are filled with a sweet, creamy, spiced pumpkin mixture and chocolate chips

They can be put together in almost no time if you have the puff pastry on hand and are SO good served warm

Mini Apple Crumb Cakes are my Dad's addiction- he LOVES apple anything and the hazelnut and mascarpone crust just puts a smile on his face. Come join us on Facebook for this yummy recipe!

and the hit of the day here at Casa Bramasole- Candy Corn Cookies!

(I was out of yellow food coloring, so gold had to do!)

I came across this recipe this morning on one of my very favorite blogs ever Wives With Knives

Cathy always has incredibles recipes, pictures, and stories about the beautiful area she lives in. If you haven't visited her yet, do yourselves a huge favor and head on over
Cathy, I was planning on leaving these for my  kids to find tomorrow as a surprise when they get home from school. Well, they sniffed them out today and my Nick has been eating them by the HANDFUL

He says "THANK YOU MS.  CATHY" :)

Pasta con Lenticchie

1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes- break apart with your hands
1 qt of vegetable broth, divided- preferably homemade
1/2 cup water
1 rounded cup yellow or brown lentils, cleaned
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small
salt, to taste
good pinch crushed pepper flakes
3/4 pound pasta- pick a short variety
fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade

In a large saucepan, mix together tomatoes, 2 cups of broth, water, lentils, onion, carrots, celery, salt, and red pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours. As the sauce becomes too thick add more broth to keep it somewhat "loose". When the lentils and vegetables are tender and the sauce is the consistency you like, cook pasta in plenty of well salted boiling water till al dente. Drain and combine with lentil sauce. Stir in a handful of the basil. Serve with shaved or shredded fresh Parmesan

Pumpkin Pillows

1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry dough, thawed
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tblsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 egg beaten with a tiny bit of water for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Unroll the 2 sheets of pastry dough and cut each into 6 pieces. Put a small spoonful of pumpkin mixture in the middle of each piece of dough. Top with 2 or 3 chocolate chips. Brush around the filling on the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Fold each over in half to enclose the filling and press the edges. I also press the edges with the tines of a fork. Transfer the pillows to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes till puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm

If you'd like the recipe for our Mini Apple Crumb Cakes (and you know you do!),

 come and visit us on Bramasole's Fan Page on Facebook or send me a friend request- we LOVE new friends. If you don't do Facebook, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to send it along

I will be thinking of you all while in the hospital- Mr B has promised to have my laptop in hand when he  sees me in recovery tomorrow! :)

I'll miss you all and can't wait to be back feeling fabulous!!
Thank you all for the prayers and healing thoughts

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Friday, October 8, 2010

Avgolemono and Nut Wedges- Comfort Food for a Friend

Hi All!

So sorry for missing yesterday- I MUST have had a bad day to miss Foodie Friday! 

Surgery is Tuesday and it appears there's a tiny glitch. An abnormal test result now has everyone scrambling to get some more testing in before the pacemaker is implanted. MRIs are problematic afterward :)

One of my former clients and a dear friend called me yesterday and she sounded AWFUL. I was so touched that in the throes of the flu she was calling to check on me. 
When I was very young and felt bad, my Nonna went straight for the soup pot. One of my favorites was her Avgolemono- a rich, creamy chicken broth thickened with egg and lemon. Along with her Stracciatella her reputation as a healer was sealed.

It was only years later when I was older that I found out that my Nonna's soup wasn't an Italian cure-all. It was actually Greek!  No matter where it originated, this is comfort, and love, and healing in a cup.

I've seen "fancier" versions with chicken pieces and vegetables thrown in, but this is simple and basic. The only concession I make to modern times is using my stand mixer to beat the eggs- I think it makes for a thicker, richer soup. I love this soup hot, but traditionally it can be served either hot or cold


6 cups chicken broth- preferably homemade
3/4 cup orzo
3 large eggs
generous 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper
2-3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley or dill

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add orzo, reduce heat, cover and simmer till tender (10-15 minutes). In the meantime, beat eggs till light and thick, then whip in lemon juice and zest. When orzo is cooked, pour about 1/2 cup of hot broth into eggs with mixer running- beat 5 seconds and add another 1/2 cup the same way. Add one more 1/2 cup and beat 5 more seconds. Skim off any foam and pour eggs into saucepan with orzo and broth. Heat, stirring till thickened and creamy- DO NOT BOIL- eggs will curdle. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley or dill. 

I made some tarts for a fundraiser this week and had some pastry dough left. Rolled out and filled with a honey and lemon infused ground nut filling, it made a lovely sweet treat to send along with the soup

Nut Wedges

1 double crust recipe sweet pastry dough- see below
1 cup very finely chopped nuts
1/3 cup sugar
2 tblsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Divide dough in half and roll out each half to a 10-12" round (roll out between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper). Transfer 1 round to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, combine nuts, sugar, honey, cinnamon and lemon juice. Spread on  the pastry round which is on the cookie sheet leaving a border. Top with the other round, press  edges to seal, and trim with a fluted pastry cutter. Prick top with a fork and brush lightly with milk. Bake for 20-25 minutes till lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes before cutting in wedges with a pizza cutter. Melt chips and shortening together (I do it in a ziplock bag in the microwave) Snip the corner of the bag and pipe onto wedges

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Busy Week!~ An Autumn Stuffed Bread, Salmon Pie, and Lemon Curd Cookies!

Whew!! What a week!

My husband is rolling his eyes at me, but I can't help it. If I'm going to be "cooking- restricted" for a while, I need to get in as much as I can now!

Actually, I'm trying to use up anything that might spoil and have a few things around for drop-in guests :)

First up- a Salmon Leek Pie adapted from an old Gourmet recipe. 

I actually had a salmon filet and about a half pound of tiny scallops left from an appetizer party I catered, so this lovely, flaky pie made a wonderful lunch for a friend who dropped by to keep me company for a while (this no-driving thing is making me crazy!)

As I've said before, this time of year, this household revolves around various sports and kid-related activities. Grab and go type foods work very well on those afternoons and evenings spent on bleachers, in cars, or when hungry teenagers descend on the house. 

This bread, stuffed with sweet butternut squash, tart apples and onions, and salty crispy pancetta lasted about 10 minutes with 3 teens :)

I often make these little tea cookies with a buttercream filling, but today I decided to use a fresh lemon curd.  

These will be posted tonight as a Bonus Recipe on the Bramasole Facebook page- come join us and let me know if you make them! As always, if you don't "do" Facebook and would like this recipe, just email me and I'll be happy to send it along.

Salmon Leek Pie
adapted from an old Gourmet recipe (I wrote Gourmet on the paper I scribbled it on, but no other info- sorry)

4 large leeks
2 tblsp butter
1/2 lb salmon filet, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pound bay scallops, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
finely grated zest of 1-2 limes
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large egg
1 pkg (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed

Cut white and pale green parts of leeks into 1/2 inch slices. Wash in a bowl of cold water, lift out, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Saute leeks in butter till soft and golden. Remove from heat and cool
Toss seafood with dill, zest, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks.
Whisk together egg and 1 tblsp water to make an egg wash
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 sheet pastry into a 10 inch square. Transfer square to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Mound salmon filling in center. Roll second pastry sheet into a 12-13 inch square. Brush outside edges of bottom sheet with egg wash and drape larger square on top- press down to seal edges. Trim a bit of the excess if desired with a pizza cutter and make certain all edges are sealed. Make 4 steam vents in top with the tip of a sharp knife. Brush egg wash over whole pie lightly and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Bake pie for about 30 minutes till puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temp with a cocktail sauce, if desired. I served it with a sauce made of 1 roasted bell pepper, 1 very small hot red pepper, and 16 ounces of creme fraiche, processed together in a blender

Pattie's Autumn Stuffed Bread

4- 4 1/2 cups flour 
1/4 cup of powdered milk 
1 pkg fast rise dry yeast
1 egg
1 tsp salt of salt
1-1 1/4 cups  water, warm
6 tblsp butter, softened

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix 4 cups flour, powdered milk, yeast, egg, salt, and 1 cup water. Add more flour or water as necessary to form a soft, but not sticky dough (not TOO soft- you want it to hold together). Now add butter and continue kneading till incorporated- this will take a couple of minutes. Set dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. In the meantime make filling: I roasted a butternut squas (peeled and cut into chunks). Drizzle chunks with olive oil, mix, and season well with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes till soft and starting to caramelize. Set aside and allow to cool. I sauteed 1 onion, finely chopped and 3 tart apples (peeled, cored,chopped and drizzled with the juice of a lemon) in 2 tblsp butter. Cook just till the onion is soft and translucent- you don't want to make applesauce! Season with salt and pepper. I also cooked some thinly sliced pancetta till crisp and drained on paper towels- bacon would work just fine. I then fried a few sage leaves in the pancetta drippings till crisp- drain. When the dough is risen, divide it in 2. Working with 1 piece at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a large rectangle. Along 1 long edge, place pieces of the butternut

Top with apple/ onion mixture, 1/2 the pancetta, some sage leaves and a handful of grated cheese (I used Fontiago) With a sharp knife, cut slices in the dough from the filling to the edge

Now just roll the filling up right over the sliced dough. Tuck ends under and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with water or an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Allow to rise again for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I preheated a rectangular baking stone in the oven during the hour the loaves were rising.

Slide the parchment with the loaves on it right onto the stone and bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden. Remove to a rack (right on the parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature

For those of you who've asked, my surgery will be on Tuesday. I am so grateful for all the good thoughts and prayers you've all sent along. I will admit to being a bit nervous (not generally like me)- we've been finding out that I've apparently been VERY lucky so far. I look forward to being my old self again soon

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sage, Onion and Wild Rice Risotto Cakes~ Meatless Monday!!

Happy Monday!

I'm sorry for the lack of pictures today, but energy is sorely lacking these days. I'm actually looking forward to getting this surgery and recovery done so I can be me again!  :)

Tonight's dinner will be a simple one- Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup and these Wild Rice and Risotto Cakes adapted from a decade old recipe from Gourmet. 

Be sure to brown the cakes before flipping very carefully- these are soft and creamy inside and will fall apart if not browned

Sage, Onion, and Wild Rice Risotto Cakes
adapted from Gourmet 2000

4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup wild rice
about 6 cups light vegetable broth
1 tblsp unsalted butter
2 tblsp olive oil
generous 1/4 cup thinly sliced sage
3 onions finely chopped- about 3 cups
3 large celery stalks finely chopped- about 1 cup
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 tblsp chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used Asiago)
1/2 cup chopped parsley

3 large eggs, separated

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in wild rice and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Drain rice into a sieve over a saucepan, reserving liquid. Add vegetable broth to reserved liquid in pot and heat to a low simmer- keep hot.
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat till hot, not smoking. Add sage and stir for 1 minute. Add onions and celery and saute till pale golden and soft. Add Arborio rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.Add wine, thyme, and pepper and cook till wine is absorbed, stirring. Lower heat to medium and stir in a couple of ladlefuls of hot broth. Allow to absorb before adding more broth, stirring frequently till rice is al dente and creamy. With the last ladleful of broth, stir in wild rice. When done, remove from heat and stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cool and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours up to overnight. I pressed a sheet of waxed paper on the surface of the risotto. When ready to make cakes, remove risotto from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
Gently mix egg yolks into rice. In a large bowl, beat whites with a pinch of salt till stiff- gently fold into risotto. Allow to sit for 15 minutes
Brush a large skillet or griddle with 1 tblsp of olive oil and heat till hot. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of risotto onto hot griddle. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Allow to get brown and crispy on the bottom before flipping carefully with a thin spatula. Transfer to a large platter or small grid rack in one layer as they are finished. 
Just before serving~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake risotto cakes about 6 minutes till sizzling.

Tonight's dessert is a family favorite- 
a Tuscan Pignolata (Pine Nut Cake)

I actually posted about this cake some months ago- you can see the original post here

This is a cake that my Dad just LOVES with his evening espresso.

Pignolata alla Patrizia

1 1/2 cups pine nuts plus more for top of cake, lightly toasted                            
3/4 cup sugar processed in food processor with 1 cup almond paste till completely incorporated
3 sticks butter, at room temperature  
zest and juice of 1 lemon plus zest of 1 orange
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 whole eggs
 heaping 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
4 large egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cream the sugar, butter and citrus zests together (I use a stand mixer with the paddle).  Scrape down occasionally.
Add 2 cups of the flour and baking powder.  Mix until incorporated and then add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing till completely incorporated before adding the second egg.  Add the remaining flour, mix well, then add the last 2 eggs, again one at a time
Add the creme fraiche and lemon juice and beat till smooth. As you continue mixing, add the lemon juice and incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom and mix well with a spatula.  In a separate bowl, with very clean beaters, beat egg whites on high till frothy. Very slowly add sugar and continue to beat till it forms stiff glossy peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula to combine well.  Add the rest of the meringue and fold in well until the mixture is combined.  I use my stand mixer on the very lowest speed. Fold in the  pignoli  Use a 12” tart pan with a remove-able bottom or a 12 “ springform pan. Spray well with PAM and spread batter in pan. Sprinkle some more pignoli on top and bake for 45-50 minutes till it tests done.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 30-40  minutes Carefully remove to a  cake rack to cool completely.  For the record, the spring-form pan works better- it’s a bit messy getting the cake out of the tart pan. When completely cool dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve plain or topped with warmed jam or preserves. This cake freezes well too.

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just a quickie- Thank You All!

Thank you all so much for the prayers and well wishes you've sent my way. I am more grateful than I can say.

Surgery will be in about a week and a half

Come join us on Facebook- there will be 2 Bonus Recipes posted later tonight!!
If you really don't "do" Facebook, no problem.
Just email me and I'll send them along

And to one of our most devoted readers.......

Happy Birthday Emilia!!!!!!

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Buns

Sweet Bread from leftover dough

Gateau aux Pommes Caramelises
(Caramelized Apple Cake)

As Always,

Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie