The Visitation of 2015

Unlike her last stay, this year’s Visitation found us at home for much of the time. The only exceptions were a trip to our good friend’s farm south of the city and a brief visit with Zia’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren before she left for Michigan with her son, The Max Whisperer, and his wife. With so little touring to do, we did what we Bartolini do best: we cooked, we ate, and then we talked about how we cooked what we ate. Here’s much of what we talked about.

(Links for the recipes will be found after the gallery or may be shared in the weeks to come.)

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  • Kiwi-Ground Cherry SalsaGround Cherry-Kiwi Salsa (served with grilled ocean trout)- Much like my Ground Cherry Salsa, this version consisted of ground cherries (cape gooseberries), kiwi fruit, red onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño, hand-torn basil leaves, and the zest of 1 lime. The juice of 2 limes was used to dress the salsa.
  • Blueberry Muffins
  • Tart Cherry Muffins
  • Oatmeal Cookies with Two Chocolates, Dried Cherries, and Almonds
  • Spianata
  • Smothered Pork Chops (served with mashed potatoes and pole beans with bacon) – Recipe to come.
  • Cacioni (filled with Spinach and Swiss Chard)
  • Zuppa di Pasta e Fagioli
  • Grilled Lamb Chops (served with broccolini and parmigiano-roasted potatoes)
  • Paglia e Fieno
  • Cappelletti in Brodo
  • Slow-Cooked Beef Cheeks (served with panzanella and garlic-mashed potatoes)
  • Sausages, Peppers, and Onions. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan before sautéing together sliced onion, sliced bell pepper, diced garlic, and your favorite Italian sausage. Add a couple ounces of dry white wine. Serve when the sausage is fully cooked.
  • Baked Apple Puffs (served with vanilla ice cream) – Recipe follows
  • Sepia e Calamari in Umido – Recipe to come

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All told, the Visitation of 2015 was a resounding success, one that ended far too soon. We all know, however, that next year will get here before we know it. Come to think of it, I had better get started on that menu.

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Apple Puffs Recipe

Prepare

  • Make cinnamon sugar by combining 1 tbs cinnamon with 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Make an egg wash by combining 2 tbs water with 1 slightly beaten egg.
  • 1 apple that has been peeled, cored, and chopped into a 1/2 inch dice. (I use Granny Smiths,)
  • A scant tsp butter, divided into fourths.
  • Smooth one thawed sheet of puff pastry. Cut into four equal-sized squares. (See Notes)

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Apple Puff 2*     *     *

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C).
  2. Combine the diced apple with cinnamon sugar to taste. Add a pinch of salt and mix well.
  3. Place 1 to 2 tbs of the apple mixture into the center of each of the 4 pieces of puff pastry.
  4. Place a piece of butter atop the apple filling.
  5. Use a pastry brush to dab a bit of the egg wash on the 4 corners of each piece of puff pastry.
  6. Attach opposite corners of each piece of puff pastry, bringing all 4 to the center of the puff.
  7. Use a pastry brush to coat the outside of each puff with the egg wash.
  8. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
  9. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
  10. Serve warm as-is or accompanied with your favorite ice cream.

Notes

Puffs may be assembled — do not coat with egg wash nor dust with cinnamon sugar — and frozen until needed. Do not thaw. Just coat with egg wash, dust with cinnamon sugar, and place on a baking sheet on the center rack of a pre-heated 350˚ F (175˚ C) oven. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Puffs may be made whatever size you want. Cutting the pastry sheets into eighths, for example, will create puffs that are closer to bite-sized.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Pickle Preview

A Fresh Pickle (Served with Grilled Pork Chops)

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71 thoughts on “The Visitation of 2015

  1. Your visit with Zia looks absolutely delicious John. I can just imagine the beautiful aromas that floated through the air! And the conversation, it must have been wonderful. Did Zia like the farmie? I’m sure Celi cooked something wonderful for you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes! Zia loves going to the farmy. It’s a “must see” destination whenever she visits now. The two of them get along so very well. Back at home, the family that lives above me mentioned that the aromas coming from my kitchen was making them all hungry. We had a very nice time.

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  2. These look delicious John!! I love baking with puff pastry – the end product always looks as if you’ve spent all day in the kitchen. On another note, I was so happy to see that you commented on my post ‘No Name Bread’…. maybe I was too excited, ’cause, somehow, I deleted your comment. I’ve never, ever done that. And I have no idea how I did it. At any rate – thanks for commenting!! I know you always say you’re not such a great baker but you disproved your own theory by posting these little delights. I’m glad you had such a wonderful visit with Zia. One of my aunts (my godmother) is in the hospital and I can’t bear the thought that, within the next few years, I’ll most likely lose her. And with our aunts goes all those memories – and all that love! ; o )

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    • Don’t worry about the comment, Cecile. You read it and that’s all that matters. These puffs notwithstanding, I do not bake. I think I’ve only frosted maybe 4 cakes and each was uniquely disastrous. I’ve thrown out more poorly made baked goods than I’ve enjoyed in my kitchen. As for Zia’s visit, it went very well. SHe’ll be 94 this month and she’s a marvel. It’s always a pleasure to host her and I just love to cook for her. After being fed for so many years, it’s payback time!

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  3. Cooking, eating, and talking about cooking and eating. Sounds like my definition of having a good time! Perhaps with some wine thrown in (and talking about that as well). Sounds like you had a blast! The collection of food looks mouthwatering.

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  4. Benritrovato Signor Bartolini!! non avendo tempo per legere e commentare singolarmente ognuna di quelle che ad occhio mritengo ottime ricette, me le sono stampate tutte e spero anche appena il tempo me lo connmcede di poterle sperimentare!
    Divertente il tuo preambolo, soprattutto nel dire : cucunare…e mangiare!!!
    Ti auguro di vero cuore una serena giornata in compagnia dei tuoi favolosi menu!!!

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  5. So nice to have you back, John – glad that you had a great time with Zia. – I’m looking forward to more posts to come, until now the notification has not been successful. Now I tried again: de-follow and then pressed “Follow” again. Hope this time it works. Will see what happens…

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    • Thank you, Irmi. I wish I could give you a fix for that problem I’ve contacted Support in the past but nothing has improved. All I do know is that it will go away as mysteriously as it arrived – and then someone else will inherit the problem I hope you fixed it this time. We’ll see tonight when my next post is published, Fingers crossed.

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  6. What a delicious visit you had and we can all savor it now due to your comprehensive post. Thanks for sharing, John. Very happy to find WP actually sent me word that your post was “live” and ready to be devoured. These recipes are headed in various directions across the globe!

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  7. Buongiorno Oh my goodness did you eat of those things in one sitting Mr. John?!! LOL Talking, eating, talking about eating… I like how both you and Zia think!!! Glad you enjoyed your visit. I will blowing into Michigan for a few weeks to get my parents sorted, are you back home now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buongiorno! It was a glorious feast, BAM. In fact, Zia is still in the dining room polishing off her apple puff. 😀 No, I’m in Chicago now, where I’ll remain until the spring thaw. This is Zia’s busy time. She’ll be visiting one son for Thanksgiving and her birthday; another son for Christmas; and her 3rd son for much of Jan, Feb, and March. One of these years, our trips will coincide and we’ll meet. I’m sure of it.

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  8. Yup, cooking, eating, then talking about same is my idea of a life well spent! And in your case you really do have something worthwhile to talk about — such excellent dishes! Happy the visit went well. But how could it not have? So much to talk about! 🙂 I’ve made almost exactly the same Apple Puffs recipe — so nice, and so easy. Haven’t used puff pastry for awhile, though — can’t imagine why now, I have some in the freezer right now. Maybe this for dessert tonight? Or perhaps a savory version to start the meal? So many decisions!

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    • Thanks, John. Her visits are the only time I get to cook like this — and it’s great! I really do like the convenience of those puffs. I always use one puff pastry sheet to make 4. One I’ll bake and the others go into the freezer. You just never know when you’re going to need a puff. 🙂

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  9. That sounds like a wonderful idea for the next family gathering…keep it simple…cook, eat and talk about how we cooked! Apple Puffs look great…I just have to be patient and let those suckers cool down or the insides of my mouth pay a high price for all that hot deliciousness.

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    • Ciao, Marilena! I’ve been away for much of the year while I prepared a cookbook. I’m back now, though, and have no plans to leave until next spring. I hope you’ve had a great year. Till next time ….

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  10. Great to open my postbox to this! Cooking and talking!! No wonder Zia Lea left with a smile on her face: don’t think she would have dared step on the scales tho’ 🙂 ! And am truly waiting for your calamari and smothered pork chops recipes . . . now don’t be off to write another book or travel the Italian cooking world before you have put these down . . .

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    • Funny you mentioned going somewhere, Eha. I’ve just bought airfare to Italy for next Spring. My nephew will be joining me and we’ll visit my Zia Pina and family in San Marino. From there, we’ll go to Rome for a few days. Not to worry. Both recipes will be shared long before then. 🙂

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  11. I love that when you weren’t cooking or eating you were talking about cooking and eating! We had some pals over the other weekend and at lunch on Friday we got as far as discussing Sunday breakfast and lunch! Lovely to have you back and I’m so glad Zia was able to make the trip – it must be tiring for her, but enjoyable too to spend time with you and the family 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was wonderful, Tanya. I love it when she’s here. Yes, it is a long trip for her but we stop along the way. Once here, I make sure she’s had an opportunity to rest before we go somewhere or do something together.

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  12. This looks like an amazing visit! LOOK at all this great food!

    Also, thanks for the Apple Puffs recipe. My husband adores these and I never make them. But now that I see your straight-forward recipe, I will make ’em more often… but I’ll never let him know how easy they are!

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  13. I love that you and Zia were spending your time feasting together and celebrating. That is quite a beautiful spread of food. The apple puff is a wonderful quick and easy dessert, especially for this time of the year. BTW, I love, love, love your cookbook. What fun to see all of the stories and the food together in one place. What a legacy you and Zia, as well as the rest of your family, now have. Cheers and best wishes to you all.

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    • Thank you so much, Betsy. I am very glad that you enjoy the book. I knew that my family would enjoy it but it is good to see that so many others have, too.
      Yes, we did feast while she was here — and I had other dinners planned should she have wanted to stay longer. I was ready for her. 🙂
      Those puffs are such a breeze to make, I always make 4 at a time. One is my dessert/snack and the other 3 go to the freezer. They’re a handy treat to have around.

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    • For years, Maureen, I was the beneficiary of her cooking. It’s great to have her at the receiving end, for a change. Do make those puffs. They are so easy and yet so tasty. Next time I plan to use cherries in place of the apples. 🙂

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  14. What a fantastic time and a delicious way to spend time with Zia, with all that cooking and eating your stove and dish washer must have been working non stop. My mouth is watering looking at all those yummy dishes. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Of course…What else would you talk about when you are around people who love food as much as you do? 🙂 Last road trip I took with my sister was 15 hours of talking about food. Thanks for all the reminders of these dishes and links! Glad you had a great trip!

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    • Yes, it was a delicious visit indeed, Gretchen. I do feel that I must set the record straight. Zia enjoys but one glass of wine, preferably red, at every meal and nothing more. This is not to say, however, that several bottles of wine and some cocktails weren’t enjoyed. 🙂

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