Gone fishin’

Opie's fishin'

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Well, not exactly but the Kitchens will remain closed this week.

My good friend, Miss C, is on holiday across The Pond. Before leaving, she asked that I write a post with some tips for anyone traveling in Italy. That post is being published today and you can read it by clicking HERE.

Celi’s blog describes her life on a sustainable farm at the edge of the Prairie, about 100 miles south of Chicago. If this is your first visit there, I suggest that you begin with her page “The Cast“, where you’ll be introduced to the animals that regularly star in her posts. After that, take a walk around the “farmy” with Celi through her posts. It’s time well-spent and I can guarantee you’ll go back for more.

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Comments have been closed for this post. I plan to return next week with my meatloaf recipe. Have a great week!

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It’s Columbus Day!

Today we in the States commemorate the “discovery” of America by Genoa’s Favorite Son, Cristoforo Colombo or, as we locals prefer to call him, Christopher Columbus. As is our custom, the Kitchens would like to share a song in honor of the holiday.

We imagine that the question in this song’s title was asked, for the very first time, of Cristoforo by Queen Isabella in response to his request for her financial support of his return voyage to the New World. It has been asked millions of times since, although the lyrics do not necessarily apply any more today than they did back in Isabella’s day.

(Don’t worry if your knowledge of the Italian language is as limited as mine. Here’s a side-by-side translation of the lyrics.)

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Enjoy the holiday and wishing our good Neighbors to the North a most happy Thanksgiving.

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From the Bartolini Clan …

Zia's Cala Lily

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Thank you all for the heartfelt condolences that you so so graciously offered to me and my family following the passing of our dear Zia. She would have been as moved as we were comforted to read the many expressions of sympathy that you penned and for which we are all grateful.

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Photo: © Sandra Van Der Steen

Through a window …

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I arrived at the hotel in Bologna around 11:00 AM, every bit as tired as you might expect. Still, if I was to begin the ChgoJohn “Pasta-a-Day Diet”, I had little choice but to get out there and find me some pasta. About 2 hours later, I was back in my room and settling in for a well-deserved nap.

I awoke some time later in the best of moods. I had dreamt of the old two-flat. I was a boy and could hear Mom & Dad, Zia &  Uncle, Grandpa, and Nonna laughing and having a wonderful time. As I became more awake, I realized that the laughter and singing I’d heard in my dream were not from my family but came from people gathered on the street below my open window. It didn’t really matter. It was still a wonderful dream and it made my day. I took a photo of that window to remind me of the dream, thinking maybe I could work it into some future post.

Later that day, while on my way to a restaurant that Maps falsely claimed was within walking distance, I received a phone call from my brother. Our beloved Zia passed way about the time I was midway across the Atlantic.

Truth be told, I am not what most would consider a spiritual individual, and as for religion, I’ve described myself as a recovering Catholic. That said, I believe that my dream was Zia’s way of saying good-bye, that she’s in the best of company.

Now it is my turn to say good-bye and I will end this as I have most emails to her.

Tanti baci, Bella.

PS   I’ve been thinking. I remember seeing XXXXXXX served when I was little.  Do you know how it was prepared?

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The Kitchens will remain closed until further notice.

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Happy St. Joseph’s Feast Day!

Finalmente! Was beginning to think they wouldn’t bloom in time …

St. Joe's Crocus of 2016

Wishing you all a very Happy St. Joseph’s Feast Day!

And now for our traditional musical offering …

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If you’re wondering why this, of all songs, was chosen, listen carefully to the lyrics and all will be revealed.

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Another year, another Sammich.

So much to be Thankful for.

To Those celebrating the Holiday,

We Bartolini wish You a Bountiful Thanksgiving

And may Everyone enjoy a Wonderful Weekend. 

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(Comments for this post have been closed. See? With one less comment to write today, that’s yet another thing to be thankful for.)

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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


  • 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*     *     *


  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.


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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