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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I’m Back and the Kitchens are Open!

The Gift

My little hiatus lasted far longer than I had expected but it has finally ended. When last I wrote, I mentioned that I had 2 projects to complete, one a bit of remodeling and, the second a secret endeavor. Well, the secret project was far more involved than I had anticipated and a couple of physical mishaps caused further postponement of the remodeling. (I will get that done!)

Now that it’s complete, I can tell you all about the secret project. I’m very happy to announce that I’ve written a cookbook of our family recipes and stories. Zia has asked me repeatedly to write this book and, well, with almost all of the family recipes now recorded, I couldn’t refuse her any longer. With a great deal of cooperation from my family, this project has remained a secret and she only just learned about the book days ago, when I gave her the first copy.

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Blog Cookbook Page

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Paper Trail 3To say that I underestimated the task at hand is to put it quite mildly. It was through trial and error — with every trial ending in error and then another trial — that I finally settled upon a self-publishing company affiliated with Amazon. (Thank you, Eva!) Then, after a few rewrites, a couple reformats, and plenty of editing, the book is finally ready for release. Yay!

Much like this blog, the cookbook is a compilation of my family’s recipes and stories of life in that old two-flat. I’ve included a few recipes that have yet to be shared here, as well as some as-yet unpublished family photos. There’s even a little something just for you, my ever-faithful WordPress family. I’ve included a game “Dove è Garibaldi?”, “Where is Garibaldi?”, and I’ll make no further mention of it anywhere but right here in this post. Hidden within the book’s pages is an image of Giuseppe Garibaldi, “the George Washington of Italy”, and Grandpa’s personal hero. Can you find him? Now, don’t get discouraged if you can’t. Within the book, I’ve also included a clue pointing to Garibaldi’s whereabouts. When you do find him, however, please NO SPOILERS!

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No, not here. In the cookbook!

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Affiliation with Amazon does come with advantages, mainly that it may be purchased on Amazon here in the US and in Europe. Shipping charges will be assessed at the time of purchase, just like any Amazon purchase. If you live in an area outside of Amazon’s reach, an eStore has been created where you can purchase directly from the company. You will need to create an account, however, in order to purchase anything from the eStore. Each book is made-to-order and should be shipped within days of being purchased. Its arrival will depend upon the shipping priority you select at time of purchase.

There’s no need to bookmark this post for future reference. I’ve created a page — look for “Cookbook” directly beneath the header photo — which includes everything presented here, as well as pricing information for each point of purchase.

Since I will have nothing personally to do with your orders or shipping, please accept my thanks now to those of you who purchase a copy.

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Next Wednesday, as promised, I’ll be sharing a recipe for New York-style cheesecake. See you then!

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NYC Cheesecake Preview

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Happy Birthday – Zia

It’s our dear Zia’s birthday and Sheila, our good friend Celi’s star pig, had a party in Zia’s honor. Do take the link to read — and see — all about it.

Buon compleanno, Bella!


One of the Fellowship has a birthday today. We call her Zia. She is the Master Memory behind her nephew’s blog From The Bartolini Kitchens.  Their food is amazing. Her nephew Chicago John gave his Aunt a most unusual Birthday present.  Feeding Sheila for the day.  Zia’s birthday day. So all day today Sheila is having a birthday party for Zia.  And she is going to get as fat as a pig.  Sheila not Zia.  I made them both a carrot cake.  But only Sheila gets to eat it. Though I am sure she would share it with Zia is asked nicely.

Happy Birthday Zia. (Zia is 90 something,  but I  am not at liberty to tell you the ‘something’ as she looks ridiculously young for her age and no-one would believe it anyway.)




pig and cake6





And because your todays are my yesterdays. Sheila posed for Zia’s photo shoot yesterday for today’s blog…

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Happy Halloween!

The Kitchens Wish You All




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(Click to enlarge any/all photos)

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(Comments have been closed to allow you more time for Tricks ‘n Treats.)

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It’s Columbus Day!

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus, Sebastiano del Piombo, 1519. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Here in the States, today is a holiday set aside to commemorate the “discovery” of America by that navigator from Genoa, Christopher Columbus, or as we call him, Cristoforo Colombo.

Two years ago, to celebrate, I shared a musical number with you, while last year we cooked octopus. Today I’ve chosen to highlight how the Italian language is passed from generation to generation … kinda-sorta. Watch how Great Grandma teaches her Little One the intricacies of the Italian language. The only problem is that the video is far too short. I could watch these two “talk” for hours.

Have a great Columbus Day and to our good friends and neighbors to the North, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Homemade Garganelli Pasta

Garganelli Fatti in Casa

The draft of today’s post has been waiting a couple of years to be posted. This is, in fact, the 4th intro that I’ve written for it. Something has come up to prevent its publication every time I’ve penciled it into my schedule. This, though, is definitely its time. You see, I was “introduced” to garganelli while in Rome — twelve years ago with Zia.

Rome was the last stop of our vacanza and I found a restaurant with the same name as that of my family’s surname. Mind you, it’s not like we have the Italian version of “Smith” or “Chang” as a surname —  quite the contrary. Yet, there is a restaurant or trattoria with our name above the door in just about every city in Italy and in many major cities here, across The Pond, as well. Be that as it may, I noticed a dish of penne being delivered to a nearby table and, when the time came, mentioned to our waiter that I would like the same as my primo piatto. He politely pointed out that it was garganelli and not penne. I decided right then and there to learn how to make garganelli once I got home — and get my eyes checked. Not long after, I was back home making garganelli — but the story doesn’t end here.

Last May, upon arrival to our flat in Rome, the owner went out of her way to make us feel at home, describing in detail each of the flat’s amenities. She was especially anxious to show us the terrace. With a view of the Colosseum, the dome of St. Peter’s, and the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument, it was easy to see why she couldn’t wait to show it to us.

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A Flat with a VIew*     *     *

When we returned from the terrace, she presented us with her own guide-book to Rome, paying particular attention to the flat’s locale. When we got to the page with her restaurant recommendations, the first on the list was a restaurant bearing my family’s surname. I thought it a coincidence — until we arrived there later that evening. The route looked so familiar, especially a long flight of stairs along the was very much like the one that had troubled Zia a dozen years before. Any lingering doubts I may have had vanished upon entering the establishment. This was, indeed, the same restaurant in which Zia and I dined and where I “discovered” garganelli. Surely, this was a sign that I should finally publish my garganelli post as soon as I returned to WordPress.

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Similar in shape to penne, garganelli are a tubular pasta that come from the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. With Bologna as its capital, Emilia-Romagna is known for its hearty meat sauces. (Pasta Bolognese, anyone?) Garganelli, like penne, is particularly well-suited for such sauces and its use has spread to other areas of Italy because of that. In fact, Abruzzo, a mountainous province just south of Marche, is known for its lamb ragu and very often garganelli is the pasta of choice. Lamb not your thing? Well, go north a bit and into Tuscany. There you’ll find they make a rich veal ragu and it, too, is used to dress garganelli. Before you start googling, I can save you the keystrokes and send you to  Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide, for a veal ragu recipe that’s about as authentic as you’ll find anywhere on the web. (Greg, by the way, introduced me the movie, “Big Night“, in which garganelli is handmade in preparation for the film’s climactic feast.)

Whereas it’s quite difficult to create perfect penne by hand, garganelli is very often handmade and has a “flap” where the pasta is joined to create the tube. Just like penne rigate, garganelli traditionally have ridges on each tube’s outer surface; the better to hold on to that rich tomato sauce. Now, you can search the web and you’ll find gadgets made just for putting ridges on your garganelli, but not me. Years ago, much to the amusement of Mom & Zia, I bought a gnocchi board that is used to put ridges on gnocchi. (In my defense, I needed a few more dollars in my order to qualify for free shipping and a gnocchi board was just the ticket.) As you’ll soon see below, and I was quick to point out to Zia, putting ridges on garganelli is yet another (of two) uses for this wonderful kitchen gadget. Now, don’t fret if you haven’t this nifty little gadget taking up space in a junk drawer. You can just as easily use the back of a fork, like you would when making gnocchi, or leave them smooth, like normal penne. No matter. Don’t let the absence of a few ridges cause you to miss out on this great tasting pasta!

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How To Make Garganelli

Begin by making a batch of Mom’s Pasta dough. That will give you 1.5 pounds (680 g) of dough. Roll the dough to a thickness of 6 or 7 on a pasta machine, where 1 is the widest setting. Pictures will tell the rest of the tale.

Note: I use a straight edge here because I could neither cut nor draw a straight line if my life depended upon doing so.

Use a straight edge to divide a dough sheet into 2 strips about 2 inches wide

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Use the straight edge to cut the strips into 2 inch squares

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Place a square on the gnocchi board and moisten the lower corner

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Use the dowel, begin with top corner, and roll the square to form a tube

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Create ridges by applying pressure while square is rolled to bottom of board

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My garganelli have ridges, thanks to my gnocchi board!

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A Gaggle of Garganelli

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Just One Thing More

Some of you have requested that I post photos from my trip and I’m in the process of getting them all identified and organized. As you may well imagine, I’ve literally dozens of photos shot during my recent holiday and I intend to share some of the more memorable ones. Unfortunately, several dozen were “lost” when I tried to upload them to my iPad and the Cloud. (Ironically, I was uploading the photos to insure I wouldn’t lose them should I encounter a problem with one of my flash memory cards.) As a result, I have only a few pictures of Bologna and San Marino. Luckily, the photos of my family were spared, as they were on another flash card and I discovered the problem before I attempted to “save” them. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Italy so that I can re-shoot those pics.

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Bologna proved to be a wonderful start for my holiday. It’s an old city and there are plenty of medieval structures still remaining. At one time, some 180 towers reached for the skies, though only about 20 remain today. Of those, the Two Towers, Due Torri, are the most famous and dominate the city’s skyline. Walking about the city, you can’t help but notice that many of its walkways are covered, with columns forming the street-side “wall”. They’re a photographer’s dream, so long as you don’t botch the memory card upload. (Sigh.)  As capital of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna offers the best foods of the district and, some would say, all of Italy. I certainly found no evidence to the contrary. I really enjoyed my time there and hope to return one day. I’ll be sure to stay longer, though, so that I can more fully explore the city.

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(Click to enlarge)

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

michigans bountyIt’s tart cherry season once again in my former home state of Michigan. Having a season of barely 3 weeks, now’s the time to head to the orchards and get your share. If you miss out, the best you’ll probably be able to do is to buy them canned or in jars. In the past, I’ve used them to bake pies and muffins, as well as to make jam. Click on each item to see its recipe.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Fried Sage PreviewFried Sage

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Be It Ever So Humble …

IMG_1018As bad as that photo might be — I should know better than to try to snap a shot through my windshield while driving 70 mph — its meaning is clear. I’m back home again after a wonderful visit with my Zia in Michigan. She loved hearing about my trip and many of my photos reminded her of our Italian holiday a dozen years ago. We both laughed — as did my siblings earlier — whenever I mentioned my Zia in San Marino. She really did keep me entertained and I cannot help but smile when I think of my stay with her and my cousins. I cannot wait to get back to San Marino but, next time, I’ll stay longer.

While in Michigan, Zia and I cooked up a storm, as we always do. As luck would have it, though, only one dish, roast duck, will make it to the blog. The recipes for the rest of what we ate — from homemade sausage to pasta e fagioli to risotto — have already been posted. I really have shared quite a bit of the Bartolini cookbook.

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Fetch!*     *     *

Though the weather was a bit cool, even for that part of Michigan, we did have one nice warm day and Max and I headed for the beach. That dog loves the water and playing fetch is a great way to burn off some of his excess energy.

Due to the severity of last Winter and the fact that all 5 of the Great Lakes were completely ice-covered, the water levels are the highest they’ve been in years. One report predicted that Lake Huron’s water level will rise at least 8 inches this year. This part of Lake Huron’s shore has a very gradual slope going into the water. You can walk 50 yards and the water isn’t even waist deep. With a slope so slight, a rise of only a few inches can really eat up the beach. The photo on the left (click to enlarge) is of the cement pier in Fall, 2012. The shoreline is about 25 feet beyond the pier’s end. (It’s interesting to note that, at one time, the water level was high enough to keep the pier top wet. At some point, each of us fell on it, slipping on its algae-covered surface.) The photo on the right is the pier’s end today, with the water’s edge just several feet beyond. Looking at the left photo again, the water now reaches up to the point where the reeds first started to grow. Inch by inch, the lake is reclaiming the beach.

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Pier 2*     *     *

Now for some unfinished business …

In my last post, I wrote that I’d sent an email to WordPress Support because I was no longer receiving a blogging friend’s posts. While I was in Europe, they “fixed” it and I no longer received notifications for all but a few posts. Sometime while I was in Michigan, the missing notifications started appearing in my Google mail spam mailbox. I’ve no idea what WordPress could have done to get all of them treated as spam within Google Mail. Some days later, the notifications started showing up in my inbox, just as they should. In the end, I’ve got almost 1800 messages in my Google spam mailbox and some 500 in my inbox. I know I’m still missing some of you and will have to seek you out. Oh! And the blog that I first wrote to WordPress about? It’s still missing. Go figure.

See you in a few weeks.

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Briefly …

Fontana 2

Bernini’s “Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi” (Fountain of the Four Rivers), with the “Obelisk of Domitian”, Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy.

Yes, I’m back! Although it was wonderful revisiting Florence and Rome with my two good friends, the highpoint of my holiday was reconnecting with my family in the Republic of San Marino. They treated me royally, making sure that I saw all the sights, including a tour of the tiny country; the medieval castle that now serves as its government’s seat; a day on the beach at Riccione on the Adriatic; and a visit to the property that was once my family’s farm. I must say that it was quite an experience walking about places that I only knew from stories told to us by Dad. It was truly remarkable.

Thank you all that followed my trip’s progress on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Your “likes” and comments were all greatly appreciated. I’m not “back” yet, though, as I’m preparing to leave for a much-anticipated trip to visit Zia in Michigan. I hope to return to WordPress in July — if some problems can be resolved.

Prior to leaving for Italy, I notified Support that I was not receiving notifications of a blogging friend’s posts. I know this is a fairly common problem and had hoped I could pass along their resolution to any who needed it. Well, we traded a few emails, each of theirs requesting further clarification. Their final request was for a screen print, which I supplied. Aside from a “form” email asking me to rate their response, that was the last I’ve heard from them about the matter.

While I was away, the problem grew worse and now I am only receiving notifications of no more than 5 blogs that I follow. I have sent another email to Support and await their response. Since I’ll soon be in the Land that the Internet Forgot, there’s little I can do about the situation, no matter their response. I do hope this will be resolved before my planned return in July and will let you know of any progress, or lack thereof.

Thank you all for your understanding and I look forward to “seeing” you in July.


On the Road Again …

On the road again… Virtually speaking, at least for now.

My good friend, Judy, Savoring Today, recently underwent surgery and asked a few of us to write guest posts for her while she convalesces. How could anyone refuse? Not only is her fantastic blog filled with plenty of mouth-watering recipes, Judy is about as nice a person you’ll meet in the blogosphere. Of course I agreed to help out and scheduled a post about making garganelli at home. Well, events got in the way and, with an unexpected bounty of fresh ramps in my possession, I was suddenly creating ramps pesto and a post detailing the recipe. Being ramp season is so short, I substituted the pesto post for the garganelli. You can learn how to make this earthy pesto for yourself by heading over to Judy’s blog to read my recipe for Ramps Pesto.

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Ramps Pesto Preview *     *     *

One more thing. The Kitchens will remain closed for several weeks while I do a little touring. Consider this a belated 60th birthday gift to myself. You can learn a bit more of my upcoming travels over at Judy’s place.

Take care and I’ll see you soon.

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