A recipe from Piemonte: Brasato al Barolo . . . A Perfect Holiday dish!

Holiday Dinner

I haven’t been very active on my blog lately and apologize for that. Many things have kept me occupied, however, I could not let the Holidays go by without thanking all of you for your support through my first year of blogging.

I shall also thank two very special bloggers, Meg at Meg Travels and Letizia at Dutch goes Italian for awarding me with the Blog of the Year 2012 Award. I am humbled and honored to be in such a great company . . . GRAZIE, GRAZIE, GRAZIE!!!

To celebrate my 1 year Anniversary, my Award, and the Holiday Season I want to share a recipe that I think you will love: Brasato al Barolo. A dish typical of the Piemonte region and perfect for a special occasion such as Christmas.

The beef is marinated in Italian Barolo wine for almost 24 hours then slow cooked in the same marinade for 3 more hours, the result is a rich dish full of flavor, elegant and earthy, comforting and intense all at the same time.

Barolo is a full-bodied Italian wine from the Nebbiolo grapes. It is quite expensive (especially in the US) so I often substitute Barolo with Nebbiolo, You will still have to pay around $20 for a bottle of Nebbiolo, however, for a special occasion, it is wort the expense.

You can read about my visit to the Marchesi di Barolo ‘s winery in the town of Barolo clicking on this link: A day in Barolo

I prepared Brasato al Barolo last week for a Holiday dinner with some dear friends, but the first time I cooked Brasato al Barolo was in 1982 when I invited my boyfriend to meet my parents. Although it was not my intention to – as they say in Italy –  “prendere l’uomo per la gola” (literally: take a man through his throat; meaning: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach), that man is today my husband of 26 years . . . I think he was impressed!

The Brasato al Barolo is typically served with a side of polenta, mashed potatoes or stewed pearl onions. For my Holiday dinner I served my Brasato with my mom’s version of mashed potatoes (simply boiled and mashed and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a lot of extra-virgin olive oil), sautéed broccoli rapini and cipolline all’aceto balsamico (pearl onions stewed in balsamic vinegar). My Holiday dinner turned into a two days cooking affair as I also served a primo piatto (first course) of rondelle (fresh pasta roll ups) spinach and ricotta with bechamel sauce. I also prepared pears cooked in red wine served with Sabayon sauce as dessert. And since I LOVE desserts, I made mini Panettone cakes covered in chocolate ganache and lastly chocolate-chestnut truffles!

Rondelle spinach and ricottaPere cotte al vinoTruffles and mini cakes

I promised that I will share all these recipes soon.

I would like to encourage you to read my previous posts on Italian Christmas’s  culture and traditions. You can learn about the fascinating Neapolitan Presepe (Crèche), the truth about the Feast of Seven Fish, and New Year’s Eve Italian traditions.  You can also add some traditional Neapolitan desserts to your table with my recipe for struffoli and mostaccioli.

Lastly, I would like to nominate three bloggers that I have being enjoying following, for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award:

Two Black Dogs

Our Italian Table

Writingfeemail’s Blog

Congratulations and thank you for such enjoyable blogs!

Please read the rules of the award at the bottom of this post.

Happy Holidays to all and don’t forget to keep the little angels of Sandy Hook Elementary School in your hearts throughout this Holiday Season.


Brasato al Barolo

Cosa serve (What you need)

2 pounds beef (shoulder, chuck or boneless short ribs)

1 bottle of Barolo or Nebbiolo

1  onion quartered

1 large carrot chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 bay leaf

4 tablespoon of unsalted butter

3 cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

8-10 peppercorns

4-5 juniper berries

1 sprig rosemary, 1 small bunch of sage, 1 small bunch thyme – tied together

1/2 cup cognac – optional

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 oz. prosciutto fat – minced

Cosa fare (What to do)

Pat dry the meat and place it in an earthenware pot. Add the chopped  vegetable, the herbs, and all the spices.

Prepping the BrasatoHerbsSpices

Sprinkle with salt and then pour the wine.

Barolo wineBarolo marinade

Cover with the pot and let marinade in the refrigerator for at  least 12 hours (24 hours would be ideal). Turn the meat over few times during the marinade period.

When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Also remove the vegetables and herbs. Strain the marinade and discard any remaining solids, including the spices (I did not remove the spices which resulted in a too intense flavor).

In the same pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the vegetables and let them browned.  Also add the bunch of herbs.

Browning vegetables

Add the meat and brown on all sides. At this point if you decide to use the optional cognac, you should splash the liquor over the meat and light it and let the flames go out. I am still not comfortable with this step so I simply splashed the meat with cognac, raise the heat to high and let evaporate.

Season the meat with salt, pour the wine from the marinade over it.

Slow cooking the Brasato

Cover and cook on very low heat for 2 hours.

Spoon out the vegetables and remove the bunch of herbs. Discard the herbs and puree the vegetables in a food processor.

Add the puree to the pot and continue cooking for 30 minutes. At this point the meat should be cooked. Remove it from the pot and keep it warm.

If the sauce appears too liquid, add 1 teaspoon of potato starch, bring to boil and let thicken.

Slice the meat, pour the sauce over and serve with the side dish of your choice.

Buon Appetito!!!

Brasato al Barolo

What are you serving at your Holiday dinner?


Rules for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award

  • Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  • Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  • Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
  • As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

Thanking and Sharing . . . Awards time!

Stealing a line from fellow blogger and friend Robin of Bringing Europe Home, I shall say that I would definitely deserve an award for procrastination!

A lot has been going on in my family life, but more than that, as they would say in Italy, “Sono in ferie” (I am on summer holidays). My blogging, tweeting and Facebook posting has been sporadic and I will honestly tell you that it might not get much better until after my trip in Italy. Oh, I guess I didn’t share this information yet . . . I will be in Italy for three weeks next month!!! As you can imagine, I have been busy planning.

Back to today’s topic: it is time to acknowledge and formally accept, with much gratitude, some blogger awards that I have received in the last two months.

These awards come with rules. But rules exist to be broken and so, led by the lovely bloggers who nominated me, I will break some.

The first rule is the easiest to follow, acknowledge and thank the blogger who nominates you, link it back and show the award badge on your page.

GRAZIE, GRAZIE, GRAZIE to these wonderful, talented, interesting bloggers who found my blog nice enough to let me share their fame.

Robin of Bringing Europe Home  for the Sunshine Award

Tea & Biscotti for the Beautiful Blogger Award 

Sam of Two Black doggies,  who gave me three awards to choose from. I opted for the One Lovely Blog Award, for which Marney of Volunteer Fringe has also nominated me (with a different badge!)

Please visit these ladies’ blogs; they are beautiful and inspiring, each one in their own personal way.

  • If you are one of my nominee, borrowing the idea from Two black doggies, you will, have the option to accept one of the above awards – or all of them if you wish!

The second rule usually involves sharing a number of facts about yourself or answering specific questions. Accepting 3-4 awards at once could be quite challenging; I should be answering 10 – 20 questions and sharing an additional 20 facts about myself. Well, I told you “sono in ferie” and this seems a lot of work to do on your holiday! Following Robin’s lead, I will break the rule and just answer 10 questions from one of Robin’s two options.

  1. What is a real fear you have? I am afraid of being trapped.
  2. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? I always wanted to be an architect . . . my passion started during my summers in Paestum.
  3. What are some of your hobbies: Blogging, interior design, cooking, and reading.
  4. What hobby would you like to start? Pottering and painting.
  5. If you could tell people anything, what would be the most important thing to say? Don’t be afraid to say that you care!
  6. Name one item from your “bucket list”? I don’t really have a “bucket list”, however, a trip to Bora Bora would qualify.
  7. What’s the best prank you’ve pulled off? Never played a prank on anyone.
  8. What book are you panning on reading next? Dark Water, by Robert Clark.
  9. Coffee or Tea? Caffè, grazie! I do, however, enjoy afternoon tea in the cold days of Winter.
  10. Lemon Torte or Chocolate Cheesecake? I will have to go with chocolate; I don’t prefer cheesecake but a slice of rich Torta Caprese would definitely be my top choice.
  • If you are one of my nominee, you too will have the option to answer the above questions or the ones that you can find here.
  • You can also opt to simply share 7 facts about yourself.

The third and most difficult rule is to pass along the awards to other bloggers you like and to notify them. My first challenge has been the number of blogs to nominate, again each award comes with its own number (5 – 10 – 15). I will make my own rule and nominate 7.

The second challenge has been how to pick my 7 nominations. Just like Sam, I still consider myself new to the blogger’s world and I am still discovering new blogs. The blogs I follow are all beautiful and well deserving of awards; furthermore, they have, most likely, already received every award.

Once again, “sono in ferie”; do I want to spend hours sorting through blogs trying to find out who hold which award? NO!

How to solve my dilemma:  I will nominate 7 blogs that I had not have the opportunity to previously nominate. I hope you will enjoy showing off these colorful badges on your site.

In non particular order:

Rosa’s Yummy Yum 

NYC, Style and a little Cannoli

Manu’s menu


Ciao Amalfi

The Bumble Files

Bringing Europe Home – sorry, I just realized I have never shared an award with you!

Thanks again for the nominations, thanks to everyone who has been following my blog, liking my posts and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate all your support.

If you are interested in more facts about myself you can check my previous posts:

Versatile Blogger Award

Kreativ Blogger Award

Illuminating Blogger Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

And let’s not forget, BUON FERRAGOSTO and BUONE FERIE!!!

Oh, the small things that make a blogger’s day brighter!

Making waves . . .

This past December 6th, at 3:06 PM, after reading and rereading, and rereading several more times, I finally clicked the “publish” button of the very first post of my newborn blog page. This blog was created on the spur of the moment; few days earlier, I threw the idea to one of my students, she had a blog of her own and advised me to look into Word Press. Over the weekend, I checkout the site, created my page, and on Tuesday … voilà, Sharing My Italy . . . the Blog, was born and traveling in cyberspace! My dream of sharing my country with the world was turning into reality. Today, six months later, after clicking the “publish” button 47 more times, my little blog has received over 5000 hits!!! It might not seem a lot to some of you, but it sure seems a lot to me, and I am celebrating.

Few days past June 6th.

And look at how much color on the world map….82 Countries and counting!

On my quest to conquer the world

No, it is not the board game, Risk, but at time, it certainly feels like it! There is a total of 193 countries in the world and in almost half of those, at least one soul, has read one of my posts . . . I am exhilarated.

Who knows, may be one day one of my posts will make it to the Word Press’s “Freshly Pressed” page . . . now, that would call for a major celebration!

This past Easter, I wrote a post to express my gratitude to all my followers and readers. I rambled about the excitement and the anxiety that comes with the act of publishing each post, the staring at the stats and waiting for a comment or a “like”. It is not much different today, however, I am a lot more relaxed and when I feel uneasy, I remind myself that the purpose of this blog is the pure enjoyment of putting into words my love, knowledge and appreciation for my beautiful Country. And to be able to share it with half of the world it is pretty darn good!

To make my day as a blogger even brighter, I am honored to accept yet another award:

The  Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Doesn’t just the name sounds marvelous?

Grazie, grazie, grazie to Meg Travels for the nomination! Meg has a beautiful and inspiring blog herself and I encourage you all to visit. She has just return from a trip in Italy and you will love to read what she is sharing.

In order to accept  the award, I will dutifully follow the three rules :

  • First, acknowledge and thank the giver, link it back, and put the award on your page.

One more time Grazie Mille Meg Travels!

  • Next, list 7 things about yourself.

I suppose I should tell you something that I have not already told about myself, so since Italy is not the only thing I love, I will reveal few more of my favorites. I assume you already know that my greatest love are my amazing sons and wonderful husband. And of course, to my family across the ocean: I love you all! Wow, now it sounds like the Academy award acceptance speech; good thing there is no music interrupting me and I will never know if  by now, by boredom, you have switched to a different page.

Anyway, here we go 7 things I love:

  1. I love art . . . a day at a museum it is a good day for me.
  2. I love fine shopping . . . window-shopping would do it too.
  3. I love fashion . . . Italian, mostly!
  4. I love to travel . . .everywhere.
  5. I love to read . . . fiction only.
  6. I love to sketch my dream home . . . I have “many” sketches.
  7. I love my two dogs, Luna and Vera . . . they are the reflections of our family: fun, loving, playfully mischievous, and just wonderful.
  • Last, pass the award to 7 bloggers who inspire you.

In not particular order:

  1. A Word in your Ear
  2. Writingfeemail’s Blog
  3. The Blissful Adventurer
  4. Heart Rome
  5. Tea&Biscotti
  6. Mondomulia
  7. The Volunteer Fringe

Congratulations to all and to an even brighter tomorrow!

I am back and . . . with an Award!


Well, I am back . . . at least I am trying. After a wonderful vacation with my lovely husband to Turks and Caicos – I know it is not Italy! – I returned home where a little family crisis was expecting me. Be assured, not a tragedy, but enough to make my head spin and enough to make me completely forget about blogs, stats, tweets, sleep, and so on.

Thanks to Dutchgoesitalian who kindly nominated me for the Illuminating Blogger Award, I am slowly starting to get my mojo back.

Grazie Mille Letizia, I really needed this!!!

Little rules to follow in order to accept the award:

  1. The Nominee should visit the award site Food Stories and leave a comment indicating that they have been nominated and by whom.
  2. The Nominee should thank the person that nominated them by posting & including a link to their blog. Again, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Dutchgoesitalian !!!
  3. Share one random thing about yourself in your blog post. I always look at the small details. I am pretty much obsessed with that!
  4. Select at least five other bloggers that you enjoy reading their illuminating, informative posts and nominate them for the award.
  5. Notify your  nominees by leaving a comment on their blog, including a link to the award site Food Stories .

My nominees are – drum roll . . .


Our Kitchen Inventions

Two black dogs

Meg Travels


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who visited my blog on Mother’s Day . . . I have just realized that it has been my most viewed post . . . GRAZIE!!!!

Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! A presto . . .

Another Award? Yes, the Kreativ Blogger Award!!!

Kreativ Blogger Award

I have been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by Meg Travels. I love her blog and I am so flattered . . . two awards in seven day! You don’t need to remind me that these are not “real” awards . . . I know that!

Still, I can be excited at the idea that another of my cyber friends thinks I am so awesome that I deserve to be in the spotlight – again – for few hours. I certainly enjoyed my Versatile Blogger Award last week and I am sure I can handle another moment of fame!

Once again, few rules to follow in order to accept the nomination.

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass the award to 7 nominees


Thank you Meg Travels for the nomination! I am honored to be in such great company.

Meg Travels and I share the same passion for planning and researching trips. Beside traveling in Italy, I love traveling everywhere. Tell me where and when, and I will be planning, booking, packing, and ready to go. You will find many useful information on Meg Travels ‘s journal. So, please pay homage to her blog!

Now for the 7 things about myself; I am wondering if I should share My things from last award or should I disclose a little more about myself? I am going with the latest . . . but, don’t ask for more!

  1. I love little black dresses . . . and black skirts, pants, blouses . . .
  2. I am 15 years younger than my brothers . . . so, I will always be the little sister.
  3. Sardegna is one of my favorite places in Italy.
  4. When I lived in Italy I had a maid and a babysitter everyday . . . why did I leave, you may ask?!
  5. I finally don’t think in Italian anymore . . . but, I still have my accent.
  6. I travel in Italy twice a year, to see my relatives and friends, and to discover new places to share with you all.
  7. GELATO . . . LOVE IT, no need to elaborate.

My seven nominations, no easy task to narrow to only seven! Visit these blogs, you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Please note:

  • These are not in any particular order.
  • I apologize if you have already been nominated.
  • You do not have to accept the nomination.
  1. emilyluxton
  2. Tea&Biscotti
  3. Going Dutch  (My first follower – Thank you!)
  4. Finger, Fork & Knife 
  5. Manipal’s Photo Blog
  6. mondomulia
  7. Juls’ Kitchen 

Versatile Blogger Award

One thing that I love about my new life as a blogger is that I feel like I have acquired a new set of friends . . . cyber friends! It all starts with a “like” at the bottom of a post, then there is a  “tweet”, then a shy comment, and finally comes the “follow”. And there you are, connected through an invisible thread to hundreds of people all over the word. People that you will most likely never meet, yet you share with each other a small part of  your life in this fantastic world where the only requirements are to be polite and respectful of each other.

It is in my blogger’s world that I gained a new friend, Tea & Biscotti,  a blogger from UK, in her own words: “ English by birth, Italian by choice”. I think you can see the connection here!

By  Tea & Biscotti, I have been recently honored with a nomination for an award! Yes, you heard it . . . an award!

Well, let me clarify. It is not actually an award, but rather a recognition from other bloggers.

It sounds pretty amazing to me to think that the delightful Tea & Biscotti finds my blog interesting enough not only to read it herself, but also to be worthy of others’ attention.

Needless to say, I am excited to accept the Versatile Blogger Award.

Few rules to follow when one accepts the award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or that you follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to the VBA site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, first and foremost, MILLE GRAZIE to Tea & Biscotti; not only has she nominated me for this award, she has also been following my blog and my tweets, and she has often shown her support. You should definitely check out her blog. It is full of surprises, it’s joyful and loving when speaking about her “Bambina”, is sensitive when speaking of social issues, and mostly, it makes you feel in a good mood.

Selecting my 15 nominatios has not been an easy task. Not because I couldn’t find enough blogs/bloggers worth of the award, but rather because I could find something interesting in so many.

But a choice must to be made so here they are, in no particular order, My Top 15:

  1. emilyluxton
  2. Zen and Genki
  3. Meg Travels
  5. Our Italian Table
  6. Going Dutch
  7. Daniel C. Doolan’s News Updates
  8. Homemade Delish
  9. HeartRome 
  10. Finger, Fork & Knife 
  11. Food Lover’s Odyssey
  12. Manipal’s Photo Blog
  13. napoli unplugged
  14. mondomulia
  15. Juls’ Kitchen 

Lastly, My 7 little things about me:

  1. When dining out I NEVER skip dessert.
  2. I always wear my pearls.
  3. My biggest accomplishment is my two wonderful sons . . . the joy of my life.
  4. My inspiration to become an architect came from the Greeks temples of Paestum and . . . The Jetsons cartoons! (I know you are wondering).
  5. My dream is one day to live in a little house on the beach.
  6. I cannot go to sleep if I don’t have a piece of chocolate.
  7. I love Prosecco!

To all my nominees: you are not bound to accept my nomination and please, accept my apology if you have already received this award.