Category Archives: dishes + recipes

pasta arrabbiata and an almost full moon…

A little while ago I mentioned some wood-smoked chillies that I’d bought from a roadside stall. I’m going to use some as a bit of a twist on pasta arrabbiata.

In Italian, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’ and refers to the heat of chilli peppers in this sauce. The recipe varies but usually has some type of chilli mixed with garlic and herbs in a tomato passata. This time I’m also adding red and spring onions.

As for the pasta, I couldn’t resist these little moons and stars… looking out the window I think it is sort of a half moon tonight although almost full! (I will hold back from making any puns about the dish being heavenly. Knowing how hot these particular chillies are, I think it will be the one having more of a say!)

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Pasta alla chitarra…

Making pasta alla chitarra just as my Abruzzese great-grandmother, Maddalena used to make. The shoebox-sized wooden box strung with steel wires must be ‘tuned’ like a guitar (chitarra). A sheet of pasta is laid over the strings and pressed through with a rolling pin, slicing it into strips. And the pasta sauce is like the ‘gravy’ Nanna Francesca cooked (with a few extra greens I added!)

I certainly don’t use the chitarra too often unless I have a few hours to spare but it was lovely to make this and remember my grandmothers. I like how in a way cooking can bring together different generations, even after some are long gone, as only handed-down recipes can do.

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in the vegie patch…

The first of the eggplants are starting to emerge…

I’m already thinking melanzane involtini, eggplant lasagne, baked, stuffed eggplant and slices grilled on the barbecue and preserved in smoked salt and olive oil!

 

Related article: Involtini di melanzane al forno…

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Spaghettini with lemon, chilli, garlic and herbs…

lemon-basil-and-chilli-spaghettini

 

Looking forward to cooking spaghettini with these lovely fresh ingredients!

The ‘dosa spaghetti’ implement for measuring out dry spaghetti portions comes from a little shop in Orvieto, Umbria.

Still often cook too much though…

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pizzette fritte…

pizzette fritteA decadent version of little pizzas with the fluffy dough fried then oven-baked – pizzette fritte. {Apparently, considered the way pizzas were first made.} They are very light and if made well in the traditional way, should not absorb the olive oil.
On the left, pesto, prosciutto e parmigiano. And to the right, tomato, basil and bocconcini. Buon appetito!

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Slow-roasted artichokes, fennel and red onion…

roasted artichoke, red onion and fennelSlow-roasted artichokes, fennel and red onion… perhaps not as pretty as when in their natural state {see link below} but a little more tasty. These I roughly chopped to similar sizes and slow-roasted for about an hour drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika and rosemary leaves.

Related post: From the kitchen table…

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home-baked focaccia e tramezzini…

FoccaciaHome-baked focaccia with rosemary from the garden and Australian-grown garlic and olive oil. Although I had a very brief knead of the dough, the credit all goes to Roger for this one. A lovely way to eat it is to make tramezzini by slicing the focaccia in half, spreading the inside of each piece with basil pesto and then for the filling, adding pieces of grilled haloumi, slices of barbecued eggplant marinated in olive oil, ripe tomatoes, a handful of rocket, roasted capsicum and thinly-sliced, roasted pumpkin.

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Sicilian orange and fennel salad…

Sicilian orange and fennel saladI had never tasted this before but decided to make it anyway. Sliced fennel, orange segments, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt may sound like a curious combination of flavours but I was pleasantly surprised. Delicious on its own or great accompaniment to slow roasted lamb.

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Bisnonna’s frittata…

Zoe's version of Bisnonna's frittataFor my Great-Granny Maddalena’s frittata, the main ingredients were eggs, some salt and flat-leaf parsley. She also used a lot of olive oil (her frittata never stuck to the pan!)

In Italy, she included ‘mountain greens’ that she’d collected from the hillsides in her apron, such as agretti, wild asparagus, nettles and an array of ‘wild greens’.

The frittata may also be baked in an oven rather than in a pan. This is a version of her frittata I made with asparagus and red onion – I stress this is ‘home cooking’ not ‘chef cooking’!!

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Chiacchiere… chitter-chatter ~ carnival sweets

crostoliMy Italian grandmother made these all the time so I thought it fitting to serve them on one of her Florentine, painted wooden serving trays on the terrazzo table that sat on my grandparents’ patio for decades.

These crispy ribbons of pastry dusted with sugar are a sweet popular for centuries throughout Italy and across Europe and Asia. In Italy, they are traditionally eaten at the time of Carnevale, when cities, towns and villages celebrate their historical connections. The ‘chitter-chatter’ pop up under the guise of different names in different regions – chiacchiere, crostole, bugie, cenci, sfogliatelle, nodi, ali d’angelo, frappe, cioffe, galani, sfrappole…

Beware, for chiacchiere or ‘rumours’ can be addictive. They are best if light and flaky but still crunchy with some substance.

Ingredients:

  • 450g plain flour {plus extra for kneading}
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 50g butter
  • 100g caster sugar {raw, unbleached if available}
  • 50ml Marsala {grappa or brandy may be substituted}
  • 1tsp vanilla bean extract
  • oil for frying
  • extra caster sugar or icing sugar to sprinkle

Method:

  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, butter, sugar, Marsala and vanilla, mixing thoroughly to create a dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth {dusting extra flour across surface to prevent sticking as needed}.
  • Use a rolling pin or a pasta machine to roll the dough to lasagna sheet thinness.
  • Cut into strips roughly 4-5 cm wide, or to your liking {an alternative is using a fluted, pastry/ pasta wheel cutter to give a crinkled edge}.
  • Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry several strips at a time until they are golden.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar while still hot, or allow to cool completely then cover with sifted icing sugar.

Serves a good gathering chatting over coffee or sweet fortified wine.

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capsico per cena…

stuffed capsicumSaw these sweet, baby capsicums at the market and couldn’t resist buying them, though I wasn’t sure how I was going to cook them. Decided to stuff the capsicums with a mixture of seasoned goat’s cheese, pine nuts, parsley and basil, then bake in the oven. Served with some crusty bread on the side…

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