Tag Archives: italian cooking

Four ingredients, four steps…

Crispy Carciofi alla Giudia are said to be one of the most popular local dishes ordered at restaurants in Rome. So, artichokes cooked this way might be perhaps best kept for only now and then considering the oil needed for frying, however the way the artichokes open into crisp, crunchy flowers makes this centuries-old, Jewish-Roman dish well worth making on occasion. Great as an antipasto and usually a springtime dish but these artichokes were selling cheap at my local market and winter here hasn’t been too cold.

Four ingredients: artichokes, lemon, olive oil and salt.
Four steps: trim artichokes, soak in water mixed with lemon juice, fry in hot olive oil, sprinkle with salt.

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Cooking caponata…

There are as many versions of caponata as there are cooks… so it’s said. The first written recipes date to the early 18th century but of course it’s one of those dishes handed down over many centuries from mother to daughter (and hopefully a few fathers and sons too). While it’s famously Sicilian, other regions like Calabria also have versions and most likely my (very rustic!) caponata will be completely different when I next cook it. This time I went with pretty much what I had on hand that would suit and baked it instead of frying (although frying creates more caramelisation and is very tasty). I’m guessing many of you will have your own delicious recipes perhaps handed down through generations, such a lovely tradition of cooking and passing on family history. xx

Ingredients (on hand!) for this version of caponata.

Chopped and tossed (in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt and lemon juice).

Baked and ready to serve (warm or cold).

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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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Late winter rain bringing the lemon tree back to life…

lemon leavesChatting over the fence my Sicilian neighbour, who is in her eighties, recommended to put a lemon leaf under polpette (those Italian slightly egg-shaped meatballs) when frying them in olive oil in the pan – not necessarily to eat the leaf but for it to impart flavour during cooking. I haven’t tried that yet however seeing these fresh young leaves I might need to give it a go.

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Italian Christmas sweets…

Christmas treatsTime for some Italian Christmas treats… these poco zeppole {zippoli} are flavoured with citrus zest and Boronia Marsala {yes, the bottle with the little horse and cart on the label for those in the know}.

This small, bite-size version of the dumplings is very light {making them dangerously moreish!}

We always ate them on Christmas Eve at my Italian grandparents’ house after another Italian tradition, the fish dinner the night before Christmas.

 

 

* Recipe on p.338 of Mezza Italiana

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Classic lasagne…

LasagneTraditional lasagne, for me, is in the same category of favourite, comfort food as a good, old-style hamburger with the lot. {Perhaps a reflection of an Italian-Australian upbringing!} I learned to make lasagne when I was about 11 or 12, and must have made hundreds over the years.
Recently, I cooked the first in my new lasagne dish from Umbria. My previous lasagne dish that my Mum gave me I used for 20 years {sadly, it got a large crack in it}, so this dish has some work ahead of it!
Some say Italy didn’t have spaghetti until Marco Polo discovered noodles in Asia and that may be the case, however Italians did already have pasta. In Roman times, they cooked sheets of pasta in a dish similar to lasagne and therefore it is possibly one of the original pasta dishes.

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basil pesto orecchiette with crispy prosciutto…

Basil pesto orecchiette with crispy prosciuttoSo many traditional Italian dishes were created by combining leftovers, which I love as I can’t stand wasting good food by tossing it out. And while I know I would definitely not be the first to try this, it was a happy discovery when faced with some leftover prosciutto to fry it, sprinkle it and taste for the first time – basil pesto orecchiette with crispy prosciutto.
Several different Italian regions from north and south getting together cheerfully on a plate…

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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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