Tag Archives: Italian food

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.

2 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, italy, kitchen stories

Christmas shopping…

Christmas shoppingCouldn’t resist taking a quick picture of these Italian products I saw as part of a Christmas display in the general supermarket of a country town in Australia. And both northern and southern Italy represented!

There was once a time when it was unusual to see even a panettone in the supermarket of an Australian capital city let alone a smaller town. So lovely how food can quietly keep on bringing different cultures together!

4 Comments

Filed under australia, italy

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…

4 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, garden, kitchen stories

Mini ‘tomato day’…

mini tomato dayWhen I came across cherry tomatoes selling cheap a little while back, I couldn’t resist. This was my mini ‘tomato day’, well, couple of hours, not with all the family but just me, and not to make passata but to make ‘sun-dried’ cherry tomatoes.

A little olive oil and smoked salt, a couple of hours in a very slow oven and once cooled they were ready to put into jars drizzled in more olive oil to preserve them (not that they lasted too long!)

Leave a comment

Filed under kitchen stories

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!

2 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, inspiration, kitchen stories

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under australia, italy, kitchen stories

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…

1 Comment

Filed under inspiration, kitchen stories

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.

2 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, kitchen stories

Eggplant harvest…

Eggplant harvestThe two eggplant bushes must be very happy in their spots in the vegie patch (despite their relative lack of attention!) Picked these three beauties this morning and there are many more growing. Looks like it will be eggplant parmigiana cooking in our house this weekend. Might also grill some sliced melanzane on the barbecue and bottle it in olive oil too…

8 Comments

Filed under kitchen stories

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under dishes + recipes, kitchen stories

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’!!

3 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, kitchen stories

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.

2 Comments

Filed under dishes + recipes, inspiration, italy, kitchen stories

vino e formaggio…

vino e formaggioFossa house, Abruzzo, a decade ago… pecorino cheese made by two women on a farm down in the valley, olives from the L’Aquila market, cerasuolo wine from a nearby vineyard, the paisley tablecloth Nanna Francesca purchased from a travelling merchant who drove from village to village in his small truck full of wares, an Italian folk song blaring from speakers to notify buyers he had arrived.

4 Comments

Filed under italy

sweet dumplings…

ZippoliThese little doughnut balls are also known as zippoli, zeppole or sfingi in Italy depending on the region where they are cooked. (I’ve also tasted the German version quarkbällchen – known too as ‘Bavarian snowballs’ – from a roadside stall not far from Schloss Neuschwanstein.) There’s something about eating them fresh and hot from the pan, dusted with sugar! Often a Christmas treat – although they are good any time of year – I have treasured memories of my Italian grandmother cooking them to have after dinner on Christmas Eve.

Leave a comment

Filed under kitchen stories

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…

Leave a comment

Filed under dishes + recipes, kitchen stories

Homemade arancini with ragù alla Bolognese…

homemade aranciniIt is claimed that arancini originated in Sicily as far back as the 10th century. The balls of rice with various fillings are shaped, crumbed and fried, resembling an orange – the Italian for orange being arancia. (Rice cooked the day before and cooled in the fridge works best.) In Messina, they can be more cone shaped, while in Naples they are pall’e riso (rice balls) apparently. I think ours (made 11 centuries later in Australia!) ended up being influenced a little by both cities.

3 Comments

Filed under australia, italy, kitchen stories

Cavolo nero…

Great to see cavolo nero  (black Tuscan cabbage)
amongst the produce exhibits at the local show
in the small Australian town of
Bangalow late last year…
cavolo nero

Leave a comment

Filed under kitchen stories

the melanzane are here….

black capsicum, basil, eggplant and silverbeet picked from the vegie patch… to eggplant parmigiana.

Eggplant and capsciumEggplant parmigiana

Related articlethe melanzane are coming…

2 Comments

Filed under garden, kitchen stories

The melanzane are coming…

So far about half a dozen at last count in the vegie patch. Every day I see them getting a little larger. I cannot wait to cook them and am trying to think of different recipes – eggplant parmigiana, crumbed slices fritte, melanzane involtini, stuffed eggplant, melanzane in passata

Related articles…

6 Comments

Filed under kitchen stories

Pane Casereccio…

Pane Casereccio – delicious served warm – R made this Pugliese bread studded with salami and cheese, inspired after watching an old television series with Antonio Carluccio making it. I love how so many Italian recipes have been created to use leftovers.

For the recipe… http://www.antonio-carluccio.com/Pane_Casereccio

Leave a comment

Filed under italy, kitchen stories

eggs in purgatory…

At home when I was growing up, we sometimes ate eggs baked in leftover pasta sauce which we called, ‘eggs in tomato’, not quite as evocative as ‘eggs in purgatory’ that I later discovered this dish is also called.

I’ve been told it’s origins are in Napoli {although the Abruzzo claims it too} and it is said that the eggs are like the souls in purgatory who are caught between the tomatoes {purgatory} and trying to escape to heaven.

 

2 Comments

Filed under italy, kitchen stories

an edible bouquet…

il bouquet perfetto for Valentine’s Day
that by evening may become
dinner for two.

Recipe for carciofi alla romana…

Take four fresh artichokes.
Peel the tough outer leaves and remove the choke,
then trim the stem to about six centimetres.

Immerse in hot olive oil until golden brown and crisp.
{The artichoke will open like a flower.}
Serve piping hot, seasoned with salt and pepper.

On the side of the plate add a dollop of mascarpone
mixed with some lemon zest and
a couple of lemon wedges to squeeze over the carciofi.

Buon San Valentino!

2 Comments

Filed under garden, kitchen stories

Italian Christmas treats…

CaggionettiCaggionetti/calcionetti are traditional Italian Christmas treats particularly popular in Abruzzo. They have a filling of almonds, walnuts, chocolate, chickpeas, lemon zest, cinnamon and honey enclosed in paper-thin ravioli casings fried in white wine and olive oil then cooled and dusted with icing sugar.

Perfect for eating in front of a fire with nighttime snow falling outside… far from the heat and humidity that Brisbane promises for me this Christmas….

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

 

{Photo courtesy of Gabriella of Teramo, Abruzzo}
Find her recipe and step-by-step photographs here… http://ilrifugiodigabry.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/calcionetti.html

2 Comments

Filed under kitchen stories

Cannoli, cantucci and cornetti…

Cannoli, cantucci and cornetti…   Pasticceria in Assisi.

2 Comments

September 20, 2012 · 9:32 am

Involtini di melanzane al forno…

It may not be the prettiest dish but the fried slices of eggplant rolled like crepes around prosciutto and mozzarella then baked with tomatoes, Parmigiano and basil tastes divine.

 

Related articles:

The melanzane are coming….

Leave a comment

Filed under kitchen stories

Roasted chestnuts….

Autumn means chestnuts, castagne and I always think of my Italian grandfather, Nonno Anni whenever we roast them. In the Abruzzo in the 1930s, Nonno Anni harvested chestnuts beneath Gran Sasso, later taking them to turn to flour at the stone mill with the wooden water wheel on the canal below his village of Fossa.

2 Comments

Filed under australia, italy, kitchen stories

Freshly baked bread…

For many centuries, baking in most Italian villages took place mostly once a week or even a fortnight. Both my grandparents told me how they recalled the women of the village taking their dough to the forno (often the only oven in the entire village), and that each piece of dough had an identifying mark on it for when the women came back to collect their baked bread.

In Palmi, Calabria my great, great grandmother and bisnonna baked for their area in a large, wood-fired oven or forno in a room beneath their house.

While I’d heard these stories and have been to the village forno I had never seen any pictures so I was thrilled when photographer, Carla Coulson recently sent me this Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. It was taken in 1953 in the Abruzzese town of Scanno as women were carrying their dough to the forno for baking.

2 Comments

Filed under art + photographs, italy, kitchen stories

Pasta drying in Naples, 1897…

Leave a comment

Filed under art + photographs, italy, kitchen stories