“A tavola non si invecchia”. - Italian proverb (At the table with good friends and family you do not become old).

Sharing authentic Italian recipes entrusted upon me through the privilege of being invited into many Italian homes and kitchen’s abroad. I travel, cook, eat, share, learn and photograph my experiences, a truly soul enriching journey. There are now over 100 recipes on this blog to search from. I am a Melbourne born girl who now resides in Pietrasanta, Italy. Sharing my love for food and all things Italian with you. I am not a professionally trained chef, just a person that really loves cooking and has made my passion my reality! Through talent and drive I now work as a private chef in some of the most prestigious private villa`s here in Versilia, Italy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tiramisu (coffee sponge cake)


There is much debate about the origins of this desert.  The argument lies between Venice and Siena. Regardless of it's origins this desert is a winner.  I can not even count the number of times I have made this desert.  Tiramisu literally translates to "pick me up", and this is truly a feel good treat.  I have had the pleasure of watching many faces fill with contentment after the first mouthful.  Most household's in Italy make tiramisu using eggs however I received this recipe many years ago from an Italian lady in Venice which does not require eggs- I have not had any complaints to date.  To this day I can still remember how the perfect mix of cream, coffee and chocolate tasted, and I just had to get the recipe.  It is such a simple desert to make, however the key is to buy good quality ingredients.  It is also also the perfect desert to make in advance as it needs to left overnight for the flavours to infuse.  I have been asked for this recipe so many times but have never been able to quantify the ingredients, so I am glad I can finally share with you something that I have made for my loved ones on many occasions.
What you need:
300g Savoiardi biscuits
500g marscopone 
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup marsala wine (to your liking)
100g dark chocolate (I use 70% cacao Lindt chocolate)
750ml strong coffee (I use Lavazza qualita Rossa)
How to make:
1:   Make the coffee using an Italian coffee pot (see picture above). I normally make 2 large coffee pots.  Pour the coffee into a large bowl to cool.
2:  Finely chop or use a blender to turn chocolate into a fine powder
3:  Mix the marscopone, cream, icing sugar together using a wooden spoon.  Quickly stir in the marsala to form a smooth consistency.  Taste the mixture and make adjustments to your liking (you can add more sugar, marsala).  Place in the fridge until ready to use.
4:  Individually dip the savoiardi biscuits in the coffee and place in a lasagne shaped dish (Each brand of biscuit is slightly different, but generally you only need to soak each biscuit in the coffee for 2-3 seconds).  Make sure the biscuit does not become too soggy.  Cover the bottom of the dish with the biscuits.
5:  Once the bottom of the dish is totally covered with biscuits top with half of the cream mixture.  Then add half of the finely chopped chocolate
6:  Add another layer of biscuits dipped in coffee, followed by the rest of the cream, then top with chocolate
7:  Place in the fridge overnight.  

Buon Apetito!




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pici cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper)


I recently had the pleasure of eating this dish in a trattoria in Siena.  The trattoria was filled with local Italian's eating this perfectly spiced and creamy pasta (of course I had to try it).  When I asked the all too friendly owner how to make it, it became apparent that this is the perfect example of "less is more".   You will be surprised that the velvety consistency of this dish does not require cream.  "Pici" is a type of pasta much thicker than regular spaghetti and it regional to Siena.  "Cacio e pepe", translates to cheese and pepper however is regional to Rome.  For this recipe I purchased the pasta from Siena, however it is possible to make fresh.   This is pasta  should be enjoyed on a cold day with a glass of red wine, just as I did.

What you need:
500g Pici (enough for about 6 people)
200g Pecorino Cheese
Freshly ground pepper

How to make:
1:  Boil the pasta in a large well salted pot of water (according to the instructions on the pasta).  Roughly 20 minuets.
2:  When the pasta is cooked, reserve 2-3 laddles of water from the pot.  Strain the pasta.
3:  Put the pasta back in the empty pot and add the laddles of water back to the pan off the heat and stir (this is the secret to making a creamy sauce).
4:  Stir through the pecorino cheese.
5: Freshly crack a good amount of cracked pepper and stir

Buon Apetito!




Friday, October 14, 2011

Spritz


This is not a recipe as such, just a beverage I feel needs to be shared with you.  It is a drink I delight in once a day, and introduce to all that come to visit me!  This drink is served during "aperitivo" in Italy, a ritual most Italians participate in to enjoy a pre-diner drink and snack.   You can find people young and old delighting in conversation at one of the many bars around Italy enjoying a Spritz.  It is more common to see people drinking it in the North of Italy as it is originally from Venice.  It can be served with Campari or Aperol, I prefer the sweetness of Aperol!  It is the PERFECT drink to enjoy on a hot summer's evening.
What you need:
Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)
A dash of Aperol (or Campari)
Top with sparkling soda water
Slice of orange

Serve in a low ball or wine glass over ice.

Salute!



Marmellata di fichi (fig jam)

Figs have been eaten for centuries and I feel exotic and decedent when I eat this ancient fruit. The colours, the texture and the scent of figs is truly spectacular.  Figs are in full season in Italy in August/September and can be seen in abundance.  Figs are simply divine when eaten on their own.  It is also a gastronomic experience to combine them with prosciutto, the sweet flavour of the figs combined with the salty prosciutto is delicious.  I recently went to a market in Italy and purchased five kilo's of figs.  Figs really need to be consumed not long after picking, so making fig jam is a great way to enjoy figs all year round.  Spread the jam on crusty bread or serve a little with a cheese platter.  


What you need:
1 kilo of figs
2 1/2 cups of figs
Zest of one large lemon

How to make:
Simply add all of the ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Once it comes to the boil bring it down to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20-30 minuets.  It is ready when you place a small amount of jam on a plate, put in the fridge for five minuets and sets. Once it is ready immediately place in hot sterilised jars.  This recipe will make about 6-8 small jars of yummy jam.

Buon apetito!





  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pasta fresca con salsa Siciliana (fresh pasta with Sicilian sauce)


This sauce is SO EASY to make and the flavours are so wonderfully tasty.  This is the perfect example of "less is more"!  You really only need to add a few good quality ingredients.  If time does not permit you can use store bought pasta, but to really make this dish special I suggest making your own.  The magic of kneading, rolling, cooking than eating pasta you have made is really special- and your friends will appreciate the extra effort.  Making pasta is a good way to involve your friends, family, kid's and grandparents- it is so much fun!  Anchovies are caught in abundance in the Mediterranean sea but especially around the South coast of Sicily.  However anchovies are enjoyed by Italians throughout  most regions.  Another Sicilian way of using this sauce is to serve over a grilled piece of swordfish!!





To make the pasta:
4 cups of 00 tipo flour
4 organic eggs
Pinch of salt

Step 1:  Sift flour and salt in a large bowl.  Make a large well and crack eggs into it.  Gently beat the eggs with a fork.
Step 2:  Combine the flour with the eggs by bringing the flour down from the sides of the bowl.  Once all combined bring together into a ball.
Step 3:  Turn the ball onto a clean and well floured surface and knead the dough.  This should take about 5 minutes.  The dough will be ready when it turns slightly shiny.
Step 4:  Wrap the dough in cling wrap and store in the fridge for 1/2 hour.
Step 5:  Cut the dough into 8 pieces and start pressing through a pasta machine.  I started on number 3, then number 1 (all pasta machines are different).  Remember the pasta will become thicker once added to water.  Rub some flour on each piece of dough let it pass through the machine more easily.
Step 6: I prefer to hand cut my pasta as opposed to putting through the pasta machine for "spaghetti" or "fettuccine" etc.  Just fold each sheet of rolled pasta, and cut with a sharp knife.  Once cut you can either place in a pile or hang (I use a CLEANED broom)
Step 7: Add to boiling well salted water for about 5-10 minutes (again depending on how thick your pasta is)



To make the sauce:
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Italian anchovy fillets
1/2 cup Italian capers
1/2 onion
1/2 tspn fresh chili chopped finely 
2 crushed garlic
1 small tomato
1/2 cup parley

Simply heat the olive oil (you may need more or less than 1 cup).  Than add the anchovies, capers, onion, garlic and chili into the pan.  Stir on a very low heat for 5 minutes until the onion is cooked through.  I like to let the sauce sit for 1/2 hour to let the flavours infuse the oil, than reheat prior to serving.  Add the tomato just before serving to heat through.  Simply stir through the pasta and top with fresh parsley.

Buon Apetito!



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pesto Alla Genovese


Making pesto is the perfect way to use basil when it is in abundance during the summer months!  I love the vibrant colour of homemade pesto, unlike the variety available in supermarkets.  It is such an easy thing to make and the fragrance when tearing the basil fills the air.  Once made, the pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week, perfect for unexpected guests.  Originally pesto was made using a pestle and mortar and originates from Genoa in the Liguria Region.  Although great pleasure can be had by physically making your pesto, when time does not permit simply add all of the ingredients together and blend in a mixer.


50 gr fresh basil
2 gloves of garlic
15 gr pine nuts
70 gr Parmigiano Reggiano
30g Pecorino cheese
100 ml olive olive oil
Pinch of salt

Add all of the indigents together and blend in a mixer to resemble the image below.  Place the pesto in sterilised jars and top each jar with a layer of olive oil (this will help with the longevity of the pesto).

Use the pesto to spread on crusty bread, salads or my favourite is simply to stir through spaghetti!

Buon Apetito!


Pane con olive e rosmarino (olive and rosemary bread)

The perfume that fills the house when baking this bread is amazing.  It is wonderful that something so simple as a loaf of bread can bring such happiness and warmth to any environment.  The wonder of removing a perfectly baked loaf from the oven truly makes me smile and those around!  This recipe is so simple, and soon you will be addicted to baking fresh loafs.
5 cups bread-making flour tipo 00
25 grams of fresh yeast (availalbe from a good bakery)
2 cups warm water
2 tpsn salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tspn olive oil
1 cup of olives (I like green Sicilian)
Handful of fresh rosemary
Rock salt for the top of loafs

Step 1: Mix hot water, 2 cups of sifted flour and yeast together in a large bowl
Step 2: Add sugar, salt and oil.  This stages combines and activates the yeast.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes
Step 3: Add 3 more cups of sifted flour, then olives.  When the dough gets tough to stir with a wooden spoon, flip onto a clean and well floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes.  This will depend on the consistency of your dough.
Step 4: Let the dough sit and rise in a bowl in a warm place (I place over a bowl of warm water).  Cover with a tea towel and let rise between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Step 5: Remove the dough and punch it down (the dough should rise to double in size).  Literally use your fists to punch it.
Step 6: Place some flour on a baking tray to prevent the dough from sticking.  Then separate dough in half and place side by side on the baking tray to resemble the shape of bread (see picture below).  Sprinkle loafs with rock salt and rosemary (or oregano and olive oil etc).
Step 7: Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, but keep your eye on them!

This bread is delicious on it's own but I generally serve it on the table to accompany a meal!


Buon Appetito!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tortelli di zucca con burro e salvia (pumpkin tortelli with butter & sage)


I was inspired to make this dish today as we are now heading toward the winter months in Italy and pumpkin's are starting to appear locally.  The only time consuming part of this is making the pasta, but is well worth the small amount of effort to make it- it is really delicious.  It is also fun if you can assemble the pasta with friends, a nice way share in conversation.  This dish is from the Emilia-Romagna region in the North of Italy.  I received the ultimate compliment from a satisfied guest when she said my ravioli was just like her Mother's.




For the filling:
100g Amaretti biscuits (to resemble fine bread crumbs)
100g Grana Padano cheese
600g Pumpkin
1/2 tspn freshly grated nutmeg
Pepper and Salt to taste


For the pasta dough:
4 cups of flour (buy "000' tipo)
4 eggs
Pinch of salt

For the sauce:
300g butter
Hand full fresh sage leaves
I smashed garlic (not minced)

Grana Padana cheese for the top!!!

First to make the dough, get a large glass bowl and sift the flour and salt.  Make a well in the middle of the flour.  Add the eggs and whisk gently in the middle.  Start bringing the sides of the flour into the centre to mix with the eggs.  When all is combined, place on a well floured surface.  Flour your hands and start kneading the dough.  This will take about 5-10 minutes and is complete when the dough has a shiny surface.  Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 1/2 hour.  
After 1/2 hour cut into 8 pieces and roll through a pasta machine.  I started on number 6, than went down to 3, but every machine is different.  To make my "rustic" style tortelli I used a circle cutter and used my fingers and a fork to assemble.  You could use a ravioli cutter if you wish!  Simply place one circle in one hand, add some filling, then place another circle on top.  Use a little egg wash to help the dough stick together and your fingers to press!

To make the filling:  Roast the pumpkin in the oven for 1/2 hour with some salt and pepper.  Then combine all the ingredients together.  

Cook the ravioli in hot boiling water with salt for approx 10-15 minutes, but this will depend on how thick or thin you have made your pasta so keep your eye on them!!!!  

The sauce really only take 5 minutes to make.  Simply add the butter to the pan, the garlic and whole sage leaves!  I like to fry some sage leaves separately in hot oil to garnish- also to add some crisp!!!!

Serve with fresh grated Grana Padano!

"Buon Appeitto"