“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 Tuscany, Italy!

Friday, December 28, 2012

il mio giorno di Natale- my Christmas day

Franca- the host and one of the most wonderful cooks
Once again I find myself at a loss for words. This Christmas was the first Christmas I faced myself away from my family. Although I had not really thought about this towards the lead up to Christmas, once I was amongst my friends all discussing their plans I had a longing sensation to be close to the ones I love. I had originally planned to spend the day with people like myself, people away from their families. However, I was overwhelmed with my Italian friends generosity to include me in their celebrations. One friend in particular, Claudia, who's generosity continues to surprise me, insisted that I join her family for Christmas day. She would not take no for an answer and insisted I be with a family on Christmas day- and in a sense I consider to be my family away from home. This family I have spent many Sunday's with, the host Franca is such welcoming person with a warm spirit, not to mention she is a sensational cook. She also loves to talk about cooking with me- one of the only proper conversations I can have in Italian!
The table was set for twelve in elegant style, the lunch kicked of at 12:30 and included the intermediate family...and myself. I was sat at the centre of the table, to me one of the best seats in the house. A speech was made in my honour by the Uncle welcoming me on Christmas day, which actually brought tears to my eyes. I don't have the words to describe what a heart felt and special Christmas day I had without sounding cheesy. Franca had gone to extensive lengths to create about fifteen different plates, an endless stream of food just kept arriving. The lunch lasted for a good few hours with many heated topics discussed. Including the typical subjects usually discussed by Italian's: food, sex and politics, or until the Grandmother proclaimed that it is Christmas day and politics should not be spoken off (sex and food are ok). We discussed some of the cultural differences between Italy and my home country, Australia. I was taken aback by the declaration that in their opinion I am an inspiration for the woman in Italy. In the sense that I am independent, I have had a successful career, I have travelled, a dream for many young Italian's, not only women. They were impressed that whether we like her or not, in Australia have a woman Prime Minister.  I also had an interesting conversation with Cinzia, who once learnt of this blog, was concerned that I was portraying the wrong impression of Italy. Once we spoke about it's contents she approved that I am writing about Italy in an informative, positive light.
The lunch progressed into the evening, finishing with sweets and prosecco, coffee and limoncello. Once the formalities of the procession of food finished, everyone excitedly exchanged presents. My cute little parcel from Claudia revealed a raunchy g-string and matching nipple tassels- needless to say I was rather embarrassed to receive this present at the table. Once the excitement of the day wound up it was time to say good-bye, many sincere hugs were given with the pretense of hopefully seeing each again soon.
My girlfriends Claudia and Serena had previously committed to staying at my house on Christmas night, so I would not spend the night alone. I was more than happy with this commitment and was touched at their thought for me. Once the word got out that the three of us were having a 'slumber party', it was clear that it we were not going to be alone. As I live on the main street in Viareggio and most people take a stroll in the evening, my doorbell just kept ringing. My Italian friends all rallied together to come and keep the girl from Oz company. Before I knew it, there was about twenty people, and two Labrador's in my small apartment. The night consisted of eating and drinking the limited supplies I had in my house for the unplanned party, being serenaded to, dancing on chairs, singing karaoke and just having a good merry time. I really had a moment where I just sat back in silence and observed the situation, how lucky I am to have these amazingly kind people in my life. Also a moment of realisation that I have made it here, what more could I ask for? I am so happy at this moment in my life, that I sometimes wonder when this bubble will burst? Is this a pessimistic was of looking at life? For now at least, I am grateful for my happiness. I am not so grateful at the state my house was left in!
This Christmas was definitely a day I will remember until my memory will not allow me to do so! 
I hope your Christmas day was filled with even half as much love as mine,
Kara xx
starters- pear with Gorgonzola and pistachio nuts
'zampone' (stuffed pig's trotter) with lentils
pecorino cheese with honey 
Pandoro decorated and filled with homemade limoncello cream
my friend Claudia
  opening the 'naughty' gifts after lunch
   Alessio and Cinzia open their presents

My 'last minute' Christmas table set awaiting my guests 

Aaron arrive after his long shirt at work
a have a slight affection for this liquor- Amaro
the cooking utensils came out for Karaoke- and it was NOT my idea!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Buon Santo Stefano- Happy boxing day

In Italy boxing day is known as Santo Stefano, which holds great religious significance. Since I am not a devout follower, I will not go into the long explanation of who Stefano was- it's a long story dating back to around 33 AD. 
Most of us in Australia associate boxing day with spending time in long lines waiting to buy the latest bargain after fighting another person for the last gadget on the shelve. However, here in Italy the focus is on spending time at home with family. Boxing day has always been a special day for me in Australia spent with my family- today I reminisce of spending hours sitting around the table with them and how I sincerely miss this.
The lead up to Christmas here has been a none stop food marathon, our bellies are well and truly full. My Christmas day literally included around 30 courses (I am not complaining). After such indulgence, it it common for dinner on Christmas night or on boxing day to eat soup- something much lighter. A typical example is 'tortellini in brodo'- although so simple to prepare it is really one of my favourite things to eat. Search this blog on how to make!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ricciarelli- almond biscuits

I could not help myself- I just had to make these! It is 12:30pm on Christmas Eve and I have just been invited to spend Christmas lunch tomorrow with a friends family- who insisted I must spend my day with a family! I have also spent many Sunday's with this particular family and not only do I love their company but the Mother, Franca is a wonderful cook.
On my last visit these biscuits were presented with coffee. It is a traditional almond base biscuit originating from Siena, Tuscany and dating back to the 14th century. You will find these biscuits in every household throughout Tuscany at Christmas time. I thought it be fitting to make them and bring with me tomorrow.
However the traditional method takes almost two days to make, this is a more condensed version given the short notice I had. The result is delicious, a crispy crust with a gooey inner. Traditionally drunk with a sweet wine Vin Santo or Moscadello di Montalcino.  
what you need:
250 g of sweet almonds
300 g caster sugar
one tablespoon of honey
peel of one lemon
one egg white
icing sugar for dusting

how to make:
1: Finely blend the almonds in a food processor. Place in a large bowl, add the sugar.
2: Add the honey, grated lemon peel
3: Whisk the egg white and add to almond mixture
4: Roll out on a lightly sugared bench and use your hand to form a long log
5: Cut the log into roughly 2cm sections and place on a oven try lined with baking paper. The shapes should slightly be diamond shape, use your hands to mould
6: Place in a pre-heated 140 degrees oven for 15 minuets, taking care that the biscuits do not colour but retain a soft white colour
7: Remove and allow to cool. Once cooled sprinkle with icing sugar