“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!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gelato alla nutella (nutella ice-cream)

What is there not to like about Nutella?  It infuses the perfect combination of creaminess, sweetness, yet bitterness. Which is no doubt why Italian's are proud to claim Nutella as their own, originally from Piedmont.  You will probably find a jar in the pantry of most Italian households.  Also some coffee shops have massive five litre jars sitting behind the counter, quite a sight!  I do actually have the recipe to make my own Nutella but for the purpose of making this ice-cream I am using the original tried and true version- purchased from the store! This gelato is SO yummy and is so simple to make.  It possess all of the words I used to describe Nutella, but is amplified in a frozen delicious version!  I remember on my first visit to Italy many years ago this was one of my favourite gelato flavours, and  still is!!
What you need:
300 ml full cream milk
200ml fresh full fat cream
1/2 cup caster sugar (anti freeze agent)
300 gr Nutella
How to make:
1: Add the milk, cream and sugar in a medium size bowl and whisk until the sugar has absorbed.  Using a hand held whisk add the Nutella in small batches to the cream mixture and blend
2:  Once all of the ingredients have been combined pour slowly into a frozen ice-cream churn.  Churn for approximately 45 minutes or until the mixture has thickened
3: Pour the thickened mixture into a metal container and place covered in the freezer
Buon gelato!

Gelato di fragole (strawberry ice cream)

"You scream, I scream, we all scream for ICE-CREAM"- or as Italian's say GELATO (plural=gelati).  Gelati dates back to ancient Roman times and it seems that no matter where you travel in Italy- come rain or shine, Italian's still LOVE indulging in this ancient deliciousness!  It is quite comical to see Italian's walking around the streets when it is snowing delighting in this frozen godliness..brghhhhhh!!!  If you love ice-cream, Italy is the place for you, as you are never too far from a "gelateria" (ice-cream store), normally run by a family that take great pride in the art of making gelati.  Never be too shy to ask for a try before you buy "posso provare il gelato alla fragola"? (may I try the strawberry ice-cream?), as the artisan is usually happy to oblige.  The supermarket variety version of ice-cream we get in Australia is completely different as air is added during the churning process.  Italian gelati has less air added resulting in a much more dense texture resulting in a richer flavour.  I will add a few different recipes for gelati as I am visiting Australia where it is currently 40 degrees, inspiring a nice cool treat!  It was a  pure delight making this recipe as I originally picked the strawberries, than had the relaxing experience of making it and the heavenly experience of eating it and sharing it with my friends!
What you need:
150ml full fat milk
one lemon, rind only
one vanilla bean pod (cut in half, length ways)
one cup white sugar (anti freeze agent)
one organic large egg
one organic egg yolk
300g fresh strawberries pureed 
300ml pure cream
How to make:
1: Combine milk, lemon rind, vanilla bean, sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil gently.  Remove from heat and allow to cool
2: Place egg, egg yolk in a large bowl and whisk until pale and frothy.  Add pureed fresh strawberries and cream to bowl. Then strain the cooled milk mixture to the bowl using a strainer
3: Pour mixture into a chilled ice-cream churn machine and process for about 45 minuets, or until it has thickened.
4: Once the mixture has thickened pour into a metal based pan, cover and place in the freezer.  It can last for about a month in the freezer, but I doubt it will last that long!
Buon gelato!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Insalata di pomodori da Nonna Guastella (tomato salad from Grandma Guastella)

Love and marriage....tomatoes and Italy!!!  A freshly picked tomato from a sun ripened vine is an explosion of pure pleasure.  I personally love eating fresh tomatoes sliced with a drizzling of olive oil and cracked salt on crusty bread.  You can see tomatoes being grown from the north to the south, on cliff faces, in the  mountains and even out windowsills in cities around Italy.  This recipe requires the use of homegrown or organic tomatoes as they hold much more flavour.  It is also best that the tomatoes are ripe and are served at room temperature.  I received this recipe  from the beautiful Guastella family, this salad is made with love by their Nonna (Grandmother).  Use some fresh bread to soak up the left over tomato juices remaining in the bowl.
What you need:
10 medium to large tomatoes
one baby onion finely sliced
two organic garlic gloves crushed and finely chopped
3/4 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
large handful of fresh basil leaves torn
freshly cracked salt and pepper
How to make:
1: Mix the oil and garlic together in a cup and set aside (the longer it sits the more intense the flavour)
2: Roughly dice the tomatoes to the desired size and place in a serving bowl, add the very finely chopped onion and stir through.  Season well with salt and pepper
3: When you are ready to serve, pour the oil over the tomatoes. Then tear the basil leaves and carefully toss through.  It is optional to serve with a little balsamic vinegar  
The beautiful Guastella girls!!!!
Buon apetito

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Insalata Russa (Russian salad)

Although the origins of this salad are debated there are claims that this salad dates back over 800 years and was introduced to Italy when Russian dignitaries visited.  I however was introduced to this salad by Anna Bernado, a beautiful family friend living in Ostia, just outside of Rome.  I was given the privilege of "designing" the top of the salad and chose the words "Natale" (Christmas), given that this was to be served to the family as part of a Christmas feast.  This entail came with a round of applause as it was presented to the table.  I can only take credit for the "design", however Anna takes full credit for the the preparation and delicious flavour.  This salad is generally served around Christmas time in Italy however you can find it during "apertivo time" at local bars and restaurants (I have tried many varieties but I have not had one as good as Anna's). The success of this salad is in the making of your own mayonnaise, the supermarket variety is incomparable.  Serve as an accompaniment to grilled fish, roast meats or even on some crusty bread.
Grazie tanti Anna per la ricetta!!!!
Mayonnaise Ingredients:
What you need:
500ml Extra virgin Italian olive oil
two large organic eggs 
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon
How to make:
Use a hand held stick blender. Place eggs in the bottom of a long, round container (normally provided with stick blender).  Then add the oil.  Place the stick blender in the container at the bottom and turn on for a few seconds, slowly move the stick blender up towards the top of the container.  This will take about  1-2 minutes as the egg/oil mixture combines and thickens to create mayonnaise.  Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.      

What you need for the salad:
300 grams peeled and boiled potatoes, then cubed
300 grams of carrots boiled in hot water with some salt
300 grams peas
two tablespoons capers
two tablespoons pickled gherkins cut into small pieces
400 grams of fresh prawns cooked then peeled (alternatively use cubed pieces of prosciutto) 

How to make:
1: Place all of the ingredients into a bowl but only half of the carrots, gherkins and prawns (reserve the other half for decorating)
2: Mix half of the mayonnaise mixture through the vegetable and prawn mixture and transfer to serving dish
3: Top with the remaining mayonnaise 
4: Use the reserved carrot, gherkin and prawns to create your "own design" on top
5: Make a day in advance to enhance the flavour
Buon apetito

Granita di fragola (strawberry granita)

I still remember the overwhelming taste that hit my lips when I had my first granita and the cooling sensation as it temporarily protected me from the hot streets of Napoli.  I can still smell the petrol fumes in the air, the sounds of the motorbikes zooming past and chatter of local Italian's minding every ones business.  The sounds seemed to stop for a minute as I got lost in my granita. Granita is a semi frozen desert using water and sugar and the two fruit varieties that I saw everywhere in Napoli were lemon and strawberry. Granita is originally from Sicily and has a much finer, crystallised texture than the chunky style found in Napoli (both regions are in the south of Italy).  I recently had the pleasure in picking my own strawberries and thought making granita was the perfect way to preserve the little treasures. 
What you need:
800ml water
300g normal white sugar
one lemon
400g fresh strawberries
How to make:
1: Add water and sugar in a wide saucepan and bring to the boil, then add the juice of one lemon
2: Add crushed strawberries to saucepan (I used my hands to crush as I like a slightly chunky texture), bring to the boil
3: Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
4: Place in a metal based baking tray/tin/bowl (the wider the surface the quicker it will be ready) and place in the freezer and cover with cling wrap
5: Let the mixture slightly start to ice then use a fork to break the forming ice.  Repeat this process every half hour, continuing to break and fluff ice with a fork.  After about five hours (depending on the size and depth of your bowl), you will have a perfect summer treat!