“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, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

What did you eat today, Good Friday?   Although Good Friday in Italy is not a day of celebration as such, it is a day where Catholics do not consume meat (some fast altogether).  An alternative is fish, and I normally take the opportunity to make "spaghetti alle cozze" (spaghetti with mussels).  This has become my own little tasty tradition, and enjoyed with my family and friends (sometimes randoms too). I thought I would share this with you, recipe to follow!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter)

Gemma cutting the Easter bread "Colomba".
Buona Pasqua- Happy Easter.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my followers for your support and enthusiasm.  It is great to hear from you and to know that the information I am putting out is being well received.  I love to hear of your cooking stories.  It has been great to receive messages about what recipes you will be using for this Easter weekend. It has also been exciting to know that various work places are talking about my blog and using it productively. One thing I do ask is that you continue spreading the word about my blog and asking your friends and family to join- it only takes a minute.  Ideally I would like to find a sponsor, so the more supporters the better.
I wish you and your families a happy and yummy Easter!
Ciao e un bacino (bye and a little kiss),
Making colourful Easter decorations for the table

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cannoli Siciliani (Sicilian Cannoli)

I don't even know how to describe my love for these little treasures.  For me when I eat them they remind of many fond childhood memories.  To this day, not only do I eat them with fondness and  nostalgia, I truly enjoy the flavour.  The crisp outer pastry filled with creamy ricotta mixed with tangy fruit peel, nuts and chocolate is truly a wondrous combination. There is nothing more Sicilian than "cannoli" however each household varies the ingredients slightly (some omit the nuts and fruit peel).  Today I am sharing with you a recipe that I hold close to my heart, and a recipe I helped make on many occasions with my boyfriends Nonna!  I had barley more than a few euros in my pocket on my first trip to Sicily many years ago, however I made sure I bought myself a 'cannoli'.  It did not disappoint! The streets in Sicily are lined with pastry shops selling mountains of 'cannoli' decorated in various ways, all as equally beautiful and colourful.  To me eating a 'cannolo' is a symbol of family, celebration and love and needs to be shared with others. Although lengthy to prepare they are actually quite simple to make and so rewarding.    Enjoy with a nice strong coffee or a glass of sweet desert wine (although sometimes we would have grappa)!
What you need:
To make the cannoli:
250g white flour tipo 00
30g white wine vinegar
30g marsala wine
30g icing sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
5g cocoa powder
one egg
50g lard
For the filling:
750g ricotta cheese
300g icing sugar
1/4 cup candied mixed orange peel
1/4 cup pistachio nuts chopped
75g 70% cocoa dark chocolate finely chopped

Peanut oil for frying
How to make:
1:  Sift flour, icing sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa into a large bowl, make a well in the centre.
2: Add lard  to the centre of flour combination and mix in with finger tips.  Pour in the marsala and white wine vinegar, use finger tips to combine, then transfer to bench top and lightly knead together.  Once kneaded to a ball, wrap in cling wrap and place n fridge for 1/2 hour.
3: To prepare the ricotta mix place the ricotta in sieve and push through with a metal spoon.  This will help give the ricotta a creamier texture.  Sift and stir through icing sugar.
4: Add the chopped fruit peel, chopped nuts and chocolate to ricotta mix.  Place in fridge until ready to use.
5: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough as thin as possible.  Use a large round cutter to cut roughly 16 circles.
6: Take one circle and wrap around a metal "cannoli" tube.  Use a little milk wash to join overlapping dough.  Continue process until all circles have been wrapped (or take in turns depending on how many "cannoli" tubes you own).
7: Place 4 'cannoli" tubes into pre-heated peanut oil for approximately 1-2 minutes.  Remove dough from metal tubes and allow to cool on absorbent paper.  Be careful of your hands, the tubes will be extremely hot
8: Once all of the "cannoli" have been cooked and cooled use a piping bag to fill the "cannoli" with the ricotta mix.
9: Finally to decorate place one glazed cherry at one end and a thinly sliced orange peel at the other.  Alternatively, you can  dip in finely chopped chocolate or pistachio nuts.
10: Dust lightly with icing sugar
Buon Apetito!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Treccia Pasquale (Easter bread)

"Buona Pasqua a tutti" (Happy Easter to all)!  There is nothing more festive than the smell of baking this bread.  The poignant colour from the symbolic red eggs the rich yellow dough derived from using saffron.  The most common bread made and sold everywhere around Italy at Easter time is the "Colomba", a sweet bread shaped as a dove.  Similar to the famous bread sold all over Italy at Christmas time, the "Panettone".   There are various stories to the actual origins for both of these breads, but there is a solid case to Milan being the birthplace.  I choose to make this "Pane di Pasqua" over the more popular "Colomba", only because I like the overall festive effect.  Due to strong Catholic virtues, the red colour of the eggs is to symbolise the blood of Christ.  The bread is quite dense and the aroma and taste of saffron is pure decadence.  A handy tip is to wear gloves before dying eggs, speaking from experience!!
What you need:
1kg tipo 000 flour
50g fresh yeast (purchase from bakery)

6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
one 1/4 cup of warm milk
one teaspoon of sugar
four eggs
pinch of ground saffron 
fennel or anise seeds to taste
How to make:
1: Sift flour in a large bowl and create well in centre
2: Warm milk, add fresh yeast and sugar and whisk.  Set aside for a minute so that the mixture starts to froth (this is the yeast activating).  Crush the saffron treads as fine as possible and add to mixture
3: Pour the mixture into the centre of the sifted flour.  With a fork start to fold the flour in from the outside and start mixing together.  Once combined with a fork, use your hands to combine and knead on a floured bench for 5-10 minuets.  Add a little more warm milk, oil, or flour to desired texture.  The dough should be shiny and elastic and should spring back when pushed with finger
4: Set dough aside for 1 1/2, covered with a tea towel in a warm, dark place
5: Use oiled hands to re-knead the dough for 2-3 minuets. Cover again and set aside in a warm, dark place for another hour
6: Put dough on bench, use oiled hands to quickly knead, cut into three equal parts and roll each part into a long sausage like shape.  Also hold the dough up and let it naturally fall and stretch.
7: Place three separate pieces of dough on oven tray lined with baking paper.  Plait the dough to desired shape.  Brush dough with milk/oil wash.  Sprinkle with fennel seeds
8: Place pre dyed eggs in desired position
9: Bake in pre-heated 220 degrees oven for 30-40 minutes
10: Allow to cool on rack and enjoy warm
Use food colouring to dye eggs.  Although traditionally eggs were dyed using various vegetables.
Buona Pasqua