“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!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pan di ramerino- Rosemary bread

These fragrant rosemary buns have been baked in Florence, Tuscany since the Middle ages during the period of Easter. In particular they were traditionally baked for 'Giovedi Santo' (the Thursday before Easter), however you can find these sweet savoury buns throughout the year in bakery windows.
Pan di Ramerino literally means 'rosemary bread' (rosamarino is rosemary in Italian, however in Florentine dialect it is pronounced 'ramerino', which is the literal meaning for these pastries).
To me these little buns are the perfect solution to a traditional sweet Italian breakfast, which generally consists of a coffee and 'cornetto' (croissant). The infused olive oil gives these buns such a decadent flavour whilst the sultanas offers a lovely sweet contrast. 
Although they look suspiciously like our hot cross buns, do not be fooled. These little buns are much more dense in texture, savoury yet delicate.
Take yourself back to ancient times, close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through the historic streets of Florence. Do yourself a little favour and bring a teeny bit of Florence into your home by making this recipe that Tuscan`s have been baking for hundreds of generations.
What you need (this recipe will make 12 buns):
500 grams tipo 00 bakers flour
25 grams of fresh yeast (available from good bakers)
200 grams of sultanas 
100 grams regular sugar 
100 grams fresh rosemary (a few large sprigs)
teaspoon of salt
170 grams of warm water
one egg yolk for brushing pastry 
three tablespoons of tuscan extra virgin olive oil  
How to make:
1: Soak the sultanas in water to moisten and swell (then strain)
2: Place the olive oil and rosemary in a saucepan and heat on a low flame for about 10 minutes to infuse flavour. Strain and set the oil aside to cool
3: In a large bowl sift the flour, sugar and salt
4: Dissolve the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water and whisk for a few seconds. Add the yeast water to the flour mix
5: Add the flavoured rosemary oil to the flour mix and use a fork to blend everything together
6: When the ingredients have come together, add the raisins and mix through the dough
7: Place flour on a clean bench space, flour hands and turn out dough onto bench to knead. Knead the dough to bring together until you have a smooth dough that is firm and springs back when pressed with finger tip (if the dough is too sticky add more flour, if too firm add a little warm water) 
8: Set dough aside for two hours in a dark warm place in a bowl covered with a tea towel to allow the dough to rise
9: Turn the dough out and evenly divide the dough into 12 buns and place onto a lightly floured baking try lined with baking paper. Set aside in a warm, dark place to rise for another hour
10: Brush the buns lightly with olive oil and place in a pre-heated 200 degree oven for 20 minuets
11: Remove from oven and brush with egg wash and bake for a further 5 minuets

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Torta Pasqualina- Savoury Easter tart

This savoury tart is really a celebration of life, that of Jesus. Although I am not religious, I do admire and respect traditions and culture, especially in regard to the kitchen. 
This particular tart has been baked for centuries as a celebration of the rising of Christ during the religious period of Easter (the egg represents life).
Torta Pasqualina (Pasqua is Easter in Italian) dates to the origins of Liguria, in the north of Italy. It is typical in Liguria to use a cheese known as prescinsena which has a slightly sour flavour, however throughout Italy ricotta is generally used. Which keeps me happy as I am an avocate for ricotta.
Originally the tart was baked with 33 layers of dough to symbolize  the years of Christ`s life, and 12 eggs to represent the apostles.
This recipe is much less laborious and is really easy to make if using good quality store brought puff pastry. I love making homemade breads and doughs, however puff pastry I frequently out source (feel free to make your own...applause to you). Considering the many meals, dinners, feasts and celebrations that I will be catering for over the Easter period, I am sure you will forgive me for not making my own puff pastry in this case. This tart will be just one of many many dishes served on the Easter table, but is certainly one of my favourites.
Not only do I love the flaky pastry, the flavour packed creamy filling, but I love cutting the tart to reveal the colourful whole baked eggs (always use organic). 
Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter) xx
What you need:
Two sheets of puff pastry 
500 grams of Ricotta (buy a blend such as sheep and cow`s milk if possible)
500 grams of cooked shredded spinach 
six organic eggs
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
teaspoon nutmeg
salt and black cracked pepper 
How to make:
1: Pre cook spinach by wilted in a saucepan with a little water and then shred 
2: Place all ingredients (except for eggs) in a large mixing bowl. Ricotta, spinach, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper 
3: Line a baking tin with baking paper and melted butter. Gently lay in first layer of puff pastry. Mark base with fork pricks 
4: Place 70% of the ricotta mixture in the base and then use finger to make six holes to place the eggs
5: Gently crack the eggs into the holes
6: Use the remaining 30% of ricotta mixture to top. TIP: Use the palms of your hands to make patty cake forms of mixture to place on top of the eggs. This will prevent breaking of eggs etc
7: Place the top layer of puff pastry and use fingers to seal the sides. Use eggs wash (egg and milk mixed together), to help seal pastry
8: Cut out pastry shapes and place on top of tart if desired. Brush with egg wash for a golden glow
9: Bake in a pre heated 200 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. However read instructions on the packet of the puff pastry. Remove from oven when golden and allow to cool before cutting!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

guazzetto di vongole e cozze. sautéd clams and mussels

This is one of the most simplest dishes to prepare and one that packs a wow factor when served at the table. Not only is it simple, it is amazingly delicious and does not run the wallet empty. This is one of my favourite seafood dishes to make as I love the ritual of sitting at the table over a good bottle of cold white wine (one with slight bubbles is even better), and sucking the mussel and clam shells dry, then to pile the empty shells mile high. I would have to say that this is one of my signature dishes and one that is consistently requested, at home and at work (also my rosticciana, click here for the recipe http://karasitaliankitchen.blogspot.it/2016/01/rosticciana-roasted-pork-ribs.html). 
In fact I have had people video me making this quick and no fuss dish, as it really is amazing seeing the beautiful shells open to absorb the fragrant flavours of the wine juices.
When eating in restaurants I really do like to try new things and generally order more complicated plates that I don't typically make at home, however this dish is one that I willingly order on a sunny day (especially if dining seaside). Some of my fondest memories have been enjoyed over a bowl of these babies.
With a little preparation and organisation  you can have this dish ready in less than ten minuets. It really is a win win plate! Serve with crusty bread to soak up the super tasty broth like juices!
What you will need (this will serve two as a main course, or four people as a entree):
1: One kilo of fresh mussels 
2: 300 grams of fresh clams (or buy 50/50 however mussels are much cheaper)
3: Two small ripe cherry tomatoes 
4: 2/3 gloves of garlic
5: Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
6: Rind of one lemon and juice
7: 1/4 cup of white wine (then enjoy the rest)
8: A teaspoon of Sicilian chili flakes (taste to test the hotness)
9: A good splash of extra virgin olive oil
10: Black cracked pepper
How to make:
1: Pre prepare all of the ingredients:
Chop parsley, dice garlic and cut tomatoes into small pieces
Remove two big pieces of lemon rind
Have your fish munger clean and wash the mussels very well (if eating within two hours). Wash the clams by placing in a bowl with water and swirl in a circular motion to remove sand, then strain in a colander 
2: Place the olive oil, parsley, garlic, tomato, lemon rind and chilli flakes into a large frypan (I usually prepare this an hour ahead of time so the oil has time to infuse with the flavours, however this is not necessary). See picture directly below 
3: Heat the pan on a medium heat and sauté the ingredients until the tomato has softened a little
4: Add the clams and mussels to the hot pan and mix around to coat in flavour. Add the wine 
5: Cook for approximately 5-8 minutes until all of the shells have opened (disregard unopened shells). You can cover with a lid however I use a large diameter fry pan and find that I do not need to cover
6: Just before serving add some lemon juice, parsley and cracked pepper
7: Serve immediately with crusty bread 
The base ingredients marinating in the fry-pan
 #vongole #cozze #clams #mussels #seafood #pesce 

Friday, March 18, 2016

pizza pizza pizza

“My love is pizza shaped. Won’t you have a slice? It’s circular, so there’s enough to go around.

I wanted to take a break from writing long dramatic stories on my life or writing recipes, although I know you love them!
Yes yes yes, there is the stereo type that Italian`s are pizza eater`s, but I am here to confirm that it is totally true, and they eat it often!
Pizza here is not taken lightly, and it is definitely not a case of dialing a 1800 number for home delivery. Pizza means so much more here in Italy. Pizza brings people together, it is a "modo di  vivere" (a way to live)! 
Pizza can be enjoyed amongst family, friends, work meetings, or it is common that a first date is nervously enjoyed sharing pizza. And yes, even on first dates Italian women eat pizza!
Going out for a weekly pizza amongst friends is the perfect alternative to a restaurant, especially when funds are tight. There are some really chic pizza restaurants where you can still enjoy table service, wine (although most Italian`s drink beer with pizza), and soak in the atmosphere. However Alessandro and I enjoy our weekly pizza at a very low key, no frills, very rustic pizzeria where the waiter knows our order.
In fact, I recently decided to celebrated my birthday with friends at a local pizzeria drinking far too much prosecco! The private room was a brick dome built into the ancient city walls, a very unique ambient indeed.
Pepenero pizzeria, Pietrasanta. Italy
Italian`s know their pizza and understand well the difference between the local pizzerie (pizza shops). And the difference is vast, some pizza bases are light and crunchy, some rich and yeasty, however it is a given that it should always be cooked in a wood fired oven. 
Although I am a lover of getting my hands dirty and do love beating out a good dough, there is a certain pleasure about being taken out for pizza. If you want to try making pizza at home, please find the recipe here;
The purpose of this article is to share some of my favourite pizza toppings with you. In Italy the pizza's are generally topped with no more than three or four ingredients. By choosing good quality, in season ingredients, you really don't need to add more. Remember less is more! All of my favourite pizza`s that I am listing below have a base of red sauce and mozzarella. You can also order pizza bianca (white pizza), which means no red sauce, however I prefer mine with!
1: Tuna, Tropea red onion topped with fresh rocket
2: Speak and mascarpone
3: Smoked salmon and mascarpone topped with fresh rocket
4: A simple Margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil). Check out link here;
5: Margherita topped with freshly sliced pieces of prosciutto crudo (smoked prosciutto)
6: Sausage pieces with gorgonzola
7: Origano with anchovies and capers
8: Lots of Tropea red onions finely slices with black olives and anchovies 
9: Zucchini flowers with anchovies 
10: Potato and rosemary 

#pizza #articolo #impasto #dough #article