“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!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pollo al Vin Santo (Chicken cooked in Vin Santo)

This dish is really not the most appealing but the delicate flavour and smell is quite a sensation.  It is such a simple recipe to make, perfect for a weekday dinner.  The chicken is so tender and absorbs the juices from the wine and Vin Santo- a Tuscan sweet wine.  Serve with a side of green vegetables and roast potatoes. 


What you need:
One kilo of free range chicken diced (use all parts for more flavour)
Two large onions sliced
Five gloves of garlic
Ten tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One cup of dry wine
1/4 cup Vin Santo (Tuscan sweet wine)
One tablespoon fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
How to make:
1:  Season the chicken with salt and pepper
2:  Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan, then add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides on a low heat.  Once slightly browned transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside
3:  Turn to a low heat, add the onions and garlic and saute until tender and slightly golden.  Add the white wine and cook until it evaporates
4: Transfer the chicken and all the juices to the pan, cover and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes
5: Remove the lid and add the vin santo and cook until almost evaporated
6:  Add the fresh parsley and serve immediately

Panino al tonna (tuna sandwich)

This is not a recipe by any means, just one of the most delicious sandwiches that I enjoy often in Italy.  I think that no matter where you travel in Italy you can find a "Panifico" (sandwich bar) on every street corner, and you can certainly find a good quality sandwich at most train stations, bars and coffee shops.  Any-way, I have become "semi famous" in the house that I live in for the way I make a "tonno panino".  My only secret is the brand of tuna that I buy (Rio Mare)and using either homemade bread or buying fresh bread.  You really can not buy the low fat variety of tuna for this as you need the oil to soak into the bread for flavour (tuna in Italian olive oil). Some places make this sandwich solely using tuna and tomatoes, some add a little lettuce and sometimes mayonnaise. Do as the Italian's, and wrap a napkin around the bread to eat and keep your hands crumb free.
What you need (to make one sandwich):
One slice of fresh foccacia (refer to foccacia recipe)
One fresh tomato
A little lettuce
Italian extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper

How to make:
Slightly grill the bread, add tuna first (including the oil from the can), add tomatoes, drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper, than add lettuce!
Buon apetito


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buona Domenica (Good Sunday)

Buona Domenica!  After many months of travelling, cooking and secretly writing down my recipes I have finally found the courage to share with you my blog!  Although in my opinion there is still so much more that I want to share with you, the people closest to me encouraged me to "bite the bullet" and "go live".  So, this morning as I was lying in bed I thought "today is going to be the day".  For today is Sunday and as we say in Italy "Buona Domenica" (good Sunday).  A day that I love most. I also found it fitting that today was a day that I was cooking for eight people.  It was quite humorous to me that today I also refereed to my own blog for a recipe.  Today I made lunch (pranzo) using recipes that I have listed on my blog, including homemade bread with olivata, homemade pasta with Sicilian sauce, and a chocolate and pear cake.  

A perfect lunch, a perfect Sunday, a perfect day to launch my blog!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cantucci (almond biscuits)

One thing the Tuscan's can agree on is that Cantucci and Vin Santo are from this region.  Trying to find exactly where from, that is another story.  I have been to many towns including Sienna, Montalcino and Florence all claiming that it is from their region.  Any-way, regardless of where exactly it is from this is the perfect way to end a rich Italian meal.  The not too sweet biscuits are served with a glass of semi sweet Vin Santo wine as a desert.  The way to enjoy this is to dip the biscuits in the Vin Santo.
What you need:
Three cups of plain flour
One cup of sugar
125g unsalted butter
Three large organic eggs
3/4 cups blanched almonds
One tablespoon orange zest
How to make:
1: Sift the flour into a medium bowl
2: Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl until blended.  Add the eggs one at a time until light and fluffy
3: Mix in the orange zest and almonds.  Then add the flour
4:  Divide the dough into three sections and shape each into long, slightly oval shaped tubes
5: Place each long tube on baking tray lined with baking paper and floured slightly
6: Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minuets.  Cut the cookie dough into 1/2 inch thick slices and at a slight angles.  Place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes
7: Serve at room temperature with Vin Santo

Buon Apetito

Olivata (Olive paste)


The French say tapenade, the Italian's call it Olivata.  Call it what you will, either which way it is so easy to make and so yummy to eat.  This is typically served during 'apertivo' time in Tuscany and is the perfect snack with a nice glass of Chianti wine.  It is also common to order a plate of "crostini misti" (mixed crusty bread) and for Olivata to be one of the toppings.  Once bottled top with some good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil and keep in a dark space to preserve the life of the olivata.  
What you need:
One kilo of oil-cured olives
1/2 cup of Italian extra virgin olive oil
Two gloves of garlic
One sprig of rosemary
Salt to taste
How to make:
1: Simply place the olives, rosemary, garlic and salt in a mixer and gradually add the olive oil
2: Blend until you get the desired consistency
3: Place in sterilized glass jars and top each jar with olive oil
4: Serve with warm crusty bread

Buon Apetito

Friday, November 11, 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 espesically around the South coast of Sicily.  However anchovies are enjoyed by Italians in 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.
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.
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 chilli chopped finely 
2 crushed garlic
1 small tomatoe
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 chilli 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 tomatoe just before serving to heat through.  Simply stir through the pasta and top with fresh parsley.

Buon Apetito!



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crostini con salsiccia (Crusty bread with sausage meat)


This is one of my favourite snacks that is so simple to make and is soooooooooo tasty!  I first had this delicious snack accompanied with a glass of red wine for "apertivo" in Florence.  Although not so forgiving on the waist line this snack is pure indulgence.  Make sure you buy good quality Italian sausages and not the supermarket variety.  I saw this served in Florence topped with melted provolone cheese however it is most common in Tuscany to be mixed with my favourite cream cheese "stracchino".  Drizzle with a little truffle oil for a heavenly delight.
What you need:
Two good quality homemade Italian sausages
200g stracchino cheese (a creamy, sharp flavoured cheese)
10 slices of crusty bread sliced thinly
Truffle oil for drizzling
How to make:
1: Remove the skin from the sausages and combine in a bowl with the cream cheese.  
2: Cut the bread slices to be about a centimetre thick and place in the oven for about ten minutes until crisp
3:  Spread the sausage and cheese mixture on top of each slice and place back in the oven for about five minutes
4: Drizzle with a little truffle oil and serve hot
A place in Florence to try this:
Le Volpie e Luva
Piazza de' Rossi 1
50125  Firenze
+39 055 239 8132
http://www.levolpieluva.com/Le_volpi/Home.html

Buon Apetito


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Torta di pere e cioccolato (chocolate and pear cake)

To tell you the truth I have no idea the origins of this cake, all I know is that it is really special.  Now that pears are fully in season in Italy I have seen this cake in many coffee shops throughout Tuscany recently.  It is neither high or fluffy, nor impressive to look at but it is dense, moist and rich in flavour.  The dessert wine in this cake adds a really nice flavour.  Enjoy with coffee or a glass of Vin Santo!
    
What you need:
100g Amaretti biscuits finely ground
170g Butter
200g dark chocolate
200g plain flour
700g pears
4 eggs
350ml moscato wine
100g sugar


How to make:
1: Cut the pears into slivers, place in a large saucepan and add moscato.  Cook until the pears have absorbed the moscato and become soft (about 15 minuets)
2:  Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan placed over a larger saucepan of boiling water.  When the chocolate is melted add the butter and stir until combined 
3: Whisk the eggs in medium size bowl, add the sugar and whisk.  Sift the flour in, add the amaretti biscuits and stir to combine
4:  Add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture
5:  Add half of the cake mixture to a well greased cake tin, place a layer of pears and top with the remaining mixture
6:  Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees for about 35-40 minutes
Buon Apetito
#buonadomenica #kara #torta #cake #chocolate #pear #cioccolato #pera #sweet #dolce #buona #gelosa #turista #tourist 


Zuppa di cipolle (onion soup)

This soup represents everything Tuscan:  Rich in flavour, simple to prepare, and cheap on the pocket.  As the weather progresses to be cold and rainy in Italy this soup really warms the cockles. It is so simple and easy to prepare and so decedent to eat.  I recently made this for a very delighted group of Italians and enjoyed it with a glass of red wine.  Serving the individual bowls from the oven with bubbling melted cheese really has an impressive effect.
                          
What you need:
One kilo of finely sliced onions
80g butter
40g white flour
One litre of homemade meat stock
Crusty bread sliced
Fontina cheese
Salt and Pepper
How to make:
1: Gently fry the onions and butter in a earthenware dish, stir with a wooden spoon to prevent from sticking.  Cook until the onions become soft and translucent
2: Continue to stir and gradually sprinkle with flour
3: Add the warm stock slowly and blend thoroughly
4: Cook over a lower heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
5: Add salt and pepper to taste
6: Place slices of bread in the middle of soup bowls, top with cheese.  Cook in the oven at 180 degrees until the cheese has melted
Buon Apetito




Pizza Margherita

“Here we are at last. The Italian proverb says “See Naples and die” but I say, see Naples and live; for there seems a great deal worth living for.” 
― Arthur John Strutt
This pizza is fit for Royalty, literally!  Queen Margherita of Italy was presented this pizza to resemble the colours of the Italian flag (red, white, and green) in 1889.  I had been travelling around Italy for several weeks eating all types of pizza, and then I tried the Margherita pizza in Naples.  I think it became my staple diet for the next few days of my visit.  What more could you want for one euro a slice ($1.50AUS) than the perfect blend of the sweetest tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, peppery basil and a thin crispy base.  This recipe really calls for the best quality ingredients to make it truly mouthwatering.  I think one thing that Italians can nationally agree on is the ingredients for the Pizza Margherita!  
       

What you need:
Basic dough recipe (refer to pizza dough recipe)
One ball of buffalo mozzarella (this should be floating in liquid)
One tin of Italian tomatoes PURED (or use passato sauce)
One handful of fresh basil
Extra virgin Italian olive oil
Salt for seasoning
How to make:
1: Generously cover an oven tray with olive oil
2: Roll out the pizza dough to fit your oven tray, no thicker than 3mm thick and place in tray
3:  Spread a thin layer of pureed tomatoes on base with the back of a spoon in a circular motion, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
4:  Cook in a well pre heated oven for about 10 minutes at 220 degrees until almost cooked
5:  Remove pizza from oven and add mozzarella slices, cook for a further 2 minuets until cheese has just melted
6:  Again drizzle with a little oil (tip, add one smashed clove of garlic to some olive oil for some extra flavour)
7:  Finish with basil
Pizzeria da Michele, Naples. Italy!
Buon Apetito





Pomodori secchi di Toscana (dried tomatoes)

Sun dried tomatoes are typically made in the south of Italy and generally I make a Sicilian version adding anchovies and capers to the preserve.  Since I am currently living in Tuscany and I was able to buy five kilo's of cherry tomatoes 'pomodorini' from the local market, I decided to make them "Tuscan style".  The colour and flavour of these little gems is so bold and sweet.  We are currently heading into winter so there is a lack of sunshine in which the tomatoes traditionally need to be dried under, so I have opted to use the oven.  This recipe is so simple and easy and the end result is truly remarkable.  The preserved tomatoes will last approximately three months and is a great snack served with crusty bread or typically this is served with meat in Tuscany.
What you need:
2 kilo's of tomatoes (bright and red)
Salt
Fresh parsley
2 bulbs of garlic
Extra virgin Italian olive oil
How to make:
1: Cut the tomatoes in half and evenly place them on a well salted baking tray.  Cover the tomatoes with a good amount of salt (this will help dry out the tomatoes)
2:  Place in the oven at 120 degrees for approximately 40minutes-1 hour 
3:  Place a layer of tomatoes in sterilized jars, add gloves of garlic and parley.  Repeat process until jars are filled and top with olive oil.  Seal the jars and store in a dark cool place.  It is best to let the flavour absorb for at least a month.
Buon Apetito



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Schiacciata con l'olio (flat bread with oil)


“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. That will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” 
― M.F.K. FisherThe Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition


What can I say about this bread?  Well, it is soft, crispy, oily, salty and simply delicious.  This bread is only found in Tuscany and depending on the region is either called Schiacciata or Focaccia.  Schiacciata literally means crushed, flattened or squashed in Italian.  Do not be fooled by this low lying bread, it really is so tasty.  In comes in sweet and savoury versions but it is most common to see it in bakeries "panifico" sold by the slab seasoned only with salt and oil. 
In Italy bread seems to be one of the only essentials that is disproportionately overpriced. For me another easy excuse to make this at home. Not to mention all of the therapeutic benefits I receive. Once you get the hang of this, I swear you will never go back. As with everything, it is always trial and error. But it is within error that triumphs success. I have successfully mastered the art of making foccacia and my friends eternally thanks me for this!

What you need:
400g un-bleached tipo 000 flour
250ml warm water
42g packet fresh yeast
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin Italian olive oil
2 tpsn oregano
Salt
(this recipe will make 3 large focaccia's) 

How to make:
1: In a large bowl mix the fresh yeast with warm tepid water and whisk.  Then add the sugar, then sift the flour
2:  Mix all of the ingredients together until combined.  Once combined use your hands to really work the dough.  Use the palms of your hands to knead the dough for approximately 2-3 minutes.  Once it has turned into a soft but firm consistency create a ball size and set aside
3:  Leave the dough in the large bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1/2 hour.  After 1/2 hour punch the dough down, then allow to rise again for 1 hour.  Cover the dough and set aside in a dark warm place (this will help the dough to rise).  The dough should double in size

What you need:
400g un-bleached tipo 000 flour
250ml warm water
42g packet fresh yeast
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin Italian olive oil
2 tpsn oregano
Salt
(this recipe will make 3 large focaccia's) 

How to make:
1: In a large bowl mix the fresh yeast with warm tepid water and whisk.  Then add the sugar, then sift the flour
2:  Mix all of the ingredients together until combined.  Once combined use your hands to really work the dough.  Use the palms of your hands to knead the dough for approximately 2-3 minutes.  Once it has turned into a soft but firm consistency create a ball size and set aside
3:  Leave the dough in the large bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1/2 hour.  After 1/2 hour punch the dough down, then allow to rise again for 1 hour.  Cover the dough and set aside in a dark warm place (this will help the dough to rise).  The dough should double in size

What you need:
400g un-bleached tipo 000 flour
250ml warm water
42g packet fresh yeast
1/2 tspn sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin Italian olive oil
Salt 

How to make:
1: In a large bowl mix the fresh yeast with warm tepid water and whisk.  Then add the sugar, then sift the flour
2:  Mix all of the ingredients together until combined.  Once combined use your hands to really work the dough.  Use the palms of your hands to knead the dough for approximately 2-3 minutes.  Once it has turned into a soft elastic consistency create a ball size and set aside
3:  Leave the dough in the large bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for an hour.  After one hour punch the dough down, then allow to rise again for one hour.  Cover the dough and set aside in a dark warm place (this will help the dough to rise).  The dough should double in size
4:  Cut the dough into 2-3 pieces (depending on the size of your oven trays).  Roll out the dough to the size of your oven trays.  The dough should be about 1 1/2 cm thick.  Place the rolled out dough onto very well oiled oven trays
5:  Lightly dust the dough with flour
6:  Use your fingers to press firmly into the dough to create wells (this will helps the oil to sink in).  Lavishly cover the dough in olive oil and sprinkle with salt (rosemary is optional)
7:  Bake in a pre heated 200 degrees oven for about 15 minuets (depending on how thick and large you have made it).  It is ready when it is golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on top.

 

Buon Apetito