“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, July 30, 2012

facebook

Buona Domenica (Good Sunday), finally has a facebook page. Please go to facebook and enter "Buona Domenica" in the search engine to add to your contacts. Feel free to suggest and share with your friends and family. I am reaching out for more foodie followers. Buona Domenica already has 500 members on facebook, keep them coming! 
Thanks,
Kara x




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ciambella (doughnut cake)

Such a pretty name, Ciambella! It literally translates to doughnut. Each region in Italy has many variations on how they make Ciambelle (plural), whether they be sweet or savoury. Although this cake is not literally a doughnut, the shape is inspired by one. It has a really moist texture and refreshing taste. As with a similar cake listed on this blog "torta al limone" (lemon cake),this cake would normally be eaten in Italy for breakfast with a cappuccino. Simply sprinkle with some icing sugar for understated presentation. 
what you need:
300g flour
250g sugar
1 3/4 cup of cream
1/2 tablespoon of baking powder
four large organic eggs
zest of one lemon (optional)
whisked egg whites 
how to make:
1: Separate egg yolks from whites. Beat sugar and egg yolks together
2: Sift and stir in flour and baking powder, stir to combine and add cream
3: Whisk eggs whites to form stiff peaks, lightly fold whipped egg whites into batter. Use a metal spoon, be careful not to knock the air out of the egg whites keeping the batter light
4: Pour in a greased bundt baking pan, place in a pre-heated 160 degree oven for about 45 minutes
5: Remove, allow to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar
waving the Italian flag in Viareggio, Tuscany

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Torta al cioccolato- Chocolate cake

Once you make this cake, you will want to make it for everyone you know. For you will want to share it's gloriousness with all. It is so rich, dense and oh so chocolaty. Just the perfect low lying height with a crispy crust and gooey centre. Now, I have spent time in my fair share of Michelin star restaurants, and could I be bold and say that a slither of this cake could be served in one (insert theatrics here)?
I first discovered this cake in Bologna as it is originally from a close by town called Vignola (the cake is known as Torta barozzi di Vignola). There are many recipes to be found, some include a shot of espresso coffee. 
This recipe is simple to make but insanely good to eat. I stress that you must use good quality dark chocolate to gain richness.
Believe it or not, I am actually not a massive fan of chocolate but this cake has me hooked for life, and has found me many friends along the way!
what you need:
400g 70% cocoa dark chocolate (I used 2 blocks Lindt chocolate)
two cups of sugar
250g butter
two tablespoons of plain flour
two tablespoons corn starch 
two tablespoons cream
four eggs 
pinch of salt
How to make:
1: Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on a low heat
2: Add the sugar, corn starch, and flour
3: Whisk eggs, cream and pinch of salt lightly. Add to chocolate mixture and whisk lightly
4: Pour into a paper lined baking cake tin
5: Cook in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for about 45 minutes until cooked, remove and allow to cool
6: Sprinkle with icing sugar

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cecina (chickpea 'pizza')

Cecina literally translates to 'made of chickpeas'. That is what this Tuscan street snack is made from, literally just chickpea flour and water combined (and olive oil). This street food is originally from Livorno. For the ultimate 'bomb' try it stuffed inside a focaccia, affectionately known locally as the "cinque e cinque". This wafer thin, pizza shaped snack is sold across Tuscany. It is also a popular staple in Liguria, however it is called 'farinata' (made of flour). A definite must try when visiting either region. I remember stumbling across a long line of people all waiting for their slice of cecina in a dimmley lit back street in Siena. Of course I joined the line, ordered some cecina and a glass of wine.
I have tried to make this simple recipe several times at home with no success. However, I have finally conquered the making of cecina! I don't know why something so simple has been so hard to perfect, but I am now so pleased with myself. Honestly, if you closed your eyes and put on some Italian music, you could easily be mistaken that you were eating this cecina in Italy.
It really has quite a unique flavour, I would describe it as somewhat nutty. The perfect cecina has a crispy, salted crust with a soft centre.
Just follow a few simple steps and you too can make cecina at home. Allow twelve hours in advance as the flour needs to soak overnight.
MUST: serve with lots of cracked black pepper
what you need:
1 1/2 litre of bottled still water
400g chickpea flour (beasan flour)
two tablespoons of salt 
four tablespoons of olive oil
pinch of salt
on the streets in San Gimignano, Tuscany
How to make:
1: Place the cecina flour in a large bowl and make a well in centre. Pour in the water very slowly, and gently combine.
2: Stir in 1/2 tablespoon of salt, cover and allow to rest for 12 hours.
3: Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
4: The cecina batter will have formed froth on the top, remove with a spoon. Add the remaining salt and three tablespoons of olive oil.
5: Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a pizza baking pan. Add the cecina batter to the pizza pan with a ladle. The mixture must not exceed 1cm in height.
6: Place in the oven for 45 minutes. If the cecina starts browning before it is cooked, place aluminium foil over to cover and protect until cooked.
7: Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with salt.
cecina served  at the  local 'pizzeria'

Monday, July 23, 2012

Zuppa di fagioli (bean soup)

I wanted to make this soup after watching a popular Australian television cooking show, where they labelled mixing a can of baked beans with milk as "Tuscan soup".  The purpose was to show the audience how easy it is to cook simply with ingredients available in the pantry. This is also my purpose, however encouraging a healthier and definitely more authentic way of cooking a "Tuscan soup". Tuscany is most famous for a vegetable soup called ribollita, which I have previously written about. Tusan's are renowned for their love of beans, particularly the cannellini bean. It too, is one of my favourites.
This  soup is so easy to make, I have used canned cannellini beans for the purpose of making this exercise as quick and easy as possible. However, usually I would soak the beans overnight. Just a few simply steps and you have a creamy, flavourful soup that is packed with nutrition (particularly good for fertility organs).
Cut some stale bread, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for some home made croutons to finish!
 
What you need:
two 400g cans organic cannellini beans
one red onion
two small potatoes
two cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of fresh thyme 
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper
home- made croutons optional
How to make:
1: Finely chop onion and add to a large pan with olive oil. Add a little salt and cook until onion is tender. Add chopped garlic, and cook for a minute. Add the cannellini beans and potato.
2: Add enough water, just enough to cover the beans. About 2 1/2 cups. Add thyme, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Cook until the potatoes have softened.
3: Use a blender to mix into a smooth consistency or as desired.
4: Top with a drizzle of olive oil, pepper and croutons. 
5: To make croutons, simply remove crust of a dense loaf of bread, cut into small square and place on a well oiled oven tray. Coat lightly in oil, place in a 180 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until browned.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Torrone Siciliano (Sicilian nougat- without nougat)

Eating this crunchy golden confection brings back great feelings of nostalgia. Trying to wait for it to cool as it was removed from the oven. Knowing that it was scolding hot but willing to take the risk. There are only a few ingredients needed to make this, and it is so easy. I love making it in large batches and giving as gifts. Or storing in glass jars for any unsuspecting guests- if it lasts.
There are two regions in Italy that Torrone is historically from, Lomardy and Campania. Torrone is traditionally made at Christmas time, "it is a sweet that should never fail our Christmas tables". It is generally made from nougat with various nuts, dried fruits and citrus flavourings added. However this Sicilian Torrone version is distinctly different, as it is hard and brittle and does not require nougat.
An Italian friend once told me that one day I would make a good Nonna (grandmother), after I had made this for her.
What you need: 
600 grams raw almond
600 grams sugar
four tablespoons honey
zest of one orange
How to make:
1: Melt the honey, sugar and orange zest over a low heat until sugar is melted. Add the nuts and quickly stir through until the nuts are completely covered.
2: Pour out on two greased baking trays making sure the mixture is compacted.
3: Place in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for 10 minutes.
4: Using a sharp knife cut the torrone into triangles while it is still hot
5: Store in air tight glass jars.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pollo con Capperi e Limone (Chicken with capers and lemon)

Crack open a bottle of crisp white wine, as this dish screams to be enjoyed with a glass or two.  It is also handy that white wine is added to the pan, so it requires the opening of a bottle. Enjoy a glass while standing over the stove, inhaling the zesty aromas? The flavours are light and fresh, and the chicken is sooooooo tender. Another one pot wonder, and it only takes 10-15 minutes to make.  A classic Sicilian dish, with my addition of leek, which I think bulks up the dish and adds a nice flavour.
What you need (serves four people):
two large organic chicken breasts 
one leek
two garlic cloves
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup olive oil
one cup dry white wine
one lemon sliced 
salt and cracked black pepper


How to make:
1: Slice the chicken breasts into half length ways (or three slices depending on the desired thickness)
2: Heat the oil, sliced leek, garlic, and a little salt in a heavy based pan for about 5 minutes or until tender
3: Place the chicken pieces evenly on top of the leek mixture and add white wine, this should almost cover the chicken. Add capers
4: Once the chicken is cooked on one side, turn over and allow to cook through. Top with lemon slices and allow the heat to cook. The chicken should only take five or so minutes each side, depending on the thickness.
5: Squeeze a little fresh lemon on top and serve immediately  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Torta al limone- Lemon cake

The lemon cake is such a simple recipe yet so delicious.  The texture is moist and dense and the lemon aroma is intense.  I was inspired to make this today as the neighbours lemon tree was in full fruit.  Italian's normally don't eat cake following a heavy meal, seasonal fruit is usually enjoyed. Rather, a slice of cake similar to this would be served for breakfast, perfect with coffee.  Bake in a 'bundt' cake pan for an impressive outcome. For an extra lemon hit fill the cake with lemon butter and dust with icing sugar. 
What you need:
300g flour tipo 00
four organic eggs
200g sugar
120g butter
120 mls milk
1/2 tbpsn baking powder
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
How to make:
1: In a large bowl whisk: sifted flour, sugar, softened butter, baking powder and eggs
2: Stir in the juice of a lemon, zest and milk
3: Place in a greased 'bundt' cake pan and place in a pre-heated 180 degree oven for 45-55 minuets, until a skewer comes out clean
4: Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack
5: If adding lemon butter allow the cake to cool, then cut cake in half and place a generous amount of lemon butter between layers
lemon butter- refer to recipe 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Pesce spada (swordfish)

Swordfish is prominent in the Sicilian diet. It is a fish commonly eaten in Italy just as Australians eat Barramundi. It is fished from the Mediterranean sea making it readily available and affordable. It is a perfect substitute for meat as it is weighty and robust. It hosts a high oil content and houses a high level of omega three fatty acids. It has a tuna or salmon like texture with a unique flavour, normally sold in pre-cut 'steak' slices.
I love the combination of flavours and textures in this colourful dish. It reminds me of dining by the sea on a hot summers evening with a glass of crisp white wine. The flavours are bold and fresh I also love that everything is prepared in the one pan. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and parsley!
what you need:
four swordfish fillets
1/2 red onion
two cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
two tins of chopped Italian tomatoes (or home preserved)
350g of Sicilian green olives
1/4 cup capers
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon slices to serve
fresh flat leaf parsley to serve
How to make:
1: Chop the onion finely. Smash and chop the garlic. Add to a heavy based pan and cook on a low heat with olive oil and a little salt.  Cook until tender and translucent, do not brown.
2: If the capers have been preserved in vinegar wash them under cold water thoroughly. Add to the pan, also whole pitted olives, heat through.
3: Add the chopped tomatoes and heat on a low heat.
4: Wash the swordfish steaks under cold running water and blot dry with paper towel. Add whole to the tomatoes sauce, immerse completely in sauce so they cook evenly through.
5: Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes depending on how thick the swordfish slices. Once the fish has cooked right through, serve immediately and finish with fresh lemon juice and chopped flat parsley.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gelato al pistacchio (pistachio ice-cream)

Why have vanilla or chocolate, when you can have exotic pistachio gelato? What's even better is that you can make it at home. Admittedly, it is a rather labour intensive process. But the fruits of your labour will reward you with an ice-cream unlike no other. I made my own pistachio paste but apparently you can buy it. It is really expensive, as manual labour is needed to produce it. Hence, I suggest making your own. I loved piling the colourful green dense paste on a plate.
This ice-cream is so heavenly refreshing. It is creamy, delicate yet rich, semi-sweet, and the maraschino from the pistachio paste leaves a unique flavour in your mouth.
On my first visit to Sicily during the Easter period, the 'gelateria' stores were filled with locals asking for a brioche style bread filled with pistachio ice-cream. Of course, I had to try one. I have been in love with pistachio ice-cream ever since. The pistachio was introduced into Italy via Syria during the rein of the Roman Empire. It is prevalent in Sicilian cooking, however pistachio ice-cream is sold vastly across the county. Always keep your eye open for the pistachio di Bronte!!!
Pistachio- pronounced pis-tark-ee-o.
pistachio paste
To make pistachio paste (makes 250g paste):

150g pistachio nuts
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon cherry liquor
To make ice-cream:
250g pistachio paste
three cups whole  organic milk
two egg yolks
one fresh vanilla bean
How to make paste:
1: To make the paste, first de-shell then soak the pistachio nuts in boiling hot water for ten minutes to loosen the skin. Drain, then rub the nuts between a clean tea-towel to remove the skins to reveal the vibrant green colour of the nuts.
2: Place the skinless nuts on baking paper on a baking tray and place in a pre-heated 150 degree oven for 7-10 minuets. This will give the nuts a nice roasted flavour.
3: Place the nuts in a blender and mix the sugar and nuts together to form a fine powder. Add one tablespoon of liquor and blend, it will start to form a thick paste.  Add another half tablespoon if need be, to loosen paste.
How to make ice-cream:
1: In a large pan place milk, whisked egg yolks (acts as a thickening agent) and a split open vanilla bean pod. Heat on a low heat making sure not to bring the milk to the boil.
2: Once the milk reaches 90 degrees, add the pistachio paste. Whisk in, making sure the mixture is lump free. Heat through.
3: Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
4: Once cooled, add to a pre-frozen ice-cream maker.

note: ice-cream pottery bowl made by me

Friday, July 13, 2012

La tavola (The table)

"Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity."
Frank Lloyd Wright

I feel fortunate to have sat at these dining tables.  Many hours of my life have been spent at these tables eating, drinking, sharing and exchanging conversation. This is were I draw my inspiration. I wanted to share with you some photographs of where I find my daily beauty, at the table! This is my Italian journey.

 
    
                   
Click on the images to view in large format