Italian home-cooking can be explained in a simple equation: a few fresh ingredients + a bit of love = happy diners! This is always the case at my house, where we celebrate the abundance of the exquisite produce we get … Continue reading
I often find myself planning recipes that only require the use of yolks so that I can have some egg whites to play with. As I type this I will concede that this may sound odd to many, but I cannot renounce who I am, a food nerd, really! How many times have you separated eggs, promising yourselves you will give the unused whites a new, worthy life, only to find them weeks later in the back of your fridge, a scary, ectoplasmic entity begging you to be put out of its misery! Here is my favourite thing to do with the protein-packed goodness: whip it, whip it and then whip it a bit more! With sugar, that is, and a little dusting of cocoa powder to turn them into a delectable treat to accompany your coffee or afternoon tea.
INGREDIENTS, makes 12
100 g (just over 1/3 cup) egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt flakes
75 g icing sugar (1/3 cup), sifted (icing sugar is the same as confectioner sugar or powdered sugar)
75 g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste or the seeds of half vanilla bean
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1. Preheat your oven to 100°C (212 F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. In a large, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until frothy and very soft peaks start to form. I always do this do with hand-held electric beaters on low speed as it gets the job done in 90 seconds, with no sore wrist. But feel free to do it by hand if you missed a day at the gym and need to burn off some calories. Gradually increase the speed of your beaters (or your biceps) to medium and start adding the icing sugar then, slowly, the caster sugar. Keep beating for 1–2 minutes (or 5–6 minutes by hand) or until the egg whites are shiny, smooth and stiff.
3. Add the lemon juice or cream of tartar and gently fold it in with a metal spoon, taking care not to beat the air out of the meringue mixture. These few drops of acid will neutralise the eggy flavour that meringue can sometimes have, and will also keep them stable and preserve their crisp whiteness.
4. Add the vanilla and mix gently. Swirl the cocoa in.
5. Dollop teaspoons (or tablespoons, if you like them larger) of the mixture onto the baking tray, about 2 cm apart to allow for spreading. You can use a piping bag if you prefer, but I love a more whimsical, free-form meringue.
6. Gently place the tray in the oven and bake for 11/2–2 hours. If they start to colour, turn the heat down to 80°C (175 F). You know the meringues are cooked through when the base is touch-dry.
Cool at room temperature and enjoy as they are with coffee, gelato or, as my dad favours, a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream. The man is known for his sweet tooth …
Home-Made Marshmallows (http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/12/homemade-fluffy-marshmallows-corn-syrup-free/)
Raspberry cake with meringues (http://dinnerinvenice.com/2013/05/02/raspberry-cake-with-whipped-cream-and-pink-meringues-2/)
My dear friends, it is with great trepidation and excitement that I can finally announce to you all that my first cookbook, Silvia’s Cucina will be released in stores and online on September 25! This is just a day after the wonderful Matt Moran will host my book launch at his restaurant, Chiswick. Have I won the lottery, I wonder? I have had the honour of being hand-picked by the delightful Julie Gibbs at Penguin Australia amongst a multitude of food bloggers. To this day I can’t quite fathom why she chose my blog and my story over so many on offer to her, but, here I am, exuding pride and joy as I share with you such exciting news. One thing is for sure, I would not be writing this post hadn’t I been so lucky to gather such a generous and loyal readership, so keen to explore my recipes, try them and share them with friends and family. To you all, GRAZIE MILLE! The process of writing this book has been exceptionally creative and fulfilling and it took about 18 months to go from first day of writing, to print. But there it is, my legacy in 220 pages! Take a look at a few images (photos by Chris Chen) and let me know what you think!
My Mum’s Roasted Capsicum Salad
Il Peposo, A Feisty Tuscan Stew
Torta Gianduja, flourless dark chocolate and hazelnut cake
- La Cucina (italiancitygirleatsanddrinks.wordpress.com)
- die Italienisch Küche/la Cucina Italiana (371chorales.wordpress.com)
- Cucina Colosseo (designersarahhealy.wordpress.com)
Move over, white flour! The more recent diets trends have cast the spotilght on an ancient grain that has been enjoying a new-found popularity amongst home-bakers and those with a knack for healthy eating. Spelt, or dinkel wheat, contains a … Continue reading
Call them dumplings, gnudi or patties, these soft, zesty morsels will have you beam in delight at the very first bite. What could go wrong when you combine the milky richness of fresh ricotta (rigorously full cream!), with home-made breadcrumbs, zingy herbs and the warm piquancy of nutmeg? These delectable bites are delicately poached in a fresh tomato sauce ready to be devoured with a generous chunk of crusty bread or gently mixed through perfectly al dente spaghetti. Did I mention they are ridiculously easy to make?
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
For the Sugo
850 gr (2 lb) of fresh tomatoes (or 1 tin of good quality tinned tomatoes or your own Passata)
1-2 shallots (or 1 medium brown onion), finely chopped
4 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, bashed with back of a knife
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
salt flakes, to taste
a handful of basil leaves
For the dumplings
450 g (2 1/2 cups) full-cream ricotta (using low-fat ricotta won’t work…Live a little!)
1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
100–120gr (2/3 cups) of fresh breadcrumbs (simply place stale bread in a food processor and blitz until you have coarse breadcrumbs)
2/3 cup (50 g) freshly grated pecorino
1 good handful of chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
semolina flour for dusting
1. Start by making the sauce. Wash the tomatoes, score the top gently with a knife and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minutes. Plunge them into cold water to allow the skin to come off easily. Peel the tomatoes, chop them roughly and set aside.
2. Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Stir fry the shallots, celery and the garlic on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the shallots turn translucent and slightly golden and the garlic smells fragrant. Drop in the chopped tomatoes with half a cup of water (or tinned tomatoes, if using. Or, if you’ve been amazingly good, your own Passata…), season with salt and cook on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and set aside. For a smoother sauce, blitz in a food processor for 4-5 seconds. Scatter some basil leaves on top and set aside.
3. Make the dumplings by mixing all the ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture needs to feel sticky, but workable. If too dry add a few tablespoons of milk. If too wet, add a little extra cheese or breadcrumbs.
4. Let the mixture sit in the fridge, covered with plastic film, to firm up for 30 minutes or overnight.
5. Shape the dumplings with wet hands, the size of a golf ball. Place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper and dusted with semolina flour until ready to cook.
6. Heat up the tomato sugo in a large pot of frying pan. Add a little water if it looks dry. When the sauce comes to a simmer, gently drop in the dumplings. Cover with a lid and let the steam cook them through, for about 5-6 minutes. Take the lid off and gently, using a wooden spoon, turn them over. They are extremely delicate, so be mindful! Cook for a further minute, uncovered then turn the heat off.
7. You can serve them immediately, although I find that they are better the next day, a little firmer in texture and all the flavours harmoniously combined.
Serve with crusty bread or freshly cooked pasta.
I have an undeniable weakness for heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. My heartbeat accelerates at the glorious sight of gnarly shaped heritage tomatoes, miniature beets specked with gold and rippled in pink patterns, or baby carrots painted in vivid yellow and purple hues. I could not resist grabbing a few bunches of these gifts of the heart during my last trip at the farmers market. A splash of oil, a gentle coating of apulian vincotto and a scattering of fresh herbs is all that’s needed to complement their natural sweetness.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
2 bunches of baby rainbow carrots (or orange dutch carrots)
3 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of Vin Cotto * (replace with balsamic vinegar if needed)
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
freshly picked thyme and marjoram leaves (or oregano)
1 garlic clove, bashed with back of a knife
1. Preheat your oven to 200 C (390 F)
2. Wash and scrub the carrots, remove the stalks and the leaves. Place carrots in a large bowl and season with oil, vin cot to, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs
3. Place the seasoned carrots onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until nicely golden and slightly blistered.
4. Serve warm or cold as a side or as a salad mixed with peppery arugula leaves.
“Vincotto (translated as “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet dense condiment produced artisanally in the Apulia region of southeastern Italy. It is made by the slow cooking and reduction over many hours of non-fermented grape must until it has been reduced to about one fifth of its original volume and the sugars present have caramelized. It can be made from a number of varieties of local red wine grapes includingPrimitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, collected after being allowed to wither naturally on the vine for about 30 days.
Vincotto has a sweet flavor, and is not a form of vinegar, though a sweet vinegar version can be produced using a vincotto as a base. This additional product is called a Vinegar of Vincotto, Vincotto Vinegar, or Vincotto balsamic and can be used in the same way as a good mellow Balsamic vinegar.”
- Kale Avocado Salad & Roasted Rainbow Carrots (shareplatesf.wordpress.com)
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans Salad (silviascucina.net)
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Kale Pesto (lattesandleggings.com)
- Balsamic Roasted Roots (nourishtheself.wordpress.com)
I am a summer person. I was born in summer. My true self seems to come to life at the early signs of the warmer months approaching. I hardly ever feel the heat, in spite of being feisty and hot-blooded, I don’t tend to perspire in excess either. Alas, summer is gradually fading here in Australia, the days getting shorter and cooler and, as I prepare for the months to come with stacks of home-made tomato passata and chillie oil in the pantry, I relish the bounty of seasonal fruit this time of the year brings, saluting the summer that has been and heralding a new autumn, in the way only figs can do. Sweet consolation!
INGREDIENTS, serves 8
For the pastry
250 gr/8 oz of flour
110 gr/ 3,6 oz butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
For the Frangipane Filling
100 gr/ 1 cup of pistachio
100 gr/ 1 cup sugar
100 gr/ 3.5 oz butter, soft
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
6 figs cut into thin slices
- French Pear Tart (also known as the bourdaloue tart) (sabaahkitchendelights.wordpress.com)
- Thank goodness – my first Gluten-Free Pastry Recipe (margaretmortondean.wordpress.com)
- Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies with Lime Glaze (spoonfeast.com)
- Blueberry Amandine Tarts (underthebluegumtree.com)
Have you been looking for a super healthy recipe that combines nutritional virtues with great flavor? Look no further! In the one bowl you have the antioxidant powers of tomatoes, the good, necessary fats of extra-virgin olive oil, the antibacterial boost of garlic and the mood-elevating kick of rosemary. Add to this blissful mix the low-in-fat-high-in-iron, gluten-free, vegan-friendly and utterly delicious cannellini beans and you have granted yourself a beauty treatment for the insides that is sure to show its mighty benefits on the outside too. Whomever said that Italian food is not healthy ought to think again….
INGREDIENTS, serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main meal accompanied with bread
600 gr (1.3 lb) of cherry tomatoes (I used mixed heirloom)
4 tablespoon of EVOO
2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar or verjuice are good substitutes)
A generous handful of mixed fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)
Salt, to taste
freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tin of Cannellini beans, well drained and rinsed (if using dried-and-soaked beans, 450 gr (1 lb) will be more than enough)
1. If using dried beans, start this recipe a day ahead. Soak the beans in cold water overnight. The next day, rinse the beans, place them in a pot well covered in water, throw in some herbs and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. Cool the beans in the cooking liquid, taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Set aside until ready to use.
2. Preheat your oven to 160 C (320 F).
3. Put the washed tomatoes in a large bowl, leave some whole and cut the rest in half. Season with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and herbs. Mix well.
4. Pour the tomato mix onto a large roasting tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until blistered, but still intact. Add the well-drained beans to the tomatoes while that are still warm, taste for seasoning and fix as required.
5. Serve warm as a side dish or accompanied by toasted sourdough for a more substantial meal.
- Rocket and Parmesan Plus Salad With Cannellini Bean Puree (ifib.wordpress.com)
- Budget recipe: lamb, rosemary and cannellini beans with cabbage (telegraph.co.uk)
- Balsamic-cannellini Bean Tuna Salad (tamaraleighauthor.wordpress.com)
- Cannellini Bean Soup with Sausage (thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com)
Have you been looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day treat recipe? Have you forgotten about today or have you been in denial about it, only to wake up this morning feeling a slight sense of guilt because you didn’t get your better half any tokens of your appreciation? You are not alone! Welcome to my 6 am panicking thought “OMG, it’s Valentine’s Day and I forgot about it!”. And so, while my darling man was still soundly in bed, I quietly rushed downstairs, whipped up a batter in less than 5 minutes, allowed it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes while running on the cross-trainer (all the while wearing a face mask to make myself look pretty for our romantic date later on in the day) and by the time I had my shower and got dressed, these chewy, delectable coconut bites were out of the oven ready to be drizzled with thick, syrupy dark chocolate. Talk about multitasking… Happy Valentine’s Day!
INGREDIENTS, makes 12 large cookies
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
1. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt for a couple of minutes or until soft peaks form.
2. Add the sugar, a little at a time and keep whipping the egg whites until thick and glossy.
3. Gently fold in the coconut and vanilla.
4. Dollop 1 tablespoon of mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. MAke sure to leave them well distanced as they will grow a little whilst baking.
5. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring your oven temperature to 170 C (340 F).
6. Bake the macaroons for 20-25 minutes or until the bottom in dry and golden and the top is slightly browned and firm. They will feel a little soft but they will continue to firm up as they cool down, at room temperature.
7. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then drizzle with melted chocolate. Rest until the chocolate has hardened, then surprise you beloved with your home-baked, love-filled treat.
- Recipe: Salted Dark Chocolate Popcorn – Recipes from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- 10 Red And Pink Superfoods For A Healthier Valentine’s Day (huffingtonpost.com)
Breakfast is where the Italian Diet fails to impress nutritionists…It is true, in Italy we have a sweet tooth and most people favour a quick, sugar-loaded cookie or pastry dunked into their morning cappuccino to some healthier, more nourishing options. Although I don’t like to think I particularly subscribe to a health-fanatic movement, I have myself ditched the morning cornetto and I have learned to like savory combinations such as poached eggs with wilted spinach, smoked salmon and baby capers or avocados and roasted tomatoes on toast. Sometimes though, when only something sweet will do to wake you and get the day started, a light sprinkle of home-made, agave and juice-sweetened crunchy granola, over a soft dollop of Greek Yogurt and a scattering of ripe and succulent berries will do the job, without impacting of my waistline!
400 gr (6 cups) of rolled oats
1 cup of mixed seeds and nuts, such as pepitas, linseed, almonds, pine nuts and sunflower seeds (or any you prefer)
125 ml (1/2 cup) of apple juice
4 tablespoons of agave syrup (or honey)
6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (use a lighter scented oil such, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
generous dusting of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup of chopped dried fruit such as figs, apricots or whatever suits you best
1/2 cup of goji berries
1. In a large bowl mix together oats and the nuts and seeds.
2. Coat the oat and nut mix with apple juice, EVOO, ginger and a generous dusting of ground cinnamon. You can really afford to be heavy-handed with this most delightful spice as some of its warm aroma will dissipate in your oven.
3. Line an oven tray with baking paper, spread the mix onto it and flatten it with the back of a spoon of with a spatula.
4. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and bake in a moderate oven (170 Celsius, 335 Farenheit) for around 25-30 minutes, the remove the top sheet of paper, mix and allow to finish toasting and crunching up ( around 15-20 minutes, according to your oven). Take the tray out of the oven, add the dried fruit and a little more cinnamon. Cool down in the tray to allow the moisture to evaporate. Store in an air-tight container and enjoy for breakfast with thick Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit or sprinkled over ice-cream, or simply as it is. It’s a protein-packed, low-carb snack that will satisfy your craving for sweet treats in a heathy and nutritious way.
To liven up an old batch of granola that has lost its crispness after a few weeks in the cupboard, simply lay it onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and toast in a medium oven for 15 minutes. dust liberally with cinnamon and allow to cool before storing it again.
- Homemade Granola: 3 Ways (abeautifulmess.com)
- Olive Oil Granola with Multigrain Cereals (nguyeningfinds.wordpress.com)
- Date-Sweetened Coconut Granola (eatwithchelsea.com)
- Schiacciata con Olio e Rosmarino (Italian Flat Bread with EVOO and Rosemary) (silviascucina.net)
- End the Strike Passover Granola (ancestreats.com)