This is indeed the season to be jolly! My mum and dad have arrived from Italy to spend Christmas with us and I truly feel like I have turned back into a little girl. My parents are not only the best Nonni (grandparents) my boys could hope to have, they allow me to be a daughter again, as they discreetly, but resolutely look after me, Richard and the little ones. There is one other reason my mum is a great presence in the house at this time of the year, she cooks like a goddess! And what could be better than spending time in the kitchen with her as we pickle vegetables, stew strawberries and shape almond cookies, that will be turned into home-made edible gifts for friends and family?
Have a great festive season, share, laugh and, most importantly, love. A lot!
(This post is the collective effort of food and interior photographer Denise Braki, food stylist and interior designer Jon Fleming and myself)
PICKLED CARROTS, makes enough to fill 3 1 lt (8 cups) jars
1.5 lt (6 cups) white wine vinegar
1.5 lt (6 cups) water
2 tablespoons of mixed peppercorns
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of dried tarragon
peel of 1 orange
3 bunches of heirloom or dutch baby carrots
1. Sterilize the jars according to instructions
2. In the meantime, make the pickling liquid, by placing all the ingredients, but the carrots, in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer then boil gently for 4-5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Clean and peel the carrots. Place them in the (still hot) sterilized jars and cover them with the hot pickling liquid. Close firmly with the lid, turn the jars upside down to create the vacuum, until the jars are cool. Keep in the fridge.
MACERATED STRAWBERRY AND VANILLA JAM makes enough for 4 x 250 gr (1 cup) jars. Recipe adapted from here.
1.3 Kg of hulled strawberries
800 gr of sugar
juice of 2 lemons
2 vanilla beans
1. Place the strawberries (whole), sugar, lemon zest in a large ceramic of plastic bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and add them to the strawberries. Cut the pods into smaller pieces and drop them in the bowl too, to further the vanilla flavour.
2. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight. The maceration will intensify the strawberry flavour to its maximum.
3. The next day, tip the content of the bowl into a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and cook gently for 35-40 minutes or until the jam has thickened slightly. You can skim off the foam that appears on the surface with a slotted spoon as the jam cooks. To make sure the jam is cooked, place a small plate in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take it out and spoon a little jam onto it. If it thickens, the jam is ready. Pour the hot jam into the hot sterilized jars, close firmly and tip the jars upside down to create a vacuum. Allow to cool down, then refrigerate.
COFFEE AND ALMOND AMARETTI COOKIES, makes 20-24 large ones
500 gr (2- 1/2cup)of caster sugar
600 gr (1 lb 5 oz) of almond meal
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 tablespoon of ground coffee beans
1 cup of flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting
1. Place sugar, almond meal, egg whites, vanilla, coffee and almond extract in a standing mixer and beat together for 1-2 minutes or until a sticky dough is formed.
2. With wet hands, roll bits of dough the size of a crescent, coat them with flaked almonds and place them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper.
3. Bake at 180 C, 350 F for 18-20 minutes or until the bottom is firm, but the cookies are still pale in colour
4. Allow to cool on a rack and firm up further at room temperature before serving. Dust with icing sugar, if liked.
5. They will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container
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21 Comments Add yours
How lovely for you to have your mamma here with you this Christmas Silvia and you can spend time in the kitchen together.
I am very lucky!
Hello there, I have a new oven and it’s fan forced. Are the oven temperatures in your recipes for fan forced ovens or should I lower the temperature by 20C to compensate? I love your recipes and I would like to start using them but I am nervous that my oven might burn things if I don’t know what temperature to use. Thank you very much Dianne
Hi Dianne, good question. The temperature is for conventional oven. All the best
There is nothing better than having your momma in the kitchen during the holidays.
I love that jam and I’ve always wanted to make pickled carrots but it just never happened. With this recipe I have no excuse! It all looks so good.
And very easy!!
Thank you for sharing and giving Abruzzi a ‘face’.
What a lovely thing to say! xx
All looks divine and lovely for your boys to spend Xmas with their grandparents. When I read your posts and watch your gorgeous cooking show I think about my parents and my aunts and all the beautiful Italian meals they cooked and makes me think how rich our heritage is. If you come to Melbourne an Italian gelateria, which opened as a pop up store earlier this year, has reopened at a permanent site. Its called Pidapipo Gelateria, 299 Lygon St Carlton. The gelato is to die for. The store is named after a game Lisa Vamorbida (the owner) used to play with her nonno, how nice.
I am going to make the pickled carrots, the orange peel must give it such a nice flavour and aroma, It’s got me intrigued!
That’s so lovely your parents have arrived from Italy, wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!
What beautiful and special gifts to make and receive!
I do love the idea of gifts you make yourself, especially when they’re as delicious as these… Happy holidays, Silvia!
Happy Xmas to you Silvia & your family & how lovely to have your parents with you this year.
Made your pasta with fiori Di zucca e zafferano for Xmas lunch, divine. My parents are Italian & thought I’d have an Italian lunch this Xmas as they are very much on my mind on these special occassions.
Just about to make Torta All’olio Albicocche to take to Xmas dinner tonight.
The Xmas photos of you & your boys are gorgeous. If you are in Melbourne you might like to take your boys to Pidapipo Gelateria 299 Lygon St Carlton. The gelati are to die for made by Lisa Valmorbida.
Happy cooking & loving your TV show.
Happy New Year Silvia,
Everyone loved the Torta All’olio Albicocche and they all want the recipe. Your cooking show is so beautifully filmed, a joy to watch.
I love watching your series. I too have a heritage from Abruzzi and am loving the fact that you have put such a beautiful place and its cuisine in a series for all to enjoy. Both my parents (in their 80s) are avid watchers. I discuss and compare your recipes with my mother each week.
Hi Silvia. We are 5 students from University High School in Melbourne and wanted to know if you were coming down for the Good Food and Wine Festival so we could interview you about Italian food in Australia. We would love to hear from you. Thanks!
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