Category Archives: In My Kitchen

In my kitchen, May 2017

It has been a glorious few weeks of Autumn in Sydney.  Beautiful warm blue sky days and slightly crisp evenings.  It’s been so mild that a couple of tomato plants we had left in the ground have gotten confused and started producing tomatoes again; our basil plant looks like we’re in the prime of summer.  My hen friends have loved the sun, scratching out comfortable spots and lying down and sunbaking, I half expect them to call out for a round of Pina Coladas.

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Meanwhile, in my kitchen, is chocolate left over from Easter.  The mountain is considerably smaller than a few weeks ago and the Small People are slowly consuming it.  I plead guilty to taking the occasional little egg from their stash.

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In my kitchen is some Italian smoked scarmorza, a gift from a thoughtful friend.  Scarmorza is an Italian cheese, similar to mozzarella. She said she’s struggled to find a smoked one in Australia as good as those in Italy; this one was pretty damn good. She used hers in a lasagne,  I’ve got some yummy plans for this one for a pasta dish too.

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More cheese….a beautiful freshly cut chunk of parmiggiano reggiano from the Italian deli; it will be used in lots of dishes.

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I also bought some green lentils at another local deli, these are type of lentils I prefer.  One of these days it will cool down and lentils are great for winter soups.

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In my kitchen are “mustazzoli”.  These are very traditional ginger and honey biscuits.  They can be made chewy or ultra hard.  Typically, they are sold and Italian Festivals and Fairs; my father-in-law bought them at a festival recently.  The Marito loves them, I’m not terribly partial.

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Tidying up the other day, I found a recipe for a limoncello cream that my cousin in Calabria had jotted down on a piece of paper for me years ago….now I need to find the other post it note with the method!

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In my kitchen is some deliciousness from Mamma Rosa.  They are crumbed artichoke.  She bought them over ready for me to cook.  She slices the artichokes, gently poaches them in stock, then allows them to cool and crumbs them. Then they are lightly fried.  I adore them.

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I’ve been experimenting with hydration (water) levels in my bread, gradually working my way higher.  When I first started baking I was using circa 55% hydration (ie 55% of the weight of flour in water), this loaf is 70%.  It is much harder to shape but ends up with a better result.

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And finally in my kitchen is a tiramisu I made today to take to work tomorrow (recipe here).  The Marito looked on somewhat jealously and asked if he was getting one too. So I made him a mini one.

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What’s happening in your kitchen? Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings has taken over hosting this monthly blog link up which I so enjoy (thanks Sherry!).  Have a peek into kitchens around the world!

 

In my kitchen, April 2017

The gentle coolness of autumn has rolled into the kitchen, bringing with it thoughts of soups, minestrone, and baked dishes like parmeggiana.   As we pick the very last of our tomatoes and cucumbers, the garden is looking very bare and I need to swot up on what to plant next.

We also picked our last baby beetroot, which I gently roasted in the oven.

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One of the Small People has also been tending lovingly to a strawberry plant, of which he is very proud.  He insisted I take a photo!

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Last month I mentioned I was germinating white dragon fruit.  Now teeny sprouts, they are looking very healthy.  My latest challenge has been to try and germinate mulberries.  I adore mulberries, but the season is short and they are very hard to find.  I occasionally stumble across them at a farmers market.  I planted 10 seeds each of the black and white varieties, and waited the prescribed 40 days, and nothing.  When 50 then 60 days passed, I knew it was a fail.  Undeterred, I tried again, planting another 6 seeds of each.   I have one tiny sprout of the black variety!

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For those who don’t like carbs, now is the time to look away.

In my kitchen is a variety of Molisana pasta that we all really like.  It is a really tight curl, Shirley Temple ringlet style, and “holds the sauce” very well.  If you haven’t tried the Molisana brand of pasta, I recommend it.

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One night I used it to make a “pasta forno”, or baked pasta, with peas and eggplant.

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In my kitchen is this lovely plate of biscuits from my darling Godmother.  Her savoiardi were divine, I must ask her for the recipe.

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A fellow bread baking friend and I went up to Victoria’s Basement to get enamel roasters.  Other breadbakers and IMK’ers swear by them.  I was very happy with the result.

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I’m loving these crispy Afghani Dippits made by a local family company in Sydney.  With a smear of avocado or a gooey cheese they are great.

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In my kitchen is also some fresh Afghani bread from a local grocer.  Its kind of like a squashed Turkish bread, really thin but springy at the same time.  The Marito was a big fan.

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I found a panettone lurking in the pantry from Christmas, I’m thinking I’ll make a dessert with it rather than have it straight up.  I’m sure I’ll also put the tin to good use.

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What’s happening in your kitchen? Thanks to Liz at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things for hosting this month’s link up of kitchens around the world.

In my kitchen, March 2017

Summer is technically over but the days are still lovely. I’m not looking forward to daylight savings ending, though the mornings are getting noticeably dark.  Meanwhile, there’s been plenty happening in the kitchen.

In my kitchen are dragon fruit (also known as pitaya).  I love them but don’t buy them often as they are usually quite expensive.  But I think there were a lot around for Chinese New Year so quite a few grocers had them on special.  I used them in a fruit salad for breakfast, but I also love to eat them as is.

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I read that you can germinate them from the seeds, so I extracted a few, washed and dried them and put them in some seed raising mix, and voila!  After just a few days little green shoots started appearing.  They also grow from cuttings, and a dear friend gave me some cuttings for red and yellow dragon fruit, but I adore the white ones as well, and thought I may as well have all three colours.

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I am steeping some vanilla beans in vodka for some new vanilla extract.  The last bottle I made (pictured right) was in mid 2014, and I’ll probably use what is left in the next couple of months.  Given that it needs at least 3 months to steep, I’ve started a new bottle.  It is so much more fragrant doing it this way rather than the commercial varieties available at the supermarket. It is also more convenient than having to regularly buy the small bottles.

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Our tomato plants are dying off, so its time for new autumn crops.  I bought some broadbeans to plant, the Marito loves them.

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In my kitchen are some fresh tagliatelle, courtesy of Mamma Rosa.  Her tagliatelle rock.

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I stocked up on Callipo Tuna when it was on special at Coles recently.  The Callipo factory is actually 20 minutes or so from Mamma Rosa’s village in Italy.  It is my favourite tinned tuna.

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In my kitchen is a sign for our new coop, to be varnished and hung. It’s from Castle and Cottage Signs; she made a custom sized sign for me it so it will fit neatly above the door.  Our new coop is walk in which is fabulous, makes things so much easier.

The girls had a very tough time of it during the Sydney heat wave last month, I wasn’t sure they were all going to make it. Operation Chicken Watch was in full swing. Blocks of ice in the water, hosing down the roof to keep it cool, and standing them in ice baths when I saw they were really struggling, were needed. Oh, you’re probably wondering about the name. “Bokens” is a nickname for chickens that the Small People came up with when they were Really Small People.  It was courtesy of an old Lilydale ad which had chickens running around going bok-bok-bok.

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In my kitchen is this sauce that a lovely friend got me from this year’s Tomato Festival by Italian chef Luca Ciano.  Look forward to road testing it!

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And finally in my kitchen are some Sydney grown Kensington Pride mangoes, from my parents’ backyard tree.  The skin doesn’t colour like those from the Northern Territory or Queensland, but they  ripen inside and taste just amazing.  What I love is that their tree becomes abundant just when all the Kensington Prides disappear from stores.

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I hope all is well in your kitchen. Thanks to Liz from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things for hosting this month’s IMK link up.

In my Christmas kitchen, December 2016

‘Twas three weeks before Christmas, and in the Napoli house,
the KitchenAid was stirring, much faster than a mouse.
Pretty boxes were laid with paper doillies with care,
Wouldn’t St Nicholas have a feast if he arrived there.

I think St Nicholas would be pretty delighted if he stumbled into my kitchen in the midst of my frenzy of Christmas sweet making in my kitchen. At this time of year, I love to make biscuits and sweets to give to friends, the boys’ school teachers, work colleagues, and clients. It is even more fun hand delivering them.

This weekend’s haul included crostoli, recipe here

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Some moreish little whiskey biscuits, recipe here

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Almond bread, which turned out particularly fantastic, I had to put it quickly in boxes before I ate it all, recipe here

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And some pistachio biscotti, recipe here.

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After that I needed to sit down for a bit.

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Fortunately, with all the eggs I needed, our chooks have been going great guns, each of them laying every single day for the last ten days or so.  One of the girls (my bet is on Lily), has been laying some whopper eggs.  We were pretty impressed with this 88 grammer a week ago

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But then, last Friday morning out of the nesting box came this one, 105 grams! I liken this to giving birth to a 14 pound baby, and I’m surprised whoever laid it didn’t sit down for a week to recover. But no, she laid the next day too.

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Here is the Monster Egg as we called it pictured next to a 70 gram egg, which is considered “extra large” in the supermarket.  It is exactly fifty percent more in weight. And here it is in my hand, to give you a feel. I’m hoping this means the girls are happy!

I hope you are having a lovely December in your corner of the world.  Have a peak at other kitchens in the In My Kitchen series, hosted by Lovely Liz at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things.

Buon Natale from the Napoli Household.

In my kitchen, November 2016

Halloween has just passed and the boys’ haul sits on the kitchen counter.  I must say it was so lovely seeing so many children and parents wander around the neighbourhood.  Some familiar faces, plenty of new ones, lots of smiling and such a pleasant community feel to it.  It made me think how nice it would be if it happened more often; the Italians know what they are doing in those little villages with their evening passeggiata.

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I found a little surprise in the letterbox the other day.  I was puzzled at first as to what it was, but further inspection showed it to be an antique stamp with the name of the house and the address.   The daughter of house (of the previous owners) found it and thought we might like it; her father had it made several decades ago.  Wonderful!

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Meanwhile, over the last few weeks the garden has come alive with colour, there are blooms everywhere.  Our chooks are loving exploring it all.  Though I think I may be overfeeding the girls, they’re getting awfully big and have been producing some whopper eggs – this one weighed in at 79 grams.

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The other day I bought some mulberry seeds.  I adore mulberries, but they are quite hard to find and the season is short.  Occasionally I stumble across them at farmers markets.  They will take quite a long time to grow, the Marito and I have to figure out where in the yard they will end up once they graduate from the pots, as the trees do get quite big.

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In my kitchen is some granola I bought. Most granolas have dried fruit and maple syrup which automatically rule them out for me as I just find them too sweet.  This one had neither and a just dash of honey, though I did find the cinnamon a little strong for my taste.  I think I will try making my own.

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IMK regulars will recall that last month I bought some San Marzano tomatoes that most pizza chefs rave about.  A few of you wanted to know if they were any good. So when I made pizza the other day I gave them a test. “What did you do differently to this pizza?” said the Marito.  They definitely resulted in a more flavoursome sauce (and yes, that is a Lego tablecloth in the background, its from the boys’ birthday party a few years ago).

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For all of you IMK’ers who are baking sourdough from Celia’s Priscilla – a party trick for your starter (though maybe everyone knows it and I’m just late to the party) to know that it is ready to turn into dough – put a dollop in a glass of water.  If it floats, you are good to go! If not you may need to wait for your starter to get bubblier or it may need another feed and another few hours.

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What’s happening in your kitchen? Thanks to Liz from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things who is now hosting this monthly linkup.

In My Kitchen, October 2016

October – a long weekend, warmer weather, the month the boys were born, the beginning of mango season, a thriving herb garden, what’s not to like?

With a new month, I felt like a little new inspiration in the kitchen and headed up to my local library – which has an amazing cookbook section – for a few ideas. Some good ones in these books which I’ll be trying. The best recipe in my kitchen, however, remains this one by Mamma Rosa.

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In my kitchen are San Marzano tomatoes. I’ve been looking for these for a while; so many Italian pizza chefs that have opened up in Sydney in the last few years say they will only use these (I am probably a marketing sucker, but maybe not since they seem to be hard to get in Sydney, not even the Italian delis I go to have them). I stumbled across them on special at my local Woolworths, I have never seen them there before so not sure if it was a one off or if they will be regular stock. Like Champagne or Parmeggiano, the rules around name designation are very specific. They can only be called San Marzano if they come from a very particular area of Napoli near Mount Vesuvius. Next time I make pizza, I’ll let you know if I notice the difference!

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In my kitchen are a myriad of colanders in multiple colours; I have accumulated them from all my purchases of fresh ricotta. Any ideas what to do with them all?

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One Sunday afternoon the Marito and the boys wanted to make apple pie, to which they are rather partial. I heard a lot of clattering in the kitchen, but the end result looked pretty good. They were enormously proud of themselves, a lot of regular high fiving and commenting going on for the rest of the day, it was pretty entertaining.

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We often don’t talk about our kitchen stuff ups on the IMK series. Well I have had a couple recently. I tried my hand at making my own tortillas. The boys like to have burritos (frankly I’m delighted that they eat kidney beans), but I find the supermarket packet ones taste just so processed and rather awful. I’ll need a few goes to get them right, it’s hard to get them thin and not sticking when you roll them out, even with a lot of flour, so when I lifted them after rolling into the pan they turned into a bit of a mess. The flavour was good though.

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I also tried to make some ciambellini di ricotta – ricotta biscuits, which are meant to have a hole in the middle – but I underestimated how much they would grow, or used too much baking powder, and they didn’t look like ciambellini at all. They were soft and delicate though.

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In my kitchen are macadamia nuts, courtesy of my sister’s rather prolific tree. Time to get cracking.

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I bought some freeze dried raspberries for a Neil Perry recipe I want to try, will see how it goes.

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And finally how cute are these teeny nutella’s? We saw them at the Italian deli and I couldn’t resist buying them for the boys.imkoct16-8

What’s happening in your kitchen? Thanks to Liz from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things who has taken up hosting the monthly IMK link up of kitchens around the world.

In my Spring kitchen, September 2016

Hello Spring.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Winter and I, well, we don’t really get along.   And I know that you’re here because my bread rises so much better.

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So what’s been in the kitchen of late?

In my kitchen is homemade salami, courtesy of Mamma Rosa and Papa.   The bought stuff doesn’t taste that good when you grow up on this.  Drive through Sydney and peek inside Calabrese and Sicilian garages during Winter and you’ll find rows of these hanging out to dry.  When I was younger and my grandparents were able, my parents would go pick up a whole pig.  Friday night was spent chopping and preparing – there is a picture of me, circa six years old, in my school uniform wielding a large meat cleaver – and Saturday the sausages would get made.

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The other day the Marito bought home some olive oil and caramelised balsamic from Mudgee, can’t wait to try it.

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In my kitchen is a box of lettuce leaves.  There are a couple of lovely Italian grocers in the area (one has Eros Ramazzotti and Toto Cutugno and the like on constant rotation, love it) who give me lettuce scraps for “le galline”.  The chooks go completely wild over lettuce.  When I go check on them first thing in the morning, they’ve cottoned on to the fact that I’ll be armed with goodies.  There are nose-dives for the door.

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With the weather getting warmer they are all laying pretty much every day.  This week we got our first double yoker!  I haven’t gotten to eat many of the eggs.  The boys get home from school and head for the coop.  They collect, cook, consume.  Every so often there are a couple of spares.  I’ve noticed there is a huge difference in the whites of eggs from home chooks versus bought.  They are thick and gelatinous and they whip like a dream.

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In my kitchen is a flathead that the boys caught on Sunday morning.  Nothing like fishing from your own backyard! Though unfortunately after checking a few websites, we decided it wasn’t safe to eat.

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The other night I made pizza for dinner, using my trusted dough recipe.   One of them was a “pizza bianca”, a white pizza, as those with no sauce are called.  Potato slices, fried in olive oil sprinkled with fresh rosemary, then drained on paper towels.  Onto the pizza they go with ricotta, more rosemary, salt, and parmesan.  Molto buono.

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What’s happening in your Spring kitchen?

Have a peek at other IMK posts from different kitchens around the world!