Category Archives: In My Kitchen

In My Kitchen, September 2017

Spring has arrived and with it the September edition of IMK, a global monthly link up currently hosted by Sherry’s Pickings.   Here’s what is happening in the Napoli kitchen this month!

In my kitchen are lots of eggs. The girls are going great guns, and we are now occasionally in surplus, so it’s lovely to be able to give some home grown fresh eggs to people.  Rosie (aka The Unit) is producing double yolkers every now and again, while baby Grace produces these little mini pointy eggs.

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The Small People carefully collect the eggs from the nesting boxes every afternoon when they get home from school; they love the variation in size and colour and regularly send me photos of each day’s collection.

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Outside my kitchen window is an excavator.  It’s all systems go go go on the Grande Rinnovamento.  We are, I think, only the fourth family to own this grand old lady in it’s 127 year history.  These walls hold a lot of stories; the servant bells around the house with one for the “drawing room” speak of bygone eras, as does the little box at the back of the laundry with a door, which was once used for servant food deliveries. It is going to be a long, and no doubt sometimes complicated ride, but we are all very excited about it.

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In my kitchen is chocolate with white truffles, which the Sorella bought back from her recent trip to Croatia.  The fragrance when I opened the packet was incredible, and so was the taste, which was much more truffle than chocolate.

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I recently added to my cake tin stash with this great ridged tin.  It is a traditional shape for Amor Polenta cake which I made last week, but I’m sure other cakes will be great in it too.

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That’s it from my kitchen this month.  It’s going to be a busy few weeks as we plan to move out as the renovation accelerates, and onto a temporary kitchen until we can return.  Hope all my Australian readers have enjoyed a lovely Father’s Day today.

In My Kitchen, July 2017

I don’t do cold weather well, so am glad we are over one third through winter. Though on a relative scale it has been pretty mild this year, with lots of blue sky days, crisp but not overly cool.  It has still been nice to wander around the garden, check on the chooks, and see what is left of the herbs, which is not much. Roll on, spring.  Here’s what is happening in my winter kitchen this month.

In my kitchen are these cute little hand made egg cups I bought at the markets in Tel Aviv during my trip to Israel last month.

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They are perfect for our eggs. Rosie, our Rhode Island Red, who is ridiculously big for a pullet and would scare off half the neighbourhood dogs, has just started laying.  Her eggs are markedly lighter than the Isa’s.  Our Wyandotte (Grace) and Plymouth Rock (Maddie) are yet to lay.

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I used a couple of eggs in these corn fritters, from the Bills Open Kitchen book.  These are really really easy fritters to whip up and quite tasty.

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In my kitchen is a “girasole” (sunflower) courtesy of Mamma Rosa.  Made with a puff pastry case that is cut and twisted into a sunflower shape, this one has ricotta and broccoli, though she also makes a version with ricotta and spinach.  Mamma Rosa is armed with an iPad these days and is loving watching cooking videos on YouTube in her native Italian.  This was from one of those.  She enjoys surfing the net a bit these days; she came across LinkedIn the other day and was trying to figure out how to sign up, I was in hysterics.

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Also courtesy of Mamma Rosa is one of this year’s homemade salami.  If you grow up on this stuff, preservative free, the commercially made version doesn’t cut it at all.

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The other day we found this bottle under the stairwell.  Having had a look at its watermark, we think it is a 1930’s Bosistos eucalyptus oil bottle.  It will be interesting to see what we find in various crevices once we start the Grande Rinnovamento.  Certainly the garden had some interesting things buried in it when we were doing a clean up when we first moved in almost a year and a half ago.

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Short and sweet from the Napoli kitchen for this month.  Thanks to Sherry for hosting this global monthly link up, take a peek at kitchens around the world!

 

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.