Tag Archives: homemade

In my Spring kitchen, October 2018

How lovely that Spring is here, which means there is a lot more going on outside the kitchen.  The chooks are past their winter slow down, and laying up a storm, and lots of planting is going on.

Outside my kitchen is a collection of fruit trees.  A couple of months ago I pre-ordered some rootstock from Yalca Fruit Trees – a dwarf pear, dwarf apple, dwarf peach and dwarf plum, which we plan to put in the courtyard once the renovation is done, as well as a fig and two mulberry trees. Two months later and they are thriving! I can’t wait till we pick our first fruit.

I’ve also planted several tomatoes and zucchini which are coming along nicely.  Everything has to be carefully netted at our temporary home as it’s a possum festival at night.  The chooks also adore tomatoes.

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I still have to plant a few more things, having bought an interesting collection of seeds from The Seed Collection.

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Back inside, recently I took a look at Jamie’s new book, Jamie Cooks Italy.  I don’t buy too many cookbooks these days, partly because at the moment I have nowhere to store them, but also because our local library has a rather amazing cookbook section.  There are some nice recipes in this one.  I tried his vegetables al forno (before and after shot), which is really a cross between a zucchini parmigiana and an eggplant parmigiana.  It was very tasty. There are a few other recipes I have bookmarked.

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The (not so) Small People had a birthday and it was baking time for a family afternoon tea.  I made an apple cake, a blueberry crumb cake, some M&M cookies and a lemon ricotta cake.  It won’t be long till they are taller than me, but they will always be my Small People.

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Have a lovely Spring! Have a peek at other kitchens on Sherry’s Pickings, our lovely IMK link up host.

 

A Sunday Savoiardi extravaganza

My godmother (or comare in Italian), who I adore, is a fabulous cook.  Like Mamma Rosa and others who grew up in Italy in the decades following the second world war, they took simple ingredients, often home grown, and figured out firstly how to make them go as far as possible, and secondly how to make them as flavoursome as possible.  Once in Australia they adapted and learnt new things and new ingredients – comare’s spinach and ricotta cannelloni crepes are to die for –  but may of the traditions and recipes remain true.

Also like Mamma Rosa, comare is a damn good biscuit maker, both of them can whip up amaretti and crostoli like nobody’s business.

A while back my comare bought me a particular plate of biscuits that I loved and I wanted to learn how to make them.  She called them savoiardi but was quick to point out that they aren’t “savoiardi della nonna”, the traditional variety.  So this morning comare and I met half way in Mamma Rosa’s kitchen for a Sunday baking session. Laughs were had, stories were told, hugs were given.

In typical Italian handed down fashion, there isn’t a strict flour measure.  It’s the good old phrase you’ll find even now in many an Italian cookbook: the flour should be “quanto basta” or “quanto se ne prende” (literally “however much is enough” or “however much it takes”, both extremely useful measures). You need a piping bag for these, the mixture is sticky and difficult to handle – if it is easy to manage with your hands then you know you’ve gone too far on the flour.

My comare’s savoiardi

These use only yolks, so you’ll have a dozen whites to use – so often after making a batch of these she makes almond bread.

Ingredients
12 egg yolks from large eggs, at room temperature
1 slightly heaped cup of caster sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup Grand Marnier liquor
2 teaspoons baking powder
Approx. 450-500g self raising flour, sifted

Making them

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced and line a tray with baking paper
  2. Using an electric mixer, whisk the yolks, then add the caster sugar and whisk until thick.  Then add the canola oil and the liquor and continue to whisk until combined
  3. Finally add the sifted flour and the baking powder and combine.  The mixture should be reasonably thick but quite stickysavoiardi (2)
  4. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a large attachment for biscuits (ie not one for pastry decorating).  Comare had a bad ass version, have to get me one of these. You can go for either ridged or smooth, but the ridges largely disappear as they rise. savoiardi (1)
  5. Pipe the biscuits to the desired length and then put in the over for 10-15 minutes until golden.

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So so good.

After we whipped these ones up, comare says “let’s make the other ones too”.  Who am I to argue?

Savoiardi della Nonna

These follow largely the same method, just a slightly different mix of ingredients.

Ingredients
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 slightly heaped cup of caster sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons baking powder
Approx. 500g self raising flour, sifted

Making them

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced and line a tray with baking paper
  2. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, then add the caster sugar and whisk until thick.  Then add the canola oil, vanilla extract and lemon and  continue to whisk until combined
  3. Finally add the sifted flour and the baking powder and combine.  The mixture should be reasonably thick but quite sticky
  4. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a large attachment for biscuits and pipe the biscuits to the desired length and then put in the over for 10-15 minutes until golden.

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Thank you comare xxxx

Neverfail pizza dough

I don’t have Mamma Rosa’s knack for making pizza dough. She does it by look and feel, and it always results in light, tasty dough. Me, I’ve had to resort to recipe books, and I’ve tried several over the years.  But this recipe from The Italian Baker by Carol Field consistently produces a great result. This wonderful book (thanks to Francesca from Almost Italian who put me onto it) first published in 1985 and since updated, is meticulous in its detail, the result of years of travel and research in Italy. For pretty much every recipe, she gives you the method whether you are making it by hand, with a stand mixer, or with a food processor. Below is the pizza dough method for a stand mixer (I love the dough hook of my KitchenAid, use it all the time), and I have doubled the original quantities in the book. This will give you 4-5 family sized pizzas, depending on how thick you like your base to be.

Ingredients
10g dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
640g tepid water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1kg plain flour
15g salt

Making it
1. In your stand mixer bowl, stir the yeast, sugar and water and let stand for 5 or so minutes until foamy. Add the oil and stir with the paddle attachment to combine
2. Mix the flour and the salt and then add to the yeast mixture. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until just combined
3. Change to dough hook and knead until soft and satiny for 3-5 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

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4. Divide your dough according to how many pizza trays you are using, and grease the pizza trays with olive oil. You can use a rolling pin to shape your pizzas, but I find this dough very pliable, so I stretch it gently on the trays by hand. Leave in the trays to rise for 25-30 minutes. Then top as desired.
5. Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius and cook for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden (I always check if the base is cooked by lifting it slightly from the tray and looking at the colour underneath).

Neverfail tomato pizza sauce
A friend of mine is a pizzaiolo in Italy, and when he was in Australia some years back he told me you should never cook your tomato sauce for your pizza. I also went to a pizza class with a chef John Lanzafame who had won a prize at the world pizza titles one year, and he said the same thing. For several years now I have used this sauce for my pizzas – it takes 30 seconds to make and works beautifully.

1 can peeled tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano flakes

Combine the above ingredients, blitz with a stick blender. That’s it. Spread over your pizza bases.  This makes plenty of sauce for the dough quantity above.  In Summer,  you could also use fresh very ripe tomatoes that have been peeled and had seeds removed.

Two favourite pizza toppings in our house – a very simple bocconcini & basil, and mushroom. Buon appetito!

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