Tag Archives: kitchen ingredients

In My Kitchen, February 2019

It has been a scorcher of a summer here in Sydney, with almost unbearable levels of humidity.  With no air conditioning in our temporary home, we have felt every degree of it.  The chooks have come through it ok, though they stare curiously at the ice blocks I add to their water on the worst days.  The press on the hardship facing farmers seems to have dried up since last year, replaced by inane pre-election political jousting articles,  though I imagine they continue to do it very tough.

Turning on the oven in our furnace of a house is a trial, but cook for the family one must.  Here’s what’s been happening in the Napoli kitchen of late.

The (ever growing) Small People received this very cute Christmas gift from one of their aunties.  The doughnut pans worked really well.

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We’ve been really enjoying some gorgeous floral honey from some friends who have started keeping bees.  I don’t do supermarket honey, I don’t like it.  This stuff is a different proposition all together.  It reminds me very much of a giant jar of wild honey we bought back from a small island in Greece.  The Marito and I have been putting a dollop on our yoghurt, the Small People on their oats. Our lovely friends have earmarked another jar for us from their “harvest” last week.

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imkfeb19 (7)In my kitchen is Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE.

I’ve been making quite a few recipes from it of late.  It is certainly one of his better cookbooks, and plenty in there for my vegacquarian Marito.  The prawns with risoni (or orzo as they call it in the UK) and marinated feta was just delicious, and the other day I tried the hazelnut and peach cake, loved it.

 

I’ve also been looking at his weekly column in The Guardian.  This pastis garcon, a French apple tart made with filo, was also a hit.

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I read somewhere that you could preserve basil with salt and olive oil.  Mamma Rosa has a ridiculous abundance of basil at the moment, so I tried doing it.  The oil seems to have solidified so not sure if I did it right.  If I did it will be good to have during the winter months.

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The reno site is starting to look less like a mess and more like a house.  Having resolved all the structural, insulation, electrical and plumbing problems that come with a 125 year old house, we are now getting to the “fun stuff”.  There are samples everywhere around the kitchen and dining table.  While my kitchen hardware is from the UK, all my bathroom hardware was made right here in Sydney, the door locks are from Tasmania, the fireplace from South Australia. There is still some fine local manufacturing going on. There will be a lot not finished when we move back in, I won’t even have a proper laundry, but I really don’t care, I just want to be back home.

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Thanks to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings who hosts the IMK monthly link up, take a peek from kitchens around the world!

 

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.

 

In My (Puglian) Kitchen, August 2018

Recently, we spent nine fantastic days in Puglia, the “heel” of Italy’s boot (a series of posts can be found here). Whenever I travel, buying goodies for the kitchen is inevitable. Of course, do declare it all at customs. I had a chuckle when one of the owners of the masseria we stayed at told me he loved watching Australian Border Security. So here’s what is in my kitchen this month, and thank you to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings for hosting this monthly link up featuring kitchens around the world.

In my kitchen are a set of pasta rolling pins. I am guessing this is what they used to use to make pasta before machines. (My nonna also used to use the dried stalk of a wheat plant to make a bucatini style pasta by hand, I remember her showing me years ago and so regret not taking photos). Some months before our trip, I saw a video of someone using the thin one to make spaghetti and thought they were pretty cool and said to The Marito that I would get one if I saw it. I stumbled across the four pack at a food shop near the Grotte di Castellana, and thought that the large one, which is for pappardelle, would also be handy when you are making the criss-cross pastry for a pie to get consistent strands. I paid €7 for the four, which was a steal, and lucky I did as I did not see them again except for in Matera, where the guy wanted €8 each!

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I bought a little book of classic Puglia recipes. Like most Italian cookbooks the details are fairly light and in some parts there are no specific quantities, it will be trial and error.

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These are “proper” moulds for pasticciotti, a delicious Puglian custard tart. I tried to make these and did buy moulds here a while ago but they weren’t exactly the right shape. Now that I have these and have also finally gotten to try a few authentic versions of pasticciotti, I will tweak my recipe and make them again.

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Of course I had to get some orecchiette, these ones are squid ink and truffle flavour. The Nonna’s in “nonna alley” in Bari told me that they only use semola rimacinata to make them, not flour. I had this amazing squid ink orecchiette dish with tuna at a restaurant in Monopoli, one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten, and I want to try and replicate it.

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And these are taralli; we were given a basket of these to munch on when we sat down at every place we ate at before ordering. The first time we were served them I thought they would be hard but they are feather light and delicious. They are made with white wine.

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In between checking out of the first place we stayed at in Monopoli and checking into the second place in Cutrofiano, I thought it would a great chance to take a detour to Grottaglie, a small town in Puglia highly famed for ceramics. There were some amazing studios with beautiful pieces. At Nicola Fasano’s studio we bought this pretty plate, and The Marito picked up these four small cups for espresso. I have my eye on a dinner set; they happily ship to Australia.

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In Cutrofiano, the town of our masseria, Fratelli Coli also have a large studio with indoor and outdoor ceramics. I bought some little trays, and we loved these giant oversized mugs which are bowl sized.

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In my kitchen are a couple of baking products that I often see in Italian recipes from the very entrenched Italian baking brand Paneangeli.  We get some of their products in Australia but not the full range.

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Barilla have a range of pasta called Emiliane which I haven’t seen in Australia, it is made with egg instead of water. I thought this little square shape was very cute and had to buy a packet. I will use it in some soup.

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After Puglia, we went to Florence. The Lindt store there had so many products you could take home to make which I haven’t seen here – chocolate cake mix, mousse, muffin mix and many more. The Small People are rather partial to hot chocolate so I bought a packet of it. I also bought the Lindt competitor to Nutella – it’s claim to fame is that unlike Nutella, it does not contain any palm oil. I noticed that several products in Italy had highlighted on the packaging “no palm oil” so it must be fairly topical there. The verdict – absolutely delicious.  Not as sweet, great texture and a much more pronounced hazelnut flavour, with 40% hazelnuts versus Nutella’s 13%.

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In my kitchen are lots of truffle goodies also bought in Florence – truffle oil (which actually has a sliver of truffle in it), truffle salt, truffle salsa, and a truffle and parmesan spread which is ridiculously good.

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And finally in my kitchen is a “portafortuna”, also bought at Fratelli Coli, a good luck charm. You will see these everywhere in Puglia, they are called “pumi” and represent a flower bud.  Historically they were put on corners of balconies when building as a good omen for new beginnings.

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That’s it from the Napoli kitchen. What’s happening in your kitchen this month?

In My Kitchen, May 2018

A new month has rolled around and with it a new edition of the IMK global monthly link up, currently hosted by Sherry’s Pickings.   Here’s what has been happening in the Napoli kitchen the last few weeks.

In my kitchen is a new – and very appropriate – sign above the pantry.  The Small People have no sooner finished a meal when they are sticking their head in the pantry or fridge looking for “a little snack”.  Having been premmie twins, they have always literally been very skinny Small People and friends and family are left agog when they see the staggering quantities of food they are currently putting in those tiny frames.  A growth spurt is due methinks.

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A darling friend who is Greek Orthodox recently bought me over a batch of her koulourakia, Greek Easter biscuits.   They were absolutely delicious, I’ve asked her to translate the recipe for me.

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In my kitchen is a fresh yuzu!  Yuzu is a Japanese citrus often used in sauces, dressings and desserts, which is now starting to be cultivated locally (usually it’s just imported from Japan in concentrate form).  A lovely friend has a gorgeous farm in the Blue Mountains where she is growing them.  Her harvest is eagerly sought after by Tetsuya, Rockpool and Sake (“our Yuzu Lady is here”, cry the Japanese chefs). But with very little rain this year, it has unfortunately not been a great crop, so I felt very special when she gave me one! It’s incredibly fragrant.  I made a little Japanese style dressing for a salad.

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Also on the Japan theme, I love a lot of the little Japanese gadgets at Daiso.  It’s been a very handy place over the years to find stuff for many of the Small People’s school projects, craft, special theme days and for their stationery.  But they have a lot of great kitchen gadgets too.  I saw this mini mandolin and thought I’d give it a whirl.  If I need consistent very thin slices for just one onion or one cucumber, this little version is great and much handier than getting out my large full scale mandolin, as well as quicker and easier to clean. For $2.80, it’s a win.

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A #kitchenfail (which we don’t often share on IMK!).  I’m a bit obsessed with Puglia at the moment, and I thought I’d try to make one of the region’s popular dishes called a Tiella Barese.  It’s basically onion, tomato, aborio rice and mussels baked in the oven.  I was wondering how the rice would cook with the small quantity of liquid suggested, and I was right it didn’t.  So I probably did something wrong.  It did look and smell awesome so it’s a real shame it didn’t work out!

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In some sad news, one of our chooks, Lily, passed away recently.  The girls were scratching around the yard and some kind of disagreement went on between them and Lily was knocked over.  I scooped her up and held her but she was clearly stressed and breathing heavily and not long after I think her little heart gave out.  The Small People took it badly.  It’s strange going to the coop every day and only seeing five of the girls, it will take some getting used to; they were very quiet in the days that followed. You were a good little chicken Lily.

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I hope you are having a lovely autumn, or spring for my northern hemisphere readers. And wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

 

 

 

In My Kitchen, March 2018

Autumn has begun but it’s still warm and balmy in Sydney, after an exceptionally dry Summer.   The weather has meant that lots of salads, grilled fish, and omelettes with fresh herbs have been coming out of the kitchen.

In My Kitchen is a monthly link up of kitchens around the world, currently hosted by Sherry at Sherry’s pickings. It has been going for eight years now, started by the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. A few things to share from the Napoli kitchen over the last few weeks:

With the new year in full swing it was time to wrestle control of the pantry.  A lot of the containers I bought sixteen years ago as a newlywed (sixteen years!) were worse for wear or no longer sealing properly, so it was time for some new containers, and also labels to make it easy to find everything.  I ordered a standard pack from Pretty Pantry Labels (product certainly as described!) and a handful of custom ones from The Pantry Label Shop, and we were good to go.

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On a recent trip to Carriageworks Markets, I liked the sound of these eggplant ravioli from Pasta Gallery and bought some to try.  I served them simply, some baby spinach, semi dried tomatoes, spring onions, olive oil and shaved parmesan.  They were delicious.

I also bought these carrots – aren’t the colours glorious?

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In my kitchen is a new apron, butcher style, that a generous friend bought for me at a recent cooking night.

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I mentioned recently that Mamma Rosa has discovered technology.  In her sixties, Mamma Rosa is texting, emailing and YouTubing with the best of them. She loves watching recipe videos in Italian. I discovered that Mamma Rosa and the Small People are now texting each other – pretty much exclusively about food.  Mamma Rosa writes in Italian, and the Small People text back in a combination of Italian and English.  Their funny little conversations are often about special menu requests (“can you please make us arancini”).  One of them was for a batch of “biscotto”, or what the Small People call “crunchy bread”.  Mamma Rosa’s feather light biscotto – also often called freselle – is ideal for a snack with any topping – avocado, cheese, ricotta, tomato.  We all love it.

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Our chooks have been laying well in this warm weather, although we have encountered a couple of stubborn brooders.  The girls are over a year old now, so officially “hens” rather than “pullets” and the eggs are getting noticeably bigger.  We get a consistent stream of 70 gram plus eggs, except for petite and dainty Grace, who produces corresponding cute petite and dainty eggs.  I do have to be careful when I am baking because of the size as it can result in distorted proportions. Don’t tell the others, but I think Rosie’s eggs are my favourite.

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I’ve been spending a good bit of time thinking about kitchen layout and other cabinetry for the renovation and build, which is slowly making progress.  Hafele have some really clever storage solutions for internal cupboards.

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In my kitchen is a great buy from Aldi recently – dual lemon and lime pack! They will be making their way to our new garden.  They also had fig plants but these disappeared too quickly.

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I hope you all have a lovely March!

In My Kitchen, January 2018

Kicking off with the first 2018 edition of In My Kitchen, a global monthly link up currently hosted by Sherry’s Pickings which gives a peek into kitchens around the world.  Here’s what’s in the Napoli kitchen this month.

We were dragged to the Boxing Day Sales by our Small People who were very keen to spend some of their Christmas gift vouchers.  The Marito and I picked up a new NutriBullet as our previous one had died after a good few years of use.  Beginning the year with good intentions to counter Christmas excess, we’ve been starting our day with various vegetable and fruit blends.  My go to has been beetroot, baby spinach, a bit of mango and plain yoghurt.

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In my kitchen is a very sad looking tomato plant we are trying to revive.  At the house we are renting while the renovation is going on, there are some rather large trees.  We hear the possums scurrying at night and they have decimated everything we’ve tried to plant. Last night I think they may have been practicing for this year’s 2018 Commonwealth Games relay. I’ve put nets on things now, but we’re probably a bit late to get a good tomato crop. Anyone know any good natural possum deterrents?

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I recently saw at Coles a new line of pasta called Rana.  I have to say, for shop bought ravioli and tortellini, it’s among the best I’ve come across.  Really fine casings compared to others which tend to be on the thick side and cooks in a few minutes.

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In my kitchen is some beetroot marmalade a friend bought for us to try, it’s made in Tasmania. Being a marmalade, it is sweet, but works well on burgers and sandwiches, the Marito is a fan, we’ve already gone through half of it!

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Also from Tasmania is this apricot and Armagnac conserve that the Marito received in a Christmas hamper.  I’d love to use this as a glaze on a cake or a tart.

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In my kitchen are scraps for the girls and lettuce heads I am sprouting to grow for them (if the possums don’t eat them first, they’ve devoured all of my attempts so far).  They wait expectantly at the coop door every morning for my delivery, it’s quite funny.

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At the Italian deli this morning I picked up some buffalo ricotta….mmmmm……I will eat some as is on toast, but haven’t decided what to do with the rest.  Some fritters perhaps?

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I also bought some Caputo flour.  It’s meant to be the flour for pizza and I thought I’d try it; I will use my neverfail pizza dough recipe.

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And finally in my kitchen is some pasta made from chickpea flour.  I was watching a documentary about US startups and one of them was a company that made a chickpea pasta which was having huge success.  San Remo seem to be the only company here that do it and curiosity prompted me to try some.

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Wishing you all a happy 2018 filled with fun food adventures!

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!