Panettone & Ricotta Pudding or as my Italian’s call it Zuccotto Di Panettone

Panettone and ricotta pudding

Panettone and ricotta pudding

To my Italian’s Panettone is like a box of chocolates would be to my family, you bring it when your told not to bring anything.

If you have never heard of this before which I hadn’t either, to give you the run down. The bready cake comes in a square tall box and was first made in the region of Milan, Italy. It  is usually eaten at Christmas and is considered as a poor man’s dessert because it was originally made from leftover bread and dried fruit. It is a light, soft, shreddy, rich, flavorful bread, speckled with candied orange, citron, raisins and lemon zest. The cake is usually eaten with coffee or dipped in a sweet dessert wine called  Vin Santo (holy wine) after dinner.

Sliced Panettone about to be bathed in Vin Santo

Sliced Panettone about to be bathed in Vin Santo

Recently Mamma had been given quite a few from friends, she was getting bothered by them being in her cupboard. Not because they were going to go off, they last forever. But because she didn’t have any other use for them apart from eating with coffee and the family were getting a little bit tired of having it. I told Mamma I would take one home as I wasn’t sick of them yet she was very happy to part with it.

I happened to come across a recipe in one of my favourite Italian cook books ‘Two Greedy Italians’ by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo and they use a whole Panettone in a dessert. So I attempted to make it for family dinner next week.

The ‘Two Greedy Italians’ recipe for Zuccotto Di Panettone (Panettone and ricotta pudding) was easy to follow and quite quick to make. My only suggestions to the recipe would be to-

* Make it the night before I find it sets better and all the Vin Santo has absorbed into the bread.

*Turn it out of the bowl just before you are ready to eat it. After a while out of the bowl it starts to lose its form.

*For the candied fruit I used dried pawpaw and candied citrus.

* I added a little extra (30g each) choc chips and almonds to the ricotta mix as there seemed to little for the amount of ricotta.

Filling

Filling

Mamma and the family devoured the pudding, you know you have made something good when u barely get a chance to get a piece. They were very impressed with the dish so much, that Mamma has given me more Panettone so I can make it again and bring it to the next family function.

pan in bowl

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Birthday dinner for My Italian Man

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

My Italian Man is turning 27 and this family night dinner was for him. To make birthday dinner’s a little special, we get to choose what mamma is cooking and what the dessert is for the night. Its Mamma’s personal gift to us. My Italian Man chose spaghetti carbonara followed by rocky road for dessert.

Mamma was a little apprehensive about making the pasta, she hadn’t made it in a while. You might think seeing as they are Italian she would use the best ingredients, so naturally pancetta in the cabonara. No, no, we are not in Italy where it is just ascheap as bacon. Mamma has to make a huge pot to feed everyone, so lean bacon was the choice for such a large amount. I’m sure she would’ve loved to use pancetta but she is much happier to cook enough for everyone to be able to go back for seconds or even thirds which the brothers do. Mamma was not happy because the egg was not right in the sauce, I honestly thought it was great, I had no idea what she was talking about. Mamma and Nonna are never 100% happy with their cooking, they always say they can do better. But I can never find a flaw with their cooking.

Recipe from Mamma's cookbook

Recipe from Mamma’s cookbook

Although traditional carbonara only has egg and no cream Mamma has always followed this recipe, we all like it this way so she hasn’t changed it. I questioned this at first. You would think she’d only make it the traditional way and it would be ‘blasphemy’ any other version. But this is how Mamma’s family likes it and that’s all she is concerned about. The sauce was thick and rich coating each strand of pasta as though it’s a creamy veil. To go with the pasta, we had a garlic bread to scrape our plates clean and a huge green salad. Mamma was especially excited to dress this salad so she can use the gift I found for her. A balsamic raspberry vinaigrette, she loves to try new things and I knew she would like this one. Everyone crowded around the bench waiting for their turn to get some pasta, pulling the long ribbons of pasta up into their bowls and smothering it with the carbonara sauce. Settling down to dinner we all caught up on what everyone had been doing in the past week. I love sitting back sometimes and listening to all the different conversations along the table. This time all the men were talking about their cars and what needs fixing. They never have new cars they are always a project. The women were talking about laundry secrets and hints for removing stains. One I found interesting applying undiluted white vinegar to the rust stain by spraying or dabbing it on. I know this sounds a little stereotypical, they just can’t help it. This family is ‘Old School Italian’, and that’s what I find most endearing.

Last Australia Day’s Bundy bbq sauce

aus bbq

Last Australia Day we had more people than you could fit in our 2 bedroom apartment over for a bbq. I made a big hamburger feast with home made patties, 2 types of cheeses, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, flipped eggs, crispy bacon, pineapple slices, pickles, beetroot, a few relishes, coleslaw and my own Bundaberg rum bbq sauce. I thought I would share the recipe for the sauce.

The recipe is simple, but you do need to season well and  constantly taste the sauce while it is cooking to make it to your liking. I added more chilli because I like it spicier.

Let me know how it turns out and if you added anything to make it your own. If you need any advice leave a comment.

sauce reci

Catch of the day

IMG_4328

Last weekend my Italian man and one of his brothers went spear fishing (the kind where you free dive to catch fish, no air tanks just your own breath) and caught a few fish for our dinner.  They had a number of fish i was given a black fish, 3 goat fish and 2 leather jackets. They descaled and gutted them for me as I am not the best at handling fish, but I will get better. Not being very familiar with preparing/cooking fish, his brother said the leather jackets are best on the BBQ so I froze them until I needed them later. For the black rock fish he said it was not his favourite for eating and suggested to make a fish stock, it made a really mild stock great for most cooking.The goat fish I will use in a soup. I called Nonna to see if she had any tips or recipes, she said she just makes hers up as she goes and to look up a recipe and I shouldn’t go wrong. I didn’t get the recipe from any favourite cook book, I just wanted something simple that worked for what I needed at the time. I get so disappointed when you find a great recipe in a cook book to find “test kitchen” clearly hasn’t done their job and Its not even proof read correctly (2 cups instead of 2 teaspoons). Sometimes you just need to go for the simple ones that have been tried and tested. I got the recipe for the stock and the stew from www.taste.com.au. I excitedly went to the grocery store to collect all my supplies, I always get such a rush when shopping for ingredients.

IMG_4329

Beginnings of Fish stock here is the recipe

I started with the stock following the recipe step by step, with a few adjustments I have made in blue on the recipe. There was quite a lot so I halved it, measured out what I needed, froze the rest and the other half I gave to Mamma, she loves it when we share food.

fish stock3

Then onto the soup, again I followed it by the recipe. I made a few adjustment in blue as well. Cooking the soup and fish stock was easier than I expected and doesn’t take that long to make, the longest time needed was waiting for the flavours to develop. We ate the soup with a crusty Ciabatta loaf and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc (lucky thats all we had in the fridge) a perfect meal . It turned out great. Such a great challenge. I will do it again.

fish soup 2

Nonna said- Don’t remove the skin that forms on the top of the stock this is extra flavour and it is where all the healthy omega 3 from the fish is.

I like to use the Mutti brand crushed tomatoes and passata ,I’m not trying to advertise, I am just in love with it.

soup 2

Voila! Italian Fish soup. Here is the recipe on taste.com.au

Mamma’s cake recipe

collagemammas cake recipie 2

From Mama’s Women’s Weekly Italian cook book.

Now I haven’t had an occasion to attempt to make this cake and I don’t want to make it just for the sake of it because I may eat it all, Nonna would not approve. I wanted to give you the recipe so you can give it ago if you like. If you cant read the recipe in the picture I can send you a copy that I have typed up. I cant seem to find it on the net to give you a link. If you are lucky enough to have a copy of the 90’s ‘Women’s Weekly Italian’ cook book you will find it in there.

Let me know how you go when you give it a try and if you have any questions I can ask Nonna.

Nonna approved cookies

A recipe I took a snap shot of in my mums cooking magazine.

A recipe I took a snap shot of in my mums cooking magazine. Here is the original recipe.  

I came across this recipe while looking through cooking magazines with my Mum (another women in my life that has greatly influenced my love of food and cooking) trying to work out the menu for Christmas dinner. I thought they would be an appropriate “small dessert” to bring to Nonna’s Christmas lunch. Being short on time leading up to Christmas my Boyfriend got the few ingredients for me that I didn’t have at home, not being the most knowledgeable cook he grabbed regular butter not un-salted. Not ever using regular butter for baking before (as I always follow the ingredients list closely) I thought I would still use it. It couldn’t be that bad…… To my surprise it was noticeably salty, I know now why the specify un-salted butter. Not being completely happy with my first batch (flavour and appearance) I decided to get a few more ingredients and make them again, they were simple to make so it wasn’t a big deal. The second time round they turned out great.
I arranged them on one of my Nan’s crystal platters with the saltier ones on the bottom hoping people wouldn’t notice as much if the had a second one and the first was so good. To my surprise they didn’t really notice.
The only modifications I made to the recipe was I couldn’t find Christmas coloured sprinkles so I finely chopped up some dried cranberries. I prefer the look of them and the tangy sweetness. When piping the cookies I only had a small nozzle but I just pipped them slower which gave me a bigger shape and went around them a second time.

This was a great last minuet sweet to take and I would make them again seeing as they got an approval from Nonna

MY own version

My own version