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 It  is usually eaten at Christmas and is considered as a poor man’s dessert because it was originally made from leftover bread and dried fruit.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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Secret Nonna Business – The Art Of Pasta Making

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I get it now, when Nonna tells me ” I don’t have a recipe, I just know.” Why?, because this weekend I learn’t how to make ravioli with brother No 2’s girlfriend.

Her background is Maltese and her family makes pasta quite often. She needed to make a big batch for a family function of hers that was coming up and I mentioned how interested I was in learning how to make it from scratch.  She said great and  was very happy to have a second set of hands in the mix. I offered to get the filling and bring wine for dinner for the ‘after the pasta making’  session and she said she would do the rest. The filling for the ravioli was ricotta, parmesan and parsley…simple, yes,  but I was assured that if we have the best quality ingredients we wouldn’t need anything else. She got parsley from her parents garden and I knew of a place that makes fresh ricotta that I could buy direct from the producer – word also got out and I ended up getting extra for family – a total 9kg of ricotta and some parmasen in fact. The Italian lady I ordered it from gave me a quizzical look for ordering that much but as soon as I held that ricotta, I knew it was worth coming here, it is was so fresh and still warm. We set up at her place with another extra set of hands from the youngest sister,  so we were ready to begin. We started with mixing the filling which was done by hand so you can feel and taste when it is ready. Extra pepper and parsley was added to really give it a punch of flavour.

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Then it was onto making the dough. We had a basic recipe to follow and at first I was just following her step by step but after a while I got used to how it is meant to be –  the feel between my fingers, if it needed more flour or water and thin enough to just be able to see my finger tips through the pasta.

During our dough session, the eldest sister arrived and offered to help and if she could enjoy it when we were done. We had a little factory going now, we filled and cut out the pasta like an old Nonna, one that had done it a thousand times, our job made easy with the pasta cutters. We needed to portion and freeze them, flouring each piece so they wouldn’t stick. Pasta making is definitely a workout…no wonder there was no need to go to gyms in our Nonna’s time.

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We made a Neapolitan sauce to go with the ravioli, well the type we made is called Agnolotti the difference being instead of being made from two squares of pasta, ours were made from one round piece and folded – they were named after a cook Angiolino from Monferrato, known as ‘Angolot’ and they had different fillings for different feast days.
Sitting down to dinner after making it all day was such an achievement and a joy watching our loved ones eat it. I can imagine this is what the Italian and Maltese women feel when they make it for their own families but on a weekly basis.
The fresh Riccota made a huge difference, it was so creamy that the pockets of pasta oozed in your mouth like honey.

I am so blessed to have this knowledge to pass down to my own friends and family. Bellisimo!

 

Not “shrimp on the barbie”

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Nonna doesn’t use a lot of prawns in her cooking, they’re not used much in her region, fortunately we have friends that do it right.
A few Saturday’s ago, our friends had us over for a BBQ lunch. He had been to the fish market that morning and bought an array of fresh seafood. He was most excited about the huge jumbo prawns he got. Now, before I continue, In Australia we do not call them shrimp. Shrimp are the teeny tiny ones that we have in dishes like fried rice. Prawns are usually at least the length of your index finger – sweet and juicy. They are versatile crustaceans and used in many dishes in different ways – deep fried, grilled, sauteed in garlic, honey, salt and pepper, laksa, spaghetti, salad – the list goes on. There are many varieties of prawns you can eat ‘natural’ and have their own unique taste. Tigerwhich have an exquisite nuttiness, Banana, with there yellow tints and black tail are great for adding flavour to, King Prawns, great meatiness, salty and perfect natural or with a cocktail sauce. Yes prawns have varying degrees of saltiness, sweetness and smokiness.

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But my all time favourite way to have them is chargrilled on the BBQ and there’s no other way to eat them but with your hands – the classic fingerbowl invented for such delights. There is such a simple pleasure in the way you peel and eat a prawn. The warm juices running through your fingers and trying to find the patience to wait until they have cooled down to peel them is very difficult. Snap and twist the head, trying to pull the shell off in one continuous rip, gracefully remove the poo tube, hold it by the tail and bite! It does sound a little gruesome, but you will know what I’m talking about if you have had the pleasure of doing it before.

Our friend had marinated them overnight in chilli, lemon, lime a few herbs and fried them up on the bbq. They were delicious. Their subtle chargrilled smokiness and lemony, sweet tang with a warm hum of chilli was exquisite. We sat on his balcony all day feasting on all of the seafood and soaking up the warm sun. A perfect summer lunch, washed down with some ice cold beers. I hope there are a few more warm sultry days with a cool breeze left before Autumn comes too quickly.

Last Australia Day’s Bundy bbq sauce

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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