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.
This Wednesday night Family dinner was particularly special Nonno turned 81 today, this is Papa’s side of the family. So this was a combined birthday dinner with our weekly dinner, the only difference was there was more food, people and special Grappa to be had after dinner. This Nonno is more “Italian” than the other one. When you greet him you have to say hello and how are you in Italian or you will be corrected. I have got this routine all worked out now but run into trouble when I do this, he then forgets that I can’t speak Italian and starts having a conversation with me, I just smile and nod that usually works.
The nights feast started off with chill and garlic barbecued prawns that Papa cooked, this was his job for the night. Zia made all of girls a Prosecco and pomegranate spritz. Just a glass of Prosecco ( Italian dry white sparkling wine) and pomegranate seeds spooned into the glass for colour and sweetness. It was so beautiful to look at with the magenta bubbles rising to the top.
We ate the barbecued prawns outside on the porch, I had never seen prawns being peeled so quickly they all were naturals, in one quick movment. It was a twist with the head and peeled the body and legs shell off all at once leaving the tail on to hold while eating. I didn’t even have to peel any, My Italian Man was doing it for me. All of the women didn’t have to peel any their men did it for them like it was their duty, It was very sweet. We sat out here for a while enjoying the light of the afternoon and listening to Nonno tell us this will be his last birthday, he tell us this every year.
When it started to get dark we all piled into the huge table and started to chat away while the finishing touches of dinner were being made. Tonight’s feast included two huge slab Lasagna’s, a few salads, bread and the home made family wine. I selected a little of everything for my plate very excited to eat this lasagna its one of my favourites, but it was different this time. I was a bit confused not eating the usual glorious traditional beef lasagna, this time it was a turkey version. Very strange. I found out that this was not an experimental dish Mamma wanted to try but leftover turkey that had been kept frozen from Christmas. It made me laugh, they will never waste anything it can always be created into something again. It was nice but just not a good a the usual. I would never say that though.
After cleaning up we had the birthday cake, the glow from the candles shone on Nonno’s beaming face showing how happy he was that we were all with him celebrating another year. Candles were blown out and a wish made, it was now coffee and grappa time. Zia had made the birthday cake tonight, very appropriately named ‘Mamma’s cake’ she got the recipe from the ever faithful ‘Women’s weekly Italian’ cook book. It was a coffee/ Kahlua sponge with custard filling and frosting. It was to die for. ( I will post the recipe shortly)
We were all full and happy and Nonno and his sons were well into the grappa having a very interesting discussion but I had no idea what was going on because they had switched to talking in Italian, they do this after drinking grappa. If I followed them closely you could get the idea from their animated hand gestures. The night was ending and we all said our goodbyes with the awkward ‘which way are you going’ double kiss from Nonno.
Nonna ‘s number one priority is family and bringing us together for whatever reason. So keeping that in mind I took the day off on Friday and spent it with my Mum and Grandma. I feel like we haven’t spent some ‘just us’ time in a while. I know there is always the weekend but the a week day is more quiet, less busy and you are not rushed out by a cafe trying to seat their waiting customers. Sounds a little stupid I know.
So my Mum suggested this little Cafe by Como wharf. We drove down early in the morning, it wasn’t even opened yet so we had a little time to walk around the water to enjoy the beautiful view of the river. A perfect sunny morning hardly anyone around no Mums with prams or people runny yet, just us. Once the cafe was opened we sat on the deck by the water under these huge Moreton Bay fig trees, they created a beautiful shady canopy for our breakfast. Looking over the menu which was nice and small, I don’t like big menus at cafes. My thinking is if its small and simple they focus only on these few and can do them well. I find if they have 25 or more dishes its too complicated, you don’t know if everything is really all that fresh and the chef’s probably rush though them just to get the orders out . But if its small and changed regularly they can do the dish over 100 times like its a home cooked meal to them they know it so well. My Grandma and mum ordered the pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, my Grandma thought this was weird but gave it a go. I ordered the eggs Benedict with salmon. It didn’t take long for the meals to come out. They looked clean, fresh and I was anxious to cut into my poached eggs to see if they were oozy and soft. I always get so disappointed when i get golf balls. Poached eggs are one of my things to yet get the hang of so I like to ordered them because I cant make them myself. My plate was placed in front of me by a lovely friendly waitress, I cut in to my eggs and success beautiful and oozy! All of our meals were flawless, the cafe was beautiful, serene and peaceful. Some great quality time with the women I look up to.
If you would like details on here this cafe is leave me a comment and ill get back to you
Nonna would have approved. I will have to ask her if she has any secrets for poaching eggs. I still cant get them right even if I follow the book.
My Italian man comes from a family of ten. Dinner time is never ordinary – including all the ring-ins – there are now 15 of us. There is always laughter, knowledge and plenty of food shared at the table. This tradition started when My Italian man and some older siblings moved out on their own or got married. Mamma would forever be saying she never sees us altogether, so Mamma decided Wednesday would be the night ‘La Famiglia’ would all come together.
Mamma spends most of the day cooking for her clan and never dissapoints, she serves up a fantastic feast – traditional dishes, pastas of every variety, homemade potato pillows of gnocchi, crisp paper thin Chicken Parmigiana, a colossal deep pan Lasagne, wholesome Minestrone like no other, pizza filled with delirious toppings , creamy risotto and the many seafood dishes as the brothers love to go fishing and bring home all kinds of seafood.
On other nights, she will attempt some experimental dishes that she comes across in her library of cook books. For many, this would seem like a chore but she finds so much joy in cooking for her family and bringing them altogether once a week.
Papa’s job is to do the barbequing and getting the family home made wine from under the house to decanter. The homemade wine seems to be a never ending supply (although as we are getting older, the number of bottles keep increasing), he won’t admit it, but he is secretly proud at how many we go through and how much we all enjoy it.
After we have had our fill, chatted a little and mamma has shoved the last bits of salad and bread into us (as it isn’t the best for tomorrows leftovers) all the plates get passed down one by one like clockwork to the end of the table and taken to be washed up by whoever’s turn it is to wash this week.
After dinner is my favourite time. We all sit down at the table to relax and share coffee, dessert and talk about what we have been up to since our last dinner. Occasionally, if Papa feels the need, he will bring out the port and grappa to finish off interesting discussions.The family always look forward to this time, It’s almost turned into a weekly ritual that we rarely miss, If you do, you have to have a pretty good excuse to get it by the family.
In the late afternoon we went to a friends place and had a few drinks in “the car port” under their apartment. Some of their neighbours had decided to dump a few tables and chars in there. Being typical boys, instead of moving and throwing them out they just left them and now that’s where they hang out. We chatted, drank and soaked up the afternoon. I snapped this picture and wanted to share it, was surprised how well it turned out. I guess everything always looks better with wine.
Having a few too many we strolled down to the local pizza place for dinner and ordered their version of a ‘Caprice’ its toppings were ham, mushrooms, capsicum, anchovies, olives, oregano and we added chill flakes. It was piping hot and had just the right amount of toppings and huge anchovies (I have recently found i cant get enough of them on my pizza).We walked down to the beach and ate it on the rocks by the water.
Very picturesque an afternoon all about enjoying the summer breeze before heading to work on Monday.
Boxing day was another family full event, Lunch with my family and then dinner with Nonna’s family. At my family lunch there was a lot of running around and helping my Mum, Aunt and Grandma cook, I forgot to take any snap shots except for the fruit platter I brought. It was so vibrant and fresh, just what we needed after all of the over indulging. I was happy with the pic but I did intend to make this Christmas fruit tree, the other photo shows I didn’t get too far before I got frustrated and ran out of time. I will try and attempt it next year.
When we arrived at dinner we were so full and over indulged from lunch we hardly ate anything, Nonna thought we were sick she doesn’t understand what full is. This our huge spread of food these are a few of the dishes we had to choose from, freshly cut ham off the bone with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and olives, a whole turkey, rolled pork, prawn cocktail platter, a spinach and ricotta filo quiche, a few salads, pasta on the stove behind and a seafood salad made my Nonno. I have been told this is one of his specialties that he kept bringing to every family event, even though at the beginning no one really liked it. But persistence prevailed and now dinners are not complete without his touch. Everyone piled up their plates and the brothers especially piled them high having mounds of food covering the plates, they always want to try a little too much of everything. But they amazingly finish it all and thanks to their Italian genes are still slim!
A great day and night to end the Christmas celebrations.
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
Christmas Lunch started off with the usual entertaining chaos of some sort, we arrived to a down poor of rain and all the Zii (uncles) and cousins frantically trying to put up every tarp possible. As lunch was in the garage (extending out past it) as its the only spot we all fit, there are about 38 of us now. Once they were up and we were all dry and cosy the feast began. A parade of all the usual Italian suspects pilled on to the table with the must have accompaniment, Nonno’s home made wine from under the house. We all lined up to get our hands on the amazing food we all pitched in to make with Nonna’s supervision. I was even asked to bring a small dessert. All our plates were piled high with so may dishes to choose from you just have to try a little bit of everything, topped with salad from Nonna and Nonno’s garden. We were all so full from trying everything and everyone had to share around with each other what we couldn’t finish as Nonna thinks what ever is left on your plate you don’t like and the last thing we want to her to think is we don’t like her cooking and you get ‘the look’. Even though we were stuffed there is always room for coffee, dessert and grappa (Grappa is a lethally strong Italian alcohol made from distilling skins, pulp, seeds, and stems). My Cookies that I made even got a mention from Nonna.
This Christmas I have been inspired to finally start this blog. For weeks I have stewing over what to write, what is the best name to use and so on. So i am just going to go for it. I have gone back to my original inspiration of the ‘Word of the Nonna’ seeing as this is what started the idea of this blog in the first place.
I was talking to a foodie friend telling her about a dish that I made “I know its strange but this is what Nonna would do” and then she said ” well it works, its the word of the Nonna”
This blog wont only be about Italian Cuisine but anything that I may come across that I feel needs to be shared with you. I am not the best writer but i just love taking photos of what I have created or I am about to eat (yes I’m one of those embarrassing people that take pictures of their food every where they go, but at least i have a good excuse now).
The people in this photo are (hopefully soon to be) my Italian Family, Nonna and her children. I have known this family for seven years and they are the most kind, energetic, exciting and beautiful people you could ever meet. They have introduced me to so much culture, food, wine and have inspired me to cook and experiment constantly.
I hope you enjoy my many posts and the fun of Wednesday night family dinners!