Friday, November 23, 2018

Menu Lib(e)ro - Dessert and Ice Cream

Menu Lib(e)ro has reached the Dessert and Ice Cream stage and this time I am your host. For the next two weeks I look forward to devouring your icy treats - just leave a comment with a link to your recipe and I'll append it to this post.

gelato di nocciole

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pere Madernassa al Vino

Menu Lib(e)ro has reached the fruit course and Resy from Le tenere dolcezze di Resy is hosting. The fruit I've chosen is a local delight - Madernassa pears which originate from the Roero here in Piemonte.

Pere Madernassa

They have the colour of autumn, with shades of russet brown - small in size but big in flavour, they are made to be cooked.

The dish I've chosen is one you'll see in just about every restaurant here - in fact, the recipe comes from Ristorante Antica Torre in Barbaresco and it's found in this book - Slow Food's Ricette di Piemonte.

Ricette del Piemonte by Slow Food

If you can't find these pears, you could try Martin sec pears.

The recipe is fairly simple - try to choose pears that are consistent in size so that they will cook evenly and only use a red wine that you are willing to drink - in this region, you can use Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco and even Barolo.

Madernassa Pears in wine

Pere Madernassa al vino

1 kg of Pere Madernassa (about 8)
20 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
150 grams sugar
1 litre of red wine
50 grams sugar, extra

Find a high-sided pot that will fit your pears snuggly.

Wash and dry the pears and set to one side - leave the stalk attached and do not peel.

Into your pot, add the sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks and wine and place over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Add in the pears - the liquid must cover the pears. Take a sheet of baking paper and press it against the top of the liquid to make sure the pears stay submerged.

Cook on the stove top or in the oven until the pears have softened - about 45 minutes. You'll know when they are done when you see wrinkles in the skin and this wonderfully crinkled appearance.

Remove the pears carefully from the liquid and set to one side.

Strain the liquid into a clean pot - add in the extra sugar and stir to dissolve. Put this onto the heat again and reduce until thickened and glossy.

The pears are served cold with this reduced syrup.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Fagioli nel fiasco

Un uomo dal bagno alla cucina is hosting Menu Lib(e)ro and we're up to side dishes and I'm serving up a very traditional plate of Fagioli nel 'fiasco"

Beans cooked in a flask

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Masala Fish on a bed of Potatoes

It has been quite a hectic few months, some of it expected, most of it not, but I think I'm back in a position where I find the time to indulge in the more pleasant aspects of life - one of which is this blog.

I've been disappointingly missing the deadlines for Menu Lib(e)ro but not today!

Carla from Un'arbanella di basilico is hosting the Fish Main Course and I have this spicy offering to share - Masala Fish on a bed of potatoes

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bacon and Cheddar Bread

Continuing our journey through the Menu Lib(e)ro, the third chapter is all about Home-made bread. I've chosen to use this book - Quick Breads by Liz Franklin.

The recipe I've chosen to make is the Bacon and Cheddar Bread. Quick to make - it uses baking powder rather than yeast as the leavening agent.

Bacon and Cheddar Bread
[Makes 1 loaf]

320 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
100 grams grated cheddar cheese
100 grams bacon lardons, lightly cooked
¾ cup sunflower oil
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Lightly grease and line a loaf pan (mine was 10x30cm) - set to one side.

Sift the flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Stir through the salt and ground pepper. Add the cheese and bacon and stir to mix through the flour.

In another bowl, place the oil, eggs, milk and mustard. Whisk until combined.

Make a well in the center on the flour, and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently fold through until just combined - it is important not to overmix or your bread will be hard.

Scoop this into your prepared loaf pan - roughly smooth out the surface.

Bake for about 60 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and let it sit in the pan for 20 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

This is an excellent bread to enjoy as is - slightly warmed it is incredibly addictive. It would also be a great companion for soup.

All information about Menu Lib(e)ro can be found here

Our host for this chapter is Gata da Plar

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Menu Lib(e)ro has begun and our first chapter is based on Non-alcoholic aperitifs and welcome cocktails. I've decided on an alcoholic route and the book I've used to source my beverage is the rather wonderful "I Futti Dimenticati" by Morello Pecchioli

Monday, May 07, 2018

Costruiamo assieme il Menù Lib(e)ro! - Let's build the Menu Lib(e)ro together!

[Italian Below]

From an idea by Marta,  implementation by Aiu',  and an exciting participation by our girl-friends +1,  here we are all together for a new project,  a new game,  another excuse to try new recipes and share them with you that are reading us. And, as always, this announcement comes in all the blogs at the same time!

This time the rules are a little bit different and, somehow, more rigid, but it's when the play goes hard that you may see who counts. We're ready. Do you want to play with us?

Objective: to build a menu starting from recipes taken from cookbooks.

  1. Every 2 week, on Friday, one of us will play the role of Chef and will propose you a dish taken from a book, referring the source, and publishing the photo of the book as well as of the dish (the list and the calendar are reported below).
  2. All the other participants may participate as chef's assistant and present a different recipe, taken from a book, photographing both the book and the dish. Only one recipe from each blog will be accepted.
  3. Recipes already published are not allowed.
  4. Duplicated are not admitted (i.e., same book and same recipe). In case the recipe is the same but from a different book, it is mandatory to specify in the title the name of the author of the book (e.g., “Quiche Lorraine by Alfred” and “Quiche Lorraine by Bernard”).
  5. Once published, the link of the recipe has to be put as a comment in the Chef's blog.
  6. All the recipes will be collected in and a pdf will be prepared step by step and it will be available at the end of the project.

Calendar, dishes and Chef:

Links and hashtag:


Da un'idea di Marta, una progettazione di Aiu' e un'entusiasmante partecipazione delle nostre amiche + 1,  eccoci ancora qui assieme per un altro progetto,  un altro gioco,  un'altra scusa per provare nuove ricette e condividerle con voi che ci leggete. E come da tradizione, quest'annuncio esce a blog unificati!

Stavolta le regole del gioco sono un po' diverse e in qualche modo più rigide, ma è quando il gioco si fa duro che si vede chi davvero conta e noi siamo pronti, giocate con noi?

Scopo del gioco: costruire un menù partendo da ricette prese dai libri.

Regole del gioco:
  1. Ogni 2 settimane, di venerdì, uno di noi si metterà il cappello da Chef e vi proporrà una pietanza presa da un libro, citando la fonte e pubblicando la foto del libro e della ricetta (l'elenco e il calendario li trovate qui sotto).
  2. Tutti gli altri partecipanti potranno partecipare come aiuto-cuochi e presentare pure loro una ricetta (diversa!) presa pure lei da un libro, fotografando ricetta e libro. È ammessa solo una ricetta per blog.
  3. Non sono valide ricette già pubblicate.
  4. Non ci devono essere doppioni (stesso libro e stessa ricetta). Nel caso in cui la ricetta sia la stessa ma il libro diverso, bisognerà specificare nel titolo il nome dell'autore del libro da cui è presa (per esempio "pasta e fagioli di Alfredo" e "pasta e fagioli di Bernardo").
  5. Una volta pubblicata, il link della ricetta va lasciato come commento nel blog Chef.
  6. Tutte le ricette verranno raccolte nel blog e prepareremo un pdf che sarà disponibile alla fine del progetto.

Calendario, pietanze e Chef:

Link e hashtag:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Piadina Romagnola (Piemontese Version)

While I've made Piadina in Australia they have never really reached the level of those that I've enjoyed in Italy and I've held the belief that it's due to the absence of one important ingredient - strutto. Now that I'm in Italy I've been able to put this belief to the test and have come to the conclusion that it is this magic ingredient that makes the difference.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Agretti or Barba di Frate

It's been a busy few weeks here in Alba - thoroughly enjoyable and over-indulgent, it was great to reconnect with friends over good food and wine.

With a definite change in the weather from winter to spring, it's great to see the return of Agretti. Much loved by Italians, though slowly showing up elsewhere, they are still greeted by a questioning glance.

barba di frate

You'll see them most commonly called either Agretti or Barba di Frate (Friar's Beard), in the UK you might see them called Saltwort - their scientific name is Salsola soda. They look a bit like chives and are sold in bunches as you can see in the photo. They come with the root attached and really need to be used quite quickly.

Agretti can be eaten raw or cooked. You'll first need to wash them well and remove the roots. If serving raw, just dress them with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon. Otherwise a quick dip in salted boiling water for a few minutes and you'll be able to use the agretti in a variety of ways - with pasta, in salads, frittata or as a filling in a pie or quiche. One of the best ways to appreciate them is as a side dish - simply sautéed with garlic and anchovy.

sauteed agretti

Sautéed Agretti with Garlic and Anchovy

1 bunch agretti
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 anchovy fillets
extra virgin olive oil

1. Clean the agretti - remove the roots and then rinse the agretti thoroughly to remove any dirt.
2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the cleaned agretti and boil for a couple minutes or until al dente.
3. Drain and plunge into a bowl of iced water - this will help set that vibrant green colour.
4. In a frypan over a low heat add a good glug of olive oil along with the garlic and anchovies - stir to break up the anchovy and then let it gently infuse - you don't want the garlic to colour, you just want it to flavour the oil. Optional - you could also add a little chilli at this stage.
5. After about 5 minutes, add the drained, cooked agretti to the pan and toss through the oil. Cook until warmed through. Remove the garlic cloves before serving.

This is a great side to any meat or fish dish but you could also use this as a base of a frittata for a quick one pot meal.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Cappelletti di Manzo in Brodo

With the decidedly cold weather we've been experiencing, it seems like the perfect time to settle back with something warm and inviting. For me, that means a generous bowl of cappelletti in a hearty beef broth.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bergamot Curd

Most people would probably recognise Bergamot as the distinctive flavour in Earl Grey tea but it is actually a citrus and most of the worlds supply comes from Calabria.


Flavour-wise I'd say that it is a bit closer to Meyer Lemon in its tartness but with a more interesting fragrance. Surprisingly, I found it wasn't as strong a flavour as you find in Earl Grey tea - so if you are one of those that dislike Earl Grey don't write off Bergamot until you try the fresh fruit.

As Shrove Tuesday is coming up, I needed something to serve with my pancakes and a curd is a quick and delicious way to fill that need.

Monday, January 29, 2018


I've been keeping an eye out for them and this Saturday saw their first appearance in the markets here - Puntarelle season has finally arrived!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ciambella Bolognese

My mother had that special ability to take a few ingredients and turn them into something memorable and utterly delicious. This simple recipe is one of those dishes. It can be made in half an hour and provide that little sweet treat we can all enjoy. Whether you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, a slice of this ciambella is just made for dunking.

ciambella bolognese

Ciambella Bolognese
250g wholemeal flour
150g plain flour
1 sachet/16g baking powder
150g raw caster sugar
50g softened butter, cubed
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly whisked
sugar sprinkles

1. Sift together the flours, baking powder and sugar.

2. Add the lemon zest and stir.

3. Rub the butter through the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the egg and mix - adding just enough milk to form a firm dough.

5. Knead lightly and shape into a long log.

6. Join the ends of the log to form a circle.

7. Place on a baking tray, brush with milk and then dust with sugar sprinkles

8. Bake in a preheated 160°C oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

9. Place on a wire rack to cool before serving.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Fried Artichokes - Carciofi Fritti

It's the time of year when the market stalls are full of Artichokes. So many different varieties (there are over 90) coming from all parts of Italy. While I await the arrival my most favoured artichoke from Albenga, these spikey Ligurians are a good alternative.

Monday, January 01, 2018

A fresh start

<deep breath and exhale>

That little blinking cursor is just as intimidating as ever. There are so many things to say but I'm unsure of where to I will start with something simple.

Hello again, it's been a while.

I've never been one to make new years resolutions but this year it just seemed the right thing to do, or at least, it has given me that final push to start again.

I'd like to thank my friends - both online and IRL - that have gently encouraged me, your kind words seemed to always come at the right time to brighten even the darkest of days. Most of all, I'd like to thank my husband, just for always being there - through all the changes, you've been the constant.

When it came time to think of what I should cook first, I knew it needed to be something to honor my mother and nothing fills that requirement more than pasta.

In Italy, it's traditional at this time of the year to have a dish of cotechino and lentils and while I love maintaining traditions I also like to give them a little twist. I've made plin - which is a traditional filled pasta from Piemonte - but filled them with a mixture of cotechino and potato and served them with a ragu of Castelluccio lentils.

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