Melanzane -Vi Amo- I Love You

IMG_4444

What’s your feel good food? That kind of food that can lift your spirits immediately, that doesn’t only feed your body but your brain 🧠 too with positive vibes and awesomeness 😍 Everyone has one, no matter what our age is, we all have that special food that we crave, that we love and that will put a smile on our face straight away 💕 mine has to be MELANZANE 🍆 /MEH-LAN-TSAH-NEH/ Aubergines 🍆 I would choose them over everything else 💚 here they are:  “Baked Aubergines with Garlic Breadcrumbs” 👌🏻super easy, fresh and delicious 💚 this is a vegetarian dish that can be eaten hot or cold, with rice, with a fresh salad, even in a bun as a substitute to burgers 🙂

 

Melanzane - Vi Amo - I love You

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Print

Nonna has always taught us to eat as many vegetables as possible and no many people are familiar with aubergines, please give it a try and let Nonna know what your feedback is 🙂 this recipe is just perfect for everyone to be eaten hot or cold. 

Beautiful and fresh for lunch and dinner with a side dish or just on its on

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines, sliced (1.5cm thick) 
  • 100g of home made breadcrumbs – great to use some stale bread and make your own breadcrumbs… as you know we don’t waste any food 🙂 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 4tbs olive oil
  • 2tsp salt  

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven at 190 degrees. Slice the aubergines length ways (1/1.5 cm thick). Place them on a non stick tray, sprinkle a pinch of salt and some olive oil (the olive oil keeps them moist). Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, the garlic, the parsley and a pinch of salt. Mix in a little olive oil and a table spoon of water ( it’ll be easier to spread the breadcrumbs)
  3. Turn the aubergines over and with a teaspoon place the breadcrumbs evenly on each one. Add a little more salt and bake for another 15 minutes until golden.
  4. Pronte!! Enjoy them hot or cold, I love them either way

 

 

Insalata di Tonno e Cannellini

Insalata Tonno e Cannellini

fullsizeoutput_5b1f

 

Summer we missed you so much! To celebrate the beautiful sunshine I would like to share a very simple and versatile salad dish that you can have as a starter, a main or a side dish. I learned that freshness and simplicity are always the key to a successful meal….most of all  if you are feeding some hungry teenagers 🙂

I made this salad for a few events that I held in our local community, the exciting thing thing for children is to prepare all the ingredients and to assemble together but the best thing is that children (and grownups) LOVE this dish as it’s full of flavour, freshness and colours.

If you are a vegetarian and you don’t eat fish, you can leave the tuna out and add a handful of cherry tomatoes 🙂

Nonna has always taught us to keep our dishes simple and fresh, this recipe is just perfect for everyone to be eaten in a hot day like today. 

Beautiful and fresh for lunch and dinner, this is perfect as a side dish for a BBQ  

Ingredients

  • one red onion, chopped
  • 400g Cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced  
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 3tbs olive oil
  • salt 
  • 2tbs balsamic vinegar
    • 160g Tuna chunks in spring water
    • handful of olives ( I used Nocellara olives but any good quality olives will be fine)

Directions

  1. In a serving dish mix together the cannellini beans, the diced pepper, the diced onion, the tuna, the olives, the basil, the salt, the olive olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Ready !!! 🙂
  3. Enjoy on its own or with meat or fish

 

 

Risotto allo Zafferano e Asparagi

 

fullsizeoutput_522c

 

This is a little different to my previous recipe 🙂

It’s my first cooking video and I wanted to share it with you.

I am cooking for my friends and I am Bringing Nonna to their home sharing with them all her precious advice.

I must say it was harder than I thought, being in front of the camera and trying to be as natural as possible….. Hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

 

Serving 3 people 

 

Ingredients 

250g Arborio rice

800ml Vegetable stock

pinch of salt,

knob of butter

tbs olive oil

half onion

handful of asparagus, sliced

a tsp saffron

 

Preparation 

Place the butter on a no-stick pan, the olive oil and melt in on a low heat, add the onion and simmer until golden. Add the rice and stir it. The rice will start roasting and it’s important that it doesn’t burn. Have your stock ready and make sure it’s hot, alternatively melt the gelatine cube in the hot water and mix it thoroughly. Gradually add the stock in the pan and keep stirring the rice, repeat this until you have used all the stock. Add the asparagus  Sprinkle the saffron and mix it throughly. Cook for another 2 minutes. The rice will look creamy and will taste “al dente” . Serve it with some fresh parmesan, shavings or grated. Pronto!

 

 

Insalata per Campioni

Sun is out ☀️and we want to share some beautiful freshness 💚 what a great boost for those that are working out 💪🏻 and keeping fit 💪🏻💚

I called this Salad “Salad for Champions” : Tuna, potatoes, eggs and green beans….carbs, proteins, vitamins and sunshine all in one ONE dish.

How can only a few ingredients make a dish so tasty? Well, this is exactly what Nonnas do, they only use what it’s going to be good for you and they cook it in the simplest way ❤️

 

This salad is truly delicious and my whole family love it. It’s also a great idea for pack lunches too 😊

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

2/3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)

300g fine green beans

4 eggs (1 egg per person)

1 tin of tuna ( in oil )

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil, 3 tbs

Salt, pinch

Preparation

Put the potatoes in a large pan, cover with water and bring it to the boil. Boil for 5 minuets and then add the green beans in with the potatoes. Boil for another 5 minuets ( or less if you like your beans “al dente”).

While the potatoes and green beans are cooking, place the eggs in a smaller pan, cover with water and bring it to the boil, cook for 8 minuets. Drain the vegetables and place them into a large serving dish, add the tuna (flake it with a fork). Peel the eggs and halve them. Prepare the dressing: mix the olive oil, the lemon juice and salt and pour it all over the salad. Pronta!

Pollo alla Cacciatora – Hunter Chicken

 

IMG_5894

 

When it’s cold outside you need a recipe to warm up the whole family, Hunter Chicken is just perfect! In italian we say Pollo all Cacciatora “Hunter Chicken”  /POH-LOH AH-LAH CAH-CHAH-TOH-RAH/ and it is another great recipe that will bring the family together. It reminds me of a winter’s day, about 27 years ago (I would have been 15 years “young” ) and like every teenager coming home from school it was the highlight of my day!! I was always looking forward to coming home, most of all after all those tests and long hours learning about what I though it was boring ( at that time I thought all teachers were evil, I wonder if it’s what my students think about me now!!) … as I walked in, the whole house smelt divine but I was far too tired to chat about my day. A huge pot of Hunter Chicken was ready on the table with some fresh bread to mop up the dishes ( SCARPETTA  /SCAR-PEH-TAH/ ) , the first bite and slowly I got my speech back. It was my kinda comfort food, when I say “Comfort” it means that not only did it bring the family to sit together but it also brought the comfort I needed as a teenager to speak up, to chat, to talk….

Now that I am a Mamma  I am on the other side of the table, preparing my Hunter Chicken for my family, hoping that it’ll help my teenage children to open up and talk about their day. Bringing families together is what my food is all about 🙂

Serving 6

Ingredients

1 kg Chicken (thighs and/or drumsticks)

3 carrots, diced

3 celery sticks, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, whole

handful of rosemary

2 tins of plum tomatoes

100g white wine

100g cappers

salt 1/2 tsp

olive oil, 3/4 tbs

Preparation

In a large saucepan heat the the olive oil and add the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes until the skin is golden. Add the carrots, celery, onion, salt, garlic and rosemary. Pour the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes , the cappers and cook on a low heat for 40 minutes. If needed add more salt. Pronto!!

Serve with a loaf of bread and steamed or panfried vegetables. Roast potatoes are great too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polpette al Sugo – Meatballs in Red Sauce

IMG_5702

 

 

Polpette = Meatballs = Italian Comfort Food 🙂

Nonna and Mamma used to make Meatballs all the time and I can still remember the excitement about dinner time!

In a cold day I used to love coming home from school to find one of my favourite dishes, Pasta and Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce…. awww it tasted amazing!!!

Today I am making this dish for my family and I hope I can inspire your family too!

#BringNonnaBack and Bring Families Together ❤️

Serves 4/6 people

 

Ingredients for the Polpette-Meatballs

250g beef Mince, good quality
250g pork mince
1 egg
100g bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
handful of parsley, finely chopped
l pinch of salt
sunflower oil for frying

Preparation
In a large bowl place the mince and add the egg, parsley, garlic, salt and bread crumbs. Mix all together with a fork or with your hand making sure you combine all the ingredients. If the mix feels too wet you can add some more bread crumbs, if it feels too dry add a splash of milk. Once the mix is smooth you can start rolling it into small balls, size of a 10p coin. I tent to make them a bit small as it’s easier for the children to eat them all in one go!

Option 1: Heat some sunflower oil in a large pan (filling all the bottom of the pan )and place 6/8 meatballs at the time. Cook them for 4/5 minutes, keep stirring them until golden. Prepare a large dish with some kitchen roll on the side and once the meatballs are ready to come out the pan, drain them and place them on the  kitchen roll to rest and to lose some of the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Keep doing the same until you have cooked all the meatballs.
Option 2: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees, place the meatballs on a flat oven tray and put the in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.

For the Sugo-Sauce

Ingredients
Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped
800/900g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)
A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Olive oil, 2 tbs
Salt, a pinch
Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)
Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes untill golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.
PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before
Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.
Finally add your basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your Sugo is ready!
Place the meatballs into the sauce, make sure they are all covered, put the lid on and  keep cooking the sauce and the meatballs for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Enjoy your Polpette with some fresh bread or pasta. Buon Apettito!

Zucchine Fries

IMG_1110

This  is a great recipe for a healthy and tasty snack that the whole family would love!

In Italian we call them ZUCCHINE  /ZOO-KEY-NEH/ = Courgettes and they are the star of this simple dish. People often think that courgettes are plain and tasteless…. did you know that they are:

  • High Source of Antioxidants and Vitamin C. …
  • Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties that Can Improve Heart Health. …
  • High Source of Potassium. …
  • Help Improve Digestion. …
  • Low in Calories and Carbs. …
  • Helps Maintain Eye Health. …
  • Good Source of Energizing B Vitamins. …
  • Can Help Control Diabetes..

They are very popular in our Mediterranean Diet and you can cook them in so many different ways!

My Nonna used to bake (or fry) many other vegetables in bread crumbs (aubergine, pepper, cauliflower..), she even made her own version of mozzarella sticks! Today we are using courgettes. The best bit about it is that my little girl made them from scratch, she loves cooking and she is a very quick learner. Children love engaging with food most of all if they can get their hands dirty! 🙂

Serving 4 

Ingredients

2 large courgettes, cut in length ways

2 eggs

handful of Parmesan cheese, grated

handful of dried origano

200g homemade breadcrumbs

Pinch of salt

Olive oil, 3 tbs

Fresh Rosemary to decorate

Preparation 

Preheat the oven at 190 degrees. Whisk two eggs and add the courgettes in. Mix well. In a different bowl mix the parmesan, the oregano, the bread crumbs and salt. Put the courgettes into the bread crumbs and mix. Put the courgette sticks on a tray, add a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Pronto!

Please watch our video 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

We love Gnocchi-di-Patate-Fatti-in-Casa

IMG_3672

People often ask me if it is possible to cook from scratch delicious and healthy dishes when time is an issue. My answer is very simple: Time Management.

Planning an healthy meal is very simple and it will save you lots of time for sure! Firstly I always  make sure I have the basic staples (such as pasta, rice, couscous, flour, semolina….) in my cupboard and pantry,  also fresh herbs and vegetables are a must in my kitchen.

Today I am making a classic, “Gnocchi di Patate” (Potato Gnocchi) the easiest and quickest pasta dish that everyone will love. I would always freeze half of the gnocchi and I would cook them on a school night when time is definitely tight. Just like my Mamma and Nonna would do I love planning my meals on a daily base, when you are busy with the children, work, school runs and all the sorts of things a Mum needs to do I can guarantee you being organised in the kitchen makes your life better.

So are you ready? Have you got all the ingredients for this delicious dish?

Serving 4-6 people 

Ingredients

4 large potatoes (1kg)

300g strong white flour

1 egg

salt

Preparation 

In a large pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes, boil them with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Try not to over boil them.

Remove potatoes and drain well. Peel boiled potatoes and use a potato ricer to mash them until all completely smooth (alternately you can use a potato masher)

Place the riced potatoes into a large mixing bowl (or you can place them straight  on a dry work top). Add the flour, the salt and the egg and start mixing with a fork.

Transfer the mix on a dry work top and pull together ingredients. Knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi. Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense. Shape dough into a long, wide cylinder for cutting.

Quarter dough. Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope.

Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 2cm pieces. To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen. Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook the gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes.

My children’s favourite Gnocchi dish is in a simple basil and tomato sauce but today I wanted to be more adventurous and I made a creamy mushroom sauce with garlic and thyme.

It was DELIZIOSO!!!!!!!

I hope I made Mamma and Nonna proud 🙂

 

Why #BringNonnaBack?

fullsizeoutput_49bb.jpeg

What is #BringNonnaBack?🇮🇹
Nonna is the Italian word for grandmother.
In Italy, Nonna is the queen of the kitchen and her recipes are passed from generation to generation.
Nonna is in charge of the feeding for the whole family and they are trained to cook for a regiment of family, friends and guests from an early age.
They would start cooking at 7 o’clock in the morning and by the evening they would have already planned lunch and dinner for the next day! They would cook their traditional recipe (every Nonna has her own traditional recipe) and they are very proud of it. We learn from them not to waste any food and to keep recipes simple and fresh. They would encourage everyone (including their young grandchildren) to learn some basic cooking skills. They would spend the weekend baking bread and making fresh pasta and they would always make sure everyone is fed….

Growing up following the Mediterranean Diet taught to eat absolutely everything with Moderation! I learnt to cook not because I come from a family of chefs but because both my Mum and my Grandmother taught me how to cook. Cooking was our family time, eating together at the table was a must and IT STILL IS.

My Nonna is now 95 years old and Lilly’s Nonna is 70 years old..they are both very pleased we are keeping the family tradition alive ❤️Lilly and I love cooking together, we make recipes up, we cook from scratch and we use very simple and fresh ingredients. We are never too busy, too tired, too bored…we just love what we do ❤️

With #BringNonnaBack I would love tell you all about what I am doing to bring back the old ways, getting grandparents and children together, involving them in the kitchen, using simple fresh and ingredients, helping to keep those old recipes alive, so we are not just fighting child obesity but dementia too. I am sad to see that families that don’t spend time together anymore….. child obesity unfortunately is also caused by the lack of care and love towards what we eat and the time we spend whilst we are eating.

My Nonna’s message is to inspire families to a way of life, not a diet.

Please can you help us spread #BringNonnaBack we are sure all the Nonnas out there would love to see how we can keep old traditions still fresh in the modern society 😊 GRAZIE NONNA xx

IMG_4637 2

IMG_4634

 

 

IMG_0012IMG_1872

 

fullsizeoutput_523d

Camone – Amore

fullsizeoutput_3d7b

I was walking around Borough Market the other day hunting for some fresh produce and  amongst all the lively and colourful tents the most beautiful stall of vegetables had my favourite Sardinian tomatoes! I was elated !!! I grew up eating tomatoes, when I say eating them I mean, both my brother and I used to “steal” them from the fridge and eat them whilst watching the telly… no crisps, no sweets, or any other type of snacks….. at the time only fresh and juicy tomatoes.

The Camone tomatoes  /CAH-MOH-NEH/  have all the properties of the other tomatoes and a distinctive texture followed by the sweetest taste that makes your mouth water at the first bite. If you have never tried I would definitely recommend them. Raw, with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt is what makes them so special. And guess what? They are at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum and vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E and phosphorus.

fullsizeoutput_3d7f

Tomatoes are not only great in salads but I also put them in my children’s pack lunch, my children take after me…..they would eat tomatoes all day long and they also love them as a snack after they come back from school.

My Nonna and my Mamma have done a great job teaching me all I needed to know about eating fresh and healthy produce. Grazie! #BringNonnaBack

Do you you like balsamic vinegar? If you do I have a delicious recipe for you to try:

POMODORINI AL FORNO ALL’ACETO BALSAMICO

Ingredients for 4 people

1 punnet of cherry or baby plum tomatoes (250g-300g)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh Basil

2 bay leaves

salt, pinch

olive oil, 2/3 tbs

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Wash the tomatoes and place them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the bay leaves and basil,  add the garlic, add the balsamic vinegar and mix. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and serve as a side dish to a meat of fish recipe ….. BUONISSIMI!