Archive for January, 2010

January 22, 2010

The chef’s trick

Home made bouillon

Finally, I am equipped with a proper kitchen! The best part of it is that it is full of natural light. I have electric plates also for top stove cooking and the oven is a smallish, electric one, which I prefer to traditional gas ones (traditional in Italy, of course).  I managed to clean it just a couple of days ago, and have used it only for cooking the occasional squash or finishing off some busy week dinner. I promise some proper baking is coming back soon. I have been really missing it. Of course here it has been less of a pain than it would have been in the UK, as when I want a decent slice of cake, the difficult part is choosing between the dozens on offer in a cafe'; and bread is fantastic, as I told you. Nevertheless I use the oven a lot for many little finishes to dishes, for grating a pasta or rice dish, or as a healthy alternative for frying. My family has missed my homemade granola as well: I’ll have to source a good health food shop for nuts and seeds and the likes, and then it will be back.

In the meanwhile, one of the first things I did was trying this recipe.

January 17, 2010

Garden of Eden

Orange trees

Orange trees in Piana di Gioia Tauro

If I had to pick a forbidden fruit, I’d go for citruses. Nothing speaks of Heaven like an orange or lemon garden to me. I expecially have a crush on lemon trees – I find there is something magical and sacred about them.

January 10, 2010

Meat + tomato = ..?

Ragu'

Ragu’. When you are abroad, is one of the staples for fake Italian food.  It is a meat  and tomato sauce.

And believe me, literally anything can go under this description.

I have come to the conclusion that most people who don’t like Italian food  have just tried ragu’, or Bolognese sauce, as it is known worldwide (actually there is a brand in the UK with a giant RAGU on the label, it is hilarious!), and they have come to the fully justified conclusion that Italian cooking is heavy and disgusting and rough.

Now, also in Italy you can find a bad ragu’. It is an everyday food with a hint of ‘special’, extremely traditional, and there are as many varieties as families, and not each and every family can cook well of course.   But when you find a good one, and that you will usually find at home, well, you understand why Italian cooking is the best in the entire world. You will understand a lot of things about what makes Italian food special – ingredients, time, quantities, all goes ‘ad occhio’ – you see it; your ragu’ is good only because you have been making it for years and years, you grew up with your granny cooking ragu’ every sunday morning. As always with Italian cooking, you are going to need top quality ingredients – however for ragu’ this does not mean expensive ones, indeed it is a popular and relatively cheap dish, invented to make a little meat go a long way.

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