I’m on the look out for an Italian artifact. Someone out there has one – in a dusty garden shed, in the rafters of your garage, or maybe you have just a piece of it in an old cantina or box in the basement. Well bring it out, because it’s hard to find! I’m after a zappa. You might also call it a sappa or saupa.
In simple words, it is a garden hoe. But brought straight from Italy, it is an amazing tool that you can’t buy anymore.
It has a long blade on one side, a two pronged fork on the other. The wooden pole it fits on has to be replaced from time to time, but the metal piece is unique for each one I’ve seen. And the Italians in my family that have them, aren’t letting go of them easily. For many Italians, it is their only gardening tool. You can do everything with it: turn the soil, remove weeds, mix in the manure, make trenches for planting the vegetables, and till the soil.
Every once and a while my family adds a recipe to our regulars, tries something out and it sticks. Asparagus Risotto was one of those sticky recipes. We really only use to make risotto with meat sauce, peas and a lot of cheese and bake it off until the crust was golden brown (ok that’s a recipe I need to add on here). Then, one spring, the asparagus patch in the backyard exploded with vegetables and we had to find a new use for it.
This risotto was the result and it stuck around in our family for a long time. I hadn’t had it in a few years, so I used the blog as the excuse to bring out an old favourite. I know most fancy risotto recipes use wine to deglaze, but it works just as well without having to open a fresh bottle.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup arborio rice
About 4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound of asparagus, clean, chopped into one inch pieces and blanched
Happy Canada Day! (And happy Euro Cup Final!)
Every month, I’ll cover the online news and items of interest to Italian-Canadians collected from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, online newspapers and more.
This last weekend I took part in something uniquely Italian and, itself, uniquely Canadian. I know there must be many families that have had family reunions, but two things struck me about the Tamburro Family Reunion that I attended: first is that Italian families are just so huge, second is that only because of immigration and separation of these large families is the need for a reunion so real these days.
What was extra special about this family reunion was that it was a few years in the making by a fantastic committee and brought together parts of my grandmother’s (on my dad’s side) family. And what a family! The family tree that was researched, drawn out and displayed was fantastic and not only made me understand my connections to my extended family members, but also resulted in a lot of hugs and kisses like this:
Italian Heritage Month is flying by so I wanted to take a moment to share photos (and video) of a few events that have happened.
First up, Taste of Little Italy in Toronto
Crostata is a family favourite and an easy, quick recipe that results in colourful and flavourful squares. Plus, it uses up jars of jam, which I was attempting to do to make room for new jam experiments this summer.
I say it’s easy, but I’ll be honest. My first attempt at crostata was a weak one (let’s just say I didn’t measure right). I got frustrated so I started looking at other crostata recipes, including in The Silver Spoon, but the crusts were more like shortbread/shortcrusts with butter. While I’m sure they would taste good, it wasn’t authentic to how my family and relatives cook their recipes. For example my family uses oil, probably originally olive oil, instead of butter and liquor like Anisette instead of vanilla, which they never would have had, for flavouring.
So I stuck it out and tried our family’s original recipe again. And again. And now it’s not only mastered, but memorized. It turns out it is really easy, as long as you are paying attention and measure right!
In this version of crostata, I dug out a jar of my mom’s peach-orange freezer jam and used Triple Sec (orange liquor) for flavouring the dough.
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 ½ to 4 cups all purpose flour, perhaps a little more for dusting
2 teaspoons vanilla, or liqueur or flavour of your choice
2 cups of jam or your choice