Happy World Nutella Day! If you are unfamiliar with World Nutella Day, it’s an unofficial holiday started by the great bloggers at Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso. It’s now a certified internet celebration! Last year at this time, this blog was just a month old and I commemorated the day with a recipe for Nutella Butter Cookies. This year I had one of the 5kg mega-bottles of Nutella leftover from Christmas baking and I needed to get it used up and quick!
Cookies made in a roll or log shape are common among old-fashioned Italian cookie recipes. I’ve had variations of this cookie but in this recipe I mixed two of my favourite things together. My mother makes this log roll with lemon pie filling in the middle and it tastes divine! I used her dough recipe and substituted the lemon filling for Nutella and it is a great alternative. The orange flavouring of the dough mixes well with the chocolate and is a play on the classic bread and Nutella snack.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Happy World Pasta Day! Ok, I’m a day early, but let’s say I’m celebrating all week! The cold weather has me craving some comfort food, and for Italians, that pretty much always starts with pasta.
In honour of World Pasta Day on October 25th, I’m trying a new pasta I’ve never made before: semolina cavatelli. I also whipped up a new pesto that I’ve fallen in love with. The result? Homemade cavatelli with roasted tomato pesto.
I’m still working on getting pasta perfect every time, so making a new dough was a challenge for me. In my first attempt at cavatelli the dough was way too soft and the pasta just smushed out of the machine. It was a mess. Now, I’ve figured it out and the key is to keep it simple and, for cavatelli, make it a harder dough. Many thanks to Aurora Importing for the lovely cavatelli maker I won from them in a contest earlier this year. Apparently you can make cavatelli by hand, but the machine sure did speed up the process. So did making the dough in the food processor. I know it’s not traditional, but dinner was ready in an hour and it was all homemade. Plus, the dough worked out great and the cavatelli were delicious!
Homemade Cavatelli with Roasted Tomato Pesto
1 pound durum wheat semolina flour (preferably fine grain)
1 cup very cold water
Roasted tomato pesto
1 cup roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated parmigiana cheese
1 tablespoon dried Italian oregano
4 tablespoons olive oil
Today we welcome our first guest writer, Jerry Buccilli, a 2nd generation Italian from Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Growing up Italian
There are two very old proverbs, “La cucina piccolo fal la casa grande,” which means, “A small kitchen makes the house big,” and the second, “una buona mamma vale cento maestre,” which translates to “a good mother is worth a hundred teachers.”
I wanted to quote these sayings because they hold a particular meaning to me. We immigrated to Canada when I was seven and after moving from one apartment to another we finally found a house to settle in. It was small 1,100 square foot bungalow tucked away in an old Italian neighborhood in Welland, Ontario, but it was warm, cozy and it was home. It also had the tiniest kitchen you ever saw. But my mamma, who ranks amongst some of the best cooks I’ve ever known, would always be cooking up a storm in there. Using the little resources she had, she made due and created her little feasts. The food, the music and the good laughter and conversation that emanated from our kitchen was the focal point of our lives. It was like mamma was showing her love as only she could. Through food. It’s a romantic notion to be sure, but that’s exactly what it was. A love story.
For us Italians growing our own fruits and vegetables, making fresh bread and our own home-made pasta, making wine, sausages and canning our own preserves….or waking up to home-made Sunday sauce (the smells of garlic, tomatoes and braised meat were oh, so intoxicating)…this was about carrying on a love story with tradition. Handing down recipe after recipe, generation after generation. Each family had its own time-honoured secrets to share.
The weather is looking good (20 degrees+ from here on in!) and we have neighbours that cook everything on the barbeque. If you are outside enjoying the weather, you are also smelling their dinner. So we decided to top their hamburgers last weekend with pizza on the barbeque. We went with our standard pizza dough recipe with a few twists.
Besides getting that slightly charred thin crust, I love pizzas off of pizza stones (or ideally from real pizza ovens) for that grainy flour texture on the bottom of the pizza and the sound of the paddle removing it from the stone. It reminds me of my parent’s restaurant, sold years ago now, where pizzas came fast and furious from the ovens. There’s something about the smell and sounds of pizza straight from the pizza oven that is ingrained in my memory and heart. Trying out our new pizza stone on the barbeque brought back memories and brought the neighbours over to ask what we were cooking!
40 grams of yeast (or 2 packages of instant yeast)
1 cup of lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for rising process)