Skip to main content


Cucina Conversations: La Parmigiana di Zucchine – a Celebration of the Season

If you are living in Italy, no doubt your focus will be on Carnival season and those amazing traditional sweets appearing everywhere; tempting us to indulge before the Lenten period begins. Each region of Italy has its own unique way of celebrating this event on the Italian calendar, but all find their foundations in ancient traditions.

Through planning our family trip to Italy scheduled for June, I’ve been doing some reading on the region of Basilicata also known as Lucania, where my parents are from and came across a lovely recount written for Italy Magazine of the famous masked Carnival in Tricarico, a town and commune in the province of Matera, Basilicata. Through photos, you will see this festivals representation of the blessing and seasonal migration of cattle with characters parading dressed in rainbow-coloured streamers, bells and masks. The region is home to many other carnivals that take you through a journey of traditional Lucanian myths, celebrations and rituals. It has …
Recent posts

Cucina Conversations:Pasta Mollicata (Pasta with Breadcrumbs)

We begin 2018’s Cucina Conversations calendar with the notion of ‘waste not, want not’. The subject here being stale bread or pane raffermo as it is known in Italian; and the endless uses of this staple ingredient found in every kitchen I’m sure.  Many would agree that it should never be thrown out just because it has passed its prime, in fact my nonne considered and mamma still believes that throwing out old bread is sacrilegious due to its religious significance.

One of the best things about bread second to enjoying it freshly baked, is its amazing ability to absorb other flavours and ingredients better when at least a day old. If you are not a big fan of day old bread, the simplest thing you can do with it is to turn it into bread crumbs, so don't throw it out. It has however subsequent thrifty uses and found in many Italian recipes. This month we share a few of those recipes and show you how a simple stale ingredient such as bread can be turned into a delicious meal.
I’ve ch…

Sorbetto di Cigliege e Basilico (Cherry & Basil Sorbet)

The Christmas to January holiday period sees us eating many cherries and this year we decided to include a family day out picking our own up at Red Hill Cherry Farm  in Victoria.  My intentions were to pick some morello sour cherries to cook with; however I came across an interesting cherry sorbet recipe I found in an old magazine I was clearing out and was intrigued by the combination of cherries and basil used together. Yes you may think that this sounds quite odd but on the contrary, it is quite lovely.  So my curiosity got the better of me and I focused on picking some sweet cherries instead to try this marriage of flavours.
I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing the basil taste was, cutting through the sweetness of the cherries.You can adjust the amount of basil used depending on how pronounced you want the flavour to be.I went with the recommended amount as I was curious to experience the full flavour. The basil plants in my garden are growing happily at the moment and the…

Crostata di Prugne (Plum Jam Tart)

Under the shade of my parents sugar plum tree I contemplate what the new year has in store and welcome her in with some freshly made apricot and plum jams and this delectable crostata. A new look for this humble blog will also be launched today, with plans for further changes along the way.  A task I have avoided for a long while due to lack of time. A fresh look for the beginning of a new year is what was needed and I hope that this format will make the site easier to navigate, but as mentioned with time there will be more noticeable changes for the better. Stay tuned! So what better way to celebrate than with a slice of this plum jam crostata made more special by the addition of some home-made sugar plum jam I made the other day.

My parent’s love of fruit trees provides us with an abundance of fruit around the summer season.  What doesn't get eaten is preserved and used later in cakes, tarts as well as on toast. I especially love a tart that uses home-made jams such as apricot, p…

Cucina Conversations: Sicilian Fig & Nut Dolcetti - Ciascuni

If you were to ask me which ingredients typify a southern Italian Christmas, it would be those that mamma would bake with around this time. The lightly sweet, caramelised flavour of vin cotto, the aromatic spices combined with chocolate and nuts, all shout loudly that Christmas is around the corner.  These ingredients are quite common in my Christmas sweets collection and you can click on their links to learn more about these recipes, such as the panzerotti that mamma has always adorned our Christmas table with; or the panforte I make each year as gifts for family and friends; and the fried balls of pastry coated in honey that my maternal grandmother made every Christmas for her daughters which she called la cicerata.
This Christmas I'm adding a new sweet to the blog, one that my mother in-law would make.  No written recipe meant I had to rely solely on memory and taste and managing to get the flavours and texture as close as what I remembered them to be.  I posted these traditiona…

Cucina Conversations: Rosette di Pane (Rosette Bread Rolls)

Rosette Soffiate, or puffed rosette rolls are probably one of the hardest bread types I have attempted to make.  It has taken me many attempts and still cannot claim that I have achieved the hollow centre being 'the' inherent characteristic of this Italian panino.  This month, our CucinaConversations topic is all about bread, and provides us with an opportunity to learn more about the many bread types found in the different regions of Italy. There are claims that there are over 350 types of bread in Italy, of which many are specific to their regions while others are more widespread and exist based around religious, utilitarian or prepared for celebrations.  

This rosetta roll is ideal and typically used for fillings due to its hollow centre. In the Friuli-Venezia region of Italy, a region which borders Austria, rosette rolls are similar to Austrian bread, and have a soft, compact crumb.  Like those in Austria, they are sprinkled with poppy seeds. Rosette rolls produced in Milan…

Sourdough Bread & Starter

This sourdough loaf made from Emilie Raffa’s newly released cookbook: Artisan Sourdough Made Simpleis my proud creation derived from the starter I made and named 'Eve'.  This live culture prepared from just whole wheat flour and water has been fermenting away and creating its magic.  And I have successfully baked with it several times now using Emilie’s recipes and guidance from her book. This loaf was the perfect place to re-start my sourdough passion, and regain my confidence. Since then, I have baked her Fruit and Nut Loaf, and Light Rye Loaf.

For those who may not know Emilie, she is the author of the blog, The Clever Carrot and debut book, The Clever Cookbook.  With her classical training at the International Culinary Centre and her ingenious time saving philosophy for food preparation, I was drawn to her wealth of knowledge in helping me do what I love in half the time needed. Emilie writes with a reassuring and guiding approach which has boosted my confidence to contin…