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Cucina Conversations

Cucina Conversations is introduced to you as a collaborative project initiated by seven like-minded women from around the globe coming together every month to share our passion for Italian seasonal food, its history and related recipes.   We are: Rosemarie - of Sicilian and Calabrian descent, author of her blog Turin Mamma who also writes for Italy Magazine, originally from Sydney, Australia and now resides in Turin;  Marialuisa - who titled her blog Marmellata di Cipolle based around her notion on life - tears, sweetness, and adventures, lives in Calabria;   Francesca - an Italo/American residing in Rome shares her passion for writing and cooking  via Pancakes and Biscotti; Daniela - a food traveller shares her culinary experiences  and recipes via La Dani Gourmet, was born and raised in Milan and now lives in Tuscany;  Flavia - born in Washington, DC and now living in Texas, shares her passion for Italian recipes on her blog Flavia's Flavors;  Lisa - a New Zealander married to an Italian and lives in France. She writes about her passion for Italian cuisine and travel on her blog Italian Kiwi.   Finally there is me, Carmen an Italo/Australian, born in Piedmont and migrated to Melbourne, Australia at the age of five. I have maintained a sense of nostalgia and share simple recipes, travels and anecdotes from my Italian family heritage, mainly from the regions of Basilicata & Sicily, via The Heirloom ChroniclesTogether, we hope to impart our love for Italian cuisine through recipes and related conversations.


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Panzerotti /Tortelli di Castagne & Cioccolato (Chestnut & chocolate filled morsels)

When I think of chestnuts, I reminisce about my birth town - Domodossola, where I was first introduced to this distinctive flavoured nut.  We were fortunate to live close to Sacro Monte Calvario, a mountain lined with chestnut trees. My mother cooked many dishes which used this flavorsome nut, especially sweets such as these panzerotti di castagne & cioccolato.  Withthis sweet mamma has more recently substituted the chestnut filling with chickpeas as they are readily available all year round and knowing that my papa`enjoys this sweetmade frequently.

Chestnut season is a favourite for our whole family and we are of the belief that if you've never had a freshly roasted chestnut you haven't lived. We often visit Daylesford in country Victoria around autumn to purchase them fresh and enjoy them roasted at the farmers markets.

This recipe is a variation of panzerotti / tortelli di ceci which I have shared previously with you.  The filling is more delicate in texture and lighter t…

Torta di Cachi e Noci (Persimmon & Walnut Cake)

We have had a bountiful season of cachi (persimmons) this year, as every other year.  My parents persimmon tree yields a beautiful vanilla variety, the non-astringent with hard flesh that can be eaten like an apple, known as the Fuyu. Every season begins with much excitement and many bags are given to family and friends.  Even so, we still manage to freeze a few when they become too ripe. When soft, they are great in smoothies, making sorbet, ice-cream and of course baking with.  I however have never baked with them, always preferring to eat them as a fruit paired off with walnuts or sliced with oranges to counterbalance their sweetness.  

What prompted me to photograph these persimmons and make this cake was seeing the very talented Sarah Schembri through her instagram account displaying some persimmons on a very very beautiful plate she had just made. I must confess that the desire to own the plate came well before that of wanting to make a rustic persimmon cake...such is my weakness…

Cucina Conversations: Melanzane Sott'Olio (Preserved Eggplants)

Preserving Italian traditions and recipes especially those that relate to my family has become a great interest of mine. So when we decided to write about olio d’oliva (olive oil), this month’s topic for our Cucina Conversations round table, my heart rejoiced.  Not only does this liquid gold have a rich Mediterranean history, but also one that speaks of migration and preservation of family traditions. Undoubtedly olive oil is a staple ingredient in Italian cuisine and would not be the same without it.  Its varied traditional uses and recent modern applications to cooking show olive oils’ broad versatility.   What fascinates me most, is that for centuries people have sought ways to preserve their food and reap the benefits of the harvest all year long through the use of olive oil.  It is one of the most natural ways to preserve food, due to its amazing properties. 
Along with my fellow bloggers, we will share with you various recipes with olive oil being the hero ingredient.   I have c…