Category Archives: cucina

Quinoa Pizza Crust

Ahhhh how much I miss pizza. This ‘Deliciously Ella’ gluten -free recipe is tasty with a cripsy quinoa base, though labour-intensive to make the base without a food-processor. With a simple topping of tomato puree, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes the end result was a thumbs up  – Pollici in su!




Adventures in Pesto Making


This week I had fun making pesto sauce for the first time! I like to keep things simple when I’m cooking, and you can’t beat pesto for simplicity. no heating required, just gather your ingredients, chuck them in a blender and Hey Presto… Hey Pesto!!

The thing that took longest in the whole process was plucking the leaves off two whole basil plants – 50g of basilico was required, that’s a whole lot more basil than you might imagine!!
Here’s the recipe that I followed, which is Lucrezia’s recipe as she described in her video (if you haven’t already, then check out her Youtube channel, she is awesome – LearnItalianwithLucrezia).
1 SPICCHIO d’aglio – a clove of garlic
50 g basilico – basil
70 g parmigiano grattugiato – grated parmesan
15 g pinoli – pine nuts – pronounced pee-NO-lee
100 ml Olio d’oliva extravergine – extra virgin olive oil
sale – q.b. (quanto basta) – salt, a tiny pinch

The recipe described washing and drying the basil leaves, then putting all the ingredients in the blender to achieve the desired creamy (CREMOSO) consistency. I had a mini crisis once I had prepared the basil as I don’t have a food processor….. before I remembered I had a small hand-held blender which just did the trick!! (that mini blender is definitely the most useful kitchen appliance ever)
Useful verbs learned in the process:
FRULLARE – to blend
ASCIUGARE – to dry
TAMPONARE – to blot

The end result was pretty tasty 🙂

In other news I have learned some great words this week:
Madria – a herd, as in a herd of elephants. pronounced MAD-ri-a
Rammarico – regret – Pronounced ram-MAR-rico. just a beautiful, beautiful word and worth saying over lots of times !!! That is all 🙂

Parmigiana di melanzane


My approach to learning Italian has lately become more practical, trying to integrate the words I learn into everyday life in an attempt to retain them better, and one easy way to do this is in the kitchen.
today I was inspired by Lucrezia’s latest video which was a listening exercise comprising a list of ingredients for Parmigiana di melanzane. The ingredients were as follows – 1.5 kg melanzane (aubergines), 1kg pomodori, 100g parmigiana grattugiato,300g mozzarella, un mazzetto di basilico, 1 quarto di cipolla (onion), olio extravergine d’olive, sale, 2 uova and olio di arachide (groundnut oil??) per friggere.
my first challenge was shopping for aubergines. I decided to halve the quantities in the recipe but even so I still needed 3 aubergines. feeling full of hope I visited Tesco Hednesford with two small boys (one of whom was growling loudly all the way round). no aubergines were to be found. in fact the fruit and veg section was half empty, I wondered if some kind of strike was in fact happening. this failure on the part of Tesco to supply basic ingredients led to a further stop at Aldi, with two small boys, the small one still growling, even more loudly than before. Aubergine success! Pollici in su (thumbs up Aldi!) we returned home and then I realised I had a list of ingredienti but no ricetta. I searched for an authentic Italian one, ie in Italian, but the first one I came across involved slicing the melanzane and then layering them with enormous quantities of sale (salt). just watching the video made me thirsty I tell you. feeling a bit harassed at this point, as I was multi-tasking trying to make a separate dinner for the kids, I found a Jamie Oliver recipe and used that instead. his recipe did not involve egg, goodness knows what I was supposed to do with the egg. perhaps I will never know.
I had to look up the meaning of ‘mazzetto’ with regards to basil quantity, and the dictionary supplied ‘bunch’. I didn’t want to completely decimate my basil plant so I used a small handful.
anyhow I was pleased with the end result considering the effort involved. griddling aubergines is very labour intensive!!
I made an important discovery regarding the word ‘cipolla’ which was basically that I have been mispronouncing it wrong for nearly 10 years. Randomly enough it was one of the first words I learned from my Italian friend. FYI it is la ci-POLLA, not the other way round. The pitfalls of teaching a language to yourself are endless. (finally making better progress now I started watching a lot of videos on youtube listening to native speakers, and hearing how the words should be pronounced and how they are used in context!!)

Caffè Italian style

20150629_122132Ciao a tutti!
Today I was very excited when my present to myself arrived in the post….. a Moka pot / caffetiera which is a stove-top coffee maker of the type very commonly used in Italia to make coffee a casa. Coffee Italian style is going to happen in our house now!! Hubby was equally excited when I unwrapped it – there is a competition as to who enjoys coffee more out of the two of us. Quindi, before putting it into action I (most unusually ) decided to read the instructions, and take the thing apart to see how it worked. most of the time I ignore the inner workings of things, However in the process of looking at my new toy I learned some words which I will share….
You start by filling the tank in the bottom part with cold water, then you fill up a funnel part (imbuto) with coffee (il caffè macinato) and this sits above the water. then you screw the top part firmly on, but not too firmly. this was the good part of reading the instructions which was a frankly poor translation “Screw strongly the top of the coffeepot on the little tank, but don’t prize the handle.” Prize?? In Italian it was written as:
“Avviate il raccogliatore alla caldaietta e chiudete con forza ma senza esagerare, evitando di fare leva sul manico.” but anyway you get the gist, don’t crank the thing round too hard otherwise you might break it!
then you set in on the stove, on top of the gas ring (you might need to buy a reducer if your hob is like mine) and heat it gently until the coffee starts to form in the top tank and some steam comes out of the spout.
other words I learned : manico (handle), guarnizione (a kind of rubber seal), valvola (valve) and piastrina (like a metal plate)! Words ready to use in conversation, and coffee maker ready for action!!

NB I bought a 3 cup Moka pot but judging by the size of it there will be 3 tazzine (little cups) of espresso.
Loving the little man on the side of it, l’omino con I baffi (the little man with a moustache!)

L’omino di pan di zenzero


My sister-in-law (mia cognata / la mia cognata? I need to review possessives!) made this amazing gingerbread house for Christmas, and today my 4 year old son had the honour of smashing it to pieces so we could eat it – after we had first marvelled at how pretty it was. my favourite features about the house – in no particular order :
1) The windows made of glacier mints which melt when in the oven and then cool down again making flat windows. Yes, I know, I found that really clever too!
2) The window sills made of candy cigarettes. Not real cigarettes obviously.
3) The Christmas tree in the garden, made of layers of gingerbread stars, progressively smaller toward the top of the tree and coloured with green food colouring.

a while ago My parents brought back a copy of “The little gingerbread man” from their holiday in Italy, ( “L’omino di pan di zenzero”) so that I could read it with my elder son. I’ve read it to him lots of times, both in Italian and in English. for the first time today it occurred to me to wonder where the gingerbread was running TO when he escaped from the baker and his wife, and the answer is obvious. he was looking for a little house just like this one!! purtroppo una volpe l’ha mangiato, non e riuscito mai a trovare una bella casa.

“Stop little gingerbread man, I want to eat you!” “Fermati, omino, che devo mangiarti!”
“RUn Run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man” ” Corri pure quanto vuoi : io sono l’omino di pan di zenzeroo e prendermi tu non puoi!!”
also since I was learning about suffixes this week I am starting to notice them everywhere. a whole host of suffixes that help to decode the language. “-ino” being the suffix for little. I plan a whole ‘nother post on suffixes really soon….!