Why #BringNonnaBack?

What is #BringNonnaBack?🇮🇹
Nonna is the Italian word for grandmother.
In Italy, Nonna is the queen of the kitchen and her recipes are passed from generation to generation.
Nonna is in charge of the feeding for the whole family and they are trained to cook for a regiment of family, friends and guests from an early age.
They would start cooking at 7 o’clock in the morning and by the evening they would have already planned lunch and dinner for the next day! They would cook their traditional recipe (every Nonna has her own traditional recipe) and they are very proud of it. We learn from them not to waste any food and to keep recipes simple and fresh. They would encourage everyone (including their young grandchildren) to learn some basic cooking skills They would spend the weekend baking bread and making fresh pasta and they would always make sure everyone is fed….My Nonna is now 95 years old and Lilly’s Nonna is 70 years old..they are both very pleased we are keeping the family tradition alive ❤️Lilly and I love cooking together, we make recipes up, we cook from scratch and we use very simple and fresh ingredients. We are never too busy, too tired, too bored…we just love what we do ❤️Please can you help us spread #BringNonnaBack we are sure all the Nonnas out there would love to see how we can keep old traditions still fresh in the modern society 😊 GRAZIE NONNA xx

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La Pasta di Darren

Can you believe my husband’s favourite pasta ever is made with only 3 ingredients? The funny thing is that that MAIN ingredient is CARROTS and HE DOESN’T even LIKE CARROTS!!!!! In my household we like to try different recipes and despite our different tastebuds we end up discovering new flavours and loving new recipes.

I learnt from an early age that you don’t need to elaborate a dish to make it exceptional, you only need to use a few ingredients and everybody will love it….. Darren loves it too 🙂

Both my Mamma and Nonna can rely to this motto since they are the two people who taught me all I know about cooking. “IMPARA A CUCINARE USANDO POCHI, ANZI POCHISSIMI INGREDIENTIS!!!!” ( Learn to cook using the fewest ingredients) …. I can almost hear them saying it to me whilst kneading the dough for some fresh ravioli.

Carrots, onions, cream, a little bit of salt and a drizzle of olive oil…. you might be thinking  “how could it be possible for  a pasta dish to be so delicious and quick?”.

You will have to try !!! and please send all your feedback 🙂

#BringNonnaBack

 

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Serving 4 people

 

Ingredients

3 large carrots, peeled

1 red onion

150ml single or double cream

olive oil, 3 tablespoons

salt, 1 teaspoon

Penne Pasta, 350g

 

Preparation 

Bring 1 and a half litre of water to the boil. Add the pasta into the boiling water and cook following the cooking times on the packet.

Whilst you are waiting for the water to boil, get all the ingredients ready: place a non-stick pan on a medium heat with the olive oil, the carrots and the onions finally chopped (you can use a vegetable chopper ). Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on or until the onions and the carrots soften. Add a little water if the mix gets too dry. Stir and add a pinch of salt. Pour the cream and reduce the heat. Cook for 2/3 minutes.

Your past should be ready by now. Drain it and place it on a large dish.

Pour the sauce on your pasta, add a little Parmesan and enjoy….Pronto! 

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Camone – Amore

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I was walking around Borough Market the other day hunting for some fresh produce and  amongst all the lively and colourful tents the most beautiful stall of vegetables had my favourite Sardinian tomatoes! I was elated !!! I grew up eating tomatoes, when I say eating them I mean, both my brother and I used to “steal” them from the fridge and eat them whilst watching the telly… no crisps, no sweets, or any other type of snacks….. at the time only fresh and juicy tomatoes.

The Camone tomatoes  /CAH-MOH-NEH/  have all the properties of the other tomatoes and a distinctive texture followed by the sweetest taste that makes your mouth water at the first bite. If you have never tried I would definitely recommend them. Raw, with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt is what makes them so special. And guess what? They are at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum and vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E and phosphorus.

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Tomatoes are not only great in salads but I also put them in my children’s pack lunch, my children take after me…..they would eat tomatoes all day long and they also love them as a snack after they come back from school.

My Nonna and my Mamma have done a great job teaching me all I needed to know about eating fresh and healthy produce. Grazie! #BringNonnaBack

Do you you like balsamic vinegar? If you do I have a delicious recipe for you to try:

POMODORINI AL FORNO ALL’ACETO BALSAMICO

Ingredients for 4 people

1 punnet of cherry or baby plum tomatoes (250g-300g)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh Basil

2 bay leaves

salt, pinch

olive oil, 2/3 tbs

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Wash the tomatoes and place them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the bay leaves and basil,  add the garlic, add the balsamic vinegar and mix. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and serve as a side dish to a meat of fish recipe ….. BUONISSIMI!

My first trip to America…

This post is going to be a touch different from my previous ones, of course it’s going to be about food ( I’ll be bringing Nonna back to my American table for the next 2 weeks while I will be staying here in Florida) however it’s going to be about Language as well! Language? Why would language have such an impact on my trip? We all speak English, don’t we? Well we do but when you have a strong Italian accent and your American friends are not used to it, every word I say has an American equivalent and muddling up words can be rather entertaining at this point……

Our American friends Richard and Judy are just awesome!! (am I getting Americanised here?) They are wonderful people and fun to be around. I am thrilled that they took the time to come to see us from South Carolina (8 hour journey) and my first trip to America is going to be even more special with them here  🙂

Judy is an excellent cook and she prepared us some beautiful meals. We are staying in a villa with lots of space, a swimming pool and a huge kitchen. It’s so hot, it almost feels weird wearing all my summery clothes!!! The A/C is constantly on, we are all drinking fresh OJ and the kettle makes a funny noise!!! Words like “Kettle” with my accent can sound like something completely different… The Kettle is on! I said to Judy this morning. She looked at me a bit puzzled and she said: What casserole Lara? (Laugh Out Loud!!!!)

We couldn’t stop laughing and for dinner we are having Pork Casserole to commemorate our little misunderstanding! Brazato di Maiale (BRAH-SAH-TOH DEE MAH-YA-LEH) is one delicious dish and I am looking forward to tasting Judy’s recipe.

So our first day was filled with laughter, fun, language lessons,  food, supermarket touring and some relaxing time around the pool. I’ll have to tell my Nonna that I bought some extra virgin olive oil and espresso coffee, she always thought America is too far away for the olive oil and coffee to get here…. she is only 95 years young  🙂

We are vacuuming instead of hoovering, we push shopping carts instead of trolleys, we fill the car with gas instead of petrol, we watch TV instead of Telly, we change the channels with the clicker, we don’t do the washing up (well I don’t anyway!!!) we wear panties, we take a shower (sometimes we jump in the shower too) we talk on a cell and we are ALL SET ……

 

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I am just a girl….

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I am still buzzing and overwhelmed by the most mind blowing experience.
I was picked as a volunteer for the UK CEO CookOff where 30 top chefs, 60 CEOs and 600  everyday heroes from schools and hospitals teamed up for the most amazing banquet, raising money to tackle food waste, obesity and malnutrition. A lifetime evening of cooking, fundraising and feasting. The money raised ( over £500.000) will be divided equally between the food education programmes of Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and UKHarvest’s food waste reduction initiatives. It was just incredible!

If you know me in person you can just imagine how excited I was (and I still am) to be part of this lifetime experience and to have the honour to meet and work with my fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors!

Alex from Cheltenham, Thomas from Germany, Jaroslav from Switzerland and myself from Essex ( well, with my Italian /Essex accent!!). We all helped and worked together in teams with the chefs and CEOs to create some of the most amazing dishes, using the freshest and the finest produce and saving the leftovers…. yes, we did get to taste the most delicious food too.

Being in the heart of London amongst the biggest names in the British culinary world, the UK’s top business leaders, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall who attended the CEO CookOff as a Patron of UKHarvest and Jamie, of course! My dream came true, I always wanted to meet him and tell him I am fighting against child obesity and that I’m bringing Nonna Back to the modern families’ tables…and yes I also had to tell him I come from Essex!! well, Sort of 😉

When I saw him in the flesh I realised it was not a dream ……

I have been following Jamie Oliver since I moved to the UK in 1999, he inspired my cooking and I learnt from him that I need to be myself even when I am cooking. This is how I started sharing a few recipes on social media among my friends and writing a food blog was the beginning….. When I joined his Food Revolution 2 years ago and I become an Ambassador for my area I did not know that I would have received all the support from the community and the local school. The concept of Food Revolution really works and it brings people together.

As I walked into Old Billingsgate on Tuesday I felt more energised and inspired than ever, everyone was there for the same reason: the love and passion for food! I am not a chef by all means, but that day I felt like one, the solidarity and the support that everyone showed was indescribable. When you see people smiling, laughing, having a good time you know there is something pretty special about an event like this. I am grateful I experienced such an amazing day, I met some awesome people and I will never forget how it made me feel.
It brought something into my life, that extra boost …
What’s next?

I am just a girl with dreams and I am a believer in dreams do come true….

Please support the CEOCookOff cause http://www.ceocookoff.co.uk

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My recipe today is inspired by the colour yellow (just like the #UKHarvest van)

Risotto allo Zafferano Facile Facile 

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

300g Arborio rice

500ml chicken stock or 500ml hot water (1 gelatine type chicken cube to mix in the water)

white onion, half, finely chopped

70g butter

saffron, 1 bag

fresh parmesan, as much as you like!!!!!

Preparation

Place the butter on a no-stick pan and melt in on a low heat, add the onion and simmer until golden. Add the rice and stir it. The rice will start roasting and it’s important that it doesn’t burn. Have your stock ready and make sure it’s hot, alternatively melt the gelatine cube in the hot water and mix it thoroughly. Gradually add the stock in the pan and keep stirring the rice, repeat this until you have used all the stock. Sprinkle the saffron and mix it throughly. Cook for another 2 minutes. The rice will look creamy and will taste “al dente” . Serve it with some fresh parmesan, shavings or grated. Pronto!

P.S. Rice takes 14/15 minutes to cook, should you have used all of your stock and the rice feels still quite hard, I would recommend to add a little water but don’t over cook it! Never cook your rice for longer than 15 minutes !

P.S.2. I like to use the same basic recipe with other flavour combinations: Asparagus and Mushrooms, Broccoli and Sweet corn, Asparagus and Salmon, Prawns and Courgette……and so many more……..

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Polpedeller

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Inspired by a Danish recipe (hope my Danish friends out there won’t cringe 😆) I added a Mediterranean twist to the well known “Frikadeller”. I called them “Polpedeller” ( a combo of POLPETTE and FRIKADELLER).

They are “Pork meatballs” 🙌🏻🙌🏻  Packed with lots of flavour, originally with onion and bread crumbs, I added a hint of my Italian touch😉 🇮🇹(crushed fennel seeds, I love ❤️ fennel ) and served with grilled cheese & a fresh salad 🥗 DELIZIOSI 👌🏻I have some happy children 🏡 and a Nonna to thank for her precious inspiration 👌🏻#BringNonnaBack #FoodRevolution

Ingredients 

200g pork mince

100g bread crumbs

1 small/medium onion. finely chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

fennel seeds (crushed)

salt, handful

Preparation

 

Mix the mince, the onion, the egg, the fennel seeds and mix. Add the milk and the salt.

Shape the mixture into medium size balls and fry them until golden.

Season with more salt or pepper and serve with your favourite vegetables. I served them with a fresh salad and some grilled cheese ….. Pronto!!! Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

LARAncini Facili

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What do you do your your left overs rice? I make ARANCINI 🙂

Arancini are originally from Sicily, one of the islands in the Mediterranean. I come from Sardinia. What’s the link between the geographical reference with this dish? Well, I am taking a traditional Sicilian recipe to another level by following the same idea of rice balls covered in bread crumbs and fried but adding a little twist! I am a strong believer of No Food Waste, (my Nonna taught me well) and this dish is great if you have some left overs rice. What type of rice? Any rice, I tried with Risotto, boiled rice or even basmati rice. It always works ! #FoodRevolution #BringNonnaBack

This recipe is made with both mushroom risotto and boiled rice left overs.

Serving 2-4 people

Ingredients

250g rice left overs

150g bread crumbs ( I made my bread crumbs with some stale bread, pinch of salt and a handful of preferably fresh or dry rosemary)

1 large egg beaten

home made pesto ( I always make my own fresh pesto, I have my fresh herbs by my kitchen window, handy for all the emergencies!! Basil and Parsley are my favourite)

olive oil

salt

Preparation

Make up 6/8 medium size rice balls. Make a small hole with a skewer and fill with fresh pesto. Close the hole, dip the rice balls in the egg and cover them with the bread crumbs. Gently fry them in hot olive olive on a flat pan. Keep turning them until golden. Leave to rest on a paper towel, season with a pinch of salt and pepper if you wish….Pronto!!!  Enjoy with some salad or dip them in pesto. They are great for pack lunches or snacks.