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Halloween Pumpkin Soup

My mother in law taught me how to make this Italian style Zoppa di Zucca, pumpkin soup, so what better night to make it than Halloween?

I found the most perfect, cutest little mini pumpkins, British I may add, that would make an ideal size for Bambina.

All you need to do is chop up the pumpkin into small diced pieces, chop up a few sticks of celery into small bits, add a finely chopped onion and a small diced potato.

Throw that into enough boiling water to just about cover the veg and leave to simmer slowly for about thirty mins. Remember to not leave the pan to boil dry (like I did the first time I made this!).

As this was for Bambina’s supper, I didn’t add salt but did add a pinch of ground black pepper. To make it for adults you can add salt and garlic for flavour and for a twist on a meat version, add crispy pancetta. Delish!

Once all the veggies are soft, mash them down with a fork and stir in a good splash of olive oil.

Serve into a bowl and grate some fresh Parmesan ( like one we brought back from Italy last weekend, nothing like parmesan from a Lattaria!) to make the soup creamy. Enjoy with grissini or a nice piece of focaccia.

What could be more simple? Buon Appetito!!

Happy Halloween (btw, this is Bambina’s first ever scary craft! #proudmummy)

Have you got any pumpkin recipes to share? Do tell.

X-O-X

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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in London

 

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Food For Thought

A friend of mine, who works in food PR, recently told me about this amazing project she’s working on for a client. The project involves Joe Public posting food memories on to the companies Facebook page for the chance to win a Holiday worth £5k!

Now this post isn’t about that company, nor is it about wanting to bask on a sun drenched beach (well ok, maybe a little!). It’s more about my food memories. It had never occurred to me before that, like music and particular songs, we relate food to certain events or times in our lives.

So, here’s my life, mapped out as a food memory:

I don’t recall what my first ever food memory was but when I was a little girl growing up in Liverpool, I think of eggy fried bread and black pudding breakfasts with my grandad. I think of my grandmas roast dinners with indelible gravy made out of water and cornflower powder, not a spot of Bisto in sight! I think of my mum baking coconut loaf and up side down apple cake. I think of her trying to trick me that liver was red chicken! Yak!

I think of ten pence sweetie bags from the mobile shop and 99’er ice creams with strawberry sauce dripping all over my fingers. I think of summer days when a blob of vanilla ice cream was dropped into a cold glass of American cream soda lemonade.  I think of Wham! bars (ok, sweeties aren’t actually food but as a ten year old Wham! bars, Highland toffees, Black Jacks, cola cubes… they were all part of my staple diet!).

As I grew older and our fortune changed, I think of trips to china town with my mum and Grandma for duck pancakes and hoi sun sauce. I think of cold winter evenings warmed up by a hot bowl of Scouse (Liverpool stew) and crunchy buttered bread. I think of minted lamb chops and mash and treacle pudding.  I think of stinky fingers from Butterkist popcorn and luminous tongues from traffic light lollipops.

When I left home and moved to London, I was introduced to a whole new world of culinary delights.  I think of Indian curry, made by an Indian, not out of a jar! I think of fish & chips on Brighton pier.  I think of 3am drunken chicken wings and fries dipped in ketchup.  I think of posh dinners out with my friends to Michelin star restaurants, tasting menus and celebrity chefs.

When the world called my name and I stepped on a plane, I think of black beans in Brazil, cerviche in Peru, grasshoppers in Thailand and crickets in Cambodia.  I think of the best steak in the world in Argentina and poor girls super noodles in Sydney.

And then I met my man who introduced me to a cuisine that I had snobbishly turned my nose up at.  Italian.  I think of my mother in law teaching me to cook tomato sauce from scratch, my husband teaching me how to roll pizza dough without ripping it, my husbands Nonna teaching me how to make beef stew. I think of the delicious food I tasted for our wedding; porcini risotto, slow cooked stag with polenta, speck parcels and pink grapefruit granita.  I hated Italian food but now I have grown to love it, to appreciate it.

My most recent and probably most treasured food memories are of me making food for my daughter.  I think of her first taste of apple, of mashed sweet potato.  I think of pouring over baby recipes to make her palate more enriched.  I think of chicken and apricot curry, aubergine and basil pasta sauce and roasted lamb stew with rosemary.

You don’t have to be a foodie to create a food memory.  Think about it and the flavours all come flooding back!

This has been a really thought-provoking trip down memory lane so I am going to tag some fellow bloggers, 1) because im nosey and want to know what their food memories will consist of and 2) well, why not?!  Over to you:

A Mummys View

Mummy Glitzer

Mother.Wife.Me

Slummy to Yummy Mummy

Sharing My Italy

Emerald Pie

Dutch Goes Italian

Go on, share your story!  If you do, dont forget to include the links… oh, and whilst you’re there, why not enter the comp, you just never know if you might win!

Memories…. it’s what the best dinners are made of!

X-O-X

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 30, 2012 in London

 

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Finding “Our” Place

When the Italian and I decided to get married, it was an automatic decision that the wedding was to be held in Italy.  Other than the obvious Italian luxuries like food, good wine, prosecco and extremely picturesque locations, the Italians Nonna, who was 90 at the time, had breast cancer and couldn’t travel.  So, we wanted to bring our wedding to her.

The location choice was really hard as the town where the Italian is from is literally forty minutes drive from everywhere, in every direction: mountains, sea and city.  I knew I wanted to try to aim for an English rose garden affair, but in Italy.  That wasnt going to be an easy feat.

We started scanning the internet for ideas and locations and when we found various places we liked the look of, the Italian called and enquired about prices, menus, catering etc.  however, the huge problem with wedding planning in Italy that we came across was that the Italians just don’t use the internet.  Websites are old and pictures are ancient.  You don’t get a good feel of how a place would look in reality.  It’s still very much a case of recommendation and word of mouth, which isn’t easy when you’re trying to arrange a wedding from another country.

We had a few trips to italy to view venues and after various trips back and forth I was in love with three places.  All were very different and offered us different things but we had a strict list of considerations to stick to.  Some  our guests were coming from England so we had to consider distance from the airport, local bars, transport from the hotel and transport from the wedding venue.  So, my (I say my, because the Italian really didn’t have a choice in this one!) first choice was out because it was too far from everywhere and a nightmare to transport everyone to and from.  I was heartbroken! Let me introduce your to Castle Brando:

Foto

I think I actually shed a tear when we realised that this place was out of our reach.  I had never imagined getting married in a castle before.  I’m much more a jeans and flip-flops kind of girl so I was quite surprised at myself that I was so upset.  Alas, there was a plan B.

One one of our trips I had convinced the Italian to visit a place that I had found on the internet.  Their website was ancient and photographs were terrible so he was really reluctant.  However, when we got there it was amazing! It was a Venetion country palazzo adorned with old furniture and regal looking decor.  The gardens were breath-taking and again, I was in love. Let me introduce you to Villa Luppis:

Foto

We were treated to a fabulous dinner at Villa Luppis and even today, I still remember how good the food was.  It was definitely the best food were tasted from all the venues we visited.  I loved everything about Villa Luppis but the only thing that we had an issue with was space for the children.  We had a handful of children at our wedding and this villa, although stunning, is a very grown up, very sophisticated kind of place.  That was the only thing that we stumbled on.  So, cue more tears and side step to plan C.

A neighbour of the Italian’s parents told us about a venue that their daughter had recently got married at and suggested that we definitely take a look.  I wasnt convinced.  Knowing his parents neighbours and their daughter, I wasnt sure her taste of venue was exactly and true match for my taste.  Nevertheless, we made a trip for a viewing.  How surprised we were!

We drove through a small town and followed the directions up a meandering hill, into and above the prosecco vineyards of Conegliano and then, there it was.  Let me introduce you to Casteletto.

Foto

Turning the corner through the vineyards to discover the iron gates that led to a gravelled driveway was a surprise.  As we approached the top and walked forward we were totally blown away by the view.  It was stunning!. There it was, a tiny little castle with a chapel, on the hill, hidden amongst the trees.  From the outside it was perfect.

Was this really a castle fit for a princess?

Did you have the in love feeling when you found your venue?

X-O-X

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Italia

 

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IHeartLavazzaLollies

Let it be known that I’m not the best baker.  I think I’ve been doing ok with my Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge but to be honest I’m not sure whether this has been sheer determination or pure luck!

Tonight, I couldn’t face baking.  I couldn’t face hot drinks.  I’m a woman right? There’s only one thing I wanted: Chocolate!  So what was quick and easy to make? Something that I could throw together without an oven, without making too much mess.  I thought about it, I found it, I created it! #CoffeeSetMatch and my Lavazza Lollipop was born!

You know, coffee doesn’t have to be just for adults, it doesn’t have to always be sophisticated.  Coffee can be young, it can fun and it be a bit, oh ok, it can be very naughty!

I don’t know about you but I think these are pretty awesome! I have eaten three!  I used the Lavazza A Moda Mio Tierra Intensa capsule as I wanted a kick but you could easily make these as strong or a light as you wish.  I would definitely make these using Lavazza decaffinato for Bambina.

So, here goes, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to my new creation, the LavazzaLollie:

What You Need:

1 Banana

3 humumgous dollops of Nutella – only Nutella – no shop own brand rubbish, just Nutella, proper bonafide Nutella

1/2 espresso cup of Lavazza coffee (your choose which you use depending on flavour preference)

Chopped Almonds

What You Do:

Mash up the banana in a bowl

Add the Nutella and mix it together, slowly pouring in the coffee.  Be careful not to let it get too wet or it wont set properly

Once the mix is mashed, put the bowl into the freezer for about 30 minutes to set.  Check it once in a while to make sure it doesn’t too hard.

Once it’s slightly stiff, squeeze in the wooden stick, press in the chopped almonds and leave for a further ten minutes until it holds

And there you have it, Coffee on a stick… A LavazzaLollie!

Now obviously you could be a winner and make one of my LavazzaLollies yourself but if you fancy really winning a prize, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Save the Children: I’m Building it for Babies, Are you?

A few weeks ago I was reading through some tweets and came across something that grabbed my attention: a blogging conference being headed by Save the Children and Google.  And it was in London!  Right.  I was going to go.

As a new blogger I have been looking for ways to improve my writing skills and most importantly how to improve my blog on the whole. I thought I would go along to see what it was all about.

I was not prepared for what I saw!!

On Saturday 14th April 2012, the event mostly concentrated on Save the Children’s Build it for Babies campaign.   Build it for Babies brought mums and dads (mostly mums) together for the day to brainstorm ideas on how we bloggers can do a huge shout out to raise awareness about the campaign.  At #BLOGUP2012 I sat in awe, mouth open most of the time, as I witnessed the heart wrenching pleas of mothers in Bangladesh.  For most of the day, and I don’t think I was alone in this, my whole body ached to run home and give my beautiful, healthy daughter a huge kiss and a hug.

I sat and listened to the speakers recount their tales of mothers who had given birth in the most horrid conditions, lost multiple children and basically spent their lives nursing their sick children to their death.  At times it was hard to concentrate on what was being said as I my eye was drawn to the No Child Born To Die notice.

Stories were told about Shejali, who had given birth in total to 6 children,3 of which had already died.  Shejali is currently 7months pregnant.  Another mother had lost 3 children and her 4th was ill and requiring medical assistance that just isn’t there.

Most women in Rwanda don’t name their baby for the first 8 days of its life simply because it is unknown if the child will survive.  Particularly in rural areas where disease is rife, babies are known to die within the first few hours of life.  nutrition is also a catalyst in this.  The women don’t have healthy diets throughout pregnancy, living mainly off beans and not much else.  This creates stunted growth and development in babies and nearly all never recover from this if they do survive.

Looking at the picture of where Shejali was going to give birth made me shudder.  I immediately thought of my own birthing experience, as did most other women in the room.  As much as we complain and abate the NHS for its lack of this and lack of that, the truth is, we lack for nothing in comparison. We are so so lucky to have the health care, the support, the cleanliness, the attention that we have throughout pregnancy, birth and afterwards and that is why I am getting involved by blogging for babies!!

I could not imagine working in the fields for up to 15hours a day whilst pregnant with twins. I could not imagine being in the throes of labour and having to walk oe be carried by my fellow villagers for miles before I could get help – and that’s if I made it in time!  This, dear readers, is the reality for these women.  How lucky and fortunate are you feeling right now?

So thank Heaven above that Save the Children are campaigning with Build it for Babies.  The objective is to build 7 birthing clinics complete with equipment and trained staff whose salaries will be paid for the first year.  These clinics are a lifeline not just for the mothers but for the babies who have no choice but to be born into this world.  These clinics are a ray of hope, that sickness and death will no longer be a worry. That these mothers will be awarded the luxury of kissing their child as we are every breathing day.

The new clinics in Baniachong and Ajmiriganj will reach:

  • 21,500 women of child-bearing age with family planning services
  • 3,000 pregnant women with antenatal care
  • 2,190 newborn babies with postnatal care, breastfeeding support for their mothers and antibiotics when they become ill
  • 2,218 infants aged up to one year, by helping their mothers to breastfeed and wean them safely and reducing the chance of life-threatening diseases such as diarrhoea and the risk of malnutrition
  • 43,600 people in the area with information on how to stay healthy and where to get help if they do become ill.

If you want to know more or find out how you can get involved, pay the Save the Children website a visit here.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE IN:

30 seconds – follow STC on social media

Facebook | Twitter: @savechildrenuk and @savechildrenpr | Youtube | Google +

5 minutes – take a campaign action

Take our campaign action to break the chains of hunger

15 minutes or longer – blog it for babies!

Help raise awareness and build momentum for the campaign online – starting on the 23 April. You could tell the story of your birth, or the birth of your child through the social channels you love to use.  This is not,I repeat, NOT just for mummy/daddy/parent bloggers.  It doesn’t matter what blogging category you fall in to – travel/photography/cooking/crafting – if you have a child and this post has resonated with you… write a post and link it back to Build it for Babies..  it’s that simple.

Thank you so much for reading this post! Do follow in the coming weeks when I, amongst many other blogging mothers, will be supporting this cause.

x-o-x

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2012 in London

 

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Tea&Biscotti Seeks Sponsor

I have toyed with the idea of looking for a sponsor but how do I know I’m good enough yet? How long does it take for new bloggers to become known?  I have no idea, I’m just enjoying doing my thang, you know, crossing my t’s and dotting my I’s (is that the other way around?).

I’ve been doing all the things I should, exhausting every social media outlet I can and I’m happy to say that I think my little creative outlet is moving along at a good pace.  I’ve had almost 2000 hits from Google, over 300 followers and am also nearing the 300 mark on Twitter.  Tea&Biscotti is a Mumsnet Blogger, is active on LoveAllBlogs and has just joined Tots100 (although my badge currently doesn’t work and is in the bloggers badge hospital getting fixed) – not bad for a newbie but there’s always room for improvement…*cue best smiley face and fluttering eyelashes to seek a sponsor so I can go to Cybher and learn how to get better!*

As my blog says, I’m English, my husband is Italian and our daughter, well, she’s Bambina.  I am starting to love Italy and all things Italian.  I get it now.  After five years I finally understand the humour, I get the obsession about food and clothes, I get the sunglasses thing – Italy is really bright, you actually do need sunglasses, all the time!

I started my blog as a me thang. I kind of lost myself, felt like I had lost my identity a bit, after having a baby so I started to write. Writing is my favourite guilty pleasure.  I didn’t want to be a mummy blog as there’s a lot more to me and us than our baby.  I wanted to concentrate on the English/Italian mix, the culture, the differences and the everyday life that we encompass, especially when it comes to raising a bi-lingual child. I try to write posts that are meaningful and that are a reflection of who I am, who we are as a family.  They might be funny, they might be emotional but they will always be truthful.

Tea&Biscotti was born when my husband said he was sick of seeing me having tea & biscuits – that’s pretty much all I did on my maternity leave!  I think I ate McVities’s dark chocolate digestives out of business! After much giggling, what with me being English and all, it developed into Tea&Biscotti because that’s like us…English tea and Italian biscotti – clever eh?! We just go together.

So Tea&Biscotti is now 2 months old and still very very new but tackling the cyber world a day at a day time. I still hold a full-time job and my blog is my little hobby. I want to get better and am hoping that next year my writing skills will have improved hundred fold.

In order to be brilliant, I need to attend various upcoming events. I am attending the Save the Children Blogger Conference 2012 and would love to attend Cybher too.  As Tea&Biscotti is still an infant, I have been unable to participate in things such as ParentDish MAD awards but that is definitely my goal – who knows, I might actually hold an award this time next year – how super amazing would that be?! 🙂

If you were to be so very kind as to sponsor Tea&Biscotti, you could expect the following:

  1. Sole representation of your brand at Cybher.
  2. Your brand logo will be used in all posts leading up to, during and after the event, as well as mentioned in tweets and on the Tea&Biscotti Facebook page.
  3. I will display your logo/badge on my blog for 1 year and allow you space via your own page to promote and showcase your goodies.
  4. I’m happy to don the logo somehow at the Cybher event but not really sure if I’m a t-shirt wearing girl – open to suggestions!

In exchange for such utter dedication and commitment, I would love for you to support Tea&Biscotti by:

  1. Providing the cost of the Cybher ticket – £100

I live in London so don’t require travel costs but if you could stretch to a bite to eat, a copious supply of H2o and the odd full fat latte (I’m still breastfeeding after all..), that would be amazing!

If you are keen to know more I would absolutely love to hear from you so do please contact me at teaandbiscotti@hotmail.co.uk or tweet/DM me at @TeaandBiscotti.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2012 in London

 

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An Olive Branch

Now that the W word is well and truly a part of our new routine, weekends are all the more precious. Yesterday, I was just a tiny bit miffed to have wasted spent my morning “having words”!

Apparently my “demanding” character has become a tad “sensitive” so in a bid to “calm me down“, the Italian prepared a lovely picnic and took me and Bambina for a day out.

What was an “uugh” morning turned into a wonderful day especially when walking home we came across an olive tree.

Eerh looka at thisa!! Ia cannota believe ita, an olivea tree in the middlea ofa londona, witha reala olivesa!!!!!”

It’s the happiest I’ve seen the Italian in months! It’s amazing what the sight of an olive can do to a mediterranean persons mood!

As I turned around, he had launched half of his body into the tree! He leaned over the garden wall and began picking. “Don’t! You’ll get caught!!” I scorned at him. “Youa thinka I’m Gona leavea these ‘erea??” he mouthed in a whisper that in another life wouldhave been an almighty excited scream.  As I kept watch, he hurled copious handfuls of black olives into our picnic basket.

“‘Eh, ere..” he said handing me a scrawny twig. “Whats that?!” I replied, half scowling.

“C’maaan baby, it’sa an olivea branch!!”

And with that we skipped home merrily and lived happy ever after.

The’a End’a.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 27, 2012 in London

 

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