Tag Archives: Olive oil

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.



Posted by on October 31, 2012 in London


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Italy in a Car Park: Brockley Market

As my in-laws are sunning themselves in forty degrees heat in Southern Italy, the Italian and I decided to cheer ourselves up by cooking a nice Italian lunch for friends. What perfect opportunity to head out to our local farmers market in search of ingredients.

We had driven past Brockley Market lots of times but today we finally made an effort to pay it a visit. I’m so glad we did!

There was lots of really good street food to choose from: Mexican omelettes from Dias de los Muertos (although they call themselves ‘muerto’ without the plural ‘s’, not grammatically correct but apparently they’ve been told a million times so.. I digress!) , burgers from Mother Flipper. There was grilled mackerel and BLTs, cakes, breads, olives and even squid! There were fruit and vegetables, fish and chicken and even juices from Serious Smoothies made with Peruvian Macca!

Amongst all of this merriment we managed to get excited about a few Italian items that we could use for lunch. Here are a few photos that I took to prove that it’s not hard at all to find a bit of Italy in a South East London car park!:

Brockley Market, Saarf East Landon

We found an amazing Italian sourdough ring at Aston’s which was to die for and our friend from Rome said its the best bread she’s tasted, ever! (outside of Rome that is.. of course)

From Olive Branch we found amazing Olive Oil and..

a Tuscan tapanade which I couldn’t stop eating with the free grissini..oops!

The best buy of the day was without a doubt the fennel salami and the red wine and hazelnut salami from Moons Green Charcuterie. These pork Gods are from Kent and what they don’t know about meat is not worth knowing. I swear, and even the Italian agreed, that when tasting the fennel salami you never ever know it had been made in England! Amazing.

Although not for our lunch, I also bought some of these gorgeous white baby aubergine to go in the vegetable lasagna that I will be making for Bambina.

All of this with lots of tastings and a fabulous coffee, the best in London as far as I’m concerned, from Dark Fluid, and a wonderful morning was had by all!

Now I just have to remember to take more money with me next time I go as the stall holders only accept cash. I did spend a small fortune but if you want to eat well you need to spend well!

Yum Yum in my tum!



Posted by on June 16, 2012 in London


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A very VERY dear friend of ours is from Rome. She’s so dear that I nickname her “The Mistress” as my husband spends most of his not-with-me time with her.

She makes the most amazing lemony sponge cake with a sugar crust. Its called a Ciambellone because it resembles a huge donut. So with this week being National Donut Week in the UK, I thought what better to make for my Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge than a nice cake with a hole in it! The cake tin is especially made for making this cake and has a hole right through the centre. It’s so refreshing and light and lovely for breakfast with a steaming hot espresso. Apparently its a common cake and every household in Italy makes them.

Well, I’m sorry but I don’t “do” common.

I just made the Ciambellone posh!

I got to thinking… what if it wasnt light, what if it was heavy, or heavier? what if it was smooth and rich instead of light and airy? What if I used a Demerara sugar to crystallise the top? And so my Ciambellone di Caffe was born – Ciao Ciao Limone, buon giorno Lavazza!

What you need:

4 eggs

1 Lavazza espresso

1 espresso sized cup of olive oil

250g sugar

1 tbsp of baking soda

380g of plain flour

A greedy sprinkling of golden Demerara sugar

What you do:

Pre-heat the oven at 180c

Rub the cake mold with butter and sprinkle it with flour

Mix all the ingredients, everything together, all at once, in a big bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the gooey mix

When smooth add the mix to the cake mold and throw it in the oven for 40 minutes

Be patient and DO NO do what I usually do… DON’T open the over the door for a peak!

It will collapse if you do.

There  you have it, a posh coffee cake with a hole!

Whilst we’re on the subject of ‘posh’, let me tell you about Lavazza’s #CoffeeSetMatch campaign can be seen on take-away cups as well as a virtual cup promotion online which you can access here – it’s great, go ahead and and play- you have to in it to win it!  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 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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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.


Posted by on March 27, 2012 in London


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Kiddi Cucina #2

I have been lacking of inspiration lately when it comes to my daughters meals. I felt she was short on variety so there was only one thing for it – a Skype call to her Nonna for a few recipes. You see this is fabulous on two levels 1) my daughter develops her taste buds from not eating the same thing all the time and 2) my Italian mother-in-law is not only impressed that I’m asking her for advice but also that I’m learning to cook important Italian food.

This evening I have been slaving over a hot stove to throw together a nice little Melanzane Arrosto con Agnello (roasted aubergine with lamb) and a lovely Goulash di Manzo (beef goulash).

Melanzane Arrosto con Agnello – makes 5 servings

1/2 aubergine
1 splash extra virgin olive oil
4 oz minced lamb (this is a bit more than a palm full)
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
Sprinkle of parsley and rosemary
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Right, heat the over to about 200deg.  Take out the middle of the aubergine and cut it into really small pieces – leave it on the side.  Heat the oil in a frying pan, throw the mince in with the onion and brown it off.  Then, add the onion, chopped aubergine and garlic (NEVER EVER add onion and garlic together in the oil, it’s an Italian sin, apparently it changes the flavour of the dish…).  Simmer and stir for a bit longer. Add the herbs, stir and pour the mixture over the aubergine shell that should now be in an oven dish (although i forgot to tell you to put it there, so do that now..).  Pour over the chopped tomatoes and bung it in the over for about 45 minutes.  When its ready, chop it up into smaller pieces and divide into individual portions.  Delicioso!
Goulash di Manzo – makes 4 servings
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 8 oz
A good hand size of diced stewing steak (I always buy Organic meat)
A generous sprinkle of paprika
1 tsp plain flour (not self raising like I just used because I had run out of plain!)
1/2 cup of boiled water with 1 melted Boots Organic baby veg stock cube (or your own stock)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
Good handful of button mushrooms (I usually prefer chestnut mushroom as they’re tastier)
1 bay leaf
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp natural yogurt
1/2 tbsp parsley
Ok, so heat the oil in a pan and brown off the meat.  Turn it down and lash in the paprika and flour.  Stir.  Pour in the stock and give it a whirl.  The, put this in an oven dish and leave on the side.  Put the butter in a pan and once melted add the onion, carrots and mushrooms – give them a whirl too until softened a bit.  Stir. Add the chopped tomatoes (told you Italians love everything with a tomato!!).  Stir.  Put that little concoction in the oven dish with the meat, add the herbs and put the dish in the over for about an hour. Check it mid way through to make sure the juice hasn’t dried up.  If it has you can just moisten with a bit of boiled water.  Once done, add it a delicious dollop of full fat natural yogurt.  Stir.  Serve up into individual portions.
If you know any Italian receipes I can try, give me a shout so that I can impress shock my Mother-in-Law!  C’mon, one for the Brits!
Va bene?? Buon appetito bambini… x

Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Italia


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