Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ciambotta - warming for a chilly Spring evening.

The sun has been shining as we have enjoyed a relatively lovely Easter. I am ready to pop as I have had my fill of the children's Easter eggs and need to banish myself again to the fruit bowl and vegetable draw. All four children are back at school and I am franticly teaching and writing whilst fitting in freshly cooked wholesome family dinners for the evening.

Today maybe mild outside but it's overcast and I'm in the mood for an Italian type stew called 'Ciambotta'. Using diced pork and potatoes as a filling staple I then add a variety of vegetables from the fridge. I change the vegetables depending on the season and also what I have available in the fridge. 

Using plum tinned tomatoes from my larder, garlic, onion , celery leaves, pork, potatoes and mushrooms, peppers or courgettes, Ciambotta is filling and improves with taste and flavour every day, so I tend to make enough to feed the whole neighbourhood and keep adding to the pot over a few days. Serve with a large basket of rustic bread for dipping. The bread is essential per fare La Scarpetta...

This recipe will be in my cookery book released 20th November this year, so I'm teasing you with a little taster of how and what I cook for my family. 

Southern Italian Family Cooking  Available from 20th November 2014.

Carmela x

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Sainsbury's Easter basket


Sainsbury's are offering a fantastic range of Easter goodies this year. From table plates, napkins, cloths, craft activities and of course fabulous cakes and beautifully decorated Easter cakes and eggs. As a busy mum of four children, I have happy children busily making crafty items and gifts as well as a happy mum offering up slices of fruity simnel cake and tea. A little something for everyone. Come along and taste the difference this year at Sainsbury's.

Anyway,  I must rush off and prepare my paper-chains and table decorations for my Italian family Easter celebrations.

In the mean time here is one of my delicious vanilla recipes for you to try. Perfect for a gift.


Just before Christmas I decide to make some homemade 'Vanilla Extract', Initially to give away as a gift, but I run out of time. I made the vanilla and put it at the back of my baking cupboard to permeate and totally forgot about it. I use vanilla allot in my baking and in most of my Italian cakes, gelato, biscotti and desserts too. So clearly invaluable to any keen cook.

I came across my homemade vanilla yesterday whilst spring cleaning my baking cupboard, a lucky and very fragrant find indeed. So I quickly sterilised a small bottle and decanter the contents of my vanilla jar into my snazzy bottle with a new fresh vanilla pod to add a little more punch. I buy a small bottle of vanilla extract every couple of months for my baking, 118ml cost around £5.80, so I much prefer the though of making my own.

My vanilla was made using good quality vodka, plump fairtrade Nadali vanilla pods, love and patience. That's it, nothing else to it.
1 pint of vodka
6 large vanilla pods, cut length ways
2 sterilised bottles

1. Take your bottles, wash and ensure they are clean. Alternatively make one large batch in a large Kilner jar, and then decanter into smaller bottles when your vanilla is ready.
2. Cut your vanilla pods length ways.
3. Place equal pods into each bottle or jar.
4. Fill the bottles with vodka and seal.

If you want to make a larger volume, just double the quantities.

Leave for at least three months for the vanilla to permeate the vodka. A birthday or Christmas present.

Carmela x