In My Kitchen, May 2019.

April was busier than usual with children on school holidays, beach days, Easter, followed by Anzac Day. I’m rather pleased that May has come around and I can get back to my home kitchen full-time, with some mellow Autumn cooking, interspersed with trips to the library. Anzac day, April 25th, demanded a few biscuits to mark the occasion. It’s a baking tradition in my kitchen as it was in my mother’s until recently. My Anzac biscuits are flat and crispy, the way I like them. I pop them in an old Anzac tin in the hope that they might last a few days. They never do. The Department of Veteran affairs has firm rules about Anzac biscuits. You risk a large fine if you attempt to call them cookies or play with the original recipe, or misappropriate the name in a commercial business. While not patriotic at all, I still believe in the uniquely Australian/New Zealand aspects of this day. Anzac biscuits are so popular with my extended family, I should bake them more often. For flatter, brown and crispy Anzacs, slightly reduce the percentage flour and add more brown sugar.

I like my Anzacs flat and crispy.

I whipped up these yeasted buns for Easter this year: unfortunately there was little time to concentrate on feeding a leaven for a sourdough version. This lot had extra fruit and were glazed with quince jelly. Unlike the supermarket versions which can still taste fresh after a week, ( or maybe even a month), these buns are preservative free so they don’t keep for more than a day or two. The left over buns landed in a rich bread and butter pudding.

Yeasted hot cross buns

One vegetable that grows very happily in this awful drought is chilli. They ripen in autumn and will continue to enjoy life in the garden until the first frost arrives. I use a few fresh, but the bulk of the crop is dried and ground into flakes for the year ahead. I also make chilli oil. Small batches are better as the oil can go rancid. This small jar will last a month or so. A nice drizzle for a pizza or crab pasta.

It’s garlic planting time. When you see sprouting garlic around the markets, you know the time is right. I usually plant 300 each year. This basket of 100 is a mixture of my own garlic and some Australian grown garlic from the market. Three separate plantings over May will ensure a staggered pick.

The chooks are pumping again, and suddenly I have far too many eggs. I have sent Mr Tranquillo the recipe, again, for Crème Brûlée, purchased some second-hand shallow terracotta ramekins, and I have also given him a blow torch for caramelising the tops. It’s his favourite dessert so I’m hoping it becomes his signature dish. I really do like it too.

Autumn also sees the return of pasta making in my kitchen. Three eggs and 300 grams of flour, preferable tipo 00, or a mixture of tipo 00 and semola rimacinata, or just plain flour if that’s all you have: no oil, no salt and no other additives, according to Italian nonne. This will make you a truckload of fresh pasta. I fiddled with some parsley leaf pasta in these lasagne sheets. Not worth the effort and such a 90s thing to do.

Strofinaccio fatto dalla prozia di Alberto

It’s pastie time again. The filling in these pasties was fairly Cornish- onion, carrot, parsnip, potato. I found this puff pastry hard to digest. The sheets were left over in my fridge. For my next lot, I’ll focus on a good home-made short crust pastry.

There’s always soup in my kitchen. We don’t wait for Autumn or cooler weather to make good soup- we have it all year round. I am passionate about the building of a good soup. My soups are never randomly made. I like colour combinations, creating different flavour bases via a finely chopped soffritto, and seeking pleasing presentations so that you mangiare con gli occhi, or eat with the eyes before tasting the soup. Today, I wanted to paint a monochromatic soup in white and pale green, a contrast to today’s earthy dark rye bread. After building a soffritto of finely chopped garlic, fresh rosemary, a few anchovies and a pinch of ground chilli, I added a pile of cooked cannellini beans, shredded pale green cabbage ( wongbok cabbage which cooks quickly), and a handful of Pantacce pasta. A little grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the table and buon appetito. It’s ready.

Another cold day soup was built with Autumn colours, a typical Ribollita style soup. The soffritto build included onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Once softened in EV olive oil, I added borlotti beans, more carrot, shredded cavolo nero, and some halved cherry tomatoes. This dense soup was served with a hunk of white sourdough.

Plain white Sourdough made with a stiff starter, recipe by Maree Tink, available on her Facebook site, Sourdough Baking Australia. More about this bread and other sourdough information in my next post.

A new cake has come into my life. I love flourless cakes that aren’t too cloying. This one has four ingredients ( butter, sugar, walnuts, eggs)  and can be whipped up in a few minutes. It is dense, is a great keeper and très French. The recipe for Walnut Cake from Perigord can be found here.

That’s a quick roundup of the kitchen treasure this month.  Thanks as always to Sherry, of Sherry’s Pickings, for the link up to In My Kitchen.

37 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, May 2019.”

  1. Oh! What a treat to be on similar night temps. Only 21oC evenings in the wet tropics. Just as one is getting overdosed with cold tropical dishes our Southern blog Goddess delivers again. The Atherton Tablelands in winter can drop to near-on southern temps making it a haven for crisp, fresh winter veg thus providing our ingredients at our local farmers market, thus not having to pay $14 a kilo for parsnips for southern produce at the Supermarkets. I know it’s all relevant but the scope of fresh stuff should be geographical. As for your winter recipes, now we can all enjoy those stunning flavours and the heartiness and satisfaction they provide. All so easy and a great opportunity to share with our neighbours and mates.
    Thanks Fran and Mr T, what gastronomic treasure you are.
    I noticed the sale of your 14 seater dining table. Have you managed to sell some grandchildren on eBay finally.
    Petr and Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Peter. No one is snapping up my beautiful old table, sadly. Not many people would have the space. I ‘m attempting to downsize. Some of those hungry grandchildren have turned into teeangers and you know what that means- they always have a better offer! So I’m selling the table. Rachael immediately commented in capital letters, WHAT ARE YOU DOING, to which I simply replied. I’m selling the table, you can eat off your laps!
      Yes local eating is the best way. Cheers.xx


  2. You continue to make me wish I could be bothered cooking these days. I’d be happy with any one of these morsels to munch on. I’m often finding at 6.00 I’ve only had a banana the whole day! I am really trying to be a bit more motivated, soup is a great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maree, you are so busy on all your projects, it’s a wonder you have time to even peel a banana. I know you are a great cook, I’ve seen the pics along the way. Soup, bread a wee wine for lunch or dinner is one of our meal standbys. Sometimes I eat dessert for breakfast- lately it’s apple crumble. Who wrote the meal rules. Eat when tired or hungry. Hope you’re loving this drop of rain. It’s making me love the world again, and cooking is part of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As the Mock Turtle sang, “beautiful soup so rich and green” ! I also love the look of your autumn-colored soup. All your fresh home-grown foods are beautiful. Most impressive that the pattern on the tea towel can be seen through the thin sheets of pasta.

    best… mae at

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve inspired me with your range of beautiful dishes! One day I’ll retire and be able to focus on cooking and crafting 🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Val, you’re a great cook and I know you love crafting too. When the time comes, you will love retirement and find yourself enormously busy with these things, and travelling. Then I can send you some sourdough starter too. As you can see from my blog pics, we eat quite simply and frugally unless I’ve been to the market for fish. xx


  5. Saying a latish and wet good morning on a busy day . . . make pretty ‘mean’ Anzacs myself and prepare pasta largely the same way when I get around to such 🙂 ! Love your soup and shall copy and just so wish I had the opportunity to put in garlic this year . . . great to read of your autumnal doings . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thanks francesca for joining in this month. love the look of your beautiful soups and bread. Yes i always shudder when i see an easter bun still looking fine after a week! i mean really! it should be mouldy by then:=) Your anzac bikkies look fab! i like them crisp and crunchy myself. I used to grab my neighbour’s chillies (with her permission) until a friend of hers ripped out all the bushes. i was so peeved…. cheers sherry

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mmmmm!! The cake! (Have saved the recipe immediately.) And the buns! And the ribollita! ❤ And the happy eggs and pasta. The peperoncini I fight against though. 😀 The result of me never going out of Europe (except that one time in Los Angeles when I ran out of a Thai restaurant screaming). You can imagine that in Rome this doesn't go down well when we eat out (which we rarely do. Men prefer to cook for me. I don't protest. They go easy on me with peperoncini.) Sorry to hear about the drought. Greetings from springy Italy!

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Amore and his father when we visit and Roman cuisine. True, the dishes are the same every time – they must be – which is something that I’m not used to. My father (obviously I’m used to men cooking) has a different style: he cooks with what is handy and needs to be used.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m [once again] in awe of all that you make and do… then photograph and beautifully write up. Simple food is wonderful but requires time and commitment to become competent… Those soups look wonderful, one of the things I love about being home during the day are simple lunches eaten on the verandah with the G.O. although they are seldom leisurely nor include wine as there more tan often are jobs to be done. Now the weather is cooling off, soup will be lovely and the G.O. is eating less meat and more and more happy with homemade offerings, even vego. I have saved the Walnut Cake from Périgord recipe… yum… besides my regular go-to banana loaf it will probably be the next cake I make… for visitors later this month.


  9. Not fair … I wish I lived closer to you! I would invite myself around all the time for meals! Lol … How I love all the wonderful things you rustle up in that kitchen of yours! I’m planting garlic for the first time in a couple of years thanks to the rust. I think staggering the planting is a great idea! I’m doing things wth chillies now too .. freezing, drying and making sauce! Wonderful post Francesca 🙂👏

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi,

    I enjoy reading your Almost Italian Blog. A great mix of topics and a bit of Australian history.

    Would you be so kind as to give me a link to the Anzac cookie recipe???

    Thanks so much,

    All the best, Kristin

    Charlottesville, VA, USA

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We love soup too. I make it regularly on weekends, to keep us going for lunches throughout the weeks ahead. One of the drivers is often a need to use leftover this or that so they are a lot more freestyle than yours. I’m actually eating a chicken and vegetable soup as I read your IMK. Pearl barley is a staple but I think I might add some black eyed peas next time. Coincidentally, I’ll be making a Hot Cross Bun bread and butter pudding this weekend. Always a pleasure to visit your blog Francesca.

    And here’s my IMK post for this month!


  12. Francesca I know I haven’t visited your blog much lately or any other blog for that matter mainly at all due to work being crazily busy for me. That aside a visit to your blog never disappoints. So when I saw the yarn 2 story pop up in the reader I had to back track to the first story and now I am playing a bit of catch up.

    Now I can really relate to this post on a few levels. I am slowly getting my cooking mojo back. I rediscovered baking again. How I love making cakes. I had forgotten how pleasurable it is.

    Working in a school I look forward to school holidays and managed to get the Easter holidays play out exactly how I wanted. Some walking, baking and reading. I tried my hand at hot cross buns for the first time. They worked out quite well considering I used an out of date packet yeast. I know. Blush, shame. Anyway they looked fantastic but tasted more like a panatone. I was pretty proud of myself.

    Then Anzac Day I was so looking forward to good old ANZAC biscuits. They didn’t turn out well. I doubled the recipe and I think I miscalculated or miscounted something. They weren’t very good. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t find a recipe in any of my Aussie cook books and went to the internet and discovered the whole deal about the recipe being owned by whoever it was. I am going to try the walnut cake you have linked out to because I need to make a few cakes for morning tea at work this week.

    So I am really looking to the next holidays to do more of the same. The only think you missed in this post was telling us what book you were reading. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to catch up Louise. I was just thinking of you yesterday. There’s a framed pic on my mother’s wall of my daughter at 7 years old, with Machapuchare towering in the background. And as my mother has moved into a place, I thought I must grab this lovely picture and then I thought of that trek with the kids in 1978/9 and then- voila- I thought of you, I’m not sure if I commented on your last trekking post, but I loved it.
      I must post that new Anzac recipe one day, it was a beauty. Glad to hear that you are using the holidays to read, bake and catch up with things. I still dream of my time working in schools, but the dreams are often nightmares- I usually can’t find the toilet, or I am trapped, or I haven’t marked the papers. So pleased to be away from that stress.
      With regard to books, I have a trillion on the go, but one I really enjoyed back in May was Madonna of the Mountains, by Elise Valmorbida. It;’s set in Northern Italy during the fascist era, then the war, and finishes in the 50s on board a ship heading to Australia. An Italo -Australiana, Elise has researched her story so well, you’ feel that you’re there.
      Thanks once again for following my blog- I really do appreciate your support Louise. Enjoy the coming holiday break.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Francesca. Me again. I just wanted to know that, finally, finally, I have made one of your recipes. I have read so many of your beautiful food posts sitting here at my desk drooling. I finally made the Walnut cake that you linked out to an d wrote about for our morning tea at work. It was delicious and got rave reviews from my colleagues. Thank you. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

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