A Year of Blogging – A Few Weeks of Recipes – With Marcella #108, #109, #110, #111, #112 & #113 (of 466)

Last week, I received a congratulatory message from WordPress (the makers of the world in which I blog). It turns out that I have been blogging here, At My Table, for a year now.

It was a great thing to be brought to my attention. I had been merrily blogging away and happily working my way through Marcella Hazan’s cookbook – and the anniversary would have passed me by. So I’m thankful I was alerted to it.

It’s good to be reminded sometimes of the things one has achieved. I’m not always good at persevering with long-term projects. So it’s good to stop and realise that I’ve persevered with this particular project for a whole year.

Ironically, for the past couple of weeks, while persevering with cooking, I have not managed to sit and write anything much at all. So here is a quick culinary summary of the past couple of weeks:

In the first week of March, I had my Mum, my brother, and two of my lovely Aunties, around my table for a quick dinner. It had to be quick as my brother was on his way to work, and my Mum and the Aunties were on their way to catch a train back to their home territory. Quick sauteed fillets of chicken were the order of the day.

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Sauteed Fillets of Chicken, With Lemon and Parsley, Siena Style

Last week, I celebrated St.Patrick’s Day with an Italian dish that was green in colour. It was especially lovely to have Helen as one of the guests around my table. For those readers who have been following since recipe #1, you will remember that Helen was visiting with me at the time. She was the friend who encouraged me to set out on this culinary adventure and blog about it as I go. Much of the celebration of this past year of blogging is a celebration that Helen is very much a part of making possible. Thanks, Helen!

The green-tinted dish was ‘Gratineed Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi’ which took care of two recipes in one go. First the ‘Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi’ and then the ‘Gratineeing’ of them!

Gratineed Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

Gratineed Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

In the months before my arrival here in the homeland, Mum had been growing some potted herbs for me as a belated Christmas present. I was able to harvest the required ‘large bunch of basil’ from one of these pots, to make Marcella’s ‘Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil’. Mum came for a visit this week and we enjoyed the sauce over pasta for our dinner one night. Sorry, no photo.

Tonight, I had Mum and my brother for dinner again. We enjoyed another of Marcella’s fish dishes (didn’t remember to take a photo). This was followed by my first attempt at one of Marcella’s gelato recipes.

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With a loan of an ice-cream maker, a punnet of strawberries, some sugar, a 1/4 cup of cream and 30 minutes of patience, we were rewarded with one of the most delicious things we had ever tasted. My brother declared it to be a ‘tick and three smiley faces’ achievement.

Yummo! Gelato!

Yummo! Gelato!

Some things are worth persevering with!

A few weeks ago: #108 ‘Sauteed Fillets of Breast of Chicken with Lemon and Parsley, Siena Style’ with mother, brother and two aunties at my table.

St.Patrick’s Day: #109 ‘Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi’ and #110 ‘Gratineed Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi’ with Janet and Helen at my table.

From a Christmas gift that keeps on giving: #111 ‘Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil’ with Mum at my table.

Tonight: #112 ‘Baked Fillet of Sole with Tomato, Oregano and Hot Pepper’ and #113 ‘Strawberry Gelato’ with Mum and my brother at my table.

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“Tick! Smiley Face!” – With Marcella #106 & #107 (of 466)

It all began with Nigella and Anna.

As I began to work through Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’ and Anna Del Conte’s ‘Classic Italian Recipes’, I would tick the recipe I had completed and if I felt it deserved it, I’d give it a smiley face. With both books the smiley face became somewhat redundant. With the exception of two or three recipes between them, every recipe worked and tasted good.

But the phrase ‘Tick! Smiley Face!’ has stuck.

Last night, I had the delight of cooking dinner for, and eating dinner with, my brother and his two kids – my lovely niece and nephew. I had the added delight of dropping in to the shop where my nephew has begun an apprenticeship as a butcher, and ordering the meat for that night’s dinner. He served me with good manners and attentiveness. I, apparently, managed not to embarrass him in the process. It was definitely a ‘proud aunty’ moment!

Later, as we ate together, my nephew declared the dish to be a definite ‘Tick! Smiley Face’.

After dinner all four of us danced, sang, even harmonised, to ‘Stayin’ Alive’. A priceless moment of memories created!

Earlier that week, I’d also tried another of Marcella’s frittata recipes with another good friend. We didn’t, alas, do any dancing or singing to music of any kind. But I’m around these parts for a while, so there’s still time.

For those readers who love a good photo – or any photo, really – I’m delighted to present a photo sent in by one of your fellow readers, and friend of mine, who has been perfecting Marcella’s ‘Piedmontese Almond Biscuits’. Nicoleta was among the group of women who first sampled these biscuits. You can read about that past sampling back in this previous post, written back in the dim and distant days of recipe #9 (of 466).

Here’s her beautiful photo – where she has nicely coordinated the colour of the plate with the tablecloth:

Nicoleta's Repeat Attempt of Marcella's Piedmontese Almond Biscuits

Nicoleta’s Repeat Attempt of Marcella’s Piedmontese Almond Biscuits

Last Week: #106 ‘Frittata with Courgettes and Basil’ with Lois at my table.

Last Night: #107 ‘Pan-Fried Beef Steaks, Cacciatora Style’ with my Brother, Nephew and Niece at their table.