Anna, Marcella and Iron – With Marcella #172 (of 466)

Recently, I’ve been trying to get to grips with what seems like it might be an allergy. I’ve never been allergic to anything before. I’m still hoping that it’s not an allergy and that I can carry on eating eggs. In the process of sorting this out, the doctor was asking about iron and if I get enough iron in my diet. We figured I did. The last two nights, I’ve just happened to cook with good healthy ingredients that have some amount of iron, so that’s encouraging. I’m noticing these things more now.

Last night, in the interests of using up some ‘bunch spinach’ in the fridge, I revisited Anna Del Conte’s great work ‘Classic Italian Recipes’.

This is the very first cookbook where I started working my way through all the recipes. I was learning Italian at the time (the language, not cooking). I was pretty terrible at the language. I got better at the cooking.

Last night, I cooked Anna’s ‘Spinach Sautéed in Oil and Lemon’. That was recipe #50 I’ve cooked of the 75 in her book. It was quick, delicious and better than it looks in the photo!


Tonight I quickly whipped up Marcella’s ‘White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley.’ It took all of 15 minutes from pantry to plate. I used a little more liquid than the recipe, but that was how I preferred it. Like the spinach, it was also quick, delicious and better than it looks.


If you haven’t already delved into these two cookbooks, you must! They are both full of excellent, mostly very simple, well-tested recipes that work.

I couldn’t recommend them more strongly!

#173 ‘White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley’ with Nick, Anna, Marcella and iron at my table.


Thanks, Kev! – With Marcella #166, #167, #168, #169, #170, #171 & #172 (of 466)

Here on our property at Razorback, NSW, we’ve raised some Charolais cattle. We’ve done this through times of green and, more recently, a year of drought. During that time, a few of our bovine family have ‘gone to Grandma and Grandpa’s’. Normally this means they’ve gone to greener pastures and some hand-mown grass clipping treats from Grandpa.

However, recently the drought has meant that even their greener pastures have been challenged. Kev (a Charolais-Wagyu cross) had a couple of good years up at the grandparent’s place. But then he proved not to be a very ‘effective’ bull. In lean times, an ineffective bull means it’s more effective for him to migrate to the freezer.


A younger Kev (on the right) at my parent’s place, in greener times.

Tough. But true.

My parents have a kind butcher that came to the farm to assist Kev on that final journey in a non-traumatic way. He was then shared between the freezers of three households including ours.

While it can be somewhat unsettling to eat meat from one of your own cows, it is comforting to know that Kev lived a happy life that ended without trauma.

Marcella’s ‘Beef’ chapter proved helpful. The butcher declared that Kev was ‘pretty lean’ (because of the drought), so we didn’t end up with lots of ‘marbled meat’. But we figure it’s healthier that way….

The one beef recipe I remembered to take a photo of is seen below, along with a few others made from things other than beef. The other beef recipes mentioned at the end were equally delicious.

Each time we sit to eat a meal of beef, we toast Kev and give thanks for his life!


Tuscan Meat Roll – with a view from Razorback Ridge of temporary greener pastures.



All caught up!: #166 ‘Beef Fillet with Red Wine’, #167 ‘Boiled Swiss Chard Salad’, #168 ‘Beef Roast with Braised Onions’, #169 ‘Tuscan Meat Roll with White Wine and Porcini Mushrooms’, #170 ‘Veal Scaloppine with Tomato, Oregano and Capers’, #171 ‘Sweet and Sour Tuna Steaks, Trapani Style’ and #172 ‘Fried Courgette Sauce with Garlic and Basil’ with the extended family and Kev at our table.


The Art of Artichokes – With Marcella #162, #163, #164, #165 (of 466)

Artichokes. When not marinating in a jar, they look quite lovely (see the previous post). To eat them however, one must discard most of the lovely-looking bits until one is left with the beige-coloured heart. With a small sharp knife, and a cut lemon to rub the heart as you go, this isn’t too much of a chore.

While in season, we ordered some. We braised them with peas. We baked them, layered in a dish with potato and onion. They were worth the little bit of paring work involved.

Broad Beans. I’m not a huge fan of them, but Nick is. So we also ordered a bag of those during their brief season. Marcella’s ‘Roman Style’ recipe calls for simply sautéing them with some pancetta cubes. They were, of course, delicious.


Broad Beans, Roman Style

Finally, Fennel. Simply braised in olive oil. Two ingredients. That’s it.


Braised Fennel. Tasted more delicious than it looked.

Catching up: #162 ‘Braised Fennel with Olive Oil’, #163 ‘Broad Beans, Roman Style’, #164 ‘Gratin of Artichokes, Potatoes and Onions’, #165 ‘Braised Artichokes and Peas’ with the husband and I at our table.

49 Years of Marriage and 5 more recipes – With Marcella – #157, #158, #159, #160 & #161 (of 466)

On the 23rd August, last year, we celebrated my Mum and Dad’s 49th Wedding Anniversary. While they and my husband Nick, worked hard all day with fencing around the farm, I went shopping for a whole Barramundi fish and some seafood to stuff it with.

Marcella Hazan encourages you to ask your ‘obliging fishmonger’ to debone the whole fish for you – not just fillet it – but leaving it intact as a whole fish with a split down it’s belly. The young fishmonger I approached said he’d never done it, but was willing to give it a go. I reassured him that if it ended up as two fillets, that would be an acceptable substitute for the preferred method, according to Marcella. It took him half an hour, but he presented it to me with a flourish, as I exclaimed “That’s exactly how she describes it should be!” He was rightly very proud of himself.

I did the remaining work of stuffing and cooking the fish in the oven. It was certainly a fine dish worthy of a wedding anniversary.


A few weeks later, Nick and I enjoyed Marcella’s ‘Veal Scaloppine with Marsala’ with the allowed substitute of flattened chicken fillets.


Veal Scaloppine with Marsala

Artichokes were on offer in September, in season, from our local providers of fresh fruit and vegetables. So I ordered a bunch and tried my hand at the ‘Artichokes, Roman Style’. A slightly fiddly process the first time I prepared the vegetable. It got easier as I tried a couple of other recipes (see the post to follow). I had only ever had marinated artichoke hearts from a jar before trying this recipe. The difference is quite remarkable!


To finish this post, one successful recipe that was required to make another not-so-successful recipe.

The ‘Mashed Potatoes Bolognese Style with Milk and Parmesan’ was delicious (based on the teaspoonful I ate before turning to the next recipe).


Mashed Potatoes Bolognese Style, with Milk and Parmesan

Clearly I had made it a little two smooth and moist, as the croquettes I then attempted to make went a little slushy in the oil… They still tasted fantastic.

That’s five more recipes from the back-logged list. Another ten to come…

Still catching up: #157 ‘Baked Sea Bass/Whole Fish Stuffed with Shellfish’, #158 ‘Veal Scaloppine with Marsala’, #159 ‘Artichokes, Roman Style’, #160 ‘Mashed Potatoes Bolognese Style with Milk and Parmesan’ and #161 ‘Potato Croquettes with Crisp-Fried Noodles’ with assorted family members at my table.

1/3 of the Book Cooked! – With Marcella #155 & #156 (of 466)

On the 10th August, 2018 (almost 6 months ago), I reached the ‘1/3 of the book’ stage in this ongoing project of mine to cook through Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’.

The recipe that got me over the 1/3 mark was an appropriately simple one. Like most of her recipes – easy to cook. Like all of her recipes (apart from the boiled chestnut fiasco) it tasted delicious.

Here’s to the other 2/3 of the book to come!

In this picture, I include the list of ingredients – just to show you how simple this was.


Spaghetti Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce, Roman Style

We used the leftover pasta the next day to venture into the next 1/3 of the book. But I forgot to take a photo. Imagine a lovely golden brown eggy-pasta flan in a pan!

Reaching a milestone: #155 ‘Spaghetti Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce, Roman Style’ and #156 ‘Frittata with Pasta’ with me and the hubby at our table.


Catching Up – With Marcella #150, #151, #152, #153, #154 (of 466)

So, I’ve been waiting for the time and space to write inspiring words to go with Marcella’s recipes I’ve cooked some time ago. Meanwhile, I’ve been cooking more of her recipes and the list just gets longer, and the task becomes more daunting.


I’m just going to do a few brief posts over the coming days and clear the list! That way I can write reflections as I cook each recipe or two – rather than trying to remember what was significant around my table nearly twelve months ago!

I never type the recipes in my blog posts, as I think everyone should have their own copy of this book! So, here are some pictures of five of the twenty recipes I have back-logged! As always, they tasted great. The Jerusalem Artichoke recipes come with a ‘Public Safety’ warning….flatulance-producing as they are.


Spinach Soup



Grilled Marinated Spareribs


Fried Jerusalem Artichoke Chips


Smothered Jerusalem Artichokes with Tomato and Onion


Swiss Chard Stalks Gratineed with Parmesan

We were still renovating at this stage: #150 ‘Spinach Soup’, #151 ‘Grilled Marinated Spareribs’, #152 ‘Fried Jerusalem Artichoke Chips, #153 ‘Smothered Jerusalem Artichokes with Tomato and Onion’, #154 ‘Swiss Chard Stalks Gratineed with Parmesan’ with the lovely Nick and my parents at our table.

Recommending – Nigella’s Kitchen

For those of you have been following from the beginning of this blog (I started earlier this year) you will remember my Letter to Nigella.

I still haven’t received a reply to my letter. Though to be fair, she may never have received it.

I am still a big fan – not so much of the woman herself (she has millions of those fans) but of her work. I can highly recommend her cookbook ‘Kitchen’.

I have a red apron, too!

I have a red apron, too!


The Book: ‘Kitchen’ by Nigella Lawson

Contains: 153 recipes (at my count)

I’ve Cooked: 103 recipes so far


‘Coffee Toffee Meringues’ (This was my first recipe and one I repeated several times for dessert for guests. They were very simple to make, could be made in advance of the dinner guests arriving, and were just that little bit more special than ordinary meringues with the addition of coffee)

‘Salmon and Sushi Rice’ (Oh, so simple and great on a big platter in the middle of the table for guests to help themselves. I made this at least six times and then had the slight embarrassment of having four of these guests together one evening, realising that they’d all had the same recipe on separate occasions. It still tasted good).

‘Indian-Rubbed Lamb Chops’ (A good way to make use of ground spices in the store cupboard, taking about three minutes to prepare and having the taste of a good Indian meal)

The List So Far:

The List, Part 1

The List, Part 1


The List, Part 2

The List, Part 2

That’s just a taste!

If you had this book and Marcella’s book on your shelf, I would argue you need no others.



Recommending – The Hairy Dieters

Last month (that’s the month that ended yesterday), I enjoyed reading Emma’s daily ‘Book Challenge’ posts over at bluchickenninja. This girl is good at picking good books – and steering us all clear of ones she didn’t find so good. I’ve read a couple of her recommended books and will be coming back for more.

So it got me thinking.

While I wouldn’t be reading enough novels to be all that discerning in my recommendations, I do know my cookbooks!

At least I know which ones on my shelf contain recipes that work – consistently.

So I thought I would do a little series of cookbook recommendations over the next little while. Most of my cooking adventures are currently in the realm of Marcella’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ (her Pan-Roasted Lamb with Juniper Berries is simmering away as I type). However, I have been known to dip into some other books – I’ve even dived in and swum around for a year or so in one or two.

So here is my first recommendation:

The Hairy Dieters

The Hairy Dieters

Book: ‘The Hairy Dieters’ by Dave Myers and Si King.

Contains: 77 recipes

I’ve Cooked: 17 recipes so far (all have cooked well and tasted good)

Favourites: ‘Chicken Korma’ (in the ‘Fakeaways’ chapter) and ‘Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce’

The List So Far:

17 down, 60 to go

17 down, 60 to go