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.


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.


25% of a Cookbook! – With Marcella #116 (of 466)

On Friday night, I reached the 25% mark of recipes cooked from Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’. So I’m taking a moment to celebrate.

Technically I should have cooked an additional half a recipe to reach 25% – but if you’re OK with me celebrating at this point, I’m OK.

Recipe #116 of 466: ‘Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce’

This recipe used three other recipes from the book – all of which I had cooked before. The Bolognese meat sauce was an extra batch I had in the freezer. The Crespelle took a while to cook, as crepes do, but I was able to do other things in the kitchen while I cooked them. The Bechamel Sauce was prepared in the final moments, just prior to assembling the dish for a short trip to the oven.

With a bit of filling of crespelle with meat sauce and a final smothering of the leftover meat sauce and bechamel, this…

Bechamel, Bolognese Sauce and Crespelle

Bechamel, Bolognese Sauce and Crespelle

Became this…

Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce

Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce

It’s not much to look at…but it was awfully lovely to eat.

The brother, the nephew, the niece and I all sighed and declared it to be delicious!

I think I shall continue with the other 75% of the cookbook.

Reaching 25%: #116 ‘Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce’ with the brother, the nephew and the niece at my table.

<a href=””>All It’s Cracked Up to Be</a>

“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.

My Gift to You – Marcella Hazan

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to give this gift.

To you, my readers, if you happen to be reading this.

The gift is a blog. Not my blog. Another blog. Not just any blog. A blog that contains posts on each and every recipe in Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’.

But that’s not all!

The gift of this blog, written a few years ago, contains comments from Marcella Hazan herself. A real treat, as she passed away a year ago.

The blog contains posts from a group of nine people that divided up all the recipes in Marcella’s book and cooked and posted each day for just over a year. Marcella often comments on their progress, giving both encouragement and critique. Some of the bloggers even got to meet her near the end of their project.

For those of you who despair at my forgetfulness in taking photos of the dishes I cook from her book – you will also find photos of each recipe they cooked.

You won’t find recipes there. They (and I) believe that you should get our own copy of her book!

I try not to view each post until after I cook the recipe, so that the surprise factor is still there as I cook. Though, occasionally, when I’m feeling a bit uncertain about the recipe, it is good to read their comments and tips.

I’ve cooked 20% of the recipes in the book so far (there are 466 of them, not including the variations). It’s the best cookbook I’ve cooked from.

So here’s a gift well worth opening:

Pomodori e Vino

Happy Christmas!

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