I’ve mentioned before that Christmas Eve is a big tradition for Italians. In many ways Christmas Eve was more important that Christmas growing up.
For one thing, we opened up all of our gifts on Christmas eve. My brother and I were the first grandchildren on my Father’s side of the family – and we were for a few years until our other cousins came along. So on Christmas Eve Nick and I would have to stay up until midnight before we could open our presents i.e. we would be falling asleep on our Nonna’s couch. ‘Santa’ a.k.a my Nonno or Zio would dress up as Santa and come to my Nonna’s house at midnight to deliver presents.
Earlier in the evening we would eat our Feast of Seven Fishes dinner – Italians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, only seafood. My brother and I were incredibly lucky to grow up with such amazing food and traditions. It was truly a feast to remember. We would begin with a seafood pasta course (usually tuna sauce my dad or nonna would make), followed by fish, prawns, mussels, clams, baccalà (salted cod), homemade calamari and other amazing dishes. It has always been my favourite memory of Christmas with my dads family.
As a child I remember stealing Pizzelles from the counter before dinner, when Nonna or Nonno weren’t looking. Pizzelles are incredibly thin, delicate waffle like cookies that are crisp and slightly sweet. You can eat about 6 in a minute flat. They were always the elusive holiday cookie that you would only get at Christmas or maybe Easter. Pizzelle makers were not popular so only my Nonna would have one therefore making it an even more treasured dessert that I looked forward to.
Now, I have my very own Pizzelle maker by a complete mishap that happened this summer. Long story short, the company Chef’s Choice sent me an e-mail on a completely different subject that lead me to respond and receive a response from a woman in their marketing department. After a few back and forth conversations about her daughter, myself and my family she offered to send me one of their products to make up for the mishap. Of course I chose the Pizzelle maker, as it meant I would not longer have to borrow my Nonnas. Also – that I could now make Pizzelle’s whenever I wanted.
I am also excited to be hosting my very first Christmas Eve dinner at our house this year. In honour of my Dad I hope everything turns out – though Christmas Eve has never quite been the same since he passed. Christmas makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. Nevertheless I am looking forward to having all of my family over to share a delicious seafood meal together – and Pizzelle’s will definitely be on the dessert counter. This time, I won’t have to sneak them.
Thin crisp waffle cookies
- 3 Eggs
- 1 3/4 cups Flour
- 1/2 tsp. Anise seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup Butter or oil, melted
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1. Turn on Pizzelle Maker. In a medium sized bowl beat together the eggs and sugar until frothy.
- 2. Add the cooled melted butter or oil, vanilla and anise seeds (optional) and beat again.
- 3. In small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture stirring with wooden spoon.
- 4. Stir batter until well combined, it will be slightly stiff and dough-like. The dough should be stiff enough to drop by rounded spoonfuls.
- 5. Drop by spoonfuls in the centre of the Pizzelle maker. Be careful not to place too much dough, otherwise it will spill out over the sides. You want them to have delicate 'fingers' like lace.
- 6. Bake according to your Pizzelle Maker's instructions, usually only 20-30 seconds per batch. Carefully lift off using a fork. Place on cooling rack to crisp.
- Special Equipment Needed: Pizzelle Maker
- Pizzelle cookies last quite well. Place in airtight container (my nonna would always place paper towel over them) and store on counter for up to 2 weeks. You can also easily freeze them for ice cream sundaes, or ice cream sandwiches.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Late post today! But here is my second week of WIAW. This time, the Italian edition.
For the past year I have been volunteering each week at an Elementary school in preparation for my application to the Teaching Program. I hope to start it in September. It has been a great experience working in the classroom and getting to know all of the students. I was in a grade three classroom for the end of last year and since September of the beginning of this school year. It was fun to help them with their work, marking assignments and corrections, teaching them cursive and new math skills. The kids were all very sweet and it was sad to say goodbye yesterday, my last day, as it was the last Tuesday before their Spring Break, and when they return I will begin my final exams and projects. I would defininitely vist them again, as Adam’s cousin is also a teacher at the school! Bonus. I would love to get a teaching job in the same district.
The children surprised me with a giant thank you card. It was so sweet! I will definitely miss them too.
I did not spell check these haha- and apparently they still need a little help with their spelling ;)
And apparently I am also married according to some of them ;)
From Peas and Crayons!
Breakfast was early Tuesday. Thanks to Daylight Savings time. My 7 am wake up, was more like a 6 am wake up. Not cool. The usual, Rice Krispies with Almond milk – as per my allergy diet.
The school is in my hometown, where I lived before I moved in with Adam, and where my brother and Nonna still live. So, every Tuesday I see my Nonna for a visit or lunch, or dinner. Depending on when I make it to her house, and my schedule in the classrooms. Yesterday was lunch.
When I’m at Nonna’s, I tend to throw the allergy-diet out the window. I just can’t say no.
First course, Pasta. My Nonna said she sauteed peas in oil, with artichokes and garlic, and then poured it over the pasta. It was so light and delicious. I love oil, all kinds, and this was simply delicious.
Second course was Salad, a simple oil and homemade red wine vinegar. Note the homemade white wine also. It was noon. Nonna likes a little vino with lunch.
There was also tomato, I can assume only freshly picked from Joe’s extensive vegetable garden (her live in boyfriend/companion since my Nonno is no longer with us) Joe also makes the red wine vinegar and wine. Topped with fresh mozzarella, bocconcini with basil and more delicious oil.
I ate these by themselves and atop some crackers. I probably ate about three, before being told to “eat more!” and to “finish, finish.” Thus, I ended up eating about half of the plate of cheese and tomatoes. I was fine with that.
Dinner was the usual right now, yam/sweet potato topped with black beans, goat cheese and cranberry sauce with lettuce drizzled with oilve oil, and a non-appealing looking piece of chicken breast. The yam was the best part.
Do you participate in WIAW?
Did you eat anything delicious yesterday??
My Nonna is a fabulous cook. No doubt about it. Anyone who has been lucky enough to try it would agree with me. As a kid, my brother and I attended Catholic School once a week, usually a Wednesday night. On those days my Nonna would pick us up from regular school, bring us to her house, make dinner and then drive us to the Church in Ladner. Eating at Nonna’s was always a treat. She can cook pretty much anything. Every Christmas Eve we have our Seafood feast, no meat, and I can remember her making Calamari from scratch, with the sink filled with tiny octopus. She is definitely not afraid of cooking, or eating, anythign. A typical European diet, we like food. Period.
We would usually also go to her house on Friday’s for a family dinner with my dad, mom and brother. My Nonna would make dinner, while my Nonno made comments and critques from the couch in Italian. The man never spoke a word of English in my entire 13 years of knowing him. He passed away when I was younger. One thing she made well, besides the amazing homemade pastas, sauces, polenta and other various Italian dishes, was soup. She still cooks, but I get to eat it on a less often basis. This soup reminds me of my childhood. The presense, taste, texture, smell of Romano Beans brings me back to my 12 year old self, sitting in my Nonna’s kitchen with my brother and Nonno devouring a large bowl of soup, my favourite is Pasta E Fagioli, or, pasta with beans. Usually a tomato-ey soup base, a hint of ground beef, romano beans and ditalini pasta, like penne cut up into tiny pieces, but smooth. With a glass of milk of course (Before I realized I had an allergy..) And usually topped it off with a heaping spoonful of freshly grated parmesan cheese. This soup closely resembles my Nonna’s, though nothing will ever replace her cooking. I should really video-tape her one of these days so I can save her recipes for later, though I don’t think she follows a recipe. All by memory, and years of practice.
Soup is a great fall meal, it’s easy and quick to throw together, doesn’t require too much looking after, and can feed a lot of people. Or, in our case, two. We literally ate almost the entire pot in one night. I had three bowls.. It’s all veggies though so it’s ok, right?? Thought so.
Notes: According to Lidia Bastianich, the queen of Italian cuisine, cavolo nero is the traditional green used in Tuscan Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup thickened with day old bread. Ribollita is Italian for “reboiled.” Ribollita was originally peasant food, invented to stretch leftover minestrone. The soup was so delicious and satisfying, Ribollita eventually morphed into a dish in its own right. Ribollita is a true pantry supper. It begins with soffrito, the Italian base of sautéed onions, celery, carrot, and garlic. Canned tomatoes provide depth of flavor while cannellini beans are a cheap but tasty source of protein. The blistered leaves of cavolo nero contribute texture and a nutty, slightly bitter flavor. Chunks of stale bread added at the end of cooking absorb broth, thickening the soup. This is not a long-cooking soup, but adding ingredients in stages helps to develop flavor.
I left out the bread.. I don’t remember my Nonna putting bread into any of her soups, but they were certainly served with a slice or two. And I added Romano beans instead of Cannellini, and I added white kidney beans as well.
This is definitely a soup that eats like a meal. Hearty and nutricious!
adapted from here: Food52
Serves 6 Or two really hungry people..
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 28 ounces (1 can) plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or Italian spices
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 1 bunch of Kale
- 15 ounces (1 can) Romano Beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces (1 can) White Kidney, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups water
- Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion. Sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Toss in the carrot and celery with a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables 10 minutes.
- Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a bowl.
- Pour the tomatoes (and their juices) into the pot with the thyme, potato, and 3 cups water. Bring the soup to a simmer, turn the heat down and partially cover with the lid. Keep the soup at a low simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Toss in the kale with another cup of water, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper, I also added ground garlic spice. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the canned beans and continue to simmer the soup 5 more minutes.Serve hot, or warm. It tastes even better the next day!