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Cucina Converations: La Cialledda Fredda (Bread & Tomato Salad)

Take a frugal idea of mixing stale bread with chopped up tomatoes to make a salad and with a few subtle changes in ingredients or technique, what is essentially the same type of dish takes on a different name in its respective region in Italy. The world-famous panzanella from Tuscany and the caponata napoletana from the Campania region are two examples; but have you heard of la cialledda, (not to be confused with the hot winter dish of the same name). This is another bread and tomato salad in essence, though this time from the regions of Puglia and Basilicata in the deep south of Italy.
This month’s Cucina Conversations edition is all about salads, and for me salads are enjoyed all year round prepared as my lunch for work or part of our family meals. Most seasonal vegetables or fruits can be served as a warm or cold salad and I love getting creative with whatever is in season at the time. I recently made this refreshing persimmon, fennel & pomegranate salad, one I'll be servi…
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#5factsaboutme and a Persimmon, Fennel & Pomegranate Salad

I was invited by my friend Rosemarie from Turin Mammato share #5factsaboutme a while back now; an invitation I have shied away from as I am generally a private person. Let’s face it, this blog was never meant to be read by anyone else but my immediate family, with the hope of documenting and preserving some of our family recipes and related stories.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that you would be reading this blog today; but fact No. 1 listed below challenged me so. This post will therefore list 5 random facts you don’t know about me and a simple autumnal salad recipe which can easily be thrown together, even though fact No. 5 got the better of me and influence how I would plate it up.
5 Facts You Don’t Know About Me
Fact 1: Glass half full; look on the bright side of life; believing in good karma – these notions have been my guiding light when it comes to others, but my shyness and self doubt often gets in the way hence I'm very critical of me, always looking at how I can …

Cucina Conversations: Cassatelle Siciliane

Cassatelle are typical Sicilian pastries filled with lemon scented ricotta, and also known as cassateddi in Sicilian dialect.  The name derives from the word cassata, and by adding the diminutive suffix ‘ella’ you get the word cassatella, a smaller individual serving. An assortment of these pastries can be found in different regions of Sicily and are considered traditional deserts for the Carnevale and Easter period. In researching this topic, I become enthralled by the history behind the most complex of cassate from Palermo through to these more simple-to-make pastries from Siracusa, and therefore could not help but share some of its history with you.
Sicily is known as the sweets centre of Italy, and it appears that the most colourful and famous cassatasiciliana in all its glory, is one of the reasons.  It is believed to have originated in Palermo, made with sheep’s milk ricotta – at its richest and herbaceous during Spring; and containing other ingredients prevalent to the area suc…

Cucina Conversations: La Parmigiana di Zucchine – a Celebration of the Season

If you are living in Italy, no doubt your focus will be on Carnival season and those amazing traditional sweets appearing everywhere; tempting us to indulge before the Lenten period begins. Each region of Italy has its own unique way of celebrating this event on the Italian calendar, but all find their foundations in ancient traditions.

Through planning our family trip to Italy scheduled for June, I’ve been doing some reading on the region of Basilicata also known as Lucania, where my parents are from and came across a lovely recount written for Italy Magazine of the famous masked Carnival in Tricarico, a town and commune in the province of Matera, Basilicata. Through photos, you will see this festivals representation of the blessing and seasonal migration of cattle with characters parading dressed in rainbow-coloured streamers, bells and masks. The region is home to many other carnivals that take you through a journey of traditional Lucanian myths, celebrations and rituals. It has …

Cucina Conversations:Pasta Mollicata (Pasta with Breadcrumbs)

We begin 2018’s Cucina Conversations calendar with the notion of ‘waste not, want not’. The subject here being stale bread or pane raffermo as it is known in Italian; and the endless uses of this staple ingredient found in every kitchen I’m sure.  Many would agree that it should never be thrown out just because it has passed its prime, in fact my nonne considered and mamma still believes that throwing out old bread is sacrilegious due to its religious significance.

One of the best things about bread second to enjoying it freshly baked, is its amazing ability to absorb other flavours and ingredients better when at least a day old. If you are not a big fan of day old bread, the simplest thing you can do with it is to turn it into bread crumbs, so don't throw it out. It has however subsequent thrifty uses and found in many Italian recipes. This month we share a few of those recipes and show you how a simple stale ingredient such as bread can be turned into a delicious meal.
I’ve ch…

Sorbetto di Cigliege e Basilico (Cherry & Basil Sorbet)

The Christmas to January holiday period sees us eating many cherries and this year we decided to include a family day out picking our own up at Red Hill Cherry Farm  in Victoria.  My intentions were to pick some morello sour cherries to cook with; however I came across an interesting cherry sorbet recipe I found in an old magazine I was clearing out and was intrigued by the combination of cherries and basil used together. Yes you may think that this sounds quite odd but on the contrary, it is quite lovely.  So my curiosity got the better of me and I focused on picking some sweet cherries instead to try this marriage of flavours.
I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing the basil taste was, cutting through the sweetness of the cherries.You can adjust the amount of basil used depending on how pronounced you want the flavour to be.I went with the recommended amount as I was curious to experience the full flavour. The basil plants in my garden are growing happily at the moment and the…

Crostata di Prugne (Plum Jam Tart)

Under the shade of my parents sugar plum tree I contemplate what the new year has in store and welcome her in with some freshly made apricot and plum jams and this delectable crostata. A new look for this humble blog will also be launched today, with plans for further changes along the way.  A task I have avoided for a long while due to lack of time. A fresh look for the beginning of a new year is what was needed and I hope that this format will make the site easier to navigate, but as mentioned with time there will be more noticeable changes for the better. Stay tuned! So what better way to celebrate than with a slice of this plum jam crostata made more special by the addition of some home-made sugar plum jam I made the other day.



My parent’s love of fruit trees provides us with an abundance of fruit around the summer season.  What doesn't get eaten is preserved and used later in cakes, tarts as well as on toast. I especially love a tart that uses home-made jams such as apricot, p…