Archive for ‘Memories’

March 7, 2011

Beef Cannelloni on a little Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

Those that know me, have known me as a vegetarian for most of my life.  Until a year ago, the last time I’d eaten meat was when I was just eleven years old.  Back then I was seemingly more strong willed than I am today.  I was determined to stick with my new found vegetarianism.  But I knew that there was one dish that might tempt me, beef cannelloni. Ooh my.

As the smell wafted up from the family dinner table, the cannelloni made it’s best efforts to lure me. Somehow I held strong and stuck with my vegetables.

Clearly my determination has wavered in my adulthood and now I’m back on the meat eating side of the fence. So  a couple of weekends ago when M and I decided to have a classic movie night in, it seemed like a great reason to go to a little extra effort in the kitchen and reacquaint myself with the old favourite.

What a brilliant night in. The wine was plentiful and the cannelloni was scrumptious, not too rich as I didn’t make it with a white sauce. Perhaps slightly cheesily we continued the Italian theme in our classic movie selection … the fabulous William Wyler romantic comedy, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregroy Peck.

It had us both in fits of tears and chuckles …  if you haven’t seen it, see it!


Beef Cannelloni


1 box dried cannelloni shells
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms, finely chopped (I used the chesnut variety)
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g lean minced beef
1 egg yolk
Pinch nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter / olive oil
Tomato Sauce (see below)
1/2 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper
For the Tomato Sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g tin, chopped tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper


To make the filling:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add mushrooms and beef and continue cooking until beef is browned, stir occasionally so it won’t stick.
Add a little water to allow a little sauce to form. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Remove from heat and leave to cool a little.
Stir through egg yolk and parsley, leaving a little parsley to garnish later.
To make the Tomato Sauce:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add garlic and onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add tomatoes and a little water. Let to simmer about 10 minutes. It’s good for the sauce to be on the runny side as it’s from here than the dried cannelloni will take the moisture to cook.
Season to taste. Add a little red wine vinegar to counter the sweetness of the tomatoes. Do this to taste.
To make the Cannelloni:
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the base of your tray to stop the cannelloni from sticking.
Fill the dry cannelloni shells with the filling mixture, you can pack them quite tightly. Pack them close together in the tray.
Cover shells with the tomato sauce.
Place in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Garnish with lots of Parmesan cheese and the reserved chopped parsley.
Note: If you want to make it a little richer, add a layer of Mozzarella above the tomato sauce.

A Classic Style Beef Cannelloni
By Good Bite In
Published: March 7, 2011
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 50 min

January 20, 2011

The Secret Stays with Me: Salsa della Nonna

On my recent trip to Australia my mum finally taught my sister and I the secret of  Salsa della Nonna. This is the pasta sauce not only our childhood, but hers and her mother’s too.  Notebooks in hand, we hung on every word of direction so we could replicate it ourselves. Our family’s Salsa della Nonna is a two course feast … first the pasta with rich meat sauce and then the large joint of meat which as been slow cooked as part of the Salsa della Nonna is carved and served with vegetables alongside.

Salsa della Nonna

Now of course being the Salsa della Nonna, I am sworn to secrecy regards all elements of it’s preparation. However, what I want to write about is the warmth that accompanies this dish.

Most Italian families have a Salsa della Nonna. They are all very different but also very similar.  Each family has different things they put in the pot to make their sauce unique, but each and every one is infused with a very specifc love and the memory. The evocative nature, not only of the smell, but the taste, the textures, all feels like family. For me, each mouthful is re-assuring in the way it brings on floods of memories of family sat around the table and sharing from great central plates of food.

The joy of a good sauce is most famously shared by Martin Scorsese in Goodfellas. I only have to think of this scene and I start drooling.

(You’ll have to click the link to get there as there are embedding restrictions on it)

So now that my sis and I have been taught, both M and I are happy that I’ll be able to make my Great Grandmother’s sauce here in London. But, I’m sorry to say the secret of the sauce is going to have to stay with me … hopefully I’ll never need it in prison.


I’d love to hear about any of your memories of your old family favourites … do share!

December 13, 2010

Good Bite In Australia: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

Back in Australia and M is about to share in one of our family traditions. I realise it might sound silly but a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice holds an important place in our family.

Orange Tradition

Growing up it was Mum, my stepdad A, my two sisters and me. Each week when Mum and A went to the farmers market they’d cart home a massive 8kg bag of oranges. Each week without fail.

A sack full of Juice

And each morning without fail A would make us all a glass of orange juice using his old depression glass orange squeezer. Five glasses a day no matter what the season or how sweet or sour the oranges. Thick and gloopy with pulp it would be there waiting for us every morning before school.

The Daily Squeeze

I’m sure at some point he worked out how many oranges he squeezed over the course of a year …. it was a lot.

Freshly Squeezed

With all of us grown up and moved out there’s no longer the need to buy that 8kg sack however whenever we’re home we’re likely to get a juice or two squeezed by A with the good old green glass orange squeezer.

Just like the old days

And this time is no different. So M, welcome to the tradition! And thanks A for all those glasses of juice.


October 16, 2010

Saturday Coffee: Let’s hear you say crema …

The sun is rising, Frank’s playing on the radio and the alarm hasn’t gone off. It can only be the weekend.

Don’t even bother to utter the word instant, I’d prefer to go thirsty.  Thick, black  with the perfect crema … nothing beats a properly made brew to kick off the weekend.

I admit to owning my fair share of coffee brewing paraphernalia, collected the world over. And, I admit to living by oath of allegiance to Monmouth Coffee. Thus considered, I like to think I make a fairly decent cuppa.

Stick your nose to the bag and inhale deeply ...

My favourite method at home is using a Bosnian coffee pot. It’s a little purpose made narrow topped pot that you fill with water and a few spoons of coffee. Then as it heats on the hob, a thick foam forms rises from the surface. Just when you think it’s going to overflow you lift it from the heat, let the foam drop and then return it to the heat. Ritual dictates you repeat this process three times over. Whether that’s technique or superstition I don’t know, but you do get a beautiful thick black coffee at the end of it. Served in tiny cups the coffee sediment drops to the bottom and it gives you a wake up call to remember. In Bosnia they add sugar to this type of coffee but I prefer to take it as it comes. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t produce that classic crema. Nor, I’m ashamed to admit, do any of my other coffee gadgets.

Sip the Morretti Crema @ Rosies Brixton

If I’m really craving the good stuff I head to Rosie’s Deli in Brixton. I’m convinced it’s the best coffee in South London.

For home though, in my crema dreams  I sometimes wonder about an espresso machine. The New York Times recently announced the $20,000 cup of coffee but sitting here in our little flat, in our tiny little kitchen that would I suspect be a tad over the top. I have to admit to perusing machines on Ebay this week … and drooling over the video of the new Miele Compact Barista counter top machine.

Hmmmmm … how many coins are in the bottom of my purse? I think Ebay might win my vote.


PS.Promise to add a Bosnian Coffee Pot Pic to this post soon!

PPS. If you are looking for something tasty to go with your coffee this weekend check out these Pear, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cakes at Cannelle Et Vanille. I haven’t made them yet but I will soon!

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: