If you are American and if you love Italian food you have probably already heard of the popular web TV series "Cooking with Nonna" hosted by Rossella Rago.
In the series Rossella who is a descendant of Italian immigrants invites an Italian- American grandmother to cook with her and share traditional Italian recipes and memories of her childhood in Italy.
Rossella spent her childhood learning to cook in the kitchen with her beloved grandmother "Nonna Romana" who emigrated to the US after the war.
Now these series have been summorized into a book: "Cooking with Nonna" which has recently been published.
I love the simplicity of this book. The recipes are all those classic Italian ones which never go out of fashion and most of all are uncomplicated and suitable for any day of the week. From antipasti, to pasta, rice and "secondi" with meat and fish dishes, desserts and biscuits.
The book also tells the story of many of the grandmothers Rossella has been cooking with. They are the unsung heroes of the culinary world.
These are the stories of women who emigrated from Italy long time ago. What is fascinating when you read stories of emigrants is that they do love their new adoptive country but their heart really belongs to where they spent their formative years.
I felt a little part of this (although I regularly travel to Italy) as I moved to the UK in my early twenties and my ways, my accent and my personality remains Italian. Your formative years are the ones that shape you for life and what's more interesting, you will remember your country as it was at the time you left. Things do change over the years but not for you. This means that most of the recipes that come from Italian emigrants are often those traditional and original untouched Italian recipes. Check out my article on how Italian food has changed over the years.
I tried a recipe from this book which is not on my blog yet: the "torta caprese" popular on the island of Capri; this is a classic Italian chocolate cake with lots of almonds and no flour.
..definitely a success in my household!
This cake can be completely gluten free if you choose gluten free baking powder.
- Prep Time : 30 minutes
- Cook Time : 55 minutes
- Yield : 8
- unsalted butter - 150 g - 10 tbsp
- unblanched almonds - 250 g - 1 + 3/4 cup
- dark chocolate - 140 g - 5 oz
- potato starch - 1 tsp
- cocoa powder unsweetened - 1 tbsp - 15 g
- baking powder (gluten free if you are intollerant) - 2 tsp
- salt - pinch
- granulated sugar - 130 g - 5/8 cup
- eggs (at room temperature) - 5
- rum or whiskey (optional) - 3 or 4 tbsp
- confectionery (icing) sugar - for dusting
Preheat oven at 170C or 325F.
With a food processor grind the almonds to a fine consistency. Grate the chocolate or just put it in a processor and process for 30 seconds then add it to the ground almonds.
In a separate bowl sift the potato starch, the cocoa powder and the baking powder.
Work the butter with the sugar and then add the egg yolks one at a time. Add the chocolate with the almonds and the salt, the dry ingredients and mix well until combined.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter until the mixture is well combined.
Pour the mixture into a well greased spring form baking tin measuring approx 20 cm or 8 inch diameter.
Bake for approximately 55 minutes. After 40 minutes check for doneness with a toothpick.
When the cake is still warm drizzle the liquor over the top (optional) and when it is completely cooked sprinkle with confectionery sugar.
I was sent the book for review. All opinions are my own.