Food writer and passionate home cook Silvia Colloca feels most Italian when she is in her kitchen. She still bakes with her mother, shares good food with friends and of course, cooks for her family. But if you don’t have a treasured dowry of Italian home cooking know-how passed on to you from generations of Nonnas and Mammas, relax, because Silvia does and she’s ready to share it.
Catch the series here on SBS On Demand.
In the first episode of the series, Silvia starts with the basics. How do Italian home cooks shop for pantry staples and fresh produce? After visiting an Italian deli that's been running since the 1960s and her local fruit and veg shop, Silvia prepares a rustic Tuscan chickpea pasta for her daughter Luna. She then bakes two savoury schiacciata breads and makes her mother’s apple and mascarpone cake. Silvia proves that when an Italian pantry is well stocked you only need a few fresh ingredients to create simple yet memorable meals.
The mascarpone gives the cake a creamy density and moistness and a beautiful zest when mixed with the lemon.
Resembling a focaccia, these yoghurt flatbreads are topped with vine tomatoes, chilli and ricotta on one loaf and potato and anchovy on the other.
Family recipes are an eternal source of happiness for Italians, and in this episode, Silvia shares her family’s most cherished meals. Starting with her Nonna’s Sunday lunch spectacular, a rich sausage stew served at the table over a giant bed of soft polenta. Plus a timeless family favourite, pasta with potato and provola. Coming in direct from Italy via webcam, Silvia’s mum helps her bake her great aunt’s famous Abruzzese-style waffles.
I like these served simply with a dust of icing sugar but they’re also perfect topped with a dollop of mascarpone and a cascade of fresh berries.
If it's an Italian nona's recipe, you know that it shall be three things: delicious; comforting and served in a quantity that far exceeds the capacity of ones stomach. This stew served atop a bed of creamy polenta very much hits that mark!
For Italian home cooks, recipes have never been as important to them in the kitchen as their senses. In this episode nothing Silvia makes will be measured or mixed with kitchen appliances, it’s all hands-on. Starting with some delicious mini pizzas made from leftover bread, and a delicate prawn and lemon risotto that’s so easy to make it's almost zen. Later, her mother’s foolproof yogurt and berry loaf that can be made using only a spoon. Trust your hands and eyes, and these dishes will never fail.
Rich and moist don't have to mean heavy and unhealthy, and the olive oil and yoghurt power team achieve this perfectly to produce this berry loaf cake.
Less is more with this risotto as a handful of simple ingredients bring together a bowl of steaming, costal Italian goodness.
Bread is sacred in Italy, it’s there at almost every family meal and should never be wasted. Today Silvia shares three delicious ways to repurpose leftover bread, starting with a rustic, healthy orecchiette pasta, a baked fish dish with toasted bread and a dessert so spectacular you won't believe it’s made with stale bread.
The fish fillets sit alongside sourdough bread in this one-pan bake and soaks up the sauce dishing up soft fish and crunchy bread.
Orecchiette is an ear-shaped pasta and it's served here with pangrattato, which are essentially fancy breadcrumbs to give it a nice crunch.
When Italians gather at the table to celebrate there is always love, chaos and show-stopping things to eat. So, with Silvia’s best friends coming to stay for few days she is out to impress, making one of her Nonna’s most delicious, crowd-pleasing pasta feasts – spaghetti with ricotta meatballs. Later Silvia makes a delicate ricotta and semolina cake that is a true show stopper, and, not to be out-done, Silvia’s friend Rose shares an old Sicilian savoury doughnut recipe.
Ricotta ensures a delicate texture and moistness in these pork and veal meatballs, served in a rich tomato sauce.
A staple during Naples' Carnival festivities, migliaccio is the region's rustic semolina and lemon cake which is made rich and moist with the ricotta.
Italians are without a doubt some of the most resourceful home cooks on the planet; they believe in the time-honoured art of cooking once and eating twice. To demonstrate this Silvia makes some ricotta-filled Italian crepes, then using the leftover ingredients reveals how to create a rustic savoury pie from the North of Italy and a hearty baked pasta called pasta al forno.
Crespelle is Italy's version of the French crepe - paper-thin pancakes filled here with spinach and ricotta then baked in a rich tomato sauce.
Pizza rustica is like a hybrid between a pastry and a calzone, with an unleavened olive oil pastry-like dough encasing anything your heart desires. In this case, a classic spinach and ricotta filling.
Italian culture is famous the world over for its art, history and architecture - but food is integral to an Italian’s identity. Here, Silvia explores how to make the three meals that have become national treasures. She cooks the 1,000-year-old recipe for pasta amatriciana, plus a seafood dish of mussels, rice, and potato from the Puglia region that is largely unknown to the outside world. Lastly, she makes her version of Neapolitan pizza - a pizza dish so cherished its recipe is protected by the European Union and the United Nations.
Baking your pizza in a super-hot cast iron pan will give a beautiful, golden base and crust, though it's hard to mimic a true Neapolitan pizza, which has been named a national treasure of Italy.
Amatriciana is a pasta sauce is made with guanciale and pecorino cheese, with white wine and tomato added, originating from the town of Amatrice. Bucatini Amatriciana has been recognised as one of Italy's national treasures.
For Italians, food has always formed a huge part of how they connect with their roots, which means keeping culinary traditions alive is essential. In this episode, Silvia and her dear friend Lina make one of Italy’s most treasured Sunday recipes, the famous ragu napolitana. Plus, Silvia makes an old school antipasto treat- taralli - and direct for Italy, Silvia’s mum joins her via webcam to help her create an incredible dessert using a stale old Panettone.
For this Italian treat, a panettone is filled with ricotta, cream and chocolate then chilled and covered in more chocolate for an addictive, decadent dessert.
Put some time aside and make both the pasta and the rich ragu from scratch. It's a bit of work, but it's also well worth it.
Italian home cooks are masters at the art of speedy meals because their pantries and fridges are often stocked with essential ingredients, which, combined with a little creativity, can become incredible meals in no time. In this episode, Silvia prepares a quick seafood risotto, cooks a Sicilian pesto penne in 8 minutes flat and whips up a lemon and almond biscuit to end the night.
Sicilian pesto is made with tomato as well as basil, giving it a light red colour. Here we add ricotta to give it a creamy texture and a lighter flavour.
You can practically taste the Italian grandmotherly love in these gluten-free almond biscuits. Be sure to share them with the passion any good nonna would.
Italians love tradition in the kitchen, but in this episode, Silvia shares a few new tricks and hacks that Italians have learned to embrace. From a one-pot tuna pasta method even Silvia thought was too good to be true, to a no-knead technique for baking sensational bread, it all seemed too good to be true until she whips out a tomato pasta recipe you’ll be making for years to come.
Silvia Colloca shares her family one pot pasta recipe which is full of Mediterranean flavour and a breeze to cook (and clean up).
The tomatoes are roasted before having the pasta mixed through to bring through the juices and add an exceptional flavour.
Find Silvia Colloca sharing secrets from her very own kitchen each Thursday at 8:30pm on SBS Food from 8 January to 11 March 2020 and later on SBS On Demand. Head to the website for recipes, articles, tips and more or watch from episode one below.