Posts tagged italian food
Learning Italian. Where do you begin?
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Learn Some Nouns

You want to learn how to speak Italian but not sure where to begin? Well, a good start would be to learn as many nouns (names of things) as you can. In my Absolute Beginner Classes I also like to expose students to some Italian grammar. Learning grammar gives you a much better understanding of the language and gets you speaking a lot quicker than learning phrases. Exposing students to grammar doesn’t mean they should be memorising and mastering what you teach them in an instance. It just means they have seen the word or the rules and from that point on, each time they are re-exposed to it they may learn and remember a little more. Remembering what is learnt comes with practice by doing exercises, and it takes time.

Essere and Avere Verbs

There are two ‘verbs’ (doing words) in Italian that are taught in the Absolute Beginner course and I am going to write a little explanation on how to learn and use them. While rote learning may be a little old school, it may be a good way to memorise them, but if you have a method that suits you more then you should stick to it.

In Italian, we have verbs just like in English. Only in English, we don’t change the verbs 6 times to suit the person or object doing the action, or the person we are speaking about who is doing the action, like we do in Italian.

To construct a sentence we use lots of words and grammar. A sentence like :

‘The boy is beautiful’. 

‘Il ragazzo e` bello’.

This simple sentence is made by adding a noun + verb + adjective …..or in simple terms subject + doing word + describing word)

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So firstly you should learn your ‘subject pronouns’  (the subject of your sentence – who you are speaking about):

Here are the subject pronouns (meaning the person or thing doing the action).

I - io

You - tu

He/She/It - Lui, Lei, esso/a

We - noi

You all - voi

They - loro

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Essere (to be) and Avere (to have) are the first two verbs we learn as Absolute Beginners

So the verbs Essere and Avere in English are used like this

 

ESSERE - TO BE

io sono -I am

tu sei - you are

tui/lei/it e` - he/she is   (notice the verb has changed 3 times already   am, are, is)

noi siamo - we are

voi siete - you all are

loro sono - they are

example sentences:

I am Italian - Io sono italiano

you are French - tu sei francese

he/she is Australian - lui/lei e` australiano  

we are Italian – noi siamo italiani

you all are Italian – voin siete italiani

they are Italian - loro sono italiani

AVERE – (TO HAVE) works the same way.

I have a child - io ho un figlio  (pronounced fi-li-yoh)

You have a child - tu hai un figlio

He/she/it has a child - lui/lei/esso ha un figlio

We have a child – noi abbiamo un figlio

You all have a child – voi avete un figlio

They have a child – loro hanno un figlio

These are very simple sentences, but if you have a few Italian nouns up your sleeve, then you can already start to make simple sentences.

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The problem most students face when learning verbs is they get confused when the ‘subject pronoun’ (the person or thing doing the action), is replaced with a name.

For example:

He is beautiful – Lui e` bello

Gianni is beautiful – Gianni e` bello (He = Gianni)

Or a little more complex is when you are speaking with someone asking them questions and they have to answer changing the verb so it all makes sense.

For example:

Question: Do you have a child? - Hai un figlio?

Answer: Yes I have a child. - Si, ho un figlio.

Question: Does Chiara have a child? – Chiara ha un figlio?

Answer: Yes, Chiara has a child – Si, Chiara ha un figlio.

Note how the verb ‘have’ in the English sentences hasn’t changed , but in the Italian sentences it has because it is agreeing with the person in the sentence who is doing the action.

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This is a very basic explanation and joining classes can be very helpful and would be the next step for anyone wanting to learn ‘la dolce lingua’. While phrases may be fun to learn, they are very limiting when trying to have a conversation. I always remind my students that they must walk before they run! So start your learning journey by building your Italian vocabulary and slowly but surely the language will all start to come together.

Ciambella allo yoghurt, datteri e noci
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I often wake early in the morning and love to bake when it's quiet and the kids are still asleep. I usually always make the same Ciambella al Limone, which the family love for 'la colazione' (breakfast), unless there is something in the fridge like ricotta, cream or yoghurt that may be close to it's use by date. If so, then I'll usually use 'un po` di fantasia' (a little imagination) and add something different to the ciambella. I hate waste, and this is such a great way to waste less. I often create our evening meals like this too, but that's another blog...

now back to la ciambella...

Another thing I find hard to do is follow methods. I find that if ever I have tried to read a method while cooking, the dish loses my attention and often lacks something. Since I was a young girl I have watched my mamma & nonna cook, and realised that preparing food is about using all of the senses, so if you put the recipe book down, you'll magically be able to connect to your dish through 'touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste' and your meal is sure to taste delicious! Give me the ingredients and I'll create the dish. Because cooking really is that simple, as long as you've been taught, or taught yourself, the basics. If it's too complicated, I don't care for it. Simple is key.

So this morning I woke up to check what may be going out of date in the fridge, and it was the good old plain greek style yoghurt. Here are the ingredients, step by step and quite roughly for you to recreate this really easy Ciambella with a twist:

You'll need...

a whisk and a bowl

3 eggs

12 tablespoons of sugar (or less if you prefer)

12 tablespoons of sunflower oil

3 tablespoons of plain greek style yoghurt

12 tablespoons of self raising flour

a handful of dates (or more if you like them)

a handful of walnuts (or more if you like them)

some vanilla (either from a pod, or essence or whatever you have or usually use)

** greese your tin and put the oven on to a moderate heat

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Crack your eggs and add the sugar and whisk

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add the yoghurt and whisk a little more

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Add the sunflower oil, and then add your flour and vanilla and whisk again.
Then add the dates and walnuts and mix with a spoon gently at this stage.

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Pop in the greased baking tin, then into the heated oven.

Bake until it's golden and smells delicious! Poke a knife in if you're unsure and if it comes out dry you're good to go. Serve with some thickened cream or with some breakfast caffe` e latte (milk and coffee)...

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The word 'Molto' & it's different endings

When do we change the ending of the word 'Molto' in Italian?

This week in one of our Italian language classes, we stumbled on the word 'Molto' with a different ending, which led to the question of 'why' and 'when' does the word change. So I decided to write a quick blog about it...

Wouldn’t it be great and much easier if the endings of Italian words were all the same?! But if they were, then the saying ‘la dolce lingua’ would no longer be. The sweet sound of the Italian language is partly made of just that. Almost everything rhymes!

The word ‘molto’ means ‘very’, ‘a lot’, ‘very much’, ‘ a great deal’ and so on. This blog is to explain, very basically, why the ending of the word ‘molto’ changes sometimes and when we need to change it.

Location: Campobasso, Italy

Location: Campobasso, Italy

If we are using the word ‘molto’ as an adverb then it doesn’t change.

Here are some examples:

La ragazza e` molto bella.

The girl is very beautiful.

Il bicchiere e` molto pieno.

The glass is very full.

Queste mele sono molto buone.

These apples are really good.

Questi occhiali sono molto carini.

These glasses are very nice.

If the word ‘molto’ is used as an adjective then changes like so:

C’e` molta neve.

There is lots of snow.


C’e` molta gente.

There are a lot of people.

Ci sono molte mele.

There are a lot of apples.

Ci sono molti libri.

There are a lot of books.

Hopefully this helps Italian language learners a little!

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Crostata con la Crema e le Fragole

Here are the ingredients and very rough method of how I put together a couple of crostata's this morning because I had dozens of eggs from our wonderful chooks to use and my nonna handed me some sweet red ripe strawberries yesterday she got from a farm she went to with her friends on the community bus. (Her social life at 94 years of age is more full on than mine!)

First of all : make some custard! and let it cool. 

Pasta Frolla Ingredients:

250gr butter

approx 250 grams (half packet of) La Molisana Flour 00 

5 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of lievito per dolci

1 small satchel of vanilla powder

Lemon rind from 1 lemon

2 eggs (whipped by fork and poured in at the end)

Mix, knead and let rest in fridge for half an hour

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Strawberry Mixture

Cut up a 2-3 punnets of strawberries, add a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a tablespoon of plain flour. Stir through and let sit.

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Roll out your pastry wider than the pie dish you are cooking it in. Fill it with custard on the bottom layer and then top it with the strawberries. Don't use all of the juice they have made while soaking in the sugar, but a little bit is ok. Flap the pasta frolla hanging over the dish on top of your pie as shown below. Cook it in a really hot oven (mine was on fan forced 220 degrees but it's old and almost had it's day I think). When it's nice and brown take it out. You'll should be able to smell when it's cooked.

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Ecco la crostata! Let it cool to set. Don't worry if the juices flow out while it's cooking. They add a nice sticky sweetness to the edges. We don't mind imperfections in our home!  

Enjoy :)

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'I Fiadoni.' A Traditional Italian Easter Recipe from Molise

It's Almost Pasqua!

For every region it Italy, Easter comes with many different traditional recipes. In my papà's region, with 'Pasqua' come 'I Fiadoni Molisani', sweet or savoury. It is a recipe you'll need a load of eggs for! 'Le uova' (eggs) being symbolic of spring and abundance. 

Other names for 'i fiadoni' are 'casciatelle', 'sciarone' or 'fiarone'. Whatever you choose to call them, they are delicate and delicious, and pair beautifully with an aperitivo, or a simple glass vino rosso or bianco.

They are shaped like a mini calzone, and are filled with a tasty cheese & black pepper mixture, or you may prefer the sweet version which is filled with ricotta and choc chips or candied fruit. While cooking they puff out, like a balloon ready to burst. Each town has it's own variation of how to make these little traditional Easter morsels, but the one I'm going to share with you is my mother-in-laws savoury version. They are very easy to make and smell absolutely delicious while they are cooking. Enjoy!

La Ricetta 

Il Ripieno

Let's start with the filling....

500gr of grated pecorino cheese 

5 eggs

1 small sachet of yeast for sweets (lievito per dolci)

Black pepper (I put a few pinches but you can put more or less)

Nutmeg (a couple of pinches)

2 beaten eggs put aside to paint the tops of the fiadoni before they go into the oven which should be preheating at 180 - 200 degrees

Once mixed together it should look a similar to this. 

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La Pasta

Now for the pastry...

500g of plain flour 00

4 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

1/2 sachet of yeast for sweets (lievito per i dolci)

Place everything in a bowl like so and mix into a messy ball

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Knead away!

Make smaller balls to roll out with a rolling pin before putting them through the pasta machine

Work the dough through the pasta machine until you get to around number 6 or 7 on your machine 

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Flap the pasta in half so it covers the filling and with your hand gently push around the edges of the filling. With a glass or cookie cutter, make a half moon shape.

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Place them onto a tray, snip the top of the pastry with some scissors or poke with a fork, then paste them with the beaten egg before placing them in the oven.

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Place them in the over until golden brown. They should puff up and some of the cheese will ooze out of the small hole you made in the pastry.

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Buon appetito and Buona Pasqua!

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