If you are not lucky enough to have a nonna of your very own, you can soothe your inner Italian soul with Per La Famiglia, Memories and Recipes of Southern Italian Home Kitchen, the newest cookbook by Emily Richards. Part cookbook, part scrapbook, the book is full of photos, memories and family stories and as soon as my complimentary copy showed up on my doorstep, I read the whole thing, cover to cover.
I remember Emily Richards from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen back when I was a new mom and spent hours on end watching the food network. Alongside Elizabeth Baird, she injected a youthful enthusiasm for food that helped to inspire me to get out of bed and back into the kitchen again.
Fast forward to today and Emily is still inspiring Canadians to get into the kitchen and cook delicious, whole foods as part of the Canadian Living Test Kitchen, regular daytime tv guest spots, cooking classes and cookbooks.
The stories reflect the immigrant story for many, many Canadians and truly celebrates her culture, as a whole. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and nothing requires three years of culinary school in Naples. Even though I don't have a nonna of my own, I am lucky enough to know one that I can borrow every year when I join her family to can tomatoes every September and the recipes in this book are all the kinds of things she makes us to eat when we are together.
There are sections on antipasto, sauces, pastas, desserts and main dishes and sample menus for various Italian celebrations like Christmas Eve, St Joseph's Feast and one for a Baptism gathering as well as a detailed glossary to help you keep your ingredients straight.
I have a whack of cookbooks that feature all kinds of inspirational, fancy pants regional Italian fare that are great to read and dream about, but Per La Famiglia contains the kind of Italian food that I cook at home. I chose to make the Pickled Eggplant (Melazane Sott'aceto) because this is something that I buy all the time from the deli section in my favourite Italian grocers but have never tried to make myself. I use this stuff on sandwiches, on my antipasto plates, as a crostini topping along with some fresh ricotta and basil or tossed into some hot spaghetti aglio e olio so I can pretend that I am eating my vegetables.
Now that I know how easy this is to make, I will make sure there is always a jar of it in my fridge.
So, on to my recipe featuring my pickled eggplant that I made from the cookbook:
Sweet Potato Eggplant Bites
I needed a dish to bring to dinner with The Neighbours and I had originally thought that I would whip up a quick crostini topped with eggplant until I remembered that they had to stay away from bread for the time being. I had been asked to come up with something using sweet potato anyway so why not substitute the bread base for some roasted sweet potato? In the end, this is so much more delicious than it would have been if I had just used bread so thank you friends, for your need to avoid bread or else this tasty appetizer would never have been born.
*I was given a copy of this cookbook for free so that I could try it out and share with you as part of this recipe blog hop. As always, if I did not truly like the book, I would have bowed out of the hop since I only share things that I truly like. Thanks to Whitecap Publishing for providing me with the cookbook
Sweet Potato with Pickled Eggplant
*I have left the recipe very loose because it will all depend on how much you want to make
Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" thick rounds
pickled eggplant - my batch from La Famiglia cookbook or
extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tbls za'atar
toasted walnuts, chopped
A word about why I cooked the sweet potato in the sous vide- precooking the sweet potatoes using the sous vide
To cook the sweet potato disks:
vacuum seal the sweet potato disks
heat the water bath ro 155F/68C
cook the sweet potatoes for at least 45 minutes (you can leave them in there up to a couple of hours)
Remove from the plastic pouch and dry off with a clean towel or paper towel.
Heat some olive oil in a pan over med high heat and quickly fry the disks just to brown on each side and remove them to a platter.
preheat oven to 450F
put the sweet potato disks onto an oiled baking sheet
roast for about 15 minutes, turn them over and roast for another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and put on a serving tray.
Spread some ricotta on each sweet potato round, add a heap of pickled eggplant, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, scatter some fresh basil over the tops and then dust with the za'atar. Last, but not least, scatter a handful of toasted, chopped walnuts over the entire plate - we want it to look rustic- and serve.
So, I can't share the recipe for the eggplant with you (you will have to buy the book to get it but you should get the book anyway, right?) but I can offer you a chance to win a great prize :
A signed copy of La Famiglia, a gnocchi board and a three piece Microplane Elite Grater/Zester (thanks Microplane!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside.
Void in Quebec.
No purchase necessary to enter.
Giveaway will run from to end on . Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond. If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner's name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter.
Prize value is approximately $75CDN.
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