From my Nona, with love

By Val Hoppichler (nee Val Bianco-Martinez)

Dear Parishioner readers: This new column will bring you different recipes from all the Grandmothers, La Nona, Die Oma, La Abuela, La Grand-mère, in the world. In this first edition I share my Nona’s Panettone recipe. A beautiful Italian woman who emigrated to Argentina when she was young. I had the pleasure to enjoy every Sunday at her home, cooking or eating all kind of fresh pasta, sauces and sweets Italians pastries… all day long. In every Italian family you reunite every Sunday at lunch time and chat and eat until dinner with no less than 14 family members or closer friends. I grew up with this feeling of “belonging” that a family/friends gives you, where you are always welcome. And as all the Italian families sing in Argentina: Lo primero es la familia! Family comes first!

Merry Christmas!

Here is the recipe for my Nona’s Christmas Panettone:

Ingredients:

1kg Flour (You can get 5 Panettones of 400g each)

100g Margarine, softened

3 eggs

1 tsp Agua de Azahar (Orange Flower/blossom Water)

2 tsp Vanilla extract

1 tsp Lemon grated zest

1 tsp Naranja grated zest

300ml Milk

100g of fresh yeast -ideally- or use dried instead.

1cup Sugar

Raisins, sultanas, chocolate, pecan or any other nuts you like (lots! ) As much as you like.

Cognac or rum to hydrate the fruit

Method

Step 1: Grease a panettone tin or use a panettone case/s.

Step 2: Soak the fruit in Cognac. (The fruit, nuts and chocolate will be added at the end.)

Step 3: Prepare the Yeast: Mix the Yeast with 1 tsp of sugar, 200g Flour and 100ml warm Milk, mix all until you feel a smooth and soft dough. Cover and leave to prove.

Step 4: Liquids: In a pot add the rest of 200ml of Milk, 1cup Sugar, 1 tsp of Blossom Water, vanilla extract, lemon and orange zest, the softened butter and at the end the eggs.

Step 5: Place the rest of the flour -800g- in a large bowl in a crown shape and add the liquids and the yeast n the middle. Knead until it all starts to come together and you get a smooth dough. Cover it and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead it again for 10 min and let it rise again for 30-45min.

Step 6: Place the dough on your kitchen table, stretch it and add the fruits and nuts/chocolate. Knead it all for a couple of minutes; you can add a sprinkling of flour to stop the mixture sticking but not too much. Leave it to rest for 45 minutes. Split it in 4 parts or make one big Panettone, as you prefer; place in the case(s) and leave for 10 minutes.

Step 7: Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Place in the oven and bake for 40 – 50 mins OR until golden and risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let it cool and you can decorate the Panettone with chocolate or icing sugar. Buon Natale!

Seasonal Recipe—Oat Cookies

By Jackie Scott

A very special friend died in March after a battle with cancer that had lasted about 5 years. She and her husband moved down to Cornwall about 10 years ago but we had continued to visit them regularly. I am sad that our visits to Cornwall will now only elicit fond memories; but what other things help us to remember those we have loved and lost? The two of us used to bond in friendship in the kitchen cooking and chatting together. This recipe that she shared has been a mainstay for me with our boys and often for friends who have visited, and it will forever be linked with my dear friend, Fenella.

Melted Oat Cookies

Þ 4oz Self Raising Flour

Þ 4oz Rolled/porridge oats

Þ ½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Þ 4oz margarine

Þ 4oz granulated sugar

Þ 1 rounded tablespoon golden syrup

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. Gently melt the margarine (or butter if you’re feeling decadent), sugar, and syrup together. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour mix. Beat well.

Form rounded balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly and cook for 15 minutes at Gas Mark 4, 180C. Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

This is such a versatile cookie. You can use the standard recipe as a base and make many alternatives…for example:

Chocolate chip cookies: make the oat mix and cool for 15 minutes, add 2oz of chocolate chips and complete as above.

Or how about:

Chocolate crisps: make the oatie mix and sprinkle the flatten balls with caster sugar. Bake as above. Melt 6oz cooking chocolate and spoon over half of each biscuit.

Sunflower seed cookies: Add 2 oz sunflower seeds with the dry ingredients

The options are endless – try adding things like raisins, crunchie niblets…whatever you have in your store cupboard!

My favourite recipe – Walnut Kisses

One of the joys I had growing up in the late 60’s/early 70’s was coming home from school on a Friday evening to find the kitchen full of wonderful yummy cakes which were being readied for the weekend. My maternal grandmother (Nonna) was from Italian stock; she was born in England but both her parents were Italian, and most of her family still spoke Italian at home. She married an Englishman (Charlie) and had 5 children. My mother was the oldest daughter after her brother, and as my grandfather was ill for much of her teens during the war, my mother became second mum to her younger siblings while Nonna worked, cooking as her mum had, in the Italian style with spaghetti etc. Consequently my brother and I grew up with an accomplished homely cook with a very rich palette of food – not fancy but very tasty.

Obviously our leanings were towards the sweet things. One of the best was a little biscuit called a ‘walnut kiss’ using coffee as the flavouring. Not particularly Italian but it sat right alongside the Victoria Sponge cake or crunchy biscuits which were also favourites. I share it with you as it was written in my mother’s recipe book – some of it you will need to play around with to get it ‘right’!

Walnut Kisses

  • 2oz butter/marg
  • 2oz sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee essence
  • 30z chopped walnuts
  • 3oz SR flour
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

· Grease a baking tray and preheat the oven to Gas 6 200C, 400F.

· Cream the fat and sugar; beat in the coffee essence.

· Add the lemon rind and nuts.

· Mix in the flour and knead gently with fingertips (Author’s note: it is a dryish mix…if more moisture needed maybe add a drop of lemon juice?)

· Break into small pieces (about walnut size) and form into balls.

· Place on the grease baking tray, wide apart.

· Cook in the oven on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes

· Leave to cool and top with coffee water icing (made with icing sugar and coffee essence).

I have a note that this may be too hot an oven…with the advent of modern ovens the heat can probably be reduced to Gas 5 (190C) for and cooked for 12 minutes.

Guess what I’m going to be cooking this Friday evening!

By Jackie Scott

Would you like to share your favourite recipe? Send it to us at

parishioner@ash-vale.org.uk.

Christmas Cake recipe

Ingredients: 

225g Plain Flour

225g Butter

225g Soft dark brown sugar

225g Currants

225g Raisins

225g Sultanas

0.5 tsp Cinnamon

0.5 tsp Cloves

0.5 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

125g Chopped Almonds

125g Mixed Peel (Optional)

125g Glacé Cherries (Optional)

Rind of one lemon

Rind of one orange

4 Large Eggs, Beaten

1-2 Tablespoons Brandy

Method:

Grease and line an 8 inch spring-form cake tin. 

Sift flour with spices. In another bowl beat butter with sugar till light and fluffy. Add the citrus rinds and gradually add beaten egg. Fold flour and spice mix in alternately to the fruit and nuts. Finally add Brandy. 

Pour mixture into cake tin and make a slight well in the centre. Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 145’C for about 3 and a half hours. After cooking turn off oven and leave tin, in the oven to cool. 

Once fully cooled, prick cake with a skewer and add 2 tablespoons of Brandy/Rum of your choice, wrap in brown paper and tinfoil and a couple of days before Christmas cover with marzipan and Royal Icing. 

You can find Vicki on Instagram: @vixxihibiscus

By Victoria Fox