Making Minestrone with Nonni Laura (Video)

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Lunch at Nonni Laura’s

I’m a life long Italo-phile so it’s a real bonus that my hubby happens to have an Italian Nonni who’s still cooking up a storm at 93. Nonni Laura and I have always connected around our interest in food and cooking, she often calls to share recipes and always comes to every family event with jars of sugo (or polpette, or minestone or risotto or sherry wine cake….) for all of us, as well as platters piled with cookies.

On a recent afternoon, my husband spent the afternoon making minestrone soup with her and they were nice enough to capture it all on video, so not only do you get to meet the one and only Nonni Laura, but now you too can make minestrone like a true Italian grandma.

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Comfort Food Cravings: Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm

Chicken Parm

Yeah, Chicken Parm!

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Nonni Laura in the Kitchen

In my last blog post, I introduced you to the one and only Nonni Laura who showed you (via this video) how to make a humongous pot of minestrone, Italian grandma-style. Yum yum!

I wanted to share another of our very favorite Nonni recipes: this time ooey, gooey chicken parmesan, a true Italian-American classic…. and a meal near the top of my kids’ all time “most requested” list. It’s pretty hard not to love that magical combination of rich tomato sauce, melty cheese, herbed breadcrumbs and juicy chicken.

This particular version of chicken parmesan is mostly Nonni’s recipe, but with a few added tweaks and shortcuts by me to make it a bit more doable for busy weeknights.   [The recipe recently appeared in the “Fast and Furious Weeknight Cooking” column for the San Jose Mercury News.]

Hope you’ll give it a try…BTW the leftovers make killer sandwiches!

Get the recipe for Nonni’s Quick Chicken Parm.

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Nonni hugs are the best!


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New Favorite: Old-Fashioned Poached Pears

Poached Pears

Poached Pears by A Little Yumminess

Here’s something tasty to eat while you’re awaiting the return of luscious summer fruit. We love our apples, pears and oranges, but somehow they just don’t inspire the way those buckets of cherries and perfect ripe-tart-juicy nectarines do. But then again these spiced, wine-poached pears are pretty great. They’re tender and sweet, with hints of clove and cinnamon, and exotic, earthy aromas provided by a bit of leftover wine. Glossy and gorgeous, this is an old-fashioned kind of dessert, the kind your grandmother might have made — especially if she was Italian. In fact making these always gets my hubby thinking about his Nonni.

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A New Collaboration with Bay Area Parent & Chicken Piccata (A Classic Kid-Friendly Recipe for Spring!)

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Chicken Piccata Collage_A Little Yumminess

We’re very excited to announce a new collaboration with Bay Area Parent. As all of you moms and dads in the area already know, it’s a super handy print and online resource for finding activities, classes, kid-friendly events, and even summer camps — not to mention lots of useful articles on a whole variety of parenting issues from “kids and cell phones” to “finding the perfect preschool”.

Each month we’ll be contributing our favorite easy, kid-friendly recipes for Bay Area Parent’s “Feeding Your Family” column. For our first article for the April issue we chose a light and fresh take on chicken piccata. Our version stays classic with the tangy flavors of lemon and capers, but we’ve ditched the cream to make it a lighter and more everyday recipe. Hands down this is one of our favorite dishes to make whenever that craving for zingy lemon hits…. and it’s a perfect meal to welcome spring, especially when you serve it alongside tender, bright green asparagus.

Click here for our “Light and Fresh Chicken Piccata” recipe on the Bay Area Parent website as well as a Q&A about how Simran and I got started together on this foodie adventure as well as some thoughts about cooking with and for kids. Stay tuned….Simran and I are already hard at work fine-tuning some great recipes for future issues!

Currently Reading: “Edible Selby” & “Italian Food” by Elizabeth David

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I think I’ve checked out Todd Selby’s “Edible Selby” about a dozen times from the library (perhaps I should finally breakdown and buy a copy for myself!) This beautiful book takes you behind the scenes and into the minds of some of the most interesting chefs and artisan food producers around the world. The combination of fantastic food, gorgeous photography and sketchbook pages really takes me to my food “happy place” and makes me suspect that Todd Selby has the best job in the whole world. My kids love perusing this one with me too.

Simran knows I am a total wanna be Italian, so Elizabeth David’s classic book, “Italian Food” about the ingredients and regional cooking traditions of Italy is an essential reference which I can’t believe I’m only discovering now. It’s hard to imagine that when she published this book in 1954, authentic Italian cuisine was virtually unknown in this country. Things have certainly changed for the better in that regard!

Our Very Favorite Biscotti

Classic Italian Biscotti by A Little Yumminess

Classic Anise Biscotti by A Little Yumminess

I have a little handwritten cookbook where I jot down recipes and details of tasty meals and if you were to flip through this little book you’d find that a contender for the most dog-eared page is the one that contains this biscotti recipe. I got the recipe from Tim’s grandmother who got it from her friend Ann, which means it has the “Italian nonna seal of approval” squared. I’ve made this recipe dozens and dozens of times and it has never failed to deliver perfect, dunkable biscotti which are wonderfully crisp but not so hard that you worry about breaking any teeth. They are great for little teethers, for grown up kids and especially for avid, obsessed coffee drinkers like myself. I love the classic anise flavor and never feel too compelled to experiment much beyond that, but it’s one of those recipes that can be a great canvas for improvisation which makes it a nice baking project for kids. Lend a hand with putting the basic dough together and then stand back and let the kids come up with their own creative (and hopefully delicious) dried fruit, nut and spice combinations…. I’m just guessing here, but I have a hunch Miss Ria’s biscotti concept would include a generous scattering of chocolate chips! Continue reading

Sicilian Pesto Trapanese

Sicilian Pesto Trapanese | A Little Yumminess

One of our favorites as far as pasta sauces go is summery, bright green pesto Genoevse (basil, garlic, pinenuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil). When we start to see cherry blossoms on the trees and get a whiff of spring in the air (like right about now….) I start counting down the days until we begin to find giant bunches of fragrant Italian basil at the farmer’s market. My kids have gotten past the aggressively green hue of pesto Genovese and happily scarf it up and I always keep a special, secret little hoard in the way back of my freezer just for me.

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