Tuesday, August 18, 2015

From Nonna's Kitchen - Farfalle Al forno.

Last fall, I was in a quaint little ski town of Zell Am See falling in  the Salzburg region of Austria. Bag packing across central Europe this sleepy little town provided the little RnR I badly needed.
My last afternoon in Zell Am See and the weather was being unkind. It pored through the day and my plans to hike along the Schmittenhöhe were ruined. Left with no other option I decided to stay in. Seeking the comfort of some warm coco I went looking for my pension owner Petra.

Petra was out for the day and wasn’t expected before sundown, I was informed by a wrinkled old lady in her heavy Italian accent. The thought of spending the entire afternoon with only some German TV to keep me company was not the Zell Am See experience I had in mind. I tried to make small talk with the lady to see if she can fix me up some coco or may be indulge me in some small talk.. I was bored and desperate.

I went in looking for a small talk, but what I got in turn was a close insight into the Italian way of life. Turns out, she was Giulia, Petra’s Nonna, who was visiting her from Maratea, a small town from southern Italy. Sensing my boredom she extended her hospitality by inviting me over for dinner for the night. 

How often do you have an Italian grandmother cooking for you? Now that's what I love about travel, a surprise awaits you at every turn.

Over a glass of wine, we discussed cultures, cuisines and flavors. Time flew by, as witnessed her cook up a storm. I closely took notes as she shared secrets of Italian cuisine, men and marriage. An hour and a half in and our Al forno was already bubbling away in her humble oven. The room was filled with aromas of toasted herbs and fresh basil. My senses get tinted even today as I relive that day. There are meals and then there are experiences. This Pasta Al Porno is one such experience….

A prompt form Del Monte and the motivation for a chance to ride along the Tuscan sun was enough to compel me to document my rendition Nonna’s Al Forno. Keeping all her rules in place I tweaked it a little to suite my palate. 

Use fresh ingredients, never compromise on quality, use sparingly but only use the best, those are rules of Italian cooking. And working with Del Monte meant I stuck to them. The pasta from Del Monte held its texture and was easy to cook. It’s at par with the Gourmet range of pasta from Italy and is made from the best of ingredients. If Nonna was to try my Del Monte Al Forno, she would be proud of the results, for sure..

Farfelle Al Forno,
Is nothing but a pasta dish that is twice cooked. Pasta that is once boiled and then tossed into the sauce with addition of proteins or vegetables of choice and baked to gooey goodness. I particularly love this Pasta recipe as it suits the Indian palate perfectly. Plus its versatile, as long as you stay true to the flavors. Just remember to follow the tips to the T and you will do just fine…

Farfalle Al forno with a piquant crème tomato sauce and roasted peppers.

Feel free to download these retro style Recipe cards and share them with your loved ones...
best viewed in a PC or a tablet, if accessing through a cell phone kindly click on each card to enjoy a better view.

*Nonna’s mixed herbs
Like garam masala is to Indian cooking, mixed herbs are to Italian. Every kitchen has a different a permutation and combination of the herbs to suite their liking. Nonna’s combination was just perfect and as was I departing from Zell Am See she handed me a recipe of her secret herb mix. Here you have it....

Below is the video of the recipe to give you a quick idea of how it all comes together…
P.S. this was my first time editing the videos by m self, after a huge let down by my service provider yesterday and some bizarre glitches with my movie maker I managed to get it right, but not before I so embarrassingly published two bloopers...  

The Final Video, the one with everything in place:

The video where the Clips got exchanged
the narration Miraculously vanished:

And where the sound was just fine but the 
Clips disappeared :

well you learn something new everyday....

Italian food is all about experiences. Slowly savoring amazing food over good company and great conversations. Hope this recipe brings you closer to your loved ones and you make memories for life…

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cavity Vs. Calci-Bot

In the Toothpaste aisle,
Going through an entire lot of the Colgate Magical Castle packs, I frantically try to locate the Royal Family…People keep staring at me, wondering what the hell am I up to. Am sure my little show, generated interest in a half a dozen aunties and they too picked up a pack or two…

Also what didn’t help, was my 4 year old growing impatient, Mommy did you find it yet, did you find it yet, he went on like a stuck record. Few of the employees took pity on me and pitched in on my search... Five more minutes and a sales representative from Colgate handed the Royal Family to me. Finally...

My 4 yr old son Vedant and my 10 yr old nephew Khush had already made up their mind about what they wanted to do with their Colgate Cutouts. “We want to put up a puppet show,” they announced. So my Sister-in-law and I turned an old shoe box into a mini puppet theater, while the brothers worked on the script. They came up with the title, the protagonist and villain all by themselves. As a parent, am mighty proud of seeing my little genius at work, that’s the power of constructive parenting.

What’s also worth a mention is that I was overwhelmed with the kind of excitement the kids showed in this project. What also surprise me was the idea of an Alien and the element of tiny Colgate gun contraption they added to the story. It clearly shows that they can think out of the box, literally….

The Puppets in the Video were handled by my Sister in law; the story was narrated by Khush, while I shot the entire journey on my cam. We took exactly 30 takes to get it right. At times the props fell off the stick, at times Khush fumbled, at one point my neighbors burglar alarm went off and the other time my maid came barging into the room demanding to clean it.

Every retake bout in laughter, some really uncontrollable laughter. Am glad I decided to take up this project on with my family, we surely made some real #MagicalStories together. Kids love surprises and Colgate has really got it right this time. Along with teaching them Dental Hygiene its also tapping their creative cells. the kids also enjoyed seeing what children from all over the country had done with their Colgate Castle packs. It surely is a great camping.

The puppet theater now is a permanent addition to the house. They next production in the making is The Transformers vs. Minions. Look out for that..

You too can create Magical Stories with your family; 
to know how check this out: