Archive for January, 2013


Lurking in the Cupboard #4: Metal Food Tins

January 23, 2013

I like attractive food packaging almost as much as I like good food and I’m a sucker for a well-designed metal canister. There’s something about the coloured, patterned enamel I find irresistible. It all started many years ago with my parents buying 3-litre Italian olive oil cans – the KING of tins – and my collection keeps growing. 

Red Amaretti bicuit tin

One of my favourite metal tins holds my favourite sweet treats: Amaretti di Saronno almond-flavoured macaroons wrapped in coloured paper. Sadly, the Lazzaroni brand is now hard to find in Australia outside of Easter or Christmas. Delicious with coffee, liqueur or as a cheesecake crust, they have a nice folksy legend around their creation – involving a Milanese bishop, a young couple and crushed apricot kernels.


This elegant orange embossed canister appeals to me more than the Frangelico bottle inside. The dark bottle, shaped like a monk’s habit, has a few too many elements I think. My fashion advice to the designers would have been “Before you head out the door, take one thing off.” (Coco Chanel). I like the hazelnut flavoured liqueur On the Rocks or in this flourless chocolate Frangelico cake

anchovies in tin

If you don’t like hairy fish, turn away now. I like to eat anchovies the way my father did: on a slice of crusty Italian bread spread with a layer of rock-hard unsalted butter (has to be thick, no namby-pamby scrapings) then with anchovies laid on top. Heaven. The Rizzoli brand is my favourite as they’re packed in good virgin olive oil.

Tinned mackeral

I can’t find the Mackeral brand I used to buy in the bright yellow tins anymore, so have settled for something less colourful. My serving suggestion for a quick snack: tip mackeral fillets onto a plate with some roasted garlic pieces, chopped continental parsley and cracked pepper. Eat with toast. Don’t breathe.

Italian sweets in tin

How do you counter mackeral breath? Try these Bianconeri ‘Confetti alla Liquirizia’ (sugar-coated, mint-flavoured liquorice lollies). The packaging is gorgeous, with the white pebble-shaped sweets under a layer of delicate paper in the hinged tin. Don’t let the cute frolicking children on the lid fool you – these are seriously strong sweets.

And the best part is they make great storage containers for kitchen utensils, spare coins, dry food, nuts ‘n bolts. Upcycling at its best. Metal canisters – TAKE A BOW!

Metal food canisters



Talking Turkey: I Have a Lot of Catching Up to Do

January 1, 2013

Confession: I’ve never cooked a Christmas turkey … haven’t even come close.

Growing up in 1960s Australia as new immigrants, we embraced each Christmas Eve – like many Europeans do – as the main festive season celebration. Christmas Day on the other hand was spent with family friends at harbourside picnics. No sit-down dining room lunches for us: we swam, watched the adults playing cards and ate northern Italian fare of wiener schnitzel, Kransky sausages, potato salad and radicchio – with not a trussed-up bird in sight.

I feel like a misfit when friends talk about their turkey roasting secrets. Sure, I’ve made roast chickens. Even turkey osso bucco. But I never had a reason to cook a whole roast turkey, until discovering a surprising recipe.

A book published in 2010 of Marilyn Monroe’s private writing reveals she was a confident cook who even prepared her own complicated stuffing for turkey or chicken. The complex task of measuring, soaking, chopping, shredding and browning took more than two hours – after shopping for the 15 ingredients. I’m not a big fan of poultry stuffing, usually disliking the flavour but really being put off by that infamous Mr. Bean turkey stuffing episode where he loses his watch inside the enormous bird’s cavity. The word “forcemeat” springs to mind here (from the French “farce”). screenshot_MM_recipe_2

Fragments is a collection of Marilyn Monroe’s intimate notes, poems and letters spanning 1943 to her death in 1962 and includes the stuffing recipe hand-written on an insurance company letterhead.

The recipe dates from 1955 while Marilyn was at the height of her movie fame and The Seven Year Itch was released. Food historians consulted about the ingredients – which included sourdough bread, hard-boiled eggs and turkey giblets – concluded there was an Italian connection due to the inclusion of oregano, pine nuts, raisins and grated Parmesan cheese. These hint at a southern Italian influence and it came in the form of Joe DiMaggio, whom she married in 1954 and whose parents were first generation Sicilians. The other clue? The absence of garlic. DiMaggio, eager to assimilate into the American mainstream, didn’t eat garlic.

Turkey cupcakes (with stuffing). Image beaumontpete - flickr

Turkey cupcakes (with stuffing). Image beaumontpete – flickr

I have almost a year to work up to this challenge. Or skip the main course and go straight to dessert with these turkey cupcakes. Or change my mind and stick to the Christmas schnitzel.

Here’s Marilyn’s stuffing recipe.


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