Lilyfield author, Rebecca Huntley, launched her new children’s book Nonna’s Gnocchi this month at Berkelouw Books, Leichhardt. Here she chats to Ciao about food and the value of cooking with your family…
Can you tell us a bit about your new book?
Making gnoochi with my Nonna (my Italian grandmother) was a ritual when I was a child. The story emerged out of that enduring memory, only I have placed my daughter Sofia at the centre of the story. She learns how to make gnocchi from scratch, using potatoes from the garden. It’s really about that close relationship between grandparent and grandchild that many of us can relate to. My dear friend and talented illustrator Ilona Tar (of Balmain) made the book possible by bringing the characters to life in hand-drawn sketches.
Why do you think it’s important for different generations to cook together, and for traditions to be passed on?
We get our earliest lessons about food, cooking and the value of both through our family environment. I believe strongly we should involve all members of the family – young, old, men and women – in cooking. That way everyone appreciates what it means to put a meal on the table and the sole burden of cooking is not always on mum. There is nothing like preparing a family dish passed down from generation to generation to your own children.
What’s your food philosophy when cooking at home?
Variety and seasonal ingredients prepared simply. I do love to cook different things and experiment. I try to involve Sofia in as much cooking as possible too, she is a pretty good pesto maker! I also believe you need to know as much as possible about the journey from field to fork and I love going to the farmer’s markets in the area, although I’m a supermarket shopper as well. I’ve learned a lot about food from the work of chef Stephanie Alexander, who was kind enough to endorse the book.
What four ingredients are always handy in your kitchen?
Plain, unsweetened yoghurt, bacon, tomatoes and the best quality pasta you can buy.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would it be and why?
A mixture of friends and heroes: my sister Emily and best friend Sasha Baroni, actress Tina Fey, chef Nigella Lawson and writer Caitlin Moran. I’d put Clive Owen in there to wait on us…
Slow cooked lamb with lemon and green olives
1. Put a lamb shoulder or leg in a French casserole pot with stock, white wine, lemon juice, dried herbs (from Herbies in Rozelle, of course), salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook on a very low heat for 5-6 hours.
2. Take the lid off the pot for the last hour and put in a punnet of stuffed green olives (get the ones from Orange Grove Markets that are stuffed with preserved lemon, garlic or almonds).
3. Serve with roast potatoes and a green salad. There won’t be any left overs.