Luca Ciano: A culinary journey through Italy

Luca Ciano's food journey has taken him from his native Italy to live and work around the world, but his earliest memory of cooking was as a young boy in the kitchen with his grandma Nonna Domenica. Luca's family culture revolves around food and shared passion for fresh produce, cooking, seasonality and tradition.

In Luca's Culinary Journey he shares his own favourite recipes, including quick and easy-to-prepare dishes using his own high-end product range, as well as the traditional northern Italian family specialties of his mother and grandmother, such as gnocchi, risotto, polenta and ragu.

  • Luca's Culinary Journey, Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking, by Luca Ciano. New Holland Publishers, $49.99.
Mondeghini - traditional Milanese-style meatballs. Picture: Supplied

Mondeghini - traditional Milanese-style meatballs. Picture: Supplied

Mondeghini - traditional Milanese-style meatballs

Ingredients

16 savoy cabbage leaves, stems removed

400g veal or beef mince

1 Italian-style sausage, skin removed and cut into small pieces

100g mortadella, thinly sliced and chopped

2 tbsp Grana Padano, grated

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped, plus extra parsley for garnishing

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 onion finely chopped

50g pancetta, finely chopped

80ml dry white wine

400g tin cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes

Method

1. Blanch cabbage leaves in salted boiling water for two minutes, until pliable. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine veal, sausage and mortadella in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Transfer paste to a large bowl. Add Grana Padano, breadcrumbs, egg and parsley. Using wet hands, mix and shape into 16 balls. Trim cabbage leaves into rectangles. Wrap each meatball in a leaf.

3. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion, pancetta for two to three minutes until the onions are soft. Add the meatballs wrapped in cabbage and cook for a further two minutes. Add wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Add tomatoes and cook on a low simmer with the lid on for 10-12 minutes, by which time, the meatballs should be cooked.

4. Rest for 5 minutes then serve while hot.

Serves 4.

Insalata di tonno e fagioli - borlotti bean salad with tuna and onion

Insalata di tonno e fagioli - borlotti bean salad with tuna and onion. Picture: Supplied

Insalata di tonno e fagioli - borlotti bean salad with tuna and onion. Picture: Supplied

Ingredients

250g dried borlotti beans or 400g tinned borlotti beans

1 onion, chopped to taste

1 celery stick, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 garlic clove, bruised or slightly crushed

1 rosemary sprig

1 bay leaf

185g can of the best quality tuna in olive oil you can get, drained

1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced, or in rounds

80ml extra virgin olive oil

oiled oregano leaves to garnish

6 slices lightly toasted bread, for serving

Method

1. If using dried beans, place beans in a large bowl, cover with water and soak for six hours, or overnight.

2. Drain beans and rinse well. Place in a large saucepan and add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf. Cover with water and bring to the boil on a high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 40-45 minutes, until beans are tender. Drain, discarding vegetables and herbs.

3. If you're using canned beans, drain and rinse under water.

4. Place beans in a bowl. Add tuna, red onion and oil. Season and toss to combine. Let stand for 10-20 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse. Scatter oregano over the top and serve with toasted bread slices.

Serves 4-5.

Tiramisu. Picture: Supplied

Tiramisu. Picture: Supplied

Tiramisu

Ingredients

3 eggs, separated

60g caster sugar

300g mascarpone

1 tbsp marsala or another sweet fortified wine or liqueur to your liking

200ml warm espresso or strong coffee

100g savoiardi

dark cocoa for dusting (the best quality that you can get)

Method

1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Using a large spoon, fold through mascarpone.

2. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until firm peaks form. Carefully fold into mascarpone in three batches.

3. Add marsala to warm espresso. Quickly dip half of the sponge fingers, one at a time, in coffee mixture. Place the soaked fingers in the base of a three-cup capacity serving bowl. Cover with half of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat the layer once more, finishing with mascarpone mixture. Refrigerate for at least six hours.

4. When ready to serve, dust generously with dark cocoa.

Serves 6.

Torta di pane - bread, pine nut and chocolate cake. Picture: Supplied

Torta di pane - bread, pine nut and chocolate cake. Picture: Supplied

Torta di pane - bread, pine nut and chocolate cake

Ingredients

150g stale bread (any type)

500ml fresh milk

2 eggs

110g caster sugar

40g dark cocoa powder (the best quality that you can get)

50g amaretti biscuits, crushed

40g sultanas

80g unsalted butter, melted

50g pine nuts

icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Method

1. Place bread in a large bowl. Pour milk over the bread, cover and let stand overnight in the fridge to soak.

2. Preheat oven to 180C, fan forced if possible. Grease and line a 24cm round cake tin.

3. Place bread and milk in a food processor and process until smooth. In a large bowl combine bread mix, eggs, sugar, cocoa, amaretti biscuits, sultanas, melted butter and half of the pine nuts and stir until well combined. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and top with the remaining pine nuts.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan. Serve with an optional dusting of icing sugar.

Serves 6.

Luca's Culinary Journey, Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking, by Luca Ciano. New Holland Publishers, $49.99.

Luca's Culinary Journey, Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking, by Luca Ciano. New Holland Publishers, $49.99.

This story A culinary journey through Italy first appeared on The Canberra Times.