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
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
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.
Insalata di tonno e fagioli - borlotti bean salad with tuna and onion
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
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.
3 eggs, separated
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp marsala or another sweet fortified wine or liqueur to your liking
200ml warm espresso or strong coffee
dark cocoa for dusting (the best quality that you can get)
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.
Torta di pane - bread, pine nut and chocolate cake
150g stale bread (any type)
500ml fresh milk
110g caster sugar
40g dark cocoa powder (the best quality that you can get)
50g amaretti biscuits, crushed
80g unsalted butter, melted
50g pine nuts
icing sugar for dusting (optional)
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.