Cappelletti Romagnoli di Magro

I invited a few friends over and had to decide on a Primi Piatti as I had all the other courses sorted. After a walk in the garden and an inspection of the fridge, I decided on Capelletti Romagnoli di Magro. Cappelletti means little hats.

This is little hat shaped filled pasta. On holy days conservative Catholic households would normally not eat meat and this meatless pasta is a favorite in many households on such occasions. This is generally what is meant by magro (direct translation means thin or lean) and in this instance it refers to be without meat.

Standard pasta dough is made using only flour and eggs – nothing else. The dough is rolled out and cut into 60 mm squares and filled with the filling, then boiled in brodo (stock) and served with sage butter poured over it and dressed with lots of grated parmigiano.

The filling

Blanch 500 g fresh spinach and cut very fine. Mix the spinach with 150 g ricotta cheese and 100 g of mozzarella cheese. Also ad a pinch of nutmeg and salt. Set aside until needed.

The pasta

Plain white flour mixed with enough beaten egg to make a pliable soft dough. Roll out very thin and cut into 60 mm squares.

Place one teaspoon of the filling on the centre of each square and fold over to form a triangle sealing the edges with some egg. Wrap each trianlgle around your index finger and join two of the corners together with some more egg. Fold the third corner over to form the hat.

Bring some strong brodo (stock) to the boil and dump the cappelletti into the broth. When they float, leave for another 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately while still hot (in pre heated bowls) and pour over some melted sage butter (not burned) and black pepper and dress with parmigiano. Keep the brodo and tomorrow re heat it and ad a handful of risoni to make a wonderful lunch.

ENJOY and do not forget the home made red wine!!

We Slaughtered the Pig


It is Italian tradition to slaughter at least one pig once per year so as to make all the salumi required for the rest of the year. I have made some pork liver salami and sausages (Salsiccia di Fegato di Maiale) on the day the pig was killed while waiting for the pig to cure for a week.  Today we made some Salami and Cacciatori sausages. Tomorrow it will be Pancetta, Coppa and Prosciutto. In the mean time we make stock from all the bones and rendered the fat from the skins and small off cuts to either use for cooking or to make soap with.

The Italians are very generous and seldom do your friends leave your home without some of your home produce for them to try at their own place. Likewise you never leave a friends home without more gifts than what you brought. Every Italian province, district and town have their own food and recipes. It goes so far that every family and family member has their own special way to prepare a dish, which obviously is better than anybody else can dream to make it. Food is often the main talking point around the table and when somebody asks you for a recipe, you know that they know you can prepare the specific dish better than what they can. You always oblige and provide them with the recipe, minus a few essential ingredients and omitting at least one of the important steps – this way you can stay as the master of that specific dish.

So please do not ask me for a sausage recipe!


Having two young men of four and six years old (grandchildren), visiting twice a week, who grew up enjoying some of Nonno’s best efforts in baking bread, and who are now considering themselves as experts, Nonno has to keep up the quality and deliver at least twice a week. Normally focaccia in this house has garlic and rosemary as toppings, which meet with the approval of the critics. Last week I tried a plain focaccia with olive oil and salt, which was instantly rejected as quality. This week I am trying my hand at tomato and garlic – let us wait on feedback from the experts.2017-03-12 - Focaccia 2


Raw Milk from the Loveliest Dairy Farm


2014-02-22 09.44.04

I have known Merral and Alex for some time now and they are probably some of the friendliest, kindest, intelligent and hard working people I have ever known. They came to New Zealand in 2000 and established the most wonderful dairy ever and did everything correctly by the book, working 16 – 18 hours per day for 16 years without a single day off. They provided many families with healthy, tasty and nutritious milk from their very well cared for and loved heard of Jersey cows, and made us all HAPPY. Now a possum infected a single heifer which has caused them to ABRUPTLY loose their LIVELIHOOD, INCOME AND DREAMS. A TB free New Zealand sounds very nice and taking conditions into consideration, it could probably not have been avoided, nor can anybody specifically be blamed, but it may just be time for the MPI to start WALKING THE WALK and stop TALKING THE TALK.

Hatching difficulties and Breeding progress in Coturnix coturnix quails


Attached find correspondence between me and a Customer, which I felt may have some value to other quail keepers and may also attract valuable input from others.

Hello Domenico,

I thought I had better update you on the eggs you sent, and perhaps learn a bit in the process.
You shipped 36 eggs, and after 24 hours rest at room temperature they were set along with around about 24 of mine..
Sadly I only managed to hatch 7 of your eggs and about 10 of mine, ending up with 13 viable chicks. They are now 40 days old and range from 155 to 180 grams.
The heaviest birds are Tibetans – 165, 180, 180, 180 grams. There is also a Pharoah at 165, one at 160 and two at 155 grams.  White and Italian Golds (4) 150 – 160 grams.
So I am guessing that the Tibetans and half the Pharoahs have come from your stock. (2 of the Tibs have a few white spots on their breast and they all appear to be hens!!) Have definitely one Pharoah cock bird.
So not a stunning result, but at least I have some stock to start with… and with them ready to start laying pretty soon, I should be able to lift numbers pretty quickly. Most of the eggs (yours) that did not hatch appear to have been fertile, but died early on – so I imagine the handling in the courier was a bit rough…but then I only managed a poor hatch of my eggs…so not sure where I have gone wrong.  Am using a Brinslea 48 (chicken) egg, fan forced air incubator, auto turn, but not auto humidity. Was advised after two poor hatches with chickens that I had them too wet, and they were unable to fully develop adequately…so with our quail eggs I did a dry incubation until Lock Down and then added water to lift Rh for last 3-4 days. Have done another hatch just this last few days – 83 quail eggs, hatched 33 with 3 dead in shell. Balance 80% fertile, but failed to make the last few days. Also noted that hatch did not start until Day 18/19. Temps appear to be about 37.25, rather than 37.5 – 37.75°C.
So, would appreciate any ideas you may have, and also, does the weight of the Tibs and Pharoahs suggest to you that they are your stock?
Hope to hear from you soon,
Kind Regards,
Thanks for the Email and information. Yes 7 out of 36 is very bad even for shipped eggs, but then 10 out of 24 “fresh eggs”, (or 33 out of 83) is not good either, as you mentioned. First and foremost I am prepared to send you another three dozen totally free if you are interested – let me now. If they hatch late it probably points towards too low temperatures. Yes humidity is always a factor and depending on the environmental conditions you may or may not have to ad moisture. The point is that the research has been done and we more or less know what the humidity should be – so I would get a meter and manually keep it as close as possible. With the little information I have, it probably points more towards low temperature than too much humidity. Calibrate your incubator temperature, as ALL incubators are out to a certain degree, unless you want to trial and error until they hatch.
I have the various breeds that I breed and the more characteristics you select for in a breed, the slower overall progress is. For this reason I have a breed (call them Back Yard Specials) where I only select for functional efficiency and not for color at all. The result is that I have this group of birds that resemble Tibetans / Dark Rosettas with some patches of white in some of them. This group of birds constantly outperforms all the other on most of the production parameters and I suspect is the reason of your heavier “Tibetans”. I only weigh growing birds at 7, 21, 35 and 56 days, when I expect them to have reached about 95% of final body mass. The back Yard Specials are at about 200 g on 35 days and 260 at 56 days. The rest are between 10 and 20 g behind at 35 days and about  30 – 40 behind at 56 days. I do not have a cut off point for body mass at present as the mean mass varies and I always select the best animals as replacements to just keep my numbers up – the rest are either for sale of slaughter. These weights are for Females and the Males are always smaller. So I would say your 180 g at 40 days is on par, even though I would have liked one or two 200 g individuals, but with small numbers it is sometimes difficult. Yes the variation within the breeds are still huge and a lot more selection is required.
It is very tempting to terminate all the breeds and keep only one efficient breed of Quail. In this case progress will be even better as I shall have larger numbers of the breed. 

R.I.P Alvin

2014-02-08 - Alvin

The Assistant Manager of the Backyard, the rooster named Alvin,  passed away today.  He was a great representative of the Ancona breed, and, above all he had personality and presence. He was like a friend and kept  me company as I toiled in the yard. I tried everything I could to save him – regular worming, the best food, fresh water, warm house, company and ……free range access to the garden during the day.  The last part is what did him in,  I think.  Alvin loved picking up every little thing he saw on the ground, working over the garden from end to end. In my efforts to establish a vegetable garden, turning over the soil to work in compost and lime as well as manure and I keep finding rubbish – bottles with dubious contents still in them, plastic, strange substances and whatnot. I cart everything away on discovery but that has not helped.

I have a lovely ngaia tree in the garden and know that the leaves are poisonous – that probably means that the berries and flowers are, too. I have not observed Alvin eating those, though. Some weeds are a worry and I shall have to check with neighbours to see which are poisonous. I still want to free range my chickens but fear for their safety.