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Christmas villageIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my kitchen! The traditional dolci di Natale baking is not until next week, but here is what has been happening in my kitchen so far this month.

Once again, I had a bancarella at the Italian Christmas Mercato, selling handpulled  original prints and handmade cards.  A few days before the event, I decided to make another new Christmas card.  My kitchen table turned into a ‘studio annex’,  full of sketches and linoleum carving tools for a few days!Linocut printmaking Fiat 500

I carved a Fiat Cinquecento (500) carrying a tree on the roof.  The prints barely dried in time, but were very popular!  More photos are on my instagram feed, which is linked in the sidebar.  This is the original 1957 Cinquecento model, with porte di suicidio-suicide doors that hinge on the left.  Find out more in the post The Original Cinquecento. Many of the purchasers had personal stories to tell me about what attracted them to it.  A subject for another post!Linocut Christmas cards Fiat 500

As usual, I made cookies to offer friends who came to visit me at the mercato.  This time I made espresso cookies.  Recipe available in Espresso Cookies.Espresso cookies

Saturday was Papà’s birthday.  He had urgent heart surgery in September, so we were very happy to celebrate this birthday!  Mamma and I made his favourite pasta,  tagliatelle the week before and froze them in little nests on cookie sheets.  They were dropped into boiling water straight from the freezer.Tagliatelle, handmade pasta

Last Christmas a friend brought Baci made with ruby cocoa beans from Italy.  This year I received a box as a gift, purchased from my local Italian deli.  What is ruby chocolate?  It is not white chocolate with pink coloring!  It is milk chocolate made with Brazilian cocoa beans that are a dark purple colour.  They are only fermented for a few days, so they do not turn brown, then citric acid is added to keep the pinky colour.  This is the same idea as squirting lemon juice on apples when making apple pie, to keep them from going brown.  The taste is very slightly berryish and lemony-because of the citric acid.  There are no other ingredients or flavourings added.  Is this just a marketing ploy?  Yes!  But since raspberry and lemon are my 2 favourite flavours, I like them anyways.  Have you tried Ruby Baci?

Panettone is plentiful in December, and I love panettone french toast.  The panettone already has so much flavour that all you really need to do is soak it in eggs and milk then cook it on the stovetop, or even bake it.  I added a bit of orange zest and topped it with fresh ricotta and a drizzle of maple syrup-I do live in Canada after all! Do not use expensive or homemade panettone for this.  The cheap cellophane wrapped ones are good for french toast.Panettone french toast

I made my favourite winter salad, Insalata Purtuall’ with fennel and oranges.  Insalata Purtuall, Orange and fennel saladSince the oranges had to be peeled, I candied the rind to use later this month for panettone or biscotti.Canditi, candied orange rindThe only Christmas baking so far in my kitchen are cranberry pistachio orange biscotti.  It was my first time making them and will definitely make them again.Cranberry pistachio biscotti

Read more about my family’s traditional Christmas baking in a previous post Dolci di Natale. Links for my recipe for Panettone with Orange Walnuts and Figs and for Crustoli can be found in this post.  We will be making Cauzuncill’ and Cartellate in a few days.

Thanks Sherry from Australia for hosting the monthly food blogging event, In My Kitchen (IMK). Read about what is happening in other world kitchens in December by clicking the link to Sherry’s Pickings.

Buon appetito, Cristina