May, 2018

February, 2018

  • How a chef cooks for those he loves

    13 February, 2018 How a chef cooks for those he loves

    Skipping the crowds in favour of a lovingly prepared meal at home is your best bet for a romantic Valentine’s Day. This is chef Jock Zonfrillo's idea of a nice night in.
    Read more…

January, 2018

December, 2017

October, 2017

September, 2017

  • Win a pro toastie pack

    18 September, 2017 Win a pro toastie pack

    Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with this kit, including a no-mess Breville press, a copy of Darren Purchese's Chefs Eat Toasties Too and a subscription to Cooked.
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August, 2017

July, 2017

June, 2017

  • Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    08 June, 2017 Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    Gill Meller is in the country, his first time to Australia, showcasing his beautiful book Gather with a series of dinners and classes. We caught up with him to find out what's on the menu for his Aussie guests.
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May, 2017

April, 2017

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January, 2017

December, 2016

October, 2016

September, 2016

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July, 2016

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May, 2016

April, 2016

March, 2016

February, 2016

January, 2016

December, 2015

November, 2015

  • Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    27 November, 2015 Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    We're looking at those staple recipes that can make or break your Christmas spread. First up, the much-misunderstood sweet seductress, custard.
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  • Halfway Home

    16 November, 2015 Halfway Home

    I’ve been sugar-free for a total of two weeks, and things are going surprisingly well...
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  • Bubbles or nothing

    11 November, 2015 Bubbles or nothing

    Out to impress this party season? To take your entertaining game to the next level, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Halliday Wine Companion to share tips on matching sparkling wines to a range of show-stopping canapes.
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  • The anatomy of the perfect burger

    11 November, 2015 The anatomy of the perfect burger

    Looking for your next weekend challenge? Why not have a crack at making your own cheeseburgers from scratch? Chef Daniel Wilson shares the secret recipe to recreating his famed Huxtaburger, from bun to patty and everything in between.
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  • No Sugar November

    04 November, 2015 No Sugar November

    This month while the boys are growing staches, I’ll be growing a conscience about all the confectionary I consume.
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October, 2015

September, 2015

May, 2015

April, 2015

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January, 2015

December, 2014

November, 2014

October, 2014

September, 2014

August, 2014

July, 2014

June, 2014

May, 2014

April, 2014

March, 2014

February, 2014

  • Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    27 February, 2014 Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    Jams, pickles, chutneys, sauces, compotes and conserves are the best way to preserve abundant produce so you can enjoy your fruit and veg all year round. Margaret Fulton shares her guide to the art of preserving.
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  • Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    27 February, 2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, running from February 28 to March 16, begins in just over a week. We’ve put together our picks of the fest.
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  • Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    24 February, 2014 Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    Master of the dough Philippa Sibley shares her step-by-step guide to making sweet shortcrust pastry, taking you through everything you need to know to perfect the art of peerless pâte.
    Read more…

  • In season | Eggplant

    21 February, 2014 In season | Eggplant

    The unsung hero of the nightshade family, eggplant is found in cuisines the world over. From Sicily to South East Asia, the Middle East to the Mediterranean, many signature dishes feature the versatile aubergine. We sing the praises of the humble eggplant.
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  • Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    17 February, 2014 Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    Meat expert and chef Adrian Richardson explains the different cuts of pork, and what you should use them for.
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  • Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    14 February, 2014 Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    Skewers, kebabs, shaslicks, yakitori … Whatever you call them, meat just tastes better when cooked on a stick. We share our tips to help you ace the skewers at your next barbecue.
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  • In season | Figs

    06 February, 2014 In season | Figs

    Figs evoke the flavours of exotic decadence. Sweet and visually striking, figs make for a decadent tart topper, a sumptuous sticky jam or a delightful savoury venture with cold meats. We share some of our favourite fig recipes.
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  • Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    05 February, 2014 Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    There's nothing more thoughtful than a handmade edible gift. April Carter shares her tips and tricks for making beautiful and delicious treats for those you love.
    Read more…

January, 2014

December, 2013

November, 2013

Laura Cassai talks the art of pasta, Zia's tiramisu, and her new book, My Italian Kitchen

By
Jane Willson
Added
24 March, 2015

The MasterChef runner-up is ready to take Zia Dora's tiramisu to the world.

Laura Cassai called in to the Hardie Grant office this week ahead of the launch of her schmick new book, My Italian Kitchen, in hometown Adelaide on Monday night. The MasterChef 2014 runner-up was on a mission to sign books, but we took the opportunity to fire a few questions at her, too. Her book is officially in shops from April 1. It's also here, in full, on Cooked now. And available for sale in the Cooked bookshop as well.

What are your earliest memories of eating? 

I think you'll have to ask mum that one – I don't think there a was time when I didn't have food in my mouth as a kid. One of my favourites was for my first birthday, I stuck my fingers into my Mickey Mouse cake before I blew the candles out.

And cooking? 

My earliest memory of cooking would have to be when I was six, living in Tuscany with my family. My Nonna Rosa taught me how to make gnocchi for the first time. As delicious as they were, it wasn't the taste of the gnocchi that left me with such a good memory. More the fact that there was more flour on the floor and in the cracks of the cupboards in the kitchen than in the gnocchi itself.

Standout lesson your nonna(s) taught you? 

I'd have to say the basics of cooking, so the simplest recipes for homemade gnocchi and pasta dough – and how much flavour you can pack into a dish with such little ingredients (which is really what Italian food is all about).

What do you most love to cook?

Savoury: I can't go past making pasta! And sweet: tiramisu. Hands down. I know everyone has the best-ever recipe – but oh my gosh, my Zia's is a pretty damn good one [it was passed down to Laura's mum on her honeymoon in Italy, and yep, it's in the book].

The key to homemade pasta is ….

A light, thin pasta dough.

And your favourite ingredient? 

ARTICHOKES. I think anyone [who followed MasterChef] could answer that for me.

Latest food discovery?

At the moment, I cannot put down Massimo Bottura's Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef – his food inspires me, even though his is a completely different approach to the way I look at Italian food. I've never read a book like this before; on every page and in every story I read,  I think, "Oh my god, this is exactly like my family"!!

Most thumbed cookbook? 

Jamie Oliver's Italy.

And newest for inspiration? 

It's not that new, but I'd nominate Luke Nguyen's The Food of Vietnam. I love everything about it, especially his coconut tamarind ice cream. I absolutely LOVE Vietnamese food.

And what about your own – do you have a favourite recipe, or one you are proudest of?

All of them. Seriously, this is a tough one. I think I'm going to have to say Lemon and Basil Panna Cotta.

Laura's lemon and basil panna cotta with white chocolate noodles

Secret food vice? 

OK, this is boring, but I'd have to say dark chocolate. Especially Whittaker's. They make the best coconut milk chocolate. And I like Lindt, too.

What did you learn about yourself on MasterChef?

Quite a lot – I was surprised by how much, actually. How strong I was, capable, positive, persistent. And how determined I could be. I grew up a lot – I think I matured and became very independent.

And what are you up to now? 

Ah, where do I start? I'm a pastry chef at [Jock Zonfrillo's] Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, first-time author, Starlight Australia ambassador, San Remo ambassador, teaching kids how to cook and grow their own meals. I sleep somewhere in between.

Adelaide's best-kept food secret is ….

Mandoo [Bank Street, Adelaide]. The best Korean dumplings in Australia.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years [did we mention Laura is 20?]? 

I have a lot of dreams – like, a lot! I'd hope to have written a few more books by then, be running my own cooking school in the Adelaide Hills,  have a small restaurant, and be inspiring the younger generations to cook. And, hopefully, travelling the world, with my very own cooking show.

Cook all of Laura's stunning recipes from her new book, My Italian Kitchen.

RECIPE'S FROM LAURA'S ITALIAN LITCHEN

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