So I guess most of you are wondering when my love and passion for cooking came about well I would say the age of 8. I remember standing at my Nonna Palma Ienco's (Nonna means grandmother, pictured below left ) kitchen table and watching her make gnocchi among various other dishes and she would lovingly give me a fork to roll a piece of dough off to produce the lovely gnocchi groove. This never happened it always resulted in a mush of potato dough but she would say "try again ,like this". My Nonna was a Chef and a mighty fine one if I might say so myself. I mean not a day went by when if I opened her front door I would be swept away with the smells of garlic and onions frying with peppers and potatoes...yum!
I really miss my Nonna and think about her all the time but I know in some "John Edward" way (my grandmother passed away on my 16th birthday) that she is always around me telling me to continue my culinary journey so hence why I quit my computer job at Optus last year and opened the once locked hospitality door. I am so happy I did it!
The story begins like this, I grew up in a gorgeous Victorian house in North Fitzroy in the late 70's in Melbourne and my parents were having the side wood fence built and I was in the backyard playing I am told with my mum and there was several work men "working". Anyway my mum said she told the work man to watch me for one second as she went inside the next thing she knew Renee had disappeared..... My mum re tells this story saying she was screaming, " I have lost my little girl", as she was pregnant with my younger sister she couldn't exactly do a David Hassellhoff and start running so she sent out a search party as there was a creek near my house and I guess her thoughts went straight there.
She frantically told a friend across the road named Anthony what had happend and he went looking and guess where Renee was? Can you guess?
Renee was at the corner store buying lollies. Yes that's right at the age of 3 i walked across a road,up another street entered the corner shop (as mum said we would walk to the shop every night so i knew how to get there). I looked at the lovely shop owner named Isella and said "Lollies"... and she gave me a bag of lollies. No i didnt have any money but my mum and dad knew the owners and my family was there every night so my mum told me Isella thought we were out the front and I had walked in.
So long story trying to be short they did find me with my bag of lollies and I was quite happy and my mum was so relieved.
But to me that was the day it all started, my day of knowing yeah I love food and i am going to try and get and find it. So the shop owner didn't fade away; no in fact she had a daughter named Daniela who I grew up with and went to school with and sang "New Kids on the Block" songs with,who was my best friend and still is to this day.
I laugh about it now as I can't even remember the day of my escape and my sister Michelle (pictured below right with Addison) sits down at bed time and tells my 2 year old nephew Addison the story of how a little girl walked away from her mummy and went to the corner shop to buy lollies,. She calls the story "Runaway Renee" and how Renee was very naughty. Michelle was telling me how she looked at Addison and said ,"what did you learn from that", he said, "to get lollies" .... My point exactly Addison!!!
I frequently try and visit Isella when I can and I did recently and she taught me the " amazing pea" recipe this recipe is amazing. Now I asked my girlfriend Daniela the other night "what did you have for dinner"? She said , "Chicken and peas"; I thought to myself , uhh yeah that's not enough. But now after having a cooking class with Isella and tasting the amazing pea recipe I get it. It is rich and thick and so delicious and I have made it about 6 times now :) Yum!!! Thank you Isella for the lesson and Daniela for getting me hooked :)
Check out the recipe below and pictures.
Frozen or fresh peas.. I use frozen x 3 cups
Roma Tomatoes x 2 cut into quarters
Salt for seasoning
Chop onion and garlic and add to oil with fennel stalk and pinch of salt (salt draws out the moisture from the onions so they dont burn and you get an amzing flavour ). Stir well.
Then add the Roma tomatoes and sqaush with the back of the wooden spoon so all the delcious juices come out. Stir until the onions are now a reddish hue and proceed to add the peas and cover with water.(pic below left)
Simmer and stir occasionally you will see when the peas are cooked and have absorbed all the aromatic flavours as they will have decreased in size.
Take off the heat and eat straight from pot or as I do eat it with a char grilled organic chicken breast or piece of grilled garlic and lemon fish . Yummmm!!! Enjoy this home style simple delicious and easy dish.
As most of you will know I am extremely passionate about organic produce and buying locally grown products where I can. Yes it can be a bit more exspensice but with the amount of disgusting chemicals that are being inflicted on our food and meat etc isnt it worth it? I say a huge YES.
So I thought you would be interested in checking what Laughing Chef loves aside from cooking :)
The first shop I love is called Organic Gertrude in Melbourne it has some amaizng organic produce supporting organic producers by stocking an exhaustive range of organic, biodynamic and in-conversion items sourced locally and further a field. and the website is pretty cool I am going to check out the cafe so I will post some pics when I do.One great thing that Organic Gertrude is introducing a new label to indicate whether an item has been sourced in Victoria. A green label will differentiate local produce from those further afield. You can do your bit to keep food miles down. This is just amazing and I love hearing this !!
The next thing I love is Belmore Meats , I do not eat red meat and haven't done so in 3 years now. But this is my journey and I believe you do not need to eat red meat to be fit and healthy but hey I am not a red meat hater and in saying that I came acorss Belmore meats at Christmas time as my family is Italian / Australian and they do eat red meat and pork at Christmas time. I wanted to educate them on if you are going to be spending money on meat why not buy organic meat that has not had copious amounts of hormones injected into the meat.
My brother in Law Steve went to Belmore and yes after spending a few hundred dollars on organic pork, lamb and chicken he came home and my family were talking about how it is better and the way to go if you are a meat eater. Everyone loved the meat on Christmas day but I think more importantly everyone loved knowing that the animals were not cruely treated and that the meat was and is certified and chemial free.
Belmore meats are exceptional in quality and flavour.They source from certified Bio-Dynamic farms who employ the strictest standards thus ensuring a chemical free product, whilst advocating environmentally sustainable farming practices. :)
Check out their website and maybe something to think about next time you tuck into your rib eye.
Check out Belmore meats at http://www.belmoremeats.com.au/
Currently I am getting orders ready for Easter, some amazing treats are coming and the packaging is going to be great as well. Laughing Chef is now adding to their orders dairy free and healthy options.The little healthy treats are so delicioous you will think you are being "naughty" but I have have worked out less sugar, soy products which are so much better than dairy for you and NO you cannot taste the soy!! I am also working on some amazing and so scrumptious vegan recipes!!!
So stay tuned for my amazing journey where I will be going to new groovy cafe's in Melbourne for a chit chat with the Chef's and writing about it and my delicious Easter treats and healthly options if anyone would like an order form please email me (Renee) at Laughingchef@bigpond.com and I will send you a form . Keep on laughing :)