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Each week back in the early sixties, my Father would watch a television show called ‘SING ALONG WITH MITCH.’

It was a chorale of singers who along with their music conductor, Mitch, sang popular ballads and folk songs. Viewers would be encouraged to sing along. The words to the songs scrolled along the bottom of the television screen along with the obligatory bouncing ball.

I was very young at the time, and never got a chance to sing along with Mitch.

However, I have had the opportunity to…

Cook Along With “The Greedies.”

After four years, I think that it’s safe to say that the television series, TWO GREEDY ITALIANS remains my family’s favourite cooking show.

Since it’s debut on BBC television on May 2011, there have been many cookbooks, and even a second season called TWO GREEDY ITALIANS: STILL HUNGRY.

In the series premier episode, we were introduced to well known chefs Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio, who were both born in Italy. They both left Italy when they were young adults to travel abroad and persue their careers.

The first show opens with the two chefs telling us of their quest to travel through Italy to see if…

“Mamas are still teaching their babies how to cook.”

To show how simple these dishes were to prepare, the chefs often sat outside from where they were lodging, lit a fire and prepared their meal.

It was through their inspiration that one weekend I resolved to try and cook a real Italian dinner. The dishes I chose were ricotta dumplings, (gnocchi), and warm chocolate and amaretto pudding.

I had heard of gnocchi all my life but had never tried it. As for the warm chocolate and amaretto pudding, who wouldn’t be able to resist that?

Both dishes were an easy success which led me to try two more of their dishes the following weekend. The dishes I chose to make next were the slow cooked family stew and polenta. The stew called for juniper berries which I was unable to find. Instead, I was told that a bay leaf would suffice.

Never before had I experienced such a rich tasting stew. As for the polenta, it reminded me of the cream of wheat I had as a child. The interesting twist to this dish was the ingredient, Fontana cheese. This was delicious as well.

The following weekend, it was my husbands’ turn to cook.

For his dish, he did not look to the Greedies, but rather a dish he had heard of and wanted to try, spaghetti carbonara.

Never before, had I seen him as meticulous as he was with the ingredients. His hard work and determination paid off, because again, the meal was a success.

These are not meals that one can enjoy everyday, as they are rich and somewhat expensive to prepare.

Our first trip to Italy changed how our family shopped for groceries, how we prepared our food and how we ate.

During our time in Italy, I paid close attention to the salad ingredients.

Once I returned home, I was pleasantly surprised how many of the ingredients were available. In fact, I remember always seeing these vegetables in the produce aisles in the supermarket, I just didn’t know what they were.

Here is a rundown of ingredients you might want to include in your next salad.

I would encourage you to switch your bottled dressing to a tablespoon of olive oil, and a few sprinkles of balsamic vinaigrette.

Remember, olive oil is good for you. I read one report that said anyone can substantially reduce their chances for macular degeneration, a degenerative disorder of the eye, by including one tablespoon of olive oil, a handful of nuts plus lots of green leafy vegetables in their diet each day, along with two servings of fish each week.

I was curious about how I would know a good bottle of balsamic vinaigrette when I saw one. Then, one day, I was in a Costco, of all places where a nice lady was giving out samples of this tasty fare. She had three different types, from the least to most expensive. After trying a spoon of all three, I finally figured it out.

What a difference. The preferred and of course most expensive balsamic vinaigrette is syrupy and sweet. It was a good lesson for me. I hope you have this same opportunity. It cost me forty dollars for a bottle, but lasted six months.

Italian Salad Vegetables:

Radicchio – this looks like a small head of red cabbage
Arugula – bitter, reminds me of shamrocks
Fresh lettuce
Finely shaved fresh garlic –
Artichokes (feel free to use canned ones)
Fresh basil
Tomatoes – cherry tomatoes work bes
Chopped fresh zucchini

Next time you find yourself at the grocery store, treat yourself to some fresh mozzarella. This comes in many shapes and sizes. My favourite is Bocconchini. I like to toss it into the salad.

For the final touch, sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh ground pepper.

Feel free to experiment with other ingredients till you find what suits you best.

I like the combination above, because it is so fragrant and flavourful, I could close my eyes and easily imagine that I’m in a Roman ristorante.

Mangia Buono!