My Cousin Rosa is a collection of family recipes and memories. From its thick protective jacket, casually adorned with a collage of photographs just like ones own kitchen scrapbook, enter the enchanting world of Rosa Mitchell. Rosa, who was born in Sicily and migrated to Australia in 1962 is today Chef at the celebrated Melbourne cafe, Journal Canteen, colloquially known as 'Rosas Kitchen'. My Cousin Rosa is not about restaurant food but family spirit and meals to be shared. Traditional Sicilain dishes which are prepared with rustic simplicity, giving fabulous results.






Some dishes will be familiar, some not so and some probably associated with an array of colourful jars found on the shelves of good delis. Pages are abundant with food as only Mamma could have made – and oh how important it is to keep these traditions alive. Marinated Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and fragrant Preserved Artichokes and Aubergines are amongst the recipes. Perhaps even try your hand at homemade ricotta or salami. It's likely the latter two suggestions wouldn’t readily spring to mind but these are delightful ideas to file away for one of those rare golden times when there is little to do other than indulgently cook for pleasure.





Chapters reflect dining styles rather than steadfast courses. Antipasto, those tantalising morsels prepared to stir conversation whilst wooing and teasing the appetite, are presented simply. Tiny dishes of cheese, meats, preserved vegetables and fritters. For relaxed, informal dining choose a selection of antipasto dishes then combine with an array of Rosas salad or vegetable platters.


Following Antipasto, there is Brood whch is a chapter dedicated to chunky soups; Fennel and Pancetta, Chickpea, Leek and Potato and Lentil Soup with Pasta are inexpensive yet complete meals in their own right. Rosa explains:



Most of the soups eaten in our house when I was growing up were quite substantial meals: hearty and thick, often with lots of legumes. In the winter months, when not so many fresh vegetables were to be found, lentils, chickpeas and dried beans made a good substitute.


Of course, no Sicilian or Italian cookery book is complete without pasta. With no exotic ingredients required (well, apart from one recipe calling for squid ink, which even this is now available in supermarkets), flavourful sauces are based around onions, garlic, vegetables, seasonal ingredients and readily available ricotta and parmesan cheese. In true Sicilian style, this thrifty food may be eaten several times a day, though it is only served in small quantities which are quite literally dribbled with a freshly made sauce.


Given Rosa’s Southern heritage coupled with her involvement with the Slow Food Movement - both she and her wine producer husband, Colin were founding members of Slow Food in Australia, principal dishes embrace all manner of meat: Rabbit Ragu, Kid with Chestnuts, Veal Marsala, Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Stuffed Calamari and Sardines to name but a selection. With flavour in abundance, this is food to be shared.

Dolce – the finale; dessert:

Sicilians are renowned throughout Italy for making the best cakes and biscuits, along with their famous gelati, of course. Pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds are to be found in the wonderful biscuits.


Having prepared several of Rosa's dessert recipes I can only encourage you to do the same. Dark, rich yet gossamer-light, Rosa’s Almond, Chocolate and Marsala cake is a food for angels – I served this with fresh raspberries as dessert whilst it also travelled beautifully, to be served as a delicious open-air picnic treat.

A true reflection of our times – My Cousin Rosa is a book which is packed full of scrumptious unpretentious recipes that truly work. Courtesy of Murdoch Books, I am delighted to present a selection of recipes which have been chosen and tested in the kitchen of Recipes2Share, especially for you.




My Cousin Rosa, Rosa Mitchell’s Sicilian Kitchen by Rosa Mitchell
Published by Murdoch Books, Ltd. Price GBP 25
Photography by Alan Benson and illustrations, Hugh Ford



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