This weekend I'd like to welcome to Good Things another passionate cook and friend in food, Manuela Zangara from Manu's Menu. I've been following Manuela's blog for some time, as week after week she posts the most inspiring recipes, all beautifully photographed. She has also just published her first ebook of Christmas menus.
Manu is married and has two little daughters (6 and 4 years old), and lives in Sydney, Australia, having moved there seven years ago from Milan, Italy. Her husband is of Indian origin, which is why she often presents Indian recipes. When it comes to food, Manuela says her parents are her greatest inspiration. 'Cooking is all about creating memories with your family... that's what my parents did with me and that's what I am keen to do with my little ones,' she tells me. Manuela says her parents are not chefs, but the family used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen together, especially on weekends. Her dad makes the best Sacher torte ever, he doesn't have a very sweet tooth, but apparently he's very good at baking and decorating cakes. What is her favourite food? Manuela says she has so many favourite dishes, but says Lasagne is on top of the list... pure comfort food, she says. It's the dish she makes to cheer herself up when she is down. 'Any kind of lasagne will do (with meat, vegetarian or with pesto)... as long as it has bechamel and cheese, and I am a happy woman,' she laughs.
Manuela has kindly stepped in with this sumptuous Good Things guest post and I know you are going to enjoy her recipe for
'I have been blogging for almost three years and whenever someone asks me why I do it, the answer is very easy: blogging about food is a passion and I am a firm believer of doing what you are passionate about in this life. I have been very fortunate to also make some good friends and get to know some amazing people along the way, like Liz. She is such a talented food writer and photographer! I really admire her work, so for me it is a true honour to be here today.' [Lizzy says: 'That is so kind, Manuela, thank you. The admiration is mutual. I am delighted to share your work here'].
'I grew up in Italy and when I moved to Australia, a country I love, I initially found it hard to get back into the kitchen and cook. When I arrived here, I had no idea where to find Italian products and it took me a while to be able to start cooking what I had always cooked before. I still cannot find everything I want, especially regional products. Many people may not know this, but there is no 'Italian cuisine' as a whole. Italian food is very much linked to the territory and that is why it is so traditional and why Italians are often very jealous of their recipes. Food touches their roots, their certainties and their own little world. Italy is a small country, but because of its complicated history, each region is culturally very different. The food in the North is completely different to the food in the South. To give you an idea, the food you can eat in some Alpine areas is very similar to what you find in Austria, while food in Sicily is more similar to Middle Eastern and North African cuisines… see what I mean? I often say that talking about 'Italian cuisine' is not very correct. It would be better to say 'Italian cuisines', plural. That is why I have a section on my site that is fully dedicated to Regional Italian food, where I share regional recipes
I think that the secrets behind authentic Italian food are simplicity and clarity of flavours. When you go to an Italian restaurant and you cannot tell what’s in the dish you are eating, then you are likely not eating at a 'real Italian restaurant'. The majority of Italian dishes only contain a few ingredients and you can usually taste all of them while you eat. To make a great dish with so few ingredients, it is paramount that you use good quality products. So the philosophy behind my cooking style is simplicity, clarity and good quality ingredients. You can’t go wrong with that.
The recipe I will share with you today is a clear example of that. In fact, you only need four ingredients to make it: coffee, sugar, corn starch and freshly whipped cream. That’s it. The original recipe calls for Italian coffee, made with a moka pot, but I also make it with espresso. If you want to make it with American coffee (or anything lighter than Italian coffee), you may need to adjust the amount of sugar to taste. The coffee has to be sweet, but not overly so. This is a recipe that my aunt would often make during the warm Sicilian summer. It is great for an after meal dessert or for tea time. Serve it with a generous amount of freshly whipped sweetened cream to cut through the slight bitterness of the coffee. This combination is a classic in Sicilian cooking and you will notice how nicely the cream rounds up the coffee flavour. I hope you like it!
GELATINA DI CAFFÈ – COFFEE JELLO
Ingredients (for 6 people):
500 ml – 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
165 g – ¾ cup + 1 tbsp sugar
50 g – 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp corn starch
Sweetened whipped cream (1 to 1 ½ tbsp of sugar per 100 ml – 6 ½ tbsp of cream), to serve
Dissolve the sugar and corn starch in the hot coffee. Put the mixture on the fire and cook, while stirring, until it thickens.
Rinse six moulds and leave them wet (this will help you to unmold the jello). Pour the jello into the moulds and let it cool down. Refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to serve it, unmold it and decorate it with the whipped cream. Serve cold.'
'The original recipe calls for Italian coffee, but I also make it with espresso...'
'This is a recipe that my aunt would often make during the warm Sicilian summer...'
'Serve with a generous amount of freshly whipped sweetened cream to cut through the slight bitterness of the coffee...'
Note: all images in this post appear kind courtesy of and are copyright to Manuela Zangara.
Manuela, thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe. It's another one of yours that I will add to my repertoire, I'm sure.
Dear Readers, please join me in welcoming Manuela to Good Things and make sure you pop in to Manu's Menu and sign up for her regular newsletters and recipe updates. Now tell me, do you enjoy coffee-based desserts?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.