Homage to the humble tomato...

Written by Lisa Baggio — February 5, 2016

 "You say tomato, we say passata!"

- Home Make It crew, 2015 

 

~ Melbourne Tomato Festival 2016 ~

It's that time of year again when Melbournian's pay homage to the humble tomato thanks to the passion and vision of Guy Grossi, his family and the Melbournese Movement. The iconic Melbourne Tomato Festival, now in its second year and growing in popularity and magnitude, is quickly becoming one of Melbourne's most popular culturally driven foodie festivals. 

The Melbourne Tomato Festival will be held on Sunday 21st February, 2106 at Edendale Farm in Eltham between 10am - 4pm.

The festival is a celebration of the humble tomato and the preservation of Italian food, traditions and customs and authentic cooking. The Melbourne Tomato Festival will play host to a gathering of local farmers selling their produce, celebrity chefs, guest speakers, agriculturalists, demonstrations, workshops, artisan food and wine, and entertainment. Be inspired by the man himself, Chef Guy Grossi in this cute little clip

Image: Guy Grossi and volunteers of the Melbourne Tomato Festival

Image: Passata making workshop in progress at the 2015 MTF

Image: Passata making workshop in progress at the 2015 MTF

The festival would not be complete without the hands on passata making workshops, and that's where the crew from Home Make It come in! We'll be running back to back passata making demonstrations all day long, so join in on all the fun and learn to make some authentic passata with us. 

Image: Melbourne Tomato Festival crowd enjoying the atmosphere

This is a ticketed event only, until sold out, so don't miss out! The event was a sell out last year, so avoid disappointment and purchase your tickets online now!  

 

~  Craft Day Out - Melbourne Food & Wine Festival ~

We are thrilled to be joining the collaborations of all collaborations at this years' Melbourne Food & Wine Festival for the Craft Day Out, it's happening at the newly established and unique artisan food and beverage venue, The Craft & Co at 390 Smith Street, Collingwood on Sunday 6th March, 2016.

The Craft & Co incorporates an onsite brewery, distillery, cured meats and cheese preparation rooms, training facility, retail and gift store, bottle shop, deli and cafe/restaurant. It's truly amazing to see all these things under the one roof, make sure you drop in to check it all out.

 

Image: The Craft & Co, 390 Smith Street, Collingwood

The Craft Day Out is a series of rotating appreciation and workshop sessions with some of Melbourne's best artisan producers including That's Amore CheeseArchie Rose Distilling Co.Rob Dolan Wines & Winestock, The Meat Room and FB*PROPAK.

Come along for a unique culinary experience in cheese making, winemaking, sausage making, distilling and passata making. Members of the Home Make It team will be again facilitating the hands-on passata workshops. You'll also enjoy a shared table feast lunch comprising of freshly made produce by Head Chef, Dom Marzano.

Don't miss out on this fabulous event, limited spots available so book your tickets via the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival program ONLINE now!

 

~  Food & Beverage Courses ~

Our instore 2016 calendar for food & beverage workshops is action packed! Click on the images below for all the course dates, venues and details. Our workshops are hands on, fun and interactive. To participate in one of our great courses, all you need to is book your spot  ONLINE or call our Clayton or Reservoir stores for assistance.

  

 

~  A new look and concept at our Clayton store ~

On behalf of the team, I would like to thank all our Clayton customers for their patience and support during our recent store closure over the Christmas period. Those who have returned to our store since its reopening last month will have noticed lots of changes already! But there's more to come, so watch this space! I would love to give away all the secrets of our new store, but you'll have to wait just a little bit longer. It'll be well worth it, I promise! 

 

~ The Makers: A story of Food, Family and Foreigners ~

If you're inspired to try your hand at passata making this season and looking for a good recipe, we have included two very different methods in our very first book titled The Makers: a story of food family and foreigners. Whether you're into the raw method or the cooked method, you'll be inspired by the stories of the Gangi, D'Aquino and the Merrett family passata days. These families are friends of Home Make It and share their recipes, processes, tips and stories.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did putting it all together! The Makers: a story of food family and foreigners makes a great addition to the kitchen library as well as the perfect gift for lovers of Italian foods and traditions. Copies available for purchase at our Reservoir and Clayton stores, ONLINE  and at The Craft & Co

Image: Donato & Lucia D'Aquino - Passata Makers.

Click the link below to check out this week's Specials.     

Check out our Gift Vouchers and Course Gift Vouchers also available instore or ONLINE

Remember, you can keep up to date with all the daily news from the team, recipes and events by following us on Twitter or Facebook

We look forward to seeing you at one of the many events and workshops coming up in February and March! 

Enjoy the weekend everyone.  

Passata time is family time...

Written by Lisa Baggio — February 20, 2014

Some of you may know Pina, our store manager from our Reservoir store. What you may not know is that she and her family members are tomato passata-making extraordinaires! I had the privilege of attending their 'Passata Day' last weekend, to experience first-hand their family's tradition of making sauce. You may recall in our last newsletter on our recent Passata Making Course (and Recipe), and my reference to Pina's passion for homemade food? Well now I understand where it comes from! Pina's family make their own sausages, salami, pizza, pasta, olives, preserves and biscotti. They do it because they are passionate about great tasting, natural, preservative/additive free food, and they are passionate about preserving these homemade food traditions.   

Pina's parents, Domenico and Giovanna Federico have been making homemade passata for as long as Pina can remember! A backyard food tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, from Pina's father's ancestors in Sulmona, Abruzzo, in Italy.

Pina's family put one weekend aside each year in February to make their homemade passata. She does not recall a year when they have not done this.

The Saturday afternoon is spent washing the tomatoes, sterilising the equipment and setting up the garage. 16 boxes of the tomatoes were delivered to the family home a couple of days before. They always purchase their farm grown tomatoes from Tony and Maria at 22 Lawson Crescent, Thomastown (0418 379 215).  

The family arrive at nonno and nonna's house early Sunday morning and get straight to work, starting cutting the tomatoes into quarters. Each tomato has been inspected and any bad tomato discarded. This job is initially shared by all family members. Pina's sons, Gianni (15 years) and Massimo (10 years) are now also old enough to cut the tomatoes which now helps speed up the process. Nonna is always keeping a close eye on quality control and efficiency of the process.

Once a couple of the crates have been filled with the cut tomatoes, the family members branch off into their assigned roles. Traditionally, Pina's brother Paul takes charge of putting the tomatoes through the machine. The family's passion for this slow food tradition is evident just by looking at their machine.  Pina's father Domenico has made modifications to our machine, literally attaching it to the kitchen sink. It is seriously awesome! The crate of quartered tomatoes is literally poured onto the kitchen sink and plunged through the sink hole into the machine where the pulp and skin are separated from the juice.  The juice runs down the shaft and straight into the bucket, ready for salting and bottling. 

This year the uncle is assisted by his nephews, Gianni and Massimo. The photo below captures beautifully the sign of the times, and a mix "old age" tradition V's "new age" technology, as Massimo thought he could actually plunge the tomatoes through the machine with one hand, holding onto his IPhone with the other :)

The pulp and skins are put through twice more, to ensure that the very last drop of the juice has been extracted. Juice is added to this process to minimise the strain on the motor, as the skins become drier.  

As with most patriarchal families, the nonno is charged with the most important of roles in this process, which is to add the right amount of salt to the tomatoes. Just enough to assist in the preserving process, but not too much to spoil the taste. I'm told it's better to under-salt than over-salt, as you can always add more to the sauce when cooking.  

On this day, Pina's eldest son Gianni is responsible for filling the bottles.  Again one of our non-spill bottle fillers has been skillfully attached to a construction disigned by Pina's father, to again add efficiency to the process. The nonno sits close by, inspecting the work of his grandson and making sure his is filling them to the correct level.

It's obvious though, that both the nonno and nonna are thoroughly enjoying their grandson's involvement and contribution to the process. It's not only the end result of fresh homemade passata that keeps this passata day alive, it's the preservation of a family tradition, passed down through the generations, with the hope that Paul, Pina and her children will carry this on well into the future.  

Once the bottles have been filled, the nonno then caps the bottles and gets them ready for the boiling process. Pina's family still use the beer bottles for their sauce, claiming that they have never lost a bottle through preserving them in this way.

Meanwhile, Pina and I continue to quarter the tomatoes with her mum, chatting away about anything and everything. This process and assembly line of designated jobs is continued until every last tomato is cut into quarters and taken through the various processes.   

As with all passata days, the highlight of the day is usually the special lunch that is prepared for the hungry workers. In Pina's family, this is traditionally done by the nonna. On this day, the family were spoilt with a homemade zucchini fritatta and fresh panini. Pina was quick to point out that the zucchini is homegrown, and the pancetta and salami in the panino is homemade! 

After lunch the filled bottles are then very carefully stacked into the old gallon drums. If stacked properly they can fit approximately 100 bottles into each drum.  Once the water comes to the boil, the bottles are slow boiled for approximately 2 hours and left to cool down overnight. To do this, they have four gallon drums boiling away on the gas burners.  

The process from start to finish is definitely a full day. The process then ending on Sunday at approximately 9pm following the big clean up. But the family are satisfied with their new years' supply of fresh homemade passata, totalling approximately 300 bottles!

The passata will now form the basis of many of the family's meals for the next twelve months. Some of these dishes including the sugo for their gaming meats,  ragu, marinara, minestrone, lasagna, bolognese or polpetti. 

If you would live to see more photos from Pina's family Passata Day, you can see them all on our Facebook Page.  

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Pina's mum, Giovanni has very kindly shared one of her delicious family recipes.  Enjoy :)

Nonna Giovanna's "Classic Sugo" recipe.

Ingredients:

1 x onion finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves chopped

Olive oil

Lamb shoulder or chuck steak (diced in chunks)

2-4 bottles of passata

Parsley (roughly chopped)

Basil (roughly chopped)

Salt and Pepper

 

Process:

Saute' the onions and garlic in the olive oil.  

Add the diced chunks of lamb or chuck steak to the saute to brown the meat.  

Add the bottles of fresh homemade passata.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the basil and parsley.

Cook on simmer for approximately 2 hours.

Serve with your favorite style of pasta. Buon appetito!

 

There are many variations to Giovanna's recipe, which we will share with you over the next few weeks.  

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Our Advanced Homemade Winemaking Courses will be commencing in March, 2014. If you would like to read more about our course, you can read our previous blog on our 2013 Advanced Homemade Winemaking Course.  

To help celebrate the Australian tomato season with you, we have included heaps of our passata/sauce making equipment and supplies in our Specials this week.  

 

Have a great week!

Passata Making Course (and Recipe)

Written by Lisa Baggio — February 13, 2014

Wow! What a fun night we had at our recent homemade Passata Making course at the Reservoir store. You couldn't have asked for a more authentic workshop to learn the craft of preserving tomato sauce, and we know that our participants walked away inspired and will be planning their own backyard 'passata days'. Our passata making course was instructed by our very own Pina and Celeste. Pina and her family have been having annual passata days for over 20 years now. Celeste inspired and entertained the class with her funny stories and mouth-watering recipes.   

At Home Make It, we have adopted Pina's method of preserving tomatoes and making passata, following the unrelenting protests that her families' method was the best! But we know that there are many different methods of making passata. You only have to ask any one of our customers and they'll tell you 'their method is the best'!  Pina is passionate about her families' backyard food traditions. Whether we are talking about salami, pasta or pizzelle, she'll also tell you that her families' method is the best ;)

The course commenced with a run down of the different methods for making passata and the importance of sterilising the bottles and equipment. We were then shown the different options for equipment that can be used and available, including the manual and electric machines.   

  

We pride ourselves on our workshops being 'hands on' and this passata course is no different. We put our participants to work straight away. Pina and Celeste had already sterilised all the bottles and equipment, and washed and dried the Roma tomatoes before we arrived, so our first job was to cut the tomatoes into quarters. We do this to cut out the flat stem, also to check that there are no rotten bits within the tomato, which could spoil the 'juice'.  

 

Between the 8 of us, we got through preparing the large box of tomatoes pretty quickly. Our FLB machine with electric motor and sauce attachment was set up and we put them through our machine using a plunger. This process separates the skin and the pulp from the tomato juice. We followed on by putting the skins and pulp through a second time to extract the juice further, adding some juice with the skins and pulp to look after the machine. If the skins are too dry, this can cause stress on the machine's motor.    

 

It was then time to bottle our tomato juice. We added a couple of fresh basil leaves to our already sterilised bottles. This is optional though. This job was made easier with our no spill bottle fillers which have been attached to our crates and buckets. We left a small space between the top of the bottle and the juice, to allow for the tomato juice to expand during the boiling process. We filled the bottles quickly and sealed them with a lid, careful to make sure the lid was on tight (but not over twisting, as this can also cause problems during the boiling process). You can largely avoid these problems however by using our lids.

All that was left to do then, was to carefully stack the bottles in our aluminum cooking pot, fill with water to the top and bring to the boil. It's useful to lay some cloth or toweling in the bottom of the pot and cover the top of the bottles to minimise the bottles rattling around during the boiling process. Once to the boil, the bottles or jars should be boiled for approximately two hours. This process sterilises the bottles and preserves the tomatoes. If stored in a cold dark area, these bottles will keep for years. 

Your passata is then ready for use, to be the basis for any of your favorite pasta sauces, pizza sauces, casseroles or risottos. How you cook it up is up to you! I personally like to add a little garlic, chill and onion. It's an awesome base for spaghetti pescatora, or just as nice for a simple spaghetti Napoli. There are no limits to what you can do!


We ended the evening with a delicious pasta dish cooked for us by Celeste. We sat down to a massive bowl of pasta made with Pina's passata sauce from last year and Celeste's sugo recipe, a bottle of wine and some yummy pastries. What a feast! And what a delightful end to a great evening!  

If you would like to see more photos from the evening, you can view them on our Facebook Page.  

If you are interested in attending one of our homemade passata making courses, call our Reservoir Store on 9460 2777 or Clayton Store on 9574 8222 to find out more or register your interest.  

 

Below is one of Celeste's recipes for making homemade fresh passata. Have fun!!

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Tomato Passata/Sauce Recipe:
(Cooked Method - Ready to heat and serve)

 

Ingredients:
-Roma Tomatoes
-Chopped Onions (Amount depends on the quantity of the tomatoes you want to prepare)
-Salt
-Fresh Basil, Oregano, or Thyme and Rosemary
-Garlic
-Sugar (optional)
-Chilli (flakes or fresh and optional). Amount used will depend on palate.  
-Oil for sauteed method.  
-Pancetta, bacon or salami (Optional)

Process:
-Place the tomatoes in a food grade tub (50lts to 100lts).
-Pour boiling water over the tomatoes. This will soften the skin making the juicing of the tomatoes easier and quicker.
-Using a slotted strainer or spoon, steadily scoop the soften tomatoes into the machine's hopper to be processed. The skin and pulp will be separated from the juice. 
-Sauté the chopped onions, garlic, choice of herbs, pancetta and chilli in the oil until golden brown.  
-Pour the processed tomato sauce in this sofritto (sauteed herbs and vegetable).  
-Cook gently on low heat for at least 30 minutes. 
-Keep this on a gentle simmer. Keep covered, stirring gently every 10 to 15 minutes. Total cooking time of 1 & 1/2 hours.  
-For this part, some precautions should be taken for handling hot products.
-To sterilise the bottles, beer bottles or jars, place them in a hot 200 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Immediately place the jars on a tray whilst still hot.  
-Ladle the hot sauce into the jars allowing a space for expansion. Shake the jars so no air pockets will be present in the sauce.  
-Twist the cap on jars securely, but don't over twist.  
-Turn the jars upside down, let stand in this position for 10 to 15 minutes, turn upright, and leave to cool. This process creates a vacuum in the jars and is very important.
-Store in a cool, dark place. Ready to heat and serve! Enjoy!!
*This passata/sauce can also be added to a variety of dishes.  

Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Written by Lisa Baggio — December 18, 2013

On behalf of all the team at Home Make It, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We would like to thank you for your continued support and loyalty in 2013. Our team would also like to welcome all our new customers over the last twelve months. We look forward to continue sharing our passion and knowledge for homemade food & beverages.   

2014 is shaping up to be another big year for Home Make It. You will see some new products on our shelves, new dates for our D.I.Y Workshops and more participation in Melbourne's most iconic festivals and community events.

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No Italian Christmas is complete without the pleasure of sharing a panettone with family and friends. In fact, the popularity of panettone in Italy has spread internationally, and Australia is no exception. We are told that more than one hundred million Italian-made panettone are now sold worldwide.  

Panettone literally translates to "big bread" and is a sweet fermented bread. But where did panettone orginate? The answer to this question and all the questions you ever had about traditional panettone have been answered in a recent article titled "What we don't know about Panettone and what no one will ever say". It's a fascinating history and account by Stanilslao Porzio who is a Milan-based writer and gastronomy expert.  

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Following the huge success of our Advanced Homemade Wine Making Course in 2013, we are now taking bookings for our 2014 Advanced Homemade Wine Making Course (Online or you can book directly with our retail assistants in stores). Take advantage of our "early bird" offer if you book and pay before Christmas. Normal price $495.00. Our special Christmas offer to you is $350.00. We will cap the bookings at 12 people per location, so don't miss out.

 

Additionally, we are also happy to announce some new 2014 dates for some of our other workshops:

- Feta Cheese

- Hard Cheese

- Cider

- Tomato Passata/Sauce -

Our retail trading hours over Christmas.

For all your last minute Christmas gift shopping, we will be open until 5.00pm on Tuesday 24th December, 2013.  We will reopen at 9.00am on Monday 6th January, 2014.  

If your family and friends share your passion for homemade food and beverages, then spoil them with a Gift Card from Home Make It.

We also have a huge range of products on Special that will make the perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas. We are also offering Free Shipping across Australia until 20th December, 2013 (SO HURRY!). Enter the Disocunt Code "XMAS" at checkout to take advantage of the offer. Please be aware that all orders placed online between the 23rd December, 2013 and 6th January, 2014 will not be shipped until the 7th January, 2014.   

Click on the banner below to take you straight to our SPECIALS page...

Enjoy the festive season with your family & friends and stay safe. I look forward to sharing more news from the team at Home Make It in 2014!  

Clayton Reservoir