For a seven-year-old, it is so boring in the afternoon in Italy, because of the siesta, when all the streets become deserted. So off Mum and I would go to Zia Angelina’s house. My great-aunt, Zia Angelina, was married to Zio Pepe. Both were the most gentlest of people, both softly spoken, kind and very generous.
As it is the etiquette to remain quiet during siesta time, the adults needed to find something for us children to do. So, on her terrace, I learnt to sew, crochet and embroider. I made crocheted table mats, embroidered love-heart cushions and dresses for my Pippa dolls. Alas, apart from sewing, I doubt I have these skills any longer.
Popular in the 1970s, this recipe for Lamb Shanks with Roasted Onions is a lost favourite, which is making a revival amongst those seeking nostalgia.
4 x 340g (12oz) lamb shanks * 6 garlic cloves, cut lengthways into four pieces * 2 tbsp olive oil * 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped * 4 red onions * 340g (12oz) carrots, cut into thin batons, 4 tbsp water * salt & pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4. Trim off any excess fat from the lamb. Using a sharp knife, make six incisions in each shank. Insert a garlic slice into each of the incisions made in each of the lamb shanks. Place the lamb shanks in a roasting tray with space around them. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle on the rosemary and season with pepper. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
Wrap each of the onions in a square of foil. Remove the tray from the oven and season the lambs with salt. Return the tray to the oven and place the onions on a shelf in the oven. roast for a further 1 hour, until the lamb is tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add the carrot batons and blanch for 1 minute. Drain. When the lamb is ready, remove it from the oven and transfer the meat to a warmed serving dish. Remove the onions from the oven, keeping them in the foil until ready to serve. Skim off the fat in the baking tray and place over a medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes, then add the water. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring constantly, scraping the glazed bits off the bottom of the tray.
Serve the lamb with the carrots and the unwrapped onions. Oh, and a glass of red wine!
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
There are more recipes in the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.