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At home with chef Dominique Rizzo

Excellent planning and the right appliances are key in this Tuscan-inspired kitchen, designed by Lee Hardcastle of Enigma Kitchens for chef, author and presenter Dominique Rizzo.

At home with chef Dominique Rizzo gives an insight into how sustainable materials and practices are a key part of her home life.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique in her home kitchen

Alex: Dominique and Lee, can you give us a tour of this kitchen?

Dom: As a chef,I really wanted a kitchen that,  had everything at my fingertips and all I needed to do was turn around, bend over or stretch my arm to reach something. I don’t like walking very far to have to put something away or grab a utensil. With Lee’s assistance, we created a space that absolutely works perfectly for me. I can unpack the dishwasher without travelling far, being almost able to put everything away in arm’s reach. Because my kitchen space is quite small and in essence I have no dining room, the kitchen had to really double as a dining table, so my centre bench works perfectly, really opening up the space.

Lee: I knew the available space was limited; therefore I simply had to make the most out of each section of Dom’s kitchen. The design is compact yet not tight to work in. The overall theme ties in magnificently with Dom’s heritage and busy lifestyle. The finishes are low maintenance and appealing. There’s a sense of timelessness with the colour tones, features and natural stone.

Alex: What special features have been included?

Dom: Easy push-to-open doors, my three-way integrated recycling bins, (I have chickens, compost, general rubbish and recycling all in easy pull-out bins) – I love these! Large deep drawers were a must as I have all sorts of plates, equipment for my food styling and recipe testing. I am amazed that in my old kitchen everything was always on top of itself and now I still have drawers with room to spare.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique and Lee Hardcastle

Lee: The use of genuine Farmers doors and components really sets the theme for this kitchen. I carefully selected profiles and detailed elements that would enhance the kitchen without overpowering the style. Although seemingly unusual, the ultra-modern integrated V-ZUG appliances are a big feature, which work well even with this classic style. Blum Aventos lift systems make the overhead cabinet sections a joy to use, and can stay open while cooking.

Alex: Dominique, what’s your favourite part of the design?

Dom: The benchtops are gorgeous and the space that I now have is amazing. I love that my ovens are all handy to use, with space to put trays or dishes when they come out of the oven. The colour of the cupboards has given the space so much light and has opened up the kitchen.

And Lee, what’s yours?

Lee: I would agree with Dom, the benchtops are something she’ll never get tired of; similarly, the Farmers exterior finish. I like the fact that even with the limited space, we’ve managed to fit so much into this design. There is a beautiful balance to the room with lower and upper sections combining well.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's kitchen benches

Alex: There’s a really rustic country garden/provincial kitchen theme here. Was that your choice Dominique or something Enigma suggested?

Dom: I was overseas at the time and asked Lee to pick what he thought would work in the space, giving him a few details as to my specifications and the usage of the kitchen, also telling him what I wanted and what I wasn’t happy with in my old kitchen. I actually left it up to him to make the decisions. We did a bit of back and forth with photos and colours but I really just said “go for it”. I had seen kitchens that Lee had done and loved his work; also he loves to cook so I knew that he would have some great suggestions.

Lee: It was obvious that Dom’s new kitchen had to have character, be robust, and have a certain charm that expressed her style of cooking and way of life. Her backyard told me everything I needed to know. There are rows of herbs and vegies strategically planted in raised beds, fruit trees scattered about and an open chicken coop in one corner ­- I simply felt like I was visiting a Tuscan villa. Dom’s kitchen had to be an extension of her love for organic, natural flavours and ingredients.

Alex: Dominique, as a chef, a wonderful kitchen is clearly important to you. How do you make sure that your kitchen at home is as efficient as your one at work?

Dom: As I mentioned, for me I like everything to be at arm’s reach, having to walk to get a pan, utensils and put things away all takes time and when you are working in a busy kitchen you don’t have time to always look for things — my kitchen at home is a direct reflection of efficiency with everything at arm’s reach. I have a place for everything and I love an organised kitchen so space is really important as well as organisation and efficiency. Also my kitchen is really easy to clean with clean lines, and beautiful surfaces. I have fantastic appliances – a combi-steamer, self-cleaning oven, induction cooktop and steam dishwasher — what more could a chef want at home?

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's overhead kitchen cupboards.

Alex: Is there a signature, much-loved dish you cook when you have guests?

Dom: I am forever inspired by the tours I escort to Italy and my cooking is inspired by the wonderful foods I eat while I am over there. I love using my combi-steamer to make a delicious baked fish and the Sicilian-inspired flavours of garlic, lemon, capers and fresh herbs of course blended with virgin olive oil. I serve this with roasted red tomatoes, and a delicious zucchini, mint and roquette salad with shaved pecorino cheese.

Alex: I find the kitchen is somewhere to unwind and enjoy being creative. What does the kitchen space mean to you both?

Dom: My kitchen space is my creative space, it’s where I relax, I think, I come alive through food, it’s the hub of my house and I love having people sitting at my main bench and chatting while I am cooking. I also can see to my beautiful garden from my kitchen and it feels like I am cooking outside.

Lee: A kitchen should always be a space that inspires and comforts us, not a space you can’t wait to leave. It’s all about cooking, entertaining and living. A good design will tell you a lot about the person who lives there and the rest of the home. To sit at a kitchen stool and feel unhurried, relaxed and at home, and to be continually excited over and over, day after day when working in your kitchen is a wonderful feeling. This is what I aim for throughout my design process.

Alex: Dominique, you place great emphasis on the importance of sustainable cooking. How do you make sure you cook in a sustainable way?

Dom: I recycle, I use my scraps for my chickens or compost, I have little or no wastage, using great appliances that are energy efficient helps that. Also I endeavour to use fresh non-packaged items when I can and love creating food that is sustainable, fresh, local and seasonal. It’s a testament to my Italian heritage; I live like that naturally.

At home with Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique's kitchen

Alex: Is this something Enigma also places importance on, and what sustainable elements were introduced into the design of the kitchen?

Lee: The use of natural materials offers longevity and consideration for the environment. Superior design and construction methods also play a big part in sustainability; it means the kitchen won’t need replacing for many years. Small details such as sink size and appliance selection are in fact important too, as this can reduce water and electricity consumption.

Alex: What message would you give to those who want to bring more sustainability into their homes as well as on to their plates?

Dom: Look at your appliances and the space to ensure that it works efficiently; saving you time, money and energy. As for the food, choose “one-food” items: this is food that is what it is with no added fake or man-made ingredients.

Lee: Make the most of natural lighting and ventilation by arranging your kitchen design thoughtfully. Limit the amount of pantry shelving, or at least make all the shelving accessible, as this will only fill up with an abundance of food that may be later thrown away if not consumed. Think about your desired daily style of cooking and purchase appliances that cater to this; not ones that will assist you for the once-a-year type of meals.

Alex: What’s the top kitchen appliance you’d recommend home chefs invest in?

Dom: A combi-steamer oven, I have VZUG appliances and I cannot live without it [the combi-steamer]. It means I can steam and cook in the same appliance with a range of other key features that make cooking a breeze.

Lee: Agreed.

Alex: What advice can you both offer to home renovators looking to redo their kitchen? 

Dom: I would seek the advice of a kitchen designer and invest in a sturdy kitchen if you cook a lot. Look at storage carefully as it is something that I notice some kitchens lack and also make all your kitchen items easy to reach, find and store, it makes cooking a breeze and you will want to be in your kitchen.

Lee: Seeking a professional kitchen designer may initially seem to be an unnecessary expense but, if chosen well, this will prove to be an absolute blessing. A good designer will save you money and eliminate common mistakes. Consider how much you’re willing to invest, and make the most of this. Make a list of likes and dislikes; put together a scrapbook of anything that excites you. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract with a kitchen company unless you’re totally thrilled with the design, service and quality being offered. Ensure your designer is giving you options and suggestions that show creativity and experience, and that you’re convinced that the final design will offer the best possible outcome for your requirements.

Alex: Lee, what special tips can you give readers to make sure their kitchen renovation runs smoothly?

Lee: An experienced project manager is essential. He or she may be a cabinetmaker, a designer or an architect. This will make the process flow seamlessly and delete wasted time and costly errors.

 

This interview originally appeared in “Complete Home” at https://www.completehome.com.au/kitchens/at-home-with-dominique-rizzo-and-lee-hardcastle.html.

Easy Summer Entertaining with Chef Dominique Rizzo

It’s summer time and Chef Dominique Rizzo is sharing some of her favourite summer recipes with you.  These are fabulous drinks and recipes to prepare for your guests without spending hours in the kitchen.  Easy summer entertaining in a busy schedule makes sense.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Lime and Lychee Wine Spritzer

Easy summer entertaining - Lime and lychee wine spritzer

This fresh wine spritzer is ideal for those summer days or warm nights when the zesty flavours of lime, lemon grass and a bite of chili will liven up the taste buds and with the soft sweet flavours of lychee its ideal to accompany any dish or dessert.

Ingredients:

1  bottle Lindeman’s Crispy Dry White

1 tbsp. Gourmet garden lemon grass 

½ cup lime cordial

2 Kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced

10 lychees – muddled

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced into threads

Juice of 2 limes

1lt soda water

Method: 

  • Combine the wine with the rest of the ingredients leaving the wine to sit in the fridge for at least an hour to infuse with flavours.
  • Serve the wine half-filled in glasses and top with the soda water.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Baked Eggplant, Goats Cheese and Tomato Olive Salad

Easy summer entertaining - Baked eggplant, goats cheese, tomato olive salad

This is a light lunch or entree option full of wonderful colours and textures and a great dish to make ahead of time as all the components can be put together at the last minute.

Ingredients: 
2 medium eggplants sliced into 2cm wide slices

2 tbsp. chopped basil

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

3 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

60g goat’s cheese

60g cream cheese

3 roma tomatoes

40g green olives, pitted and chopped

40g black olives, pitted and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

5 leaves of basil, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

40g baby spinach

12 thin slices focaccia or Turkish bread

Method:

  • Pre heat the oven to 200c.

  • Combine the olive oil with the basil and parsley and season with salt and pepper, using a pastry brush cover both sides of the eggplant slices with the herb oil and season with salt and pepper.

  • Place the slices of eggplant onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, turn the eggplant over and bake for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

  • Blend the goat’s cheese with the cream cheese until smooth. Deseed the tomatoes and dice into 1cm pieces, finely dice the olives and mix in with the tomatoes, add in the garlic, basil and lemon zest, blend with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  • To serve place a round of eggplant onto a plate and spread with a dessert spoon of the cheese mixture, top with some of the spinach leaves and then another eggplant round. Spoon over some of the olive salsa and serve with focaccia or Turkish bread.

Easy Summer Entertaining – Italian Crispelle with Sweet Fresh Pear and Honey Relish

Easy summer entertaining - Italian crispelle, sweet fresh pear, honey relish

This is such a fresh, fast and easy dessert or breakfast recipe and is delicious with ice cream, pouring cream or thickened yoghurt.

Ingredients: 

1 cup plain flour

Salt

2 whole eggs

280ml milk

50g butter

1 tbsp. honey

½ tsp. Gourmet Garden ginger

½ tsp. orange zest

2 tbsp. Lindeman’s Sweet Seasons Blancello

Couple of drops of vanilla or 1/8 tsp. vanilla bean paste

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm pieces

10 leaves of mint, sliced

Method: 

  • For the crispelle, pour the flour into a bowl and add in the salt. Make a well in the centre and in a separate bowl whisk the eggs and the milk together. Gradually whisk the eggs and milk into the flour and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.

  • Melt 20gms butter and pour this into the batter mixing to combine.

  • Heat a non-stick frypan over low-medium heat, add a little butter to coat the base then ladle in enough crepe mixture to coat the base completely, turning gently to ensure an even thickness. Cook 1-2 minutes until light and golden.

  • Turnover and cook for 10-15 seconds. Remove to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat using the remaining crepe batter. To serve, place the folded crepes onto a plate and top with the fresh pear relish. Serve with a scoop of ice cream.

  • To make the fresh pear relish, combine the honey, ginger, zest and the Blancello and whisk until the honey dissolves, add in the diced pears and the chopped mint and toss together, serve this over the crepes.

These recipes by Dominique Rizzo were originally featured at https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/.

If they whet your appetite for more of Dominique’s food, come to Putia Pure Food Kitchen for pure food dining and cooking class experiences.  What’s on the menu? go to http://putiapurefood.com.au/current-menu/

Follow on Instagram: Putiapurefoodkitchen

Facebook: Putia Pure Food Kitchen

Want to Know More about Chef Dominique Rizzo?

Want to know more about Chef Dominique Rizzo?  

This is an excerpt from an interview with Dominique by “Gastronomy Gal” at http://www.gastronomygal.com/ for their blog “Healthy Eating Month”.

Want to Know More about Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique Rizzo

Q:   Having an Italian background, I guess cooking is in your blood. Did you start cooking when you were really young?

My mother tells me that I used to make her and dad breakfast in bed when I was three or four and used the hot water tap in the bath to make their coffee, so yes, I started young.

Q:  I love the idea of teaching healthy eating from an early age. Do you find that kids are more receptive to trying new things if they have been involved in the process of cooking?

Amazingly so, and also, through seeing other children trying different foods, they are highly influenced. I feel that when children have an opportunity to be in the process of making the food, they really feel proud and want to then enjoy what they have made.

 

Q: I know you are a big advocate, can you give us the rundown on ‘Whole Foods?’

To me whole foods are, as it says, incorporating “real foods” in your cooking using a variety of grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and also fresh organic meats. So to me, it’s really cutting out all of the tinned, preservative rich foods that can sustain in packets for ages. Fresh food, like us, is living food and the more we eat the living foods the more vibrant and healthy we will feel.

Want to Know More about Chef Dominique Rizzo_ Dominique Rizzo cooking

Q: You’ve just arrived back from an Italian holiday. For Italian novices, what is your favourite region and what did you eat there?

Well, of course, Sicily is my favourite region and my favourite dishes were fresh artichokes baked in the oven with garlic, pecorino cheese, anchovies and bread crumbs.  Also, I love their pasta and cauliflower with pine nuts and currants. Swordfish crumbed and baked in the oven with a dressing of parsley garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. I had a wonderful banquet of couscous and a squid ink sauce.. and the desserts……..I could go on for hours.

Q: Biggest food influences in your life?

My Zia (my Sicilian aunt), my mum, my first Head Chef Brenda and my love for foods that say something.

Q: What would your standard weekday lunch or dinner include?

Lunch usually for me is a salad with some sort of grain. I love chickpeas, lentils and salty things like olives, feta, capers and then tossed with roasted free range or organic chicken or tuna and a home-made dressing with loads of herbs. Dinner usually is fish, I love salmon so its salmon, seared, steamed, grilled and served with as many vegetables as I can find in my fridge. I am big on dressings and make great Asian, Mediterranean and yoghurt dressings to jazz up things.

Q: What is your favourite type of food to splurge on?

Italian Gelati

Q: What is your favourite really healthy dish?

Cold Soba noodles, greens and cold poached salmon with a sesame seed dressing or a green papaya salad with a good handful of Thai herbs and prawns with a zesty lime and chilli dressing.

Want to Know More about Chef Dominique Rizzo - Dominique Rizzo picking herbs.

Q: What would you order when you are eating out and trying to be conscious of weight/health?

Usually fish or seafood, I had a beautiful warm seafood and Thai salad with coconut tom yum broth….fantastic. Or I will order chicken if it’s free range or organic.  I don’t really eat a lot of meat as my body never really asks for it.

Q: How do you manage to stay so slim whilst loving food? Diet and exercise combination?

Definitely, in fact I get asked that all the time, people are amazed and always say how slim I am which I don’t think I am, but they feel that as I am a chef I must eat all the time, and I do but it’s what I eat. Yes, I also do exercise about 4-5 times a week. It’s about balance, I eat what I want, then exercise allows me to have that food freedom.

Q: Do you have any extra tips for Gastronomy Gal on healthy eating?

Listen to your body on hunger and feeling full signals, that way you can eat what you want, just stop when you have had enough.

Q: Most used cookbook?

Stephanie Alexanders “Cooks Companion”….its now falling apart

 

 

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story -Dominique Rizzo

Dominique Rizzo’s Italian Story

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story - Dominique Rizzo

Dominique Rizzo went to Sicilia for the first time at the age of three.  With her Italian father and Australian mother, her older and younger brother, they stayed on the farm of her uncle.  It was here that she first remembers seeing the process of the pigs being butchered and meat prepared.  It was the start point of a lifelong fascination with simple, fresh food, and specifically, a love of Sicilian food which led her to carve out a successful career as a chef.

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story - Rizzo family Sicily 1950s

Dominique’s father, Vincent Rizzo came from a poor family in Palermo.  At the age of ten he left school.  At the age of eleven, he started working as an apprentice carpenter with his older brother Andrea.  His father, a seaman, had travelled all over the world including spending three or four years in Australia.  On his return to Sicilia, he talked of Australia and suggested  Vincent emigrate.  In  March 1961 at the age of 20, he boarded  the ship ‘Aurelia’ for Australia for a thirty-five day journey, before arriving in Melbourne.  It was the last  voyage for this ship, which was dismantled soon after.  The boat was small, quite rocky, and 35 days was a long time to be with with 1200 other migrants leaving from the port of Genova – a variety of nationalities including Spanish, Maltese, Yugoslav and Greek.  There were three people from Palermo on the ship, who he never saw again after disembarkation.  Sponsored by a friend, he found work and a home in Melbourne.

Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story -Vincent Rizzo Sicily 1950s

His first job was at the foundry making parts for tractors, working 12 hour days.  He learnt english from other Italian migrants who had been in Australia longer.  Vincent came to Brisbane to be best man at a friend’s wedding and while here he met his future wife at the dance hall, Cloudland.  When they married, he returned to his original trade as a carpenter as they began to build a life and family in Brisbane.  Vincent was the only one of his four siblings to come to Australia.
Dominique regards a trip to Sicilia for a gap year after high school, as the point when she felt a distinctive connection with her Italian roots.  The family had continued to regularly visit Italy during her childhood.  She remembers watching the cutting of pigs for the bleed and then the processing and use of every part of the animal. From the kitchen’s of her Zia’s and Nonna, she picked the vegetables, collected the eggs, rolled the polpette, stirred the pasta, picked the cucuzza and arranged the fruits.  She sat on a rickety stool cleaning garden snails, peeling vegetables, washing wild greens.  The menu could consist of tripe, goats heads, pigs trotters and intestines, rabbits, wild fennel, fresh broad beans, fresh pastas, grains, prickly pears, breads, goats cheeses or sheep infested with maggots being the delicacy.  She recalls the abundance and generosity of the tables, from those with so little, yet willing to share everything.

 

These experiences inevitably contributed to her love affair with Italian food.  Living with family and working in cafe’s during her gap year gave her a longer experience of the rustic land, peasant lifestyle and family filled eating extravaganzas.  She describes the recipes of her Italian family as being some of her most cherished , with the history of flavours from the most simple and freshest of foods.  Dominique continues to share her passion for Sicilia through her cooking and food tours back to her father’s homeland.  She describes the ongoing sense of joy on returning to Italia and the emotion on leaving.  Dominique’s life and work focus centres around her philosophy that ‘through the sharing of food we share life and one is never lonely or hungry.”

 

Elio Marzullo part of Italian Stories at www.ItalianWeek.com.au for 2014 _Dominique Rizzo's Italian Story

 

© Jacqueline Bawtree.  Used with Permission.

How to cook Italian penne with mushrooms and zuicchini - Chef Dominique Rizzo

How to Cook Italian Penne with Zucchini & Mushroom

Is Penne one of your all time favourite pastas?

How to cook Italian Penne with Mushrooms and zuicchine - Chef Dominique Rizzo

I will show you How to Cook Italian penne with zucchini, mushroom and garlic in ten minutes.

This recipe is perfect  for a very easy weekday meal to prepare and serve for just one or for a family.

Watch my YouTube video here – Dominique’s Italian Penne with Zucchini, Mushroom and Garlic – What to Cook

 

 

Here’s what you do.

Cook the penne first by adding  300 grams of penne to boiling salted water and cook until al dente.

Drain the pasta, setting one cup of the water aside.

Now for the sauce:

Slice up a nice mix of button, portobello and Swiss brown mushrooms and zucchinis.

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook the mushrooms and zucchinis for 4 to 5 minutes and then remove from the pan.

Return the cooked pasta to the pan, add in lemon zest, parsley and garlic and stir.

Add in the mushrooms and zucchinis and a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves; season with salt and pepper; and a good splash of the remaining pasta water.

Serve this beautiful pasta dish with freshly crumbled ricotta on top.