Saturday 1 August 2015


“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.” - Pablo Casals

Brother Francesco Maria Zuccari (born in Dosolo, Italy, 1694? – died 1788) was an Italian religious man, composer and organist. The date of his birth is uncertain and it is inferred from a rich collection of letters of the time.

Zuccari was already in the basilica of Assisi in 1718 as the first organist and from 1725 to 1727 as Kapellmeister. In 1727, after turning down the same post in Padua, he accepted a transfer to the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome. Later he was the first organist in Padua from 1742 until 1749, when he gave up the assignment to take again the direction of the chapel of Assisi.

He brought with him to Assisi all the music he wrote in Padua, where there are no manuscripts of his nowadays. In musical collections preserved at Assisi there are numerous manuscripts (some autographs) of his works which, with the addition of a few other sources (such as those kept in Bologna), ascribe to this composer over four hundred compositions, almost exclusively of sacred music.

Some fine cello sonatas are attributed to Zuccari. His interest in the cello is testified by the presence in the same collection of manuscripts of Assisi of a series of Exercises for Cello, autographed and dated 1760. Antonio Vandini, the famous cellist, on his way to Rome for the Jubilee of 1750, stopped at Assisi. The sonatas may have been written (or copied) for him.

Here are these sonatas for cello and continuo performed by Mvsica Perdvta and Renato Criscuolo.
Cello Sonata No. 1 in D 0:00
Cello Sonata No. 2 in B flat 11:28
Cello Sonata No. 3 in G 20:03
Cello Sonata No. 4 in A minor 28:45
Cello Sonata No. 6 in C 40:23
Cello Sonata No. 8 in D minor 53:17

Friday 31 July 2015


“Iran, in its former incarnation as Persia, created the world's first empire, produced titanic figures like Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes, and is one of the great fonts of world culture.” - Stephen Kinzer

Kuku also spelled as Kookoo (Persian: کوکو‎, Azerbaijani: Kükü) is an egg based Persian and Azeri dish. It is frequently a vegetarian dish, made with beaten eggs which then are folded in with various ingredients. It is similar to the Italian dish frittata or an open-faced omelette. Kuku typically has less egg than a frittata, and it cooks for a shorter amount of time, over a low heat, before turned over or grilled briefly to set the top layer.

For the typical Kuku Sabzi (Persian: کوکوسبزی‎, fresh-herb kuku) recipe, the eggs and herbs are mixed and seasoned with salt, black pepper, walnuts, sometimes flour, sometime barberries, sometimes baking powder and ground turmeric or advieh spice mixture. The mixture is then poured into a preheated oiled pan, covered and cooked over low heat until set, sometimes flipped or finished in a hot oven. Some cooks sauté the herbs briefly before adding the eggs.

The amount of herb ingredients usually greatly exceeds the amount of eggs, which merely serve to hold the kuku together, making the predominant flavour that of the herbs rather than that of a typical “egg omelette”. Walnuts and zereshk (barberries) are a favorite garnish for on top. It is often sliced and served hot or cold with bread or rice, yogurt, sabzi khordan (platter of fresh herbs) and torshi (pickled vegetables). Kuku can be a main dish or an appetizer.

Kuku Sabzi is often served at Persian New Year (Nowruz) and has been associated with a food you would bring to Sizdeh Bedar picnic (the 13th day of Persian New Year, marks the end of the holiday often celebrated with an outdoor picnic).

Kuku Sabzi
4 large eggs (or 5 small ones)
2 teaspoons baking soda
pepper and salt
1 teaspoon advieh spice mixture (or add a pinch each of powdered turmeric, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cardamom)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 bunch spinach, finely chopped
3 leaves of silverbeet (green part only) finely chopped
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
A few sprigs of dill, finely chopped
1 cup blueberries (optional)
A few walnuts for garnishing (optional)

Preheat over to 180˚C. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add oil, flour, baking soda, and seasonings. Then add the chopped spinach, silverbeet, spring onions, parsley, dill (and blueberries if using).  Mix well and transfer to a non-stick cake pan. Bake in an oven for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve portions with rice, decorate with crushed walnuts if desired.

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