Pumpkin & Pancetta Risotto

Risotto di Zucca, Pumpkin Risotto is an Italian classic using the colours and flavours of autumn to make what is possibly my favourite risotto of the year.  The addition of pancetta  brings an extra dimension and makes this dish really special You need to use a pumpkin which will start to break down into a…

Beef Ragu

A few weeks I posted my recipe for Pumpkin & Mushroom Lasagne but had absolutely no intention of writing up this original beef version – after all it’s just a run of the mill beef ragu, right?  I made up a batch specifically to freeze – 3 meals for 2 to pull out if the…

Pumpkin and Mushroom Lasagne

I’d planned to make up a batch of ‘normal’ lasagne based around a rich beef ragu and béchamel sauce, but also wanted to make a vegetarian alternative.  I love to make my own pasta and knocking up a full 3 egg batch would make enough for both dishes so knocked up the beef version and left…

Bacon, Sweetcorn and Pepper Risotto

Courgettes are a regular ‘problem’ for me every summer – always more than I can cope with so I’m always looking for great ways of using them up.  Every year it’s the same.  But never before have I been in the situation I find myself this year – too much sweetcorn! I grow sweetcorn every…

Broccoli Pugliese – By Special Request!

I wasn’t going to type this one up, but I’ve had a special request from Paula, so here it is.  A really quick and simple way to spice up your broccoli and turn it into an interesting accompaniment.  It can even be prepared in advance, holding on to the cold blanched broccoli until you’re about…

Gatto di Patate

Yet another traditional Italian dish, which served warm could be a meal in itself, or as an accompaniment or allowed to go cold and serve in slices as antipasto.  I’ve taken the liberty of making a vegetarian version, by adding a layer of spinach, replacing the more traditional ham or salami layer, but adapt to…

Special Mushroom, Celeriac and Walnut Lasagne

For my vegetarian Christmas celebration, I opted for one of my favourites – lasagne, this time made with rich layers of mushroom, herby celeriac and creamy cheese sauce, along with the obligatory home made pasta sheets.  Of course you could use shop bought pasta, but making your own is really simple. It’s a 3 pan,…

Caponata

A sweet and sour vegetarian dish often served cold as an antipasto makes a great accompaniment to roast meat.  Not exactly seasonal here in the middle of winter, but it brings back those delightful memories of the summer gone.  If you’re not a big fan of aubergine, this may change your mind! Serves 4-6 Ingredients…

Cipolline all’Aceto

Baby onions cooked in a balsamic vinegar caramel sauce.  A superb sweet and sour accompaniment to any meal! TIP: To peel the onions easily, first top and tail them, and blanch in a pan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then rinse n cold water.  The skins should slip off easily Serves 4-8 Ingredients 1kg…

Italian Slow Roast Shoulder of Pork

Shoulder of Pork is another ‘cheap’ cut of meat which lends itself to slow cooking.  Treated properly, this can make the most amazing roast dinner, requiring very little effort once it’s gone in the oven.  The fatty layers mean the meat does’t need basting as it cooks, and doesn’t need covering.  The Italian spin from…

Cassata Siciliana – The alternative to Christmas Pudding

So you’re entertaining for Christmas, but you want something a little different?  Just as rich and decadent, but maybe something chilled, or something a little bit lighter than the traditional pudding?  Give this cassata a go.  Packed with the festive richness of christmas pudding fruits soaked in rum, filled with creamy ricotta and covered in…

Christmas Cantucci

We had a lovely trip to Tuscany earlier on this year, during which time we spent a day with Bruna teaching us to cook some of the local dishes.  Alex fell in love with the Pici, but I thought the fresh cantucci were just great .  This recipe is my special Christmas version – if…

Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta Sauce

Finally, I’ve managed to finish off my roasted pumpkin with this great pasta sauce! Quite different from my other pumpkin recipes so far, but using classic combinations for Italian cooking, this is another sauce based on a pack of good quality shop-bought sausages, deskinned to form a wonderful rich meaty sauce when combined with the…

Oxtail & Cannellini Bean Soup

There was a time when you could pick up Oxtail for virtually nothing from the butchers – another hearty peasant food from days gone by.  However it seems to have mad e a revival recently – this is good in so much as it’s more widely ‘visible’, but at the same time seems to have…

Italian White Chilli Chicken with a Parmesan, Pear & Walnut Salad

A little bit left field, this probably takes ‘fusion food’ to a different level, but it’s absolutely delicious.  A variation on the traditional ‘Chilli con Carne’ using chicken, white beans and a creamy sauce with flavours I associate with good Italian food. The acidic tones of the pickled jalapeño combined anise effect of the fennel…

Low Fat Yorkshire Pasties – Shin of Beef Stew, with a twist!

I could give these any number of names. Shin of Beef Casserole pasties, Beef Calzone,… However, since they were awarded their protected status by the EU, They’re not Cornish Pasties. In fact these take that inspired idea from the Hairy Dieters of using pizza dough instead of pastry for a low fat pie and applying…

Ciabatta (take 2)

…well, it’s really take 3, as I had a crack at this 12 months ago as well as the ‘no knead’ version a month ago.  Not surprisingly, all 3 recipes are variations on a theme.  This one is based on Peter Reinhart’s Pain a l’Ancienne Rustic, and was my first test from his book, Artisan’s…

Parmesan Grissini

These ‘cheese and onion’ breadsticks are terrific for a party.  Unlike the Olive & Tomato breadsticks, these are baked for longer at a cooler temperature to get them really crisp Makes 40-50 Ingredients 250g Strong White Flour 250g Spelt Flour 10g Fast Action Yeast 6g Salt 1 tbsp Sugar 100g Softened Butter 150ml Full Fat…

Christmas Fruit Gelato

Based on a really simple Nigella recipe, this is a minimal effort ice cream with a festive twist! Serves 6 Ingredients 300ml Double Cream 150ml Full Fat Milk 1 tbsp Candied Peel, finely chopped 1 tbsp Dried Sour Cherries, finely chopped 1 tbsp Dried Cranberries, finely chopped 2 tbsp Rum 60g good Dark Chocolate, very…

Ciabatta – No need to Knead!

Having gained a degree of confidence over the last couple of weeks, I gelt it was time for something a little more challenging.  Ciabatta isn’t a difficult bread to make as such, but comes with 3 areas of consideration.  1: Be prepared.  You need to kick this off the night before, as the bread is…