Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gnudi with tomato sauce

Gnudi?? what a weird name! Nudo means 'nude' in italian and these are basically ravioli without the pastry wrappers! They can be considered a cousin of  gnocchi but made with ricotta rather than potato.

I would suggest using fresh ricotta from a cheese store rather than supermarket ricotta. Make sure the ricotta is will drained but putting it in a sieve lined with cheesecloth and leave in the fridge until it stops dripping.
Whats so great about this recipe is that you can add spinach, different herbs, well its up to your imagination. The sauce can also be anything you like and a simple as butter and sage.

This recipe is similar to one i posted a while ago for Malfatti.

1 cup flour
1 lb ricotta
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
 2 1/2 cups grated parmesan
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup fresh tomato sauce ( or cheat here and used canned!)

Fill a pan with water, add some salt and bring to the boil.
In a food processor, mix the eggs, ricotta, egg yolk, 2 cups of the cheese, the nutmeg, add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix until you get a smooth paste.
Sprinkle the flour onto a plate.
Divide the mixture into manageable pieces and roll into strips about 1 1/2 inch wide. They should look like snakes!
Cut slices of about 3/4 inch thick and roll them lightly in the flour.
Make sure the water in the pan is boiling and and add to the pan but don't over crowd.
Let boil for about 2 mins then remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat untill they are all cooked,
(At this point, you can let them cool down and refridgerate for later use. Covered, they can keep for about a day).
If you are eating them immediately, pre-heat the oven to 400F, put the gnudi in a baking dish, drizzle with the tomato sauce, add the remaining cheese and bake until lightly browned (about 15 mins)
Should serve 4!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bouquet Garni

Thanks to Marcelle in (yes!!) Provence for sending me this useful snippet of information!

What is a bouquet garni?

French : bouquet, bunch + garni, past participle of garnir, to garnish

Bouquet garni is a bunch of aromatic herbs used to flavor stocks, soups, casseroles, and other liquid-based dishes. There is no such thing as a standard recipe, although most variations begin with fresh parsley stems, sprigs of thyme, and a dried bay leaf, all wrapped together with kitchen twine. Possible additions include rosemary, celery (leaves and/or ribs), the green part of the leek, tarragon, savory, or fennel. In some parts of France the mixture may contain spices (especially whole peppercorns or cloves) as well as a slice of bacon to serve as a wrapper.

The untied end of the string is often left long enough to wrap around the handle of the pot; when cooking is finished the herb bundle is then easily retrieved and discarded. If dried herbs are used, the mixture is traditionally enclosed in a small piece of cheesecloth and tightly tied to prevent leakage. The main reason for this is aesthetic—herb flecks can mar an otherwise clear broth. However, you can omit the cheesecloth, since many clear broths are poured through a fine-mesh strainer anyway.
Here's how to make your own herbes de Provence

In Provence they sell dried, herbes de Provence in little terracotta pots topped with the local patterned cloth, or in brightly coloured bags of the same material.
Make, and use, this secret blend with fresh herbs - it proves that fresh is always best. It also proves the culinary guideline of “There are no rules” when it comes to using herbs to enhance your cooking.

Mix one tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh oregano, savory, thyme, marjoram and rosemary.

This traditional French bouquet garni will add real French flavour to any Provencal dish. If you’re not into French cuisine use it to complement your salads, vegetables, meat dishes and even hot desserts.
Fines herbes consists of tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives. Although the blend is sometimes used dried, none of the herbs have much flavour in the dried form.

Maximum flavour is obtained by using fresh herbs. Rather omit a herb that is not available fresh than to substitute it with dried herb.

All four herbs used in fines herbes have subtle flavours that blend well together and complement and enhance each other’s flavour. The subtle nature of the blend also ensures that it does not overpower any dish.

To make your own fines herbes, finely chop equal parts of tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives. Fines herbes should be added to cooked dishes at the end of the cooking period as the herbs, with the exception of tarragon, do not stand up well to heat. For the best results, sprinkle the mixture over dishes as a garnish, or place it in a bowl on the table.

Fines herbes are excellent when sprinkled over green salads. It goes particularly well with egg dishes, especially omelet's. Use it to garnish light vegetable or simple cream-based soups. Chicken, especially when poached, greatly benefits when sprinkled with this blend before being served. Fines herbes are excellent with simple fish dishes. Steamed vegetables, like beans, marrows and broccoli becomes a delicacy when flavoured with fines herbes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Unlike some recipes I came across, real zabaglione is not made using cream!! This is the authentic italian way of making this delicious dish

Zabaglione is an ethereal dessert made by whisking together egg yolks, wine (traditionally marsala) and sugar. This beating is done over simmering water so that the egg yolks cook as they thicken into a light, foamy custard. Traditional zabaglione must be made just before serving. (There is also a frozen version.) The warm froth can be served either as a dessert by itself or as a sauce over cake, fruit, ice cream or pastry. In France it's called sabayon or sabayon sauce.

4 egg yolks
2 1.2 oz sugar
4 tbs dry marsala

The Zabaglione is cooked over simmering water in a double boiler. This will prevent the eggs from curdling, so take care the water doesn’t come into contact with the bottom of the bowl.

In the top of the double boiler (or a metal bowl that can be suspended over simmering water), beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and foamy. Beat in the marsala. Set the mixture over the simmering water and whisk constantly for about 4-5 minutes. If the mixture heats too quickly, remove it from the heat for a few seconds. You want to cook the eggs slowly so the mixture stays very smooth. It will look foamy and be slightly thick. Serve immediately, or chill for making

Read all about zabaglione here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Super Easy Crab Cakes

Similar to my tuna cake recipe, this is a fast way to make Crab cakes. You can serve with a salad, baked potato or any other side dish you prefer.
Thanks to Lisa in Bournemouth for this recipe!
Serves 2

1 slice of bread - about a day old is the best.
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg, beaten
1/2teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound cooked white crab meat, flaked
Butter and oil for frying
Lemon or lime wedges

Put bread in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs.
Put into a bowl and mix with the chopped parsley.
In another bowl, mix the Worcestershire sauce and egg.
Add the crab meat, lemon juice and about 6tbsp of the crumb mix to the egg mix.
Season with salt and pepper and combine well but don’t mush up the crab meat too much!
Put the rest of the crumbs into a saucer.
Divide the mixture into 4 portions; flatten gently into thick patties.
Coat each patty lightly with the remaining crumbs.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before sautéing.
Heat butter and a little oil, enough to generously cover the bottom, in the frying pan.
(You can also bake them or gill them if you don't like the idea of frying)
Add the crab patties, in batches if necessary, and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.
Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Serve with the lemon or lime wedges for squeezing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Savoury Biscotti

I really have the biscotti bug!

I bought some sun dried tomatoes and decided that i would make herb and tomato biscotti. They made a great accompaniment for my caprese salad!
The recipe is similar to my almond biscotti, with a few substitutes.

1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs canola oil
1/2 tsp mixed herbs ( I used Italian Seasoning)
3 sun dried tomatoes (chopped)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 350F
Combine the flours, and baking powder.
Mix the eggs, water, oil, tomatoes and herbs.
Add to flour.
Mix until the dough is well blended
Put the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a flat log about 12" long, 3" wide and 1" thick. You will need the plastic cos the dough is rather sticky.Lift the wrap and transfer the dough to a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for about 20-30 mins until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven, put onto another baking sheet or a cutting board and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.
Cut crosswise on the diagonal using a serrated knife and cut slices of about 1/2" thick.
Put the slices back on the baking dish, cut side down and bake for another 20-30 mins or until crisp.

Chocolate Biscotti

It seems I can't get enough of these! A couple of pointers here, improved from my previous recipe
Since the mixture can be a bit loose, use the cling film to roll the dough before putting into the tray. Also, DO let cool before cutting. This will avoid the semi cooked dough from breaking. As. the name implies, biscotti are twice cooked. This is a must. Time can vary so keep an eye out while cooking

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa (choose a good quality type)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tbs canola oil
2 tbs honey
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.

Pre heat oven to 350F
Combine the flours, cocoa, sugar and baking powder.
Add the eggs, milk, canola oil, honey and mix well
Add the walnuts
Mix until the dough is well blended
(I use my hands here-easier and more fun!)

Put the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a flat log about 12" long, 3" wide and 1" thick. You will need the plastic cos the dough is rather sticky.Lift the wrap and transfer the dough to a non stick baking sheet.
Bake for about 20-30 mins until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven, put onto another baking sheet or a cutting board and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.
Cut crosswise on the diagonal using a serrated knife and cut slices of about 1/2" thick.
Put the slices back on the baking dish, cut side down and bake for another 15-20 mins or until crisp.
When cool, you can dust with powdered sugar (or not!)
They keep well in an airtight container and are delicious with a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Time for a facial

The Breakfast Mask
Had to try this again - its so good for any type of skin really.....

Is good enough to eat....not recommended!!
Complete with protein and whole grains, this breakfast-themed mask is used to correct and calm oily skin.

1. Combine an egg yolk, a tablespoon of honey, then a tablespoon of olive oil (yes, olive oil) and half a cup of oatmeal

2. Apply to the face for 15-20 minutes
3. Rinse with lukewarm water and then moisturize
(try not to eat!!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pomegranate Semoule

Foodie Fight Challenge using semolina flour and pomegranates.

Interesting challenge since I am familiar with these two ingredients as semolina is widely used in Europe and I had pomegranate trees in my garden. I had to buy a pomegranate this time and went to AJ's - bad choice! one pomi cost almost $3.00!! I went to Trader Joe's and they were 99c!

Anyway, lesson learnt!

Semolina is often used to make cakes, gnocci and pasta type dishes so I decided to go with a traditional European dessert, spiced up with some pomi wine.

Pomegranate Semoule

For the Pomegranate wine:
3 pomegranates
3 cups red wine (low tannin)
1 tbs vanilla sugar
Cinnamon stick
4 tbs orange juice
Juliennes of rind of one orange

Put the wine, sugars, cinnamon stick and orange juice in a pan and start heating.

In the meantime, open up the pomegranates over a plate, to preserve any juice that may fall, and remove all the fruits.
Add to the wine mixture, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30mins.
Pass through a sieve, pressing the pomi fruits to get out as much juice as possible.
Set aside.

For the Semolina mould
2 cups of the pomi wine
3 oz semolina
3 oz sugar

Bring the pomi juice to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and slowly sprinkle the semolina over it stirring all the time. Add the sugar and keep stirring until smooth.
Pour cold water over the glass or dish you will be using, pour the cooled mixture in and refrigerate.

For the Pomegranate syrup
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, combine pomegranate juice and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved; boil for about 1 minute to reduce. Remove from heat and cool. Cover and refrigerate

Drizzle the pomi syrup over the mould, top with some whipped cream and decorate with a few of the pomi fruits.
Serve chilled.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Perfect Bechamel Sauce

All the bechamel recipes I found use plain flour. I have found that by far, the best and lightest bechamel is made using corn flour. (corn starch, for Americans) Another trick is when adding the cornflour to the butter - take the pan with the butter off the heat, add the cornflour, and stir until smooth. The hot butter will melt the cornflour. Add a little bit of the milk until the consistency is liquid THEN put back on the heat ready to add the rest of the milk. Also, be prepared to stir ALL THE TIME! If you get lumps, the sauce is ruined.

5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cornflour
4 cups milk (warmed)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted.
Take off the heat, add the cornflour and stir until smooth. I prefer to use a whisk here.
Add about 1/2 cup of the milk and stir vigorously until you have a thickish consistency.
Put back over the heat.
Add the remaining milk bit by bit, stirring all the time.
Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, (or until the sauce thickens) stirring constantly, then remove from heat.
Season with salt and nutmeg

This sauce can be used as a base for cheese sauce, pasta sauces and also as an addition to pie fillings. I always use this recipe as a topping for my lasagne.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes

This is an ever so easy recipe sent to me by Gina - its easy and always works! You can add icing, jam or any other topping or just leave plain.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbs canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line muffin tin with paper liners. (a 12 muffin tin will do)
Whisk flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and water and on low speed beat until smooth.
Divide batter among lined cups, filling each about two-thirds full.
Bake about 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
You can Sprinkle the top with hundreds and thousands, icing or whatever tickles your fancy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy Pancakes

Pancake mix is always an easy way out but try this recipe and you will never use a mix again!
You can choose your choice of topping, add fruit etc etc. This is a great basic recipe

1½ cups flour
10 oz milk
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter, melted
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (beaten)
pinch of salt

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the milk, eggs and melted butter.
Mix well. Leave the batter in the bowl for about 15 mins before using.
Heat up a frying pan on a medium heat. (if you have a pancake pan, you would just need to heat it after spraying with some non stick spray)
Melt a dab of butter in the frying pan.
Pour in a little of the pancake batter.
As the pancake begins to cook, small bubbles appear. When the bubbles start to pop, its time to flip the pancake.
Cook on the other side for 1 minute until golden.
Stack pancakes on a plate and serve with your favourite toppings.

I love sugar and lemon juice best - but now its up to you!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The next Foodie Fights Challenge

The next challenge asks for semolina flour and pomegranates to be used in a recipe.
Here's a quick explanation fo the ingredients, (thanks to wikipedia)

Semolina Flour: The term "Semolina" derives from the Italian word "Semola" that derives from the Ancient Latin simila meaning "flour" ; itself a borrowing from Greek σεμῖδαλις "groats". Though present in Latin and Greek, the word is not Indo-European in origin but a loan word from the Semitic root smd - to grind into groats. The root is attested in Arabic, Aramaic and Akkadian. In Arabic, semolina is referred to as samîd, also spelled sameed.
Semolina, made from durum wheat, is known in North Idia as Sooji; in South India, Ravey in Kannada, Rava/Ravam/Ravai in Telugu/Tamil, In Tamilnadu, the Semolina is also made of rice. In Turkey, semolina is known as irmik.

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to between five and eight meters tall. The pomegranate is native to Southwest Asia and has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, India, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, the drier parts of southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia, the East Indies, and tropical Africa. Introduced into Lati nAmerica and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is in season from March to May.

Look out for my recipe on Tuesday - and if you like it vote for me!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Competition Winner!

The results are in!
Surprisingly. only TWO people guessed the vegetables correctly so they will both win a custom business card holder.

The correct vegetables were Yucca root, yam or sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga or swede and turnip.

None of the winners have a cookery blog!! Doesn't say much for the aspiring chefs out there LOL!!!

The winners are Jan from Better Spines andVicky Marks

Please e mail your mailing address so that I can send out your prize asap!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tribute to Keith Floyd

Keith Floyd who has died of a heart attack aged 65, will be best remembered for his television cookery programmes in the late 1980s and early 1990s – the epitome of gonzo-TV – as wine destined for the pot was drunk instead by the presenter. Cheerful mayhem was the consequence, though attentive viewers learned sound basics of flavour and technique. Floyd's performances, on or near the stove, were a refreshing departure from the prissy, controlled style then in favour at the BBC, or the alternative mode of half an hour with a French chef whose incomprehensible English made the recipes a mystery.
Read the full obituary in the guardian

Green Tomato Chutney
15g/½oz root ginger
8-10 chillies
2kg/4lb green tomatoes, chopped
500g/1lb apples, peeled, cored and chopped
250g/8oz raisins, chopped
625g/1¼lb shallots, chopped
2 tsp salt
500g/1lb brown sugar
570ml/1 pint malt vinegar

1. Bruise the ginger and tie in a muslin bag with the chillis
2. Place all the other ingredients in a preserving pan and suspend the muslin bag among them.
3. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, and simmer until the desired consistency is reached.
4. Remove the muslin bag. Pour into warmed sterilised jars, cover and label.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Malfatti di ricotta e spinaci

'Malfatti’, literally translated, means 'badly made’. In Campagna the word describes the broken and irregular pieces of the dried hard-wheat pasta that is formed in many shapes and sizes and often sold off cheaply to be used in soups. In Tuscany, fresh ricotta will always be sheep’s ricotta, but buffalo ricotta, works very well, otherwise use fresh cow’s ricotta.

1kg spinach leaves
500g fresh ricotta
4 large eggs
¼ of a nutmeg, freshly grated
50g Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp tipo '00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
200g fine semolina flour
250g unsalted butter, softened
10 sage leaves (fresh)

Cut the stalks from the spinach and discard, and wash the leaves well. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the leaves for five minutes, or until soft. Drain, squeezing out every bit of water. Chop finely and let cool.
Beat the ricotta with a fork and add the chopped spinach. Add the eggs, nutmeg and Parmesan and season. Fold in the flour and dust a tray with more flour.
Dust your hands with semolina and lightly form even shaped balls from the mixture. The malfatti must be well coated with the semolina. Place them on the floured tray.

Heat a serving dish with a knob of butter. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the malfatti in batches and cook until they float. This will take about five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the warmed dish. Keep warm while you cook the rest.
Slowly melt the remaining butter in a thick-bottomed pan over a low heat; add the sage leaves and just let them wilt and blend into the butter. Serve the malfatti with the sage butter and Parmesan.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Maids of Honour Tarts

I First tasted the little tarts over 20 years ago at a little tea room in Kew gardens, London. They were like nothing i have tasted before and I have been searching for the right recipe ever since.

Maids of Honor cakes have a long history dating back to around 1585. They were a favorite of Henry VIII who is believed to have named them so after seeing Anne Boleyn and her maids in waiting eating the small cakes. It is said that the king was so fond of the recipe that he kept it locked away in a chest in Richmond Palace.During the 18th century the recipe was obtained by a Richmond bakery who began making the cakes for the general public - which is where I had tasted them

This is the recipe that seems to taste like the ones I so liked...but i am not sure if it is the original!

8oz Puff Pastry
8oz Curd or Cottage Cheese
1 Egg
1 Lemon
2oz Currants
½ oz Blanched Almonds , crushed
½ oz Butter
2 tsp Brandy

Preheat oven to 375°F
Push the cheese through a fine sieve, add the beaten egg, grated rind of the lemon, sugar, currants, chopped almonds, butter and brandy.
Mix thoroughly to combine all of the ingredients.
Roll out the pastry and cut into 16 rounds and place in shaped baking tray.
Half fill the rounds with the filling.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Mostaccioli are characteristic of a Neapolitan Christmas. They are spicy cookies with a chocolate fondant icing, generally made in diamond shapes. You could make them flat or in balls if you wish. Some recipes also add liquor and candied peel but i have kept these relatively simple.
Thanks to Gianluca for this recipe.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 /4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
Zest of one orange

Chocolate Glaze:
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Silver ball decorations

Prepare Cookies:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
In another bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar with butter until blended.
Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy.
At low speed, beat in egg and zest.
Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until combined, occasionally scraping bowl.

Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough and cut into diamond shapes using a pizza cutter.
Place shapes 2 inches apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.
Bake cookies 7 to 9 minutes (they will look dry and slightly cracked).
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
Chocolate Glaze:
When cookies cool, in medium bowl, with wire whisk or fork, gradually mix cocoa with 1/4 cup boiling water until smooth.
Gradually stir in confectioners' sugar and blend well.

Dip top of each cookie into glaze. Place cookies on wire rack set over waxed paper to catch any drips.
Decorate with silver balls
Allow glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store cookies, with waxed paper between layers, in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 3 days, or in freezer up to 3 months.

Some Italian Must Haves!

Here are some of my Must haves - my pantry is never without!

Tipo '00' flour - can be hard to find but a must for pasta making. I used to send for it from Italy but found a cheaper alternative and can now order it on line. I think some stores stock it - but haven't found any where I live!

Mantova Olive Oil -
I love the large can - and the taste is superb.
Except when i occasionally fry, I try to stick to a Mediterranean diet and a drizzle of this oil on tomatoes is excellent!

Italian Sea Salt - tastes of the mediterranean! I love thick sea salt, it seems to add a different flavour.

Fini Balsamic Vinegar - by far the best i have found. I have become addicted to balsamic and its the only vinegar i will use in a salad dressing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cold Farro and Bean soup

This recipe is taken from the original Italian in 'la cucina Italiana'. I have translated it and also added links to the ingredients as some may not be very well known. Its a rather unique dish - and very healthy - and easy to make.

cannellini lessati g 100 -
3 1/2 oz cannellini beans (white italian kidney beans)boiled until tender

farro perlato g 30 -

2 cucchiaini di olio extravergine d'oliva -
2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

limone -
lemon wedges

timo fresco -
fresh thyme

paprica -

sale -

pepe -

Boil the farro in salted water for about 15 mins. farro Perlato takes less time to cook than normal farro.
In the meantime, press the cannellini through a sieve, add a tsp of oil, salt and pepper and a tsp of paprika and a sprig of thyme.( you can always put them in a blender!)
Drain the farro and using a cookie cutter, shape them on to the bottom of a plate.
Add the bean puree, and decorate with the lemon and some more sprigs of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil
Serve at room temperature

Lessate in acqua bollente salata il farro perlato (sarà pronto in circa un quarto d'ora perché ha un tempo di cottura più breve rispetto al farro normale). Nel frattempo, passate al setaccio i cannellini, unite un cucchiaino di olio, un pizzico di sale, uno di pepe, uno di paprica e uno di foglioline di timo. Scolate il farro pressatelo in uno stampino e sformatelo nel piatto, aggiungete il passato di fagioli, completate con tre spicchi di limone pelati a vivo, qualche foglia di timo.e l'altro cucchiaino di olio. Servite la crema a temperatura ambiente.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Louise Cake

The Louise cake is an old fashioned New Zealand favorite consisting of a thin layer of cake or biscuit topped with raspberry jam, coconut meringue and then baked in the oven. I tried this cake about 6 years ago in Wellington and had managed to get the recipe off the chef in the little restaurant. Its so easy, and seems to be made for me!!!

4 1/2 oz butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Coconut topping
3 egg whites (from separated eggs)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened, desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 300F (150C).
Lightly grease an 11 inch x 7 inch rectangular cake tin.
Line tin with baking paper and allow the paper to hand over the edges
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add three egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift flour and baking powder together.
Fold through the creamed mixture.
The dough should be like breadcrumbs.
Press dough into lined cake tin.

Prepare the coconut meringue topping.
Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while continuing to beat the whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks.
Fold in the coconut and vanilla essence.
Spread a thin layer of jam over the dough.
Spoon and spread the coconut meringue over the jam, making sure all the jam is covered
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the meringue top is a soft pink eggshell color.
Remove from oven and cool in tin for 2-3 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake from the tin by holding onto the baking paper and gently lifting.
Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, cut cake into squares
The Louise cake slice can be kept in an airtight container for up to one week.
Who else has a recipe named after them???!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009


A Pissaladière is a kind of French-style pizza that makes a great hors d'oeuvre. No cheese or tomatoes are used. The recipe I tried asks for bread dough bought from a baker ( as is commonplace in Europe. Not finding that you can either use bought pizza dough or make your own)

14oz bread or pizza dough
2lbs onions
1 1/2 cups or 10 oz anchovies
15 black olives
2 tbs powdered sugar
herbes de provence
olive oil

In a large pan, heat up 5 tbs of olive oil.
Slice the onions
When the oil is warm, put the onions in the pan, add the pepper and herbs and the powdered sugar.
DO NOT put in any salt.
The sugar is necessary to balance out the acidity of the onions.
Gently cook the onions and be very careful that they don't burn or the whole thing could be ruined. They just have to turn golden

The secret of the Pissaladière is here: Put in some of the anchovies with the onions. The heat will almost melt them and they will get combined with the onions. If necessary, add a tbs of the anchovy oil to the mixture.

Roll out the dough and press it into a pan (pre-sprayed with non stick or olive oil), pushing up the sides.
Spoon the onion mixture over.
Decorate with the anchovy fillets and the olives.
Cook at about 420F/220C until done.
The Pissaladière is also great cold.
Serve with a green salad.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quiche Lorraine

With its few, simple ingredients and easy-as-pie preparation, quiche Lorraine livens up any meal, giving it a French twist without all the culinary expertise normally associated with la cuisine française.
I have come across several recipes that substitute some of the cream with milk...and tasted some of these results...yukkkkk.....tasted of scrambled eggs! A real quiche uses cream - or even better crème fraîche.
Never use a pre made crust - always make your own.
Also, (and I did not know this) shredded cheese is an absolute no no in the authentic Quiche Lorraine.
Oops, i always used today I will be trying out an authentic recipe from Amelie.
Vive la France!!!

Shortcrust pastry:
To make the pastry:
Rub 1 1/2 cups of plain flour,
a pinch of salt and
31/2 oz of butter into 'breadcrumb' type consistency. (you can also use half vegetable shortening for a light pastry)
Add a very small amount of milk, and knead that in (The milk can be replaced by a beaten egg if preferred).
Add a tiny bit more milk if necessary but always a very small amount at a time. If you add too much it will suddenly go sticky and unworkable (if this happens add a little more flour).
Leave the ball of pastry in the fridge for an hour, then get it out and leave it another half an hour to reach room temperature.
You can now roll out the pastry and put in your flan tin. Prick the base of the pastry all over.

easy no???!!!
Now for the filling:
Lardons are traditionally used but you can use cubed bacon, grilled and drained instead

7 oz thick smoked bacon cut into cubes
4 eggs (separated)
10 oz cream, whipped
salt and pepper.
Beat the egg yolks and the cream.
Add the bacon cubes
season to taste
Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour the filling into the pasty. I prefer to blind bake the pastry for about 15 mins, to be sure it will be nice and crisp.

Bake at 430F for 20-30 mins until done.

You can always make your own variation, using cheese, scallions, herbs, onions etc. etc. I was actually amazed at how light and tasty the original was!


This cold soup has so few ingredients that you should only use the best. Try and use homemade broth and not a bouillon cube. With their mild, sweet, onion flavor, leeks make a wonderful addition to this cold soup. Because they're grown in sandy soil, leeks tend to trap grit between their multi layered leaves and must be washed thoroughly before cooking. Yukon Gold potatoes are the best here.

4 leeks
1 medium onion
2 tbs butter
2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth(home made if possible)
2 cups cream
4 tbs chives

Gently sweat the chopped leeks and the chopped onion in the butter until soft, about 8 minutes. Do NOT let them brown.
Add potatoes and stock to the saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste
Bring to the boil, and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes or until done, adding more broth if necessary.
Puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth.
Gently stir in the cream before serving and top with the chopped chives.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Super Fast Tomato Sauce

A good tomato sauce usually needs at least an hour simmering. This is a quick, and just as tasty alternative. Great with pasta - or even on toast!!

10-12 tomatoes
10 basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
Olive oil

Gently fry the crushed garlic cloves and about 5 basil leaves in the olive oil.
Remove the basil when done.
Peel the tomatoes (immerse in boiling water for about 1/2 min and the skin will come off)
Chop the tomatoes and add to the garlic.
Cook gently on a medium flame.
Top with the remaining basil and serve.

Couldn't be easier!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Roasted Pepper and Caramelized Onion Dip

This is YUMMY!! I love dips..they are fuel for my snacking habit. This recipe is courtesy of Curtis Stone

2 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 onions, small dice
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped rough
Lemon juice to taste
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Lay the peppers on a small roasting tray and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the peppers, rubbing to ensure that they are evenly covered.
Roast the peppers in the oven turning occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skins have blistered and lightly begin to char.
Remove the peppers from the roasting tray to a large mixing bowl and cover with cling film to allow the steam to loosen the capsicums’ skin.
While the peppers are roasting, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.
Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and allow to get hot, then add all of the onions.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and to allow for even cooking.
The onions will take about 10 minutes before they start coloring, once they begin to take on a light brown color, add the garlic and the fennel seeds.
Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions are light golden brown.
Add the vinegar and the thyme and cook until the vinegar has evaporated.
Season the onion mixture with salt and pepper and allow to cool completely.
Once the peppers have cooled enough to handle, remove them from the bowl and carefully peel away the skin from the flesh of the peppers.
Discard the skin and the seeds and cut the capsicum into a medium dice and cool completely. Once the onion mixture and the peppers have cooled, mix them in a large bowl with the yogurt and parsley.
If necessary, strain any excess liquid from the yogurt before mixing with the peppers and onions.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and refrigerate until serving.
Serve with pita chips or vegetables.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lemon Squares

I had to sift through (pardon the pun) quite a few recipes till I found what i was looking for. This one is pretty easy to make and very tasty. Thanks to Lucy for sending me this recipe.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar, plus some for sifting on top of the finished squares
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. ( I spray with a non-stick spray)
Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

Make crust:
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
Add flour, and mix on low just until combined.
Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Note to self: Can also use a graham cracker base like the one used in making a cheesecake. No cook in this case.

Make filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth.
Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool completely in pan.
Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Second note to self: If feeling lazy, use lemon curd instead- no cook again!
Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.

What are your pantry staples?

What are the 10 items that you MUST have in your kitchen pantry?
This is my list - what would yours be?
1. eggs
2. flour
3. herbs/spices
5.olive oil
6.canned tomatoes
9.dried beans and pulses

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hazelnut Cookies/Biscuits

Easy to make and surprisingly low in calories. These keep well in an airtight tin. Recipe sent by Niki in Austria, not sure however if this is Austrian or Italian!

2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position 2 racks as close to the center of the oven as possible;
preheat to 325°F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pulse nuts and sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
Scrape into a large bowl.
Beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture.
Add vanilla and gently but thoroughly mix until combined.
Drop the batter by the tablespoonful 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies until golden brown, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.
Gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.