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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Mussels & cockles with garlic breadcrumbs

This is a great starter from Polpo that tastes similar to stuffed mussels but is nowhere near as fiddly to prepare. We used cockles instead of clams as that is what we could get the day we cooked this.

Wine Suggestion: we’d suggest a white from central or sourther Italy for this dish. Tonight it was a Verdicchio from the Marches, the Tralivio by the Sartarelli family which combines citrus, apricots and wild herbs with texture, body and hints of a bitter almond on the finish. Very attractive, refreshing and a perfect food wine.

Mussels & Clams with Garlic Breadcrumbs – serves 4 – 6 as a starter

  • 100g old bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped
  • a large pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 1kg clams
  • 100ml white wine
  • bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Tear the old bread into pieces, then scatter over a baking tray and pour over plenty of olive oil over them. Put the tray into the oven for 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and golden, then set aside.

When the bread has cooled blitz it in food processor with the chopped parsley, half the dried chilli, half the garlic and some seasoning. When the bread has turned to fine crumbs, taste some and adjust the seasoning and add some more oil if they are too dry.

Clean the mussels and clams in cold running water and discard any that are damaged or that stay open when tapped.

Heat a large pan and add some olive oil. Throw in the mussels and clams with the rest of the chilli and garlic and stir until the shells start to open. As they do, pour in the white wine and cover the pan with a lid. The shells should all have opened after a couple of minutes, throw away any that haven’t opened.

Add a handful of breadcrumbs to the pan to thicken the sauce. Spoon the mussels and clams into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the crumbs. Serve immediately with crusty bread if you like.

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russel Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

 

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Fusilli with Chestnut Mushrooms, Leeks and Mascarpone Cheese

This pasta sauce can literally be made in the same time as it takes to boil the pasta. The recipe is easily halved for two and therefore good for using up mascarpone.

Wine Suggestion: A tasty supper like this pairs well with unoaked Chardonnay, particularly from slightly cooler areas like the Maçon in Burgundy. Tonight’s choice, the Domaine Manciat-Poncet Maçon-Charnay which has a fresh joy to it with red apples and citrus flavours.

Fusilli with chestnut mushrooms, leeks and mascarpone cheese – serves 4

  • 45g butter
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 4 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 400g fusilli pasta
  • plenty of freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the butter and allow to melt. When the butter is foaming add the mushrooms, leeks and garlic and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the mascarpone and cook for another minute or so, stirring continuously. Stir in the chives and cayenne pepper, then season carefully with salt and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in lots of salty water according to the timings on the pack, then drain and return to the same pan.

Pour the mushroom sauce into the pasta pan and stir together for 30 seconds before dividing between warm bowls.

Sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve.

(Original recipe Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Spaghetti Carbonara

We’re not in the least offended by a splash of cream in a carbonara but this is the traditional version made with nothing but eggs, pecorino and pancetta. The quality really matters when you’re using just a few ingredients so definitely go for the best you can find or afford.

Wine Suggestion: An Italian white like a Pecorino from the Marches springs to mind, but some of the fuller textured wines from Lugana or Friuli from the North, or a Greco from the South make a good alternative; a layered texture and freshness is what your looking for to match this dish.

Spaghetti all carbonara – serves 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g pancetta lardons or guanciale
  • butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g pecorino (or Parmesan), grated

Cook the pasta, according to the timings on the pack, in plenty of salty water.

Meanwhile, put the pancetta into a cold frying pan and bring slowly up to a high heat. When the pancetta has started to release its fat, add a knob of butter and the garlic, then turn down to medium. Fry until the pancetta is browned but not too crispy or it will harden. Discard the garlic and keep the pan warm.

Beat the eggs with most of the cheese. When the pasta is done, drain it, and keep a few tablespoons of cooking water. Tip the pasta back into the hot pasta pan, but off the heat. Add the egg mixture and pancetta and toss everything together quickly. Season with plenty of black pepper and add a bit of water to loosen the sauce if needed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in Olive Magazine, October 2011.)

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Potato, Courgette, Chickpea and Rosemary soup

This is such a simple soup but it just tastes full of goodness. We loved it and we are loving Rachel Roddy’s cookbook – Two Kitchens – which is full of simple ideas that work perfectly.

Potato, chickpea, courgette and rosemary soup – serves 4 – Zuppa di patate, ceci, zucchine e rosmarino

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 2 medium courgettes, diced
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes
  • 800g tinned chickpeas, drained
  • grated pecorino, we used lots but as you please

Warm the olive oil and onion in a heavy-based pan over a medium-low heat and cook until the onion is soft. Add the rosemary and cook for another minute or two.

Add the courgettes and potatoes to the pan with the chilli flakes and stir until everything is coated in the oil.

Add the chickpeas,  1 litre of water and some seasoning.

Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are beginning to fall apart. Taste for seasoning and serve with the cheese.

(Original recipe from Two Kitchens – Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy, HEADLINE HOME, 2017)

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Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Capers and Olives

It seems like so long since we’ve cooked fresh fish, but tonight was the night. We’ve had Rachel Roddy’s book (Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome) for ages now but this has been its first outing (for reasons that we won’t bore you with here). This dish was everything we hoped for – quick for a Friday night but absolutely packed with all the flavours that this family loves. We served with couscous but rice or bread are also suggested. Well done Rachel!

Wine Suggestion: we were seduced by the Sicilian white, the Gulfi Carjcanti, a blend of Carricante and the ancient Albanello. Lively and herbal alongside a salty sapiness in the flavour making this a great wine to pair with seafood, let alone the olives, capers and tomatoes in this dish.

Fish in spicy tomato sauce with capers and olives (Pesce all ghiotta) – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, remove the strings and finely dice
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 500g fresh tomatoes, or tinned plum tomatoes drained of the juice
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional but sometimes good if using tinned tomatoes)
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes
  • 50g salted capers, rinsed
  • 60g olives – we used a mixture of green and black
  • 4 fish fillets (cod, bream or hake – we used hake), about 120g each
  • 1 heaped tbsp of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Take your fish out of the fridge and season it with a little salt.

Gently fry the onions in a deep frying pan, large enough to fit the hake fillets in a single layer later, until soft and translucent.

Add the celery and cook for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and chilli and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add the capers and olives and simmer for another couple of minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, make a space in the sauce and arrange the fish fillets, skin-side down, in a single layer, then spoon over some of the sauce. Put the pan back over a low heat and simmer very gently, spooning more sauce over occasionally, until the fish is cooked through – watch carefully as it shouldn’t take too long. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

(Original recipe from ‘Two Kitchens – Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome’ by Rachel Roddy, HEADLINE HOME, 2017)

 

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This veggie pasta dish uses shop-bought ravioli and the whole thing cooks in one pan in the oven. Couldn’t be simpler and really tasty on a night when time is short (which is every night for us at the minute).

Wine Suggestion: a lemony, fresh white like the Umani Ronchi Ca’Sal di Serra Verdicchio which is crisp and pure with lovely vibrant fruit. It tastes of summer which we’ve had a reprise of these last few days.

Creamy Lemon & Spinach Ravioli – serves 2

  • 250g pack spinach & ricotta ravioli (or another flavour if you prefer)
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g baby spinach, chopped
  • 200ml hot vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp soft cheese, we used Philadelphia
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Spread the ravioli over a baking dish and scatter over the peas and spinach.

Whisk the hot stock, soft cheese, lemon zest and juice and half the Parmesan together in a jug. Season well, then pour over the ravioli. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil, scatter over the rest of the cheese, then bake for another 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, September 2019)

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Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron

We’re getting a new kitchen and currently trying to clear the cupboards of as many ingredients as possible to save us having to pack them away. I don’t know why we bought a bag of radiatori pasta, maybe we just liked the look of it, but a quick flick of the books turned up the perfect recipe. Do find Italian sausages if you can (we used luganega but you can often find good pork and fennel ones too) as they’re a lot denser than our traditional sausages. Gone are the days when we used to beg Italian restaurants to sell us some!

Wine suggestion: the saffron gives this dish a refinement and character a little different to some other Italian / pasta recipes and we think that the newly classic wines of the Tuscan coast, specifically Bolgheri and northern Maremma suit the dish really well. For sheer value we’d open a bottle Argentiera’s Poggio ai Ginepri which is Cabernet Sauvignon led. However, if you can stretch further then the Cabernet Franc led wines of Biserno, like their il Pino would make this dish feel like a proper event – as all Friday night dishes should be!

Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a large onion, roughly chopped
  • 500g Italian sausages, remove the skins and break up the meat with your hands
  • ¼ tsp of saffron threads
  • 600ml passata
  • 500g radiatori pasta
  • basil & grated pecorino (to serve)

Warm the oil in a heavy casserole. Add the onion with a pinch of sea salt and cook over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Turn the heat up, then add the sausagemeat, keep breaking it up with your spoon if needed, and stir until it loses its raw appearance, then add the saffron and passata. Bring to a bubble and turn the heat down low and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Place a lid on the casserole and turn off the heat, then cook the pasta in lots of boiling, salty water for the time on the packet. Reserve a few ladlefuls of pasta water before you drain it.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss together, adding a bit of pasta water to help it come together if needed. Serve sprinkled with basil and pecorino.

(Original  recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

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