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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Finocchiona salami with fresh Borlotti beans

We grew fresh borlotti beans in our little garden last summer. The beans had a fabulous creamy texture. Serve this as a starter with lots of ciabatta to mop the plates with. Finocchiona is a soft salami from Tuscany with fennel seeds in it.

Wine Suggestion: If you feel like a white choose a Vermentino from the Tuscan coast; we like the Poggio ai Ginepri Toscana Bianco. If red is what you feel like search out a fresh, youthful and fruit-driven Chianti like the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo, a real taste of spring and summer with no oak and vibrantly fresh fruit.

Finocchiona salami with fresh borlotti beans – serves 4 as a starter

  • 1kg fresh borlotti beans, podded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 300g Finocchiona salami, finely sliced

Put the beans into a medium-sized saucepan with the garlic and cover with water. Bring the the boil, then simmer for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain, season generously, then add the vinegar & 3 tbsp of your best olive oil.

Slice the plum tomatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 long strips. Season the tomatoes, then gently fold into the borlotti beans.

Divide the beans between 4 plates and scatter the salami over the top. Serve drizzled with some more oil.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Italian seared beef

So this is a bit of a treat and yet has very few ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. Hail to that.

Wine Suggestion: fresher and bit more rustic than Bordeaux is Bergerac, into the Dordogne River to the east. The best vineyards are in the Pecharmant AC and have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as the dominant varieties. We found some unoaked wines on our last trip from Domaine des Costes, Cuvée Tradition which, while simple, had a joy and juiciness that perfectly complemented the beef, pesto and rocket.

Italian Seared Beef – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 250g rump steak
  • 2 heaped teaspoons pesto
  • 40g rocket
  • 15g Parmesan cheese

Put a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cut the fat of the steak, finely chop the fat and put into the hot pan to crisp up. Cut the sinew off the rump and season with salt and black pepper. Put the steak between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until it is an even thickness of about 1 cm. Scoop out the crispy fat and set aside, then sear the steak in the hot pan for 1 minute per side or until golden but still pink in the middle (as per photo). Remove the steak to a board to rest.

Spread the pesto over a serving plate. Thinly slice the steak at an angle and scatter over the plate. Pile the rocket on top, then scatter over the pine nuts and crispy fat (you don’t have to eat the fat if you would rather not –  we’ll have it!). Mix the resting juices with a tbsp of good olive oil and drizzle over. Shave the Parmesan over to serve.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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Courgette & lemon risotto

A weekend lunch treat for the three of us as we had courgettes lying around begging to be used.

Wine Suggestion: a crunchy white was demanded here and an old favourite was opened to match; the Chateau du Hureau Saumur Blanc “Argile”. A vibrant Chenin Blanc with texture, vibrant, crunchy, apply fruit plus a real sense of place.

Courgette & lemon risotto – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 180g risotto rice
  • 1 litre of hot vegetable stock
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 2 lemon thyme sprigs
  • 250g courgette, diced
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and gently fry the onion until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Pour in the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until it glistens.

Add a ladle of the stock to the rice, along with the lemon juice and thyme. Bubble over a medium heat, stirring constantly. When almost all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle and continue to stir. Tip in the courgette and keep adding the stock, stirring every now and then until the rice is just tender and creamy.

Season to taste and stir in the lemon zest, Parmesan and crème fraîche.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spaghetti with crab, cherry tomatoes & fresh chillies

This is really simple and fresh and we love it on a Friday night with a glass of chilled white wine. By all means cook a crab but our local fish shop sells cooked and picked crabmeat which makes this extra quick and easy.

Wine Suggestion: One of our stand-by wines for seafood is Muscadet and for this dish it was a good choice. A long standing favourite, the Domaine de la Chauviniere Muscadet sur lie always has good fruit, great texture and freshness and accentuated the flavours of the crab in a very nice way.

Spaghetti with Crab, Cherry Tomatoes and Chillies – serves 4

  • 500g spaghetti
  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 medium hot red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100ml white wine
  • 200g white crabmeat
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped chives

Cook the pasta in a very large pot of boiling salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic and chilli for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes before adding the wine and bringing to a simmer. Add the crab and cook for a minute to just warm through.

Drain the pasta well and tip into the pan with the crab sauce. Stir to combine, sprinkle over the chives, and serve.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

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Pasta with broccoli & gorgonzola

This is particularly good with purple sprouting broccoli when it’s around. Don’t be tempted to strip off the leaves they’re just as good to eat as the florets. Hardly a recipe at all but very satisfying.

Wine Suggestion: try an Italian white from the Marches or Abruzzo. Our choice this evening was the La Piuma (feather) Pecorino Terre di Chieti; charming fruit and with little twists of nuts, herbs and citrus that played with the food in a great way.

Cheese & broccoli pasta – serves 2

  • 200g pasta (use whatever you have)
  • a bunch of purple sprouting broccoli – about 6 to 8 stems (or a head of ordinary broccoli)
  • about 250g of ripe Gorgonzola

Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salty water.

Cut the broccoli into small florets and thin pieces of stalk (discard any thick woody stems).

Lightly salt another pan of boiling water and cook the broccoli for a few minutes or until tender.

Put the cheese into a large warm bowl, then add the hot drained broccoli followed by the lightly drained pasta (a bit of water will help make a sauce). Stir until melting and serve.

(Original recipe from Appetite by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2001)

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Risotto Primavera

Do it now when there is lots of asparagus in the shops! If you have peas and broad beans growing you should of course use these rather than our frozen substitutes.

Wine Suggestion: we had opened a delightful Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Octavie which not only matched the food, it also matched the sunshine with us this evening.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4

  • 200g frozen broad beans
  • 4 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and chopped into 4 pieces
  • 1.3 litres of good chicken or vegetable stock – homemade if you have it
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 85g butter
  • 350g Carnaroli or other risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 140g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

Tip the broad beans into boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, then drain and remove the skins.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Add the shallots, scallions & garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent but not browned.

Keep the heat at medium and add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes so it gets toasted and very hot. When it starts to hiss, pour in the wine and stir for another minute or so until the wine has evaporated.

Set a timer for 20 minutes, then start adding the stock starting with a ladle and a half. It should be gently simmering and you need to stir continuously until the liquid had been absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time and allowing it to be absorbed before adding another.

After 14 minutes, add the beans and peas to the rice with some seasoning. Meanwhile, add the asparagus pieces to the simmering stock and cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the rice. Start tasting the rice to check if it is done – you’re looking for soft rice with a little bite. Keep adding stock until cooked, then take the pan off the heat and add half the Parmesan and the remaining butter along with another splash of stock. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Lemon & basil linguine

Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn out the best.

Wine Suggestion: we had a glass of the Adi Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc which he’s now experimenting with a little bit of skin contact. We don’t disagree, it adds a touch of extra texture and complexity to such a great value wine.

Lemon & basil linguine – serves 2

  • 200g linguine
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 75ml good olive oil
  • 75g Parmesan
  • a large handful of basil leaves

Put a large pan of water on to boil, add loads of salt and cook the pasta according to the time suggested on the packet.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan into a large warmed bowl and beat with a small whisk to combine and thicken. Tear the basil leaves into the bowl and add plenty of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and toss with the mixture in the bowl.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries  by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)

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