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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Squid stuffed with oregano

There is a huge marjoram bush growing in our garden and it’s a herb we definitely don’t use enough of. Use tender baby squid for this and have it all prepped in advance. This is a super simple starter to throw onto the barbecue as people arrive.

Our fishmonger carries good frozen squid for when there is none available fresh and it works just as well.

Wine Suggestion: a crisp, dry and minerally white with a citrussy lemon character, like Assyrtiko from Greece, would have been our first choice, but as we didn’t have one in the fridge we pulled out a bottle of Zero de Bouvet-Ladubay, a sparkling Saumur made from Chenin Blanc and, like its name suggests, completely dry with zero residual sugar. It worked just as well.

Baby squid with marjoram – serves 4

  • 600g baby squid
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 tbsp marjoram leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 dried chillies, crumbled (or use chilli flakes)
  • extra virgin olive oil

To prepare the squid you need to pull away the head and tentacles and any pulpy stuff inside the sac. Cut out the hard beak. Wash the tentacles and sac. The recipe suggests leaving the skin and fins on but we usually remove them. Pat dry with paper towels.

Squeeze the juice from 1 of the lemons and cut the other one into quarters.

Season the squid generously inside and out and put 1 tsp of the marjoram into each sac.

Mix the crumbled chilli with 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil and the rest of the marjoram.

Cook the squid bodies and tentacles on a hot barbecue and squeeze over a little lemon juice. Turn almost straight away – when the white flesh has charred lightly – and char on the other side. Serve with the sauce and lemon.

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

 

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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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Chicken Saltimbocca

This is an easy version of an Italian dish which is perfect for a tasty mid-week dinner. A great combination of chicken, ham & sage. Also easily halved if you are only two.

Wine Suggestion: When considering a match for the salty prosciutto and savoury sage we thought of two wines straight away. The first a good Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the Marche in Italy, like Sartarelli. The second a choice between a good Pinot Blanc or Gris from Alsace. Each should have a minerality, nuttiness and textural spices on the palate with a good balance of vibrant fruit.

Chicken saltimbocca – serves 4 

  • 4 chicken breasts (skinless & boneless)
  • 8 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Flatten the chicken breasts between two sheets of cling film by bashing with a rolling pin. Cut the flattened chicken in half lengthways. Put a piece of prosciutto and a sage leaf onto each piece of chicken and attach with a cocktail stick. Coat the chicken in the flour.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and cook 4 of the chicken pieces at a time for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown but a little undercooked. Set aside and cook the rest of the chicken in the remaining oil.

Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper, then add the butter. Heat until frothy, then add the wine and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Bubble the sauce for about a minute before adding all of the chicken back to the pan and cooking for a further 2 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and cook for another minute, then serve immediately with the sauce.

Serve with new potatoes or green veg.

(Original recipe by Aldo Zilli IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, May 2001.)

 

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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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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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