Saturday, February 28, 2009

veal, spinach & cheese rolls

what you need
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 veal cutlets (scallopini; preferably cut from round; no more than 1/4 inch thick; 1 1/2 pounds total)
3 ounces Gruyère, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (1 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

what to do
Mash anchovy paste into 4 tablespoons butter in a bowl until combined. Gently pound cutlets to slightly less than 1/8 inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin. Pat cutlets dry and season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy butter over top of each cutlet. (You will have a little butter left over.) Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over anchovy butter, leaving a 1/4-inch border, then arrange spinach leaves, overlapping in 1 layer, to cover cutlets. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, arrange with a short side nearest you and roll up tightly, then secure with a wooden pick.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Pat rolls dry. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté veal, turning occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer skillet to oven and bake veal until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer veal with tongs to a platter (reserve skillet) and keep warm, covered.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet, then add wine and deglaze skillet by boiling (on stovetop) over high heat, scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, then add any juices accumulated on platter and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons butter (not remaining anchovy butter). Cook over low heat until incorporated. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Why not try this with recipe with boneless chicken thighs

traditional lasagne

I’ve never met a lasagne I didn’t like”, declared Garfield, the comic-strip cat, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d disagree with the chubby talking tabby. One of Italy’s most popular culinary exports, the word ‘lasagne’ derives from the Latin word ‘lasanum’ meaning cooking pot but the term has now come to describe the dish itself, which is typically made with sheets of wide pasta, layered with a savoury mixture and baked in the oven. , there’s just something about lasagne that exudes the Italian qualities of warmth and hospitality, and makes you feel instantly at home – wherever you happen to be.

what you need

meat sauce
2 tbs Olive oil
750g Beef mince
1 Onion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 Stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Carrot, finely chopped
2 x 440g cans Italian diced tomatoes
1/2 Cup red wine
1/2 tsp Dried oregano
2 tbs Basil, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper

cheese sauce
60g Butter
13 Cup plain flour
2 Cups milk
1 Cup grated picante provolone cheese
1/2 Cup grated mozzarella
1/2 Cup grated parmesan cheese
500gr Lasagne Sheets

what to do
To make the meat sauce, heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook mince in batches, stirring and breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon. Remove meat to a bowl.
Heat remaining oil in the pan and cook the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
Return the meat to the pan and stir in the undrained tomatoes, wine, oregano and basil. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Reduce theheat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the provolone and season to taste. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 24 x 30cm ovenproof dish with olive oil. Trim lasagne sheets so they fit into the base of the dish. Spread half of the meat sauce over the lasagne sheets. Top with one-third of the cheese sauce. Arrange another layer of lasagne sheets over the cheese sauce.
Repeat layers, finishing with a layer of lasagne then the last of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with combined mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden.

The trick to a firm lasagne is to let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

stuffed peppers

what you need
3 red peppers (capsicums)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 gloves garlic, crushed
50gr (1 3/4oz) butter
180gr (2 1/4 cups) fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup grated mozzerella
2 tablespoons chopped sage

what to do
pre heat the oven to 170 celcius. Cut the tops of the capsicums and save, remove the seeds and and wash
heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook gently for 5 minutes.
remove from the heat and stir in the butter and breadcrumbs , transfer to abowl and add egg, parmesan, tomaot, mozzerella, sage and three tablespoons of water, stir well and season to taste. fill the peppers and place the lids back on drizzle with olive oil and bake for 45 minutes or untill peppers and cooked.

insalata caprese

Insalata caprese is traditionally served with no other dressing than adrizzle of extra virgin olive oil, however a little good quality balsamic will also enhance the flavours. Be sure use vine ripened tomatoes for the best possible flavour.
what you need
6 vine ripened roma tomatoes
4 balls mozzerella cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
15 young basil leaves
sea salt
cracked pepper
balsamic vinegar - optional

what to do
Slice the tomatoes, pouring off any excess juice, and slice the mozzerella a similar thickness.
Arrange alternative rows of tomato and mozzerella on a serving platter.
Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper, drizzle the olive oil over the top.
Tear the fresh basil leaves into pieces and scatter over the top.
Drizzle with balsamic when serving

chorizo stuffed baby squid

what you need
6 medium size squid
3 Tbs olive oil
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 chorozo sausage, minced roughly
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, crumbled
1 Tbs continental parsley, choped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
1 1/2 cups simple tomato sauce
6 anchovies
10 baby capers

what to do
To clean the squid gentley pull the tentacles from the squid and set aside.
Clean out and wash the the inside of the squid. You can gently turn the squid body inside out to fully clean. .
In a bowl mix the chorozo, bread crumbs, garlic, 2 Tbs olive oil, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Gently two thirds fill the squid with the stuffing mixture, don't over fill or th stuufing will be forced out during cooking.
In a hot fry pan, lightly frythe squid and tenticles in the olive oil, add the tomato sauce, anchovies and capers and bring to a slow simmer and cook for a further six minutes.
Try not to stir the squid too much! Turn the heat to low and gently stir in any remaining stuffing mixture.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the Pecarino cheese.
Great served with lots of nice crusty bread

Saturday, February 21, 2009

prosciutto, melon and warm fig salad

what you need
Half a rockmelon melon, just ripe
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
85g salad greens
8 thin slices prosciutto
8 just ripe figs, sliced in half through the stem

what to do
Remove the seeds from the melon. Slice in half, then each in half again giving four wedges. Remove the peel, then cut the thin ribbons from the melon, this can be done on a mandolin or a potato peeler - it is best to do this along the side of the melon wedge.

Mix the balsamic and oil together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

to serve
Arrange the greens on plates and curl the melon and prosciutto over the rocket leaves.
Brush the cut side of the figs with a little oil. Heat a ridged frying pan or grill plate and place the figs cut side down for 2 minutes until tinged brown and warm.
Arrange two halves on each plate, pour over dressing and serve at once

almond biscotti

Biscotti" in Italian is the plural form of biscotto, which applies to any type of biscuit, and it defined biscuits as baked twice in the oven, so they could be stored for long periods of time, which was particularly useful during journeys and wars.

Some people find these twice-baked biscuits painfully crunchy. But that's the point - so that you can dip them into a sweet dessert wine, an espresso coffee, or a liqueur glass of Nocello or Frangelico to soften them before eating.
Store in an airtight container, where they will last for weeks, if not months.
this recipe makes about 40 biscuits.

what you need
100 g whole almonds
250 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
250 g caster sugar
pinch of salt
half tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 extra egg yolk

what to do
Heat oven to 180C. Toast the almonds in a hot, dry pan until they smell sweet and nutty, then cool and roughly chop. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk in a food processor and blend until the mixture leaves the sides and form a ball.
Turn out onto a lightly floured bench, scatter with the almonds, and knead for a minute or two to mix them through (add a little extra flour if need be).
Divide the dough in two and pat it out into log shapes about 25 cm long and 5 cm (10 in x 2 in) wide. Line a baking tray with lightly buttered greaseproof paper, and place the logs on it with room for spreading to each side.

Bake for around 25 minutes until they are lightly coloured and firm to the touch. Remove the tray while you reduce the oven temperature to 140C/Gas 1. Cut the logs on the diagonal into 2 cm slices, lay them cut side down on the tray and return to the oven for about 12 minutes, without allowing them to colour. You will have to do this in two batches.
Let the biscuits cool on the tray, then store in an airtight container.
Serve with an espresso or a glass of sweet dessert wine or liqueur like frangelico for dipping in.
Why not try replacing the almonds with other nuts, crunchy noughat or even drid apricot pieces

Sunday, February 15, 2009

squid ink risotto with seared scallops

Fresh squid ink sacks are always best, and easy to remove from fresh squid, but if you can't find, or don't won't to clean squid, you should be able to purchase sachets of squid ink from good speciality food stores.

The secret to making risotto is to continually stir the mixture as you add the chicken stock. This helps to release the starch from the rice, giving the risotto a nice creamy texture

what you need
1 1/2 litres chicken stock
100g golden shallots, finely chopped
2 cups risotto rice
¼ cup white wine
4 squid or cuttlefish ink sacks
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 bunch chives
¼cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
100g unsalted butter or cream
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt, pepper, chilli, as hot as you like
1 tbsp cream or butter to finish
16 fresh scallops

what to do
Bring stock to boil and keep hot.In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Do not allow the shallots to brown.

Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes, coating the grains with the butter, but not allowing to brown. Add the wine and enough chicken stock to just cover the rice. Stir continuously until the rice absorbs the liquid. Repeat, adding a ladle of stock at a time, allowing it to be absorbed, until all stock is used. Cooking time will be about 18-20 minutes.

Once the risotto is cooked add the squid ink, lemon juice, chives, parsley and butter or cream to finish. Season with salt and pepper. Place into four plates.

Lightly coat the base of a non-stick pan with a little olive oil and bring to high heat. Sear the scallops on both sides, then garnish the risotto with them.

capretto al forno

Goat should be ideally about 4-6 weeks old, your butcher should be able to chop the goat into pieces.

what you need
plain flour for dusting
salt and pepper
1 milk-fed domestic kid (goat)
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
15 small whole shallots, peeled
2 bouquet garni (containing fresh rosemary sprigs, thyme and sage, wrapped in muslin)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2-3 bay leaves
2 glasses Italian white wine, such as vermentino or pinot grigio
500ml water
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, blanched and peeled or 1 tin of Italian peeled whole tomatoes, deseeded

what to do
Pre-heat oven to 180C. Season flour and dust kid pieces. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, heat half the olive oil. When hot, braise kid pieces on all sides until golden, remove from pan with slotted spoon. Discard oil.
In a heavy-based baking dish, over a medium heat, heat remaining olive oil and garlic. Add shallots and gently fry until golden. Add kid pieces, bouquet garni, peppercorns and bay leaves.

Turn up heat to high, add white wine and allow to reduce. Season to taste. Add water, and tomatoes. Place a piece of baking paper the size of the pan surface, tucking the paper into the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and place in the oven.

Bake for 1 hour, until tender. Serve and enjoy

mushroom risotto balls

These bite size balls similar to arancini were so popular not only at the restaurant but also with my family, often asked to make them for Alexia my daughter and for family functions. While these are made with mushrooms, they are just as easy to make them with roast pumpkin or even chicken. Great as a starter or as part of antipasto platter.

what you need
100g butter or olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
400g field mushrooms, peeled, stalks removed, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 litre water or vegetable/chicken stock
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
Vegetable for frying

what to do
Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan, season and gently cook seasoned onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and bay leaf and cook for 5-10 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Add rice and 750ml water or stock. Simmer and stir until rice is cooked, adding more liquid as necessary. Discard bay leaf and stir through parmesan and thyme.

Transfer to a container and allow to set in the fridge. Shape into golf ball size balls using your hands.
Lightly dust with flour, dip in egg then coat evenly with breadcrumbs. Shallow or deep-fry in oil (180c) until golden brown and warm in the centre, about 6 minutes.

fig relish

what you need
1.6 kg ripe figs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp finely grated
lemon zest
1 cup water

what to do
trim off hard stem-end and slicing each fig into quarters. Place in an saucepan with rest of ingredients. Bring slowly to a simmer and keep simmering for 15 minutes until figs are soft. With a wooden spoon, break up any large pieces and keep cooking slowly for another 10 minutes or so until jam is thick.

lace in a clena sterilized jar and refrigerate.

veal and eggplant ragu

what you need
30g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ a small carrot, finely chopped
½ stick celery, finely chopped
450g veal mince
375ml dry white wine
1 cup tinned Italian peeled tomatoes, pureed
1 cinnamon stick
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium eggplant
olive oil, for frying
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
parmesan, freshly grated
parsley, finely chopped

what to do
In a medium pot over low heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Gently cook the onion, carrot and celery until soft and lightly coloured (about 10-12 minutes).
Turn the heat to high and add the veal mince. Cook, stirring until the veal is no longer raw and there is no liquid in the bottom. Add half the wine and reduce before adding the rest, along with the pureed tomatoes, cinnamon stick and cloves. Season with salt and pepper and add enough water to just cover the sauce. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for 45 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the eggplant into two-centimetre cubes, lightly salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant pieces and pat dry, then fry, until golden brown, in a pan with enough olive oil to come 1cm up the sides.
Add the sliced garlic and fried eggplant to the ragu and cook for 10 minutes. The veal should be tender and the sauce should have a thick, wet consistency (this is especially important if using fresh pasta, which will absorb some of the liquid); you may need to top up the water a little.Remove the cinnamon stickand check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


what you need
1kg pork mince
1kg veal mince
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 handful parsley
1/2 cup parmesan
2 cups breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot, grated
4 x 400g cans tomatoes, pureed
About 1 tsp salt
Handful each of parsley and basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed

what to do
Mix mince, egg, garlic, parsley, parmesan and breadcrumbs in a bowl, roll into balls and set aside. At this stage, select number of meatballs for serves required and freeze the remainder for future use. To make sauce, heat a thin layer of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for a few minutes then fry the meatballs for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt, add herbs and garlic. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for two hours. Serve on pasta with parmesan cheese.
Best served serve on fresh spaghetti.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

warm potato salad

The thing i love about this potato salad is that it is light and the flavour of the lemon in the dressing, and not weighted down by a heavy mayonnaise. why not use this as a base for many other variations, add some crispy fried bacon or grated boiled egg and fresh dill. while this is warm salad, it is as equally good cold.

what you need
1 ½ kgs (3 lbs) potato
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
4 small onions, finely sliced
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons white vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced

what to do
Wash and cut potatoes into chunks. Boil in salted water until tender but not too soft. Drain when cooked. In a small pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions over high heat until golden brown. Reduce the heat and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until onions are caramelized. In a bottle with cover, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Shake thoroughly to blend. Place the hot potatoes in a bowl. Drizzle with the dressing, chopped fresh parsley, and lemon zest.

Season with salt and cracked pepper to taste.

stewed rabbit

This hearty rabbit stew was one of the most popular dishes in my restaurant, and had the maltese community ringing way ahead to make sure we had enough prepared their large group that came just for the rabbit, best served on fresh spaghetti or with a nice creamy mash potato. Make plenty as the flavours improve the second day. Don't forget the crusty bread, to soak up the sauce. One rabbit will give you 3-4 portions.

what you need
1 rabbit, cut up in pieces and dusted in seasoned flour
two cups chicken stock
2 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta
1/4 tsp fresh Rosemary
1 large onion, chopped
5 medium carrots
5 medium potatoes
1 medium turnip
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup Tomatoe paste
1 clove garlic, crushed

what to do
In a large frying pan, fry off the streaky bacon in the vegetable oil, add and lightly brown the rabbit pieces that have been coated in plain seasoned flour, Add the chicken stock salt, pepper and rosemary and tomato paste. Cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally or until rabbit is getting tender.
Peel and chop vegetables.
Add the vegetables and crushed garlic to rabbit stew stirring occasionally. Simmer for another 40 minutes, until all vegies are soft finally add the peas simmer for 5 mintues, check seasoning then serve on fresh pasta or mash.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

segmenting citrus

Often when you read in a recipe to ‘segment’ a grapefruit or orange or any kind of citrus for that matter, this doesn’t as many believe just mean to peel the fruit and remove the segments. It actually refers more to ‘filleting’ the fruit, as in you are segmenting the fruit but only taking the premium flesh within the segments, leaving behind all the fruits pith, pulp, skin, rind and seeds.

What you'll need
A piece of citrus
A sharp small to medium cooks knife
A sharp paring knife, (ideally straight edged)

What to do
Peel the fruit with the cook’s knife, ensuring that you remove the membrane around the back of the segments. The best way to do this is to peel the fruit with a knife with the fruit standing on a chopping board.

Then hold the fruit in your non-dominant hand, and carefully align the paring knife on the back of the segment right next to the membrane that separates that segment from its neighbour and cut towards the centre of the fruit

Then repeat this on the other side of the segment and the fillet should come free.
Repeat this to each segment around the fruit and you will have properly ‘segmented’ a piece of citrus.

basic beef ragu

what you need

500 grams (1pound)of lean beef shoulder or beef rump 
1/2 glass red wine 
1 medium size carrot, roughly diced
2 stalks of celery, roughly diced
3 small onions,
2 table spoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons butter
1 tin tin of peeled tomato (1 kilo fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste

what to do

Clean and dice the meat

Gently fry the carrot and celery a couple of minutes in butter and oil,

Fry the meat in the pan with the vegetables. It should not get dark. Cover and simmer until the meat absorbs all the juice and then add half a glass of red wine.

The meat should cook reasonably fast but must have time to absorb all the juices, about35 minutes. Add tomato pulp and paste. The carrot and celery flavour should not pre-dominate, the main flavour should be of meat and tomato. If you want the sauce dark, then you can brown the meat, but the flavour will not be as good. Don't let the sauce stick to bottom of pan as this will give a heavy braised flavour to the ragu. After tomato is added, cover and cook another 30 minutes covered till fully tender.

You can make ragu, with meat on the bone or off the bone. To cook on the bone, take a shoulder of beef or a veal shank and cook as above( if using ashank you will beed to simmer for a longer period to break down the sinue, then remove the meat from the bone and add to the sauce, cooking the meat on the bone will give the dish a whole new flavour.

Great served with polenta or fresh pasta and lots of crusty bread, why not try blending the meatsl ike half lamb or half pork. would even be great made with baby goat cooked on the bone, and would require a little less cooking

basic risotto

While aborio makes a good risotto, Ferron Carnaroli is a superfino rice which is large and has a longer grain which in turn makes a slightly drier risotto, i do like my risotto moist & creamy so i prefer Ferron Vialone Nano which is a starchier rice, perfect for a creamy risotto and perect for rice based desserts.the secret to a good risotto is in the constant stirring.

what you need

300 grams Ferron or Arborio rice
30 ml of olive oil
50 grams of butter*
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/4 litres chicken stock
60 grams parmesan, grated

what to do


Put chicken carcass, carrots, onion and celery and a beef bone into a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring slowly to the boil . Cook one hour. This does not need the same attention to skimming as for brodo. Being cloudy does not matter in risotto.

To cook the rice

Melt the butter and oil together. Fry the onion but do not colour Fry the rice with the onions, and then add a few ladles of stock. Do not let the rice brown. Turn down heat and cover. After 10 minutes, add more stock and stir again. You will need to keep watching, stirring and adding stock. Takes 25-30 minutes approx. Fold through parmesan before serving


Many of the tradititional recipes use more butter, particularly added at the end mantecato (creamed) but people now seem to prefer a less buttery flavour. However you can't make true risotto just with oil. You must be able to smell and taste butter. It's an important part of the dish. An exception can be made with fish risotto.

If prefer not to add wine to my risotto as the acidity can take away from the natural flavours.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Veal with Sage and Proscuitto - Saltimbocca

Literally translated, this Italian term means "jump in the mouth." It refers to a Roman specialty made of finely sliced veal sprinkled with sage and topped with a thin slice of prosciutto. It's sautéed in butter, then braised in white wine. Sometimes the meat layers are even rolled and secured with picks before being cooked.

what you need
675 grams veal scallopini
18 fresh sage leaves
12 slices prosciutto
fplain lour
salt and pepper
60 grams butter
30-40 ml white wine or dry sherry
15 grams parsley, chopped

what to do
lighty pound veal flat
On each slice, put one sage leaf and a slice of the prosciutto which has been cut to the same size as the veal
Hold together with a toothpick
Fry in butter till golden brown and cooked , then remove the meat
Over high heat add white wine or sherry and simmer for a few minutes
Add parsley to the pan juices just before serving
Pour over the meat

spinach panna

This mixture of anchovies, sardines, spinach, herbs and eggs makes a piquant slice which is delicious as a starter or as a cocktail appetizer. It is quite rich and only small amounts are recommended.

what you need
1/3 bunch spinach
2 new white onions * sliced
2 sprigs tarragon
12 sprigs parsley
3 hard boiled eggs
3 sardines
6 anchovy fillets (cleaned)
6 capers
ground coarse salt, pepper
lemon juice

what to do
Wash the spinach well and boil with sliced onion. Add parsley and tarragon when almost cooked.
Press out all water from the spinach
Chop roughly the eggs, sardines, anchovies and capers. Pound all the ingredients together and then blend. Season well
Spread evenly on a baking sheet and chill well. Cut with pastry cutter into rounds.
Serve with warm toast and butter.

* the white onions are milder than the brown variety and that flavour suits this dish


Few salads epitomize Sicilian cuisine as much as caponata,
which probably takes its name from an essential ingredient (though not the principal one), capers. Like so much of Sicilian cuisine, caponata comes to us from the Arabs.

Sicilian caponata is a savoury blend of eggplants, tomatoes, balanced with green olives, capers, celery, sugar and vinegar for its characteristic sweet and sour taste

what you need
1 large eggplant
100 ml olive oil
1 clove garlic chopped
1 onion, sliced
45 ml basic tomato sauce
250 grams celery
chopped 25 grams capers drained
12 black olives
30 ml red wine vinegar
10 grams sugar
salt and pepper

what to do
Peel and cube eggplant
Saute in 2/3 of the oil
Remove from pan and add remaining oil and cook garlic and onion till onion is browned
Add tomato sauce and celery and simmer till celery is tender
If necessary, add a little water to the pan to keep mixture moist
Return eggplant to the pan, add capers and olives
Heat vinegar with the sugar and pour over eggplant
Season with salt and pepper and simmer 15 minutes
Serve at room temperature with a slice of lemon to bring out all the flavours.

leek, spinach and ricotta cannelloni

Leeks are often grown in sandy soil and they can, at times, be a little tedious to clean thoroughly. I’ve found the best way to do this is to pare back the first two or three layers and cut the top off where the tender white part ends. With a sharp knife, starting at the top, make an incision down the leek, about 4-5cm long, throgh at least three or four layers. Make another two or three incisions, working around the top of the leek. Fill a bowl with cold water, place the cut end of the leek in the bowl and shake vigorously.

what you need
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, cleaned, washed and cut into 1/2cm rounds
2 garlic cloves, minced
250g spinach, washed, cooked and drained well
250g ricotta
100g grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
8 cannelloni sheets (make your
own or buy ready made tubes)
1 cup leek, tomato and chilli
sauce (recipe below)
Extra parmesan to serve

what to do
Heat olive oil in a pan and gently fry leeks and garlic until soft. Roughly chop spinach and mix in a bowl with ricotta, cooked leeks and parmesan.
Season to taste. Cut sheets of pasta into 12 rectangles 6cm by 10cm.
Cook immediately in boiling, salted water.
Place cooked sheets on wet tea towels. Spoon ricotta mixture on each sheet of pasta and roll into a log. Spoon some tomato sauce on bottom of a baking dish.
Arrange cannelloni in dish and spread more tomato sauce on top. Season and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Serve straight from oven with more grated parmesan

meat balls

1kg pork mince
1kg veal mince
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 handful parsley
1/2 cup parmesan
2 cups breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot, grated
4 x 400g cans tomatoes, pureed
About 1 tsp salt
Handful each of parsley and basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed

what to do
Mix mince, egg, garlic, parsley, parmesan and breadcrumbs in a bowl, roll into balls and set aside. At this stage, select number of meatballs for serves required and freeze the remainder for future use. To make sauce, heat a thin layer of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for a few minutes then fry the meatballs for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt, add herbs and garlic. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for two hours. Serve on fesh spaghetti with lots of parmesan cheese.

Friday, February 6, 2009

churros with warm chocolate sauce

For centuries shepherds in the grasslands of Spain tended their flocks. They watched over a breed of sheep that provided high quality wool. They prepared their bread out in the field, with a bare minimum of tools available and their best method of preparation was to fry their bread.
Over the ensuing years the shepherds fried bread became star shaped. This allowed the bread to become fully cooked on the inside while giving crispness to the outside.They rolled the finished bread in cinnamon sugar and named it after their breed of sheep called the Churra.

The churra sheep have horns in a shape similar to that of the current day churros. They created what today is known as the Churro.

Churros are Alexia's (my daughters) absolute favourite and i'm asked to make them almost as much as i am pizzas for her and her friends. they must be one of the simplist desserts to make yet so pleasing.

what you need
Vegetable or olive oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
zezt of one orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

what to do
start by heating oil in a pan (1&1/2 inches deep) to 360 degrees F. (180 celcius)
To make churro dough, heat water, orange zest, margarine and salt to rolling boil in saucepan; stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute; remove from heat. Beat eggs all at once; continue beating until smooth and then add to saucepan while stirring mixture. mix to form a smooth dough.
Spoon mixture into a pipping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle. Squeeze 6-inch strips of dough into hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. (Mix Sugar and the optional cinnamon); roll churros in the sugar mix while still warm.

Chocolate for Dunking

what you need
4oz good dark chocolate chopped
2 cups milk
1 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp sugar

what to do
Place the chocolate and half the milk in a pan and heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the cornflour in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is thickened, about five minutes. Add extra cornstarch if it doesn't start to thicken after 5 minutes. Remove and whisk smooth.

Pour and server in cups or bowls for dunking churros.

Do not pour over churros, but use the mix for dunking churros after every bite (yes it is okay to double dip with churros).

Churros must be served warm

portuguese tarts

Portuguese-style egg tarts were evolved from "pastel de nata", a traditional Portuguese custard pastry that consists of custard in a crème brûlée -like consistency caramelized fashion in a puff pastry case. It was created more than 200 years ago by Catholic Sisters at Jerónimo Monastery (Portuguese: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) at Belém in Lisbon. Casa Pastéis de Belém was the first pastry shop outside of the convent to sell this pastry in 1837, and it is now a popular pastry in every pastry shop around the world owned by Portuguese descendants.
what you need
2 tbs plain flour
160g (6oz) castor sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg
300ml (10fl oz)milk
1 piece lemon rind
cooking spray
2 sheets ready-rolled frozen puff pastry (24cm x 24cm), thawed

what to do
Preheat oven to 230C fan-forced (250C non-fan - yes, it's hot) and place the oven shelf at the top.Sift the flour and sugar in a bowl. Beat the egg yolks and egg together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan with the lemon rind. When the milk comes to the boil, remove from heat and take out the rind. Add the flour and sugar to the pan and stir well until there are no lumps. Gradually mix the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Rinse the saucepan and return the mixture to the heat. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.Remove from heat and pour into a jug.Use an 8cm round cutter to cut out the pastry. Place into muffin tins that have been well greased. The pastry will only come a third of the way up the sides. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry all over. Pour in the custard almost to the top of the pastry.Place in the top of the oven, towards the back, for maximum heat. Cook for about 12 minutes, until the custard is set and slightly browned at the edges. It will be puffed up and the pastry should be golden and cooked.Remove from oven and serve warm.
Makes: 16

white chocolate panna cotta with drunken berries

what you need (makes 8)
600ml thickened cream
1 x 180g pkt white chocolate, broken into small pieces
160ml (2/3 cup) milk
1cup caster sugar
2 tbs boiling water
3 tsp powdered gelatine
40og fresh berries
60 mls cointreau
8 dariol moulds

what to do
Place cream, chocolate, milk and 2/3 cup caster sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
Place the boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Sprinkle with gelatine and whisk with a fork to remove any lumps. Set aside for 3 minutes or until gelatine dissolves. Add gelatine to cream mixture and whisk to combine. Pour among eight 150ml capacity dariole moulds. Place on a baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 6 hours to set.
Meanwhile, place the berries in a pan with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and cointreau. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Serve by turning out on to plates and serve with the drunkin berries, garnish with fresh mint

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fresh pasta

You need a pasta making machine to make your own pasta, Pasta machines are available from most department and kitchenware stores from about $60.  Brands vary from hand turned pasta cutters to fully automatic  electric pasta machines that mix an dcut the pasta, these cost several hundred dollars and go up in price depending on the size. However you can make great rustic hand cut pasta with the hand operated ones.

what you need

375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour

1/2 tsp salt4 eggs, at room temperature

Plain flour, extra, to dust


what to do

Sift the flour and salt together onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound. Make a well in the centre. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough. To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.


Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Kneading is an important part of the pasta-making process as it develops the gluten in the flour, giving the pasta a firm, tender texture.Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and wrap each portion in plastic wrap or cover with a clean, damp tea towel. This will prevent the dough from drying out. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest. This helps make the pasta more pliable and easier to roll out.

Attach a pasta machine to the side of a workbench and adjust the machine's rollers to the widest setting. Spread about 4 clean, dry tea towels over the work surface close to the pasta machine. Unwrap a portion of dough and use the palm of your hands to flatten it into a rectangle. Dust the rollers with flour and roll the dough portion through. Dust again with flour and repeat on the same setting. Fold in the shorter sides of the dough to meet in the centre to form a smaller rectangle and feed through the machine again. Repeat this process 5-6 times or until smooth.

Reduce the width between the rollers by 1 and roll the dough through as before. Repeat the process, reducing the setting each time until the dough is 1-1.5mm thick. The settings on all pasta machines vary. The last setting on some machines may roll the dough too thin, resulting in it sticking to the rollers and tearing. So be careful to only reduce the setting and roll the dough until it reaches the desired thickness.

Spread the pasta sheet over the clean tea towels. When laying out the pasta sheets, they must not touch or overlap each other as the moist pasta will stick together. Repeat steps 3-4 with the remaining portions of dough. Set the pasta sheets aside for 10-15 minutes (depending on the temperature in your kitchen) or until dry enough not to stick together but pliable enough not to crack. Trim the edges of the pasta. Cut into 14 x 25cm pieces to make lasagne sheets or see step 6 to make fettuccine.

To cut the pasta into rustic fettuccine by hand, loosely roll up a pasta sheet starting from the shortest end. Trim the ends and discard. Use a sharp knife to cut the pasta crossways at 5mm intervals. Unravel the pasta. To cut pasta into fettuccine using the pasta machine, you will need a fettuccine cutting attachment. Fit the machine with the attachment and feed the pasta sheets, one at a time, through the fettuccine attachment. Cook immediately or store individual portions as loose nests.

Fresh spinach pasta - Omit 1 egg. Trim 1 bunch English spinach and wash leaves. With water still clinging to the leaves, cook in a medium saucepan over low heat for 3-4 minutes or until it just wilts. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Use your hands to squeeze out any liquid. Finely chop the spinach and add with eggs in step 1.

Fresh sundried tomato pasta - Omit 1 egg. Add 75g (1/4 cup) sundried tomato pesto with the eggs in step 1.