Monday, April 27, 2009

chilli mussels

Chilli mussels are one of those dishes that everybody loves, and we sold so many in my restaurant, but get them wrong and people will let you know. One of my pet hates is a watery and tastless sauce, One of the main reasons for a watery sauce is the water that comes from the mussels themselves. The fresher the mussel the more water they contain, a mussel can filter up to 38litres of water a day (10 gallons) and while there is nothing better than the tase of fresh seawater, to much can lead to a very watered down sauce.

2 kg cleaned and de-bearded mussels
1 litre good tomato sugo (sauce)
75 mls dry white wine (Riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc)
1 lemon - zest and juice
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley - roughly chopped
100mls extra virgin olive oil
2 gloves garlic crushed
2 small chillies choped (add to taste)

what to do
In a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid, add the mussels and steam till the mussels just open.
Discard 1/2 the water that is in the pot. (otherwise you will ahve avery watery sauce).
Add the white, garlic, chilli wine, and tomato sugo stir well and replace lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium high heat or until all of the mussels shells are open and sauce is hot.
Remove from heat, Stir well so all mussels are coated in sauce.
Serve in large bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Serve a finger bowl and a bowl to put empty shells into, and lots of crusty bread to saok up the thick rich sauce.

chocolate walnut brownies

what you need
150 gm walnut halves, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
250 gm good-quality dark cooking chocolate, chopped
200 gm dark brown sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
50 ml coffee liqueur (Kahlua / Tia Maria)
3 free range eggs
1 tsp natural vanilla essence
150 gm plain flour
30 gm cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

what to do
Preheat oven to 170°C. Spray a shallow 23cm square cake pan with spray oil to lightly grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Melt the chocolate in a medium heat-resistant bowl (glass/ceramic) over a saucepan of simmering water and mix until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.
Beat sugar, oil, eggs, liqueur and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl until well combined and paler in colour. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well combined.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder over chocolate mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold in until combined. Fold in walnut pieces. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan.
When cool, turn onto a board, remove paper and cut into pieces.
For a great easy dessert, lightly warm a brownie, top with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, pour over a bix berry coulis and serve with fresh berries.

Friday, April 17, 2009

warm lemon and herb olives

what you need
500 grams of a variety of whole olive in brine that are different sizes, colours and varieties - drained and rinsed (eg. Kalamata, Manzanillo)
1 clove fresh garlic - sliced
100 mls redisland extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary stripped from the stalk
3 sprigs fresh thyme or lemon thyme stripped from the stalk
4 small red chillies - whole
Zest of 1 lemon - pith removed and cut into matchstick strips
Freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh crunchy bread to dip in the oil - sliced

what to do
Heat oil up to low - medium heat in fry pan and gently cook garlic without colour
Turn to a low heat and add rosemary, thyme, lemon zest and whole chilli
Toss in the pan for 1 minute and then add olives. Warm through for 2 minutes on low heat.
Season with pepper and serve warm with crusty bread to dip into the oil.

chef's tips
Serve a small bowl to put the unwanted olive pips
If you require olives with more chilli flavouring, slice the chilli or add more.
Pitted olives can be used instead of whole olives

Monday, April 13, 2009

three cheese risotto

what you need
1 litre hot chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
400g aborio rice
2 glasses of dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g Gruyere cheese, roughly chopped
100g taleggio cheese, roughly chopped
75g butter
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

what to do
Heat the stock in a pan over a moderate heat.
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry gently for about 5 minutes until softened.
Add the rice to the pan and turn up the heat. Cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly, until the rice looks slightly translucent.
Add the wine and keep stirring - any alcohol flavours will evaporate.Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside. Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is cooked but still holds its shape - this takes about 15 minutes.Stir in the Gruyere and taleggio.
Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste, then beat in the butter and Parmesan.
Place a lid on the pan and leave to rest for 2 to 3 minutes - your risotto will get nice and oozy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

baby beetroot. asparagus and fetta salad

For the salad
6-8 baby beetroots
4 asparagus spears, blanched
1/2 spanish onion, thinly sliced
handful continental parsley, roughly chopped
handful fresh watercress
75g aged fetta
30ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
pomegranate molasses - optional

what to do
For the salad:
Place beetroots in cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Cook until easily pierced with knife or skewer (about 20 minutes). Strain and allow to cool. Peel off skins while still warm and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine beetroot, asparagus, spanish onion, parsley, watercress Toss lightly with extra virgin olive oil to coat.

To assemble: Glide yoghurt on to your salad plate with the back of a serving spoon and spread over the plate.
Place salad in the centre of the plate, garnish with a good drizzle of olive oil and season with a generous amount of cracked pepper.

Dizzle with pomegranate molases if prefered, eat as a started or with rare roasted beef

Saturday, April 11, 2009

ricotta stuffed figs

what you need
8 medium figs (480g)
¼ cup (25g) roasted walnuts chopped coarsely
½ cup (120g) ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) cream
30g butter
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar

what to do
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C.
Cut figs, from the top, into quarters, being careful not to cut all the way through; open slightly. Place on oven tray.Combine nuts, cheese and sugar in small bowl; divide nut mixture among figs. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until figs are heated through.Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small saucepan; stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes
Place two figs in each serving dish; drizzle with caramel sauce.

Or for something a little more savoury mis fresh herbs in with the ricotta wrap in parma ham and bake for 10 minutes

spaghetti puttenesca

This pasta sauce originally was made by Neapolitan prostitutes, who quickly put it together while waiting for the next client

what you need
350g spaghetti or spaghettini
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
6 anchovy fillets, drained of oil
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp small black olives, halved
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp small salted capers, rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper

what to do
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frypan and gently cook the garlic for a minute or two.
Add the anchovies and mash them into the oil. Add the tomatoes, olives, chilli and capers and cook over medium heat for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add oregano and parsley and season to taste.
Drain pasta well and toss with the sauce. Serve hot.

fettucini alfredo

The original dish consists simply of butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Rich and creamy, this pasta dish is delicious, there are many variations to this recipe. Why not add pancetta, chicken, fresh asparagus or even mushrooms.
the better the pasta and cheese the better the result, as simple as this recipe is you won't Taste better.

what you need
500gr (1lb) Fresh Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Chicken stock
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
Additional Grated parmesan To Serve

pancetta or streaky bacon)
field mushrooms

what to do
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Remove 1/4 cup of the cream to a separate bowl and wisk the egg yolk into it. In a saucepan, heat the remaining cream and chicken stock . (if adding options, sautee first then add cream)
Cook the pasta al dente.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir the butter into the pasta until melted and the butter covers each strand of pasta. Wisk a little of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk, mix well, and then pour the egg yolk mixture over the pasta.

Add the grated cheese, and a dash of sea salt to taste. Divide the pasta into four separate dishes and top with cracked black pepper and offer additional parmesan cheese.

Friday, April 10, 2009


A cannoli is a crisp hand-rolled pastry shell filled with an exquisite thick cream made of ricotta cheese
what you need
225 gm (1½ cups) plain flour
2 tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
60 ml (¼ cup) vin santo or Marsala
1 egg, beaten
6-8 cannelloni pasta tubes, for wrapping
1 eggwhite, beaten
For deep-frying: vegetable oil
For dusting: pure icing sugar

what to do
Sift flour, cocoa and cinnamon into a bowl, add caster sugar and combined butter, vin santo and egg, stirring until dough starts to come together, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (5-10 minutes). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cut pastry into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time (keep remaining refrigerated), lightly flour dough, then using a pasta machine with rollers at widest setting, feed dough through rollers reducing settings one notch at a time until dough is 2mm thick. Cut into 9cm squares, place on a lightly floured tray and cover with a tea towel.
Working with one square at a time, wrap pastry around cannelloni tubes, so opposite corners overlap, and brush with eggwhite to seal (do not put eggwhite on the tube). Heat oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry tubes in batches until crisp and golden (2-3 minutes), drain on absorbent paper, cool slightly, then slide cannoli shells off tubes. Cannoli shells will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For filling, process ricotta, liqueur and icing sugar using a food processor until smooth, stir through remaining ingredients. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm star nozzle and pipe into cooled cannoli, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

fettucini con cozze

what you need
1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
2 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
500gr (1lb)fresh fettucini
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes

what to do
Bring 6 litres of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a 12-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, about a minute. Add the wine, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, then add the mussels. Cook, stirring and tossing, until all of the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente; drain well.
Add the pasta to the pan with the mussels and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve immediately

Saturday, April 4, 2009


what you need
1 kg piece of boneless pork belly
2-3 garlic cloves
Pinch sea salt
3 tsp fennel seeds
½ bunch sage leaves, picked and roughly chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, picked and chopped
Pinch chilli flakes
½ zest of a lemon
50g capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 carrot
1 onion
125ml water

what to do
Preheat the oven to 400/200/Gas 6.
Score the pork fat and remove any excess with a craft knife as this will help with the cracking. Crush the garlic in a large pestle and mortar with a good pinch of sea salt, add the fennel seeds and sage and bruise.
Transfer to a bowl, and add the rosemary, chilli flakes, lemon zest, capers, olive oil, a grinding of black pepper and mix. Lay the pork on a board skin side up, smear the herb and caper mix over pork and roll lengthways.
To roll the pork, start in the middle and tie very tightly with one piece of string, continue to make 2 more ties on either side. Cut the carrot and onion into quarters, place in a roasting tin and put the pork on top. The carrot and onion will act as a trivet and stop the pork sticking to the tin. Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300/150/Gas 2, add 250ml of water and cook for 2 hrs. Remove the pork from the oven and set aside in a warm place to rest.
Heat the roasting tin on the hob and scrape any caramelised pieces and pour the cooking juices into a jug.

Cut the pork into 4 pieces and serve with rosemary roasted potatoes and the pork juices

arrabiata (angry) pasta

This fiery dish gains its name arrabbiata (angry) because of the use of chilli. When preparing this angry dish, feel free to use as much chilli as you want, it is up to you and to your mouth, to make it angry or very angry!
This is a recipe that has its origin in the central part of Italy, more precisely, it belongs to the Roman cooking tradition. As you can imagine, in Italy there are many versions of it because of the different regional cooking traditions that influence this famous dish; some are so adventurous that they have nothing to do with a proper arrabbiata (like the use of cream or anchovies).

what u need
400 g (14 oz) Penne rigate pasta (cooked "al dente")
90 ml (3 ½ oz) Extra virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 or 3 Whole dried red chilli (roughly chopped)
500 g (1.1 lb) Chopped tomatoes
A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
Salt for seasoning

what to do

Chop the garlic and chilli.
Heat the Olive Oil in a sauté pan (medium heat) and add the chopped garlic and chilli into the pan.
Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden in colour. When the garlic has turned to golden, add the chopped tomatoes.
Stir for a few seconds.
Season with salt.
Now, cook on medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes, to reduce the sauce. After this time the suace will be ready.

A few minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan containing the sauce.
Stir for few seconds to coat the pasta with the sauce. Do this when the pan is still on the heat.
Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley, give a quick stir and serve immediately.