Smoked swordfish patรจ

imageThis is absolutely divine! I love how indulgent this seems…or maybe is. It is always a favourite of mine at this time of year and it goes perfectly at any Christmas party. I see this everywhere in Italy at Christmas time and decided to use it instead of smoked salmon. The results were just amazing and I munched my way through it on a cold Christmas afternoon. It also only took about 2 seconds to make, perfect!

Ingredients:

100g smoked swordfish

1 tbsp lemon juice

6 tbsp single cream

1 big pinch of pepper
Method:

Put all ingredients except the cream in a bowl. Add 3 tbsp of cream and whizz with a hand mixer until combined. Add the rest of the cream until it is a smooth consistency. If you feel it is too thick you can continue to add a little cream a tbsp at a time. Serve on a small serving dish with some crackers.

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Peperoncino & Fennel rounds.

imageThese little biscuits are so delicious and perfect at this time of year. I first tried these from a Nigella recipe which calls for only handfulls of parmesan in the dough resulting in a soft, crumbly cheesey shortbread. I loved them and couldn’t believe how easy they were! I added my own little twist here by adding chilli flakes and fennel seeds. I love the spicy kick it gives. Enjoy these on their own with a glass of prosecco in hand or with some nice cheeses and chutney.

Makes 35-40

Ingredients

150g plain flour

100g soft butter

1 free range egg yolk

1tbsp fennel seeds

1tbsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

 

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it forms a clump.

Turn it out and give it a kneed for only around 30 seconds, until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and roll into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter. Make sure ends are flat so the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Roll this in in cling film so it resembles a christmas cracker and put in the fridge. Do the same with the other half and leave to rest in the fridge for 45mins.

Pre heat the oven to 180 degreesC. Cut the cylinders into pound coin rounds and arrange on lined baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are a soft golden colour around the edges. Leave to cool and enjoy!

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Courgette, chilli and gorgonzola arancini.

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How to use up left over risotto..make arancini. Arancini are balls of risotto stuffed with cheese or sometimes ragรน, originally from Sicily. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means “little orange”). They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, so delicious. Every time we make risotto we always make enough to make these the next day. They’re perfect for a picnic or as a snack. Just as delicious hot and crispy as they are cold.

Makes 8 Arancini

640g Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto (this is how much we had left over)
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs
60g plain flour
1 litre sunflower oil
8 small cubes of gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper, to season
Brown paper or kitchen roll, to drain

Place the oil into a deep pot and place under a low-medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your breadcrumbs on one plate and place your flour on another. Using a normal sized cutlery table spoon shape the risotto into balls, one and a half spoons make a decent sized ball. Then using your finger poke a hole in the middle of the ball. Add a cube of gorgonzola or mozzarella if you prefer and then close the hole back up again by rolling the ball.
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Do this to all 8 balls then roll each one in flour. After the flour, dip them in the beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumbs making sure they are completely covered. Check your oil is ready by placing a small piece of bread in the oil, if it floats and turns a nice golden colour, it’s ready. Fry your arancini in the oil in batches, 3 or 4 at a time until they turn a lovely golden colour. This only takes a couple minutes. Drain on brown paper or kitchen roll and serve straight away or when cooled, keep them in the fridge for up to 1 day and eat cold, lovely.

Basil pesto and provolone lasagna rolls.

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This is another very easy, very simple and very very delicious recipe. It can be made in advance so it can be shoved in the oven at anytime and you’ll be sitting down to a beautifully tasty pasta dish in 20 minutes. I would also suggest this in a smaller portion as a little starter, two rolls per person would be enough and would definitely wake your taste buds up for a deliciously planned main course to follow.
I have to say pesto is one of the best sauces in the world, for me. Every time I make it I can’t help but lick the bowl clean afterwards as if a child would do after making chocolate crispies and try it just one too many times to make sure it’s seasoned just right. I prefer to add a little more parmesan than you normally see in recipes and I do prefer parmesan to pecorino in my pesto, it’s that bit more tangier. Also in most pesto recipes you will see they will tell you to toast the pine nuts. I prefer not to, I like the creaminess the un toasted pine nuts give the pesto.
Now I will say this, please please please make your own pesto. It’s the most important part to this recipe and the jarred stuff you get in the supermarket really shouldn’t be called pesto. It tastes nothing like the home made stuff and will not taste anywhere near as gorgeous as this.

Serves 2/3

For the pesto:
25g Basil
1/2 garlic clove
Small handful of pine nuts
Squeeze lemon juice
30g finely grated parmesan
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the white sauce:
A knob of butter
1 tbsp flour
300ml milk
A pinch of nutmeg
150g provolone picante, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 ball of mozzarella
9 dried lasagna sheets

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Now, make the pesto. In a bowl add the basil, garlic, lemon, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. I use a little hand blender to blitz this together because it becomes very fine and mixed together which is what you need to spread it evenly on the lasagna sheets. If you use a pestle and mortar it may be too chunky and you won’t have enough pesto to spread. Now taste, see if it needs anymore seasoning, double check if you like just to make sure then set aside.
Now get a pot of water on and bring it to the boil with a tbsp of olive oil in the water. Meanwhile make the white sauce. In a pan on a medium heat add the knob of butter until melted. Then add the flour and stir until stiff, cook the flour out for a minute then add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. Stir this slowly until it starts to thicken. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and 2/3 of the provolone cheese. Continue to stir until thick and set aside to cool slightly. Now add the lasagna sheets into the boiling water and cook for 3/4 minutes. They should be easy to bend but not too soft. Once these are ready transfer to a plate drizzled in olive oil and sprinkle a little oil on each sheet so they don’t stick.
Add about 4 tbsp of white sauce into the pesto and stir. Lay the lasagna sheets out when cool enough to touch and spread each sheet with a tbsp of pesto followed by a sprinkling of provolone cheese. If you notice your becoming short of pesto add another spoon or two of white sauce into the bowl.

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Now in a small baking tray add a couple spoons of white sauce at the bottom and spread. Start to roll up your pesto rolls as if you are making a Swiss roll and lay them in the baking tray. Pour the remaining white sauce over the top of the rolls and top with the mozzarella. I also add a tsp of olive oil into the pesto bowl and drizzle any remaining pesto on the top of the dish. Put the lasagna rolls into the oven and bake until bubbling and golden, around 20 minutes. Leave for 5/10 minutes to cool slightly and enjoy!

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Sun dried tomato pesto with ricotta.

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These little lovelies are brilliant for a quick snack, lunch or as an aperitivo when you have guests. So delicious as all pestos are and the ricotta adds a lovely creaminess although not heavy, just nice and light. The sun dried tomatoes I use have little capers and oregano in the jar too which gives the tomatoes a lovely taste so if you can find these ones, get them. The capers mean I do not need any salt so if there isn’t any capers in your tomatoes, taste the pesto to see if you need salt or not. Remember parmesan is salty too.

What you’ll need:
280g jar sun dried tomatoes in oil ( undrained weight )
2 large handfuls of grated parmesan
1/2 garlic clove
Squeeze of lemon
Pepper, to season
Crusty bread cut into slices, toasted
A couple basil leaves, to garnish
Ricotta, to dollop on top

How to make the pesto:
Ok so get a bowl and spoon in the sun dried tomatoes, do not add all the oil just as much as comes out when transferring them into a bowl. Then add the garlic, parmesan, squeeze of lemon and pepper. All you need to do now is blitz it all together. I use a little hand blender but use whatever you have. It shouldn’t be too thick and no way what so ever like a sauce so be careful not to add to much oil to begin with and if it’s too thick add a little more oil from the sun dried tomato jar. Spread this on to the toasted bread and add a dollop of ricotta. Top with a sprinkling of pepper a couple basil leaves and dash of olive oil. Enjoy.

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