This time of year always calls for some indulgence and what better than some salty sweet rocky road. It’s ridiculously easy to make and even more easier to devour, I just had to repost this one from last year. To get the recipe Click here.
This 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!
100g smoked swordfish
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp single cream
1 big pinch of pepper
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.
These 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.
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!
Risotto is one of those dishes that people seem to run away from and think it’s very complicated and difficult to make when it’s actually really easy. Just keep stirring it, let it soak up the lovely stock as you go and within 20 minutes, your done! You also won’t be disappointed with the taste either. The thing with risotto is you can add any flavours you want and make it up as you like. I have seen believe it or not a few strawberry risottos here in Italian restaurants but yet to try it…hmm.
400g arborio risotto rice
1 litre chicken stock
2 courgettes, grated
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 tub, ricotta
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Pinch of nutmeg, grated
Salt, to season
First of all bring a litre of chicken stock to the boil and turn to a low heat. Meanwhile add your chopped onion into a large pan under a low-medium heat until they start to soften. Add the garlic and chilli keeping a few pieces to garnish and soften for a minute. Then add the grated courgette for a few seconds before adding the rice. Cook the rice just for a minute, make sure you keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan or burn then add a few ladles of stock. The stock should just slightly cover the rice, now let it simmer and keep on stirring it until you notice the rice soaking up the stock. As the rice becomes slightly drier add more stock and continue with this process until the stock is finished. By this time the rice should be al dente. Turn the heat right down low and add half the ricotta then season with salt to taste. The rice may need more salt, if you think so make sure you taste as you go. Now add a generous grating of parmesan. Serve your risotto in nice bowls, I like to level my risotto out as it cools much quicker and you can really taste the flavours. If food is piping hot the flavours aren’t nearly as intense. Finally top with a spoon of ricotta, sprinkling of chilli and a small grating of parmesan.
I absolutely love this salad it’s a take on a traditional Caesar salad, very fresh, very simple to make and of course very delicious! I also love the iceberg lettuce that many people tend to push to the side or regard as ” tasteless” it gives the salad a very fresh taste, great texture and works really well with the dressing and fresh anchovies. The anchovies you will find in the deli section of most supermarkets. They are not salty like the ones you find in jars or tins but very fresh, shinny sliver skinned and slightly pickley, just delicious. Perfect alternative to adding the salty version into the sauce and adds so much flavour to this salad.
2 large chicken breasts
1/2 large iceberg lettuce, washed
100g crusty bread, cut into cubes
80g fresh pickled anchovies
4 large tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp capers, finely chopped
2 baby gherkins, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
150g parmesan, shaved
Salt and pepper, to season
First of all set your oven to 200 degrees C. Put your bread on a baking tray with plenty salt and pepper and drizzled in olive oil then place in the oven for around 6-7 minutes until they are starting to turn golden. Now add a pinch of salt and pepper to your chicken breasts and cook on a medium heat in a pan until cooked through,around 4 minutes on each side, be careful not to over cook and set aside. Leave both the croutons and chicken breasts to cool slightly while you make the rest of the salad. Roughly chop the iceberg lettuce and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, capers, gherkins and salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the lettuce along with the chicken, anchovies and croutons and mix well until thoroughly coated in the dressing. Place the salad on a large plate and top with the shavings of parmesan, pinch of pepper and drizzle of olive oil and serve. Delicious!!
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.
For the pesto:
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
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.
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!
This is absolutely delicious and full of flavour. If you love garlic dips then you’ll love this one. I love jarred artichokes they are perfect for antipasti as is this dip. Embarrassingly easy, quick and very impressive. I guarantee if you make it for guests as a little appetiser with drinks or before dinner they will love it. I also sometimes buy an extra jar of artichokes and cut them in half to put on the top of this dip. It’s also lovely and bulks the dip out a bit, giving it a different texture.
For the dip:
285g Jar artichoke hearts in sunflower oil
15g parmesan, finely grated
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl ( spoon the artichokes into a bowl do not add whole jar of oil ) and blitz together with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Yep that’s it! I told you..embarrassingly easy, right? Serve with some toasted crusty bread and cured meats.
Since moving to Italy we have realised how loyal the Italians are to their food. No one can understand why you would eat anything else so finding certain spices or any food that is not Italian is almost impossible. The internet is an amazing thing but we have found the cost of delivering different foods to Italy can be ridiculous and not something we do often.
Early this summer my mum came to visit us from Scotland and brought us four spices, cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds and cayenne pepper. Four great ingredients for spicing things up when we feel like it. In Scotland we eat all different types of food from all different nationalities, cultures and countries although most of our cooking back in Scotland was Italian. Since moving here, there is so much to choose from and you can’t go wrong with the quality of ingredients available either but I have to say I do sometimes crave a Spanish chorizo sausage or a spicy curry from time to time.
In this recipe we basically used things we had in our fridge and cupboards already. So that’s why I’ve used a handful of green olives, sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. For this recipe you can add as much and as less of what you like and what you have. I feel all the ingredients in this salad work so well together and with the spicy chicken it’s just delicious.
For the marinade:
2 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 dried chilli pods
1 garlic clove, grated
A little olive oil
Pinch of salt
For the salad:
80g Rocket salad
5 large plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
Large handful green olives, cut in half
5 or 6 large sun dried tomatoes, chopped
5 sliced artichoke hearts, chopped
80g Feta cheese, cut into cubes
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Firstly put all the spices into a pestle and mortar and grind them up. Rub them all over the chicken along with the grated garlic, salt and a tbsp of olive oil, set aside. Now for the salad, place the rocket on a large plate. Add the tomatoes, olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, feta and toss. Now heat a pan under a medium heat and fry the chicken until cooked through. Set aside on a plate to cool for a minute then cut into slices. Add a squeeze of lemon to the salad and a little salt and pepper. I did not need any more oil in this salad as the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes are oily from the jars they were in but add a little if you feel you need it. Now place the chicken on top of the salad, toss and serve. Enjoy.
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.
Orecchiette “little ears” as it translates in Italian. The pasta shape resembles little ears although I try not to think about that as I’m eating it. It’s not the most appetising thought. This is a quick, simple and excellent dish to make, as are most of our recipes. There are times when I like to take time cooking, relaxing with a glass of wine, making homemade pasta, stewing or roasting things for hours but just by chance a lot of what we make is delicious, easy, simple and takes no time at all. Perfect for everyday cooking. We have changed this recipe a few times in the past and maybe it will change again but that’s what cooking is all about, you can add, takeaway and adjust things as you like so try this out and let us know what you think. If you make any adjustments, great! Let us know how you like to mix up your recipes!
250g orecchiette pasta
65g smoked cubed pancetta
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 chicken stock cube
2 tbsp mascarpone
Handful of radicchio, roughly chopped
First thing to get sorted is a pan of salted water and bring it to the boil. In a frying pan under a medium heat, fry the pancetta until it starts to crisp up and brown slightly. Add the pasta to the water now. Then add the chopped garlic to the pancetta, fry for a minute then add the stock cube followed by two large spoons of pasta water. Wait for the stock cube to melt then add the peas, let simmer for a couple minutes. Taste the pasta and drain if “al dente”. Turn the pan to the lowest heat and add the mascarpone followed by a little pepper. I found this needed no salt as the pancetta is quite salty and the stock cube adds seasoning too but give the sauce a taste and see what you think. Finally add the pasta to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Add some of the chopped radicchio and transfer to lovely big bowls and finally top with the rest of the radicchio. Enjoy!!
P.s Make sure you don’t add the radicchio too soon into the pasta as it loses it’s lovely vibrant purple colour and turns brown when cooked.