Sunday, 6 December 2009

Annolini in Brodo

In our house, as in many Italian houses we will be having a pasta course of annolini in brodo. They are small pasta parcels that are filled with a fantastic mixture of stracotto and cheese which is an intense and wonderful flavour.

These have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact a Christmas meal would not be the same without them.
I am not going to pretend that they are not labour intensive as they are, but like the tortelli they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until needed.

First of all you will need to make the stracotto which translates as over cooked or extra cooked.
Start off with a good size piece of brisket. No need to worry if you have too much as you can eat the extras and enjoy every mouthful. You will need at least 1 kilogramme.

1 large onion.
2 or 3 cloves of garlic. It all depends on how big they are. they will cook for ages and the taste will mellow while they cook so don't skimp.
1 carrot.
1 stalk of celery.
1 Knorr stock cube. I bring mine back from Italy and I use gusto classico. It has a good flavour and does not fight with the flavour of the meat.
250g butter. Yes, that much.
A couple of glasses of white wine.

What you will need to do:
Fry the meat in a little butter, add the onions and continue to fry gently until the mixture is brown.

Add the carrot which you have peeled and cut in half along with the the halved celery.

Pour over the wine and add the garlic and stock cube.

Simmer gently and I do mean gently for about 5 hours. If you have the oven on low then it will sit quite happily in a very low onen for the same time.
It will be ready when it falls apart.

To make the filling you will need these extra ingredients.
Parmesan cheese Use as much as you think that you need. I generally tase mine and see. the cheese also tends to dry the filling so if you think that your filling is too wet add more cheese.
2 to 3 eggs
Fresh breadcrumbs

Make the pasta in the same way that I described in the Tortelli section and
These will fill us so much that the turkey course that follows will be picked at rather than devoured.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Apple Custard Tart

I seem to remember having read somewhere that the dessert that men usually choose is apple tart and they no doubt eat it with custard. So in this tart they get both of their favourites in one slice.


120g plain flour

75g butter

60g sugar

1 egg

I'm not going to bore you with the method for making pastry. You know what to do.

Line an 8 inch tim with the pastry and bake blind until light golden brown.


2 largish apples. I used renette as I was luck enough to have them growing on my tree, but you can use russets. 3 will probably be about right as they are small. I clean and slice the apples and put them in a layer on a microwave proof dish. Cover with cling film and microwave until just soft. If you do this your apples will stay golden and not brown.

2 eggs

50g sugar

1/4 litre of single cream

1 dessert spoon of cornflour

What you need to do:

mix the ecc, sugar and cornflour together. There is really no need to whisk them and all that faff. It really will not make any difference to the final; custard.

Heat the cream to just below scalding point and add to the egg mixture. Beat well while adding the cream. This is important as you risk curdling the eggs if you don't mix it really well while you're adding the hot cream. Return to the heat to cook the custard until it thickens but not so much that it curdles. The addition of the cornflour should prevent this. Allow to cool slightly.

Pour the custard into the cooked pastry shell and cover with a layer of cooked apples.

Return to the oven for about 15 minutes to brown the apples and custard.

Cool before serving. Slightly warm is so good.

Kitchen in Italy

Earlier on this year many of you who watch this blog were subjected to my ramblings and photos of my kitchen come living room as it was renovated. So.... here are the latest photos. They were actually taken in September but I've not had time to add them to the blog until now.
There is much dust to be seen as it took ages for the dust from the work to settle. We washed the floor twice a day and it just never seemed to get better. Perhaps by next year it may have settled!

All I need now is some new cushions and perhaps even some curtains.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Figs have finally arrived

Figs have finally arrived and what better way to serve them than with Parma ham, pancetta and speck. This makes a wonderful simple meal when paired with crusty bread and good wine. ENJOY.

Cavalli Bardigiani

Look at what we've been waking up to in the mornings. These are the famous cavalli Bardigiani. Pity that the owner doesn't look after then well enough. They have been roaming freely and trampling over anything in their path. This picture was taken from my bathroom window.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Aubergine or Melanzane Ravioli

Many of you who visit this blog will have seen that I've made stuffed pasta before but today I want to present you with the latest recipe that has come into my repertoire. It came about principally as I had an aubergine that needed to be used and I thought what the heck and gave it a go.

You will need:

For the filling
1 large, and in Italy they are large, or two normal sized aubergines.
250g of ricotta cheese that you will have to drain
5 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
4 basil leaves chopped
1 large clove of garlic chopped and about
3 tablespoons of olive oil

To make the filling
Peel the aubergine and chop into small dice, about half a centimetre. I then put them in a plastic bowl and microwaved them for about 4 mins on high power until they were soft. Drain away the water that they give off in cooking.
Now heat the olive oil in a frying pan no need to brown the aubergines and chopped garlic. Leave to cool.
Add the ricotta and parmesan cheese, salt pepper and some dried breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet. Remember that a wet mixture will make the uncooked pasta soggy and it won't hold together to pick up and cook.
For the pasta:
400g of 00 flour
4 medium eggs.
Make the pasta as I have explained in earlier recipes.
I'll finish this recipe when I've got more time later on today.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ricotta Pancakes

These pancakes are simplicity itself to make. So this is what you need to make approximate 12 pancakes. 3 per person is a good serving.:

125g of ricotta cheese
1 egg
100g flour
1 heaped tablespoon of sugar
grated rind of half a lemon
50g of melted butter
milk, see the method for how much to use.
1 teaspoon of lievito per dolci, if you can't get this then use baking powder.

Now get cooking.
1. Break the egg in to a bowl and add the ricotta, the melted butter, the grated lemon rind and the sugar. Mix well then add the flour and the raising agent.
2. Beat in the flour with enough milk to make a thick batter. Remember that this batter has to retain its shape in the pan. It should only spread enough to form rough circles in the pan.
3. On a medium flame heat a heavy based pan and add a little butter. When the butter is ready drop dessertspoons of mixture into the pan. You will only be able to cook about 4 pancakes at a time. Remember that they will spread and rise. When the pancakes are golden brown on one side tip over and cook on the other side. Adjust the heat if the pancakes are cooking too quickly or too slowly.
I served these pancakes with lightly cooked fresh blackberries as they are in season at the moment, and they are growing in abundance about 50 metres away from the house but they work well with most fruits.

We've Moved the Kitchen

We've moved the kitchen and, not a moment too soon. After years of having to use a kitchen that I hated we've moved it. Not too far away, I know, but far enough to catch the light and for it to be more user friendly.

It is a bit smaller, but the left over units are now in my cantina so they will be used. You'll see the rest of the improvements as we do them.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Chocolate and Coconut Cake

This cake is a very special one as I made it for my son-in-law. While he was here with me earlier on this summer he put in a request for a Chocolate and Coconut cake, but I couldn't make him one as I didn't have a suitable recipe. Now that everyone has gone home, I have the time to experiment and this is what I've come up with. I'll make it agin when I get home, but for the moment, he will just have to look and drool.

For the chocolate
egg75g self-raising flour
75g sugar
75g butter10g cocoa
Put everything in a bowl and mix well to form a stiffish sponge.
Put the mixture in to an 8cm round tin and cook at 180C for about 20 mins.Cool the cake.

For the Coconut layer
1 packet of instant custard mix.
2 heaped tablespoons of dessicated coconut
1 dessertspoon of sugar
Make the custard as directed on the packet and then add the other ingredients. The coconut should thicken the mixture quite considerably and then it can be spread on the cooled chocolate cake.

For the chocolate coating:
100g of plain chocolate
50g butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup

Gently heat these ingredients together until they become a thick paste. When cool enough pour over the cake and spread over the sides.Put in the fridge to cool and then slice abd enjoy!
This cake is best stored in the fridge as it has custard in the centre.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Sono in Italia

Just to let you all know that I am in Italy again and raring to go. New recipes and experiences will appear soon so don't dispair.