Monthly Archives: December 2009

Christmas present for the blog… for an organized 2010!

This is the Christmas present for my blog, something i saw a long time ago but i was waiting the right occasion to buy it! Christmas was the perfect time and i went to Waterstones directly.

There are lots of different places where you can find recipes notebooks, but this is the nicest and more useful for me: basically i can finally put in order all my mum recipes and divide them between the ones i already cooked and the ones missing. On top of that you can also open it and use it as a support to read directly your recipe while you are cooking! Just amazing and if someone is interested it costs 15£.

Let’s hope with this present the 2010 will be more organized!

PS. Mamy ti piace questo ricettario che mi son comprata? ti fa invidia eh? ora oltre a mettere in ordine tutte le tue ricette e a dividerle tra quelle gia’ provate e quelle che mi mancano, posso anche aprirlo e usarlo come leggio mentre cucino! Inizio ad essere molto piu’ organizzata!

The exchange: Tilt ragu’ for some mince pies!

Recipe 113: and now it’s the time for the RAGU’, also known as Bolognese sauce. It’s a  long time i wanted to cook it but i never found the right occasion. Last day i saw a friend of mine who is a master of the mince pies and i thought we could have a nice Christmas cooking exchange…. some ragu’ for the mincemeat of the classic english mince pies.

The ingredients you need for ragu’ (a quite big quantity) are: 250gr beef mince meat, 250gr pork mince meat, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 celery, olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg, tomatoes sauce  800gr (i used 2 cans of passata) and 2 glasses of red wine. Now the only thing you need to know is that it’s a very easy process but very long too. The sauce need to cook at least 2-3 hours.

First cut the carrot, the celery and the onion in the smallest pieces you can, then put them in a sauce pan with some oil and let everything fry for some minutes. When these are ready and quite cooked, put the 2 types of meat in the saucepan and cook them a bit. When the color starts to change, add 2 glasses of red wine, mix and wait until the wine is evaporated.

Let the meat coook a bit more and then add the tomatoes sauce. I used the tomatoes passata with chopped tomatoes. Add some salt and peppers and then put the pan on the smallest fire you can. At this point you just need to mix sometimes the sauce and add some hot water if  you see it’s getting too thick. You will need to leave the sauce on this fire for more than 2 hours just checking the water and mixing the sauce.

After one hours or so, try a bit of the sauce and add salt, pepper or nutmeg if you think you need it. Wait for the sauce to get darker and a bit dry. After some hours on low low fire, the ragu’ will be ready!

This is my final result !

From the exchange i received a massive container with mincemeat that i used to create an italian version of the mince pies: i have in fact used the pastry that i normally make for the Italian Crostata. You can find it here.

I used a tray for the muffins ( i couldn’t find any mince pies tray), i put the butter and the flour to don’t let the pastry stick to the tray and then i put the mincemeat in the pastry, closing them on the top in the italian way, instead to cover them totally.

I put them in the oven at 160-180 degree for half an hour and i was very pleased with the result! It’s Christmas for sure now!

What do you think?

PS. Mamy ti piacciono queste tortine? sono dei dolcetti tipici inglesi che ho preparato sul modello delle crostate grazie ad un mio amico che mi ha dato gli ingredienti per il ripieno. Insomma ho dovuto solo fare la pasta e riempirla. Abbiamo fatto uno scambio culinario Natalizio: lui mi ha dato questa specie di impasto di mele, uvetta passa e noci cotte con il brandy ed io gli ho preparato un bel barattolone di ragu’! Diciamo uno scambio culturale e natalizio!

Are you for Pandoro or Panettone? (-56 weeks)

This is a classic question in Christmas: do you prefer some Panettone or Pandoro? These are the classic italian ready made dessert in Christmas (on top of the black or white torrone) and you need to have a favorite. It’s a must! Of course you can eat a piece of both but everyone has a preference. So which one you are going to choose?

I personally prefer the Panettone because less greasy and with a more interesting taste: a bit of raisins and candy fruits make the trick. However also the Pandoro is very nice and was my favorite when i was little. It’s super soft and buttery and with the sugar on the top is just good!

The best way to enjoy the Pandoro is to toast it a bit in the oven or on the toaster, but you can also serve it as a cool dessert, just cutting slices and adding nutella or homemade cream between slices. I love that! The cream is good for the  Panettone too but i prefer it alone, just as it is.

And what about you?

PS. Mamy lo so che tu preferisci il Panettone come me ora! E capisco anche papa’ che continua a credere che sia il pandoro il mio preferito… con tutti i pandori che mi sono mangiata da piccola! E guai se mi davi un panettone! a Capodanno comunque non manchera’ sicuro!

Pre-Christmas quick update :( -7Kg)

Here we are… also this Christmas is passed, lots of food was served and it was very nice to stay with the family…but what about my challenge?

Good question :(! I’m in holiday at the moment and i’m not going to be worried about recipes and diet. I let my mum cook, i had just enjoyed the food and i have taken some new recipes to bring with me in London. However i lost another kilo before to leave and my score will be to come back and restart with my regular food diet without any stress.

Let’s see what is going to happen, but i really think is better to have a break from every diet in Christmas and just enjoy the good food and atmosphere. Finally in just one week it can’t happen so much: the gym and new good mood will help in January! Fingers crossed!

PS. Brava mamma per i magnifici piatti di questi giorni! Tutto buonissimo! ora pero’ al mio rientro mi tocchera’ tornare alla mia dieta regolare e speriamo di riuscirci senza troppa sofferenza. Ad ogni modo e’ impossibile rinunaciare alle leccornie natalizie…non potrei per nulla al mondo…sopratutto se preparate da te!

My Special Christmas dishes!

Recipe 114: this is not a classic italian Christmas recipe but, for a reason or another, this rice is something i always cook in Christmas. Last year i did it for my parents who came to London to see me, and this year I prepared it for my friends before to come back to Italy for the Christmas break.

Just to make the dinner a  bit more interesting i also prepared a little and super-easy starter that goes really well with the rice. An amazing champagne and wine completed the dinner.

For three people the ingredients are: a bunch of asparagus (8/10)- 250gr rice – around 100gr goat cheese – 1 onion – butter – 50/70gr pancetta – a glass of white wine – a vegetable stock – pepper – salt – chilli  and if you also want to do the starter you will need around 300 gr of Jumbo prawns.

As usual, let’s start from the onion: cut it in little pieces and put it in a quite big sauce pan with some butter or olive oil. Wait for the color to become goldish and add the pancetta. In the mean time wash and cut the asparagus in 2 or three pieces and put them to boil in a little sauce pan, while in a another container you will put some water to boil for the vegetable stock.

When the pancetta is a bit cooked, add the rice and let it toast in the sauce pan. after few minutes you can add the white wine and mix it all until the wine is totally evaporated. add some of the vegetable stock water and let it cook always mixing a bit to don’t make the rice stick to the pan.

Waiting for the rice to cook, you can now prepare the starter: put some batter in a pan and let it melt. After a bit you can put the jumbo prawns with some salt, pepper and chilli. Wait for them to fried a bit with the butter and then add some white wine. in thsi way you will create a nice sauce that will help the prawns to be cooked and the taste will be amazing. Wait until they are a nice orange color and you can serve them in a plate with some of teh asparagus you put to boil before.

Be careful: for the rice you will use mainly the tender points of the vegetable, so i suggest you to use for the started the other part of the vegetable that for the rice would be too hard.

When the rice is almost cooked add the tender parts of teh asparagus you boiled before with their water, to maintain more flavour and mixing all wait for the rice to cook and the water to evaporate.

When the rice is ready, take it off from the fire and add the goat cheese in pieces: mix it all and the cheese will melt giving to the plate even more consistency and a great taste. Then serve it as usual with some Parmesan!

Buon appetito e Buon Natale!

PS. Mamy te lo ricordi questo riso che vi ho fatto l’anno scorso e che vi era piaciuto tanto? beh questo anno ho bissato e l’ho preparato per la nostra cena natalizia a casa prima che partissi con anche un bell’antipasto di gamberetti! Ormai questo risotto e’ diventato il mio piatto natalizio e viene sempre benissimo!

Fine Burger Co… just a bit more helpful! (-57 weeks)

And not only… finally a burger chain that give you the possibility to choose for a dish without bread!

In England there are different burgers chains. Nothing to do with Mc Donalds and not even with real diners, but little places where you can find massive nice and tasty burger, made with good meat, bread and the most different ingredients for a quite cheap prize. Served with chips or chicken wings or onions rings, are also a quite good amount of calories by the way.

Finally a little help arrived for people like me who look for a normal social life without have to say no to any kind of dinner out: Fine Burger Co thought in something very easy and light. They take a nice burger, no bread, no cheese, no  chips, but just a nice fresh salad, with tomatoes, peppers, some other simple ingredients and a light dressing, for a big and healthy dish.

Thanks to this other chain to upgrade to healty food!

PS. Mamy nella mia battaglia per poter mangiare fuori senza per forza dovermi ingrassare, ho trovato un altro alleato: e’ una di queste piccole catene di ristoranti che cucinano solo hamburgers ma buonissimi. Beh finalemente in cambio di servire solo paninoni farciti accompagnati da patatine fritte, hanno anche aggiunto l’opzione light, ovvero una bella insalata mista con hamburger. In questo modo ho la possibilita’ di mangiare una bella razione di carne con un contorno bello consistente, senza dovermi sentire ai margini della societa’ perche’ tento di resistere alle patatine fritte! E se un  po’ piu’ di inglesi passassero dal Mc Donald a queste catene, gli farebbe sicuramente bene alla salute!

Tas… the anatolian restaurant!

Everyone knows London is so multicultural that you have the possibility to try here the most different restaurants and food, so some weeks ago we went to TAS, a turkish chain of restaurants. Of course we love Houmous and Tabule, but because we didn’t really know all the rest we decided to go safe with a set menu: Sahan menu… just 8,95 each.

This menu give you four options for starters: Lentil soup, Tabule, Houmous and Ispanakli Yogurt, but we were so in love with all of them that we choose Soup, Houmous and Tabule: everything was really good and served with a special pitta bread, soft with sesame seeds and absolutely tasty.

For main course we had instead Kofte and Chicken Guvesh with a very nice couscous in both. The Kofte are pieces of minced or ground meat — usually beef or lamb — mixed with spices and/or onions. The taste is quite strong but all was grilled and it was really good. The Guvesh instead is a kind of stew or chicken casserole made with mushrooms, onion and tomato.

So finally the dinner was really interesting, different from what i normally eat, not heavy or particularly greasy at all and the flavors were really nice. If you also consider then the very cheap price and good service, i think you can have a try!

PS. Mamy qualche tempo fa ho provato un ristorante Turco: volevamo mangiare qualche cosa differente e abbiamo visto che non era molto costoso e siamo andati. Vabbe’, considerato il fatto che io e Julio andiamo matti per l’houmous e il pane pitta che usano loro, diciamo che avvicinarci alla loro cucina non e’ stato poi cosi difficile e la carne ed il couscous come lo cucinano loro e’ proprio buono. Sono sicura piacerebbe anche a voi!

Fisarmoniche di melanzane – Stuffed Aubergines

Recipe 115: OK, i confess, this is not my mum’s recipe, but it could easily be! I took this recipe from Sainsbury’s and i was ready to don’t put it in this blog but then it was so good and easy that i couldn’t resist!

To prepare this dish for 3/4 people you will need: 2 Aubergines, 1 and 1/2 mozzarella (250gr), 120gr of streaky bacon, butter, oil and a bit of salt. The preparation is very very easy!

Wash the aubergines and cut the top of each. Then cut them in slices of 1,5 cm but not until the end: the aubergine have to be still entire but you need to make the cut big and deep enough to insert other ingredients. Done that, put some butter in the recipient that you will use for the aubergine, just to avoid them to stick to it.

Now you can start stuffing the aubergines putting some mozzarella and bacon alternatively. If you like, you can also insert some slice of onion. When you finish, add some oil and a bit of salt on top. Then just wait the oven to be a bit hot and then place them in it for 45 minute at 180 degree.

When you will take them out the bacon will be crunchy, the mozzarella will be melted and the aubergines will be tender and tasty!


PS. Mamy questa volta non ho inserito una tua ricetta, ma questa che pensa ho trovato al Supermercato… Avevo bisogno di un contorno rapido e avevo ancora due melanzane in frigo cosi’ ho pensato di provarla. E’ buonissima e facilissima, l’unica cosa ti serve il bacon di un taglio particolare che qui si chiama streaky e che diventa tutto bello croccante quando lo cuoci. Insomma ‘ste melanzane a fisarmonica sono rapidissime e si presentano benissimo! Che te ne pare?

Tagliatelle al radicchio ( -58 weeks)

Recipe 116: I will start saying that was very difficult to find the “radicchio” here in London… i think i went very near with the Red Chicory, but i’m not still so sure it’s exactly the same vegetable. I mean the one sold in Italy it’s more tasty and it’s a bit bigger than the red Chicory i found in the supermarket, but for this recipe this will work fine.

There are different options to make pasta with radicchio: you can use Gorgonzola, cream, or just butter or oil, but i decided to follow my mum crepes recipe. I remember i loved those. So i just swap the crepe for tagliatelle and i hoped it was a good choice. Yes it’s a very reach sauce and a bit heavy, but it’s GOOD!

For 3 people i used: 300gr Tagliatelle ( i didn’t take the egg ones because too reach considering the sauce) – 280gr Red Chicory (in Waitrose they sell it in packet of 140 gr), a bit of butter, white wine, 1 onion, 100gr Emmental cheese, Parmesan, salt and a bit of chilli.

First of all i prepared the Besciamella like i previously explained. Then i washed and cut in little pieces the red chicory. In the meantime in a pan i put a bit of butter and the onion as usual, until it became goldish. Add then the red chicory, some chilli and add some water to let it cook. When the chicory starts to be soft and cooked you can add a bit of white wine to give more taste and to finish the cooking.

You can now put on the gas the water for the tagliatelle, with some salt and wait until is boiling to put the pasta. In the meantime the chicory will have changed color and consistency, becoming very soft and you can now add some besciamella and grated Emmental. This will melt but if you need, you can also add some milk to make the sauce a bit more liquid.

Try the sauce and add salt and pepper or chilli if needed. When the pasta will be ready, just mix all together ans serve with Parmesan and more pepper if you like it.

Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy ero cosi’ tanto curiosa di provare di nuovo la tua salsa al radicchio che ho pensato di farne una versione con la pasta invece delle tue crepes… ok magari non e’ la stessa cosa perche nulla supera la besciamella messa al forno, ma a me ‘ste tagliatelle sono piaciute. E poi considerato che trovare il radicchio qui e’ stata un’impresa, aggiungere un po’ di sapore in piu’ con la besciamella e’ meglio… mi e’ sembrata un po’ troppo insipida la cicoria rossa che vendono qui, ma la besciamella e l’emmental insieme sono spaziali. La prosima volta sarei curiosa di farci una lasagna vegetarana con questa ricetta!

Italian ice creams in London…the big challenge!

As any other good italian, i love ice cream in any kind of season, weather, and time of the day. In Italy i was also living just on top of one of the most famous ice cream place in Rome… so of course now i miss a good ice cream a lot also if it’s winter!!!!

For ages i asked to other italians where they were going to eat a good and natural ice cream and often the answer was Marine Ices in Chalk Farm, so I finally decided to go and try. Unfortunately my experience wasn’t good at all: a part from the fact that the ice cream is very expensive, the taste doesn’t seems very natural and the consistency is horrible. You can feel some powder in it… nothing to do with the nice creamy italian ice creams!

My boss instead used to love Scoop in Covent Gardens: here i have to say the consistency is good and the price is fear, but the taste also if good, could be even better. However this is better than the previews one.

Of course i need to try some new shops recently opened (like the one in Selfriedges, in Portobello Road, in Holland Park…) but for the moment i can tell you the best ice cream i never eat in London is a little Ice cream stand in Westfield, the commercial centre in Shepherds bush.

The ice cream is called Joe Delucci’s, they are italian and the taste and the ingredients are just amazing! It’s a bit expensive but i swear it’s worth it all!!! I absolutely suggest you to try some of the flavors and especially the Pistacchio… you will be without words. They use a super high quality of fruit and the taste is just unique. So especially now that is Christmas and everyone will go to the commercial centers to buy all the presents, it think a little break with an ice cream in Joe Delucci’s you can’t miss it. I hope you will enjoy and agree with me. Let me know!

PS. Mamy non sai quanto mi manca Tony sotto casa a volte!! Insomma ero cosi disperata un giorno che ho iniziato a chiedere a tutti dove potessi trovare un buon gelato italiano qui a Londra. Quello di cui molti italiani mi avevano parlato si e’ rivelato una delusione. Quello che piace tanto al mio capo, e’ buono ma niente di spettacolare, mentre invece un giorno andando in quel grande centro commerciale in cui vi avevo portato a Natale, ne ho provato uno FENOMENALE… direi anche meglio di Tony. Gli ingredineti che usava erano freschissimi e molto ricercati. Avevano un pistacchio favoloso con tutta la granella dentro! Ultimamente hanno aperto qualche nuova gelateria in giro che non ho ancora provato, ma intanto ho parlato di quelle  piu’ famose. Certo che Tony sia benedetto!