Wednesday, 30 November 2011

FILLO PASTRY NESTS WITH PRAWNS AND AVOCADO


A very nice starter that is very easy to make and that is perfect for a fish menu.

Ingredients for 4 people:

3 fillo pastry sheets
250 gr king prawns
1 large avocado
lemon
salt
pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Cut 3 fillo pastry sheets (they're usually one upon the other)into four squares. Then cover a small cup with baking paper and place the fillo pastry in the cup. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees. In the meantime cut the avocado into small pieces and rinse the prawns. Put in a bowl and add salt, pepper, a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well.
Take out the nests from the oven and when cold fill them with the mixture of prawns and avocado.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

BRIE AND WALNUTS GNOCCHI



I made this gnocchi last sunday for lunch. I was in a hurry and my fridge was half empty...I found Brie, I always keep walnuts for cakes...and I always keep Gnocchi for my children, who love them. I usually buy the De Cecco ones, that for me are the best you can find here. If you want, you can use Gongorzola cheese instead of Brie; it tastes even better!
So...this is the recipe. QUICK AND EASY!



Ingredients for 4 people:

500 g Gnocchi
200 g Brie
50 g  organic walnuts (buy the most expensive, as the cheap ones usually have a very bitter taste)
3 tablespoons of milk
salt
nutmeg


Place the walnuts in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes.

In the meantime cut the Brie into pieces and put them in a saucepan adding the milk . Make it melt on a low heat. Chop the walnuts and add them to the sauce (but keep some of them for the decoration). In the meantime cook the Gnocchi (or the pasta if you prefer) in salty boiling water, then drain them and put them in the saucepan. Add some grated nutmeg and mix well. Serve decorating with some walnut pieces.

Monday, 28 November 2011

WHAT YOU CAN DO WHEN A CAKE DOESN'T RISE



Let's confess: it happens to everyone sometimes! To me it happens everytime I try a variation to the Pan di Spagna. Less eggs and more ingredients.... maybe I mix them in the wrong way, maybe it's the baking powder or the oven's fault (the most common excuse!) ... or maybe there's a mistake in the recipe....by the way, it happens and when it does you never know what to do with the poor outcome. This is what I made the last two times it happened. 

The first time, it was a simple cake, just flour, eggs, butter, the usual stuff.  I cut the cake in two halves, then, using cutters of different shapes I cut hearts, stars, moons etc. Then I filled the little cakes with Nutella, sprinkled some Icing sugar on the top...and this was the result! It was for a children party and they disapperead in no time!




Second time...last Saturday. We had guests for dinner and I wanted to make orange cake filled with orange cream and covered with dark chocolate (maybe too ambitious?).So I did like the previous time, cut the cake into two halves, made an orange cream (same procedure as Custard, but with orange juice instead of milk), filled the little cakes with it and covered them with melted chocolate. They were actually quite good.



Thursday, 24 November 2011

POTATO GNOCCHI WITH BUTTER AND SAGE



Potato gnocchi are very simple to make, but there are some fundamental rules to follow in order to avoid a disaster.

- Potatoes with red skin are the best for this recipe; I use Red King Edward potatoes;

- cook the whole potatoes, don't chop them, otherwise they'll absorbe too much water;

- they have to cook slowly, on low heat, 20/30 minutes from the moment in which the water starts to  boil;

- you have to work the potatoes while still hot;

-the flour quantity is approximate; it depends of how much of it the potatoes absorb, so start with half of the dose, then add it if needed.

Ingredients:

800 g red skin potatoes
400 g plain flour
salt
30 g butter
some sage leaves
grated Parmesan

Scrub the potatoes clean and put them in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
Cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender all the way through, about 20 minutes after the water has come to a boil.
Drain potatoes and once they are cool enough to handle but still warm, use a paring knife to scrape off and discard the skins. Push the potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl or mash with a large fork or potato masher thoroughly.
Stir in 250 g flour - it will seem like it won't combine at first, but keep working it - eventually it will become a smooth dough.Then, if needed add more flour ( you realise you need more flour when the dough is sticky). You can tell the dough is ready when it doesn't have any holes or tears and when it is porous.









Divide the dough into four parts and work with one section at a time. Roll a section of dough into a long, inch-thick snake on a well floured surface. Cut this thin log into bite-size (1.5 cm) pieces.
If you like, you can take each gnocco and push it down the tines of a fork with your thumb, letting it drop onto a floured surface at the end. It should have tine marks on one side and a thumbprint on the other. Arrange gnocchi on a very well floured baking sheet or tray. Repeat with remaining dough.









Gnocchi can stay, covered loosely, at room temperature for several hours.
When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add only as many gnocchi as can comfortably cover the surface of the water. They will sink immediately.Within about a couple of minutes they will float to the surface; remove them with a slotted spoon. Place gnocchi on a warm serving platter and repeat with remaining gnocchi. Toss with melted butter and sage and a generous amount of grated Parmesan.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

MONKFISH WRAPPED IN PARMA HAM



This is an easy and classy recipe, maybe a bit expensive, but perfect if you want to impress someone.
2 monkfish fillets (about 150g each)
8 Parma ham ( or Speck or Pancetta) slices 
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 head of Iceberg lettuce
For the lettuce dressing:
2 tablespoond lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard (Grey Poupon)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons olive oil


Mix well the herbs and add salt and pepper. Put the monkfish fillets on a dish and cover them with the mixture. Arrange 4 Parma ham slices on a baking paper placing them side by side. Now put a fillet on the slices and wrap it; then do the same with the remaining slices and fillet. Put in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes at 200 degrees.

Chop the lettuce finely, add the dressing and place on the dishes. Cut the fillets into slices and serve.

Monday, 21 November 2011

FRUIT CUSTARD TART



Sorry for my long absence, but I had relatives staying with us for 10 days, so I enjoyed my freedom (I had 10 childless beautiful mornings!!!) and did all I had been postponing for months.
Now I'm back and this is my last recipe! This cake is great for birthdays and special occasions. It looks and tastes great! To save time, you can make the tart the day before and leave the custard and the decoration for the last minute.


Ingredients for the tart:
300 gr plain flour
125 g unsalted butter, diced
125 gr sugar
1 medium egg
2 yolks
Lemon zest

Ingredients for the custard:
1/2 liter whole milk
3 yolks
5 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 lemon zest
1 vanilla pod
30 gr butter
1 pinch of salt
Fruit for decoration

Mix flour, lemon zest and sugar, then work the butter in with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the egg and yolks and work briefly until the dough just holds together.
It is important not to overwork the dough or it will harden when baked.
Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured board roll 2/3 of the pastry dough to a 1 cm thickness, and line with it the bottom and sides of a 23 cm spring form cake tin. The sides should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom. Using a fork or a toothpick make small holes on the base.

Preheat the oven to 175°C and bake the tart until golden, about 20-25 minutes.

While it's cooking, make the custard.

Bring the milk, lemon zest and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Remove the vanilla pod and the lemon zest.Whisk the yolk and sugar together in a pan until well blended then add the flour. Pour the hot milk on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk. Return to the hob and over a medium/high heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened. When boiling take it off the heat, stir well and bring it back again on the heat. Do this two or three times. When ready pour the custard into the tart.
When cold, decorate with your favourite fruit and sprinkle some icing sugar on the top.






Wednesday, 9 November 2011

SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI PASTA


Sausage + broccoli is a very good combination, you should try it. You can make pizza, calzone or risotto with these ingredients.They're all very nice.

500 g broccoli
3 Italian sausages
1 clove of garlic
20 gr grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil

Wash and cut the broccoli and put them in a pot covering them with water; cook them for 10 minutes starting from the moment in which the water boils.
Put some olive oil in a saucepan and add the clove of garlic. Then add the broccoli and the sausage cut into small pieces. Add salt and pepper and some white wine (optional) and cook for a few minutes on low heat. In the meantime cook the pasta, then drain it and put it into the saucepan. Mix well and when on the dish, sprinkle with some grated Parmesan.

Friday, 4 November 2011

APPLE AND RICOTTA CAKE



Ingredients:

200 g self-raising flour  
250 g Ricotta cheese
180 g sugar
3 eggs
600 g apples  ( I used Royal Gala apples)
50 g butter
1/2 glass milk


Preheat the oven to 180C.
Peel the apples, remove the core and cut them into small pieces; one and a half apple have to be cut into thin slices as they will be put on top of the cake.

Melt the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar for about three minutes until thick and pale, then add the melted butter.

Add the Ricotta cheese and the milk and mix gently, then add the flour.

Add the apple pieces and mix with a wooden spoon. Finally add the egg whites. Mix well again.

Spoon the cake mixture into a 26cm spring-form cake tin and put the apple slices on the top. Sprinkle some Demerara sugar and a bit of melted butter on the top and bake  in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the cake.