Tuesday, 31 January 2012

GULASH FOR ADULTS AND BEEF STEW FOR CHILDREN



I love this dish, it is so wintery and smells so good... I always make the gulash for us and the"plain"version for the kids, as this is a very spicy dish. It is tipical of Northern Italy.
1 Kg of beef is quite a lot, but it was perfect for 4 adults and 2 kids (considering that we also had a starter).

1Kg of diced beef  (better if it is Aberdeen Angus)
Half a onion, half a carrot and half a celery stick
250 gr Tomato passata
2 or 3 bay leaves
Salt
Pepper
2 chopped potatoes
3 cups of stock
For the gulash add:

A handful of cumin seeds (quantity depends on how much you like them, but they give the special flavour to the dish)
A sprinkle of paprika
A sprinkle of chilly flakes

Heat a heavy-based casserole dish and add the olive oil and chopped onion, carrot and celery. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until they are soft and quite dark. In the meantime flour the beef, then put it in the pan. Season with salt and pepper (don't use it if it is for the kids), then, when the meat is brown, add the passata and the bay leaves. When boiling, cover with stock, then reduce to a low simmer and cover with a lid.
After about an hour, add to the casserole the chopped potatoes and stir well. There should be just enough liquid to almost cover the ingredients, you may need to add a little more stock. Take the lid off and allow to simmer away for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick.

For the gulash the procedure is exactly the same; you just have to add the cumin seeds, the paprika and the chilly to the frying vegetables at the beginning, before cooking the meat.


Monday, 30 January 2012

HAKE AU GRATIN



For this recipe, I've used hake but you can use salmon, sea-bass, sole, plaice...whatever you like. Hake is quite a plain fish in tems of flavour, but this coat made it very tasty. This is actually how my mum cooks scallops, but I've "stolen" her recipe for other fishes and it is always a success. Try!!

Ingredients:

4 hake fillets
15-20 g of grated Parmesan
35-40 g of breadcrumbs
1 clove of garlic (optional)
15-20 g flat leaf parsley
Salt
Pepper (optional)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
The quantities really depend on how big the fillets are. Just don't exceed with the Parmesan.

Chop finely the parsley and the garlic (I use the food processor), then mix with Parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Put the mixture on the fillets, then add a few butter flakes on the top.

Cook at 170 degrees for 30 minutes (but also the cooking time depend on the size of the fillets, 30 minutes are too much if the fillets are very small).

Thursday, 26 January 2012

POTATO FRITTATA





This is the only way (together with crepes), to make my children eat eggs. They love it. It is a proper lunch/dinner for them, they don't need anything else after this. And it is great also for parties, cut in small pieces and eaten cold. This has been made with potatoes, but you can use everything you like: courgettes, peppercorns, tomatoes, asparagus, artichokes, sausage ... just use your imagination!

Ingredients for 4 people:

6 eggs
2 small potatoes
100 ml milk
salt
pepper
Olive oil or butter (or both)

First, peel the potatoes and cut them into small chunks; it  will cut down on the cooking time.
Put them into a pan of slightly salted boiling water and cook them until they are ready for eating (about 20 minutes).

When ready drain them and put them in a skillet with some olive oil or butter and sautée them for a few minutes.

Lightly beat the eggs to incorporate some air into them, which will make for a fluffier frittata. Add the milk, some salt and pepper before beating.

Spread the potatoes into a single layer in the pan and pour the eggs over; let the frittata cook, without stirring, until the top begins to firm up. Cover the skillet with a dish and flip it upside-down while holding the dish pressed to it (I advise you to do this over a sink the first time!).

The frittata will come to rest on the dish; turn the skillet right-side up, slide the frittata back into it, and cook it for a couple of minutes more to set it through. It shouldn't be runny, nor should it be bone dry.







Monday, 23 January 2012

SWEET AND SALTY CROISSANTS



This is a great idea for a brunch. Or for a party. You can mix Nutella, jam and Frankfurter and cheese croissants, otherwise, if it is for an aperitif, you can just make the salty ones. They are very quick and easy to make and they are always much appreciated. So, make loads of them, they will disappear in no time!!!!


Ingredients for 12 small croissants:



1 sheet frozen puff pastry
Nutella or
Jam or
2 Frankfurters
1 slice of Edamer or Gruyere or Cheddar
some flour to dust the pastry


Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until they're easy to handle. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll it trying to give it a round shape. You can use a big dish and cut the exceeding pastry, as shown in the picture.



Then cut the pastry sheet into 12 triangles.




Spread 1 tablespoon Nutella or jam over each triangle, leaving a 1.5cm border around the edges, or put a small piece of Frankfurter and cheese on the top as shown.





Starting at the wide end, roll up the pastry triangles toward the point. Place the pastries, point-side down, on a baking sheet. Curve the ends of the pastries inward to form a crescent shape.




Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve warm.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

GOAT CHEESE WRAPPED IN PANCETTA




Last week we've been visiting some friends and they made us a beautiful dinner; I can say we've eaten much better there than in many fancy restaurants here in London! Silvia is a great cook and she made this interesting and very tasty starter that I've decided to reproduce (but hers was looking much better than mine!). I didn't have much much time for the decoration but with some pomegranate it could be a lot nicer. For the salad dressing I've used Balsamic vinegar but for this recipe it's better to use the white one, otherwise the salad gets a dark colour that is not nice to see. For a more delicate taste, you can use Parma ham instead of Pancetta.


Ingredients for 4:

4 (1,5 cm) goat cheese slices - I've used the Coeur de Lion one, bought in Waitrose
4 Pancetta slices
For the salad
100 g lambs lettuce
1 shallot
olive oil
white vinegar
salt and pepper



Chop the shallot using a food processor and add it to the salad dressing made with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix the salad with the dressing.




Lay the slices of Pancetta ( or Parma ham) onto a work surface and cut them in half.

Place pieces of the cheese into the centre of each half slice of Pancetta, then wrap it around the cheese.
Fry lightly the parcels in the pan with a little oil for about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve the cheese on a bed of lettuce and decorate with cranberries.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

PEAR AND CHOCOLATE CAKE




 And here we go...again!Another cake!In this after-Christmas period I'm still a lot into cakes...also if I should be more into dieting...but this s for the kids. They are always an excellent excuse for cooking ... and eating!

Ingredients:
100 gr grounded amaretti
3 very mature pears
2 eggs
100 g sugar
170 gr butter
200 gr of self-raising flour
20 gr of bitter cocoa
1 glass milk
apricot jam


Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Work the butter with the sugar and the egg yolks for at least 10 minutes , then add the flour, the amaretti and the glass of milk.

 Divide the mixture into two halves and add the cocoa powder to one half.

 Pour the cocoa one in a 20 cm round tin covered with baking foil and add the other half of dough.
Above place the pears.

 Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for 35-40 minutes.

 Once cooked, brush the cake with apricot jam diluted with a little lukewarm water or powder it with icing sugar.

You can accompany it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

CROSTATA ALLA MARMELLATA (JAM TART)



Hello, I'm back!
We've spent almost three weeks in Italy with our families where we have really enjoyed Christmas. When you have children, the Christmas spirit you tought you had lost, suddenly comes back and make you see everything under a different light. It's a magical period of the year.
 I haven't cooked for ages, the only thing I did is this cake for a dinner with friends. That's all. But we have eaten an huge amount of food: cappelletti, gnocchetti di crema (typical of Marche region),all kinds of fish, polenta and frico (typical of my area),all sorts of Panettone...etc etc...I hope to be able to post them soon. It is beautiful to be spoiled by your families and friends, to just sit down and let them cook for you, wash the dishes, help you with the kids. At the moment, for me, this is the real holiday! Thank you everyone.
And ...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Ingredients:

300 gr plain flour
150 g unsalted soft butter, diced
150 gr sugar
2 medium eggs
1 yolk
250 g fruit jam (the most successful are damson and orange)
Grated lemon zest


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. Spread the pastry bottom with the jam.

 Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board slightly thicker than 3 mm, then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips 0.5 cm wide and make a lattice on top of the jam layer. There might be some leftover pastry.

Preheat the oven to 175°C and bake the tart until golden, about 30 minutes. It is great freshly baked but it definitely improves after a day or two.