Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Tuscan inspired Chicken Dish - Easy to Make Recipe

Just recently Filippo Berio launched their premium Gran Cru range of Extra Virgin Olive Oils and having been sent them to try, I couldn't wait to use them.  For this dish I used Gran Cru Toscano - a chicken dish which just seemed to happen, purely because I happened to have some lovely peppers and tomatoes in the fridge but also because I was feeling inspired by the wonderful oils I'd been sent. 
Nothing but good fresh ingredients, it's easy to make and ended up as something quite wonderful. 
Tuscany is somewhere I've always really fancied visiting - in fact Italy in general really interests me and the food always looks so, so good. 

   
  Just for the record, I'm not claiming this to be authentic Tuscan food, just Tuscan flavours and something I made up as I went along.

 About Filippo Berio:
 Filippo Berio, of Lucca, Tuscany, has been dedicated to Olive Oil since the 1800s and selects the very best and most distinctive regional Italian oils. Filippo Berio is therefore a true expert, with oils ranging from their standard Extra Virgin Olive Oil to this super premium Gran Cru range. 



The Gran Cru range is a selection of three regional Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Each of the three Gran Cru oils - Dauno, Monti Iblei and Toscano have their own unique characteristics.

Filippo Berio Gran Cru Toscano:  Produced in Tuscany from Frantoio, Pendolino and Leccino olives, this delicate green Extra Virgin olive oil has a strong aroma and a well-balanced flavour; a ripe, sweet and fruity taste with a peppery finish. The mainstay of many traditional Tuscan recipes, it is excellent with fish, soups, vegetables and fresh salads.  Perfect for pasta, pulses and barbecued meat too.

Filippo Berio Gran Cru Monti Iblei:  Produced in the Monti Iblei area of Sicily and made using Tonda Iblea olives, this Extra Virgin olive oil has an intense aroma, reminiscent of tomato leaves. It has a full-bodied, intense flavour and is excellent with salads, fish and shellfish.  Perfect with white meat and boiled or grilled vegetables, it is also spectacular on fresh Pecorino and salted Ricotta.    

Filippo Berio Gran Cru Dauno:  Produced in Puglia, in the heel of Italy, and made exclusively from Ogliarola and Coratina olives, this golden green coloured Extra Virgin olive oil is tangy, aromatic and intense. It is best suited to enhancing strong flavours such as game, bitter herbs, artichokes and turnips. It also goes well with vegetable soups and barbecued meat and fish.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Banana Caramel and Chocolate Dessert Pizza

The Italian Restaurant Zizzi recently set me a challenge to create a dessert pizza or any savoury dish that could be turned sweet.  I first came up with a possible of a Cinnamon and Caramelised Apple Lasagne but sadly although it tasted okay it wasn't somehow quite right and certainly didn't work photography wise.
I'm not one to give up easily and although I had to let it go this time, I'll work on it!


 If you'd like have a go at making my easy to make Banana, Caramel and Chocolate Pizza you can find the recipe here.

After an amazing meal at Zizzi and feeling inspired by the new addition to their new dessert menu - 'Strawberry and Chocolate Pizza' I took on Zizzi's challenge and made my own dessert pizza.  Banana and Caramel Drizzled with Dark Chocolate.  I was really pleased with the result especially because I very rarely make dessert and never know where to begin.  I must say that trying their new dessert really did inspire me to get thinking and have a go.  Hopefully after reading this post then you also might want to have a go yourself.

Here are a few snapshots of our visit to a Zizzi restaurant and more about their 
Strawberry and Chocolate Pizza: 
While we were in the restaurant, part of the challenge was to Tweet/ Instagram using #SweetPizza - it was so funny. We'd purposely gone to the restaurant earlier in the evening than we'd usually go since people would be wondering what an earth we were doing!

Please excuse my poor photographs as you will appreciate I couldn't take my proper camera and as you would expect restaurants just aren't set up with the correct lighting for food photography.

Since we were sitting directly in front of the chef I just had to ask if I could take his picture - it's okay he knew it would end up in this blog post and thought it was cool!


Our starter dishes arrived, we ordered different dishes so we could share and we absolutely loved this one - Fonduta Formaggi a pot of melted cheese, gorgonzola, gruyère and pecorino with baked dough sticks and focaccia bread for dipping.

To the side of the picture you can just see part of the other dish we had ordered, Arancini - Risotto balls with mozzarella, peas and a breadcrumb coating. There are three risotto balls and they're served with a chunky tomato peperonata dip. Warning - they are very moreish!
 

Now for the main course - Oh my word just look at the size the pizza Paul chose!
The Rustica Sofia pizza had lots of lovely spicy chicken, pepperoni, spicy sausage and mozzarella along with chilli and rosemary.  Yep he managed to eat the whole thing!  I was allowed a tiny bit to try it and we both really liked it.


 Here I am not quite knowing where to begin as the Spiedini Pollo (Roast chicken breast with red onions, courgettes and peppers) was as you can see, also huge.  It came with a side of Tuscan potatoes with a white wine and lemon sauce.  It was too nice and it had to be eaten!  The chicken was lovely and tender and the potatoes and sauce were a treat to eat.  But I was getting concerned by now, as we'd already eaten loads and still had to try the Strawberry and Chocolate pizza!


Now I must tell you about this dessert Pizza - Melting Marshmallows and Fresh Strawberries drizzled with Warm Chocolate and Hazelnut sauce - what's not to like?


Yes this is something that has to be ordered.  I must admit even though I'm not a fan of sweet things, this pizza wasn't too sweet at all and the base thin, crispy and light.  The strawberries work really well and take away the much of the sweetness so it isn't overly so and we both thought it was just perfect.

My one recommendation is that after eating a huge meal at Zizzi you seriously only need one of these pizzas to share between two people.  But us greedy pair just had to order the Chocolate and Banana Calzone as well as the pizza which you just see in the background of my picture.  Yes that was also seriously good although it was of course a lot sweeter than the Strawberry and Chocolate pizza which I personally preferred.  Paul however, is a huge fan of both desserts!

  Make sure you try out the ultimate sweet treat from Zizzi this summer.  You can find your local restaurant here.  If you're feeling inspired to turn more savoury things sweet, share your creations with #SweetPizza


  If you'd like more information on Zizzi pop over and visit them here.  

Disclaimer:  Many thanks to Zizzi in Shrewsbury and the fantastic meal and service from their staff.  I was set a challenge by Zizzi to create my own sweet pizza.  We were guests at Zizzi restaurant and I have been compensated for my time and the ingredients used.   All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Quick and Easy Dinner - Lasagne

Much as I really love cooking, sometimes I simply don't have the time to spend in the kitchen.  I'm not usually a fan of those jars of ready made sauces but it has to be said I think they've come a long way from the over salty and sugary thick gooey sauces they were a while back.


So armed with a couple of big jars of Dolmio tomato, roasted onion and garlic sauce for lasagne and a large jar of their lasagne white sauce this lasagne was whipped up in no time and it tasted good.  

 No need for a recipe as it tells you all this on the jar - apart from my adding red wine, oregano and black pepper.  Using a mixture of pork and beef mince gives the lasagne much more flavour and I really urge you to try it.

Just brown a mixture of half pork and half beef mince, when that's nicely cooked just add the tomato sauce.  Stir well and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or so.  As I say, I couldn't help pouring in a small glass of red wine since I think it adds to the flavour along with a pinch of dried oregano and a good pinch of black pepper.

Using ready made fresh lasagne sheets (made with free range eggs) just layer lasagne, tomato sauce followed by a layer of white sauce and repeat making sure you finish with a lasagne sheet topped with the rest of the white sauce.  Grated cheese is necessary of course!  Cover with kitchen foil and bake in a preheated oven 200C/400F of Gas 6 for about 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and return for a further 5 minutes of so till golden and bubbling.
 
Top Tip!
You can of course freeze your cooked lasagne just as long as it's fully defrosted before reheating till piping hot it will be fine.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Garofalo - Real Italian Pasta

With so very many different shapes of pasta around it's hard to know which pasta dishes they should be used for!
  I have to admit I'd never tried Garofalo Pasta until recently when I was very kindly sent a huge range to try.  Of course I haven't got round to trying them all as yet, but one thing's for sure, this pasta is GOOD!

It's hard to describe but Garofalo Pasta certainly tastes richer and fuller in flavour than most other brands.  Yes I'm converted - Garofalo is the way to go if you want Top Quality Great Tasting Pasta.

Spaghetti with Chicken, Chorizo and Sun-dried Tomatoes:
  Garofalo Pasta have a huge range of pasta, sauces soups and more.
Created from only the finest durum wheat in Gragnano, which is in the shadows of the ruins of Pompeii. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Amatriciana - Spicy Bacon and Tomato Sauce

Quick to make and one of the tastiest pasta sauces ever and is nothing like the gloopy shop bought jarred stuff.  A rich tomatoey, bacony, sauce that you can make smooth or chunky, it's up to you.  
   Of course you can leave out the bacon for a vegetarian pasta sauce.
Nothing but Pasta and a good sprinkle of Parmesan is needed - oh except of course a glass of wine!   
Having had this for lunch at my friend Mary's house the other day, it was so delicious and everyone cleared their plates.  That's it, I had to make it.
  So, armed with the recipe even though there was absolutely nothing to fault with it I couldn't help but titivate it a bit.   Here's what I did....

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia - Easy to Make

I came across this fantastic recipe by Lorraine Pascale in her book Baking Made Easy and it has to be said - this was easy!  Foccacia is an Italian flat bread and you can vary the topping to suit your taste - for example  Caramelised Red Onion or Cheese would be good!
As you're probably already aware, I don't do baking!  But this certainly turned out rather nice indeed.  Of course a good baking tray is vital and the Eazistore I reviewed a while back is still looking like new.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy - Book Review

They've done it again, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo have written yet another great book!
 Anyone with an interest in Italy and its food will be sure to love this hardback book.  Full of all things delicious, great photography and lots of information on various places from Rome to the citrus orchards in Amalfi.  
You'll find easy to make recipes such as this Beef and Wine soup that looks so lovely and creamy and can be made in just a few minutes!
And I'm loving the look of this Pumpkin risotto:
 Or how about Sardinian Pasta with Mussels?
 Pizza and pasta recipes and of some great dessert recipes too. The Orange Rice Cake sounds quite interesting and I might have to make that as soon as.

I'm thinking the book could have done with a ribbon book mark being included in the spine as there are so many nice recipes it would be good to have a bookmark or even two!
All in all I'm loving this book and can't wait to make a good few things from it.
Published by Quadrille Publishing and contains over 80 recipes - Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy can be purchased over at Amazon. 

 Also, series two of the BBC2 television program starts on April 19th.
 By the way, you can see my review on the Two Greedy Italians latest DVD here.

Thank you to Yvonne for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Two Greedy Italians DVD - a Review

A new DVD from the Two Greedy Italians is to be released next week (2nd April) and available to pre-order right now.
Features Jamie Oliver mentors Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.
  In each of the four hour long episodes the pair create dishes using ingredients and influences they discover along their gastronomic journey.  They travel through different Italian regions and uncover a changed Italy in some areas and a fiercely traditional, mostly untouched world in others.

 This DVD is funny, interesting and very entertaining and here are just a couple of snippets of what to expect!

 Gennaro tries to seduce Antonio (yes you read right)!

Gennaro tries to find a wife for Antonio by joining a dating agency and Antonio then has a dinner date with 'Erica' a lovely girl but turns out to be half his age!

The Two Greedy Italians visit a pasta factory and later cook up a stew and  polenta.

The DVD comes with four recipe cards and is available to pre-order now over at Amazon.  Oh and by the way, a new series of Two Greedy Italians airs on BBC2 in April.
  
Thank you to Pete for sending me a copy of the DVD to review.
 
Technical information: Feature running time: 4h approx
Language: English
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Disks: 2

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Jan's Spaghetti Carbonara for Two Greedy People

Although there's no cream to be found in this Carbonara, it's still delicious.
So very easy to do and ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta.
Now that can't be bad for a quick and filling weekday meal!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sicilian Pork Ragu with Chocolate

Pork Ragu with Chocolate - yes I agree it sounds a little bit odd!    
I've adapted it from the book 'The Southern Italian Table'.
 But everyone's heard of putting chocolate in chilli - so why not in Ragu?!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Jan's Spaghetti Bolognaise

This is my version of spaghetti bolognaise (bolognese) or Spag Bol.  
Although it's really simple to make it isn't a 10 minute job......all good things are worth waiting for and all that!
Far better than those jars of ready made sauce that all seem to be the same colour whatever brand you look at.  With red wine and herbs, with extra garlic, without garlic, original, traditional - they're all the same colour!
If you're fussed that it takes too long why not make double the amount and freeze it - dinner another day will then be sorted as quick as you like.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Chicken Saltimbocca

Chicken saltimbocca is just so, so nice. Imagine the sweetness of the Marsala wine and the slight saltiness of the Parma ham along with chicken fillets that have been cooked just right so the chicken is really tender. In a word - yum.

This lovely sauce seeping into the cheesy mash - not just any cheesy mash potato but Jan's ultimate cheesy mash! Recipe for that will follow tomorrow.

To serve 2 you will need:
2 chicken breast fillets - skinless
2 slices of Parma ham
2 tablespoons of olive oil
50g salted butter
6 small sage leaves
a handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
100ml Marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste

How to do it:
Put the chicken breasts on a chopping board and cover with cling film. Using something flat and 'bashable' bash out until they are flattened. Don't go too mad as you don't want to tear them.

Season with a little salt and pepper. Place 3 sage leaves on each breast and lay a piece of Parma ham on top. Secure with a wooden skewer.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and half of the butter on a medium heat. Once it's nice and hot, place the chicken in the pan, ham side down. Cook for 2 minutes until browned. Turn and cook for a further 3 minutes until just cooked through.
When that's done, remove and put the chicken onto a plate and cover with foil.


Pour the Marsala wine in the hot frying pan and with the help of a wooden spoon, start to deglaze by scraping up the lovely gooey bits on the bottom. Over a high heat simmer for 2 minutes until slightly reduced.
Now, stir in the remaining butter then season with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken and any juice to the pan, throw in the chopped parsley.
Spoon over the sauce and cook for just one minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and remove the skewer from the chicken and serve immediately.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Rigatoni al Forno

This is my titivated version of a recipe by Nigella Lawson. The alterations I’ve made are basically adding a puree of sun dried tomatoes, more garlic, no water but more wine instead!
I also like a mixture of beef and pork, that's what I used but you can, of course, use all beef if you prefer.
Be sure to buy good quality minced beef and pork with a low fat content or the dish will end up oily and horrid. I also think that sun dried tomatoes add a nice sweetness to this dish. A note on tinned tomatoes – you can buy really cheap ones but if you can try to get really good quality ones as some just seem to be in a very watery water instead of nice thick tomato juice.
Serves 4 slightly greedy people but would easily serve 4 adults and 2 children.
You will need;
One large or two medium sized ovenproof dishes
500g rigatoni
100g Parmesan, freshly grated

For the Meat Sauce;
2 onions
1 carrot
1 stick celery
4 fat cloves of garlic
80g of either smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
1 tablespoon tomato puree
5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes drained from their oil (or re hydrated dried ones)
30g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes – including the juice
160ml red wine
3 bay leaves

For the Béchamel sauce;
100g butter
70g plain flour
560ml milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg

How to do it;
Peel the onions and carrots and chop into big cubes. Do the same with the celery. Peel the garlic cloves and put everything including the bacon into a food processor and finely chop.
Don’t bother washing the processor up just yet – hold up on that as you’ll need it again in a minute!

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and fry this mixture along with the tomato puree over a low heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft.
Now add the beef and pork and stir it about a bit until it browns evenly.
While this is cooking nicely add the sun dried tomatoes to the food processor and give them a good whizz up so you end up with a tomato paste. Add this paste to the meat. Give everything a good stir.

Add the tomatoes, red wine and bay leaves. Stir well and bring to the boil.
Now turn down the heat and cover with a bit of kitchen foil or a lid but only partially cover. Let this mixture cook for about on a low heat for about 1 and half hours stirring now and then.
It shouldn’t go dry but if it does you will need to add a teeny bit more wine or water if you must.

For the Sauce;
Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the flour and stir and cook together.
Take off the heat briefly, and whisk in the milk with a hand held balloon whisk. Now put back on the heat stirring all the time.
Once the sauce is bubbling leave it for a few minutes to cook stirring all the while.
Season with salt and pepper and turn down the heat and cook until slightly thickened. You want a fairly running sauce to be able to coat the pasta easily. When that’s done remove from the heat and stir in some freshly grated nutmeg.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6
Put a large pan of slightly salted water on to boil ready for your pasta.
When it’s boiling add the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s almost done (al dente). You don’t want soggy pasta.
Drain the pasta and while still a bit wet, put it back into the saucepan.

Now pour the white sauce over and give it a good mix to coat the pasta.

Remove the bay leaves from the sauce. Now add the meat sauce and mix again until the pasta is covered in both.
Don’t fuss about getting it all even colour as it looks better with more white sauce in places.
Pour the lot into your oven proof dish – or dishes as this does make enough for about 4 or 6 people. Sprinkle the top generously with grated Parmesan – you can mix in some grated cheddar too if you fancy.
Cover loosely with foil and cook for about 25 minutes.
Now remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes until it’s cooked through, piping hot and the top is bubbling, golden and crispy.


Friday, 20 February 2009

Gremolata

I love, love, love Gremolata!
So, for that reason (and because the picture I took came out not too bad) Gremolata is what I'm raving on about today.
Gremolata is an Italian garnish or condiment which, in my opinion, is really at it's best when served with roast chicken. Spoon a huge dollop over hot roasted chicken and the smell is amazing. Just imagine, lemon and garlic along with parsley mixing with some of the pan juices from the chicken. A good chunk of bread is vital for dipping and moping!
The other good news is that it's really easy to make!
A good handful of flat leaved parsley - leaves picked and finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves - finely chopped
the zest of two lemons - finely chopped
Give the lot another good chop then mix together, seasoning with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now add a little extra virgin olive oil, give it a good squeeze of lemon juice......
Job done.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

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