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

ActiFry Arancini - Tefal Slimmers Secret Supercook Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I competed against 5 lovely bloggers in the Tefal ActiFry Slimmers Secret Supercook Challenge; we each cooked up our most favourite dish in the ActiFry. Ever since I got my ActiFry I've used it loads so I know what it can do and I was up for the challenge!

We absolutely love Arancini, it's an Italian dish of small rice balls made from leftover risotto which are then stuffed with a savoury filling and coated in breadcrumbs; we like a combo of mozzarella and red pesto.

Arancini are usually deep fried in oil, but making them in the ActiFry is a much healthier option and that means they contain far less calories too. I even made the risotto in the ActiFry and then let it cool. Cooking anything in the ActiFry doesn't compromise on taste either; just a few sprays of Frylight or similar and you're on the way to crunchy, crispy, cheesy rice goodness in every bite.

It's a shame I didn't get to take a picture of the inside as when cut open the mozzarella is lovely and gooey and pesto not only adds a bit of colour but tastes delicious too. I was so engrossed in cooking I didn't have time to get me camera.

We all know the ActiFry cooks fantastic chips but it can be used to cook far more than you'd think possible. I know as I was really surprised when I got mine and started experimenting. It's so versatile and you can cook almost anything in it. The only difference is your dishes will be healthier and contain a lot less calories which can only be a good thing.  

Anyway I really need your help to win the Slimmers Secret Supercook Challenge so to see my Arancini recipe.

Take a look at this video and then pop over to and vote for me by clicking on the Big Red VOTE button underneath my video šŸ˜Š Just by voting you could Win a Luxury Spa Weekend Break for Two so please pop over now and vote; oh and a few people will each win a ActiFry XL so Good Luck Everyone!



Simple Salad of Tomatoes and Onions with Lemon Caper Dressing

Lemon infused olive oil is good, I mean really good; but what can it be used for?  Well, lemon linguine for one thing, or how about over quinoa,couscous or bulgur wheat, or how about a lemon polenta olive oil cake?

Having been kindly sent a bottle from Italia Regina; an online Italian food company that sources quality ingredients from Italy and delivers them to your door here in the UK, I wondered what I should make.

Tomato and Onion Salad with Lemon Caper Dressing

I was sent both the Lemon-infused Olive Oil from Marchesi along with a bottle of Giuseppe Giusti Balsamic Vinegar.  Italia Regina's delivery service was excellent with the items very well packaged.
I love the bottles so much so I really didn't want to open them; but of course I had to in order to try them!

Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano Cheese - Giveaway

Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano cheese, two very traditional and well known Italian products that have been awarded with the PDO logo.

I absolutely love Grana Padano cheese and use it a lot, it's very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano or 'Parmesan' so can be used in a wide range of recipes.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is the best, it's totally delicious; Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that's usually thinly sliced and melts in your mouth.

Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano Cheese

Both have been recognised by the European Union as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products since 1996. In order to achieve PDO status, products must respect the strict Production Specifications.

UFUUD Premium Italian Food Delivery to UK and Europe - Review

I was recently asked if I'd like to place an order with Ufuud (an online Italian food ordering company) to review their ordering system and delivery to the UK.
Now we're talking proper premium Italian food that is not only delivered to Italy but can also be shipped to places all over Europe from Milan.

I was in my element browsing through the Ufuud website looking at all the beautiful foods and the product packaging just cries out 'buy me'!  I mean seriously, look at the lovely products - I can't wait to try them all.  Pasta of all shapes and some you can't buy over here in the UK.

SPAMTASTIC™ Brunch Frittata with Potatoes Spring Onions and Tomatoes

Frittata is an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses, vegetables or pasta.  Easy, filling, delicious and takes next to no time to make.

Did you know it's SPAM® Appreciation Week?
Oh yes indeed - from 2nd to the 8th March 2015 the annual SPAM® Appreciation Week brings together fans new and old to celebrate the world’s most famous meat.  For 2015 it’s time to celebrate just how perfect SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is for a hearty and delicious breakfast.
After all, no other meat can claim to have such an incredible 78 year history and still be as popular to this day around the world.
So what really makes SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham stand out from the meat crowd and have its very own appreciation week?

Here are some facts about SPAM:
More than eight billion cans of SPAM® Products have been opened since its launch back in 1937

They may only be islands, but Hawaii and Guam go crazy for SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham.  In Aloha State more than 7 million SPAM® products are sold per year and Hawaii even hosts its own annual SPAM JAM® festival in Honolulu.  While in Guam an average of 16 SPAM® products are consumed by every person per year.  

SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is made from more than 90% prime shoulder pork and ham

In South Korea, SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is considered a gourmet delicacy and is often given as a gift.

Print Recipe

Serves 6-8
340g can SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham - cut into 2cm cubes
7 large free range eggs
4 tablespoons milk
a few leftover cooked new potatoes - halved
6 baby plum tomatoes - halved
4 spring onions - finely sliced
50g Cheddar cheese - grated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
a couple of pinches smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

How to do it:
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the milk and the salt and pepper and mix well using a fork.

Get yourself a nice big frying pan add in the cubes of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham.  Add the cooked potatoes along with a sprinkling of smoked paprika.  Fry until golden and lightly browned.

Now add the oil into the hot frying pan and pour in the egg mixture.  Keep bringing the cooked egg and SPAM mixture into the centre of the pan and swirling the mixture around until the egg has formed a “pancake” but is still soft on the top.  Make sure the SPAM and potatoes are evenly distributed
Scatter on the tomatoes and spring onions.  Top with the grated cheese and another sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling and the egg is finished cooking.

Cut the frittata into slices and serve hot straight from the pan and enjoy!

You can find out more about SPAM and the different varieties available over at the SPAM website.

Disclaimer:  I was compensated to cover my time creating this recipe.

Pork Ragu with Rigatoni Pasta

A nice steaming bowl of pasta with a lovely rich meat sauce is always a good thing.  I usually make ragu with half beef and half pork mince, but my freezer failed me there was no beef mince to be found!  Anyway, all was okay as this turned out just as tasty.

Bowl of Pork Ragu with Pasta

If you've never tried Sacla sun-dried tomato paste then you haven't lived, marvelous stuff.  Rich and sweet tasting and great in pasta dishes or soups - just saying.

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.  Of course I'm not claiming this to be authentic Tuscan food, just Tuscan flavours and something I made up as I went along.


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.

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....

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.

No Cream - Spaghetti Carbonara for Two greedy people like us

Although there's no cream to be found in this Carbonara but it is still delicious.  So very easy to do and ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta.  Brilliant for a quick and filling weekday meal.

No Cream Spaghetti Carbonara

Done properly spaghetti is a truly lovely thing.  This post was written in 2011 and it's now 2017 - I'm in the middle of updating this website and desperately need to make this again to get a proper photo since this one doesn't do this dish the justice it deserves.

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?!

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.


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.

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 BĆ©chamel 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.


How to Make Gremolata

I love, love, love Gremolata!  So, for that reason, 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!

Pollo alla Cacciatora - Hunter's Chicken

Nigella Lawson was on the tele the other night, she was making ‘Pollo Alla Cacciatora’ (Hunter’s Chicken). I’ve never made it before, and last night I felt the need to have a go at it.

However, I looked into several versions of this recipe on the net and also looked at Jamie Oliver’s version he has in his book 'Jamie's Italy'.

Nigella’s sounded good and I like the fact that she added a can of cannellini beans to it. But as the recipe was from her ‘Nigella Express’ book it was therefore, was made very quickly. Obviously, this is the point of the book and programme, Nigella Express. Please don’t get me wrong, she makes loads of great recipes and I am a fan of her ‘Quick Chilli’ since I made it.
Powered by Blogger.