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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Goat cheese & Chive Omelette

My boyfriend and I are a good match: I love cooking, he loves eating! Who am I kidding, I love eating too, however it's nice to have someone who is always up for being the guinea pig of your concoctions and is able to give you competent feedback on how to improve them. But...there is always a but. There is one thing he can't bring himself to eat: eggs. Fine if they are part of a cake, meatball or fritter, but don't suggest eggs Benedict or a frittata or he'll jump through the window - he can't even stand the smell. So, eggs have become the main ingredients of the 'dinners for one' I cook when he is away on business. Tonight, I really wanted a cheese omelette. I adore the combination fried egg and onion, but I didn't want the latter to overpower the taste of the cheese. Therefore I decided to use chives to convey a delicate oniony flavour, and a creamy goat cheese for the filling, which melts beautifully like brie does but whose taste is more robust. The result was excellent. My boyfriend really doesn't know what he is missing.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sesame Beef Stir-Fry

There's a lovely little Korean restaurant near where we live, where after you have nibbled on a series of deliciously vinegary pickled vegetables and steamed dumplings as appetisers, they put a large grill in the middle of your table and cook your meat of choice in front of you. I love watching the waiter sapiently stirring the morsels of beef, pork or chicken with his chopsticks on the mini barbecue, and then placing them on your plate for you to eat rolled up in a lettuce leaf with rice. Sooo yummy. This evening, I decided to have a go at making my own sesame beef stiry fry. The final photo didn't come out great, but hopefully the recipe can make up for my poor photographer skills :-)

Apple & Chocolate Drops Muffins

This recipe is another offspring of yesterday's pic-nic catering requirements. My boyfriend being a (very) sweet tooth I wanted to take some sort of pudding to finish off the meal and to accompany our flask of freshly made hot espresso coffee - yes, coffee at a BBQ! It's another Italian tradition, in case you were wondering :-) Muffins immediately came to mind, once again for their portability and their individual-sized portions. My glance fell upon a few small, sweet Golden Gala apples I had bought to keep in the house for snacking, and since I love the combination chocolate+apple, here's how these muffins were born.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Bresaola Rolls

Whenever my mum and dad, brother or any other relative/friend from Italy visit us in London, they always come bearing much appreciated gifts in the form of fresh Italian produce :-) Not that the same things cannot be bought nowadays in most of our local shops or deli (although there are a few ingredients I still struggle to find). However, aside from the advantage of not coming with an over-inflated London price tag, these ingredients have the added bonus of having been sourced from my family's trusted butcher/baker/farmer or are from less popular, but better, Italian brands not sold in the UK. My parent's latest visit in March stocked our larder and fridge with countless delicacies, including bresaola, which is essentially cured beef (precisely the top round) and originates from the North of Italy, in Valtellina. In Italy it is normally served as an antipasto, dressed with a little olive oil, lemon juice and shaved parmesan, and scattered with rocket leaves. Here's how I like to jazz my bresaola up and turn it into a dead easy starter that's a bit different from the one you usually come across when it comes to this cured meat.

Cheese & Vegetable Flan

What beautiful weather this month has given us so far! The sun is shining, the temperature mild and getting out of bed and of the house in the morning does not seem as dreadful an idea as in the cold winter months. After many dark afternoons spent curled up on the sofa watching a DVD while the rain is pouring outside the window at the week-end, this Saturday morning I felt like I couldn't wait to get out and soak up the sun. At last, it's time for the first BBQ of the year! Alongside the grilled sausage sandwiches, enriched by my boyfriend's roasted cherry tomatoes and a dollop of piquant French mustard, I decided to skip the usual salad and serve a side dish that may be a bit unusual for the UK, but that is a big hit at Italian pic-nics. That's cheese and vegetable flan, or sformato di formaggio e verdure. Moreish, very portable and delicious even when served cold - therefore perfect for being eaten outdoors, with your toes on the grass and the sun on your back.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

My Mamma's Fried Chicken

Fried chicken - that's what I consider to be one of the biggest crowd pleasers. Whenever I have served this delicacy, I have always seen my guests going for not just second, but third or fourth helpings! My version of this dish is my mum's own special recipe; it is made with breast meat only, so that it is super tender and the cooking time is the same for all the pieces, and the batter is enriched with parmesan and parsley. The result is a crispy, savoury coating that encases juicy, moist strips of chicken. If you decide to cook this dish, my main advice is to make plenty: I would not be surprised if they prove to be addictive!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Improvised Paella

Saturday evening, I have a terrible cold and going out is not an option. It's still the week-end though, so I want to make something special for dinner. My boyfriend's late dash to our local fishmonger produces a few tiger prawns and some cockles, the remains of the stock for the day, long bagged by more organised people. Despite having run out of saffron and not owning a paella pan, I managed to rustle up a paella worthy of the name. After all, since there are so many variations of the dish and each area of Spain has its own, I believe I am allowed some creativity :-)

American Pancakes

I woke up to find the sun shining on a fine, April Saturday morning. What better way to start the week-end than making pancakes, I thought? I had a punnet of fresh strawberries, some milk and eggs in the fridge and all the other ingredients in the cupboard, so it took me absolutely no time to whip up this lovely breakfast. This is a quick, foolproof recipe that I urge you to try whenever you have company at the week-end. I guarantee it won't fail to make an impression!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Spaghetti with Mussels

Since this is my first post, I thought I'd start with something that is within my comfort zone. Being Italian, that means pasta! A nice plate of spaghetti with mussels is a beautiful thing made by a few simple ingredients; yet as for all the simple things, it is so easy to mess up. The countless times I had this dish and either the spaghetti was overcooked, or the sauce bland, or worst of all I found myself chewing on a gritty mouthful of pasta and...sand.  This is a step by step demonstration that will show you how to create a simple, yet incredibly tasty, spaghetti with mussels.