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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Fragrant Fish Curry

 I am calling this curry "fragrant" because it smells divine! The curry leaves, coconut milk and ginger scent makes me think of some sunny, southern India island. The sauce is both sweet and tangy, with a nice kick from the chillies, and does not overpower the fish. I recommend pollock or gurnard as sustainable options for this dish; I would not use mackerel, salmon or other oily fish though, as I find their flavour too strong to work with this sauce.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Warm Quinoa, Sorana Bean and Roasted Vegetable Salad

I am a big fan of warm salads; I like how, thanks to the heat, the ingredients beautifully soak up the dressing and really get to interact with each other. The beans I used in this salad are of the Sorana variety: you may have not heard of them, but they are some kind of celebrity in the pulse world :-) Their skin is wafer-thin and their flesh really buttery; they are only cultivated on the dry river bed of the Pescia stream in Tuscany, and as a result quite expensive and tricky to get hold of. If you are not as lucky as to have an aunt that lives near the Pescia stream and gives you these fine beans as a gift when she comes to visit, then feel free to substitute the latter with more widely available cannellini.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Venison Stew with Celeriac Mash

I have already posted a recipe with venison (venison fillet with mushroom & onion gravy); this time I am using a cheaper, but not less delicious, cut - stewing steak. The game season is not over yet and our local supermarket in the centre of Brussels currently offers a wide selection of gibier ("game" in French): wild boar, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon and of course, venison. I chose the latter to make a warming winter stew, infused with juniper berries and bay leaves, and accompanied by fluffy celeriac mash.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

A true American classic, that does not apologise for what it is. Why should it? These biscuits yeld the same addictive combination that made salted caramel so successful: i.e., the saltiness (of the peanut butter) that marries wonderfully with the sweetness (of the brown sugar and the milk chocolate). They are light and crispy on the surface, but chewy and fugdy in the middle. Make a big batch to to share with friends on a cold afternoon, while watching a DVD and sipping hot chocolate.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Mushroom & Spinach Spelt Risotto

Spelt, or farro in Italian, is a cereal widely employed in Tuscan cooking. In the summer it is boiled until tender, then tossed together with ruby red tomatoes, fragrant basil leaves and savoury Parmesan cheese shavings to form beautiful, fresh salads; in the winter, it bulks up thick, warming borlotti bean soups (minestra di farro e fagioli), which are served drizzled with peppery extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. For our evening meal a couple of days ago, I decided to employ spelt for another comforting seasonal dish, i.e. risotto. As its name reveals, this dish is of course always made with rice but spelt grains are somewhat similar to it and represent a tasty, even healthier, alternative. The cooking process I adopted for making the spelt version is also different from the one used for traditional risotto, but the end result is very close. Meaty oyster mushrooms and wilted spinach leaves, together with a dash of cream and some Parmesan, are the ingredients I chose to infuse my spelt risotto with flavour.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Romanesco Broccoli & Taleggio Frittata

An example of what can be rustled up for one's lunch in less than 20 minutes, after a quick rummage in the fridge! Romanesco broccoli is a creamy, delicate-tasting variety of this versatile vegetable that looks like a work of art, both due to its geometrical shape and striking bright green colour. Broken into florets, then boiled in simmering water, it can be added to warm winter salads; or lightly fried in a pan together with some pancetta cubes and olive oil, it can become a tasty pasta sauce like it is done in Italy. Another match made in heaven, in my opinion, is with cheese: from there to a fluffy, oozing frittata, it is only a small step.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Parsnip, Chorizo & Chestnut Soup

Another recipe from the book "Soups" by Tonia George. It is more of a meal in itself, as the parsnip and chestnut whizzed together make a dense base, and the chorizo chunks you fish out with your spoon at every mouthful give you something to chew on.  It can of course be a starter, but in that case serve it in small ramekins or glasses, under the guise of amuse-bouche. Otherwise, I recommend you present it as the main course, together with some crusty bread and perhaps a crispy, bitter salad to follow. The perfect winter warmer!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chicken & Leek Pie

Few things are as quintessentially British as a meat pie. I made this for my English boyfriend, who said: "Wow! It tastes just like a Gingsters slice, but better". In other words, the ultimate compliment. I cannot take credit for this recipe though, as it is a creation from the amazing Nigel Slater (yes, him again!), who really understands what comfort food is all about. He uses chicken thighs as opposed to breast meat as they are moister and more flavoursome, and adds some Dijon mustard to cut through the richness of the creamy sauce.

Courgette & Taleggio Bread

This bread is actually more like a savoury cake, as there is no kneading involved. The courgette keeps it really moist and the taleggio (an amazing cheese from the North of Italy, which is perfect for melting) makes it rich and gooey. The idea for this recipe comes from a book I strongly recommend, called "Soups" by Tonia George. Her loaf was made with feta, which I substituted it with taleggio as I find it more delicate and interesting. I made this bread to accompany roasted butternut squash soup, but it's so tasty that you can also eat it on its own.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Spaghettini with Caramelised Fennel

The inspiration for this dish came to me after watching an episode of Nigel Slater's "Dish of the Day" TV series. I love the man! I find that him and I share the same approach to cooking, as in by not really following a recipe but letting the ideas come from the ingredients sitting in the fridge or in the cupboard, or from what looks good on the market stalls or supermarket shelves when we go shopping. That's how Nige and I roll :-) I watched him making fennel and feta linguine and a few days later made my own version for a Saturday lunch, since all I had left in the fridge at that point of the week was a fennel bulb. It was delicious: through the cooking process, the fennel loses his distinctive aniseed taste and all you are left with is a moreish sweetness.

Sweet Potato Soup

A "hug in a mug", to use the catchphrase of a popular soup brand's advert. However, this soup does not come from a sachet and it is made with the freshest ingredients. True, it takes a bit more effort than just boiling the kettle and whisking in the powdered soup with some hot water, but it is ten million times more tasty and healthy. What I usually do is make a large batch of soup whenever I have time (mid-week or at the week-end) and then freeze it in single or double portions. Therefore, whenever I need it my hug in a mug is only a microwave's ping away!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Chickpea & Tomato Curry

Allow me introduce you to your next mid-week dinner! Quick, healthy and full of flavour, this curry sports a good balance between the heat of the red chilli and the sweetness of the coconut milk,  which together with the tomatoes form a thick sauce that envelopes the buttery chickpeas. I used fresh tomatoes as opposed to tinned ones because they are sweeter; however, you do need to ensure you use some deep-red, sun ripened ones. The pale, watery excuses for a tomato often sold cheaply in supermarket just won't do for this dish...or for anything else, for that matter ;-)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Pot Roast Guinea Fowl with Porcini Mushrooms

Another Autumn evening, another seasonal dinner inspiration. Guinea fowl is a bird that originates from North Africa; in Italian, it is called gallina faraona, which translates as "pharaoh queen hen".  Just  take a look at this animal and I am sure you'll agree it is a very appropriate name! Its meat is darker and has a more gamey flavour than chicken, however as it doesn't have as much fat, it tends to dry out if simply oven roasted. For this reason, pot roasting it tends to be the best way to ensure the meat stays moist. I have added flavour to my guinea fowl by using some chopped vegetables, white wine, thyme and a handful of dried porcini mushrooms - the gravy these ingredients make is to die for!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pear & Chocolate Tart

Here comes the Autumn, bringing us brown leaves, chillier air and the longing for comfort food.  I am a fan of pears, although funnily enough (at least for me!) I do not know many people that share this passion. If you too are not that keen on this fruit, I especially encourage you to try my tart: the soft shortcrust pastry (previously described in this post) encases a smooth chocolate filling, and chunks of this juicy, sweet Autumnal produce. It's not without reason that la crostata al cioccolato e pere features on the menu of many Tuscan restaurants around this time of the year!

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes

If you are a regular follower of this blog (in that case, a special hello to you and welcome back!) you may notice that I have posted a similar recipe before, for lemon cupcakes. However, I have recently came up with a rivisited and, in my opinion, improved version, therefore I have decided to publish this one too and let the readers decide for themselves. This new version includes a lemon curd filling, and a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd also go to enrich the butter cream icing. Finally, the cupcakes are drenched in a tangy lemon syrup before the icing is applied.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Turkey Escalopes with Squash & Rosemary Topping

This is an Autumnal healthy and fairly quick mid-week supper. Turkey meat often has the reputation of being bland and dry, however I strongly disagree; cooked with a little bit of care and with the right accompaniments, it can be a tasty alternative to chicken. In addition, turkey has a lower colesterol content and more calcium and protein than any other meat, so it's definitely worth including it regularly in your diet. For this recipe, I paired the pan fried turkey escalopes with some sweet squash, roasted with rosemary and then whizzed up to form a creamy topping.

Blackberry Jam Tart

Last August we stayed at a beautiful agriturismo in Tuscany, called Fattoria Pianetti. For breakfast, the owner would offer her guests a selection of home-made jams and cakes, amongst which a divine tart (crostata in Italian) made every day with a different filling - apples, cherry jam and so on. The peculiarity of these tarts was that they were made with a soft shortcrust pastry, as opposed to the usual biscuity one. The result was delicious; I can describe it like something halfway between a cake and a tart, holding a fruit or jam filling. These tarts made with pastafrolla morbida (soft shortcrust pastry) are often found in Italian cooking, typically in home-made, rustic desserts prepared by grannies and mammas to finish off a family lunch, or to serve at breakfast time alongside a cappuccino or caffellatte.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ragú (a.k.a. authentic Bolognaise Sauce)

It's been a while since I wanted to write a post on ragú, also known outside of Italy as "Bolognaise sauce", from the city of Bologna where it originates.  Now, I know that exported dishes tend to lose their authenticity: either they acquire characteristics that make them more palatable to the locals, or are adapted with the use of familiar ingredients. Of course, a Thai curry eaten in a restaurant in Aberdeen is bound to be very different experience from one savoured in Bankgok, mainly because sourcing the numerous fresh exotic components that make a fragrant curry paste in deep Scotland may prove to be a challenge.  However, I fail to understand how ragú, a simple sauce made of a few specific ingredients, could evolve so significantly :-) Ragú is made of a cut of beef suitable for braising, chopped in very small pieces, slow cooked for a couple of hours in red wine and beef stock, and flavoured with onion, celery, carrot and bay leaf. That's it: nothing else. No mushrooms, no sweetcorn, no chillies, no tomato ketchup and for the love of God no garlic ;-) Finally, the way to serve ragú is to take a small amount (just enough to coat the pasta) and gently toss it freshly made tagliatelle, cooked al dente, and finished with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese; not dropping a big ladleful on top of some glutinous, overcooked spaghetti. Forget the dreadful spag-bol and have a go at making real ragú, you won't be going back!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Italian Stuffed Courgettes

As promised, here's another Summer recipe featuring courgettes! The credit for this one goes entirely to my mum, as it is a dish she always makes around this time of the year that I have replicated faithfully (how could I have done otherwise?). The courgettes are cut in half and emptied; their flesh cooked with a touch of garlic and tomato purée, then mixed to sausage meat and Parmesan cheese to constitute the stuffing. They are baked in the oven until golden and are delicious eaten either warm or at room temperature, which makes them a great addition to the menu of pic-nics and (large Italian) family gatherings.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Moroccan Chickpea & Roasted Carrot Salad

Here I present you with another lunch-box salad, this time of Moroccan inspiration. The key to this salad is the use of spices and chopped herbs, which turn a few simple ingredients - chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots and cous cous - into something that will make you say "wow!" after the first forkful. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Courgette & Parmesan Soup

When cooking, my natural preference and inclination is always to use seasonal ingredients. A vegetable that's plentiful in the Summer is no doubt the courgette, which for this reason is lately making a regular appearance in my posts. This time, whizzed up to a creamy yet light soup flavoured with tasty Parmesan cheese. I used home-made chicken stock, which does make it all the more tasty; however, if you don't have time to make your own, do feel free to use a good organic chicken stock cube (or a vegetable one if you are vegetarian).

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mexican Chicken Salad

I have a love affair with authentic Mexican food. It's such a colourful, fresh, vibrant cuisine, miles away from the heavy, starchy Tex-Mex dishes that have been passed off as Mexican fare to us Europeans. Sadly for me, I have never had the pleasure to visit Mexico (yet!), but I had some pretty amazing authentic Mexican meals in California and haven't looked back since. I am happy to say that thanks to pioneers such as Thomasina Miers, this cuisine is becoming slowly but steadily more and more popular in the UK. I am yet to find a Mexican restaurant here in Brussels, so while I wait for one to open up, I have come up with the recipe for this zingy chicken salad that packs a punch!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Pesto, Roasted Tomato & Mushroom Pasta Salad

This is an example of how to employ the freshly made pesto of my previous post. This summery pasta salad is best served at room temperature; a quality that makes it great lunch box filler, bursting with flavour and goodness. You'll make all your colleagues with their fridge cold, packaged ham and cheese sandwiches green with envy :-)


Pesto is an Italian pasta sauce that comes from the lovely Liguria region, which is lapped by the gentle waves of the Mar Ligure (Ligurian Sea). It literally translates as "pounded", which is an apt description of what happens to the few ingredients it is made of: they are all pounded to an intoxicatingly beautiful smelling paste. Traditionally, pesto is paired with trenette, a kind of flat, narrow pasta shape; however, I find that its simple but intense flavour makes it a wonderfully versatile ingredient that can be drizzled on bruschetta, pizza, a roasted tomato salad, grilled seafood, roast chicken, baked fish, boiled new potatoes and so on. You can make it using a food processor, however the contact of the metal blades with the basil will cause the latter to lose its vibrant green colour in favour of a less attractive greyish one. If you can, use a pestle and mortar: it's much more fun and also a healthy way of releasing any suppressed stress or anger :-)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Chili con Carne

Chili con carne is one of those dishes like chicken tikka masala and "spag bol", which have their roots in foreign cuisines but have been adopted with such affection by the UK population to the point of becoming a traditional British dish. The first documented recipe of chili con carne (the name translates as "chilli pepper with meat") dates back to the early 1500 in South America;  according to Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of Hernan Cortez's captains, it was prepared by the Aztecs and apparently included tomatoes, chilli peppers, salt...and human meat from the Conquistadores! The versions I have tasted so far are much less gruesome, but all include minced beef as the base ingredients. I prefer to use stewing steak, cut in bite size chunks and cooked until it melts in the mouth.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Mini Tarts

This has to be one of my favourite desserts ever. Light, crisp shorcrust pastry encasing a smooth chocolate ganache, which upon the first bite reveals a melting centre of salted caramel. What's not to like? True, they require a little effort to make, and I can assure you they will be gone pretty quickly, but that's the case with all the beautiful things in life :-)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Fresh Tagliatelle with Prawns & Courgette

Fresh pasta requires a sauce that does it justice. A few selected ingredients that marry well together and go to envelope the silky strands of tagliatelle that you have rolled out with such care a few hours before. I do love the combination of prawns and courgette and use it regularly in my recipes (see king prawns in a prosecco and cream sauce): here, I have grated the courgette to give a creamy texture to the sauce and create a nice contrast with the juicy chunks of prawns. The pink/green/pale yellow colour scheme is a visual feast, too.

Monday, 16 July 2012

How to Make Fresh Pasta

I have recently conquered the skill of making fresh pasta. I have said conquered, and not acquired, for a specific reason: just like it happened before with shortcrust pastry, I had previously attempted to  make ravioli at home following a recipe from one of my cookbooks. To say that the results were disappointing, is to pay myself a compliment. The filling was good, but the pasta was too thick and rubbery, and I just could not figure out what had gone wrong in the process. This is not acceptable, I thought. I am Italian, for goodness' sake, pasta making is in my genes! However, given that I moved to the UK to go to Uni and lived abroad ever since, I never had the opportunity to learn this skill from the source, i.e. my grannies. Therefore, I decided to take the bull by the horn and signed up for a pasta-making class, taught nonetheless by the brilliant Valentina Harris (the course took place at the Bertinet Kitchen in Bath, and it was an amazing birthday gift from my boyfriend's parents and grandparents). Thanks to Valentina, I have learnt that pasta is a temperamental lady that will come to you if you follow a few simple steps with the utmost care, but will unceremoniously stand you up if you rush through the process and do not treat her with the respect she deserves. This said, please know that after a couple of attempts you will find that making pasta is surprisingly easy and oh so rewarding! The possibilities for shapes and flavour combinations are endless, and it is such a great dinner party trick to have up one's sleeve. One of my earliest memories is that of my grannies in the kitchen; one of them making ravioli, the other tagliatelle, to feed our immediate family of 25 :-). I am proud to be perpetuating this tradition - even though there's only two of us, for now!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Walnut & Banana Bread

Although for some reason it is known as "bread" (maybe for its loaf-like shape?), this is actually a cake. While it would certainly not disappoint served with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon, I also find it is particularly suitable to have at breakfast, as a substitute to the usual croissant, as the nuts and bananas make it filling and a real energy-booster. This is also a smart way to use up any overripe bananas that may have been left in your fruit bowl for a day too many, and have developed those unattractive, little dark spots. In fact, the riper your bananas, the moister and more delicious your cake will turn out to be!

Korean barbecued pork

This is another dish inspired by that little gem that is our local Korean restaurant in London, called Cah-Chi, from which I got the idea for the sesame beef stir-fry, one of my earliest blog posts. Now that we live in Brussels, popping down to our Korean on a Friday evening is not as easy as it used to be - unless we decide to finally invest in that private jet. Therefore, as they say: if Mahomet will not go to the mountain, then the mountain must go to Mahomet. In this case, the mountain being the mouth-watering barbecued pork, which owes its distinctive taste to the spicy marinade it is left in for 24 hours prior to being cooked. I could not track down any gochujang so I have tried to recreate the marinade without it, and I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results!

Monday, 25 June 2012


Hummus is a delicious, healthy dip that originates from the Middle East. It consists of a few simple ingredients: chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. In the UK, hummus has grown to become incredibly popular and many flavoured versions are now available to purchase in delis and supermarkets - roasted tomato, black olive, even pomegranate! I believe its success is due to the fact that it is so versatile (it is great not only as a dip, but also as an addition to salad or as a bruschetta topping) and nutritious (chickpeas are a fantastic source of protein). However, not many people realise it has yet another quality: it is really easy to make at home! I encourage you to try and experience how in under five minutes you can have a tasty, guilt-free snack ready for you to enjoy at any time.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Orange & Almond Cake

This cake tastes of the sun and to me, it evokes all the wonderful scents carried by the gentle breeze of Sicily or perhaps Greece, on a bright Summer day. This is why it inspired me to serve it with Greek yoghurt, topped with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. The recipe is by one of my favourite chefs, Michel Roux Jr, but I added a few twists to make it my own - the sweet and tangy orange drizzle topping being one of them!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Thai Red Beef Curry

A few months ago, I posted the recipe for Thai green chicken curry. Now it's the turn of another favourite, red beef curry! As for the green curry, I strongly encourage you to make your own curry paste as opposed to using a shop bought one, as it makes a substantial difference to the dish. Thai food is all about a delicate balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty flavours that can only be achieved by using the freshest ingredients. A food processor does make your life easier, but in its absence you can use a pestle and mortar. I promise that the end result will compensate your efforts!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

King Prawns in a Prosecco & Cream Sauce

Prosecco is a delicious, dry sparkling wine from the cooler, Northern regions of Italy (tipically Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia) that in my opinion has little to envy to his more popular cousin the champagne. Italians tend to drink it as an aperitivo (pre-dinner drink) or during a fish meal. A fish dinner accompanied by few glasses of prosecco definitely comes high on the list of my favourite things in life, and it inspired the idea for this dish: juicy king prawns in a creamy sauce delicately flavoured by the prosecco and fresh garlic, with crunchy zucchini slices sautéed in parsley and olive oil, on a bed of fragrant basmati and wild rice. If you are planning to make an impression on a special someone, I suggest you invite them for dinner and make this dish as one of the key elements of your plan of seduction :-)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Quiche Lorraine

My previous attempt at making a quiche, and specifically the pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry) had been a disaster! The pastry was dry, sandy and generally horrible. I couldn't understand what went wrong as I had followed the recipe religiously, and the poor results discouraged me from giving it another try any time soon. Until I moved to Belgium, and signed up for a cookery course run by Catherine, a wonderful French lady who taught me how to make proper pâte brisée at my first lesson. It's surprisingly easy, provided that you follow the few necessary steps carefully and do not try and take shortcuts. Now, making shortcrust pastry does not scare me any more, on the contrary I can't wait to experiment the endless sweet and savoury combinations it lends itself so well to. If you too want to find out the secret to great shortcrust pastry, keep on reading...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Colourful Fruit Skewers

This is not really a recipe, more of a suggestion for a fun way to serve your usual fruit salad. The combination of of the fruit chunks' bright, vibrant colours looks really appetizing, and it is one of the healthiest desserts you could ever offer your guests or family after an evening meal. It also makes for an attractive centrepiece on the buffet table at a party, or brunch. The credit for this idea goes to my lovely Italian aunties Bonaria, Paola, Patrizia, Ornella and Doli who created it for our Easter lunch.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Coconut & Chocolate Cake

Or Bounty Cake, as my brother called it, as the combination of coconut and milk chocolate immediately reminded him of the famous chocolate bar that used to be very popular in the eighties. This cake is next to impossible to get wrong as the high quantity of coconut ensures it stays very moist, therefore you can bake it for a party or a special occasion with the minimum effort and the maximum outcome!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables & Smoked Pancetta

This dish is one that you can enjoy guilt-free, as it accomplishes the hard task of being both delicious and healthy. Grilling the vegetables imparts bags of flavour, while the smoked pancetta's strong taste means you don't need too much of it. As you can see from the picture, I have also used three different short pasta formats, as a way to employ the many "nearly finished" packets in my cupboard. Doing this not only will help you clearing up space in your kitchen, but it will introduce a few more textures in the dish. If you want to do the same, remember to: stick to the same size of pasta (either short or long format, you can't mix both) and pay attention to the cooking times that the various shapes require (you may have to add one format to your pan first, boil it for a few minutes and then add the second, and so on).

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Roast Breast of Lamb Stuffed with Lemon, Capers and Anchovy

This was my first time cooking breast of lamb. This cut of meat is not particularly popular in Italy, which is odd considered that Italians are rather keen on what are generally considered the "poorer" cuts - oxtail, pig trotters, tripe and similar other anxiety-inducing dishes for the more squeamish diners. The main issue with the breast of lamb is that it has a lot of fat, and not too much meat; therefore, I decided to add the stuffing to bulk it up a little, and slow roast it to allow the fat to melt away. I was really pleased with the results, and it makes for quite a sophisticated looking plate of food, considered its humble origins!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Red Mullet Fillets with Green Vegetables & Prawn Noodles

This Asian-inspired dish is what I decided to turn the red mullet fillets I bought today into. I am still exploring my neighbourhood in Brussels, and this afternoon I found out that one of the nearby supermarkets has a decent fish counter. The red mullet fillets reminded me of a dish I always have when I visit Sam's restaurant in Fowey, Cornwall: there, the red mullet is fried in a tempura batter and served with coriander and chilli sauce. I shallow fried my fillets instead, to make the dish less heavy, and accompanied them with noodles, vegetables and prawns tossed in my home made coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli paste.

Salt & Pepper Squid with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

Who doesn't love fried squid? I make mine using cornflour and nothing else (no water or egg) as it makes for a light, non greasy and extra crunchy coating. Season it with salt and pepper first to make each bite one to remember. Served with sweet chilli dipping sauce, it's a match made in heaven.

Honey Glazed Roast Gammon

This dish takes a few hours to cook, which makes it more suitable for a Sunday lunch or a week-end dinner; however, even though it requires time, it is not too demanding on the energy or skills front. The honey glaze and studded cloves not only add lashes of flavour but make it shiny, attractive and a real centerpiece when served at the table, too.

Spring Vegetable Soup

This soup is really simple, but incredibly comforting and tasty. It lets the ingredients speak for themselves and allows their freshness to shine through. The vegetables that best work with this are delicately flavoured baby carrots, fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, leeks, i.e. all the ones you find in spring; hence the name of the dish. They are simmered in chicken stock until al dente (as they need to retain some bite) together with a small format of pasta, then dressed with a little olive oil, parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper. Goodness in a bowl.