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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!