“Caviar” Mousse

Lumpfish mousse finished dish

Lumpfish mousse finished dish

Mousse con uova di lompo. This dish doesn’t in fact use real caviar, but red lumpfish roe. Lumpfish mousse doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though ūüôā If you can only find black roe, feel free to use that, the taste is exactly the same. This is a very easy antipasto, especially if you use tinned beans, but looks quite impressive. The original recipe used smoked trout, but I found it impossible to find both here¬†and in the UK, so I got very good results when I used smoked salmon. It is worth spending a little extra on the smoked salmon though, as the cheaper varieties tend to be very salty. Be careful when seasoning the beans for this reason. Serves 4.

  • 140g smoked salmon
  • 600g plain yoghurt
  • 400g boiled cannellini beans, canned are fine
  • Red lumpfish roe, enough to make a thin layer, 1 jar will probably be enough
  • Lemon juice
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • Olive oil
Lumpfish mousse ingredients

Lumpfish mousse ingredients

  1. Blend the smoked salmon, the yoghurt and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a liquidiser. Keep a little of the smoked salmon aside to use as a garnish.
  2. Blend the drained cannellini beans,  the leaves from the rosemary sprig and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Assemble the mousse in 4 wine glasses, a layer of  cannellini beans, a thin layer of lumpfish roe and a layer of the smoked salmon and yoghurt mixture.
  4. Garnish with a little chopped smoked salmon.
  5. Serve with toast or bread sticks (grissini).

Meringues with chocolate ice cream

Meringhette al gelato di cioccolato. One story about the origin of meringues is that they were invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen by an Italian chef named Gasparini. I quite like this story as I am biased because I also have strong links to Switzerland ūüôā I needed to use up the egg whites left over from a Tiramisu so I did a bit of searching and came up with this from Sale & Pepe magazine. ¬†The idea came from the magazine, but the recipe for the meringues is slightly different as I wanted to be more precise with the measurements. The¬†quantities are one part caster sugar, one part icing sugar and one part egg white.¬†Serves 6

Meringues finished dish

Meringues finished dish

  • 400 g chocolate ice cream
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 120g egg whites (about 4 eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Meringue ingredients

Meringue ingredients

Beat the egg whites and lemon juice with an electric whisk while gradually adding the caster sugar. When the mixture has risen and is shiny and quite dense, carefully fold in the icing sugar.

Meringue whipped egg white and sugar

Meringue whipped egg white and sugar

Make small meringues by placing  teaspoons of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

Meringues baked

Meringues baked

Bake at 90¬įC with the oven door propped open to allow the moisture to escape. It should take about an hour and a half.

When the meringues are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

Serve them by making a sandwich with two meringues and some ice cream.

Strawberry granita

This is probably my favourite granita. You can top it with cream if you like. I like to use it to top fruit salad. Like all granitas, it is very easy to make.

strawberry granita finished dish

strawberry granita finished dish

  • 800 g strawberries
  • 5 heaped tablespoons sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • juice of 1 lemon

Clean and cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on size.

Strawberries with sugar

Strawberries with sugar

Sprinkle the strawberries with two tablespoons of the sugar.

Macerated strawberries

Macerated strawberries

Leave them to macerate for an hour or so until they start to release their liquid.

Strawberries ready to freeze

Strawberries ready to freeze

Liquidize the strawberries and add the lemon juice.

Pour into a wide shallow dish and freeze for 1 hour until ice crystals start to form. Remove from the freezer and scrape the frozen bits back into the mixture. Return to the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes or so until the granita is frozen, with a fluffy, crystalline texture. Spoon into dishes and serve straight away.

Watermelon granita

Watermelon season is well and truly here. This is a very nice way to use it. Don’t be tempted to leave out the sugar as it makes a big difference to the texture.

Watermelon granita finished dish

Watermelon granita finished dish

  • 1 kg watermelon flesh
  • 50 g sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • juice of 1 lemon
 Watermelon

Watermelon

  1. Make a syrup by mixing the water and sugar. Heat it gently until all the sugar dissolves and it boils for a couple of minutes or so. Allow it to cool.
  2. Liquidize the watermelon having first made sure that you have removed all of the seeds.
  3. Pour into a wide shallow dish and freeze for 1 hour until ice crystals start to form. Remove from the freezer and scrape the frozen bits back into the mixture.
  4. Return to the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes or so until the granita is frozen, with a fluffy, crystalline texture. Spoon into dishes and serve straight away.

Limoncello granita

This is a very untraditional version of lemon granita. Limoncello is traditionally made in the south of Italy in the “toe” of the “boot” and is now very popular here and elsewhere. I once looked up the recipe when I was in England and it started with the line “Take one litre of 98% abv alcohol”! This is definitely an adult dessert. It has the advantage of being even easier that the regular lemon granita because it remains soft in the freezer. Serves 6 or more.

Limoncello granita finished dish

Limoncello granita finished dish

  • 500 ml water
  • 125 g sugar (white or brown)
  • 50 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 125 ml limoncello
Linoncello granita ingredients

Linoncello granita ingredients

Put the sugar in a pan with the cold water. Bring to the boil, stirring a couple of times until the sugar has dissolved then leave to boil for 5 minutes.

Limoncello granita syrup

Limoncello granita syrup

Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Stir in the lemon juice and limoncello.

Limoncello granita ready to freeze

Limoncello granita ready to freeze

Pour into a wide shallow dish and freeze for 1 hour until ice crystals start to form. Remove from the freezer and scrape the frozen bits back into the mixture.

Limoncello granita starting to freeze

Limoncello granita starting to freeze

Return to the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes or so until the granita is frozen, with a fluffy, crystalline texture. Spoon into dishes and serve straight away.

Bergamo style Casoncelli

Casonsei alla Bergamasca. When I lived in Bergamo we used to drive up into the mountains once or twice a year to eat polenta taragna. The starter was invariably casoncelli, or casonsei in the bergamasco dialect. Slightly sweet filled pasta dressed with sage and pancetta.  Makes a generous 8 servings.

Casoncelli finished dish

Casoncelli finished dish

For the pasta:-

  • 400 g 00 flour
  • 100 g durum wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
Mix together all the ingredients along with enough water to make a dough. Knead until smooth. Let it rest for half an hour or so and then roll out into reasonably thick sheets. A hand cranked pasta machine will be a great help with this.
Casoncelli filling ingredients

Casoncelli filling ingredients

For the filling:-

  • 125 g dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 70 g grated grana
  • 150 g sausage meat or minced pork
  • 100 g cooked roast beef
  • 1 amaretti biscuit
  • 10 g sultanas
  • 1/2 medium pear
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all the ingredients together in a food processor to make a smooth paste.
Method 1
This method is used by people who need to prepare large quantities.
Cut the sheet of pasta in half lengthways.
Casoncelli pasta

Casoncelli pasta

Place a teaspoon of the filling at regular interval at regular intervals along the strip of pasta.
Casoncelli pasta with filling

Casoncelli pasta with filling

Fold over the pasta and press down to seal. Try to exclude as much air as possible to avoid them bursting when cooked.
Casoncelli folded pasta

Casoncelli folded pasta

Separate the pasta using a round pastry cutter. You should have a half moon shape.
Casoncelli half moons

Casoncelli half moons

Turn the half moon on its side and flatten it a little with your thumb.
Casoncelli shaped

Casoncelli shaped

Method 2
This method takes a little longer, but is a little easier if you haven’t had a bit of practice.
Cut out 7 cm discs of pasta using a pastry cutter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each disc. Fold over and seal to form a half moon shape. Continue as in method 1.
Cook the casoncelli in plenty of salted water. Meanwhile fry the pancetta and sage in the butter until it is well flavoured. Serve the pasta dressed in the butter and topped with the grana.
Casoncelli dressing

Casoncelli dressing

To dress the pasta:-

  • 80 g butter
  • 100 g cubed pancetta
  • 100 g grated grana
  • A few sage leaves

Lemon granita

Granita di limone. From Sicily. This is a very easy dessert. A granita is similar to a sorbet, but the texture is rougher and more grainy. The quantities are only a guide because it depends on how sweet your lemons are and on how sweet you like your desserts. Feel free to add more sugar or more lemons. As the zest is an important part of this recipe you must use unwaxed lemons.

Lemon granita ingredients

Lemon granita ingredients

  • 4 large lemons
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 l water
  1. Cut the zest from the lemons. Juice the lemons
  2. Make a syrup by heating the water and sugar until it starts to boil.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest. Leave to steep for about half an hour.
  4. Strain into a freezer proof container and place in the freezer. Take it out of the freezer every hour or so and whisk it to break up the larger ice crystals.
  5. When it is fully frozen it is ready.

    Lemon granita finished dish

    Lemon granita finished dish

Sea bass on a bed of lemons.

Spigola su letto di Limoni. This recipe comes from an Italian tv chef. It’s a bit showy as you might expect. You have to clean the fish by making a slit down either side of the back bone. Snip through the back bone and remove it along with the guts. If you’re not so worried about the look of the thing, I’m sure it would taste just as good if you cleaned it the usual way, via the belly. Better still, you could fillet the bass and bake the fillets covered with the chopped tomato mixture. Serves 4

Sea bass on a bed of lemons ingredients

  • 4 small sea bass – prepared as above
  • 100g cherry tomatoes – chopped
  • 8 whole cherry tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 lemons thinly sliced
  • A few needles of fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 sprigs of parsley – finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Mix together the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, garlic,  parsley and a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the fish with this mixture.
  2. Add two slices of lemon to each fish, one on each side of the cavity. They should look something like the leaves of an open book.
  3. Add two whole cherry tomatoes to each fish and drizzle with a little more oil.
  4. Crumple a sheet of aluminium and use this to support the fish and keep them upright while cooking.
  5. Bake for ten minutes at 180C
  6. Cover a serving plate with the rest of the lemon slices arrange the cooked fish on top.

Sea bass on a bed of lemons finished dish

Bavette with fresh tuna

Bavette al tonno fresco. I’m not sure where this dish originates, but it feels like a Sicilian recipe due to the inclusion of tuna and pine nuts. It’s quite economical too as 200 grams of tuna feeds four people. My problem now is trying to think of a way to use up the other 800g I bought at the fish market this morning. I couldn’t resist, it was ‚ā¨2 a kilo ūüôā Serves 4.

Bavette with tuna ingredients

  • 320g bavette (or spaghetti or linguine) I used bavettini – a smaller version of bavette
  • 100g cherry tomatoes – halved
  • 2 anchovy fillets – chopped
  • 20g pine nuts
  • 70g good quality black olives
  • 200g fresh tuna – cut into small cubes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic – finely sliced
  • 1 shallot – finely sliced
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  1. Fry the shallot and the garlic in olive oil until it starts to colour.
  2. Add the anchovies, half the pine nuts, the olives and the tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the capers and tuna. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and allow to reduce a little.
  5. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon zest, parsley and the rest of the pine nuts.
  6. Meanwhile cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the tuna. Return to the heat and mix well.  Allow the pasta to take up the flavours for a minute or so, remove from the heat and serve.

Bavette with tuna finished dish

Spaghetti with Gurnard

Spaghetti con la gallinella. Gurnard is used mainly as a soup fish here. This recipe however serves it poached and flaked with spaghetti. This avoids the problem of navigating the numerous bones.¬† When you’ve finished you’ll be left with a couple of litres of pretty good fish stock which is worth saving and would freeze well. Serves 4.

Spaghetti with gurnard ingedients

  • 320g spaghetti
  • 300g whole gurnard – cleaned
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Parsley – finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100g small or cherry tomatoes – sliced
  • Stock vegetables (Onion, carrot, celery)
  • Olive oil
  1. Peel and chop the stock vegetables. Add to a pan with 3 litres of water and a large pinch of salt. Simmer for 30 minutes. You can omit this step if you are pressed for time.
  2. Add the fish and poach for 5-6 minutes. The fish should be starting to flake, but not dissolving. Remove the fish and allow to cool slightly. Strain and reserve the stock.
  3. Flake the fish taking care to remove all the bones.
  4. Mince together the lemon zest, the garlic and the parsley.
  5. Fry the fish gently in a little olive oil and add a little of the stock. Be careful not to add to much, you don’t want it too sloppy.
  6. Cook the spaghetti in the stock until al dente
  7. Just before the spaghetti is done, add the minced ingredients and the tomatoes to the fish and warm through.
  8. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the fish. Mix well and cook for a further minute or so.
  9. Serve immediately.

spaghetti with gurnard finished dish

Grilled, Marinated Bream

Orata ai ferri. I’ve decided to make better use of my local fish market seeing as it’s just five minutes walk away from my flat. I’d forgotten that Monday is a bad day to go, as the day boats don’t go out on a Sunday. As a result, all that was available was either farmed or frozen. I made the best of it however and bought a couple of very fresh bream. So fresh in fact that they were still in rigor mortis.

Update: I’ve just realised that I cooked this recipe about a year ago and it’s already on the blog. D’oh! Oh well, it proves I like it I suppose ūüôā

Grilled, marinated bream ingredients

  • 1 medium sea bream per person – cleaned and scaled
  • Plenty of chopped parsley (pref. flat leaf)
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fine dry breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Make a marinade by mixing together roughly equal amounts of lemon juice and olive oil. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour the marinade over the fish making sure that some gets into the cavity. Leave to marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
  3. Drain the fish well, reserving the marinade. sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
  4. Cook under a medium grill for around 15 minutes (depending on the size of the fish). Turn two or three times during cooking. Baste with the marinade every so often.
  5. Serve immediately.

Tuna loaf

Polpettone di tonno ai capperi. This is the favourite dish of Macio, one of my friends from Bergamo. He always cooks it when he has guests. It comes from Sale & Pepe, one of the better food magazines. It can be served as an antipasto or a main course. When I made it I didn’t process the paste long enough, so the loaf was a bit loose. It was delicious though. Serves 4 as a main course 8-10 as an antipasto.

Tuna loaf ingredients

Tuna loaf ingredients

  • 2 200g tins of tuna in brine
  • 2 egg whites
  • 20g grated grana or parmesan
  • 2 tbsp capers in vinegar
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  1. Drain the tuna and mash with a fork.
  2. Combine the tuna, egg whites, grana, the zest of the lemon and the drained anchovy fillets and whiz in a food processor until you get a uniform paste. Mix in the whole capers.
  3. Soak a sheet of grease proof paper in water for a couple of minutes and lay it flat on the work surface.
  4. Place the tuna mix onto the centre of the paper and form into a thick sausage shape. It help if you do this with wet hands.

  5. Roll up the paper and twist the ends to form a ‘Christmas cracker’ shape. Tie the ends with kitchen string.

    Tuna loaf ready to cook

    Tuna loaf ready to cook

    Poach the roll in just boiling water for 45 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

  6. When ready to serve, unwrap the loaf and cut into 1-2 cm rounds.
  7. Make a dressing by mixing the olive oil, the juice from the lemon, chopped basil leaves and a pinch of salt.
  8. Serve with green salad leaves (rocket, lambs lettuce etc. anything you fancy)
Tuna loaf

Tuna loaf

Rabbit fricassee

Coniglio in fricassea. There are many recipes for rabbit in fricassea but this is the simplest and most straight forward I could find. It’s basically rabbit served with a sauce made from egg yolks and lemon juice. Serves 4.

Rabbit fricassee ingredients

Rabbit fricassee ingredients

  • 1 medium rabbit — cut into portions, washed and dried with kitchen paper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • plain flour
  • the juice of a Lemon
  • 1 whole Chilli – fresh or dried
  • olive oil
  • 1 knob butter
  1. Lightly dust the rabbit with flour.
  2. Fry the pieces in a little olive oil to which you’ve added the knob of butter.
  3. When the rabbit is nicely coloured, season with salt, add a ladle of water and cook over a low heat for around an hour and a half. If it looks like drying out, add a little more water.
  4. When the rabbit is done remove to a serving plate and keep warm.
  5. Beat the egg yolks together with the lemon juice and add the mixture to the cooking liquid left in the pan. Stir rapidly until you have a smooth sauce.
  6. Top the pieces of rabbit with the sauce and serve.
Rabbit fricassee finished dish

Rabbit fricassee finished dish

 

Carpaccio

Venezia crestCarpaccio Di Carne. The original version of this dish comes from Venice. According to Arrigo Cipriani, the present-day owner, Carpaccio was invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, where it was first served to the countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo in 1950 when she informed the bar’s owner that her doctor had recommended she eat only raw meat. It consisted of thin slices of raw beef dressed with a mustard and mayonnaise sauce. The dish was named Carpaccio by Giuseppe Cipriani, the bar’s former owner, in reference to the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, because the colours of the dish reminded him of paintings by Carpaccio.This lighter version is far more common nowadays.

Carpaccio ingredients

Carpaccio ingredients

  • Beef, veal or horse fillet, sliced very thinly
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Aromatic herbs, chopped – optional
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved – optional
  • Green salad leaves, optional
  1. Marinate the meat in the lemon juice for around an hour.
  2. Remove from the marinade and arrange on a serving plate.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and dress with olive oil.
  4. variation: Add some chopped aromatic herbs (parsley, basil, mint etc.) to the marinade.
  5. Variation: Top with shaved Parmesan
  6. Variation: I like to serve the carpaccio on top of some green salad leaves.
Carpaccio finished dish

Carpaccio finished dish

Octopus salad

puglia crestInsalata di polpi. From Puglia. This is one of my favourite antipasti.

 

Octopus salad ingredients

Octopus salad ingredients

 

  • 1 large Octopus (at least 500g), cleaned
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

 

 

 

  1. Put the octopus in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat until tender – about 25 minutes.
  3. Allow to partially cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Cut into bite size pieces, dress with vinegar and garlic and allow to marinate for at least a couple of hours.
  5. When you are ready to serve, adjust the seasoning and dress with olive oil and parsley.
  6. Serve as an antipasto or main course
  7. Variation: Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar.

 

 

Octopus salad finished dish

Octopus salad finished dish