All posts filed under: Italian

An evening at La Cucina Caldesi & a Recipe for Deboned Stuffed Poussin

Oh, life has been pretty busy, eh? You may have noticed that from my posts. I am moving house again. I may start a new blog all about that – I seem to do that more than anything else! Although that would be incredibly tedious, for you and me, and, oh just about everything that can sense any sort of boredom or pain, so maybe I will stick with this monument to pleasure and weight gain that I call Eat Like a Girl. Sadly, this means that cooking chez moi has all but decreased to nothing. For now my home has ceased to be one, and is an ocean of boxes, vomiting their contents everywhere, while I anxiously decide what’s for the chop, the charity shop, or my new abode. In the middle of that, I am looking for a new place to live, which offers an anxiety all of its own, especially when I don’t have the time to dedicate to it. Before you comment, I know that must change and it will, any …

In the kitchen at L’Anima with Francesco Mazzei: Linguine Vongole

I was very excited, and also a little hot and bothered. I had to be in Liverpool St at 5pm, but I didn’t finish work until 5.30pm, and I work an hour away. Eish! What to do?! Thankfully, Francesco and his team were patient and flexible, and unfazed when I burst through the door, earlier than I thought possible, but later than arranged, red and frizzy and ready for vongole. Vongole? What’s that? It’s one of the best Italian culinary offerings, and when nestled with linguine, a real treat. Fresh and lively, salty and sweet, fruity and toothsome, you can’t beat it. I’ve cooked this at home, but not for a while. It’s one of those things that has to be done right, great vongole from an even better fishmonger, great pasta and some time. That’s all. Like anything else, there are ways to do it to do it and to do it right you need to adhere to the rules, but really it’s not that complicated, and once you know the steps, it’s utterly …

Lunching at Konstam in King’s Cross

Regular readers and fellow twitterers will know that I am a big fan of pork belly! An inexpensive but delicious cut of meat, that is transformed into a thing of crispy wonder when given the right amount of care and attention. Spiced with star anise or sweetened with cider and sporting a crispy coat of crackling, it is one of my favourite things to eat in this world. So, you can imagine my delight when a restaurant local to work started serving pork belly sandwiches at lunch time. Not just any restaurant either, but Oliver Rowe’s Konstam at the Price Albert, a restaurant where most of the produce (where possible) is sourced from within the M25. Many of you will be familiar with it from the TV show, The Urban Chef, that tracked the setup and opening of this fine establishment. Prior to opening Konstam at the Prince Albert, Oliver ran a cafe of the same name (Konstam). of which I was a big fan and I was disappointed when it closed in favour of …

A Gastronomic Postcard from Riva del Garda

I’ve been a little absent from this little online home of late, in the past week that was because I was in Italy, Riva del Garda to be precise, to celebrate a friends wedding, or more accurately two friends weddings, only remove the plural as they were marrying each other :) I’ve been to Italy three times previously, I love Rome and Naples, both buzzing with energy and with fantastic food, both cities to get lost, idle and indulge in. The furthest North I had been was Florence, which at the tender age of 19 was too quiet for me, so, I was looking forward to visiting Lago di Garda, somewhere quiet and visually spectacular with very different food to what I had experienced further South, the perfect counter to a hectic month in London. Added to this, I grew up next to the Atlantic and love being by water, I especially love ferries and boats, so I was very much looking forward to a first night relaxing with just my book, some good food …

Ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato

Today’s recipe is ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato – a twist on Pasta e Fagioli that I made for lunch today. I’m a girl with an eye for detail, at least when it comes to food (for you friends reading, shocked that I typed that! ;)). I didn’t want to blog pasta e fagioli yet, because I wanted to make sure that the one I eventually blog is traditional, accurate and painstakingly researched. I am almost there, but not quite. So, instead, I will blog part of the research towards that goal and call it ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato. It’s a vegetarian version, intentionally, I wanted something with clean, crisp flavours, light & fruity and healthy. So, how to go about this? Spend a Sunday morning wandering around the food halls of London, unintentionally picking up the ingredients. Beautiful big red tomatoes of the type you would see in the mediteranean, fresh borlotti beans in their pink stripey pods, bursting to come out, ditalini pasta, shallots, garlic & …

Homemade Pizza

I love good pizza. Everyone has their own take on what that is but for me it has a thin crispy base, good sauce (NOT tomato purée!) and simple but good quality toppings. It can be quite hard to find this so I like to make my own occasionally. It takes alot of time but there’s a real sense of satisfaction in doing it from scratch. Dissolving the yeast, seeing the dough take shape, and kneading & kneading it until the dough becomes stretchy and shiny and ready for a stint of relaxation while you make your sauce. It’s an arduous process, but one I am happy to indulge in when I have the time. And sometimes when I don’t, like last Saturday. I had been preparing for a few days, stocking up on fresh yeast, Italian 00 flour, too many cheeses and various types of meat. A few words about these, Italian 00 flour is a must, if only because it’s what Italians use and they know what they’re doing. It’s a fine grind …

Courgette Carbonara

I have been living in London for some time now – 6 years – and have noticed that my hiberno-english lilt has absorbed some new words and phrases, I recently caught myself saying mate and as though to make room I am losing the frequency of some old regulars e.g. I am saying grand alot less. It’s all part of adapting, people still don’t understand what I am saying at times, although that may have alot to do with my rush to say everything especially when I am enthusiastic about the topic. What I never expected was that someday, out of the blue, I would call a courgette a zucchini. Where did that come from? I live in England, I am from Ireland, it’s a courgette in both places! I blame cookbooks and American televison shows, it’s as though, through some process of verbal osmosis, the external zucchini influences overpowered the courgette ones and forced itself out one evening unexpectedly. I am now making a very conscious effort to say courgette, which may sound very …

Chargrilled peach & speck salad

This is a spectacular summer salad devised by Yotam Ottolenghi of Ottolenghi’s in London and published in the Summer BBQ series in the Guardian on Saturdays. I had wanted to make it since it was published (2 weeks ago?) but I didn’t have the orange blossom water required nor had I the time to go source it. I spotted it on a trip to Borough Market on Saturday and with that purchase was all set. I went to the farmers market in Queen’s Park on Sunday to get the leaves but the leaves specified in the recipe weren’t available so I bought mizuna & mustard leaves instead of baby chard, endives & watercress. These worked really well and I think, really, you could use rocket, it would counter the sweetness of the peach nicely and is readily available. Speck is a meat that I only discovered 4 years ago when I started working in the Kings Cross area and started shopping in the italian deli, KC Continental Stores on Caledonian Rd. It’s a dry-cured smoked …

Leek & Chanterelle Frittata

My lovely local Italian deli had more chanterelles and I couldn’t leave them there. They’re like a little golden treasure and with their subtle flavour are delicious. I was tempted to make the tagliatelle again but we’ve been eating alot of pasta lately. One thing we haven’t had for an age is a Frittata, so I decided on one of those. So, where from here? A frittata is an Italian omelette with fillings. These vary and unlike the Spanish Omelette, you can really put anything you like in there. A brunch favourite of mine, I often make a leek and mushroom omelette so I thought that I would replicate it with the chanterelles. The leek is very sweet and the chanterelles very delicate so it works well with a bold flavour like rocket on the side. Often frittata recipes have milk in but as I’m lactose intolerant I don’t bother. If you’re not please feel free to add a few tablespoons of milk to the egg. Sometimes there’s cheese on top but I didn’t want …

Homemade Pesto

I love pesto. The first time I tasted it, my young irish palette was taken by surprise. I had never had such a flavour combination and wasn’t sure what to make of it. I grew to love it and it’s been a firm favourite ever since. I’ve read that there’s no pesto that can compare with Genovese Pesto in Liguria, that the basil grown in the slightly alkaline soil of the Genovese district of Pra is the best. I really need to go to try this out but for the moment I have to make do with what’s available to me in London. It’s been a while since I made homemade pesto so I thought I’d make some last weekend. It’s always good to have some to hand and homemade pesto is infinitely superior to that bought in a jar. If you look at the ingredients in some shop bought pestos they often replace pine nuts with cashew nuts, replace parmesan with random cheese and the oil is low grade. There’s also usually a myriad …

Tagliatelle with chanterelles

One of my favourite food shops in London is near where I work. It’s an old school Italian deli that’s been in the area over 40 years. It’s there to serve the local Italian community and has the best produce at great prices. It’s run by an elderly Italian couple who run it with style – no pressure, no rush, if you want to be served you’ll wait your turn, but, when it is your turn they’ll take their time with you and get what you ask & make suggestions if you want them. They’ll grind coffee for you, slice meats, make sandwiches with what’s in the fridge – there’s no menu, whatever’s your fancy. There’s a stool in the shop that’s frequently occupied by one of the owners friends for a chat, or, one of the Italian builders working across the road who has stopped off to eat his lunch. It’s a little slice of Italy in London, an escape from the chaos outside the door. Sometimes they have random produce, like today when …

Pasta with potato, red lentil and pumpkin

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything but I’ve got a few things to post from the weekend. I’ll start with a pasta dish that I made yesterday, one of my comfort food favourites. I tend to make this by eye and by tastebud, adjusting it as I go so feel free to be flexible with the recipe. My mood also affects it, sometimes I like it very soup-y with alot of stock, other times I prefer the pasta to be the star of the show. Yesterday was a pasta day! I got the idea for it many years ago when I visited Italy with some friends, one of whom was a local. I got many ideas that holiday, we had some wonderful food, much of it cooked by my friends boyfriends Dad whom we were staying with. It was my first time having homemade pumpkin gnocchi and proper neapolitan mozarella di bufala. It was out of this world. You just don’t get that mozarella anywhere else and I have tried very hard …

Asparagus risotto balls stuffed with buffalo mozarella

There are many good reasons to make risotto. It’s delicious and perfect for a summers day. It goes very well with wine and is perfect after a long day in the office. It’s therapeutic to make, one of those dishes that requires alot of time and energy but is worth every little bit. My favourite one is: you can make risotto balls with the leftover risotto. When I make risotto, I always make twice what we need for dinner so that we can make risotto balls the next day. Risotto balls are so easy and quick. All you need is leftover risotto, bufallo mozarella & breadcrumbs, egg & flour. Some recipes add egg to the risotto before moulding but I like my risotto quite moist so that when it’s cool it’s still quite sticky so usually doesn’t need it. I used leftover asparagus risotto. You can find the risotto recipe on my blog, it’s the previous post. I ommitted the feta cheese for the risotto balls as they should be all about the buffalo mozarella. …

Asparagus, lemon & feta risotto

I have mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again, I *love* asparagus! After much trawling in the farmers markets I found a lovely asparagus stall with big bunches of asparagus. How could I leave them there? I usually like to cook them as simply as possible to keep their strong fresh flavour but it had been a while since we had risotto so I thought I’d make a nice summery one with it. I find asparagus goes really well with lemon and feta so thought I’d adapt a tried and trusted asparagus recipe. I prefer to use feta that has sheeps milk only as the cows milk ones (or even those with a little cows milk) don’t have as nice a flavour, I find them more acidic. Apparantly, the reason cows milk is added is it’s much cheaper and reduces production costs. Anyway, I found a nice organic sheeps feta so used that in this recipe. I always make enough for four people so that we can make risotto balls with the leftovers. Recipe …

Chickpea, tomato, red lentil & basil soup

I used to be very good at bringing in lunches to work. After all, it usually means just putting leftover dinner into a lunchbox to heat in the microwave the next day. These last few months I have been rubbish though and find I am now feeling unhealthy as a result. So, to make amends and apologise to my poor body I decided to make a healthy tomato and bean soup. Now, I know this blog has been very much tomato based recently but I’ve read that they’ll keep me young, so it’s worth a try, eh?! This is a very simple soup and I usually don’t measure anything out but just adjust as I go to get the right textures and tastes. Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic olive oil one tin of tomatoes approx 50g red lentils (or more if you like a chunky soup) 500ml vegetable stock one tbsp of sugar chickpeas ~ 400g – I cooked them from dry as I prefer these but you can use tins – one tin if …

Prawn linguine with rocket

Prawn linguine with rocket One of our favourite dishes. We have this at least once in every two weeks. It’s very quick and has clean sharp flavours. Great for a quick meal in the evening with some white wine! Ingredients (for 2 people): Half a packet of linguine (you could substitute spaghetti but I prefer linguine) 2 cloves garlic Sundried tomato paste 1 glass dry white wine Prawns ~ 300g, preferably raw, shelled and de-veined Rocket 1 lemon Extra virgin olive oil Method: Finely chop the garlic and saute in some olive oil until translucent. be careful not to burn it as it will ruin the flavour. Add a couple of tablespoons of the sundried tomato paste and fry with the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the white wine and cook off the alcohol, again, just a few minutes. In the background cook the pasta for however long it says on the packet – usually 10/11 minutes. Add the prawns to the garlic, sundried tomato paste & wine and cook for 5 minutes …

Now to start: Spaghetti with homemade tomato & basil sauce and garlic toasts

So, I thought it best to start with something really simple and delicious that I can’t misrepresent on my new blog! This is one of my quick fixes, some food for the heart and soul that’s sometimes required after a long day when you know you have only got a short evening ahead. Ingredients (for two with large appetities): Half a packet of spaghetti (linguine also works really well) Sauce: 1 tin of tomatoes (I use La Fiammante, gorgeous fruity Italian tomatoes) a handful of basil (I used greek basil – I love it’s tiny leaves and potency) a dessert spoon of sugar a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar dried or fresh chilli – as much as you like, I like it hot one white onion 2 cloves of garlic (or one big one) Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle on top Garlic Toasts: Baguette or nice ciabatta. I prefer the second but the deli had run out. 1 garlic clove Extra Virgin Olive Oil Method: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Saute the onion until …