Recent Posts

Pavlova

Pavlova

While I’ve posted the recipe for my Mini Pavlovas and also for a Pavlova Roulade on my blog, I have definitely been amiss in not posting a good Pavlova recipe.  My mother made the best Pavlova ever, and sadly I’m not 100% sure of her […]

Cherry Brandy Chicken

Cherry Brandy Chicken

This is a vintage recipe from my mother’s repertoire and one that I grew up with.  It will impress at any dinner party, and is much easier to put together than what it appears.  It’s also a quick recipe that you can easily make after a busy day […]

Rocket, Fig & Pecorino Salad with Honey and Balsamic

Rocket, Fig & Pecorino Salad with Honey and Balsamic

This is such a quick and easy salad to throw togther, essential to make during Summer when you’ll find fresh and seasonal summer fruits in abundance at your local market.  In this recipe, savoury and sweet flavours marry well together, and although this would be a perfect accompaniment to a Summer barbecue, it is also delicious and quite a meal by itself.

Rocket, Fig & Pecorino Salad with Honey and Balsamic

  • 80g rocket (rucola)
  • 10 -15 basil leaves
  • 200g pecorino cheese, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 sweet, ripe figs (green or black)
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 100g prosciutto crudo
  • 2 ripe freestone yellow peaches, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic syrup
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a large bowl add rocket, basil leaves, pecorino cheese and peaches.
  2. Add pine nuts to a small frying pan and toast lightly.  Pay close attention they don’t burn. Remove and put aside.
  3. Slice figs into quarters.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey and balsamic syrup. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Pour half of the honey balsamic dressing over rocket and toss well until dressing covers leaves well.
  6. Heap rocket, basil, pecorino and peaches on top of a large serving platter.
  7. Tear sliced prosciutto crudo into strips and arrange on top of rocket together with the quartered figs.
  8. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top and drizzle over remaining dressing.

Insalata di Rucola, Fichi e Pecorino con Miele & Balsamico

  • 80g rucola
  • 10 -15 foglie di basilico
  • 200g di pecorino, tagliato in pezzi
  • 6-8 fichi maturi (verdi o neri)
  • 4 cucchiai di pinoli
  • 100g prosciutto crudo
  • 2 pesche gialle tagliate in cubetti
  • 2 cucchiai di miele
  • 4 cucchiai di olio extra vergine di oliva
  • 1 cucchiaio di sciroppo di aceto balsamico
  • sale pepe
  1. In una grande ciotola aggiungere la rucola, le foglie di basilico, il pecorino e le pesche.
  2. Aggiungere i pinoli in una piccola teglia e tostare leggermente.  Prestate molta attenzione che non bruciano. Rimuovere e mettere da parte.
  3. Tagliare i fichi in quarti.
  4. In una piccola ciotola, sbattete a mano con una frusta insieme olio d’oliva, miele e il sciroppo di aceto balsamico.  Aggiungere sale e pepe a piacere. Questo è il ‘dressing’.
  5. Versare la metà della miscela (dressing) miele e balsamico sopra la rucola, mescolando bene.
  6. Mettere la rucola, il basilico, il pecorino e le pesche sopra una grande piatto da portata.
  7. Tagliare a mano il prosciutto crudo in strisce e sistemare sulla parte superiore dell’insalata insieme ai fichi.
  8. Aggiungere i pinoli tostati in alto e versare sopra il ‘dressing’ rimanente di miele, olio e balsamico.

Flourless Chocolate, Orange & Almond Cake

Flourless Chocolate, Orange & Almond Cake

I first made this cake when I had to come up with a Gluten Free alternative for a wedding cake.  It is dense and rich like any flourless chocolate cake and the bittersweet orange taste is a perfect companion to the sweetness of the sugar […]

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is delicious all year round but is particularly enjoyed as a meal during the hot Summer months.  I’ve ordered this a couple of times while out in Italy, and it’s usually a little disappointing.  My favourite go to recipe for Caesar Salad is my […]

BABINGTONS TEA ROOMS

BABINGTONS TEA ROOMS

Since 1893, Rome has boasted a traditional and very elegant English tea room.  Stepping inside Babingtons with the promise of tea, cake and scones, you have to remind yourself that you’re not in England, but instead sitting in the very fashionable Piazza di Spagna in the heart of the Italian Capital.  Babingtons Tea Rooms is located on the ground floor of an 18th-century building right next door to the Spanish Steps.

The history of Babingtons is a wonderful story that would make a wonderful film and evokes images similar to ‘Downton Abbey’.  When two English women, (one who had recently been left at the altar on her wedding day) Anna Maria Babington and Isabel Cargill, arrived in Rome they had one hundred pounds.  They decided to start a business which would benefit the thriving English community living in the Eternal City.  Before Babingtons Tea Rooms opened, tea could only be bought at pharmacies.  Anna Maria created an intimate and private location where tea could be enjoyed, newspapers could be read and importantly, also a place which provided bathroom facilities!

Photo: courtesy of Babington’s Tea Rooms

 

Isabel met and married Giuseppe da Pozzo, an artist who is responsible for the portraits of Anna Maria & Isabel still hanging in the tea rooms.  Isabel gave birth to Dorothy, who would eventually be responsible for the running of Babingtons after the second world war.   It was during the first world war though and the depression that followed that Babingtons risked closing.  Thanks to the determination and tenacity of the staff, the tea rooms survived.  Anna Maria meanwhile had moved to Switzerland for some much needed rest and relaxation but died in 1929 of a sudden heart attack.

Dorothy helped with the daily management of Babingtons and business once again began to thrive during the 1930’s.  With the rise of Fascism, Babingtons became very popular with high-ranking members of the regime.  While they were served tea and scones in the front room, the anti-fascist intelligentsia would meet in the back room.  This allowed them easy access to an escape route through the kitchen!

Isabel died in 1944 in Northern Italy.  Dorothy, her four children and Isabel had fled to the North after the outbreak of the second world war in 1941.  Dorothy returned to Rome not knowing how and if indeed the Tea Rooms had survived but she must have been shocked to discover that not only was it still open, but it had survived thanks to her faithful and loyal staff.  The three women had been opening Babington’s every day, walking from home and using their personal war rations to create recipes for Babingtons clientele.

Today Babingtons Tea Rooms is managed by Isabel’s great-grandchildren,  Rory Bruce and his cousin Chiara Bedini.  Babingtons is open every day from 10:00am – 9:15pm. The Babingtons website boasts “Tea is our passion and dining our speciality. From elegant afternoon teas, light lunches, snacks and salads to indulgent ice creams and the finest aperitifs, excellent refreshment is never far away, all enjoyed from one of Rome’s most historic landmarks.”   I will confess that when I know I’m going to visit Babingtons, I get so excited thinking about their delicate English sandwiches, scones, pavlova and cupcakes that I almost forget to get excited about their incredible tea selection.  Choose from  either their unique ‘Babingtons Blends’, the vast selection of Teas from The World, or the Herbal Teas.

Rome can certainly get hot in the summer, and this week temperatures are already in the 30’s. (celcius).  Aperitivi are an incredibly popular way to enjoy early summer evenings in Rome and at Babingtons  you can now combine a refreshing cocktail with a Victorian High Tea!  Tea hasn’t been forgotten though, in fact Tea is the protagonist as it becomes the vital ingredient for their cocktails.  Babingtons says,  “Tea harmoniously enhances the flavours of each and every dish, whether savoury or sweet.  Tea follows the food, accompanies a conversation and strengthens friendships…beyond all cultures, time and age.”

I was privileged to be invited to enjoy Babingtons Victorian Happy Hour with Rory Bruce and I was fascinated by the stories he told of his ancestors and the remarkable history that is Babingtons Tea Rooms.   I arrived promptly on time, well… a little early actually and tried to hide my excitement.  I love a traditional English afternoon tea, and with the addition of cocktails I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Photo courtesy of Babingtons Tea Rooms

The choice of two tea based cocktails or iced teas are included as you enjoy savoury cupcakes, hot scones, delicate finger sandwiches, mignon cakes and pastries and mini Pavlova.

Babingtons Victorian Happy Hour is available every Wednesday from 6:30pm to 9:00 pm, through to the end of July. The cost is 23 euros.

Don’t be mistaken in thinking you’ll need dinner afterwards, Babingtons Victorian Happy Hour is your dinner alternative!

Victorian Happy Hour Photo courtesy of Babingtons Tea Rooms
A sample of the sweet selection for Victorian Happy Hour Photo courtesy of Babingtons Tea Rooms

 

It was when I incredulously realised that is was 9:00pm that it dawned on me how comforting the whole experience is at Babingtons Tea Rooms.  It is indeed a Roman institution, but for me it was the nostalgia of enjoying foods and flavours from my childhood that made the whole experience particularly special, and it’s easy to see why Babingtons has always been such a wonderful place and will no doubt continue to be uniquely special for many years to come!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the Tabby Cat logo, it was Dorothy’s son Valerio who designed it.   Until health and safety regulations intervened, there had always been a resident cat (Mascherino) in the Tea Room.

BABINGTONS TEA ROOMS

Piazza di Spagna, 23  ROME

00187 (RM)

www.babingtons.com

Fusilli con Fave – with Italian Sausage, Broad Beans & Pecorino Romano

Fusilli con Fave – with Italian Sausage, Broad Beans & Pecorino Romano

Known as ‘Fave’ in Italy, Broad Beans are enjoyed and celebrated in any different ways when they come into season.  I’ve tried to be a bit creative with them in this pasta recipe and I promise that it will convert anybody who declares they disike […]

Crostata di Pesche – Peach Tart

Crostata di Pesche – Peach Tart

  With summer almost upon us, the markets have started filling with colour from gorgeous summer fruits.  It’s only the beginning of the season and while the selection may still be a little limited, there is already a good choice available.  I adore peaches and was thrilled […]

Salmon Soft Shell Tacos with Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

Salmon Soft Shell Tacos with Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca)

During high school, I spent a year as an exchange student in Arizona, USA and I discovered (and fell in love with) Tex-Mex!  The word ‘Tex-Mex’ describes a cuisine that is a fusion of Mexican and American, ‘Texan’ foods.  Some ingredients are common in Mexican cuisine, but many other ingredients are often used that you wouldn’t typically use in Mexico.  Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of shredded meat, particularly beef or pork, beans and flour tortillas.  Tex-Mex has also imported flavours from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin introduced by Spanish immigrants to Texas.  Tex-Mex is popular throughout the United States now, and not just the states located close to Mexico. 

Pico de Gallo is a simple mixture of chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, coriander, lime juice, and a little bit of jalapeño. I have also added some red onion and cucumber.  It is common to find it spooned over tacos, inside burritos or simply served with some fresh tortilla chips. (Great accompaniment for Aperitivo hour)!

Fish tacos are a favourite in Tex-Mex recipes but can also be found in Mexico, especially soft shell tacos which are made with flour tortillas.  I decided to welcome the warm weather that has arrived to Rome by making these salmon soft shell tacos for a delicious, flavour packed Sunday lunch!  I like to feel a little fire on my taste-buds and there is definitely some heat in the chunky tomato salsa, and the spicy coating on the salmon. You can adjust all the spices though to best suit your personal taste.

Salmon Soft Shell Tacos with Chunky Salsa Fresca

Salmon

  • fresh salmon fillets
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pico de Gallo

  • 3-1/2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes (choose small flavour bursting variety)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Extras…

  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • 1 packet small flour tortillas
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Sour Cream or Crème Fraiche
  • 5-6 fresh limes
  • 1 small can jalapeno pepper

  1. Begin recipe by preparing the Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve and assemble tacos.
  2. Slice iceberg lettuce finely until you have ‘shredded’ it all.
  3. In a small bowl mix together cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper.
  4. Remove salmon from refrigerator and pat dry both sides of salmon with paper towels.  Season both sides evenly with spice mixture, rubbing lightly over salmon.
  5. Put a little olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add salmon and cook until golden brown, flip over and cook salmon on other side until salmon has cooked through, about 2 – 3 minutes longer. Remove salmon fillets, put aside and cover loosely with kitchen foil to keep them warm.
  6. In another frying pan, add a little olive oil on medium flame.  Add flour tortillas and heat on both sides until they start to get a little crispy.  Set aside under a clean, dry teatowel.
  7. Slice avocado.  Spoon sour cream into a serving bowl.  Remove pico de gallo (salsa fresca) from refrigerator. Slice limes into quarters.
  8. Roughly break up salmon and place in a bowl.
  9. Allow everyone to assemble their own salmon soft shell tacos.
  10. To assemble tacos, take a tortilla, add salmon, pico de gallo (salsa fresca), lettuce and avocado.  Add 1 or 2 extra jalapenos. Spoon on a little sour cream and squeeze a little lime juice on top!

** Add some fresh mango for a more delicious combination of flavours!

BUON APPETITO!

 

ITALIANO

Durante il periodo del liceo, ho passato un anno come “exchange student” in Arizona, USA e ho scoperto (e me ne sono innamorata!) il Tex-Mex!  La parola ‘Tex-Mex’ descrive una cucina che è un mix di cibo messicano e Americano Texano. Alcuni ingredienti sono in comune con la cucina messicana, ma spesso si usano molti ingredienti che non sono proprio tipici del Messico.  La cucina Tex-Mex è caratterizzata da carni cotte lungamente, in particolare carne di maiale o manzo, e fagioli e tortillas.  Tex-Mex ha anche importato sapori da altre cucine speziate, come il cumino introdotto dagli immigrati Spagnoli in Messico.  Tex-Mex è popolare in tutti gli Stati Uniti e non solo nelle zone vicine al Messico. 

Pico de Gallo è una semplice mistura di pomodori freschi a pezzetti, cipolle, coriandolo, succo di limone ed un po’ di  jalapeño. Ho anche aggiunto alcune cipole rosse e un cetriolo. E’ comune spalmata sopra i tacos, dentro i burritos o semplicemtne servita con alcune tortillas fresche (ottime come accompagno di un aperitivo!)

I tacos di pesce sono tra i preferiti nelle ricette di Tex-Mex ma possono essere comuni anche in Messico, specialmente i tacos morbidi fatti con le tortillas.  Ho deciso che come benvenuto per la bella stagione arrivata a Roma potevo fare questi tacos morbidi al salmone fresco per un pranzo saporito e delizioso della domenica! Mi piace sentire un po’ di piccante sulla lingua e quindi ho fatto una salsa morbida di pomodori, e la speziatura sul salmone. Le spezie ovviamente possono essere aggiustate a piacimento secondo il proprio gusto.

Soft Shell Tacos con Salmone e Pico de Gallo (salsa fresca)

Salmone

  • filetti di salmone fresco
  • 1 cucchiaino di cumino macinato
  • 1/2 cucchiaino di coriandolo macinato
  • 1/4 cucchiaino di pepe caienna o q.b.
  • 1/4 cucchiaino di paprika
  • Sale e Pepe

Pico de Gallo

  • 800g (circa) di pomodori ciliegi (o qualsiasi pomodoro pieno di sapore)
  • 1 peperone verde grande, tagliati in piccoli cubetti
  • 1 cipolla rossa media, sminuzzata
  • 1 peperoncino ‘serrano’, trittata
  • 1 peperoncino ‘jalapeno’ trittata
  • 2 cucchiaini sale
  • 1 lcetriolo grande, tagliati a cubetti piccoli
  • 60ml aceto bianco
  • 2 cucchiai di succo di limone

Extras…

  • 2-3 avocado maturi
  • 1 pacchetto di tortilla di farine messicane
  • lattuga cappucina q.b. trittata
  • Panna Acida o Crème Fraiche
  • 5-6  lime
  • 1 piccolo baratolo di peperoncino jalapeno
  1. Inizia la ricetta preparando il Pico de Gallo o Salsa Fresca.  Mescolare bene tutti gli ingredienti in una ciotola. Regolare il sale, il pepe e il succo di limone a piacere. Coprire e refrigerare fino a quando non sarai pronto a servire e assemblare tacos.
  2. Tagliare la lattuga fino in strisce.
  3. In una piccola ciotola mescolare insieme il cumino, il coriandolo, la paprika e il pepe di caienna, 1/2 cucchiaino di sale e 1/2 cucchiaino di pepe nero macinato.
  4. Rimuovere il salmone dal frigorifero e asciugare entrambi i lati del salmone con la carta di cucina. Coprire entrambi i lati in modo uniforme con la miscela di spezie, sfregando leggermente il salmone.
  5. Mettere un po’ di olio d’oliva in una padella a fuoco medio-alto. Aggiungere il salmone  e cuocere ad entrambi i lati finché il salmone è cotto e dorato.  Rimuovere i filetti di salmone, mettere da parte e coprire leggermente con un foglio di alluminio per tenerli caldi.
  6. In un’ altra padella, aggiungere un po’ di olio d’oliva a fiamma media.  Aggiungere i tortillas e scaldare su entrambi i lati finché non cominciano a diventare un po’ croccanti.   Mettiti da parte sotto un canovaggio pulita e asciutta.
  7. Tagliare l’avocado in pezzi.  Mettere la panna acida in una ciotola.  Rimuovere il pico de gallo (salsa fresca) dal frigorifero.  Tagliare i lime in quarti.
  8. Rompere il salmone in pezzi e metterlo in una ciotola.
  9. Consenti tutti a tavola di assemblare i propri tacos.
  10. Per assemblare i tacos, prendere una tortilla, aggiungere salmone, pico de gallo (salsa fresca), lattuga e avocado. Aggiungere 1 o 2 jalapenos extra.  Aggiungere una piccola quantità di crema acida e spremere un po’ di succo di lime in cima!
    **Potete aggiungere un po’ di mango fresco per aggiungere una nota di freshcezza! 

Pumpkin Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

Pumpkin Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

Everyone loves pancakes for breakfast, but sometimes it’s nice to change your usual recipe and try something different.  These pumpkin pancakes offer a bit of spice, the crispy bacon gives you a deliciously salty crunch and strangely enough, all this marries well with a good […]