Recent Posts

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 […]

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 mother’s recipe and the one I grew up with.  While grilled chicken wasn’t included in original recipes it is often on the menu as an option, an extra ingredient to add to your Caesar Salad.  I like the addition of grilled chicken because it transforms this salad into a substantial meal.  This recipe is for 4 generous servings.

Caesar Salad

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 egg yolks (raw)
  • 2 whole boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 heads of Cos lettuce
  • 1/2 cup chopped bacon or pancetta (pan fried)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly made croutons (see method)
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. In a food processor, blend together the garlic, anchovy fillets, capers, egg yolks, hard boiled eggs, Dijon mustard, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Add Olive Oil, vinegar and lemon juice, and continue blending until smooth.  Taste and adjust lemon or pepper if required.  Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble salad.
  3. Cook bacon or pancetta in a frying pan until golden and crispy.  Allow to drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Chop roughly.
  4. Add some rustic Italian style bread cut into cubes into the frying pan with any remaining bacon fat and add a splash of olive oil if necessary.  Fry bread until toasted and golden.  If you prefer the crunch without the fat, you can toast the bread in th oven.
  5. Cut both chicken breasts through the middle, without cutting through, to form one large flat piece. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper and brush with olive oil.  Heat a frying pan until hot then place the chicken breasts on it and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through.  Slice for serving.
  6. Assemble the Caesar Salad.  Firstly remove the outer leaves from the cos lettuce.  Using your hands, roughly tear the lettuce leaves and place in a large bowl.  (Some people like to leave the leaves whole).  Toss lettuce leaves with a couple tablespoons of the dressing, half the crispy fried pancetta and half the croutons.
  7. Equally divide the lettuce on four plates.  Add grilled chicken breast slices.  Add the remaining crispy pancetta and croutons on top of chicken.  Using a serving spoon drizzle extra dressing over, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with a little freshly cracked  black pepper.
  • If you wish to make a crispy cheese basket like I did to serve your Caesar Salad in,  just place grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (I used a mixture of both) in a frying pan over medium high heat.  Watch carefully as it melts and starts to bubble and turn golden.  Turn off heat and set aside frying pan.  Wait just a couple of minutes and slide cheese into a bowl.  As it cools it will harden and maintain its shape.

** (A poached egg on top wouldn’t be out of place for a decadent brunch)!

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 […]

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 to have the opportunity to make this ‘Crostata di Pesche’.   I have used a recipe by Florence based Chef  Arturo Dori .   He is a regular contributor for the monthly magazine This Tuscan Life and this month’s recipe is this fresh and light summery tart.   Arturo Dori is also a sommelier and a certified cheese tester.   Arturo’s recipe is easy to follow and the custard is probably the best I’ve ever made.   The wonderful thing about these Italian custard fruit tarts is that once you have a recipe you are happy with for the pastry and custard, you can use any fruit you wish for the topping, or why not…. make a tart or mini tarts with a variety of fruit on top.

Crostata di Pesche

Recipe by Chef Arturo Dori

Sweet Pastry Base

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300g butter
  • 500g plain flour ’00’
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, add the egg yolks, sugar, butter, salt, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Whisk until butter is soft and all ingredients are combined.
  2. Exchange the whisk attachment for the flat beater and add the flour a little at a time.  Mix gradually until all flour is combined and you have a ball of dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead quickly and form into a disc.  Cover with plastic kitchen wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Custard (Crema Pasticcera)

  • 125ml cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of cornflour
  • 80g sugar
  • Vanilla seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  1. In an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy looking.  Add the vanilla and cornflour and whisk again until combined.
  2. Add the milk and cream to a saucpan and bring to a simmer.  Remove the saucepan from the heat,  add the egg yolk mixture, and whisk by hand until you have a smooth mixture.
  3. Return the saucepan to a medium heat and continue whisking until the mixture simmers and thickens.  Remove again from the heat but continue whisking until you are happy that the custard has thickened and is smooth with no lumps.
  4. Transfer the custard into a bowl.  Place plastic kitchen wrap directly on the surface of the custard (to prevent a skin forming on the surface) and allow to cool to room temperature.  I prefer to prepare this the day before making the tart and I refrigerate the custard overnight.

Summer Peach Tart

  • 5 – 6 Yellow freestone peaches, skin on.
  1. Remove the pastry from refrigerator and knead with a little flour.  Roll out and line a 26cm diam tart tin.  Trim border of excess pastry, poke holes over the base with a fork.  Line with baking paper and fill with ceramic baking beads.  Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.  Remove paper and ceramic beads, return pastry to oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.
  2. Cut peaches in half and remove stone.  Slice each half in thin slices.
  3. Spoon the custard into the pastry case, and spread evenly over the base.
  4. Arrange the peach slices over the custard.
  5. Bake at 160°C for 20 -30 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool.  Serve sprinkled with icing sugar and garnish with mint leaves.

**Please note that you don’t have to return the tart to the oven the second time.  Depending on what fruit you are using, you might want to decorate the custard tart and then serve directly with the fresh fruit sliced on top.

 So… don’t forget to get creative!  Once you have the pastry and custard made…. the rest is up to you!

Crostata di Pesche – Ricetta ITALIANO

Ingredienti per la pasta frolla

  • 200 gr. Zucchero
  • 80 gr. Tuorlo d’uovo pastorizzato
  • 300 gr Burro
  • 500 gr farina 00
  • 1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia
  • 1 cucchiaino di sale
  • la buccia grattugiata di un limone

Procedimento per la Pasta Frolla

Montare in planetaria con frusta il burro morbido con lo zucchero, il tuorlo d’uovo, il sale, l’estratto di vaniglia e la buccia di limone grattugiata. Montare a foglia nella planetaria e aggiungere la farina poco alla volta fino a completo assorbimento. Compattare su tavolo infarinato.  Fare riposare almeno quattro ore prima di utilizzarla.

Ingredienti per la Crema Pasticcera

  • 125 ml di panna fresca
  • 125 ml di latte intero
  • 3 tuorli di uovo
  • 2 cucchiai colmi di fecola di patate
  • 1 bacche di vaniglia
  • 8 cucchiai di zucchero

Procedimento per la Crema Pasticcera

Montate in planetaria i tuorli d’uovo con lo zucchero, i semi di vaniglia e l’amido. Mettete la panna e il latte in una casseruola e portate vicino alla ebollizione quindi aggiungete i tuorli montati e aspettate che si rialzi la temperatura.  Quando la panna ricomincerà a bollire, togliete la casseruola dal fuoco e montate bene la crema pasticcera con la frusta.

Procedimento per la crostata alle pesche

  • 5 -6 Pesche gialle, lavate.
  1. Foderate una teglia imburrata con la pasta frolla stesa.
  2. Bucherellate la superficie e cuocete n forno a 180° per circa 15 minuti quindi togliete dal forno e lasciate freddare.
  3. Aggiungete la crema pasticciera per distribuita sul fondo e le pesche tagliate e private del nocciolo.
  4. Rimettete in forno e proseguite la cottura a 160° per circa 20 minuti fino a doratura.

Fate freddare la crostata e spolveratela di zucchero a velo vanigliato.  Guarnite con foglioline di menta

Allora… non dimenticate di essere creativi!  Una volta che hai la Pasta Frolla e la Crema Pasticcera fatta… il resto sta a voi!

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 […]

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 […]

Torta di Mele – Italian Apple Custard Tart

Torta di Mele – Italian Apple Custard Tart

Every bakery and every Nonna in Italy will bake a version of this, and it’s a marriage made in heaven when you combine pastry, custard and apples.  Serve it warm with a generous scoop of vanilla gelato for the ultimate dessert fix.  Don’t worry if you don’t have an Italian Nonna to make it for you because this recipe will show you just how easy it is to put together.

I suggest doing this recipe over two days.  If you can make the pastry and the custard the day before, putting this Apple Custard Tart together will be much easier and cause less stress the next day.

Pastry

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g cold butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. For the pastry, add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until a dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead a little and form into a flat disc adding extra flour if dough is too sticky.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, although I prefer to let it chill overnight.

Custard Filling

  • 500ml milk
  • 100g egg yolk (I used 5)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch salt
  1. Put the egg yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Add two thirds of the sugar and beat until pale and foamy.  Meanwhile, slice the vanilla bean in two, scrape the seeds with  sharp knife and add them to the egg and sugar mixture.  Lower speed and incorporate the cornflour and salt.
  2. Put milk in a heavy based saucepan with remaining sugar and vanilla bean on medium heat.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer, paying attention not to let it boil, remove from heat.   
  4. Add egg yolk mixture to the hot milk, return saucepan to a low heat and whisk by hand continuously.  The custard will thicken quickly, and it will take less than a minute to cook.
  5. Transfer the custard into a glsss bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Ensure that it adheres well to the surface   to prevent any air forming a skin on top.
  6. Allow to cool and refrigerate until you are ready to use it for the tart.

Remaining Ingredients

  • 4 large apples (Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 Savoiardi biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • Apricot jam (clear apricot, not jam with fruit pieces)
  1. Remove pastry from fridge and knead it with some extra flour.  It might feel wet and sticky, but don’t worry, just keep kneading with some flour until you are happy you can roll it out.  Roll out and line a 26cm diam tart tin.  Trim border of excess pastry, poke holes over the base with a fork, and refrigerate until it’s ready to be filled.
  2. Peel apples.  Slice in quarters, and then cut slices trying to maintain the same thickness for each.  Keep apple slices together in a bowl and sprinkle with a ittle lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
  3. Crush Savoiardi biscuits roughly and sprinkle over base of pastry shell. (They help to soak up any excess juice or moisture).
  4. Spread custard on top of Savoiardi, and smooth as evenly as possible.
  5. Arrange apples to cover custard surface.  Sprinkle with caster sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Bake at 180°C for 50min – 1 hour, or until the pastry and the apples are golden.
  7. Remove from oven.  Heat Apricot jam and brush lightly over top.
  8. Serve warm with vanilla gelato.  Can also be enjoyed cold, and will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

If you have left over pastry, you can make mini tarts.  I managed to make 3 individual tarts.

 

TORTA DI MELE

Pastry Frolla

  • 300g farina
  • 150g burro freddo
  • 100g zucchero semolato
  • 2 uova + 1 tuorlo
  • scorza di 1 limone
  1. Aggiungere tutti gli ingredienti a un robot da cucina e mescolare fino a formare una palla.  Rovesciarla e con un pò di farina, impastare un po.  Formare in un disco piatto.   Avvolgere in carta pellicola e refrigerare per almeno 30 minuti, anche se preferisco lasciarlo raffreddare durante la notte.

Crema Pasticcera

  • 500ml di latte
  • 100g di tuorli d’uova (io ne ho usato 5 tuorli)
  • 100g di zucchero
  • 40g farina di mais
  • 1 baccello di vaniglia
  1. Versare i tuorli alla ciotola della planetaria, e unire 2/3 dello zucchero.  Montare a velocità sostenuta fino a quando avete un composto chiaro e spumoso. Nel frattempo recuperare i semini dal baccello di vaniglia e aggiungere al composto di uova e zucchero.
  2. Trasferire il latte e il baccello della vaniglia in una casseruola dal fondo spesso, aggiungere lo zucchero messo da parte e scaldare bene il latte, ma senza fargli raggiungere il bollore.
  3. Una volta che i tuorli e lo zucchero saranno belli gonfi, abbassare velocità della planetaria ed incorporare la farina di mais e il sale.
  4. Aggiungere la miscela di tuorlo d’uovo al latte caldo,  e mantenendo  basso il livello di calore e sbatterci manualmente con una frusta.  La crema pasticcera si addenserà velocemente e occorrerà meno di un minuto per cuocere.
  5. Trasferire velocemente la crema in una pirofila o in un altro contenitore, e coprirla con carta pellicola a contatto, facendola aderire bene in modo che non entri aria e non si formi la pellicina.
  6. Lasciare raffreddare e refrigerare fino a quando non si sarà pronti ad utilizzarlo per la torta di mela.

Altri Ingredienti

  • 4 grandi mele (Granny Smith o Pink Lady)
  • 1 cucchiaio di succo di limone
  • 5 Savoiardi
  • 1 cucchiaio di zucchero
  • Pizzico di cannella
  • gelatina di albicocche
  1. Lavorare la pasta frolla con la farina per compattarla e stenderla in forma circolare fino ad uno spessore di circa 5 mm.
  2. Adagiare la sfoglia di pasta nello stampo di diametro di 26cm, e forare la pasta frolla con una forchetta. Eliminare l’eccesso di pasta e metterlo in frigorifero.
  3. Nel frattempo preparare le mele, pelandole, tagliandole in quarti, e poi in fettine uniformamente uguale.  Per non farle annerire è consigliabile irrorarle con il succo di limone.
  4. Togliere lo stampo dal frigorifero e distribuire sulla pasta frolla i savoiardi sbriciolati.
  5. Farcire la pasta frolla con la crema pasticcera, livellandola bene e poi disporre le mele per coprire la superficie della crema.
  6. Cospargere sullo strato di fettine di mele lo zucchero e la cannella, in modo da farle colorire e allo stesso tempo profumare la torta.
  7. Infornare la torta di mele con pasta frolla e crema pasticcera in forno caldo a 180°C per circa 50 minuti o finchè la pasta frolla e le mele sono dorate.
  8. Una volta che la torta sarà cotta, lasciarla raffreddare per circa 30min, sformarla e pennellarla con la gelatina di albicocche molto calda, in modo da renderla lucida.
  9. Servire caldo con gelato alla vaniglia. Può anche essere gustato a freddo.  In frigorifero si conserva per circa 3 giorni.
  10. Se hai la pasta frolla avanzata, puoi fare mini torte di mele, o mini crostate.  Io sono riuscito a fare 3 torte di mele individuali.

Sformato di Asparagi  –  Asparagus Flan

Sformato di Asparagi – Asparagus Flan

  Spring in Italy means it’s time to take advantage of wonderful new seasonal vegetables and the markets just happen to be overflowing with beautiful bunches of Asparagus at the moment!  I love to eat Asparagus with a crunchy bite to it, so if the Asparagus spears are […]