Bubbles, bubbles everywhere!

It’s all Ok Prosecco isn’t going anywhere!

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Well I met the wine-man himself and I don’t know what possessed me (probably 2 glasses of pink British bubbly and a glass of Greenock shiraz) but I attempted to ask the God of wine writers, Hugh Johnson, about a British equivalent to replace Prosecco, especially as I’d heard us Brits were drinking the region dry. He gave me a sympathetic look of, ‘Dear girl, it’s all ok’ and reassured me, ‘There’s quite a way to go’.

Our brainstorm (ok our two minute chat, ok me rambling to him about British bubbles -allow me a little indulgence), left me thinking perhaps Prosecco isn’t going anywhere but there’s some worthy homegrown fizz to check out to shake up the Prosecco scene (see below). As I was about to leave he said, ‘or pink Prosecco?’ Now there’s a thought. Take a good thing and turn it pink! I think he’s onto something.

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Eco bubbles
‘Herbert Hall, Kent, One of few organic wine growers making good (if quite dry, high-acid) sparkling from Champagne varieties.* Click here for stockists.

Pink

‘Hush Heath Estate, Kent, One of England’s best. Impressive vinyards near Staplehurst, only Champagne varieties’*. Their Balfour brut rose gets a ‘best’ in Hugh Johnson’s pocket wine book and I believe this fizz is the culprit for leading me to ask the man himself for a selfie. £35.99, available from Waitrose

Quality and quantity

‘Bolney wine estate, West Sussex, Est 1972, now 2nd generation making good sparkling and still’*. Go large, the magnum of Blanc de Blanc 09 with 5 yrs bottle age makes it into Hugh’s recommendations. Easier to get hold of is the 2010, £26.99 from www.bolneywineestate.com

HUGH’S BOOK

For endless sparkles of wine-wisdom and a charming read for any food and wine lover, delve into Hugh Johnson on Wine, Good bits from 55 years of wine scribbling, RRP £20.

*Quote from, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2017, RRP £11.99. A must for those in the trade.

SSSsssshh! SHOOT SECRETS

What can I say, any form of fizz doesn’t hang around long in Britalian Kitchen. Bring in the cold tea, soda water, tonic (that I found under the stairs) , a straw and Alka-seltzer:

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Tomato update!

Elena crop

So back in May while Elena got more cuddles than the most cuddled person ever. I jumped to work to help Uncle Mario plant the tomato seedlings. I have no idea why, but this caused  much amusement amongst Giuseppe’s family (probably something along the lines of….’crazy English woman – she’s meant to be relaxing’).

Tomato plants

I pushed in the holes using a homemade wooden planter tool-thingy. I don’t know a lot about gardening (as you may have guessed) but he must have turned the earth religiously as it was really easy – super satisfying work.

I was thinking I was doing him a massive favour, when I was called for, ‘Latte! Latte!’ – unfortunately not as in the Costa-type but as in to feed the bambino. I told him I’d be back in 10 minutes. I came running back to find he’d finished. Not sure he really needed any of my ‘help’.

Anyway we’ve had an update! I think it means the plants are doing well!

Check out Mama Romeo’s recipe for Simple Italian tomato salad

 

 

 

Peas and cheese please!

What! The tomato field is bare?! Usually a visit to Italy in balmy August or September means Mama Romeo’s and Uncle Mario’s tomatoes are deep red and ripe for the picking. We went in May this year and I was too busy counting nappies and packing porridge to think about the change of seasons.

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As tomatoes are the King of summer in Italy, peas are where it’s at in Spring. I would love to poetically say, we ate all the fresh flavours of Spring and nibbled on freshly podded raw peas and broad beans but the Italian’s know better than that, there was also an abundance of …. cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese! Most likely because they think it’s bloody cold in May! (us Brits were in shorts and T-shirts – but that’s a whole other post).

So I slurped up broth-style pea soups, and gorged on omelettes – loaded with stringy mozzarella and hot deep-fried potato polpette – loaded with er… stringy mozzarella!

This was one of my favourite dishes  – so simple but oh so tasty (serve with plenty of Parmesan!)

Pasta e piselli

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
350g fresh or frozen peas
Small bunch parsley, chopped
350g pasta shells (a few peas will fall into some of the shells – like they’re in a little pod of pasta! Little things…)
4 slices prosciutto
Grated Parmesan, to serve

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1 Heat the olive oil over a medium-low heat, add the onion and cook until softened. Stir through the peas and add 1 L of boiling water. Return to the boil, then add the pasta.

2 Simmer for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Stir occasionally (add a little more boiling water and loosely cover if the liquid is evaporating too quickly). One minute before the end of cooking time, stir through most of the parsley. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3 Meanwhile, cook the prosciutto (in batches if necessary). Place a dry griddle-pan over a medium heat, add the prosciutto and cook for 3-5 minutes until darkened and crispy.

4 Ladle the pasta, peas and broth into 4 bowls, sprinkle generously with the Parmesan, top with the crispy prosciutto and garnish with the remaining parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 sizzlers for a British heatwave!

Hot! Hot! Hot! If you’re feeling the heat… eat, drink and get creative!

1 Affogato 

The Italians perfect it again, combining two quality ingredients for the ultimate cool down pick-me-up or super sleek cheats dessert. Pour espresso over a scoop of luxury vanilla ice-cream. Best served in a little glass with a teeny spoon.

2 Pimm’s ice-lolly

Ok I’m far too impatient to wait for my lollies to freeze and photograph a sexy, drippy shot (I want this out before the sun goes in!). So enjoy the art!

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3 Kiwifruit gets it’s summer hat on!

This blingy variety of Kiwifruit – SunGold, is the perfect snack for when you need to get out of the door – the skin is smooth enough to eat! It contains about 3 times more vitamin C than an orange, for a healthy weekend breakfast try this SunGold kiwifruit, coconut and granola breakfast pot;

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Blitz 2 peeled and chopped SunGold kiwifruit in a blender until smooth, place 30g of your favourite granola in a glass, spoon over a pot of coconut yogurt, top with the kiwifruit and decorate with toasted coconut flakes.

Available from May through to September in Waitrose,Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and M&S.

4 Aperol spritz

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Always keep a bottle of Aperol and a small bottle of soda water in the cupboard for an unexpected heat wave when, shock-horror, you haven’t chilled the Prosecco! This little cocktail, usually drank as aperitif in Italy, is mixed over ice. Gorgeous on a summer’s evening with a few nibbles! Fill a large wine glass with ice, add 75ml of Prosecco, 50ml Aperol and a dash of soda. Garnish with a slice of orange.

5 Seaside cake

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Baking may be the last thing you want to do when it’s baking! But when you’ve got a super cool design like this it might be worth taking on the extra heat. For a smaller project (great for kids in summer holidays!) simply make the ice-cream cone cupcakes. To scale down the cake mix use 175g butter, 175g caster sugar, 3 large eggs and 175g self-raising flour.  You should have enough for around 10-12 cones. For the full recipe visit Homemade with Sainsbury’s & The Huffington Post

6 New drink alert!

cranes

Cambridge twins Dan & Ben Ritsema invented this red-hot drink. Whilst at uni, they enjoyed an alchololic beverage or two (!) but wondered if it was possible to make a healthier alternative? They loved cranberry juice for its health benefits, so tried fermenting cranberries to make a cranberry ‘cider’ and that was the beginning of Cranes! Original cranberry available from Ocado  three bottles for £5. Visit drinkcranes for more info.

JUST EAT Food Fest 

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Pulled pork from Whaam Banhi

Even one of the world’s leading digital marketplaces for takeaway food is telling us to go out and eat in the sun! A celebration of world cuisine, visitors are invited to try three dishes for £8 (or £4 each) from the pop-up street food vendors. Just a handful include Italian Pizza from Sapore Vero, Jerk Chicken from Panda Berry, Caramelised Pork Belly Rice Bowl from Whaam Banh Mi and Strawberry Cheesecake flavour doughnuts from Dum Dum Donutterie. With live music and DJs. Visit www.just-eat.co.uk/london/foodfest for more info.

 

 

 

 

WWW: Wonderful world of weaning

 

We’ve gone for baby-led weaning* in a big way in our house. Good food, one meal for everyone with as little effort as possible. Yes please!

HOLIDAY FUN!

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On a recent trip to Italy Elena caused quite a stir. She became known as, ‘The baby that eats everything!’ and ‘The baby that feeds herself!’ Baby-led weaning hasn’t quite hit remote towns in Southern Italy. As she picked up strips of frittata, I was met with a few ‘Madonna! Madonna’s!’ and looks of utter horror but, to my relief, it changed throughout the two weeks to amazement, and utter pride from Nonna. Elena even started to get an audience. She didn’t seem to mind (or should I say notice – she was too busy eating!).

RECIPE

I can’t get enough of Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett’s The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook . The recipes are fantastic but it’s also great if you’re creating your own and want to check if a certain ingredient is ok.

Here’s their Simple broccoli quiche.

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1 medium head broccoli (florets only)
250g shortcrust pastry (see Cook’s Tip)/ or use a readymade pastry case
1 small onion
3 grilled rashers of bacon, chopped (optional)
50-100g grated cheese (according to taste)
3 eggs
115ml (4floz) milk
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5. Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam or boil for 2 minutes until just tender and drain.

2 To prepare your pastry case, either line a 23cm (9in) lightly greased pie/tart tin with pastry (or use a readymade pastry case). Spread the onion in the bottom of the pastry case. Add the broccoli (and bacon, if using) and sprinkle half of the cheese over it.

3 Beat together the eggs and milk and add the black pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onion, broccoli and cheese, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. (The egg mixture should come at least 3 quarters of the way up the pastry case. If it doesn’t add another egg, beaten with 2tbsp milk)

4 Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the egg is cooked through (test with a skewer) and the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm, sliced or in fingers, with new potatoes and either salad, green beans or asparagus for a main meal, or eat it cold for a light lunch.

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Cook’s Tip

I also like to use ready-rolled pastry for this too. To make the pastry from scratch use 85g diced butter, 165g plain flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Using a cold blunt knife, stir in 1-2 tbsp water a few drops at a time with a criss-cross cutting motion. Stop when the mixture starts to clump together. Gather into one lump and knead it lightly for a few seconds, until it forms a dough.

*Here’s a PDF from the NHS website about weaning – it includes a small paragraph on baby-led weaning. There’s a little more detailed info about it here on the NCT website.

 

 

Pizza sweetie?

How could I walk past this ‘sweet’ pizza in Poundland? And in its own mini takeaway box!

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To make me feel better about scoffing all those sweets and to balance up the naff/cool stakes – here’s a super trendy starter just crying out to be served up in those pizza boxes.

Cauliflower crust mini pizzas

Whizz the florets (about 600g) of 1 medium cauliflower in a food processor until it is a breadcrumb consistency. Microwave, covered, on high for 7-8 mins. Cool. Mix in 125g grated mozzarella, 3tbsp grated Parmesan. Pat into 6 x 6′ rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180ºC, 160ºC fan, gas 4 for 18-22 mins until golden. Spread 1/2tbsp pasata over each base. Top with torn mozzarella and black olives. Turn up the oven to 220ºC, 200ºC, fan 6. Bake for a further 10 mins. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Leave for 10 mins to cool slightly. Use a pallet knife to remove from the sheets.

Cook’s Tip

These will last for up to 3 days in the fridge, warm through for 10 mins before serving.

Loved-up syllabubs!

Yay! Shiny chocolate hearts – nailed! Oh Mr Paul Hollywood I am in love with your method for tempering chocolate. So simple, so clear.

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Tempering chocolate

‘Break 150g/5½oz of the plain chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 47C/115F (use a kitchen thermometer to check). Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining 50g/1¾oz of chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled to 31C/90F.’ From the Great British Bake Off, ‘Chocolate Creation Showstopper’ cake.

For Loved-up syllabubs:

Coat silicone heart moulds with tempered chocolate. Chill until set. Remove and fill with strawberry flavoured syllabub. Use a turkey baster to inject a little fruit coulis into the centre of each, cover with a little more strawberry syllabub. Invert and serve with a small glass of lemon syllabub and fresh strawberries. Decorate with fresh mint sprigs.

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#39 FOOD NEWS: Cup di plastica yogurt cake

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Italian houses love a bit of plastic tableware. During our recent visit-ette to Italy, my mother and sister in-law showed me the best use for it yet.

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This cake is pure genius. Simple measuring, no creaming and perfect results.

3 eggs
2 plastic cups sugar
3 plastic cups plain flour, sifted
1 plastic cup ‘seed’ oil such as sunflower, corn or maise
1 sachet Paneangeli lievito pane degli angeli (see GIVEAWAY!)
1 banana yogurt (or flavour of your choice)
Icing sugar, for dusting
Nutella/ strawberry jam, optional (see Britalian Tip)

1 Preheat the oven to 180’C, 160’C fan, gas 4. Grease and line a 23 cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

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2 Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until well combined.

3 Add the flour and sachet of Leiveto. Whisk at a low speed until combined. Add the oil, whisk at a low speed until combined.

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4 Stir through the yogurt. Spoon into the lined cake tin.

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Bake for 20-25 mins, until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.

5 Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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Britalian Tip

Serve Romeo style, ‘as you wish’ with a jar of Nutella and a jar of strawberry jam. Guests can cut a slice and have it plain or decide how they fill it. My 9 year old nephew with an air of Italian sophistication went ‘solo torta’. I rammed mine with Nutella (it did go rather well with the banana).

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GIVEAWAY!

‘The yeast of bread angels’ I have 10 sachets to giveaway! I’ll pop a sachet in the post to the first 10 readers to email me, angela.romeo@britaliankitchen.com with the subject ‘I’m a bread Angel!’ Include address in body of email (available to UK addresses only I’m afraid).