KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN
Taking the biscuit
With over 100 pieces on display in the Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition at London’s V&A from fashion houses such as Valentino, Gucci and Sorelle Fontana it really is a feast for the eyes. I thought I would show my appreciation for such sumptuous glamour with some hopefully equally sumptuous biscuits.
For the perfect icing for this effect mix 225g sifted icing sugar with 1 large egg white and 1tsp cooled boiled water. For this ‘flooding technique’ you’ll need to pipe a boarder and allow to dry. Add a few drops of water to the remaining icing and spoon into middle, then gently push the icing to the edges with the back of the spoon.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 at V&A Museum, SW7, 5th April – 27th July, £13.50 per adult. Museum photo: Lefteris Pitarakisi
Giving the British asparagus season an Italian welcome with a deliciously simple and creamy Parmigiano Reggiano sauce.
Asparagus with poached eggs and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce
Melt 25g unsalted butter in a small heavy based saucepan over a medium-low heat. Stir in 1tsp flour and whisk in 100ml milk until the sauce has thickened and become glossy. Stir through 50g cream cheese, 30g grated Parmigiano Reggiano and 1/2tsp lemon zest. Drizzle over blanched asparagus spears topped with a poached egg. Season, sprinkle over a little parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings. Serves 2.
Recipe courtesy of Parmigiano Reggiano
Top 3 Asparagus facts
The British asparagus season runs from April – June (short but sweet).
The levels of vitamin C & E in this green beauty make it great for skin, nails and hair.
Gently bend an asparagus spear and it will snap at the exact point that needs to be trimmed off.
London marathon 2014
Not me this year, I’ll leave that to Mo Farah and the other 36,000 amazing people that took part. Instead I’ll tell you about my Carrotathon 2014. It started with the perils of online shopping, I thought I’d clicked on 3 carrots and instead got 3 x 1kg bags! So 4 dishes and 4hrs 15 mins later, I’d made Carrot and coriander falafels, Potato and carrot rosti, Carrot cake, and Beef and cider pie (with carrots). As it was the pie that got Giuseppe jumping-for-joy, telling me we must invite The Italians over and give them THIS pie and we must cook it for everyone for Easter, I thought this was the one that needed to be shared.
The filling does simmer away for 3hrs, so it’s not a quick one but well worth the wait. Or if you’re Mo you can run 1 and half marathons (!) while you wait.
Beef & cider pie
Prep: 20 mins (plus cooling time)
Cook: approx 3hrs 40 mins
600g braising steak, cubed
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2tbsp plain flour
300ml red wine
500ml beef stock (made with 1 stock cube)
For the pastry
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
1 In a large saucepan melt 50g of the butter and allow to brown slightly. Add the braising steak to brown, stirring occasionally. Once browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2 Add the carrots, onion and remaining butter to the pan and cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Return the meat to the pan, with any juices. Coat the meat and the vegetables with the flour and stir to coat, season to taste, then add the cider, red wine and beef stock and mix well. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 3 hours, until the meat is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Spoon into a 23cm deep pie dish and place a pie funnel in the centre.
3 Meanwhile make the pastry, put the flour in a food processor with the butter and whizz to form a breadcrumb-like mixture, add 2tbsp cold water, the mixture should bind together to form a dough, add a little extra water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead, wrap in cling film and chill until needed.
4 Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas 6. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a thick round big enough to cover your pie dish. Make a cross in the centre so the pastry slips over the pie funnel.
5 Brush the lip of the pie dish with the egg, then cover with the pastry lid. Trim the edges, crimp the pastry, then brush with plenty of egg wash. Bake for 25 – 30 mins until golden.
After you’ve cooked the filling and made the pastry, you can freeze them for up to 1 month (be sure to finish up that wine and grab yourself a glass!). Defrost overnight in the fridge and continue with step 4.
Italian classic or Britalian twist… you decide!
Illustration @lineoriginals on Instagram
Butter two medium slices of Farmhouse white bread, pile the Caprese salad into the sandwich (with the buttered sides on the outside). Pop into your sandwich toaster and cook until golden or pop under the grill, turning once, until the bread is toasted and golden on both sides and the mozzarella has melted.
Sandwich toasters have reached a whole other level – look out for Panini presses, some include a floating hinge – ideal for both a cheeky Italian ciabatta or doorstep slices of the great British bloomer.
Food news next week… possibly now consumed in more British households than Italian – pesto put to the test.