#31 Food news: The best Italian deli in London

Forget gold rings – the real diamond of Hatton Gardens sits proudly at the top of Leather Lane like the crown jewels.

parma ham

Step out of the rain and into the sunshine! I used to work around the corner from Terroni & Son’s deli. In the heart of London’s Italian community – it was always a great place to have a browse, sometimes I’d even go in and get a coffee just for an excuse to stare at the Italian products and produce!

Shop

The perfect way to transport your mind to sunny, relaxing, Italian-Mamma-food-filled holidays in Italy: the rows of lemoncello, the hanging Parma ham (even if they are plastic – British health and safety at work I presume – rest assured the real McCoy are under the counter), the regional wine, steaming vats of pasta and the bowls of olives all help to give you that holiday feeling!

Open since 1878, London’s oldest delicatessen has just won the status as UK Parma Ham Specialist 2013, with Aldo Zilli presenting the award.

Aldo zilli

Of course this was celebrated in Italian style with more Parma ham canapés than you can imagine and some top-notch Prosecco!

Canapes

Go ‘ave a butchers! Terroni and Sons, 138-140 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1R 5DL  (great for those on engagement ring hunts, when it’s all too much drop in for a coffee or a bottle of Lemoncello – depending on how much you’ve spent!)

TOP 6 EASY PARMA HAM CANAPES 

1 Fig, Parmigiano and Parma ham wraps

Cut 12 slices of Parma ham in half lengthways. Wrap 12 fig halves in a strip of Parma ham. Top each with 1tbsp of grated Parmigiano cheese. Then wrap with the remaining Parma ham. Grill for 3-4 mins.

2 Parma prawns with mango salsa

Mix 1 ripe chopped mango, a small handful of finely chopped cucumber and 3 tbsp coriander. Fill 6 dessert spoons or ceramic soup spoons with the mixture. Top with prawns wrapped in Parma ham.

3 Tomato and Parma ham bruschetta

Drizzle 6 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes. Grill for 1-2 mins. Serve topped with Parma ham

4 Parma ham, avocado and goats cheese

Drizzle 8 slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French bread with olive oil. Top with a slice of avocado, crumbled goats cheese, basil and a slice of Parma ham

5 Melon and Parma ham sticks

Cut 1/2 honeydew melon into 2cm cubes, wrap the cubes in thin strips of Parma ham. Secure with a cocktail stick.

6 Ricotta, pesto and Parma ham blinis (pictured above)

Top 12 blinis with a little ricotta and pesto. Finish with basil leaves and Parma ham.

Visit prosciuttodiparma.com for lots of delicious Parma ham recipes (not just canapés!)

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#30 Food News: Britalian Kitchen opens its doors to Hersham’s answer to Posh & Becks!

Every monday

I like to go for a menu that I know means I can enjoy the party (well a good old catch-up with our mates Nic & Dave – who happen to look a bit like posh and Becks). Who wants to be running out to attend to a flaming souffle or cracked Macarons? Definitely not me.

nic and dave - crop

 

Britalian Kitchen’s crispy mushrooms with Italian flag dip

This is what is what I’m talking about. Prepare the pea dip ahead. Everything else takes minutes to prepare and cook when you need them

Jamie’s Hunter’s chicken stew

As the man himself says, ‘It looks after itself in the oven.’ Always a winning attribute for me when having guests.

Ingredients - strip1

2 kg chicken jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
1/2 a bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives stoned
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes

1 Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed garlic clove of garlic cover with the wine and leave to marinade for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Chicken legs

2 Preheat your oven to 180’C/ 350’F/ gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off the excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over [I didn’t have a large enough flameproof oven pan, so I transferred the meat into saucepans for this stage] and put to one side.

chicken hob crop

3 Place the pan [or the largest saucepan you have] back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, the add the achovies, olives and tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness of foil [or bring to the boil, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with the foil] and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

chicken cooked

4 Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir to taste and add a little salt and pepper if neccessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad [and bread for mopping up all those lovely juices!], or some cannellini beans, and plenty of Chianti.

Recipe: Pollo alla cacciatora from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver

Britalian kitchen’s cheat’s panacotta with couture chocolate curls

And for dessert, another one to prepare ahead. Just whip them out when you’re ready [the desserts!].

#27 FOOD NEWS: Recipes that rock with Blur’s Alex James

Every monday

Rock and cheese roll?

After  swapping rock and roll for making artisan, award winning, cheese. The bassist from Blur, Alex James has now teamed up with Australian chef, Matt Stone, for a second series of Recipes that Rock. There’s some humdingers (I think that’s good) as they travel across the Great Southern area of Australia. The ricotta, chilli and avocado combo was calling me with this little number – perfect for brunch with a kick:

Avocado, ricotta, fried egg & spelt flatbread

Final

Serves 4 with 6 flatbreads leftover (Note re. my pics: I halved everything to serve 2 then had 3 flatbreads leftover for lunches).

strip

For the flatbread
1.5kg spelt flower
900ml water
30g yeast
35g salt
2 tbsp flakey salt
Olive oil

Steps 1

1 Warm the water to be at blood temperature, then add the yeast and dissolve. Mix in the flour and 35g salt.

steps 2

2 Gather together, turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is silky. Place the dough into a bowl and leave to prove in a warm place for 40mins.

steps 3

3 Knock back the dough and portion into 10 balls, slightly smaller than a tennis ball.
Roll the balls out to circles about 1cm thick. Brush with olive oil and season with flaky salt. Cook on a chargrill [or griddle pan if it’s October and Blighty!] for about 5 mins each side.

For the avocado mix
4 avocados, peeled and chopped
250g ricotta
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to serve (optional)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
1 cup mixed herbs: dill, parsley and mint, chopped
Olive oil
4 eggs

1 Place the avocado into a mixing bowl with the ricotta, chilli, lemon zest and juice and the herbs and mix well. Set aside.

chilli

2 Fry the eggs to your liking. Place 4 flatbreads on 4 plates. Make sure the avocado mix is seasoned with salt and olive oil, then spoon onto the flatbreads. Place a fried egg on top of each and serve with lemon wedges.  Serve with a side of chill (if using).

Britalian tip

No time to bake bread? Try serving on warmed sundried tomato ciabatta rolls. A match made in heaven. Available at Morrison’s for 35p each.

alt bread

For more Alex James & Matt Stone recipes tune into Recipes that Rock on Food Network UK, Freeview 41, freesat 149, Ski 248, Virgin 287.

#26 FOOD NEWS: Curry week meets chocolate week!

Every monday
We’re not only celebrating one of the nation’s favourite cuisines this week (besides Italian!) with National Curry Week but Chocolate Week also now joins this mid-October party! Here’s my 3-step Britalian guide to making this the hybrid week of all weeks.

1. THE RECIPE

Fruity chocolate ‘pizza’

pizza crop

Pizza gets a chocolate make-over! A delicate chocolate shortbread base, topped with sweetened mascarpone and piled high with fruit will guarantee smiles all round.

strip ingred

125g butter, softened
4 tbsp clear honey
50g caster sugar
150g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
250g tub mascarpone
142ml double cream
500g chopped and sliced mixed fruit (such as strawberries, kiwi, nectarines, banana – tossed in lemon juice and blackberries).
50g dark chocolate, melted

1 Preheat the oven to 180’C, 160’C fan, gas 4. For the base, beat together the butter and 2tbsp of the honey and the sugar until creamy. Sift over the flour and cocoa powder.

strip 1

2 Stir with a fork until the mixture starts to stick together. Gather the mixture together with your fingertips to form a ball of dough.

dough

3 Place the dough on a large sheet of baking parchment. Roll out to a 30 cm circle. Prick the dough all over with a fork, cut into 6 segments. Lift the baking parchment on to a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 mins until just firm to the touch; cool.

4 For the topping, place the mascarpone, cream and honey in a bowl; stir until smooth. Spread the mixture over the base. Arrange the prepared fruit on top; drizzle with melted chocolate. Serve within 2 hours.

2. THE BOOK

Cover

Whenever I’m with Southern Italians there’s always chilli oil, dried chilli or chilli powder to hand to sprinkle over anything and everything in front of you. So it wasn’t a surprise when I introduced Giuseppe to the great British tradition of an Indian take-away 9 years ago, you could see a spark of delight and hungry discovery in his eyes.

curry book

The beautiful book; Curry recipe collection by Sainsbury’s, is now firmly one of my favourite cookery books (although as the food editor I might be a teeny weeny bit biased!). Next time the Italians are over I’ll be making the chicken jalfrezi followed by the tropical pannacotta with coconut snaps. I will still, of course, have extra chilli to hand! Available in Sainsbury’s stores for £5.

3. WEAR THE T-SHIRT (Or couture dress!)

CHOCOLATE FASHION SHOW

Love chocolate? Now you can wear it! Stunning couture outfits inspired by chocolatiers such as Lindt, Paul A Young and Fruitful Blooms will be on the runway for the gala evening of  The Chocolate Show on the 16th October.

From the 17th-19th garments will be on display at the Olympia show in a dedicated exhibition from 5pm.

http://www.salonduchocolat.co.uk

CREDITS: Curry book photography; Jonathan Kennedy. I can’t claim the pizza recipe as my own, I tore the original version from Bella mag years ago – it’s an oldie but a goodie!

#25 FOOD NEWS: Cake & bake show, pork loin makeover and coffee machine mania!

Every monday
Top 3 Britalian finds: Cake & Bake show 2014

Cake and bake show banner

1: Choco passion – made in Italy

chocolate tools

Looking more like the rusty contents of a tool box, but with the crisp, crack of superior chocolate – a winning combo that screams, ‘Christmas pressie for dad sorted!’ A small spanner costs £2.99. www.chocopassionuk.com

2: Pig in the middle

Sausage rolls

The ‘Mediterranean plait’ sitting next to an ‘All day breakfast’ sausage roll at the Pig in the middle stand was enough to send my Britalian radar into overdrive. A fab savoury stand – great for balancing out the sugar high!

3: Sweet as sugar cakes

sweet sugar cakes crop

I fell totally head-over-heels for the Sweet as sugar cakes business cards – especially as there was one with a cakey-version of my favourite fictional Italian stallion (!), Rocky Balboa. With a Rocky-themed hen night to my name,  I’m now thinking my wedding cake could have been very different if I’d seen this a couple of years ago! Probably lucky I didn’t.

http://www.thecakeandbakeshow.co.uk/london/

Coffee machine mania

Coffee banner

So we’ve finally given in and bought a Magimix Nespresso machine but I wasn’t bargaining on along with the deal of £120 for the machine, 16 pods and a milk frother I would also get an obsession with coffee machines in general!

A must-see for…erm…other coffee machine lovers is the coffee machine at Cafe Vergnano 1882 on the Southbank. It looks like the Ferrari of coffee machines. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. A stylish coffee bar with a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. And the coffee ain’t bad either! Well worth a visit.

Pork loin make-over: Pork valdostana

final pork - crop

Always up for a double whammy of pork – this recipe of pork loin wrapped in Parma ham, served with English garden runner beans (fresh from the freezer from Mummy ‘E’s’ summer crop) topped-off this Britalian feast.

Ingredients banner

Serves: 4
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20-25 mins

1kg new potatoes, quartered
4 x 225g pork loins
8 slices Parma ham
Handful rosemary sprigs
4 thin slices of fontina cheese or Brie
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
25g butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp red wine
Runner beans, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal and steamed

1 Preheat the oven to 220’C, 200’C fan, gas 7.  Par-boil the potatoes for 7 mins until softened, drain and set aside. Meanwhile trim the loins of most of that fat. Flatten the meat slightly with a rolling pin.

Wrapping banner

2 Place 2 pieces of Parma ham, slightly over-lapping on a work-surface or chopping board. Top with a small sprig of rosemary and a piece of fontina cheese or Brie. Place the chop on top and wrap the the Parma ham around the pork loin. Repeat with the remaining loins. Pick the the leaves from the remaining rosemary and set aside.

3 Dust the pork loins in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. Put the loins in the butter, cheese-side down and cook for 1 min. Turn over and cook for a further 2 mins, until browned.

meat banner

4 Pour the red wine over the loins and bring to the boil. Transfer the contents of the pan to a small baking dish and cook in the oven for 15-20 mins until the pork is cooked through.

potatoes

5 Ten mins before the end of cooking time shallow fry the potatoes with the reserved rosemary leaves until the potatoes are crisp, golden and cooked through. Serve with the steamed runner beans and the pork with the juices spooned over the top.

#24 FOOD NEWS: London design festival, Take 3 ingredients, Weekend cherry tart

Every monday

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Design week strip

A buzzy atmosphere and an explosion of colour created a feast for the senses on a Wednesday night. Part of the London Design Festival, designjunction 2014  made the most of the impressive London Sorting Office with a vibrant exhibition showcasing both cutting-edge design and more traditional brands.

A couple of stands really caught my Britalian eye: Whitbread Wilkinson (designedincolour.com), with it’s colourful bright pink espresso pots and Beef Eater cup, bowl and plate sets – inspired by Disney’s  ‘It’s a Small World’ and the Waterford crystal stand where a craftsman sat quietly giving a live demonstration, creating a clear and sparkling piece using a diamond tipped wheel. Completely absorbed and deep in concentration, you would have thought he was in the calm surrounds of his Irish studio not a pulsating London exhibition! Totally inspiring.

www.thedesignjunction.co.uk

Take 3! Weekday tea: Cannelloni al forno

canelloni

When it’s all too much. Simply pour half a 350g tub essential Waitrose tomato & mascarpone sauce (£1.65) into the base of a small baking dish.

tomato and mascapone

Nestle Waitrose Spinach & ricotta cannelloni (£3.39) in the sauce, spoon over the remaining sauce.

Waitrose fresh pasta cannelloni spinach & ricotta

Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese and bake according to the cannelloni pack instructions.

Waitrose Davidstow Cornish mature Cheddar cheese, strength 5

Serves 2-3.

Weekend pud: Guten tag cherry tart

Guten tag cherry tart

Mixing up the fusion theme this weekend, my traditional shortcrust tart case held an Italian-style filling topped with Opies cherries: grown in Kent and soaked in German tipple, kirsch.

Ingredients strip

Serves: 6
Prep: 20 mins (plus chilling and cooling time)
Cook: 20 mins

175g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
250g ricotta cheese
3 tbsp icing sugar
300ml double cream
1/2 390g jar Opies cherries in kirsch, drained, kirsch reserved
15g flaked almonds, lightly toasted

1 For the pastry, sift the flour in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2 Add the egg yolks and 2tbsp cold water and stir with a fork. Bring it together with your hands to make a dough. Knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth. wrap in cling film and chill for 20 mins.

Pastry strip

3 Preheat the oven to 200’C, 180’C fan, gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a 20cm loose-based tart tin. Trim the edge and prick the base with a fork. Line with parchment and fill with baking beans and bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 mins until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

4 Meanwhile, make the filling, put the ricotta in a bowl with icing sugar and 4-6 tbsp of the reserved kirsch and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the cream into the ricotta mixture.

Filling steps strips

5 Spoon the ricotta filling into the pastry case and level the surface. Spoon the drained cherries over the top, then scatter over the almonds.

Cook’s tip

For a great shortcut, use ready made pastry. For an all-out cheat use a ready made tart case!

#22 FOOD NEWS: Pasta special; Step-by-step tagliatelle, Essential kit & Top 3 tips

Every monday

 

Tagliatelle

tag banner

Fancy making your own pasta? Mamma Romeo gave me a lesson in making tagliatelle, one of the most instantly satisfying pasta shapes to make  -no pasta machines needed here!

To serve 4

400g Tipo ’00’ flour
3 eggs (see Top tips)

1 Tip the flour into a large bowl or onto a large board, create a well in the centre and break the eggs into the well. Bring together with your fingertips or a wooden spatula, don’t be afraid – just really go for it! It will come together, once it resembles breadcrumbs, tip onto a wooden board or work surface (if you are using a bowl otherwise leave it where it is on the wooden board).

photo 1

2  Knead well, as you would with a bread dough, add a little water if necessary –  a couple of teaspoons at a time, keep the dough moving and turning, until it turns silky and smooth and not rough and floury, or as Mamma Romeo said, with a slap on the dough, ‘smooth like a bambino’s bottom!’

pasta crop

3 Flour the board, then using a large rolling pin, roll out the dough to the largest thinnest circle you can get, keep turning your circle and add more flour to prevent sticking if needed, use the rolling pin to help you lift the pasta if neccessary (if you don’t a have a huge Italian Mamma-style rolling pin, you can roll out lots of smaller pieces, your tagliatelle will just be shorter).

pasta cut

4 Dust a little flour over the surface of your pasta (here’s the best bit). Fold the pasta over like you would a Swiss roll, then simply cut 1cm slices from the shorter end. Gently raise and pull apart.

photo 3

5 Scatter the tagliatelle over a board covered with a clean T towel, dust with a little flour and leave to rest for 15-30 mins. Cook in salted boiling water for a few minutes. Serve simply with steaming hot passata and freshly grated Parmesan.

photo 5

Britalian Kitchen TOP 3 TIPS

1 Allow approx 100g flour per person, but if upping the flour for more people, Mamma  Romeo’s secret is not to increase the eggs to more than 3 instead add water until you have the right consistency.

2 To avoid a sticky mess, clean your pasta board with a metal scraper instead of using water (a new wallpaper scraper works perfectly! See below).

3 If you want to make life a little easier, you can whizz the flour and eggs in a food processor to get to the breadcrumb stage in step 1.

ESSENTIAL KIT

Brilliant board

aclk

This eco friendly wooden pastry board made from sustainable acacia wood  makes a good pasta board, at 56cm long it’s not quite as big as Mamma Romeo’s but it’s big enough to get some decent pasta out of it! £23.00 from www.woolworths.co.uk

Scraper secrets

stanley-pro-scale-tang-5558-101596

Perfect for not only cutting smaller pasta shapes but also great for cleaning down your pasta board.  £1.09 from www.toolbox.co.uk

The right rolling pin

Untitled

In Italy it’s a wooden rolling pin all the way but in the UK it’s a little more tricky to find a wooden rolling pin long enough, but as we have been cake crazy for a good few years polythene pins (ideal for rollling out sugar paste) are much easier to find. This 60cm one is great value at £12.52 from www.russums-shop.co.uk

#21 FOOD NEWS: Mamma Romeo’s tomatoes, Chicken & chips – Italian style! And learning the lingo

Every monday

Terrific tomatoes

Tomato story banner 1

An outstanding crop. The tomato season is in full-swing at Mamma Romeo’s house. Mummy ‘E’ came to Italy to view the competition this year…. oops sorry… to ‘visit’ this year.  Like me, she was completely in ore of how Mamma Romeo’s plants were all beautifully tied to canes and supports and dripping with ruby-red tomatoes. With the stunning back-drop of Pollino National Park – the whole sight is breathtaking.

Top tomato tip

Mamma Romeo says be careful not to over-water your plants, it’s fine for the ground to go a bit dry and let the leaves go a little droopy before you water them.

ttomato story banner 2

Simple Italian tomato salad 

For this Italian classic, make sure you get the best ingredients you possibly can to really taste the sunshine!

Sprinkle a pinch of coarsely ground salt over thickly sliced tomatoes, scatter over thinly sliced garlic and dried oregano. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil just before serving.

For Italian Tomato in London posts visit:

# 1 Food News
# 4 Food News
# 14 Food News
# 18 Food News

Chicken & chips – Italian style!

Chicken & chips banner

I obviously adore Italian food but when we went to a restaurant with Giuseppe’s mum and sister and I saw good ol’ chicken and chips on the menu, I couldn’t resist. I happily ordered, but then the owner came over with a sad look on his face – I knew what he was going to say…. ‘no chicken’. Instead I ordered the Wild boar pasta, which as a ‘foodie’ I probably should have ordered in the first place – it was divine – super rich and super delicious. What I didn’t realise was Mamma Romeo had her eye on the whole thing. The next day she cooked me chicken and chips her way. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven:

Britalian chicken & chips

Serves 4
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: Approx 40 mins

7-8tbsp olive oil
4 Italian sweet green peppers (or 2 x green capsicum), halved and deseeded
4 large (beef or plum) tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2tsp dried oregano
4 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
4 chicken escalopes
Juice from half a lemon (remaining half thickly sliced)
Mixed olives, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 180’C/ 160’C fan/ gas 4. Drizzle the peppers with 1tbsp of the olive oil and roast for 30 mins until lightly charred. Remove and roughly chop.

2 Meanwhile prepare the tomato salad (as above) using 1tbsp of the olive oil. Set aside.

3 When the peppers are nearly ready, place the potatoes in a pan of water and bring to the boil for 5 mins. Drain well. Heat 4-5tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep, non-stick frying pan, add the potatoes and chopped peppers and pan-fry, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins until the potatoes are lightly golden and cooked through.

4 Meanwhile heat 1tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan. Season the chicken escalopes and pan-fry with the lemon juice, for 2-3 mins each side, until cooked through (you may need to do this in batches). Add the lemon slices 2 mins before the end of cooking time. Serve with the potatoes, tomato salad and olives. Serve with crusty bread, if liked.

Alternative language lessons

Speak Italian

After our visit this year, I finally feel my understanding of Italian has improved. But what I now realise is that my numerous ‘Learn Italian’ books, CD’s, phone apps, online courses and DVDs aren’t quite giving me the conversational Italian I need when seeing the family. ‘Can I book a hotel room for one?’ really isn’t cutting it. So every now-and-then I’m going to post a really useful phrase that should help for my next visit. Please feel free to comment and post me your ‘alternative’ helpful phrases!

The real Italian phrase book: 

Entry 1:

How is it going with your tomatoes this year?

Come va’ con i tuoi pomodori quest’anno?

Photo: Cover of Speak Italian: The Fine Art of the Gesture (A great place to start when learning Italian). Available at Amazon.com 

 

#18 FOOD NEWS: Italian tomato in London update, Sai’s salsicce supper & celebrating Martini!

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

 

Italian tomato in London update

Tomato banner1

Off to Calabria next week I’ll be enjoying some stunning spots along the west coast, exploring the mountainous countryside and visiting a few augritourismo along the way but of course one of my biggest priorities will be checking out Mamma Romeo’s tomatoes! So it was only right that this weekend I catch up with the Italian tomatoes in London first – and what a stunning crop they are:

tomato banner 2

They’ve gone wild this past month. Mummy ‘E’s’ hard graft and dedication to watering the cause every single night has definitely paid off! With a gorgeous organic shape, they’re unripe at the moment but the stalks and leaves are giving off that gorgeous summer-tomato-foliage-smell that I would bottle if  I could – perhaps that’s just me?! At a plump and healthy 6cm, I can’t wait to see how the Italian tomatoes are getting on (again that’s probably just me).

For previous Italian Tomato in London posts:

#1 Food News
#4 Food News
#14 Food News

Sai’s salsicce e friarelli con patate al rosemarino pronto!

Sai's Supper2

When I met a bunch of crazy Italians in Chiswick over 10 years ago (one of which I married), I also met Sai, my fellow Englishman, who helped translate what the hell was going on when 5 Italians, all on their feet were deep in animated conversation. Like me, this rich culture  is now firmly in Sai’s blood and clearly so is the food with his delicious recreation of  this Naples classic:

sausage banner1

Serves 4
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 35 mins

For the patate al rosemarino (rosemary potatoes)
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1kg new potatoes, cut into pieces
1 (preferably red) onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic,  finely sliced
handful Rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
120g of pancetta (or streaky bacon)

For the salsicce e friarelli ( sausages and broccoli)
375g Chipolatas sausages (or any sausages preferably with herbs or a chilli kick)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli powder (you could also use chopped up dry chillies)
1tbsp powdered dry sweet peppers or paprika (or you could use chopped up oven roasted peppers)
1/2-3/4 glass white wine
350g Tenderstem broccoli (or wild ‘Friarelli’ broccoli if you can find it)

1 Preheat the oven to 200’C, 180’C fan, gas 6. Grease a baking tray with the olive oil, then add the chopped potatoes, onion, rosemary and garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss to coat. Scatter over the pancetta (or streaky bacon) and roast for 35 mins.

potatoes bacon

2 For the sausages and friarelli, heat the oil in a large lidded frying over a medium heat, add the sausages and fry, turning occassionally, until browned. Add the chilli and powdered dry sweet peppers and half a glass of white wine, allow to simmer for a few mins, then add the broccoli.  Cover the frying pan and cook on a low to medium heat for about 5-9 mins.

broccoli sausage pan

3 Check the broccoli is starting to tenderise and maybe add another quarter a glass of white wine if the base of the pan is starting to dry up.  When the sausages are cooked through, halve, if liked, then divide between four plates with the broccoli and serve with the potatoes.

sausage

Marvellous Martini

martini crop

Any exhibition that lets visitors climb into a Martini glass Dita Von Teese-style is a must for me. 8 public figures and characters including James Bond and Elizabeth Taylor will each be represented by an art installation. Legends of Martini, Royal Academy Senate Rooms is on until 31st August. Free entry. Tasting sessions £15. For session times visit the Belvedere website.

 

#17 FOOD NEWS: Jamie’s Involtini, pizza at Franco Manca & Save or Spree: Piccalilli

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

Jamie’s  Involtini

Always up for sharing his love of Italian food, I found this little starlet in the latest issue of Jamie mag that had to be tried:

involtini 1

Makes 12

3 long aubergines (straight ones work best)
2tbsp olive oil
6 sundried tomatoes in oil
15g basil leaves, plus extra handful, to serve
50g pine nuts, toasted
3 anchovy fillets in oil
1 1/2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 parma ham slices
2 x 125g balls of mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 Slice the aubergines lengthways into 5mm-thick pieces, trimming the skin from the outer pieces to give you flat finishes on both sides, then brush them with oil.

2 Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and, once hot, griddle the aubergine slices for 3 minutes on each side, until char-marked and tender. Set aside.

3 In a food processor, blitz the sundried tomatoes, basil leaves, pine nuts, anchovies and extra virgin olive oil until you have a spreadable paste. Season with freshly ground black pepper and pulse again to combine.

involtini steps

4 Lay a slice of parma on top of each aubergine strip, tearing off the excess to use again, and spread on a little sundried tomato paste. Take a piece of mozzarella and basil leaf, place it at one end of the strip, then roll up and secure with a tooth pick. Serve immediately.

To get 6 copies of Jamie mag for £9.95 (half the recommended retail price) visit http://www.jamieolivermagazine.com

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Get pickled: Save or Spree!

When The Italians last came to stay,  our vast choice of dips and ‘Il pane morbido!’ (‘The soft bread’) got everyone in an arm-waving frenzy of appreciation. I love seeing Mamma Romeo’s reaction to some of our British favorites, so with our hols to Italy just around the corner I’ll be taking Piccalilli to see what she makes of this great British table-topper.

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Haywards Piccalilli

As a kid, I remember this being on our table and marveling at the colour! My mum knew her pickles! Haywards piccalilli always came out when there were cold meats on offer. As a youngster I don’t think I was even brave enough to try the ‘yellow stuff’, now as an adult I can’t get enough of it! This tangy piccalilli is the perfect partner for pork pies and pasties but don’t forget it at your next BBQ, the zingy gerkin flavour also works wonders with a burger. Priced around £1.89 for 460g www.haywardspickles.co.uk.

Spree!

F&M

Firstly I love the name: Piccadilly piccalilli. Fortnum and Mason’s version of this classic is a lovely mix of red peppers, silverskin onions and green beans. A fairly subtle flavour, the delicate mustard heat comes through. Top crostini with mortadella and a little dollop of this piccalilli for a delicious Britalian snack or canape. A pantry jar costs£7.95 for 575g www.fortnumandmason.com.

Must go: Franco Manca 

When Giuseppe told me he going Franca Manca with friends, I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention – I was out with the girls and that was that. However when he came back and said the pizzas were delicious, they only cost around £5 each, they’re ready in about 10 minutes flat and his part of the bill was £15, I suddenly found myself listening!

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This reasonable bill included a pizza and beer each (it seems an Italian boys outing is a little different to a group of English lads hitting a er… restaurant where the cost might rocket due to the amount of alcohol consumed, ‘extras’ were a pizza to share and a shared dessert – sounds like they had more of a girlie night than me).

Franca Manca prides itself on their slow-rising sourdough and blast cooking method in a ‘tufae’ – a wood burning brick oven. It sounds like a rustic no-frills kind of place – exactly how I like my Italian restaurants in London.  If you’re lucky enough to have one of the 9 branches near where you work, at £5.90 for Tomato, Mozzarella and basil pizza,  it also sounds perfect for a Friday lunchtime treat.

Pizza photos: http://www.francomanca.co.uk