#28 FOOD NEWS: Squeamish? Turn away now!

Cakeageddon

Dead horse cake anyone? Oh yes, it’s that time of year when Miss Cakehead is on the rampage cooking up a sponge-based storm for Halloween. Standalone farm in Letchworth Garden City has been transformed into the stuff of edible nightmares!  An installation of live killer clowns, hanging dead pig cakes and spooky tunes promises to give every sense in your body a wake-up call. The best bit is when it’s all too much you can calm yourself by stuffing your face with cake (with or without chocolate maggots). From now until 1st Nov. For more info and to book tickets visit:

http://www.letchworth.com/heritage-foundation/artsandculture/cake

A sneak peek:

PIgs strip

Pig cakes from @tattooedbakers

skeleton dog cakes

Skeleton dog gingerbread from Jacqui Kelly of Totally Sugar

Rotting woman cake

Rotting sleeping beauty cake legs

guinea pig final strip

Gory guinea pig cakes from Angela Romeo @britaliankitchn

rotting rabbit

Dead rotting rabbit cake from themiragecakecompany.com

cupcakes crop

An assortment of gruesome cupcakes from Jacqui Kelly of totallysugar.co.uk

Town or country!

If you can’t make it to Standalone farm Londonites will pleased to know that Miss Cakehead hasn’t forgotten the capital – there’s an equally gruesome pop-up cake shop at The Den @ Hoxton Hotel (a brand new, suitably dark and mysterious room) where you won’t be disappointed at the twisted treats on offer! From now until the 1st Nov. For opening times visit http://cakeageddon.com/cake-shops/ 

 

#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!

#23 FOOD NEWS: The Last Secret Supper Club & Italian tomatoes in London update

Every monday

 

The last secret supper club: what a night!

Last Secret Supper Club- 27th August

North west Londoners are a lucky bunch to have this little hidden gem on their door-step, for anyone else it’s well-worth the journey. A great idea from Lauren Mclean and Lottie Covell.

If you were allowed only one more meal what would it be? Nostaglic and retro? Fine dining? Italian comfort food? Far Eastern fusion? On booking you’ll be asked to submit your last supper -Go wild!

Strawberry Basil Grande & Prawn satay

Along with chef, Jesse Dunford Wood, the team pick the 3 courses for the night. You simply turn up, you’re handed a cocktail and the fun begins! First is the excitement to see if one of your courses has been chosen. Next you wait to see how Jesse has interpreted each suggestion. He remains true to each dish but  there’s always a touch of  creativity and magic that really adds to the theatre of it all. Don’t be saying, ‘he’ll never make it like my mum used to make’. He won’t. You’ll get a great big taste of nostalgia and a bang of 2014! Fab stuff .

Chicken kiev & Tart au citron with pistachio ice-cream

Amazing value at £35 for 3 courses and a cocktail (and the lucky people whose dishes are chosen each get £10 cash at the end of the night!) 

Hosted monthly at Parlour, NW10. For more info visit lastsecretsupperclub.com

The last supper club photography: laurenmclean.com

Italian tomatoes in London

tomatoes and ciabatta

From little Italian seeds, smuggled in my suitcase, they’re here, ripe and ready for the picking! We used the smaller ones in the most simplest of antipasti; mixed with  extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano, garlic and a touch of salt. Served with some farmers-market ciabatta and olive bread – the perfect way to start a delicious meal in the weekend’s surprise sunshine!

Next time on Italian Tomato in London: Day trip to the sights!

 

#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 

 

#20 FOOD NEWS: Inglese cake in Italia!

Every monday

Inglese cake

We’ve just arrived in Herculaneum, we’ll soon be sightseeing but at the moment I’m still recovering from the 10 hour feast that was the Italian August bank holiday. What a celebration – almost like a summer Christmas! The Romeo’s asked me to make a cake, I hope I did us Brits proud with a version of my cake for the cover of the Sainsbury’s Cake book. We travelled out to find a huge Conad supermarket where to my surprise most of my cakey needs were met. I couldn’t quite get the subtle colours of sugar paste that Sainsbury’s stock but the more carnival feel to my new Britalian version received claps and cheers so I need not of worried about the hue of pink!

atmos strip

The biggest compliment of all was Gabriella (who I consider the queen of dolce) asked me for the recipe!

And the bambini adored the little cakes and sweets on top – they even kept sneaking back to grab one when they didn’t think anyone was looking… of course I caught them on camera!

Wish you were here!

A & G

#19 FOOD NEWS: Postcard from Italia!

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

 

IMG_2491

Dear lovely blog follwers!

We’re in Italy! Eating lots of pasta and pizza. The weather is beautiful and everyone is as welcoming as ever. The town is getting ready for the event of the year: The 2014 Donkey Race! It’s going to be one huge Street party. Uncle Vincenzo is busy making 150 kilo’s of sausages and everyone is getting their home-brewed vino at the ready (!)

I just can’t get enough of this place!

Thinking of you!

A & G

Ps Already seen a tomato the size of Mamma Romeo’s head!

Pps Top secret pasta making tips from Mamma Romeo to come….

POST TO: BRITALIAN KITCHEN FOLLOWERS – WORLD WIDE WEB -THE WORLD