#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:

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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.

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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.

Save

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

#14 FOOD NEWS: Dhruv Baker’s caponata, skint or spree! Italian tomatoes in London

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN

Every monday

 

Italian tomato in London update

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Well mummy ‘E’ has done an amazing job nurturing the little Italian seedlings – some are standing up to a metre tall, standing proud and now seemingly happy to be in an English garden. Placed in every conceivable spot; some in tubs, some in shallow earth, in deep earth, in ‘rooty’ earth – they’re everywhere!

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At the moment the soil of Staines looks to be bearing up to the rich soil of Pollino National Park, Italia. Little yellow flowers have even started appearing – a true sign tomatoes are on their way! But will they taste the same as their Italian brothers and sisters? To be continued…..

Previous Italian tomato in London posts Food News 1 and Food News 4

Skint or spree: Olive oil

Should you cook with it? Drizzle it? Dip into it? Well the truth is all 3! But save the best stuff for dipping and final drizzles.

Skint?

Extra virgin olive oil by Sainsbury’s
£1.85 for 500ml

Image for Sainsbury's Olive Oil, Extra Virgin 500ml from Sainsbury's

I was actually hoping it would be another supermarket, I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was biased (!) but even Yottam Ottolengi agrees (GuardianWordofMouth). A fair price for a great product. Light enough to cook with, it makes a great healthier alternative when shallow or pan-frying.

Spree!

Emozioni Extra virgin olive oil
£15.50 for 15ml

Premium olive oil

An olive oil that looks more like a gorgeous A-list beauty product is certainly a treat. The olives are hand-picked at the premium moment and the oil extracted within a few hours to enhance nutritional properties and flavour. Liquid gold-literally. It’s enough to make a foodie weep but so might the price! www.emozionifood.co.uk

Dhruv Baker’s Caponata 

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When MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker’s Spice: Layers of Flavour landed on my desk, it felt like I had access to a secret diary of spice. Full of classic recipes from around the world, each with a spicy twist – from chilli heat to more fragrant and complex flavours. You won’t be bogged down with lots of words – it’s the perfect way to learn about spice, simply make a recipe and eat it! Then turn the page and try the next one.

The cumin and fennel seeds add a lovely aromatic flavour to this Sicilian stew.

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Serves 4
4 tbsp light olive oil
2 large aubergines, cut into 4cm cubes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
20ml red wine vinegar
100g green olives (Dhruv recommends the ones stuffed with anchovy)
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1 Heat a large frying pan and when hot add the olive oil and the aubergines. When the aubergines have started to colour, after about 10 mins, add the cumin and fennel seeds and cook for a further 5 mins.

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2 Add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for another 5 mins. Add the vinegar and olives and stir well; cook for another 5 mins then add the tomatoes. Leave to cook over a medium heat for 10 mins.

3 Scatter over the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold (See Britalian Tip).

Spice: Layers of Flavour, Dhruv Baker, RRP £25. Available at http://www.amazon.co.uk for £23

Britalian Tip
Eat on its own with crusty bread or as an accompaniment, I served mine with grilled seabass fillets squeezed with a little lemon juice.