Pizza sweetie?

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

pizzacrop1

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.

#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!)

#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!].

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

Every monday

Terrific tomatoes

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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.

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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 

 

#15 FOOD NEWS: Britalian semifreddo, coffee Vs tea: ice wars & a touch of culture

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

 

Britalian semifreddo

Nigella brought this amazingly quick base for ice-cream to my attention with her oh-so simple and oh-so delicious no churn coffee ice-cream. Let’s just say I’ve taken that idea and ran [sprinkled, drizzled, chopped, shaken and stirred] with it!

semi freddo - crop

100ml Marsala wine
1tbsp caster sugar
1/2 x 397g can condensed milk
300g double cream
3 x 35g snack packs Whitworths tropical mix
75g glacé cherries, roughly chopped
1 x 300g readymade cherry cake

You will also need

1L freezer-proof mould/ loaf tin

1 Heat the Marsala wine and caster sugar in a small saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute, then leave to cool.

Marsala

2 Whisk together the cream, condensed milk and 2 tbsp of the sweetened Marsala until soft peaks form.  Stir through the through the tropical fruit and glace cherries.

Cream steps

3 Slice the cherry cake into triangles and strips if you are using a rounded mould or cut into rectangular slices if you are using a straight sided mould such as a loaf tin.

cake steps

4 Spoon a layer of the cream mix into the bottom of the mould (See Britalian Tip), dip the cake pieces in the Marsala and layer on top of the cream. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of the cream mixture.

5 Freeze for 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve dip into a bowl of hot water for 2-3 mins and invert onto a serving plate, dip in hot water again if it needs freeing-up a little more.

Britalian Tip

I must admit I had some fun and games getting this out of the mould – I needed to dip it into the hot water a few times (step 5). To make life a little easier you could line your mould with clingfilm or make life even easier and serve in scoops – just as delicious!

Iced coffee Vs cold tea

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We love an iced-coffee in the UK – the sun merely needs to poke out of the clouds and we’ll be running for an iced frappe-frapaccino with extra ice. And who couldn’t resist with condensation-laden images lurking around every corner, from newspapers to bus stops to huge billboards [to food blogs!], these images are everywhere, but now it looks like it might just be time for tea:

Cold-Brew_10207

For beautifully cold brewed tea simply spoon 5-7 teaspoons of your chosen tea leaves into the Green Cold Brew T glass bottle, fill up with cold water, put in the silicone filter stopper and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. £20 www.whittard.co.uk

Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist view (& a lovely lunch!)

G    Exhib

Discover Dottori in style at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art. His bright, bold aeropaintings really stand out, reflecting the excitement in the 1930s for new technology and flight – a source of  inspiration for exploring perspectives of the land from above.

Estorick Cafe Photo

Top off your visit in the landscaped garden cafe; there’s not many galleries in London where you can walk into the cafe and order an authentic Antipasto all’Italiana of Mozzarella di bufala, Parma ham, roasted vegetables, cheeses, olives and salame Milano! Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist View 9th July – 7th September, £5 per adult. www.estorickcollection.com

Words & recipe photos: Angela Romeo. Coffee photo: Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock

#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

Mums toms banner

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!

Inset banner strip

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 

Caponata banner1

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.

Caponata final1
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.

step banner caponata

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.