Peas and cheese please!

What! The tomato field is bare?! Usually a visit to Italy in balmy August or September means Mama Romeo’s and Uncle Mario’s tomatoes are deep red and ripe for the picking. We went in May this year and I was too busy counting nappies and packing porridge to think about the change of seasons.

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As tomatoes are the King of summer in Italy, peas are where it’s at in Spring. I would love to poetically say, we ate all the fresh flavours of Spring and nibbled on freshly podded raw peas and broad beans but the Italian’s know better than that, there was also an abundance of …. cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese! Most likely because they think it’s bloody cold in May! (us Brits were in shorts and T-shirts – but that’s a whole other post).

So I slurped up broth-style pea soups, and gorged on omelettes – loaded with stringy mozzarella and hot deep-fried potato polpette – loaded with er… stringy mozzarella!

This was one of my favourite dishes  – so simple but oh so tasty (serve with plenty of Parmesan!)

Pasta e piselli

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
350g fresh or frozen peas
Small bunch parsley, chopped
350g pasta shells (a few peas will fall into some of the shells – like they’re in a little pod of pasta! Little things…)
4 slices prosciutto
Grated Parmesan, to serve

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1 Heat the olive oil over a medium-low heat, add the onion and cook until softened. Stir through the peas and add 1 L of boiling water. Return to the boil, then add the pasta.

2 Simmer for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Stir occasionally (add a little more boiling water and loosely cover if the liquid is evaporating too quickly). One minute before the end of cooking time, stir through most of the parsley. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3 Meanwhile, cook the prosciutto (in batches if necessary). Place a dry griddle-pan over a medium heat, add the prosciutto and cook for 3-5 minutes until darkened and crispy.

4 Ladle the pasta, peas and broth into 4 bowls, sprinkle generously with the Parmesan, top with the crispy prosciutto and garnish with the remaining parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pizza sweetie?

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

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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

Every monday

 

Tagliatelle

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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).

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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!’

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

#19 FOOD NEWS: Postcard from Italia!

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…

Every monday

 

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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

 

#13 FOOD NEWS: All weather lamb, Napoli in Chiswick & Wonder web

Every monday
 
All-weather lamb

A bit like the officials at Wimbledon, I had my eye on the weather this weekend. Without a retractable roof to  cover my garden I needed a dish that was going to compliment our unpredictible British summer. The short cooking time on my butterflied all-weather lamb keeps things light for a summery(ish!) afternoon. And you just need 15 minutes of sunshine to finish it off on the barbecue to get  a lovely smoky flavour.

lamb strip

Method

Place 3 cloves garlic, 2tbsp olive oil, a small handful mint, 1tbsp rosemary leaves, a small handful basil leaves, the juice from 1 lemon and 1 deseeded chill in a mini chopper or food processor. Process for 1 minute.

Place a 1.5kg butterflied leg of lamb (See Britalian Kitchen Tip) in a large baking tray. With the tip of a knife pierce the skin all over. Massage the rub all over the surface, working well it into the slits. Roast, uncovered at 200’C, 180’C fan, gas 6 for 40 mins.

If the weather holds out, you can finish it off on the barbecue, place on the grill for 15 mins, turning once. Allow to rest for 15 mins before serving (Full-on rain? Rest for 15 mins after removing from the oven and serve – it’s still delicious). Serves 6.

coleslaw

Serve with a Cumin, beetroot & fennel coleslaw and potato and green salads, if liked.

Napoli in Chiswick (& Teddington)

Napoli strip

I love discovering Italian restaurants in London – even better when they’re tucked away and you feel like you’ve discovered a little gem. Canta Napoli is a cafe-style restaurant with a genuine relaxed Italian vibe. Great food without the hefty price-tag. For the full menu and for further info visit  www.cantanapoli.co.uk

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My Goats’ cheese bruschetta was delicious, but I had total ‘anti-pasto- envy’ when my friend Sai’s Frittura Mista arrived (on the Secondi menu but the chef was very happy to make a half-size portion for a starter).

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Pizza Parma. All my favourite things on a pizza. Yum.

Wonder web: Delicatezza.co.uk

delicatezza strip

For days when you want authentic Italian food at home, but your pasta making arms are quite up to it – a website that delivers everything from handmade tortelloni, to regional salami to baby food. Delicatezza caters for any occasion for when you or your baby (!!) might be feeling the need for supreme Italian food. At the moment it looks like they only deliver to inner London postcodes but are looking to expand. For a browse round the pantry visit www.delicatezza.co.uk

Britalian Kitchen Tip

You can ask your butcher to Butterfly your leg of lamb for you, alternatively buy a boned and rolled leg, unroll and slice along any thicker parts of meat to ensure you have an even thickness.