7 sizzlers for a British heatwave!

Hot! Hot! Hot! If you’re feeling the heat… eat, drink and get creative!

1 Affogato 

The Italians perfect it again, combining two quality ingredients for the ultimate cool down pick-me-up or super sleek cheats dessert. Pour espresso over a scoop of luxury vanilla ice-cream. Best served in a little glass with a teeny spoon.

2 Pimm’s ice-lolly

Ok I’m far too impatient to wait for my lollies to freeze and photograph a sexy, drippy shot (I want this out before the sun goes in!). So enjoy the art!

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3 Kiwifruit gets it’s summer hat on!

This blingy variety of Kiwifruit – SunGold, is the perfect snack for when you need to get out of the door – the skin is smooth enough to eat! It contains about 3 times more vitamin C than an orange, for a healthy weekend breakfast try this SunGold kiwifruit, coconut and granola breakfast pot;

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Blitz 2 peeled and chopped SunGold kiwifruit in a blender until smooth, place 30g of your favourite granola in a glass, spoon over a pot of coconut yogurt, top with the kiwifruit and decorate with toasted coconut flakes.

Available from May through to September in Waitrose,Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and M&S.

4 Aperol spritz

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Always keep a bottle of Aperol and a small bottle of soda water in the cupboard for an unexpected heat wave when, shock-horror, you haven’t chilled the Prosecco! This little cocktail, usually drank as aperitif in Italy, is mixed over ice. Gorgeous on a summer’s evening with a few nibbles! Fill a large wine glass with ice, add 75ml of Prosecco, 50ml Aperol and a dash of soda. Garnish with a slice of orange.

5 Seaside cake

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Baking may be the last thing you want to do when it’s baking! But when you’ve got a super cool design like this it might be worth taking on the extra heat. For a smaller project (great for kids in summer holidays!) simply make the ice-cream cone cupcakes. To scale down the cake mix use 175g butter, 175g caster sugar, 3 large eggs and 175g self-raising flour.  You should have enough for around 10-12 cones. For the full recipe visit Homemade with Sainsbury’s & The Huffington Post

6 New drink alert!

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Cambridge twins Dan & Ben Ritsema invented this red-hot drink. Whilst at uni, they enjoyed an alchololic beverage or two (!) but wondered if it was possible to make a healthier alternative? They loved cranberry juice for its health benefits, so tried fermenting cranberries to make a cranberry ‘cider’ and that was the beginning of Cranes! Original cranberry available from Ocado  three bottles for £5. Visit drinkcranes for more info.

JUST EAT Food Fest 

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Pulled pork from Whaam Banhi

Even one of the world’s leading digital marketplaces for takeaway food is telling us to go out and eat in the sun! A celebration of world cuisine, visitors are invited to try three dishes for £8 (or £4 each) from the pop-up street food vendors. Just a handful include Italian Pizza from Sapore Vero, Jerk Chicken from Panda Berry, Caramelised Pork Belly Rice Bowl from Whaam Banh Mi and Strawberry Cheesecake flavour doughnuts from Dum Dum Donutterie. With live music and DJs. Visit www.just-eat.co.uk/london/foodfest for more info.

 

 

 

 

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#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’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

#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!

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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

#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.

 

#11 FOOD NEWS: World cake-in-a Cup; Italy vs England re-match, frozen yogurt & hello Moscow mule!

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN…
 Every monday

World cake-in-a Cup

Inspired by these fun flag mugs, it only one meant thing…an Italy vs England World cake-in-a Cup re-match! Using Sainsbury’s cake-in-a-cup recipe as the base, will my country-inspired additions make it a new winning recipe or as disappointing as an own goal?

Ingredients

To kick off, I start with a risky decision and take out solid performer; Vanilla Extract and for England add 2tsp Pimms and 2 Chopped Strawberries.  For Italy, I add 2tsp Limoncello – possibly a disastrous choice or it could be a touch of magic for the mix. Just before the second half (before putting in the microwave), I top off team Italia with 1 fine Lemon Slice.

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When the England team think they’re finished we’ll top them off with a fresh strawberry. Both teams will get a good shower of icing sugar before the next round.

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England: Not a great looker – a bit lumpy and bumpy, but Chopped Strawberries added a whole new dimension to the game.

italy final

Italy: Rose to the occasion perfectly, an extremely slick performance, however Limoncello could have been slightly stronger up front.

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Final score….

1 – 1 

Personlised mugs from £8  http://www.moonpig.com, for Sainsbury’s original Cake in-a-cup recipe click here

Top theme

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The Wild West in Kent; The Garden of England. It may not be a combo that instantly springs to mind but as an advocate of having the best of both worlds it was the perfect location for one awesome party!  Two (very strong) Moscow mules, led me to constantly daydream (whilst attempting to dance like a cow-girl) about farming on the surrounding hop fields and orchards, then as dusk fell I put full attention into toasting marshmallows, eating popcorn and gorging on local and speciality cheese. Bliss.

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For a wonderful family run campsite in this beautiful tranquil spot (with lovely quirky touches such as a communal tipi and camp fire starter packs!) visit www.bedgeburycamping.co.uk

Frozen assets

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On honeymoon in Puglia I had the best gelato I’ve ever tasted; full-on creamy-dreamy satisfaction! The honeymoon/ holiday feeling probably added to the whole experience but I must say I did get a sweet little holiday feeling at Yog this week, a little stroll along Exmouth Market, nipping into the ice-cream parlour-style shop was a real treat. Going with the ‘healthier alternative to ice-cream’ idea my coconut, cherry and tropical fruit combo was delicious, but I think my friend Jen got it right loading her pomegranate frozen yogurt with Oreo cookies! Get experimenting and that holiday feeling at Yog http://www.yogyogurt.co.uk/

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Yog selfie – had to be done 

Top 2 Britalian frozen treats:

Britalian iced canapes

strawberries

Instant summer fruits ice-cream 

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#8 FOOD NEWS: Courgette flowers, mortadella & spaghetti jars

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN

In season

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What does June mean to you?  ‘Hopefully the start of better weather!’ I hear my fellow English folk cry. For mamma Romeo it’s the start of the courgette season – as well as tending to the vegetables she’ll be looking out for the beautiful male flowers on her crop of summer squash. Like most things in Italy, they’re destined for the pot!

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#3 FOOD NEWS: Sounds of Paolo Nutini, wild garlic pesto & couture chocolate curls

KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL THINGS BRITALIAN

This week’s must-haves:

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BOOK: Never mind Will and Kate, Milton Keynes received a visit from our favourite King (of the Jungle). The gorgeous Gino D’Acampo has been promoting his new book Pronto, let’s cook Italian in 20 mins. Simple cooking with good ingredients – a great collection of quick, tasty, affordable recipes.

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