AuTuMn AnD WiNtEr CoOkInG
ThAt’S JuSt So
ItAlIaN 24 ReCiPeS
DeLiCiOuS DiShEs FoR CoOlEr WeAtHeR the perfect antipasto platter OuR FaVoUrItE AuTuMn InGrEdIeNtS FLAVOUR-PACKED MEALS IN MINUTES
Welcome to autumn Autumn might just be our favourite time of year. As the days turn cooler and the nights draw in, so a veritable feast of seasonal ingredients becomes available, changing the way we cook and eat for another year. In Italy we think of autumn as the time we start cooking again. That doesn’t mean we haven’t cooked for months, of course, but after a spring and summer of eating lighter dishes, lots of fish, vegetables and salads, fruit, grilled and barbecued meats, it’s nice to get back to heartier meals and slower cooking. This little book celebrates that lovely turning of the year with some of the food and recipes we love best. Whether it’s a long, slow family lunch after a crisp autumn walk, a relaxed dinner with friends, or a cosy supper in front of a crackling fire, we hope you’ll find inspiration here. Buon appetito!
Vin Santo del Chianti is the DOC title for the amber-hued vin santo dessert wine produced in Tuscany's famous Chianti wine zone. Only Trebbiano and Malvasia Toscana grapes are used to make Vin Santo and it was granted DOC status (Denominazione di Origine Controllata â€“ controlled designation of origin) in 1997. In Italian Vin Santo means Holy Wine. There are many stories of how it originated, but one thing is for sure â€“ it is absolutely fabulous accompanied by a cantucci biscuit (dipped of course!)
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GoRgOnZoLa, WaLnUt AnD ViN SaNtO PÂTÉ PâTé Di GoRgOnZoLa, NoCi E ViN SaNtO 6 As A StArTeR 200g Gorgonzola Piccante, cut into small pieces 100g cream cheese 100g mascarpone ¼ tsp grated nutmeg 20ml Vin Santo 100g walnuts Put the gorgonzola, cream cheese, mascarpone, Vin Santo and nutmeg into a food processor and pulse a couple of times to bring the mixture together. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours Put the walnuts into a freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin. Roll the chilled pate out on a board into the shape of a log. Spread the crushed walnuts out on the board and coat the cheese by rolling it in the nuts. Put it back into the fridge for 2–3 hours to set properly. Cut the log into slices and serve with toast.
Gorgonzola Piccante is a really easy cheese to use in cooking. Here are a few of our favourite ways….. On an antipasti platter to start a meal or on a cheeseboard to finish: completely unadulterated – all you need is some bread or crackers and, of course, a glass of red wine. In a risotto: spice up your plain risotto by crumbling in some gorgonzola piccante towards the end of the cooking and before you add the butter and parmigiano. On a pizza: as a topping you have a few choices as it is so versatile. You could try it as one of the cheeses in a quattro formaggi. But our favourite is to start with the tomatoes, add the mozzarella, then crumble some gorgonzola on top and finally add some crispy pancetta. Yum! In a chicken breast: nice and easy – cut a hole in the side of a chicken breast, stuff it with gorgonzola, wrap the breast with prosciutto and then bake – gorgeous! In a salad: with some rocket leaves, chopped walnuts, sliced grilled peppers and crumbled gorgonzola. All topped with a typically Italian oil and vinegar dressing. Light and nutritious.
Instead of rolling the cheese into a log shape, you can stir the crushed walnuts through the mixture and serve it in individual ramekins, as in the picture.
ChIcKeN BrAiSeD WiTh PaNcEtTa AnD CiDeR PoLlO Al SiDrO E PaNcEtTa 4 4 whole chicken legs 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 200g smoked pancetta, cut into 1cm cubes 1 onion, sliced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1 tbsp flour 500ml dry cider 1 tsp mustard
Heat the oven to 190ÂşC/gas mark 5. Heat the oil in a casserole dish or ovenproof pan over a medium flame. Add the chicken legs and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the skin is golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the pancetta, onion and garlic to the casserole dish and cook for 3â€“4 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then pour in the cider and add the mustard. Simmer for 2 minutes. Put the chicken legs back in the casserole dish, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid or aluminium foil. Put in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Delicious served with creamy mash and buttered leeks.
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This recipe works well with guinea fowl instead of chicken if you prefer a slightly gamier flavour. 7
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delicious! ChOcOlAtE AlMoNd ToRtE ToRtA CaPrEsE 4 300g ground almonds 250g butter 250g dark chocolate 200g caster sugar 5 eggs, separated to serve 125g mascarpone 125g crème fraiche 2 tbsp coffee liqueur
Preheat the oven to 180°C/170ºC fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 24cm spring form cake tin. Break the chocolate into small pieces put into a small bowl and melt in a microwave, blasting for 10–15 seconds at a time and stirring in between (or melt in a heatproof bowl over simmering water). Whisk the butter and half of the sugar together until pale and fluffy, then stir in the egg yolks one at a time. You can do this with either an electric whisk or a food mixer. Stir in the melted chocolate and then the ground almonds.
InGrEdIeNt FiLe This coffee liqueur comes from our coffee suppliers Saccaria in the Le Marche region of Italy. It contains no artificial colouring and is just the thing to finish off a meal. It needs to be served very cold so we would recommend keeping it in the freezer – but don't worry it won't freeze, it has an alcohol strength of 30%! It is also quite often used in the famous Italian tiramisu but as a great alternative you could pour it over some vanilla ice cream to create an affogato (meaning ‘drowned’) dessert.
Add the remaining sugar to the egg white and mix until they form soft peaks. Carefully fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and cook for 50–60 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin. Mix together the mascarpone, crème fraîche and coffee liqueur and serve with the cake.
MoScAtO Di SiCiLiA 9
StUfFeD BuTtErNuT SqUaSh ZuCcA FaRcItA CoN LeNtIcChIe E QuArTiRoLo LoMbArDo 4
in the autumn, when the Lombardy cows return to the plains from the alpine pastures, they eat the grass which has grown after the third cutting, called the "quartirolo".
3 small butternut squash Extra virgin olive oil 180g green lentils 3 onions, thinly sliced 3 cloves garlic 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped 200g Quartirolo Lombardo, cut into small cubes 60g pine nuts 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley Juice of 1 lemon Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 200Â°C/190ÂşC fan/gas mark 6. Cut each butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and fibres using a spoon. Put the squash halves on a baking tray cut-side up, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven for about 35 minutes or until the flesh is tender. In the meantime simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes or until al dente, then drain. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped chilli and cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add the lentils, a little hot water, mix well and remove from the heat. Once the butternut squash is cool, scoop out some of the flesh from each of them, leaving a generous border. Roughly chop the flesh and put into a mixing bowl. Add the lentil mixture to the bowl along with the Quartirolo Lombardo, pine nuts, basil, parsley and lemon juice. Check for seasoning. Spoon the mixture equally between squash halves and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.
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If you're looking for a hearty meat-free dinner, this stuffed butternut squash should fill the gap. The squash may take some time to soften in the oven, but it's definitely worth the wait. You could use any cheese in the filling: I like to use crumbly quartirolo (a feta-like cheese), but mozzarella, scamorza or provolone will work just as well.
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SmOkEd MaCkErEl AnD SaLmOn RiBoLlItA RiBoLlItA Di SgOmBrO AfFuMiCaTo E SaLmOnE 4 1 onion, finely sliced 2 carrots, chopped into small cubes 1 stick of celery, chopped into small cubes 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 large potato, peeled and cubed 250g tomato passata 1 litre vegetable stock 2 sprigs of rosemary 2 handfuls of stale bread, torn into chunks 100g fresh salmon 100g smoked mackerel, flaked 400g cannellini beans, tinned 300g cavolo nero, remove the large stalks and shred the leaves Salt and pepper Lemon olive oil
Gently heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook over a low heat until the vegetables have softened. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the chopped potato to the pan along with the tomato passata, vegetable stock and the rosemary. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the bread and simmer for another 10 minutes. Roughly chop the salmon then add it to the pan. Season everything with salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for another 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the cannellini beans, cavolo nero and smoked mackerel and cook for a few more minutes, until the cavolo nero has wilted. Finish of with a drizzle of lemon oil just before serving.
If you can't find Cavolo Nero then Savoy cabbage is a good substitute. You can put any kind of fish into this dish: sea bass or halibut (added at the stage you add the salmon) and king prawns (added at the stage you add the smoked mackerel), all work well.
PeRsImMoN (“CaChI” In ItAlIaN – PrOnOuNcEd “Ka-Ki”) A lovely sweet fruit, almost jelly-like when ripe, which is very common in Italy in the autumn – you often see it growing along the side of the road. However it can be quite difficult to find in the UK – especially ripe ones. I always like to cut them in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon.
FrEsH FiGs (“FiChI” In ItAlIaN – PrOnOuNcEd “Fi-Ki”) Very popular in Italy but the Italian season is so short – probably only lasting six weeks around September / October time. Figs are highly perishable and do not ripen after picking, so we always look for the ones that are plump and yield slightly to the touch without being mushy. Apart from eating them on their own they go particularly well on an antipasti platter with some cheese (blue especially) and salumi.
Our favourite AuTuMn Is A WoNdErFuL TiMe ThE BeSt PrOdUcE CoMeS InTo SeAsOn.
PuMpKiN (“ZuCcA” In ItAlIaN) A wonderfully versatile vegetable (actually, it is not a vegetable but a fruit!) that can easily be used in soups, casseroles, risottos and even filled pasta. And the good news doesn’t stop there: it is rich in vitamins and very low in calories and has no saturated fats or cholesterol.
WiLd MuShRoOmS (“FuNgHi Di BoScO” In ItAlIaN) If you want to go out looking for wild mushrooms make sure you take someone who can recognise the difference between edible mushrooms and poisonous ones. Autumn is a great season for all mushrooms including Porcini and Chantarelles. And what better dish than a warming mushroom risotto?
ChEsTnUtS (“CaStAgNe” In ItAlIaN) While there are many chestnut recipes available to peruse, my favourite thing to do with chestnuts is to roast them. Then together with a glass of good red wine just sit down and relax – the simplest things are often the best!
In ItAlY FoR FoOd LoVeRs, As SoMe Of HeRe ArE SoMe We LoOk FoRwArD To EvErY YeAr.
WhItE TrUfFlE (“TaRtUfO BiAnCo” In ItAlIaN) More expensive than black truffle, white truffle is a proper luxury item. They are only available for a couple of months in the year, usually from the beginning of October. They are mainly to be found in the Piedmont region in northern Italy and foraged by specially trained dogs (used to be pigs but the pigs would eat the truffles!). Try a few shavings on some fried eggs, on a risotto or on some egg pasta with a little butter and Parmigiano.
You know that feeling when you can't wait for the summer to be over just so you can start cooking comforting casseroles again? Well, this is a great recipe to start with. Nocino is a walnut liqueur made by steeping green walnuts in alcohol. It has a slightly bittersweet flavour which melts perfectly into the venison.
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VeNiSoN CaSsErOlE SpEzZaTiNo Di CeRvO E NoCiNo cNoCiNo LiQuEuR 4 650g shoulder of venison cut into 2cm cubes 2 tbsp plain white flour, seasoned with salt and pepper 1 tbsp olive oil 25g butter 1 tbsp tomato purée 100ml nocino liqueur 200ml beef stock 1 sprig rosemary, stalk discarded and finely chopped 1 bay leaf 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped 1 carrot, cut into 1cm cubes 1 onion, cut into 1cm cubes 2 sticks of celery, cut into 1cm cubes Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/170ºC fan/gas mark 4. Toss the venison in the flour until it is well coated. Put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and put over the heat. Once the butter has melted, add the venison and fry over a high heat, stirring now and then, until all the meat is well browned. Cook the venison in batches if there isn't enough room in the pan to stir it easily. Transfer the venison to a casserole dish and leave to one side.
InGrEdIeNt FiLe Nocino is a traditional walnut liqueur. It is made with unripe walnuts from the Modena region, which, according to the “Ordine del Nocino Modenese”, have to be picked by the end of June. These Walnuts are then steeped in pure alcohol and kept in cellars for 3 years. Nocino has a rich dark brown colour and the flavour is perfectly balanced between sweetness and spice. It makes an excellent after-dinner drink, often drunk in Italy as a ‘digestivo’, and a great summer refreshment when served chilled or poured over icecream. Be careful though, at 40% strength, a little goes a long way!
Add the tomato purée and nocino to the pan and bring to the boil, scraping up all the little bits that have stuck to the bottom. Pour this into the casserole dish and add the stock, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and carrot, onion and celery. Add a little salt and pepper and stir everything well. Cover with a lid and bake for at least 1-1½ hours or until the meat is really tender. Serve with mashed potato or polenta.
AlAsIa DoLcEtTo 17
Go with the grain Carnaroli rice is one of the great Superfino varieties (meaning that it has a slightly elongated grain), also known as 'the King of Rice' or ‘the caviar of rice’. For Italians it is their rice of choice for making risotto, differing from the more common arborio rice due to its higher starch content and firmer texture. Its round grains absorb more cooking liquid than other types of rice so it is perfect for making that creamy risotto while being much more difficult to overcook. Carnaroli is a relatively recent invention, emerging just after the Second World War when an Italian rice grower crossed arborio with a Japanese variety, making this wonderful new strain of rice.
RiSoTtO Ai FuNgHi PoRcInI E PaNcEtTa AfFuMiCaTa 4 50g dried porcini mushrooms 150g smoked pancetta, cut into small cubes 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced 400g carnaroli rice approximately 1.8 litres hot vegetable stock 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 100g butter 100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano Put the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, keeping all but the last dregs of the water. Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms. Heat a non-stick pan on the hob and add the cubed pancetta. Fry for a few minutes until crispy. There's no need to add any oil to the pan as the pancetta will cook in its own fat. Take a heavy-bottomed pan and heat the extra virgin olive oil along with the onion and garlic and gently cook over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the chestnut and porcini mushrooms and cook for another few minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir until all the grains are coated in fat. Start adding the stock a ladleful or two at a time, stirring the rice until it has absorbed the liquid before adding any more. You can add the left over water from the porcini mushrooms at this stage. Season with salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes, stir through the crispy pancetta. The risotto is ready when the rice is soft, but still al dente. This should take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, grated parmesan and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
DoRiCuM NeRo D’AvOlA
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and smoked pancetta
FoR SuNdAy LuNcH An impressive but easy roast – and leftovers are delicious thinly sliced in sandwiches the next day (if there’s any left!)
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RoLlEd BeLlY Of PoRk PaNcIa Di MaIaLe In PoRcHeTtA 8 4 tbsp fresh rosemary 8 cloves of garlic 4 tbsp fennel seeds 3kg belly of pork 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 150⁰C/140ºC fan/gas mark 2. Put the rosemary, fennel seeds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Put the pork belly skin side up and score the skin in a crisscross pattern using a very sharp knife. Turn the meat over so it's skin side down. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, garlic and fennel seeds. Roll the meat up widthways and tie it up tightly with some string. Put the pork onto a baking sheet and rub the olive oil onto the skin. Season with more salt and pepper. Roast for 3 hours on the middle shelf. Remove from the tin and leave to rest for 15 minutes before slicing with a sharp knife. Any leftovers are delicious thinly sliced and used in sandwiches the next day (if there’s any left!).
ToRrE TeRzA VeRnAcCiA
T hese deliciously tender potatoes are a match for any roasted meats. You can vary the herbs and cheese â€“ sage and thyme work well, as do Fontina or Provolone.
PoTaToEs WiTh TaLeGgIo AnD RoSeMaRy PaTaTe CoN TaLeGgIo E RoSmArInO 4 As A SiDe DiSh 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 50g butter 1 medium onion, finely sliced 500g waxy potatoes, sliced into 3mm pieces (new potatoes work well) 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped 100g Taleggio cheese, sliced Salt and pepper Melt the butter with the oil in a shallow pan and add the onions. Fry over a low heat until they are pale and golden. Add the potatoes, chopped garlic, a little sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and the rosemary. Stir so that everything is properly mixed together and the potatoes are coated in the butter and oil, then cover the pan and leave over a very low heat to cook slowly for between 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked through. Finally add the Taleggio to the top of the potatoes and cover the pan for a couple of minutes, until the cheese has melted.
ToRrE TeRzA VeRnAcCiA
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A full of flavour stuffing, just perfect to serve with chicken, game or pork.
ChEsTnUt StUfFiNg RiPiEnO Di CaStAgNe 8–10 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely chopped 4 shallots, finely chopped 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 400g Italian sausages 200g packet peeled chestnuts (vacuum packed) 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped 1tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped 200g ciabatta bread, cut into small cubes 200ml boiling water Grated zest 1 lemon Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 190ºC/180ºC fan/gas mark 5. In a large frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil and stir in the fennel and shallots. Cook over a low heat until soft, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute before transferring to a bowl to cool completely. Remove the sausage meat from the skins and roughly chop the chestnuts. Add the meat and nuts to the bowl along with the chopped herbs, lemon rind, cubed bread and boiling water. Season well with salt and pepper, allow to cool a little and mix together using your hands. Cook in an ovenproof dish for 45–60 minutes until golden brown on top.
BaKeD RiCoTtA CPoAcHeD PlUmS RiCoTtA Al FoRnO CoN PrUgNe Al ViNo RoSsO
8 For the ricotta: A little butter for greasing the tin 500g ricotta 250g cream cheese 2 eggs 125g icing sugar Vanilla essence 40g Amarettini (to garnish) For the plums: 200g caster sugar 10 plums, stoned and quartered 100ml red wine 250ml water
Preheat the oven to 150Â°C/140ÂşC fan/gas mark 2. Grease a 900g loaf tin with some butter. Put both of the cheeses into a bowl along with the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence and mix together using an electric whisk. You can also do this in a food mixer if you have one. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and cook in a bain-marie: place the loaf tin in a deep roasting tin filled with boiling water that comes halfway up the side of the loaf tin. Bake for about an hour or until set. Remove from the water and leave to cool before removing from the tin. In the meantime put the caster sugar into a pan along with the red wine and water. Put over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the quartered plums and poach over a very low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove the fruit from the pan, turn up the heat and boil until the juices become syrupy. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the loaf tin and turn the baked ricotta out onto a plate. Cut into 8 chunky slices and serve with the poached plums in syrup. Crumble the amaretti over the top just before serving.
ToRrE TeRzA VeRnAcCiA
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polenta chips dusted with parmesan
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PoLeNtA ChIpS PoLeNtA FrItTa MaKeS EnOuGh ChIpS FoR 2 100g polenta flour 500ml boiling water 25g grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus a bit more for sprinkling Salt and pepper Light olive oil, for frying
Put the water in a saucepan and gradually pour in the polenta flour, whisking all the time so lumps do not form. Season with salt and pepper. The mixture will thicken quickly. Cook over a low heat for at least 5 minutes, stirring all the time so it doesn't stick. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan, and then pour the polenta into a lightly oiled baking tray in a layer about 1cm thick. Smooth the surface and leave to cool and set. Once the polenta has cooled and set completely, slice it into chips. Heat a thin layer of oil (enough to cover the polenta chips) in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the polenta pieces a few at a time and fry for several minutes until they form a golden-brown crust on the base. Flip them over and repeat. Sprinkle the chips with a little grated parmesan and serve with the Pulled Lamb or Venison and Nocino Stew…or just on their own as a snack.
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FiG AnD PeAr MoStArDa MoStArDa Di FiChI E PeRe MaKeS 4 X 220G JaRs 300g dried figs 2 pink grapefruits, zested and juiced 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds 200g honey 25g mustard powder 100ml white wine vinegar 200g pears, peeled and cut into cubes Roughly chop the figs, removing the stalks if they are still attached, and put them into a bowl along with the grapefruit zest and the mustard seeds. Measure the grapefruit juice in a jug and make up the amount to 500ml with boiling water. Pour over the figs and leave to steep overnight. Put the fig mixture into a heavy-bottomed pan with the honey, mustard powder, vinegar and pears and stir well. Bring everything to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has reduced and thickened. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal. (See our chilli jam recipe for how to sterilise jars.) Try to leave to mature for 4 weeks before eating to let the flavours develop. You can vary the flavours of the fruits depending on what's available: apples, oranges and lemons all work well. You can also add slightly more mustard powder and mustard seeds if you like something a bit hotter. 29
pulled shoulder of lamb
AgNeLlO BrAsAtA Al RoSmArInO, AgLiO E PoMoDoRo 4–6 1 shoulder of lamb, boned 400g tomato passata 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 5 gloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife 5 sprigs of rosemary Salt and black pepper
The day before: lay the shoulder of lamb out as flat as possible in a large roasting tin and add all the ingredients apart from the salt. Rub the tomato marinade well all over both sides of the meat, cover with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge. Take the meat out of the fridge one hour before you want to start cooking. Remove the cling film, season with some salt and cover the roasting tin with aluminium foil. Put into a preheated oven at 170°C/ 160ºC fan/gas mark 5 for at least 3½ hours, turning a couple of times during cooking, until the lamb is completely tender. Remove from the oven and shred the lamb using a couple of forks. Serve with sweet potato mash or wrapped in a piadina for a more street food style.
“Cooked long and slow, the lamb just falls apart into tender, irresistibly delicious shreds. Everyone loves it!”
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Piadina or (Piada in Riminese dialect) is a thin Italian flatbread typical of the Romagna region of Italy. It’s usually made with white flour, lard (or sometimes olive oil), salt and water. And in our opinion Rimini (on the Adriatic coast) is the place to go for Piadina. But there is a problem, you see, the Riminesi consider Piadina to be the ‘Bread Identity’ of Romagna but nobody can agree on the best way to make it! Walk into any Piadineria and they will be only too happy to tell you why their Piadina is the best in all of Rimini. It could be a handed down family recipe or just their invention; they may say it’s down to that little bit of added milk, or bicarbonate or even a bit of yeast (Piadina is ‘unlevened’). It could even be down to the way that the dough is stretched – just rolled or perhaps swirled around on a finger. One thing is for sure though, everyone who lives in Rimini has an opinion as to how a Piadina should taste. It is often served as soon as you sit down in many restaurants (instead of breadsticks), setting the tone for the meal. And Piadina isn’t just meant to be eaten plain. More commonly it is a meal in itself with fillings being added after cooking such as stracchino (cheese) and ruccola (rocket), salami, prosciutto to name but a few. Or cassoni, which are piadina filled with ingredients, folded over and then cooked.
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PlAtTeR ‘Pasto’ in Italian means meal and so Antipasto literally means before the meal. Italians approach the Antipasto course as a great excuse to freestyle, allowing their inner creativity to escape. The point though, is one of sharing, but not just sharing, this is sharing in a laid-back way and there are a tips we’ve picked up over the years that we always find useful. Firstly, think about what you are going to serve on – a large wooden board gives a great impression and the colour of the wood combines with the colours of the antipasti to create a very welcoming feel. For a reasonable antipasto platter use three types of sliced salumi, go with your audience on this one – prosciutto is always popular, something spicy perhaps? Next choose a couple of different cheeses – one soft and one hard for contrast. Marinated vegetables such as peppers and onions are good for colour and some different flavours and add some jams/chutneys – chilli jam and fig jam are both popular choices. For bread use a separate basket and fill with some grissini, crusty bread and crackers. Then finish off with wine – and remember to follow the laid-back approach, so drink the wine that you like and serve it in a carafe!
AnTiPaStI AlL'ItAlIaNo ThEsE InGrEdIeNtS ShOuLd Be EnOuGh To SeRvE 4 PeOpLe GeNeRoUsLy 60g Parma ham 60g salami – we’ve used DolceMagro but Salami Milano or Napoli will work just as well 60g mini garlic salami 60g goat's cheese with black peppercorns 60g gorgonzola – ours is steeped in blueberries, blackberries and sweet wine…delicious! A generous amount of olives, balsamic baby onions and marinated chillies. You could also add sun-dried tomatoes, grilled peppers, marinated artichokes or whatever else takes your fancy. This isn't so much a recipe as an idea of how to put together a tempting platter of Italian antipasti. You can vary which salumi (cured meats) and cheeses you serve as well as the olives and other accompaniments, but we find this combination always goes down well! Choose the best quality ingredients you can find and arrange them on a wooden board or a slate – whatever you have. We’ve served the platter with our Fig and Grapefruit Mustard and some Puglian taralli. Buon appetito!
There are two types of amaretti – one is soft AND chewy and the other is crunchy. The crunchy variety are great for dipping in coffee or for crumbling into various desserts. Our crunchy amaretti contain sugar, almonds, egg and nothing else – the producer tells us that “no more is needed to make a biscuit flavour delicate and inimitable”.
8–10 For the semifreddo 600ml double cream 3 egg yolks 200g caster sugar 200g hard amaretti, crushed into largish pieces For the chocolate sauce 75g dark chocolate 100ml single cream Oil and line a 1 litre loaf tin with cling film or use individual dariole moulds prepared in the same way. Put half of the sugar into a non-stick frying pan with about 50ml of water. Make sure the water dissolves the sugar, then put over a medium heat until you have a golden brown caramel. Take care not to cook the caramel too much, or you will give a bitter taste to the dessert. Carefully pour 50ml of boiling water from the kettle into the caramel. This will make sure it stays liquid for later. Leave to cool.
He goes on to say in no uncertain terms that “the history of each of our Amarettini starts right from the almonds: do not use cheaper substitutes, such as almond or apricot kernels, but only true top grade almonds!”
Whip the double cream into soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together until pale and creamy. Once the caramel has cooled slightly, start to pour it over the egg mixture, mixing continuously with an electric whisk. Stir though the crushed amaretti. Finally, carefully fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture. Put the mixture into the mould and freeze overnight. For the chocolate sauce: melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl sitting over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk in the cream to give a smooth melted sauce and then keep warm in the bowl until ready to serve. Remove the semifreddo from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Turn out onto a platter, remove the clingfilm and cut into slices if using the loaf tin or remove from the separate dariole moulds if you've made individual portions. Serve with the warm chocolate sauce.
JUST SO ITALIAN
WiTh ChOcOlAtE SaUcE
SeMiFrEdDo AlL'AmArEtTo CoN SaLsA Di CiOcCoLaTo
We FoUnD ThE PeRfEcT TaRaLlI In A SmAlL BaKeRy In PuGlIa. ThEy’Ve BeEn MaKiNg ThEsE LiTtLe BiScUiTs FoR OvEr 100 YeArS.
Choosing the right Italian suppliers is probably the most important job we have in our business. Of course we take for granted the other things that we strive to achieve, such as first rate customer service and being friendly and professional – they are just in our culture. But choosing the right supplier is right up there with these other things. They are our partners and their products not only reflect on them but on us too.
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! We spend a lot of time deliberating about who we should and should not keep but at the end of the day there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. It‘s always a good start if a supplier makes time in their schedule to meet you and show you around. The climate and soil conditions dictate that certain types of food is best produced in certain areas – for example – more than half the rice produced in Italy comes from Piedmont. So then for rice we would look for a producer in Piedmont, and so it goes on. Yes there are always exceptions and if we find something that makes us go “wow” then location is overlooked. Next we look for some passion for the supplier. We expect them to tell us how good their products are, and as is normal in Italy, we often get told (at length!) why their products are better than everyone else’s. In fact, when we once asked why the ingredients weren’t displayed on some new pasta that we were
considering, we were told to tell everyone just to cook them and eat them and that they will really love them! And they were serious too! We always try look at the driving force behind a company and the values that they aspire to. Family companies are great. Quite often when we visit we meet several generations of owners (and sometimes staff) and everyone loves to tell you their stories. It is not all about size of company either. Quite often small producers will have to invest in large machinery just to keep up, however there will still be plenty of manual jobs as part of the manufacturing process. And it is these manual jobs which have remained the same throughout the ages. As a family company ourselves we always know when we have met a kindred spirit as we always seem to end up around the dinner table putting the world to rights!
THE FOOD ITSELF Obviously this is key to the whole selection. We need to taste the food and make sure it lives up to expectation. We like to look at all kinds of products even those that are quite niche. Sometimes we go too far and choose products which are ‘too Italian’ and just not understandable in the UK market, but mostly our adventurous approach seems to pay off. We always go for quality, we just couldn’t stand behind a product that we didn’t believe in. Our view is firmly that you will get one sale if you sell something cheap (with a quality level to match) but you will get loyal customers who keep coming back if you sell something great.
THE PRICE Some producers are so isolated – both in geography and outlook – that they have no idea about price. Some will listen to our guidance as to what the UK market will expect and some won’t. In this day and age when the consumer has so much choice everything has to be competitive. And where the Italians are fiercely local to their food (Italy is only just over 160 years old, having previously been a collection of states), this does not apply in the UK as all Italian food, by definition, is not local.
KEEPING IN TOUCH And finally, just because we find someone who is right for the moment certainly doesn’t mean that they will always be right. We work very hard to maintain great relationships with all our suppliers but sometimes things change. Most often it is because they decide not to produce something anymore but it can also be factors such as the producer using inferior ingredients to reduce costs or even radically changing the packaging. And sometimes foods just go out of fashion. And no matter how thorough we think we have been it is always our customers who will choose whether to give the final “thumbs up”!
SwEeT ChIlLi JaM CoNfEtTuRa Di PePeRoNcInO The first time I made this jam, it was so irresistible it didn't even last the recommended maturing time of two weeks. The second time I made it, I doubled the quantities! It may not be the kind of jam you spread on your toast in the morning, but this sticky, sweet and hot (though not mind-blowingly so) condiment is great on just about everything else: cheeses, salumi, roasted meats, fish, in sandwiches, even on melted cheese on toast! MaKeS 4 SmAlL JaRs 8 red peppers, washed, deseeded and roughly chopped 10 red chillies, washed and roughly chopped 4cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped 8 garlic cloves, peeled 3 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped 400g tin cherry tomatoes 600g caster sugar 250ml red wine vinegar Start by sterilising the jam jars: wash them in hot water and put them onto a clean baking sheet in the oven at 140°C/130ºC fan/gas mark 1 for 15–20 minutes. Put the red peppers, chillies, ginger, garlic and apples into a food processor and whizz until fine. You might need to do this in more than one batch. Pour into a heavy-bottomed pan along with the cherry tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the jam starts to become stickier, stir it continuously and cook for another 10–15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly before filling and sealing the jars. If possible – though it will take some willpower – leave the jam for a couple of weeks before eating to let the flavours develop even more. Perfect with cheese!
JUST SO ITALIAN
sticky, sweet and hot
Once you've mastered the art of making the fresh pasta, you can play around with different fillings: spinach and ricotta, porcini mushroom, goat's cheese and sweet potato, to name but a few.
JUST SO ITALIAN
BuTtErNuT SqUaSh AnD AmArEtTo RaViOlI WiTh BuTtEr AnD SaGe RaViOlI Di ZuCcA E AmArAtTi Al BuRrO E SaLvIa 4–6 For the pasta: 400g 00 flour 3 whole eggs 3 egg yolks 1 extra beaten egg for sealing For the filling: 2 small or 1 large butternut squash 2 sprigs of rosemary 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 3 crushed amaretti biscuits 50g grated parmesan cheese 250g ricotta cheese Salt and pepper to taste For the sauce: 80g butter 8 sage leaves
First, make the fresh pasta. Put the flour onto the work surface and make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then pour into the well in the flour. Start to mix the flour into the eggs a little at a time using the tips of your fingers. Bring everything together to form a dough and knead for 5 minutes. Cover in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour. For the filling: cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Put onto a baking sheet and sprinkle over the garlic and rosemary. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated oven at 200⁰C for approximately 45 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Scoop the flesh out of the butternut squash, put into a bowl and mash up using a fork. Add the crushed amaretti biscuits, parmesan and ricotta then season with salt and pepper. Cut the pasta dough into 4 pieces, flatten each piece with a rolling pin, then roll them out one piece at a time using a pasta machine. Sprinkle the pasta with flour while you are rolling it out to stop it sticking. Place a generous teaspoon of the squash mixture onto the pasta, spacing each one about 5cm apart. Brush around each pile of mixture using the egg wash, then place a second sheet of pasta over the top. Press lightly around each mound, taking care to push out as much air as possible. Cut round each one using a 5cm square or round ravioli cutter and gently press around the edge of each ravioli using a fork. You can roll out the pasta off cuts again to finish all the filling. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the ravioli for 2–3 minutes. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan along with the sage. Add the cooked ravioli and gently toss in the sage butter until they are all covered. Serve immediately with some more grated parmesan.
AlAsIa DoLcEtTo 41
SlOe GrApPa PrUgNoLi In GrApPa 200g sugar 500g sloe berries 1lt grappa
Rinse the sloes well, then put them in the freezer overnight. This will save you having to prick each one individually as the skins will split. Put them into a sterilised 2-litre Kilner jar, or divide between 2 smaller jars. (See our chilli jam recipe for how to sterilise jars.) Add the sugar and pour in the grappa. Close the jar and shake well. Give the jar a good shake every day for a week, then put it in a cool, dark place and leave for at least 2â€“3 months, shaking the jar once a week. Strain the grappa through a muslin cloth and decant into sterilised bottles. The grappa is now ready to drink but the flavour will improve if you have the patience to wait any longer.
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Menu suggestions YoU CaN EnJoY OuR ReCiPeS On ThEiR OwN Or In AnY CoMbInAtIoN Of CoUrSe, BuT Weâ€™Ve AlSo PuT ToGeThEr SoMe SuGgEsTiOnS FoR MeNuS FoR DiFfErEnT OcCaSiOnS.
casual dinner with friends
gorgonzola, walnut and vin santo patĂŠ
chicken braised with pancetta and cider
Moscato di Sicilia
family get together
Italian antipasto platter with fig and pear mostarda
pulled shoulder of lamb with polenta chips
amaretto semifreddo with chocolate sauce
long and lazy Autumn lunch
porcini and smoked pancetta risotto
rolled belly of pork with potatoes, rosemary and taleggio and chestnut and vin santo stuffing
baked ricotta with poached plums
Doricum Nero d'Avola
cosy supper for 2
butternut squash and amaretto ravioli
Torre Terza Vernaccia venison and nocino stew
ChIcKeN WiTh PrOsCiUtTo AnD FoNtInA PoLlO AlLa VaLdOsTaNa 4
PaRmEsAn RoAsTeD PaRsNiPs WiTh PoLeNtA AnD ChIlLi PaStInAcHe ArRoStItE CoN PaRmIgIaNo E PoLeNtA 4 600g parsnips 30g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano 30g polenta ½ tsp dried chilli flakes 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil A generous pinch of ground nutmeg Salt and freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 200ºC/190ºC fan/gas mark 6. Peel the parsnips then halve them lengthways. You may need to core and quarter the parsnips if they are large. Put the parsnips into a pan of boiling salted water and parboil them for about 5 minutes or until just tender Mix together the polenta, parmesan, chilli flakes, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Drain the cooked parsnips, toss them in the olive oil and immediately coat them in the parmesan mixture. Put into the preheated oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once during the cooking time.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 tbsp flour Salt & pepper 25g butter 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 200ml dry white wine 4 slices Parma Ham 100g Fontina cheese, thinly sliced or grated A generous grating of nutmeg Place 1 chicken breast between 2 sheets of cling film and use a rolling pin to gently pound it to an even thickness, about 1.5cm. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish, season generously with salt and pepper, then toss each breast in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the chicken breasts and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to mix any browned bits into the sauce. Return the chicken to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Put a slice of prosciutto onto each chicken breast, then top with the cheese and grated nutmeg. Cover again and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the chicken is cooked all the way through.
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In the north west of the country, tucked away between France, Switzerland and Piedmont, lies Italy’s smallest region – Valle D’Aosta – a rugged landscape of high mountain pastures. From here comes one of Italy’s most delicious and best-loved cheeses – fontina, a key ingredient in this dish that takes its name from this beautiful region.
Fregola is a Sardinian speciality pasta, shaped like little balls. It is handmade from coarse semolina and then toasted to give a delightfully nutty taste. It is similar to couscous in that both are fine beads of semolina pasta. However couscous lacks the nutty flavour of fregola (from the light toasting). And it is this toasting which helps Fregola to remain perfectly ‘al dente' when cooked. It is delicious when added to soups and casseroles but it can also be cooked separately – the same way as you would cook couscous – and added to a salad or eaten with seafood.
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FrEgOlA n ItAlIaN SaUsAgEs FrEgOlA ToStAtA CoN SaLsIcCe ItAlIaNe 2 1 onion 3–4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed using the side of a knife, but left whole 100g fresh Italian-style sausages (or good quality butcher’s sausages) 1 red chilli pepper, chopped 500–600ml hot vegetable stock (approximately) 200g Fregola Tostata 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 100g Pecorino Sardo, grated Salt and pepper Finely chop the onion, remove the sausage skins and crumble the meat into pieces. Heat the oil in a wide, non-stick frying pan and gently fry the onion and the whole crushed garlic clove over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the sausage meat along with the chopped chilli pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and remove the garlic clove. Pour in the Fregola and mix it well into the other ingredients in the pan. Cover the mixture with the vegetable stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning. Once cooked, stir in the chopped parsley and sprinkle over the grated Pecorino. Serve immediately.
PaStA SaUcE n BaCoN PeNnE Al FuMè
Although no-one is completely sure about the origins of this dish, one thing is certain; it appeared in Le Marche at the end of the Seventies with the sole purpose of feeding hungry hordes of Italians after a hard night's dancing! It was traditionally made with Maccheroncini but we quite like it with Penne Rigate.
4 500g Penne Rigate 150g cubed smoked pancetta 1 large onion, finely sliced 2 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you want a slightly milder sauce) 150ml single cream 70g grated Parmigiano Reggiano Salt and pepper Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.
Heat a non stick frying pan and add the cubed pancetta. Gently fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes (there's no need to add any extra fat as the fat from the pancetta will melt slightly), then add the sliced onion. Continue cooking until the onion has softened. Add the cherry tomatoes and chopped chill and stir well. Cook over a moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream and heat the sauce through. season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir through the Parmigiano. Toss through the cooked pasta, top with a little more grated parmesan and serve immediately.
TrOuT In CaRtOcCiO WiTh PoRcInI MuShRoOmS TrOtA Al CaRtOcCiO Ai FuNgHi PoRcInI 4 30g dried porcini mushrooms 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a little more for drizzling 2 shallots, very finely chopped 4 trout fillets, skinned 4 slices Parma ham or speck Salt and pepper Juice of 1 lemon 4 baking parchment squares big enough to make into parcels
LiTtLe PiGlEtS, BiG FlAvOuR Porcini mushrooms add a strong, earthy and nutty flavour to a variety of popular dishes. The fresh Porcini season runs from October to January/ February time, depending on how wet the winter is. But it is dried Porcini which are much more widely available. They are sliced before drying and have a much more intense flavour than their ‘fresh’ equivalent. When choosing dried porcini you should avoid the packets which are full of crumbs as they indicate an inferior quality. Porcini Mushrooms are great in risottos, pasta sauces, soups, casseroles and countless other dishes. Remember to soak them for 15 minutes in warm water before using.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/190ºC fan/gas mark 6. Put the dried porcini in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soften for about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, keeping the water, finely chop and set aside. Put the reserved water into a small saucepan and boil until it has reduced to about a tablespoonful. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a small frying pan, add the chopped shallot and cook for a few minutes until translucent and soft. Add the porcini and cook for a few minutes more, then add the reduced mushroom juice. Spread out one raw trout fillet on each square of greaseproof paper and season with salt and pepper. Divide the mushroom mixture between each fillet; spread on top and wrap the Parma ham or speck around each fillet. Drizzle each fillet with a little olive oil and the lemon juice. Close the baking parchment around the fish to make a parcel and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 8–10 minutes. Serve each parcel on a plate to open at the table.
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Cooking the trout in cartoccio keeps it moist and full of flavour. You can use the same technique with other fish, such as salmon or cod.
Our business and our passion We are Danilo and Alison Trozzi, Italian chefs who have trained and worked in Italy and now live in the UK. We started our company, Just so Italian, in 2008 and have been enjoying it ever since. Like all Italians, we understand the importance of great ingredients and we believe that Italy produces some of the best foods and ingredients in the world – born of centuries of tradition and a passion for quality and taste. Some of Italy’s very best producers are small-scale and rural - their produce often never makes it to the next village never mind out of the country.
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We regularly tour Italy from north to south searching for new and exciting products which not only taste fantastic but have a story behind them. Many of our products are completely new to the UK and exclusive to Just so Italian, and we also offer some of our own homemade products, made to traditional Italian recipes.We hope you will love what you discover atÂ Just so ItalianÂ and if there is something you would like us to look for next time we are in Italy please let us know!
Although we are primarily Importers of Italian food we also have an Italian Delicatessen near to our warehouse in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. If you live anywhere near or perhaps just find yourself passing through then please do pop in and say hello! We stock everything shown on our web site and more warm Italian bread, filled focaccia and pizza al taglio. We hope to see you soon!
Danilo & Alison 53
Buon apetito! If you have a question, would like some more information or perhaps just some advice, we are here to help. E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org Call us on 01858 419554 Monday - Thursday (9am - 5pm) We don't dispatch on Fridays so there may not be anyone around to answer the phone. We do have an answer machine but if it is urgent please send an email.
Or write to us at: Just So Italian, Units 11-12 Courtyard Workshops, Bath Street, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 9EW ©Antonio Giorgi 2015
Photographed and compiled by Alan Harrison