italian courgette cake

This cake is Italian American in origin and it’s super moist thanks to the courgettes and the olive oil. Its packed with spices, is dairy free and has a tangy lemon icing. I tweaked it to be a bit healthier with whole meal spelt flour, and added poppy seeds to the icing. It’s perfect with a coffee for breakfast or at teatime… but would make a great birthday cake too.

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italian octopus and white bean salad

This salad is very simple and takes moments to prepare…it’s got all the classic Italian flavours of fresh lemon, parsley, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with tender octopus, which I buy ready cooked from my Spanish deli in Portobello Road or my local fish monger in Primrose Hill but you can also use the jars of it in olive oil that some supermarkets and delis stock. It’s a perfect starter to a pescatarian dinner, or just as a light supper with crusty bread to mop up the dressing.

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melanzane parmigiana

I have never met anyone that doesn’t love Melanzane Parmigiana. This is pretty much the recipe my Italian grandmother passed on to her children and with nearly all of my recipes I look at loads of versions of them and take the best bits from each one to create what I think is the perfect hybrid, and that’s what I’ve done with this Sicilian recipe. I really love aubergine and this version of melanzane parmigiana that I have created is great because it’s spot on in the flavour department. It’s low carb and great with meat and/or salad because its really satisfying as well as delicious. You could also serve it with pasta. Tonight, I’m testing it on friends (cooked the night before and reheated in their oven) I’ll get back to you on what they think.
Yes! They really really loved it……

Serves 6 (but you can halve the ingredients)

Ingredients:
4 aubergines sliced into thinish slices , approx one pound coin thick which can be lengthwise or in discs
2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for the aubergines
1 red onion finely sliced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 400g tins of plum tomatoes
a sprig of oregano or a teaspoon of dried
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
200g of thinly sliced mozzarella
100g of freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper


How:
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Oil a baking tray, place the slices of aubergine on the tray in a single layer and make sure the upper side of the aubergine is sprayed or brushed with oil too.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until brown, you may have to do this in batches. Then set aside.
In a large saucepan, fry the onion gently in the olive oil for about five minutes.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, maple syrup and red wine vinegar.
Gently bring to the boil and let it gently bubble for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Like a lasagna, in a deepish baking dish layer the aubergine in a single layer first and then sprinkle with some Parmesan and slices of mozzarella then a layer of tomato sauce, repeat until all the ingredients are used up.
To get a crispy top, finish with a layer of the aubergine topped with the Parmesan, bake at 180°C for 40-50 minutes or until getting brown, you might want to put tin foil over the top for the first 20 minutes if you don’t want it too crispy, however I like it a bit burnt as the cheese goes a bit Welsh rarebity. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: if you want it a bit less oily, you can boil the aubergines whole for 20 minutes, allow to cool and then slice and put them in the recipe.

 

gnocchi

Little pillows of gorgeousness, these are much nicer than shop bought gnocchi. I put them with my sugo recipe with lots of Parmesan and basil and you have a brilliant vegetarian dinner.

Makes enough for a starter for 6 or a main for 4 people.

recipe

Ingredients:

350g of plain flour or potato flour
1kg of large floury potatoes (i.e. Desiree or Maris Piper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 small beaten eggs

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