Category Archives: DISHES

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans should have a bright, strong colour, with crisp pods with a satin-like sheen. They should not look wilted, discoloured or brown. They are best eaten when young and tender. To tell how fresh they are, snap one in half. The ‘snap’ should be clean and clear. Don’t buy them if the ‘snap’ is lacking, and if the insides do not seem juicy when you break them open. Home-grown green beans are in season from June to September. Thin green finger-length beans that are also called French beans or haricots verts. They also include the fatter snap or bobby bean, and the yellow wax bean. Confusingly, green beans are not always green; some varieties you might find at farmers’ markets and farm shops are yellow or purple – but all are delicious.

Marinated eel

Marinated eel

Eel swim thousands of miles from their birthplace in the Sargasso Sea (off the American coast) to the rivers of Europe. In Italy they are found at the mouth of the river Po, in the Tiber, and in Sicily and Sardinia. A favourite Roman recipe at Christmas is capitone, a mature female eel which is cut into chunks, marinated and cured in oil, vinegar and herbs, then grilled over charcoal. This recipe is using smaller eels and reversing the process, frying the eel chunks first, then marinating them. Marinated fish are popular in Italy and are usually eaten at the start of the meal as an antipasto. Eels are most often sold live, although they are sometimes available as steaks. A live eel is quite something to manage, so ask your fishmonger for advice. There are serious concerns surrounding the sustainability of eels, both wild and farmed (as even these are raised from wild elvers).

Lamb koftas in yogurt with cinnamon and chilli

Lamb koftas in yogurt with cinnamon and chilli

Lamb koftas are one of the classics of Indian cuisine, well adopted by Westerners around the world. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork—mixed with spices and/or onions. In India, vegetarian varieties include koftas made from potato, calabash, paneer, or banana. In Europe, kofta is served as fast food as a type of kebab. Koftas in India are usually served cooked in a spicy curry/gravy and are eaten with boiled rice or a variety of Indian breads. In Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made from prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage or meat, such as minced goat meat. In Kashmir, mutton is often used in the preparation of koftas, as opposed to beef or lamb. These koftas make a very good first course or snack.

Almond toffee meringues

Almond toffee meringues

Almond toffee meringues are delicious dessert quite good for all seasons (the choice of fruit may vary). Preparation time is only 35 minutes and with 25 minutes of cooking time you can have a fantastic pudding in an hour. The process of making toffee requires the boiling of ingredients until the mix is stiff enough to be pulled into a shape which holds and has a glossy surface. Different mixes, processes, and most importantly, temperatures, will result in different textures and hardnesses, from soft and often sticky to a hard, brittle material. A brown color, and smoky taste, is imparted to the toffee by the caramelization of the sugars.

Potato and cabbage bake

Potato and cabbage bake

A lovely combination of potatoes, cabbage and the Alpine cow’s cheese, Taleggio. Simple to prepare, and delicious eaten as a side dish with meat, or even on its own. Although cabbage is grown all over Italy it has always been a staple of the northern regions, providing nourishment in times of hardship. Despite its somewhat underrated reputation, people have alwalys loved cabbage and it has really evolved in Italian cooking over the years. There are different types: verza (Savoy), cappuccio (white), rosso (red) and cavoto nero (black). Savoy cabbage is probably the most used in Italian cooking: in soups, braised with pancetta, or stuffed. Waite cabbage is used to fill ravioli, in salads and can. be braised. Red cabbage is really only known in the north-east of Italy and cooked in local dishes with a Germanic influence. The ‘trend’ cavoio nero, grown mainly in Tuscany, is similar in taste to Savoy and can be used in much the same way.