hellomagazine.com's homepage, The place for daily celebrity news

The Recipe Room

Get your own blog on "The Recipe Room" Register here
follow us on: Facebook Twitter

Cover: Mamma Mia!

March, 2012

28Mar 12

Pesto Sauce

Fresh Pesto SauceAs well as sharing some of my favourite mouth-watering recipes, I’m trying to cover the rudiments of Italian cooking, one of which is pesto sauce. The rich green sauce from Genoa is so tasty, the Beastie Boys rap about it on their track ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’.

B + P + P = Pure Pleasure. This equation for taste bud pleasure begins with B for basil (and plenty of it) to which you add P, for pine nuts, and then more P, this time for pecorino (or Parmesan). The ubiquitous olive oil and garlic, and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and that’s it! You can use it for countless recipes, including this tagliatelle with pesto and pine nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 175ml olive oil
  • 2 large bunches of basil
  • 200g pine nuts
  • 150g of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (Vary the amount according to your personal preferences: we like plenty, to keep the vampires off!)

Method:

1 – With a generous splash of olive oil, gently fry the pine nuts over a low-to-moderate heat, for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and throw in the chopped garlic, which will cook a little in the residual warmth, suffusing the oil with its beautiful yet powerful flavour.

2 – Coarsely chop all the basil, including the stalks, and either chuck it in a food processor or a good large pestle and mortar. I have to confess that whilst I often make my own pasta and tomato sauce the old-fashioned way, when it comes to pesto, I let technology speed things up. I also prefer the smoother consistency a machine gives. But you might prefer the rustic unevenness of the ‘by-hand’ method, which can also be messy and fun!

3 – Toss in all your other ingredients (including all the oil you fried your pine nuts and garlic in, plus the oil you set aside), and either blitz with the blender, or work that pestle and mortar! And presto, you’ve got pesto! You should find it absolutely delicious as is, but we sometimes add a tiny amount of salt and/or pepper.

Serves – approx 500g of pesto sauce

Time – 10-15 minutes if using a food processor, longer if using pestle and mortar

Note: Fresh pesto won’t keep long, partly ‘cause there are no preservatives in it, and partly because it tastes so good, you’ll eat it all immediately! But if you pop it in a sealable airtight jar, smooth it over and add a layer of olive oil on the top, it’ll keep a little longer.

Continue reading
24Mar 12

Pancetta and Pea Penne

Pancetta and Pea GemelliHam, peas and mint are a classic Italian combination, and after a cold winter, and with spring in the air, they have a fresh, zingy lightness, whilst packing a flavoursome punch. I like this dish with a number of different pastas. I suggest penne here, but you could also use fusilli, gemelli or rigatoni. Dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc brings out the spring zing, whilst cream softens that transition out of winter.

Ingredients

• Olive oil: as needed (2 or 3 tablespoons should be about right)
• 20g butter
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 small onion, or better still 2 shallots
• Small glass dry white wine
• 75-100g pancetta, in little chunks or strips
• 200g peas
• 1 small handful of mint: 1/2 chopped for cooking, and half to garnish the finished dish
• 150-200ml single cream
• 200-300g penne pasta – 200g is for a leaner, lighter meal, 300g if you’re really hungry
• salt and pepper
• Parmesan shavings

Method

1 – This is quite a quick and easy dish, so the first thing I do is get the pasta pan and water started. In a decent sized pan, pour in sufficient water for the amount of pasta you’re cooking, add a little salt, and bring to a boil.

2 – Meanwhile, crush the garlic with the flat of your knife to release those oils, and chop finely. Chop your onions into chunky pieces. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan and add the olive oil. Toss in your garlic and onions and cook on a low-medium heat till the onions become translucent. Add the white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce.

3 – Put the pancetta in with the onions, turn the heat up a fraction, and in two or three minutes that lovely pork should start to crisp and caramelize a little. Be careful not to overdo the heat; the onions and garlic might turn a little bitter if burned.

4 – Keeping watch over your pasta, add the peas and chopped mint to the onions and pancetta. Remember, fresh peas will need a bit longer than frozen. Season with salt and pepper, and check that the flavours are just right. Add the cream and simmer gently for a couple more minutes.

5 – Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it over your peas and pancetta, mixing it all up. Garnish with Parmesan shavings and the remaining mint and serve immediately.

6 – Eat and enjoy with the rest of that dry white wine!

Serves 2

Time: 30 mins – about 15 mins prep and 15 mins cooking

Continue reading
05Mar 12

Soft cheese and celery pasta

Soft Cheese and Celery PastaWith a comforting richness, this soft cheese and celery pasta is really refreshing on a warm day, eaten in the shade with some chilled water or fruit juice on hand.

Although some may not consider cheese a “light” dish, I think it is quite healthy and a delicious source of calcium.

Simplicity itself, this is a good recipe when you’re short of time.

If you want to give the dish more kick, add a clove or two of garlic when you fry the shallots and celery. This dish is also nice with tinned tuna and mayonnaise instead of the soft cheese and yoghurt, although obviously the method will differ if you change the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 75g soft cheese, such as Brie or Camembert
  • 75g plain yoghurt
  • 1 celery stick trimmed and finely sliced
  • 150-200g penne or similar tubular pasta
  • Small handful of finely chopped parsley
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 a lime

Method:

1 – In a large pan, bring some lightly-salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until it’s al dente. If you’ve got the right pans, you can steam the chopped celery over the pasta for the first three or four minutes of its cooking time.

2 – While that lot is bubbling away, combine the soft cheese and yoghurt in a bowl, adding the grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper, set aside.

3 – As the pasta nears completion, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, and sauté the celery, shallots and most of the chopped parsley, over a medium-low heat for about five minutes, until softened. By this time the pasta should be ready: drain the pasta and combine it with the vegetables.

4 – Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese and yoghurt mixture, combining well. Return to a low heat and gently warm through for three to five minutes. Serve with a leafy Caesar salad, squeezing some lime juice and sprinkling the remaining parsley over the pasta, if desired.

Serves: 2

Time: 30 minutes: 10 minutes preparation, 20 minutes cooking.

Continue reading
05Mar 12

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom RisottoWhen I am hungry and cold, there is no better way to fill my belly and warm me up than with a steaming hot rice dish such as my mushroom risotto. I am also partial to a squash and garlic risotto. The other day, I came home from work extremely tired and ravenous. My wife took one look at my weary face and without a word, started preparing my favourite risotto.

 

Earthy mushrooms combined with creamy Arborio rice, the zesty citrus tang of orange zest, and the aniseed-like flavour of fennel. Her care and this risotto made my day much better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Boletus mushrooms
  • 225g Chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 bulb of fennel, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • 1 celery stick trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 medium orange
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 150-200g Arborio rice
  • Salt and white pepper

Method:

1 – In a small pan, soak the Boletus mushrooms for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside, covered. Prepare the fennel: trim, remove the leaves – setting them aside for later – and thinly slice the bulb.

2 – In a large pan bring the stock to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium sized casserole dish, add the sliced fennel bulb, Chestnut mushrooms, celery and leek, and gently fry for three or four minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften, before stirring in the mayonnaise. Allow about a minute for this to all combine over a very low heat, stirring all the while. Now add the rice, turning the heat up a little but keeping it gentle, and stir regularly as the rice cooks for another two minutes.

3 – Add the stock slowly, one ladle-full at a time, and stirring all the while. Continue this process for about 20 to 25 minutes, testing the rice towards the end. It should have a creamy texture, with the rice tender but firm.

4 – Grate the zesty rind from the orange, and then slice and extract the juice, mixing both into the rice.

5 – Add the Boletus mushrooms and mix together for about a minute or two. Season to taste with salt and a little white pepper. Serve garnished with the fennel leaves.

We sometimes add Parmesan shavings to this meal and serve with a nice crusty white loaf. A peppery white wine from the Rhone valley also goes well with this dish.

Serves 2 – approx 60 minutes:

15 minutes preparation, 45 minutes cooking.

Continue reading
05Mar 12

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti CarbonaraSpaghetti Carbonara is a modern Italian classic, but there are some people who get quite stressed about doing this the ‘authentic’ way. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but I really do love it ‘like my mamma used to make it’. My mother always put a lot of cream in. Others have told me that I shouldn’t use cream at all. I say: Mamma knows best!

Although the classic spaghetti carbonara is made with pork, you can make a spaghetti fish supper that is also quite nice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
  • 150g pancetta, cut into ‘lardons’ (generous little rectangles, but not too small!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (We’re cheese-mad, and so we grate a big pile and put it in a little bowl so we can have as much as we fancy!)
  • 75 ml double cream
  • 200-250g spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley chopped fairly finely, and 2 sprigs to garnish

Method:

1 – Cook the pasta in lightly-salted water with the olive oil.

2 – Heat the pancetta in a heavy-bottomed frying pan: good fatty pancetta should cook in its own fat, but add a little butter or olive oil if you feel you should. The meat will caramelise slightly for maximum rich sugary sweetness. This should take about five minutes. Add the garlic about halfway through, and let soften without burning it, to avoid it tasting bitter. If you like, you can throw in a little chopped parsley as well.

3 – Meanwhile, mix the eggs with the cream and four generous tablespoons of grated Pecorino. Add the finely chopped parsley to the mixture, season well with salt and pepper, and stir with a fork to combine.

4 – Drain the pasta and put it back into the pan in which you cooked it. Add the pancetta, and pour over the egg, cream and cheese mixture. The eggs will cook sufficiently from the heat of the pasta and pancetta. The resulting sauce should have a smooth satin texture.

5 – Serve in deep plates or bowls, garnished with a sprig of parsley, with salt, pepper and plenty more cheese.

It really is as easy as that!

Serves: 2

Time: 20-30 minutes: 5-10 minutes preparation, 15-20 minutes cooking.

Continue reading
05Mar 12

Tuna Steaks with Roast Peppers

Tuna Steaks with PeppersItalian food isn’t all pasta. Being so near the sea, we also appreciate fish. Tuna, whether in a salad as a Tuna Nicoise or with vegetables, is a great main ingredient for an Italian meal. It is such a deliciously robust fish that you can combine it with strong flavours like roast pepper and rich black olives.

Sadly, the highly respected conservation organisation WWF has forecast that Mediterranean bluefin tuna, may soon be driven to collapse. So if you cook this fish, please make sure it’s from a sustainable source such as the pole-and-line method. Tuna have been around for millions of years. Only if we harvest them responsibly will we be able to continue to enjoy putting them on our plates!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 litre of water
  • 2 red peppers quartered or halved, and deseeded
  • 10 black olives (optional)
  • 2 Tuna steaks, of whatever size you prefer (Between 80-160g each should be sufficient, depending on how hungry you feel.)
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Method:

1 – Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the water and soak the tuna steaks for 10 minutes. Then drain and brush them with about half the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

2 – Preheat the grill and cover the bottom of a roasting tray or dish with a large sheet of tinfoil.

3 – Put the peppers in under the grill for about 5-10 minutes. Then place the tuna steaks next to them for another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the fish and vegetables, turning the tuna over mid-way. Remember, you want the peppers to char a little, but you don’t want to overdo the tuna.

3 – When the pepper begins to blacken, take it out and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes. When the tuna is cooked, turn the grill off and fold the foil over it to keep it warm and moist with the lovely lemon and pepper juices. Leave the foil-covered fish under the cooling grill. Carefully peel the pieces of pepper – they should still be nicely hot – and then slice them into chunky strips. Toss the pepper and olives in the remaining olive oil along with the balsamic vinegar.

4 – Serve the tuna on warm plates with the pepper, olives and other vegetables on the side. A soft, floral dry white wine, like a pinot grigio, is a good accompaniment.

Serves: 2

Time: 40 minutes: 15 minutes preparation, 25 minutes cooking.

Note: As I am a vegetable nut, I put lots of veggies in the dish along with the red peppers.

Continue reading

About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.