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Cover: Mamma Mia!

25Jul 12

Bacon and Borlotti Soup

  I’ve called this bacon and borlotti partly for the benefit of English readers, and partly because I like the alliteration. You could of course use bacon instead of the pancetta I suggest, but of course thin rashers of bacon aren’t rustic, authentic or, let’s face it, macho! (For a vegetarian recipe using similar kidney beans, try this cheesy chilli sin carne.) This recipe calls for “small soup pasta”. We have terms like ‘pasta in brodo’, which translates as pasta in broth, or ‘pastina’, the latter meaning literally, little pasta. Such pasta comes in many forms including, amongst the smaller types suitable for this recipe, annellini, grattini or stellini, the last of which are, as the name suggests, little stars! Nowadays many stores sell bags of small pasta in mixed sizes and shapes specifically for soup, so you can you have fun seeing what you can find. Once the pasta […]

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22Jul 12

Chilli Crab Spaghetti

Crab is obviously just one of the many delicious and varied ‘frutti di mare’, or ‘fruits of the sea’ commonly found in Italian food. And, given that almost all of Italy’s regions have stretches of coast, it’s no wonder our rich seafood is omnipresent in our cuisine. And, of course, feel free to switch out spaghetti for any other similar pasta like tagliatelli or fettucine. Any of those options would work. A similar-tasting meat is crayfish meat, which are only found in fresh water. If you want to try out a recipe using crayfish, try this crayfish rice with mango recipe. Like some other of my recipes in the blog, you can start off with the pasta, as the whole meal is done very quickly, whilst the pasta cooks. A light, leafy green salad, using something like iceberg lettuce or Romaine (also known as Cos) lettuce, makes a good accompaniment […]

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18Jul 12

Porcini Papardelle

Pappardelle is a broader version of tagliatelle, usually about an inch (2.5/3 cm) wide. It’s a delicious form of pasta, and reputedly gets its name from the verb “pappare”, which translates as to ‘scoff’ or ‘gobble’ up. Very appropriate! Porcini mushrooms, whose Italian name is derived from ‘piglet’, belong to the genus Boletus, and are unquestionably the emperor amongst fungi, at least as far as we in Italy are concerned. (In England, they are called ceps.)You could use other mushrooms in this dish, but why do that? This recipe is really all about the particular flavour of the porcini, which is a blend of creamy, meaty and nutty flavours, a literal taste of their symbiotic relationship with the wooded areas where they grow (at least the wild ones). I also recommend my mushroom risotto. Delicious! (If I do say so myself!) It doesn’t take much to modify this dish. You […]

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15Jul 12

Rabbit Emilia-Romagna

I’m crazy about rabbit! (As you can probably tell by my post on braised rabbit.) If you liked my previous post, here’s another dinner party friendly dish with rabbit. This time it’s a regional speciality from the wealthy Emilia-Romagna, the ‘administrative region’ of northern Italy, home not only to some great food, but also to some other modest home-grown Italian successes like Lamborghini, Ducati, and Ferrari. This goes well with rice, potatoes or polenta. Last time we had it, we had the potatoes dauphinoise style, – rich and creamy – and we loved it! As for wine, you could go red, rosé or white with this fairly richly flavoured rabbit dish. We had Cuvée Mythique with it last time, a French red wine that I’d remembered as being very smooth. It was a bit sharper than I had remembered, but we still liked it. Nevertheless, perhaps next time I would […]

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12Jul 12

Chicken Marsala

    Once a year or so, I like to visit a vineyard and do a wine tour or tasting. It is always interesting the differences that each company uses in their wine production. There are a lot of decisions made throughout the process that changes the body and flavour of a wine, making each one really distinct. I wouldn’t say that I am a connoisseur, by any means. However, the more tastings you go to, the more you learn and can appreciate the difference between wines. Many vineyards have gift shops to buy the wines you liked or other paraphernalia. I once saw a ceramic that tickled my fancy, and now it hangs in my kitchen. The slogan goes, “I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” In my household, this is most certainly true! This chicken marsala recipe is just one example of […]

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11Jul 12

Colomba Pasquale: ‘Easter Dove’ Cake

Also known as Colomba di Pasqua, the dough used is similar to that which makes Panettone (flour, sugar, eggs, yeast and butter), but with candied peel instead of raisins. For an authentic Italian Easter celebration, the cake is made in the (often very approximate) shape of a dove. If you’ve only got ordinary round cake-baking tins don’t worry. This tastes equally delicious whatever shape you choose! And I know I’m a bit late for Easter, but maybe it was because I ate too much over the holidays that I didn’t feel like posting this at the time! So here it is, a recipe for one of the many delicious things I just couldn’t give up for Lent! Don’t be put off by the long preparation time – most of this is just allowing the dough to rise, the main part of which is best done overnight. The kneading is the […]

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05Jul 12

Mozzarella and Tomato Calzone

A calzone is a folded pizza. I’ve had some that are literally a pizza folded over, and others that are like an English ‘pasty’, folded over and joined along the edge to for a self-contained pie. Calzones have often been used as a way of clearing up tasty leftovers, with tomato and mozzarella added to bind the whole lot together. With today’s recipe, I’m keeping it ultra-simple, and sticking to just those two essentials: tomato and mozzarella, and a little shredded basil: red white and green, the colours of Italy! You can obviously make as many as you need, and they actually taste fantastic cold, as well as hot, so you can make a few and store them in the fridge for those times when you just need to grab and go. Eat with a peppery rocket and watercress salad and some nice cold beers. This stuff makes good couch […]

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03Jul 12

Borlotti Bean and Tuna Antipasto

Do you ever make time to cook up a three course meal at home just to share some special time with your other half? It’s hard for all of us to make time for that, I know, but it’s something that Teresa and I like to prioritise. Because we find cooking relaxing and fun, some weekends find us together in the kitchen – glass of wine in hand, and conversation flowing, chopping knives doing their work in between sips of the red, or the white stuff. We can catch up on our week together this way. On these days it’s a regular pleasure for us to put together a borlotti bean and tuna antipasto as a warm up to a plate of clam linguine (if we’re having a seafood night) followed by some home-made tiramisu. On these special nights, we lay a beautiful table, light a few candles, and get […]

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29Jun 12

Salsiccias with Polenta and Spicy Tomato Salsa

In Italy there’s a plethora of sausage varieties; but here in our neck of the woods, the easiest salsiccias to get hold of are simply known as… ‘Italian Sausages’. You can generally take your pick between ‘hot’ and ‘sweet’, the hot variety containing hot red pepper flakes in the mix of spices. The other magical ingredients which bump up the distinctive flavours of Italian sausages are fennel and anise. You may discern one, or a mixture of both. It goes without saying that I’m talking Italian salsa di pomodoro here (tomato sauce), and not the Mexican salsa we often associate with the word. And as a twist from my usual tack of making everything up from scratch, I’m suggesting for once that you buy a really good quality ready-made tomato and chilli sauce. And the reason for this tangent? Well, sometimes you have all the time in the world to […]

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27Jun 12

Spinach and Rabbit Tortelli

In Italian, this dish is ‘tortelli di coniglio e spinaci’. Tortelli is, like ravioli, a variety of stuffed pasta, only more generously proportioned. As this is a bit more of a complex dish, perhaps the kind of thing you might cook for guests at a dinner party, my ingredients this time cater for a larger gathering. This is delicious and impressive handmade pasta with rustic rabbit appeal! (For a vegetarian-friendly filled pasta, why not give this pumpkin ravioli a go?)  Ingredients:  1 medium-sized rabbit (about 1.5kg), cut into 8 pieces* 1 onion, roughly chopped 1 carrot, roughly chopped 1celery stalk, roughly chopped A generous handful of spinach (250g), finely chopped (no stems!) 1 small sprig of rosemary 6 sage leaves 2 or 3 bay leaves 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 50g butter 1 small glass of dry white wine 1/2 a nutmeg seed kernel, freshly grated 150g freshly grated Parmesan […]

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About Gianluca Dievole

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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.