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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with lemon

31Aug 12

Veal Milanese

Veal Milanese
These pan-fried veal escalopes splashed with lemon are mouth-wateringly good. Veal Milanese reminds me of authentic trattoria cuisine from when I was a child growing up. The escalopes are best served with a small portion of spaghetti and a fresh Pomodoro sauce, or sautéed potatoes and salad.

If you are having a dinner party and stuck for time or inspiration, then Veal Milanese is a simple dish. It won’t cause a sweat in the kitchen, but will definitely impress your friends.

If you don’t like the idea of cooking veal, then you can use an alternative such as chicken or pork, but really veal is the authentic ingredient and definitely the most delicious meat for this recipe. If you do enjoy veal, then you could also try Brian Turner’s rib of rose veal with honey and soy glaze.

Veal Milanese
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A classic veal dish served with spaghetti Pomodoro or sautéed potatoes.
Ingredients
  • 2 veal escalopes (about 100g each)
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g flour
  • 150g white breadcrumbs
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, discard the stalks and very finely chop the leaves
  • Handful of basil leaves, chopped very finely
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lemon, quartered to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. You need to flatten the veal escalopes, so place them in clingfilm, and using a rolling pin, gently pound them, being careful not to tear the meat - it just needs to be a little thinner and stretched.
  2. Crack the eggs into a dish and beat them lightly together with some salt and black pepper. Mix the finely chopped rosemary and basil into the breadcrumbs and spread on a plate. Now season the flour with salt and black pepper and spread on to another plate.
  3. Dip each escalope, first into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally into the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess breadcrumbs. Then place the escalopes onto a clean plate.
  4. Heat half the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat; when sizzling hot, add the escalopes to the pan. Cook them for 4-5 minutes on each side or till crisp and golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve with the lemons to squeeze over, grated Parmesan and your choice of side dish.

 

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29Aug 12

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

 

Fried Calamari is a must-know for any aspiring Italian chef. I often serve mine alongside home-made chips, taking advantage of the already heated and ready-to-go deep fryer. Besides, that combination sort of gives a nod to the British classic fish and chips.

You may have noticed that most seafood platters are served with lemon wedges, which is interesting to me. The combination of the citric fruit and fish comes from the olden days when it was more difficult to keep fish fresh for a long time. As there wasn’t ice in those days, the product often developed an unpleasant odor after being stored or transported to a nearby city, the journey often taking a few days. Lemon was used to combat the smell of the less-than-fresh seafood. Others say that it was used like salt to help preserve the quality of the nutrients and avoid any bacterial problems.

But now that transportation and keeping our seafood fresh isn’t a problem, we still use lemon! My parents were against the use of lemon and claimed that it is an insult to the chef to use it. If you like the combination, you are free to eat it as you choose. However, maybe you could try it without and enjoy the flavours of the fish exactly as they should be savoured.

(Also try this sea bass with white bean mash.)

Fried Calamari
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Fried Calamari is a must-know for any aspiring Italian chef
Ingredients
  • 400g calamari, cleaned and cut up in rings
  • 130g flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 130g breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lemon, cut up into wedges for serving
  • 200ml marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Take the calamari, and with a paper towel, pat out any remaining water.
  2. Place the flour in a sandwich bag, along with the calamari, and shake, thoroughly coating all of the squid with the flour.
  3. Using a sieve in a bowl, dump out the contents of the bag into the sieve, and the excess flour will fall into the bowl.
  4. Beat the two eggs in another bowl, and carefully dip the flour-covered calamari into the egg.
  5. Next, pour the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper or whatever other seasonings you like into a sandwich bag.
  6. Repeat the process from before, dumping the egg-coated squid into the Ziploc bag. Shake and sieve out the excess breadcrumbs and seasoning.
  7. Meanwhile, heat up the deep fryer to cook the calamari, approximately 3 minutes until they turn a golden brown.
  8. Invert the squid onto a plate covered with paper towel to soak up any dripping oil.
  9. Remove the paper towel and serve alongside a few lemon wedges and the marinara sauce for dipping.

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21Jun 12

Clam Linguine

Clam LinguineThis is another of those dishes that have simple, humble origins, but can now often cost top dollar in fancy restaurants.

Some form of rustic herb-bread, ideally something chunky with rosemary or sun-dried tomatoes in it makes a good accompaniment. Try this rosemary focaccia bread.

Have some extra-virgin olive oil handy as well, preferably in a jug or decanter with a spout; sprinkling some extra-virgin olive over the pasta and clams really binds the flavours together.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  •  Several cloves of garlic (according to taste), peeled and very thinly sliced
  •  1/2 lemon
  •  1 dried red chilli, finely chopped
  •  1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  •  200g linguine pasta
  •  500g clams* (buy these alive from your fishmonger)
  •  Salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil.

* Fresh clams need preparing: wash them in cold running water, throwing away any with broken shells, or if they’ve died (if they don’t close up when you tap them). Remove their ‘beards’ and thoroughly clean the shells. Soak in a bowl of cold water for half an hour before washing them under the tap again. Refrigerate in a covered bowl, but ideally use them straight away. When they go into the pan, they should all be closed, any that aren’t, discard.

Method:

1 – In a large deep frying pan, heat the oil at a low setting before adding the garlic and chilli. They need to thoroughly infuse the oil, which will take 5-10 minutes. Be sure the heat is very low as you don’t want to burn them, or they’ll taste bitter. If need be, remove from the heat and set aside covered, where the heat from the oil will do the job.

2 – While the oil’s infusing, get your pasta going in another pan. Timing is important with this deceptively simple dish. Don’t start step three too soon!

3 – Once your pasta’s half or two-thirds of the way to being cooked perfectly ‘al dente’, put your clams into the frying pan with the garlic and chilli-infused oil, increase the heat and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they open. This should only be a matter of minutes; you don’t want them (or your pasta) overdone, so don’t rush into this step too early or leave it too late!

4 – Drain the pasta water, reserving a ladle-full (two or three tablespoonfuls), and then mix everything together in the large frying pan. Squeeze some juice from the lemon over it all, season with a little salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

Serves: 2

Total time: 45 minutes (20 minutes preparation; 25 minutes cooking)

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17May 12

Prawn and Courgette Tagliatelli

Prawn with Courgette Tagliatelli

Here’s another simple and delicious pasta meal that takes almost no time to prepare, this time featuring the humble prawn as the star ingredient. You could use any prawns really, but king prawns are ideal, as they’re bigger, chunkier, and have the flavour to stand up against the chilli and garlic. For the pasta you could substitute spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine, tagliolini, or any other long, thin pasta or noodle. (Also try this tagliatelle with salmon pasta dish.)

As for an accompanying salad, we like watercress on its own, perhaps drizzled with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s peppery, and fresh, exactly like the pasta dish.

An ideal wine would be a clean, crisp dry white, like a Pinot Grigio. And maybe some soft, crusty white bread would come in handy, to soak up the juices and clean down your plate?

If you decide to grate the courgette, I recommend using the bigger teeth on the grater, because otherwise it will just be a bland pulp and not very appetising.

Prawn and Courgette Tagliatelli
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Here’s another simple and delicious pasta meal that takes almost no time to prepare, this time featuring the humble prawn as the star ingredient.
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 40g butter, cubed
  • 120g prawns (king prawns are best: big and chunky is good!)
  • 200g courgettes, either chopped or grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • The finely grated rind of a small lemon (unwaxed)
  • I red chilli (fresh), deseeded and finely chopped
  • 200g dried tagliatelli
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta as normal, in some lightly salted boiling water, till al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan on a medium to high heat, adding the prawns, garlic, chilli and lemon rind when it’s hot. Season lightly and cook for a couple of minutes, till the prawns lose their translucent quality and turn a nice opaque pink.
  3. Add the butter and courgettes, season and stir, cooking for about a minute, or two at the most. By now your pasta should be done, so drain off the cooking liquid.
  4. Toss the pasta into the frying pan, and stir it all up, combining all the beautiful ingredients. Sniff and savour the briny smell of the sea and the pungent aromas of chilli and garlic!

 

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25Apr 12

Osso bucco alla Milanese

Osso Buco alla MilaneseI can clearly remember when and where I first tasted Osso bucco, which literally means “bone in a hole”. This absolutely flavourful dish was the first meal I ate when I went to the Italian city of Milan to visit one of my aunts. After that, I just had to get the recipe from her.

I enjoy cooking it, but you have to take into account that normally it’s a dish you might prepare for more than two servings, and is traditionally served with rice and vegetables on the side.

The ingredients are very simple, but the flavours are quite intense because of the gremolada, which is a mix of garlic, parsley and lemon zest, added to the dish a few minutes before serving it. The outstanding part of this dish is given by the bone marrow of the Osso bucco veal steaks that melt while cooking. (If you like veal, try this rib of rose veal with a honey and soy glaze.)

It’s not a difficult recipe; however, there is a lot of prep involved, so give yourself some time.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 veal shanks cut thick
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 1L beef stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the “gremolada”:

  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped or pressed with the garlic press
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped

 Method:

  1. Put the butter and onion in a large pan and let it cook on a very gentle fire until the onion becomes transparent.
  2. Cut the steaks along the outer membrane so they don’t curl while cooking and coat them with a bit of flour.
  3.  Add the steaks, onion and butter and brown them on both sides.
  4.  Add the white wine. You will burn the alcohol off by increasing the flame.
  5.  Pour in some of the beef stock.
  6.  Cover and cook until the meat is very tender. Make sure to add more beef stock as required and to turn them over occasionally, so that the steaks don’t stick to the pan.
  7.  To prepare the gremolada, chop the parsley and the garlic and grate the zest of 1 lemon.
  8.  Mix together and sprinkle on top of the osso bucco steaks a few minutes before turning the fire off.
  9.  Season with salt and pepper depending on taste.
  10. Serve with a side of vegetables and rice.
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17Apr 12

Biscotti di Prato

Biscotti di Prato

This traditional biscuit from Prato, a wonderful city in Tuscany, is supposed to be very dry and crunchy; in fact, it is Tuscany’s traditional dipping biscuit, and one of the local specialities. Nowadays they are also called cantucci, even though that is a completely different type of biscotti. (Also try these Amaretti Chocolate Sticks.)

You might like to know that Prato is the centre of the ‘slow food movement’, which an international campaign founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986, promoted as an alternative to fast food. It works to preserve traditional and regional cooking and encourages farming in the local ecosystem.

I recommend enjoying these “biscuits” after a meal with a nice glass of Vin Santo.

Ingredients:

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 300g sugar
  • 250g almonds, whole
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • grated peel of one lemon

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Sift the flour and sugar in a bowl. Then add eggs and the other ingredients until it all becomes a ball of dough.

3. On a clean surface, shape the dough into a 3cm wide roll that extends the length of a baking tray. Cover the tray with a piece of parchment paper to prevent the biscuits from sticking and then place the dough on top, flattening it softly with your fingers.

4. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the roll from the oven.

5. Place it on a cutting board and cut diagonally, making 1cm wide slices.

6. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet, making sure you leave some space between each slice. Slide the baking tray back into the oven.

7. Lower the temperature to 150°C . Bake for 15 minutes, then take the biscotti out and turn them onto the other side and bake another 15 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remember to store them in an air-tight container to keep fresh.

Serves: 3 dozen aprox.

Time: preparation time 15 min/ cooking time 1 hour

Difficulty: medium

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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.

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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.

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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.