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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with milk

12Sep 12

Beef Canneloni

Beef Canneloni

 

There are a million ways you can make canneloni. The combination of fillings and sauces are up to your imagination! My mum used to cook up a beef canneloni with a tomato filling, and so I followed suit. Of course I experiment with other possibilities, but I consider this the classic recipe.

Some people use the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking pan, placing the canneloni on top of the passata and then smothering it with cheese. Others place the canneloni in first and then pour the tomato on top. My personal preference is combining the two and using both as filling, while drizzling over a delicious buttery cheese sauce. And if you really like cheese, you could sprinkle some extra on top afterwards!

Canneloni is a bit like lasagne: there are a million options for combinations, and the ingredients are made separately and then combined in the oven. Try this fantastic vegetable lasagne, and you’ll see what I mean.

Beef Canneloni
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
My mum's recipe for classic beef canneloni
Ingredients
  • 6 large canneloni tubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 230g ground beef
  • 400ml passata
  • 25g butter
  • 12g flour
  • 170ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 40g Parmesan cheese
  • 50g cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
Instructions
  1. Cook canneloni according to packet instructions.
  2. Next, pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan and sauté the onions and garlic for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and fry for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next, pour in the passata, a pinch of salt, a couple twists of black pepper and the basil. Let it all simmer together between 15 and 20 minutes.
  5. While the meat is simmering, you can prepare the topping and preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  6. Melt butter in a saucepan. When completely melted, whisk in the flour for a minute or two. When completely dissolved, you can add the milk. This step should be done slowly and carefully so as to avoid lumps.
  7. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and simmer for five minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes, stirring them all together.
  9. Take the meat and tomato mixture, stuffing it inside the canneloni.
  10. Gently place the canneloni side-by-side in a large baking dish, pouring the cheese sauce on top.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes and serve piping hot. But be careful not to burn your mouth!

 

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11Jul 12

Colomba Pasquale: ‘Easter Dove’ Cake

Colomba pasqualeAlso 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 only really demanding part, and there are machines you can buy that will do that for you if you can’t face it!

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was once told that there was a law passed to control and regulate the production of this cake. Judging from the varieties I’ve had over the years, the law isn’t being rigorously enforced!

Ingredients:

  • 450g flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 30g baker’s yeast
  • Some warm water
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 75-100ml milk
  • 75-80g candied fruit peel, to choose between lemon, lime and orange peel (diced)
  • 20g white hundreds and thousands for extra decoration
  • 75g almonds
  • A pinch of salt

Preparation:

1 – Crumble the yeast into a small amount of warm water, and allow it to dissolve. Then mix in 60g of flour. Roll a compact ball of dough and cut an ‘x’ into the top. Roll the dough-ball in flour, and then place it in a bowl along with a cup-full of warm water. Leave for half an hour, occasionally turning the dough over in the water, when it floats to the surface.

2 – Mix the rest of the flour with the egg yolks and just over half the butter (approx 110-115g), and the sugar, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the milk (which should be warmed first). Knead this mixture together, then add the already leavened dough and knead for 15-20 minutes (good kitchen exercise!). The smooth dough that results from all this effort should be placed in a covered bowl somewhere warm and allowed to rise for as long as required to increase the volume by roughly 30 per cent, which will probably be a minimum of 4-8 hours (it’s best left to rise overnight).

3 – Knead the dough again, slowly adding about half the remaining butter, in small chunks. Let it rise again, this time doubling in size, which will take up to six hours. Finally, knead one more time, this time adding all the remaining butter and the candied peel. (Set aside some of the candied peel to top the cake with later.) If you’re going for the dove shape, now’s the time! Otherwise place in a cake baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper to stop the cake sticking.

4 – Preheat your oven to 190ºC. Brush the remaining egg yolk over the cake mix (you could add a drop of vanilla essence to the glaze if you feel like it), and press the almonds in, so they won’t fall out as the cake bakes. Sprinkle over the sugar and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes.

5 – Top it with any candied peel you have set aside along with the hundreds and thousands.

Makes at least 8 generous servings
Total Time – Approx 24 hours (preparation, 20 hours; cooking time, 40 minutes)

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14Jun 12

Italian Classics – Lasagne

Lasagne

 

A classic Italian dish known all around the world, there’s no need to wonder why lasagne is so popular… it’s simply delicious! This recipe assumes you have some ready-made Bolognese sauce to hand. So, if you need help with that, look back through my posts for my spaghetti Bolognese recipe, and use that.

This recipe also calls for béchamel sauce, delicious and creamy. You can buy it at the store, but as always, I prefer to make mine from scratch. So the first step in the recipe below explains the method of preparation for the sauce using bay leaf, milk, butter and nutmeg. That is the first part of the recipe, and you´ll want to start with that.

Now the fun bit: assembling your lasagne. I like to imagine I’m laying the strata of rocks and earth in an imaginary edible geological cross-section!

Have a piquant peppery green-leaf salad with your lasagne, a salad with a bit of bite! Oh, and don’t forget, a hearty and robust red wine is an essential accompaniment. I know I should probably recommend an Italian wine, but I love Chateaneuf du Pape, when I can afford it! And afterwards, you can savour this Negroni cocktail, another Italian favourite!

Italian Classics - Lasagne
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A classic Italian dish known all around the world
Ingredients
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500ml milk
  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • ½ teaspoonful of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 350ml (i.e. approx 4 servings) of Bolognese sauce
  • 160g dried lasagne sheets*
  • 100g grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • * Or you could roll out your pasta dough if you have some you’ve made yourself.
Instructions
  1. To make the béchamel sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a pan with the bay leaf in it. Take off the heat and stand for 15-20 minutes to infuse the milk with the flavour of the bay leaf. Melt the butter in another pan, over a low heat. Add the flour and stir.
  2. Watch closely and monitor the heat. In a minute or two, the flour and butter mixture will have combined and ‘cooked’. Remove from the heat and slowly and gradually add the infused milk, having first strained it through a sieve to get rid of the bay leaf (and anything else that might make the sauce lumpy!), stirring all the while.
  3. Once it’s all combined and you’re sure it’s mixed smoothly, return to the heat and gently simmer until it thickens, which should only take a minute or two. Add the grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Next, get started on your pasta. I’m assuming the use of dried pasta sheets for this recipe. Cook them in batches in salted boiling water, until al dente, as usual.
  5. As you take each batch out, drain off excess water, rinse in cold water to refresh, and lay on a kitchen towel or tea towel, to absorb any moisture.
  6. While you’re doing this, you can reheat your Bolognese sauce in a pan or microwave.
  7. In a suitably sized ovenproof dish, start with the Bolognese sauce: go for three layers - you should have the perfect amount of everything enabling you to divide the pasta, Bolognese and béchamel sauces in thirds. So on top of one-third of your meaty sauce, put one-third of the béchamel, then a layer of pasta. Repeat the process two more times, reserving a little béchamel for the top of the last layer of pasta, before finally sprinkling over the Parmesan. We sometimes add small amounts of Parmesan in each layer as well, over the béchamel sauce, for added cheesiness.
  8. Bake at 220ºC until the top turns a beautiful golden brown, which should take 15-20 minutes, and then remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes, before serving.

 

 

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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.