Three Chinese Summer Cold Dishes – Tomato Cucumber and Wood Ears

When you think of summer food, salad usually comes to mind (got to love a good summer salad). They are, actually, just as common in Chinese cooking, although instead of having a mix of different leaves, Chinese veggie cold dishes are usually made from a single ingredient. These are all very easy to make, so here are three salads with different flavours! They can all be prepared in advance and left in the fridge for dinnertime – no need worry about wilting leaves. Continue reading “Three Chinese Summer Cold Dishes – Tomato Cucumber and Wood Ears”

Savoury Courgette Tart

I don’t call this recipe a quiche because the method used for the Italian torta salata is slightly different. For these sort of homemade savoury tarts, Italians don’t add eggs to the short crust pastry, unlike the French. Also, a quiche will require the mixture of creme fraiche with the egg inside the filling, while in torta salata we use cheese (usually ricotta or chewy cheese like mozzarella or sweet provola) as the main ingredient that brings the flavours together. Admittedly, I had never made a torta salata before, and I was a bit disappointed with the results of this recipe, inspired by this one on Giallo Zafferano. I felt that the pastry should have been blind baked before adding the ingredients, as the bottom of my tart stayed very white, even if the top crust was well cooked. It was crispy and had a nice texture, but I decided not to use pancetta, so that my vegetarian friends could also eat it. This made the flavours a little bland, because I didn’t think to use a stronger flavoured cheese to make up for it.
Overall, I suggest you blind bake, and if like me you want this recipe to be vegetarian, choose a type of cheese that will bring out the flavours rather than making them shy away.

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Peperonata, More Than a Side Dish

I love this dish because it requires few ingredients and provides a lot of flavour. It is a great side dish to present at a dinner party – but I love it solo or with a naughty slice of cheese on top – just like how I’m making it today, with my favourite smoked provola sarda (which I’ve imported from home). I often use bell peppers for this, mixing all colours in, but this time I’m making it using these long red and green peppers, very sweet flavoured and comforting to the palate. This recipe makes enough for two.

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Homemade Sourdough Bread recipe

If you are already baking your own bread, like our Simple Loaf recipe, you might feel ready or curious to take your baking to the next level. Sourdough, with its peculiar bitter taste and its all-natural, simple process, is the perfect step to that next level. When I decided to begin my sourdough voyage, I made mine from scratch in ten days, using the process suggested by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and which I will share with you in this recipe. Continue reading “Homemade Sourdough Bread recipe”

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Giant “Lion Head” Meatballs (Shi Zi Tou)

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Time to bring out the mooncakes and watch the full harvest moon – as we say, may the flowers be beautiful and the moon be round. This week’s Chinese recipe is also round! These pork meatballs are roughly the size of tennis balls, and are called lion heads or sixi (lucky four) meatballs, as you’d usually make four.

If you’d like a further touch of the autumn, you can also add a few chopped water chestnuts to the mix. The most important thing is to use minced pork belly and not a leaner mince, as it really makes a difference to how light and tender the meatballs turn out in the end. Continue reading “Giant “Lion Head” Meatballs (Shi Zi Tou)”

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Five Minutes Chocolate Cake

Back in Italy, the best colazione (breakfast food) to have at home would be a homemade cake shared with the family. True to my origins, I often crave something sweet for breakfast and I get itchy for the next baking mission. This time, I quickly put together some very basic ingredients I had at home and the perfect homemade cake came out with only 5 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes in the oven. This simple chocolate cake will stay perfectly fluffy and spongy for a few days (even if you store it in the fridge). Savour it for breakfast with a cappuccino or with a glass of milk as a snack. Or bring it to that last minute dinner invite! Continue reading “Five Minutes Chocolate Cake”

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Shredded Potato in White Vinegar (Cu Liu Tu Dou Si)

Potato is such a versatile ingredient – boil it, bake it, mash it, make chips with it… or shred it for this stir fry recipe. This simple recipe tastes just as good once the potatoes have gone cold, so it’s a refreshing one to try (despite the spice) now that the weather’s hotter. What gives this its refreshing nature is the vinegar. Usually in Chinese cooking, when you mention vinegar, you’d automatically think of black vinegar from Zhenjiang. However, here you should go for white wine vinegar instead. Continue reading “Shredded Potato in White Vinegar (Cu Liu Tu Dou Si)”

Chocolate Chip Biscuits (Gocciole)

In Italy, biscuits are an easy snack, like everywhere else in the world. But they are also an essential when it comes to consuming breakfast at home. Together with the famous combination of jam croissant and cappuccino, biscuits dipped in caffe latte are the definition of what Italians eat in the morning. In London I had it easy, and especially in the North-East, where the Turkish shops have a marvellous variety of Italian products on their shelves.

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Sardinian eel pie (Panada di anguille)

Easter has come and gone, and in Sardinia many families have cooked a very traditional dish for special occasions: Sardinian panada. Many claim that this pie was created during the pre-nuragic period. I doubt so, judging by its similarities with empanadas, I would say that the idea was probably coming from our Spanish invaders. Legend says that the first place where it was cooked was a small town called Assemini, where back then fishing was the main activity. Hence, the panada di anguille, filled with eels is the classic version, which is also the one I’m presenting to you today. However, ingredients are easy to change: for the Easter holidays for example, the preferred filling would be lamb meat, accompanied by potatoes or other veggies. Continue reading “Sardinian eel pie (Panada di anguille)”