Tag Archives: Italian

Chocolate Biscotti

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These make a great biscuit to dunk in tea. Once baked, they will keep for up to a week but they also freeze well if you choose to save some for another day.

Makes approx 50-60 biscuits.

Ingredients

60g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
220g sugar
2 eggs
260g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g chocolate of your choice (if using milk chocolate, lower sugar to 200g)
optional: 100g pistachios or other nuts, chopped

Method

Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs, sifted flour and mix to create a smooth dough. Add in chopped chocolate and nuts. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 160*C and grease a baking tray. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Halve the dough and roll into a log shape of around 30 cm or the length of your baking tray. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until firm. Leave to cool completely before slicing diagonally into 1 cm slices. Heat the oven to 140*C, places sliced biscuits on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until dry, turning half-way.

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Arancini Wraps

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Following our trip to the Paralympics via The Arancini Brothers and an amazing meal at Canteen on Clifton Street we fell in love with a little-known Italian snack known as arancini. You may be thinking, like my housemate: WHO IS THIS AARON CHENEY GUY?! Well, firstly he’s not a guy. And if he was he definitely wouldn’t be called Aaron. Not exotic enough. To put you out of your misery, arancini is effectively deep-fried risotto balls, which probably isn’t the most appealing way of selling it. But trust us, it’s gurrrrrd.

This is our take on the Arancini Brothers wrap we shared in London. It also involves deep fried crispy onions so isn’t the healthiest snack around, but if you don’t make it your staple diet you’ll probably be ok! PS. You can follow the one of the Arancini Brothers on WordPress here.

Makes approx. 15 arancini

Ingredients

200g arborio risotto rice
25g butter
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1l vegetable stock
glug of white wine
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp basil
pinch salt and pepper
bowl of flour/polenta
1 egg, beaten

Crispy Onions

1 medium onion in the colour of your choice
1 cup buttermilk (milk + 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp chilli powder
pinch salt and pepper

Salad

shredded lettuce
2-3 chopped chillis
10-15 baby tomatoes
1 apple, thinly sliced

Garnish

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
few shredded fresh coriander leaves

Wraps

ingredients and method here

Method

Melt butter in frying pan, add the rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice goes translucent around the edges. Add onions, a glug of wine, stir and let the rice soak up the wine (still on the heat). When it has soaked up all the liquid, add the vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring occasionally. Throw in the herbs, salt and pepper, continue until rice is cooked adding more liquid when necessary. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

While the risotto cools, chop the other onion, mix up the batter then add the chopped onion. Now is probably a good time to mix up your garlic mayo – finely chop the garlic, rip up the coriander and stir into the mayonnaise.

Put the flour and/or polenta in a bowl and beat the egg in a separate bowl. Clump the risotto into balls that fit neatly into your palms, dip them in the egg and roll them in flour so they are completely covered. Heat enough oil in a saucepan to cover the risotto balls and drop them in (use tongs to avoid getting burnt!) a few at a time. Once golden and crispy (approx. 5-7 minutes) remove and dab with kitchen roll to remove excess oil.

Once all the arancini have been fried up, fry the onions, again dabbing with kitchen roll. Stick a little bit of everything in a wrap, add a little chilli jam squash down the arancini to make it easier to fold and enjoy!

J&W

Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Tortelloni

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Today, I decided I had nothing better to do with myself than to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I won’t say exactly how long it took me, because let’s face it, I took my time, made lots of mess, drank lots of tea and had a few snacks along the way. Having just returned from a lovely trip to Sardinia, I was inspired to try cooking some pasta from scratch. Coupled with the excessive amount of vegetables we had to use up, this recipe was born! To make this recipe, you need a decent pasta maker, or a good rolling pin and a bit of an expert eye.

I was unsure whether to call these tortelloni or tortellini (the difference being tortellini are smaller – 2g instead of 5g, but both are the same shape) as I think they are somewhere in between. I went with tortelloni as I think these would be best without a sauce, as tortelloni are traditionally served, in contrast to their little brothers. I’ll leave it to the Italians to decide.

Ingredients

pasta dough
300g extra fine (“00”) pasta flour plus extra for dusting
4 eggs in total – 3 for the dough itself and 1 for the construction

filling
3 small sweet potatoes
1/3 of a cauliflower (not too much in the way of stalk)
75g Grana Padano cheese (Pecorino Romano, parmesan or “Parmigiano Reggiano” to give it its proper name would also do just fine)
2 tsp pesto
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Begin by mixing the three eggs into the pasta flour in a large bowl to make a rough dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently (as you would pastry) to make a smooth, consistent dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes or longer.

Meanwhile, finely chop the sweet potatoes and the cauliflower into roughly 5mm cubes. Add to a moderately hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Crush or finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan. Stir the vegetables regularly to prevent them from burning or cooking too quickly – the aim is to soften them ready to re-heat later. Add the herbs, pesto and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. If you feel the pan is getting too dry, add small amounts of water to steam the vegetables. They should be cooked for around 10-15 minutes to taste, but some of the sweet potato should be just crumbling – this helps the filling bind and stick together. I wanted to give my filling some bite to it, so mine were cooked for around 12 minutes. Some of the sharp corners of the vegetables did however make folding quite tricky later on – I suppose it’s a personal preference.

When cooked, remove the vegetables from the heat and leave to cool before mixing in the finely grated cheese. Mix well.

To make the pasta, remove the dough from the fridge and take a workable piece (I suggest an eighth). Roughly roll it out using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to around 1 cm thick. Run it through the pasta mill on its thickest setting and repeat a few times until it is on one of the thinnest. I found the last-but-one setting worked best to make a more durable dough, but if you’re opting for a more pureed filling, then you would probably get away with the thinnest pasta.

Lightly whisk up an egg in a mug and find a pastry brush. You will need this in a minute!

Cut 8 cm rounds from the pasta sheet and make sure they are lightly floured so as not to stick to the work surface. Place a small teaspoon of filling in the centre of each circle and brush a good 1 cm around the edges with egg. Fold in half to make a semi-circle. Bring the two corners together and stick with a little bit of egg-wash to make the traditional tortelloni shape (see: http://goo.gl/Kb61Z). Neaten up the shape a little before leaving to rest and semi-dry out on a lightly floured tray before doing the rest. The first will inevitably be the worst (and take the longest) but you will get the hang of it.

Cook immediately, or store it in the fridge for a day or so – but be sure to flour the tray well, as the pasta tends to stick to it the longer it is left.

To cook: add to a large pan of boiling, slightly salted water with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Simmer for around 3-5 minutes for al-dente pasta. Served best with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated Grana Padano (or equivalent). We had ours with some grilled Mediterranean veg (courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes) and home-made (if not slightly well-done) rosemary foccacia. Enjoy!

W