Roasted Cauliflower Salad

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Is the humble cauliflower enjoying a new renaissance? Whether you work in food or simply enjoy your home-cooking time, it appears that this pearly white cluster of florets is now proudly sitting at the forefront of the pantry. We have devised creative ways to turn it into cous cous and have compounded it into pizza bases (although the jury is still out on that one…), we are using it as a potato substitute in thick, wintery soups and enjoy it raw, thinly sliced like a carpaccio. Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? It turns out, you can also roast it until deliciously caramelized and crunchy, but still tender to the bite. With the added nutritional boost provided by vitamin C, K, B6 and folate, I am pretty much convinced that cauliflower wears the crown as the healthiest cruciferous!

INGREDIENTS, SERVES 4

1 cauliflower heard, cut into florets

4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of baby capers, roughly chopped

2 anchovy fillets, thinly chopped

1-2 French shallots, finely chopped

1 small chillie, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

2 more tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper for seasoning

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METHOD

1. Pre-heat you oven to 200 C (395 F)

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil  and cook the cauliflower florets for 5-8 minutes, or until soft but still retaining some firmness. Drain well then tumble onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Season with oil, salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes or until golden.

3. Make the dressing by mixing together baby capers, anchovies, chillies, vinegar and oil. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

4. Pour the dressing over the roasted cauliflower florets and scatter fresh herbs on top. Enjoy warm or at room temperature as a light lunch or a side dish.

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Almond, Pear and Olive Oil Cake

The seasonal change has hit our southern shores, swapping the warm breeze for a crisp chill. I have packed away my summer dresses and sandals to wrap myself in wooly layers, scarves and boots. To accompany the cooler weather, the stalls now abound with glorious winter produce, whose main purpose is to nourish and comfort. As I type this I’m embracing this sunny yet cool day, sipping tea and indulging in my second slice of this incredibly moist pear and almond cake, lightly scented by cinnamon and mandarine. Cold months to come, I fear you not! INGREDIENTS, makes1

3 small pears

3 eggs

1 cup of brown sugar (plus 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the pears)

Cinnamon

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of buttermilk

juice of 1 mandarine

1 cup of almond flour (almond meal)

1-1/2 cup of self-raising flour (gluten free flour will also work)

METHOD

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F)

2. Line a round cake tin with baking paper. Sprinkle the base with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a little cinnamon

3. Cut the pears into two, scoop out the core, then cut each half into two, lenghtways. Line the base of the cake tin with the pears.

4. Beat the eggs with sugar until fluffy, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, oil, buttermilk and mandarine juice and whisk well. Add the almond flour and the sifted self-raising flour and gently incorporate them into the batter without over mixing. Pour the batter over the pears and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.

5. Turn up side down and leave to cool on a rack for 30-45 minutes before serving. Enjoy as it is or with vanilla gelato, cream or thick Greek yoghurt.

Watch Made in Italy with Silvia Collocaon DVD 9781921383977

Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is available in stores and online!

Silvia’s new book Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca is on sale now!

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Overnight Healthy Rye and Spelt Loaf

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I would love to make you believe that I spent days elaborating a new recipe for a healthy and delicious bread. That I experienced, tried and tested various formulas until one day, exhausted but elated, I triumphed…Alas, the truth about how this bread came to be is that a few weeks ago, as I was setting up to mix a loaf, I realized I only had near-empty packets or various flours! Then epiphany hit me: mix them together and hope for the best! My, was I happy with the result! A crusty, dense and flavorsome loaf, perfect for sandwiches, divine with jam!

INGREDIENTS, makes 1 loaf

300 gr of spelt flour (2-1/4 cup)

200 gr of rye flour (1- 1/4 cup)

70 gr of wholemeal spelt flour (1/3 cup +2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon of dry yeast

1 pinch of sugar or 1 teaspoon of honey

370 ml (1-1/2 cup) of water, at room temperature

2 teaspoons of salt flakes

HOW TO

1. Start this recipe a day ahead.

2. Mix the three flours together in a large bowl, add the dry yeast and sugar (or honey) and gradually add the water, mixing with a spoon until a soft dough forms. Try not to add all the water at once. As flours always vary, it is better to start with 2/3 of the water and only then you can decide if you need the extra liquid. You are after a rather sticky dough, but not a wet one. If your dough feels too dry after you have used all the liquid, add 1-2 extra table spoons.

3. Once the dough has been mixed (you can easily do this by hand as it requires no kneading, just mixing until combined), add the salt and mix until well incorporated.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, then move to the fridge to rest overnight.

5. The next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

6. Heat up your oven to 220 C (430 F)

7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and very gently shape the dough into a loaf, being mindful not to knock out the air. Prove at room temperature for 40 minutes, then score the top with a sharp knife, sprinkle the loaf with a little water and place the tray into the oven.

8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is crusty and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool at room temperature on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.

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9781921383977

Biscotti with Blood orange and Macadamia nuts

This is not my first Biscotti post.

The truth is, the flavor combinations that will deliver a spectacular Italian biscuit are so many that I could keep testing recipes for months and still know there are many more to explore.

The original Cantuccini, or Biscotti di Prato recipe, calls for almonds and vanilla, a marriage made in heaven.

Then you could try that with some added chocolate chips, or a full-on chocolate version, with hazelnuts in place of the almonds.

Pistachio and mandarin perhaps, or cranberries, if you are feeling festive.

What about white chocolate and dried raspberry ones? Or coffee, cocoa and hazelnut? The possibilities are endless.

Some poet ought to write an ode on this versatile Tuscan delight!

Ingredients:

450gr. (4 cups) Self raising Flour
350gr.1 3/4 cups) Sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon melted butter
Grated zest of two blood oranges, the juice of half
a pinch of salt
120 gr.(3/4 cup) macadamia nuts, roughly chopped.
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

How to

Beat the eggs with  sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy.

Add the sifted flour, butter,salt, blood orange zest and juice, then the nuts.

Shape the dough with floured hands to form into two logs and I baked them in a medium oven for around 25 minutes.


Cool at room temperature for 3-5 minutes, then slice them using a sharp bread knife.

You will notice than the inside of the biscuits is still a little wet.

Place the sliced, semi-cooked dough back onto the tray and into the oven and toast each side for about 5 minutes.

In Italy, we love to dunk Cantuccini into Vin Santo, a sticky dessert wine from Tuscany.

They are also delicious with hot chocolate or coffee, but that’s no surprise, is it?

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Cantuccini con Pistacchi e mandarino

Cantuccini, also known as Biscotti di Prato, are Italy’s best-loved cookies.

They serve many useful purposes.

You can dunk them in your morning coffee, in your afternoon gelato and in your evening Vin Santo.

They are also, almost fat-free. Mind you, they make up the near absence of butter with a plentiful presence of sugar…

Stefano Spilli’s recipe calls for almonds, but I didn’t have any in my kitchen yesterday when I started mixing the dough and, as it often happens in Italian kitchens, I made do with what I had and replaced almonds for Pistacchios. I wasn’t disappointed.
Ingredients:

450gr. Self raising Flour
350gr. Sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon melted butter
Grated zest of two mandarins
a pinch of salt
200 gr. pistacchios
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

I chucked all the ingredients in the kitchen Aid, starting with eggs and sugar whipped until pale and creamy. I then added the sifted flour, the butter and the mandarin zest and vanilla. I then incorporated the nuts.

I used my hands to shape the dough into three sausages and I baked them in a medium oven for around 25 minutes.


I let them cool slightly, then I sliced them using a sharp bread knife.

I put the sliced dough back on the tray and into the oven and toasted each side for about 5 minutes.

**WARNING**

At this stage the vanilla and mandarin scent is  mind-blowingly intoxicating…

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Biscottini agli agrumi (Citrus cookies)

I can’t seem to keep up with my crop of lemons this year.

Every time I think I have picked the last two ripe jewels, three more appear from nowhere, begging me to be used in some sort of baking.

I can only oblige and obey the call of nature.

Today I was very keen to make lemon and almond Cantuccini, but I realized I didn’t have any eggs in the fridge.

Too cold to go out and fetch more, I quickly changed my recipe from Cantuccini to Biscottini , an egg-free, melt-in-the-mouth, Italian short-bread.

Today I felt lazy and I let my Kitchen Aid do all the mixing, even tough it is just as quick to do it by hand.

How to

Mix together 100 gr  (3/4 cup)of icing sugar with 150 gr (2/3 cups) of soft butter.

When the mixture is creamy, add 200 (1 1/2 cups) gr of self-raising flour, 50 gr (1/2 cup) of almond meal, 1 table-spoon of corn starch, a teaspoon of vanilla paste, the zest of 2 lemons and the zest and the juice of 1 mandarin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cookie dough will look and feel sticky. Use a spatula to scrape it onto a sheet of baking paper. Roll it up in the shape of a sausage and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

Once it’s rested and feels firm, slice it up and place the biscuits on an oven tray and then back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake at 170 C, 340 F,  for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to color. Cool at room temperature.

Dust with icing sugar and dunk into Grappa…

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