Mini bundt cakes with chocolate drizzle

Mini bundt cakes with chocolate drizzle

Yes, I’m playing the chocolate card, guilty as charged! As if mini, individual bundt cakes weren’t adorable enough, I had to go and drizzle a sticky, luscious dark lacquer all over them, thus rendering them utterly irresistible. These cakes incapsulate … Continue reading

Craving Italian Tomatoes…(Oven roasted Tomatoes with Evoo and Balsamic)

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Italian cooking is always associated with the abundant use of tomatoes, may they be fresh, placed on a chunck of crunchy bread smeared with extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, or used in a sauce. The reason behind it is that in Italy we are blessed with the sweetest and most flavorsome  varieties. It has to do with a combination of great soil and holy water, and maybe a miracle by the Madonna thrown in for good measure, but what is certain is that it poses quite a challenge for me to find a red fruit that can stand the comparison with Italian Pomodori. So, when I am away from my Bella Italia, and I crave the Campania sun-ripened jewels of the vine, I make do with what I can find and use a few tricks to enhance it and turn it mighty good. This is my secret revealed…

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

3 cups of cherry tomatoes (or heirloom tomatoes), halved

3 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

a small pinch of sugar

salt and pepper to season

fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley…)

2 garlic cloves, bashed with the back of a knife

1 small chillie (optional)

HOW TO

1. Turn your oven onto 160 C (330 F)

2. Line an oven tray with baking paper

3. Mix the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients and tip onto the oven trayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Roast for 1 hour or so or until the tomatoes look sun-brunt and wrinkly and are oozing out their delectable nectar… that’s when you know they are ready to meet their match, a large chunk of home-made sourdough bread…This classifies as the best lunch ever. Especially if you pair it with a glass (or two) of  chilled rose’ …

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You can also use them  as a dressing for pasta,  as the ultimate bruschetta topping, served with Italian savory donuts or as a side dish to accompany meat or fish

Buon appetito!

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Sausage and Peas Risotto

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Combine the creaminess of Carnaroli short grain rice with the perfume of red wine and the savoury deliciuosness of pork and fennel sausages, with stewed sweet leeks and a generous amount of butter and Parmigiano and you have got yourself joy on a plate. Risotto is the ultimate comfort food and it is really quite straight forward to make. Having said that, I have to be pedantic and fastidious and insist you only make it if you have a great stock to cook in with. Cubes won’t cut it, I’m afraid…

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

2 sausages, sliced

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 leeks

1 tablespoon of butter +1 extra at the end

2 cups of Carnaroli or Arborio rice

half a glass of red wine

4 cups of good stock

2/3 cup of frozen peas

salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated parmigiano

HOW TO

1. Pan fry  the sausage with oil until browned and almost cooked through. Remove and set aside.

2. Slice two leeks and wash throughly to remove any grit. Stew over a low flame in the same pan with the sausage juices adding a tablespoon and butter a Cover with a lid and stir occasionally. They should turn soft and creamy in about 20 minutes.

3. Add the rice and toast in the pan with the leaks until the grains turn translucent, pour in the wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate. Stir a little to make sure no grains are sticking to the pan, being mindful not to distress the rice too much. You want to make sure the grains keep their shape and texture.

4. As the wine dries out, turn the flame down and start adding the stock, a few ladles at a time, stirring gently. Repeat for about 16/17 minutes,until the rice is almost cooked. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Add a cup of frozen peas and your slices of sausage.

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5. Turn off the flame , add a ladleful of stock, a generous grating of Parmigiano and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir vigorously to release the starch. Cover with a lid and rest for 3 minutes. This process is called mantecatura and it is essential in order to obtain a creamy risotto with its characteristic all’onda* texture .

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Serve with lots of Barbera and enjoy!

* The way of the waves.

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Minestrone con Cavolo Nero, (Tuscan Kale Vegetable Soup) Super food in a bowl!

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This is the ultimate Italian winter meal. You may call it minestrone, I have dubbed it “super food in a bowl”! How can you go wrong when your meal is packed-full of dark green, robust leaves, antioxidants and vitamins? With the added nutrients of borlotti beans, extra-virgin olive oil and the kick of chillie, you have secured yourself a spa treatment for your insides that is sure to keep you warm from the first winter chill. Minestrone with cavolo nero is so much more than just a soup, so rich of  revitalizing and hearty deliciousness, you feel restored and healthier after each mouthful.

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 leek, well washed and thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 small carrot, sliced

1 celery stick, sliced

1 chunk of parmesan cheese crust (optional, omit for a vegan version)

2 potatoes

1 small handful of diced pancetta or speck (omit for a vegetarian, vegan version)

2 cups of fresh borlotti beans (or two tins, well rinsed. Alternatively, soak  2 cups of dried beans for 12 hours, then cook in simmering water for 2 hours)

2/3 cup tin tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of Brussel sprouts, quartered and outer leaves removed

4-5 cavolo nero leaves, stalk removed, shredded

3/4 of baby pasta (such as ditalini, orzo, macaroni)

Extra-virgin olive oil (or Chillie oil) to serve

HOW TO

1. Sautee’ the sliced and chopped vegetables with the oil in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta and cheese crust (if using)

2. Add the potatoes and the beans, the tomatoes and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the beans are tender. (if using tinned beans, only add them 25 minutes into cooking the potatoes with the rest of the vegetables)

3. Add salt and pepper (only salt the beans after they are cooked, or they will wrinkle up)

4. Add a handful of Brussel Sprouts, the shredded cavolo nero and 3/4 cup of baby pasta (I used ditalini)

5. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the pasta is nicely al dente. Turn off the heat.

6. Serve hot with a good swirl of extra-virgin olive oil or chillie oil.

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I am not feeling the cold tonight…

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