Monthly Archives: October 2013

cabbage soup


I like the frugality of traditional recipes, a contrast to our wasteful world of excess.

For cabbage soup, I finely slice half a savoy cabbage (verza) and stew it slowly on a low heat in a covered pan with some olive oil. I take care it doesn’t burn!  After about 15 minutes I add water, a teaspoon of vegetable stock granules and continue to cook slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes. I add salt to taste and lots of pepper.

A nice accompaniment is a slice of bread fried in oil which can be put in the bottom of the bowl (for me!) or served as a side (for Augusta!). A good sprinkling of grated parmesan is a must.

rabbit and peppers


Rabbit can be difficult but this method is very good…

I cut the rabbit into small pieces and sautè them briefly in butter and olive oil. I then add a ladleful of stock (boiling water and a scant teaspoon of vegetable stock granules), cover and simmer for 20 minutes. I cut a green and a red pepper into thin strips. In another pan I infuse a clove of garlic in butter and oil  with 2 anchovies. I add the peppers and sautè briskly for 3 minutes, adding a good splash of white wine vinegar. When the rabbit has simmered its 20 minutes, I add the peppers with some salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Then I uncover the pan and reduce the sauce to a thick consistency.

This is nice with grilled polenta or fried bread.

broad beans and chicory


This is a dish from Puglia, where they would use wild chicory. We use Spanish chicory  (catalogna). If this is unavailable, I would try young dandelion leaves mixed with spinach beet or maybe radicchio di Treviso. At any rate, the greens need to be bitter.

I soak 200gm of dried broad beans overnight. I drain them and put them in a large pot with cold water. I bring to the boil, remove the scum and simmer for an hour. I wash the chicory,  add it to boiling water for about 15 minutes and leave to drain well in a colander. To make the bean pureé, I simply stir them energetically with a wooden spoon and add salt and pepper to taste. In a wide frying pan I heat olive oil with a clove of garlic and a chopped fresh chili, and add the chicory to absorb the flavours for a few minutes.

The dish is served by putting the pureé in a soup dish and adding some chicory on top. A little grated pecorino and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil …

buttermilk scones


It’s not often we have a proper tea, but yesterday Teresa, Giovanni and Chiara were here at the right time, so…

To make 6-7 scones I rub 50 gm butter into 200 gm plain flour. I add a level teaspoon each of cream of tartor and bicarbonate, and a pinch of salt. Then I gradually mix in 125ml buttermilk and form a soft dough. I spread it out thickly (2-3 cm high) with my hands on a floured surface and use a small cutter to form the rounds. I reshape the dough and cut  until the dough is finished. I place the scones on an oven sheet lined with baking paper, brush with milk and cook at 200°C for 10 minutes. I serve warm with butter and jam. Stiffly whipped cream would be nice too!

If I don’t have buttermilk I use a tablespoon of yogurt and milk.  Sometimes I add a handful of sultanas to the mixture.

pizza calabrese


 A pizza without mozzarella!

I make the pizza dough in the bread machine with 350gm of flour. I cut 2 peppers into strips, de-seed and slice 4 to 5 tomatoes, prepare  a handful of stoned black olives and a tablespoon of capers. I chop two chilli peppers. Then, I sautè the peppers in olive oil for 4 minutes and add the other ingredients  with salt and pepper and continue to sautè for a minute. (The vegetables don’t need to cook through at this stage.) When I’m ready to cook, I spread the dough out onto an oiled baking sheet and distribute the pepper mixture on top. I snip a few basil leaves  into the vegetables and grate over a generous amount of pecorino cheese. It cooks at 200°C for 30 minutes.


duck salad


We’re not very fond of pink duck breast, but roast duck legs are ok.

I put the duck legs in a non-stick roasting tin skin down and brown them over a brisk flame. I turn them over to quickly brown the other side. They give off  their own fat. Then I salt and pepper them and cook them in the oven (180°C) for 90 minutes to two hours, with a sprig of thyme tucked into the flesh. The skin should be crispy and the meat well cooked. 

They’re nice warm in a salad. Use a robust salad like spinach salad or finely sliced sweetheart cabbage. I make the dressing with lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil and salt and pepper. To eat hot, add potatoes around the meat to roast in the last hour.

chinese cabbage, hot and sour


I like this dish because the only essential ingredient  is cabbage, the rest can vary according to the contents of the fridge!

I finely slice Chinese cabbage and half an onion. Then I make julienne strips of courgette and/or carrot and/or red pepper. I also prepare the sauce by mixing together 3-4 spoons of soy sauce, the same amount of vinegar, a teaspoon of salt and a scant tablespoon of sugar. In a large frying pan or wok I heat some olive oil and add 2 crumbled dried chillies and a few black peppercorns. Then I add the vegetables and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. I add the sauce and stir-fry for another minute. I remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, leaving the sauce in the pan. I reduce the sauce  to a tablespoon. This I then pour over the cabbage.

This dish is surprisingly good (better?) cold.

potato bake


This is a good supper dish, rich and comforting!

I grate peeled potatoes into a bowl and mix them with cubes of ham and grated emmental or asiago cheese. In another bowl I combine 2 eggs with 200 ml cream and 100ml milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I put the potatoes into a  buttered oven dish, pour the cream mixture over them, sprinkle with parmesan and cook at 190°C for 45-50 minutes.

You could use yogurt instead of cream, but…



I like plainly boiled rice with a curry or where there is a lot of sauce, otherwise I prefer to use an absorption method.

I gently sauté a little finely chopped onion in butter and olive oil. Then I add a cupful of Uncle Ben’s long grain rice, a few stock granules, salt and pepper. I coat the rice well in the onion and fat. Then I add slightly under 2 cups of water. When it’s boiling, I cover and turn down the heat to a minimum. It cooks in about 10 minutes and will keep warm for 5 minutes more.

The picture shows meatballs with rice. You can pimp the rice with turmeric for a nice yellow colour, or Indian spices for heat, or add frozen peas.

leek and potato soup


We arrived in the mountains to a  dull, rainy morning. So to warm us up…

I washed and sliced two leeks and 4 peeled potatoes, and put them in a pot with enough water for three people and a teaspoon of stock granules. When the water came to a boil, I simmered, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked. I liquidised the soup with the minipimer, tasted for salt and pepper and served  with grated parmesan. Fried croutons would be nice too, or  just toasted bread.

After lunch the sun came out and we – Augusta, Laura and I- could go for a nice walk. The power of leek and potato soup!