Monthly Archives: November 2013

beef wellington


This one requires a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it!

First I seal a piece of beef fillet (about 1 kilo) in olive oil. When it’s cold, I season it and spread Dijon mustard all over it. I cook mushrooms cut up into small pieces in a dry non-stick pan, seasoning towards the end of the cooking process.  I lay strips of Parma ham on a sheet of cling film and arrange the mushrooms on top. I place the fillet in the centre and with the aid of the cling film, roll up tight. This goes into the fridge for half an hour. I roll out puff pastry and lay it on another sheet of cling film, unwrap the meat and lay it on the pastry. Again with the aid of the film, I roll up tight making sure the meat is well covered. Back in the fridge for half an hour. I finally eggwash the pastry and make cuts across the roll. It cooks for 30-35 minutes at 180°C. It’s best if you stand the meat on a rack in the roasting tin.

The meat should be pink, but if you prefer you can cover the pastry with some foil and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes.

liver patè


This one is for the freezer for Christmas!

I sautè 200 gm chicken livers in butter, adding salt and a generous amount of pepper. This goes into the mixer with a handful of chopped capers , the zest of a lemon and extra virgin olive oil. I use the pulse function to amalgamate into a rough  rather than a smooth paste.

The cute dishes make this simple recipe look grander!.

chicken terrine


This is a summer dish to eat cold with salad and a pickle… so why am I doing it in November? Anyway…

I sautè some sliced mushrooms in oil and some sliced leek in butter. When the vegetables have cooled down, I mince two chicken breasts in the magimix with three egg whites, 100 ml of cream, salt and pepper. I lightly oil an oblong tin and fill it with half the chicken mixture. Then I lay the leeks and mushrooms on top, taking care not to go to the edges of the tin. I cover with the rest of the chicken and press down well. I cover with a double layer of oven paper and cook in a water bath at 180°C for an hour or so. ( By water bath, I mean put the tin in a larger tin and fill the latter with boiling water, then into the oven.)

I still haven’t worked out why I’m doing this in November.



This flat bread is popular in Romagna where it would be filled with water cress and soft cheese or Parma ham. Traditionally made with lard, I prefer the olive oil version.

I mix together 250gm flour, two or three tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of milk, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of bicarbonate. Then I add about half a glass of warm water to make a dough, which is then rested in the fridge for 45 minutes. I divide the dough into 4 and roll each piece out thinly. I cook the piadina for a few minutes on each side in a dry non stick pan.

I often break up piadine to use for dips  with drinks. Last night I had no water cress, so just used a salad instead. Not bad!

spaghetti and treviso


Radicchio di Treviso is a very versatile salad. Here I use it for pasta.

I cut the radicchio into small pieces, discarding the root. In a large frying pan I infuse a clove of garlic in olive oil and add a fresh chilli pepper. Then I add the salad, a little salt and sauté briskly for a few minutes. I add the drained spaghetti and toss pasta and vegetable together with a little extra olive oil.

A sprinkling of grated pecorino is good. As is a glass of Chianti!



…or onion and anchovy pizza from Palermo.

I make the bread dough in the bread machine with 245ml water, a dash of olive oil, 350gm flour, 2 teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of salt and a packet of yeast granules. While it proves, I finely slice two onions on the mandolin and sauté in olive oil. When softened, I add a can of tomatoes and cook until thickened, adding salt and pepper. I roll the dough out onto a lighly oiled baking sheet, lay some anchovy fillets on top, then thin slices of Asiago cheese (the Sicilian version would use caciocavallo) and the onions and tomatoes. I sprinkle dried oregano on top and a dribble of olive oil. It cooks in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 20-25 minutes until top and base are well cooked through.

With a salad, this is sufficient for four people . Needless to say, Augusta and I ate the lot!



The ultimate comfort food. Tagliatelle are a comfort to make and a comfort to eat.  Nothing beats the satisfaction of rolling out the pasta by hand to a wafer thin sheet, folding it up, cutting into ribbons and hanging up to await cooking.

Last night we had the tagliatelle with tomato sauce and some sautèed courgettes, plenty of butter and parmesan. Augusta made the sauce in September when plum tomtoes are at their ripest and cheapest. She cooked them down with celery, onion, carrot and basil. Then she passed everything through the vegetable mill and portioned the sauce into plastic bags which went into the deep freeze. Traditionally such a sauce should be bottled, but sterilising jars is too much bother! Freezing works very well for us.

cauliflower salad


This is a traditional recipe from Naples… insalata di rinforzo.

I steam a cauliflower, taking care not to overcook it. Then I divide the florets into smallish pieces. To these I add chopped roast peppers (those in jars are fine!), chopped gherkins, stoned olives, capers and a few anchovies. I dress the salad with an emulsion of salt, pepper, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

In Naples, what’s left over next day would be bolstered (rinforzo) with extra cauliflower. In our house we never have anything left over!

warm spicy prawn salad


We had this as a supper dish, but it would be nice, in smaller quantities, as a starter too.

First, I remove the heads, shells and veins of the prawns. Then I prepare a salad with lettuce and some finely sliced raw courgettes. I dress the salad with lemon, olive oil and salt and arrange it on the plates. I roughly grind fennel seeds, cumin, coriander and one dried chili with a little sea salt. In a dry non-stick frying pan, I toast the spices for 30 seconds, add the prawns and stir until they have turned pink and become encrusted with the spice mix. (2 minutes about). I put the prawns on top of the salad and serve with a piece of toast.

Last night’s jury awarded this dish 10 out of 10!

spaghetti alla puttanesca


This is a firm favourite with Augusta…

In a large frying pan I sautè chopped onion in olive oil with two anchovy fillets and a fresh chilli. Then I add a can of plum tomatoes and a little salt and cook briskly. When the sauce has thickened a little, I add a handful of black olives and capers. When the sauce is thick, I add a splash of extra virgin olive oil. I turn off the heat and add a good tablespoon of chopped parsley. I toss the drained spaghetti in the pan with the sauce, adding a little more oil.

The spaghetti must be thick and the wine must be red!