Category Archives: antipasti

Antipasti

ricotta and artichoke quiche

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Artichokes are nearly over now, so this will be the last time I use them this year.

First I make the pastry with 150 gm flour and 75 gm butter and a pinch of salt. I use the pulse option on the magimix, adding a little cold water to form a ball of dough. This rests in the fridge while I prepare the filling. I remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and pare the stalks, cut in slices and sautè in olive oil until just tender (I need to add a little water and cover the pan).  I mix together a ricotta with a few tablespoons of grated parmesan, an egg and black pepper. Then, when cool, I add the artichokes to the mixture. I roll out the pastry and fill a buttered and lined tin. I bake the case the blind (10 minutes covered in paper and beans, 5 minutes without) at 180 °C. I let the case cool, then I fill with the artichoke and ricotta mixture and cook for 25 -30 minutes. 

This is good warm or cold, but won’t keep for more than a day, so…

cheese and ham bread

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This ring of tasty bread is great with hams and cheeses at a party.

I boil two small potatoes (actually I wrap them in cling and microwave for 4 minutes), then I put them through the ricer and, when cool, I add them to 250 gm flour, a packet of fast action yeast, 2 eggs, 50 g melted butter and a teaspoon of salt in the Magimix. I add a few spoons of warm water to create a softish dough, which I work (the machine works!) until smooth and elastic. I transfer to a bowl, cover in film, and leave to rise for an hour. Then I add 100 gm of chopped cooked ham and a small mozzarella, chopped into small pieces. I put this into a buttered ring mould and leave to rise for an hour and a half. I cook it in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes. If it colours too quickly on top, I cover with foil in the last stages.

A ring mould is not essential, you can use an ordinary cake tin too. Actually, it’s easier to unmould from a cake tin!

à la greque

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I do lots of vegetables like this … artichokes, cauliflower and whole mushrooms are particularly good.

For artichokes, I remove the outer leaves and trim the top and stalk. Then I divide in half and remove any choke. (If the vegetable is fresh, there won’t be any). I bring a small pan to the boil with the juice of half a lemon, a generous glug of olive oil, a splash of water and sea salt. I add the halved artichokes and cover. I cook until just tender, then I remove the lid and reduce any liquid to a spoonful. All over a brisk flame. I serve on a plate with the remaining spoon of oily juice.

I like them at room temperature with bread and cheese or ham. Or I make a big selection of vegetables to serve as an antipasto on grander occasions.

artichoke and prawn starter

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I usually do avocado and prawns as a starter, but the avocados yesterday were too hard, so…

I put artichoke bottoms in a pan with a good glug of olive oil and a glass of water, salt and pepper and parsley stalks. I cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes. In the meantime, I shell and de-vein some prawns and boil them briefly. I put an artichoke bottom on a plate, pile some prawns on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley. I dress the salad with citronette (lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt).

This is a handy starter as it can be prepared well in advance and served cold.

another quiche

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I’m cooking for one this week as Augusta is away, so rather than shop I’m scraping the barrel of the freezer and store cupboard. I found some shortcrust pastry and cream/egg/parmesan mixture in the freezer.  All I had to prepare was a pepper, which I sliced finely on the mandolin and sautèed quickly in a little olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.

First I roll out the pastry, line a tin, prick the base and bake it blind for 10-15 minutes at 180°C. When cool, I add the cooked pepper and dot some knobs of creamy gorgonzola on top and add the cream/egg/cheese mixture. It cooks for another 30 minutes or so.

This was supposed to do me two suppers, but I ate the lot at one go!

tosella

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This is an unusual cheese from the Altopiano di Asiago, where it’s often served with polenta and wild mushrooms. To appreciate the  milky taste, you have to cook it. I just fry for a few minutes on each side in a little butter. Some people dredge it in flour or breadcrumbs first. It can also be melted under the grill or in the oven.

Tosella is a summer cheese, so I keep a few slices in the freezer. 
PS. I don’t know which category this goes in!

smoked mackerel patè

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For Christmas we ordered (or rather Teresa ordered for us, thanks!) fine smoked salmon and mackerel from a smokery in Connemara which we had visited two years ago on a very wet August day!  This is the last of the mackerel.

In the Magimix I mix together equal quantities of smoked skinless mackerel and cream cheese (Philadelphia) and add lemon juice to taste. Best served with toast.

Another similar idea is to mix Philly with anchovy paste and lemon juice. Simple but effective.

leek tart

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Inspired by the Great British Bake Off (great programme!) here’s my version of a quiche…

First I chop leeks and sautè them in a little butter and olive oil. While they cool, I make the shortcrust pastry (150gm flour, 75gm butter, salt and  water) and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. I prepare the custard by beating two eggs with 200 ml cream and three tablespoons of parmesan, a little salt and pepper. Then I roll out the pastry thinly and line a tin. I prick the base with a fork and bake the case blind for 15-20 minutes at 180°C. (To bake blind, I use a sheet of baking paper weighed down by ceramic baking beans which I remove in the last 5 minutes.) I let the case cool a little, then add the leeks and custard. It returns to the oven for 35-40 minutes.

These tarts are good for stand-up parties or as a supper treat with a salad. I prefer to eat the quiche cold.

quesadillas

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These make a nice supper dish, or, cut into small pieces, a good accompaniment to drinks. I sometimes cheat and use shop-bought flour tortillas, but home-made are (as always) best.

To make four tortillas I put 180 gm white flour, a teaspoon of salt and 40 ml olive oil in the mixer with up to 125 ml warm water to form a soft dough, which I rest in a covered bowl for an hour. I then divide it into four balls which I roll out into a rough circle. I cook these a minute each side in a hot dry non-stick frying pan, pressing down with a spatula should bubbles appear. I grate 60 gm of Asiago cheese per person and crumble some dried chilli on top. To make the quesadillas, I brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil and place it oil side down in the hot dry pan. I spread the cheese-chilli mix on top and cover with a second tortilla. I cook for a minute, brush the top tortilla with olive oil and turn over to cook a further minute. I repeat the process with the second quesadilla. 

A salad, a glass of chilled white wine…

nibbles

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What to do with leftovers when when you’ve rolled out puff pastry? You can’t really re-roll because you’ll lose the layering, so …

I sprinkle parmesan on top and then add some chopped black olives or anchovies or poppy seeds. Then I roll up the strips and cut into rounds. I place them on a sheet of baking paper and put them in a hot oven (200°C) for about 5 to10 minutes. When they’ve coloured nicely I turn them over for a few minutes more. I cool them on a rack and serve with drinks.

Of course if you use a whole sheet of puff, you’ll get evenly shaped rounds. With leftovers, it’s all charmingly uneven!

These freeze well too and it is useful to have a bag in the freezer.