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I love Italian cuisine, its simplicity and beauty. The Taste of Italy is one of my favourite Italian cookbooks. I tried out many recipes featured in that book and each time it has been a great success. Today, I have got something absolutely mouthwatering for you! It is easy to prepare and it’s a delicious evening dish that goes very well with a simple salad and a glass of chilled white wine. Spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parma ham – an amazing winning combination.

Spinach-Stuffed Cannelloni

Serves 4

stuffed cannelloni

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

12 dry cannelloni

225 g baby spinach

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 slices Parma ham, chopped (omit for a vegetarian option)

125 g Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

200 g Ricotta cheese

1 handful of grated Parmesan cheese

250 ml white sauce (béchamel)

25 g butter or 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

small basil leaves to decorate

The basic white sauce recipe:

25 g butter, 25 g plain flour, 250 ml milk, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Whisk in the  flour. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil. Season. Lower the heat. Simmer gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Check the seasoning add the nutmeg.

Preparation:

Prepare the white sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200 ℃.

Heat the butter or olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and ham and fry briefly. Add the spinach and gently cook for aprox. 4 minutes util nice and soft. Remove from the heat and add the Mozzarella, Ricotta and the handful of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, add the nutmeg.

Fill each of the cannelloni with the above stuffing.

Lightly grease an ovenproof dish. Pour over some of the white sauce. Lay the cannelloni on top of the white sauce. Pour over the remaining (bigger half) of the white sauce. Sprinkle over with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden when cooked. Decorate the dish with a few basil leaves. Serve hot.

It is a really tasty dish – I know you will love it :)

spinach stuffed cannelloni

by Asia(Jo)

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Peperonata, a delicious accompaniment for fish or meat dishes. This fantastic Italian recipe, coming form Campania region, tastes luscious and can be flavoured additionally by capers and anchovy fillets.

Some time ago I found this recipe in one of my favourite and precious cookbooks Italy The Beautiful Cookbook, which is full of authentic recipes and wonderful photographs of all featured dishes and the Italian culinary regions.

This dish doesn’t require many ingredients but remember to use only fresh and good quality ones.

Peperonata – Pepper & Tomato Stew

Serves 6

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

3 ripe tomatoes

6 red and yellow bell peppers (I tend to use green ones as well)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

a few fresh basil leaves

Preparation:

Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds; drain and peal. Chop the tomatoes; seed and slice the peppers.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add the pepper slices, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Cover, reduce heat and cook slowly for 30 min, stirring from time to time. Add the basil and cook for a few minutes more to blend flavors. Transfer to a bowl and serve or enjoy it with a grilled tuna and lemon risotto on one plate.

by Asia(Jo)


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Recently, I have discovered a very cool series of pocket cook books called All Colour Cookbooks published by Hamlyn. Each of them consists of 200 easy to make, mouthwatering recipes with beautiful photographs and clear instructions. The colour of book cover reefers to different food themes, for instance, red book is dedicated to baking, green book is all about salads and pasta dishes, purple book is devoted to low fat dishes, orange book introduces easy suppers while the brown one is full of veggie feasts. But there is many more giving you a wide choice of different cuisines or food interest. So far I bought two of All Colour Cookbooks: Super Salads and Cakes and Bakes.

Have a look at a sweet recipe from the red book Cakes and Bakes - Coffee Kisses.

Coffee Kisses

Makes 10

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 teaspoon boiling water

75 g butter, at room temperature

50 g light muscovado sugar

125 g self-raising-flour

For the filling:

2 teaspoons instant coffee

2 teaspoons boiling water

50 g butter, at room temperature

100 g icing sugar, sifted

Preparation:

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Beat the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the dissolved coffee and then gradually mix in the flour to make a smooth dough.

Knead the dough and shape it into a log and then chill for 15 minutes. Slice the the chilled log into 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, arrange on a greased baking sheet and flatten by pressing with a fork. Bake in the preheated oven, 180 ℃, for 8-10 minutes until browned. Leave the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Beat the butter and icing sugar together then stir in the dissolved coffee until smooth and fluffy. Use the filling to sandwich the biscuits together in pairs. Eat within 2 days.

Have a coffee kiss with your morning coffee – good day everyone!

by Asia(Jo)


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100% pleasure:
good fish and good wine!

Sea Bass:
good source of magnesium

IMG_2442

by Asia(Jo)

IMG_2448

by Asia(Jo)

Sea Bass with baby potatoes, baby courgettes and tomato sauce
Serves 2

You will need:
1 sea bass, cleaned (ask your fish monger to choose a fish weighting enough for two)
1 lemon
olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 fennel, green tops picked
1/2 of a small tarragon bunch
1 small flat parsley bunch (1/2 for fish and 1/2 for courgettes)
1 teaspoon of dry fish herbs
salt and pepper
2-3 small courgettes (or 6 baby courgettes)
1 small handful of black olives, chopped
8-10 baby potatoes, pealed
3 tomatoes
1 handful of basil leaves
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
kitchen foil

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Get 1/2 m piece of kitchen foil. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the foil. Sprinkle with fennel seeds, salt and pepper and a couple of squeezes of lemon juice. Rinse your fish under cold water, pat it dry with paper kitchen towel and arrange on top of the   herb & oil mixture. Season the fish inside, add dry fish herbs, insert two lemon slices, tarragon and half of flat parsley inside the fish cavity. Drizzle the fish with a bit of olive oil and some lemon juice; close the foil creating a kind of a parcel. Pop the fish into the oven for about 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of your fish and quality of your oven.

In the meantime, peal potatoes and cook them in salted water for aprox. 15-20 minutes. For the tomato sauce: score the tomatoes and place them in a bowl, pour over boiling water, leave for 30-45 seconds, drain, rinse with cold water and take off the skin. Chop the tomatoes. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes, basil, coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If needed, reheat before serving.

Cut the courgettes into stripes. Heat 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil, add courgettes and fry slowly, whites side down, turning from time to time for aprox. 10 minutes. Add olives and flat parsley. Mix everything throughly for a minute and then season with salt and pepper.Take the fish out of the oven. Divide fish, courgettes, potatoes and tomato sauce between plates. Drizzle with a bit of lemon juice.

Bon Appetit!

IMG_2480

by Asia(Jo)



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I think raspberries are really graceful and delicate! You must enjoy them before this wonderful seasonal fruit begins to  disappear from shop shelves.
Try this recipe and appreciate a tiny bit of naughtiness :) Mini cheese cakes are perfect as a snack, fancy dessert and gift for a best friend or lover!

Divine Individual Cheesecakes (makes 12)

IMG_2154

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:
For the base:
100 g wholemeal biscuits (I use McVitie’s The Original Digestive)
55g ground almonds
50 g unsalted butter, melted

For the cream cheese filling:

400 g cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
100 ml soured cream
110 g caster sugar
1 free-range egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated lime zest
150 g raspberries
Icing sugar to dust

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 160 C.
Line a 12-hole muffin tin (I use muffin silicon forms) with muffin paper cases. Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, using a food processor or rolling pin. (I put biscuits in a sandwich bag and crush them with my hands or with a rolling pin).
Put the biscuits crumbs, ground almonds and melted butter into a bowl and stir thoroughly to combine the contents.
Press 1heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the base of each muffin case. Chill.
Beat the cream cheese, soured cream and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg first, then the egg yolk, vanilla and lime zest, beating well after each addition. Spoon the mixture over the bases, then sprinkle the raspberries on top (2-3 berries for each muffin form). Bake for 20 min or until the cheesecakes are puffed. Cool, then chill until ready to eat. Decorate with 1-3 raspberries and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Enjoy them!

* Source: Delicious. Magazine June Issue ‘09

mini cheesecake

by Asia(Jo)

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