Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Steak Sandwich

This is a  steak sandwich with an olive, hot pepper pickle, a smear of red pepper sauce and served on a whole grain bun. You can use a small amount of meat and pound it thin to create lots of little pieces of meat, then fill your sandwich full of olive salad or giardinera and sweet pepper sauce.
 That's a good sand-weeg!

You will need:

  • 1-2 top sirloin steaks - sliced and pounded very thin
  • 1 tsp Tuscan/Italian seasonings
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp  chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • breadcrumbs 1 cup
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Giardinera make it from scratch or buy a jar of hot peppers and mixed vegetables and then add some  chopped olives
  • nice buns

Roasted pepper sauce

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 small jar roasted peppers 125 ml
  • 1onion cooked in oil until sweet and carmelized
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Step 1: take a top sirloin steak and slice it into thin steaks. I normally slice it into a few pieces, then I flip the steak onto its side and slice it carefully against the grain to get a very tender piece of meat. It is a decent cut so even if you slice it with the grain and pound it it will be good. I got about 18 slices of meat out of two small steaks.

Step 2: in a small bowl add pounded meat, Tuscan or Italian seasonings, chopped rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add pepper, lemon zest and a few tbsp olive oil. Set aside.

Step 3: create a standard breading station. Breadcrumbs with dry mustard, Italian seasoning, dry oregano and lemon pepper. Flour with salt and pepper mixed in and eggs beaten. You add the meat first to the flour mixture, then to the egg mixture, then to the breadcrumbs.  Place breaded meat on a tray so they do not stick together. In a wide pan shallow fry meat in olive oil (just enough to come up the meat halfway) You may have to do this in batches. Place cooked meat on tray and sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper. You can keep these warm in the oven or you can re-heat them in the oven hours later.

Step 4: in a food processor add jarred hot peppers, hot pickled vegetables and some olives. Pulse a few times. You still want the mixture to be chunky. Remove to a small dish.

Step 5: add ingredients for red pepper sauce to food processor (I don't even wash it out from the vegetables you just made) Pulse until pureed.

Step 6: assemble your sandwich and eat. I had some leftover artichoke dip and I also added some to my sandwich. YUM.

You could certainly add some tomatoes and lettuce etc.. the point is you have lots of vegetables and a bit of meat.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Orange Amaretto Ricotta Cake

This is a ricotta cake that is almost like a cheesecake. I have used orange zest and Amaretto soaked raisins with the rich ricotta and mascarpone filling. Served simply with a few orange segments and some powdered sugar. It makes a delicious treat.

You will need:

  • 1 -  425 gram/1 1/2 cup container of ricotta cheese - strained to remove liquid - 30 minutes
  • 10 Amaretti cookies - crushed makes 1/4 cup crumbs
  • 1/3 cup raisins - chopped
  • 3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur like Di Sarrono
  • 1 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone  - room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 of a stick) - room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fruity olive oil - I used Terraliva from Italy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest from 1 lemon 
  • zest from 1 orange

Step 1: drain the ricotta for at least 30 minutes to remove some of the liquid.

Step 2: crush amaretti in a plastic bag to form crumbs to coat the pan instead of flour. They are so dry you can do this with your hand.

Step 3: chop raisins and pour over DiSarrono liqueur to soak. I also microwave for 25 seconds to soften and allow DiSaronno to infuse.

Step 4: take an 8 inch spring form pan and line bottom with a sheet of parchment paper. You just lock on the spring form right over the bottom lined with the paper. Butter bottom and sides generously. Sprinkle with the cookie crumbs to coat. Set aside.

Step 5: in a food processor add ricotta and mascarpone and puree until smooth. 30 seconds.

Step 6: in another bowl add sugar, butter and olive oil. With a hand mixer beat until smooth and fluffy, 1 minute.

Step 7: add eggs

Step 8: add creamed ricotta and citrus zest. Mix until incorporated. Add sifted flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just incorporated.

Step 9: fold in raisins and liqueur by hand.

Pour into prepared pan and bake on a tray to avoid any leaks or spills. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until lightly browned. If you bake in a water bath you will avoid potential cracks but, if it doesn't matter just bake on tray.

serve with orange slices and powdered sugar or Amaretto sweetened whipped cream.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Leek and Artichoke Soup

This is a delicious, hearty soup without using meat. It is best when you have access to beautiful fresh artichokes but, you can substitute frozen if you don't want to bother cleaning them. I love this kind of soup for dinner with bead and some good olive oil. What more do you need!

You will need:

  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic - chopped roughly
  • 2 leeks - cleaned and sliced 
  • 2 potatoes - peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh artichoke hearts - cleaned and sliced 
  • 1 tsp wild fennel pollen (or crushed fennel seeds)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup cauliflower or broccoflower - broken in small pieces
  • 1 litre chicken broth plus 2 cups water

Step 1: get a large bowl of cold water and squeeze a lemon into the water - you can throw in the whole lemon after. You need to place the cleaned artichokes into the water as soon as you have cleaned them to avoid browning/oxidation. Remove all outer leaves until you reach the soft leaves around the heart. I slice all around the bottom of the artichoke rough base and stem. Take a grapefruit spoon and scoop out the fuzzy choke in the centre. If you are having problems you can slice it in half to expose the choke and cut with a pairing knife. Cut the small cleaned heart into thin slices and put in lemon water while you clean the rest. You will waste much of the artichoke so don't be alarmed.

Step 2: clean and slice leeks, chop garlic, peel and chunk potatoes and break cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Step 3: in a large pot add olive oil and garlic, leeks, potatoes, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and cook 5 minutes on medium.high heat. 

Step 4:  then add lemon zest and juice.

If you can't find fennel pollen just substitute with some crushed fennel seeds.

Step 5: add artichokes, wild fennel pollen, thyme, cauliflower, broth and water. Let come to a boil and immediately turn down to simmer gently 30-40 minutes until all vegetables are soft and buttery.

Enjoy with fresh bread, an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Herbed Halibut and Steamed Broccoflower

Just because you are eating alone doesn't mean you shouldn't eat well!

This was my perfect lunch for one today. You can easily double the recipe for two.

You will need:
  • 1 Halibut steak per person or any whitefish you enjoy
  • 1 cup of brocoflower per person (or cauliflower)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 spring onion - chopped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh Italian parsley - chopped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh basil - chopped fine
  • 2 -3 tbsp olive oil - I used a Lucero Ascolano which is fruity - more oil to drizzle over plate
  • 1 tsp wild fennel pollen (or a few fennel seeds ground) 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice - more to squeeze over finished dish. (about 1/2 lemon)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Step 1: wash and break your broccoflower to bite sized pieces. Steam for 5 minutes. I like it to still have a bit of crunch.

Step 2: clean a nice piece of fish and chop into chunks. I have used halibut.

Step 3: chop parsley and basil and spring onions. 

Step 4: zest lemon over fish and add some wild fennel pollen if you can get it or crushed fennel seeds if you cannot. The fennel pollen has a beautiful floral and liquorice scent and flavour.I also add my beautiful olive oil to marinate the fish delicately while the pan heats up.

Step 5: add the fish and spring onions to a medium hot pan and cook a few minutes on each side. Add salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. 

Serve with the steamed broccoflower, another squeeze of lemon juice and a final drizzle of good olive oil. Sprinkle parsley and basil and add salt and pepper if it needs a bit more.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Fettunta - Olive Oil Bruschetta

Fettunta - FE-TOONTA  which means "oily slice" in Italian is the simplest form of Bruschetta - BRUE-SKETA. Fettunta is Tuscany's version and was  a way to savor and taste the new year's olive oil. A slice of  toasted bread, rubbed with a peeled garlic clove, then doused  in glorious olive oil and sprinkled with some sea salt and I like it with some fresh cracked pepper to bring out the peppery flavours in the olive oil. You will be amazed at how wonderful this simple bread can be! I have used three beautiful oils that are from Umbria, Campania and Sicily. The colours and flavours are so completely different and truly delicious!

You will need:

  • some sliced and toasted baguette or rustic country bread
  • exceptional olive oil - get some fresh new oil! I have used Madonna Del Olio, Domenica Fiore and my favourite Mandranova Nocellara
  • flaked sea salt
  • pepper

Step 1: slice and toast some crusty bread.

Step 2: rub the entire side of a  crostini (toasted bread) with a raw clove of garlic 1 or two times (not more!)

Step 3: drizzle a generous amount of exceptional quality olive oil on bread. The oil can be from any region you like as long as it is fresh and you love the flavour. Sprinkle some sea salt and cracked pepper. Enjoy.

Look at how gloriously green the Mandranova Nocellara is!!