Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Roman Spring

Tomato and Basil Crostinis

1 box grape tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Bunch of basil leaves, chiffonade
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Greek yoghurt
Whole wheat baguette, sliced thinly

Heat a cast iron skillet with oil. Once it begins to smoke, add the tomatoes and flash fry until the skins burst.

Add the garlic and toss until the garlic chives begin to brown, then season. Take off the heat, mix in the basil and then top over a toasted crostini spread with Greek yoghurt.

Cannellini Bean and Red Capsicum Crostini

1 can cannellini beans
1 streak of pancetta or bacon, roughly chopped
Half red capsicum, finely chopped
Half red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
Few leaves of basil, chiffonade
Greek yoghurt
Whole wheat baguette, sliced thinly

In a medium sized sauce pan, add some oil and the pancetta and cook on medium-high heat. Once the pancetta begins to crisp, add the onions, red capsicum and carrots, cooking over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the cannellini beans and toss, then add enough water just to cover the beans. Simmer until the water has nearly boiled out and you are left with a thick, porridge-like stew, about 8 minutes.

Stir basil into the cannellini bean stew and top over a toasted slice of baguette spread with Greek yoghurt.

Blood Orange, Radish and Basil Salad

4 blood oranges
6 small red radishes, washed
300g spinach
100g mixed greens (lollo rosso, rocket, frisee etc.)
Handful fresh basil
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp dijon mustard
100ml olive oil
Anchovies (optional)
Coarse sea salt and pepper

To make the dressing, roughly chop the capers. Mix with the mustard, then slowly pour the olive oil in a thin stream whilst whisking until you reach a thick, vinaigrette consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the radish so that they are paper thin. If not using immediately, soak in cold water and refrigerate. Chop and discard ends of oranges, and one by one stand the orange upright on a chopping board and cut downwards to remove the skin and pith. With each slice, follow your knife along the edge of the pith so that the skin is peeled neatly. Cut each orange into thin slices and place in a bowl.

To assemble add the spinach, mixed greens, basil, blood oranges, anchovies (if using) and radish slices (drained and dried with paper towels) in a big bowl, and add a tablespoon of the dressing. Toss with clean hands, and add more dressing if needed. You want it lightly coat the leaves, not drench it so that it becomes soggy. Taste and season with coarse sea salt and pepper if needed.

Linguine with Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta and Mozzarella

Half head of savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
400g pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large ball of Buffalo Mozzarella, torn into small chunks
1/2 cup White Wine
3/4lb of Linguine
Handful of pine nuts, toasted

In a large sauce pan, saute the pancetta with a little olive oil on medium-high heat until the pancetta begins to brown.

Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the cabbage and saute for a minute. Deglaze the pan with white wine and then turn the heat to medium, cover the pan and let the cabbage cook until it softens for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the linguine. Cook according to the package's instructions until it is al dente, making sure you stir the pasta regularly. Linguine has a tendency to stick together so it is very important that you constantly stir it.

Once it is cooked, scoop a laddle of the pasta water into a bowl, pour the pasta into a colander and drain. Add the linguine to the cabbage mixture and toss, adding some of the pasta water. Add the buffalo mozzarella and pine nuts until it begins to melt. Transfer to a large serving dish and serve immediately.

Almond and Hazelnut Sponge Cake with Honey Greek Yoghurt (Adapted from David Tanis)

250g shelled hazelnuts
250g unblanched whole almonds
4 large eggs, at room temperature and separated
1/2 cup sugar
Grated Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
Confectionary sugar, for dusting

1/2C Greek Yoghurt (or more)
1 tbsp Honey
2 tspn confectionary sugar

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a 10 inch spring form pan or cake tin with parchment paper and set aside.

Roast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes or until the skins blister and nuts are lightly toasted. Put the nuts in a dry dish towel and rub them together to remove the blistered skins. When cook, coarsely chop in a food processor with the almonds. Do not blitz into powder.

In a mixing bowl, beat yolks with sugar until creamy, then add lemon zest, juice, flour, salt and chopped nuts and mix well. Whip egg whites until stiff, then fold into the batter in three parts to lighten the batter. Visible white streaks are perfectly fine, so long as the batter is well-incorporated.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 15 minutes on 175C/350F. Turn down the heat to 160C/325F and bake for another 25-30 minutes until it is cooked through, using a skewer to check if it comes out clean. Let the cake cool before removing from tin.

To make the honey greek yoghurt, mix the yoghurt with the honey and sugar. Taste and add more honey if you like it sweeter. Serve a slice of the sponge cake with a dollop of the yoghurt.

Store basil by leaving it out in a container of water. It will keep for longer and will not brown as quickly.

Tonight's dinner ingredients were all purchased at Chelsea Market: the whole wheat baguette was bought at Amy's Bread, the linguine at Buon Italia, all produce at the vegetable market and the pancetta at Dickson's meat farm stand.

Most of these photos were taken by, another fellow food blogger/graphics designer/photographer.

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