Pollo alla Cacciatora – Hunter Chicken

 

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When it’s cold outside you need a recipe to warm up the whole family, Hunter Chicken is just perfect! In italian we say Pollo all Cacciatora “Hunter Chicken”  /POH-LOH AH-LAH CAH-CHAH-TOH-RAH/ and it is another great recipe that will bring the family together. It reminds me of a winter’s day, about 27 years ago (I would have been 15 years “young” ) and like every teenager coming home from school it was the highlight of my day!! I was always looking forward to coming home, most of all after all those tests and long hours learning about what I though it was boring ( at that time I thought all teachers were evil, I wonder if it’s what my students think about me now!!) … as I walked in, the whole house smelt divine but I was far too tired to chat about my day. A huge pot of Hunter Chicken was ready on the table with some fresh bread to mop up the dishes ( SCARPETTA  /SCAR-PEH-TAH/ ) , the first bite and slowly I got my speech back. It was my kinda comfort food, when I say “Comfort” it means that not only did it bring the family to sit together but it also brought the comfort I needed as a teenager to speak up, to chat, to talk….

Now that I am a Mamma  I am on the other side of the table, preparing my Hunter Chicken for my family, hoping that it’ll help my teenage children to open up and talk about their day. Bringing families together is what my food is all about 🙂

Serving 6

Ingredients

1 kg Chicken (thighs and/or drumsticks)

3 carrots, diced

3 celery sticks, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, whole

handful of rosemary

2 tins of plum tomatoes

100g white wine

100g cappers

salt 1/2 tsp

olive oil, 3/4 tbs

Preparation

In a large saucepan heat the the olive oil and add the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes until the skin is golden. Add the carrots, celery, onion, salt, garlic and rosemary. Pour the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes , the cappers and cook on a low heat for 40 minutes. If needed add more salt. Pronto!!

Serve with a loaf of bread and steamed or panfried vegetables. Roast potatoes are great too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Polpette al Sugo – Meatballs in Red Sauce

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Polpette = Meatballs = Italian Comfort Food 🙂

Nonna and Mamma used to make Meatballs all the time and I can still remember the excitement about dinner time!

In a cold day I used to love coming home from school to find one of my favourite dishes, Pasta and Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce…. awww it tasted amazing!!!

Today I am making this dish for my family and I hope I can inspire your family too!

#BringNonnaBack and Bring Families Together ❤️

Serves 4/6 people

 

Ingredients for the Polpette-Meatballs

250g beef Mince, good quality
250g pork mince
1 egg
100g bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
handful of parsley, finely chopped
l pinch of salt
sunflower oil for frying

Preparation
In a large bowl place the mince and add the egg, parsley, garlic, salt and bread crumbs. Mix all together with a fork or with your hand making sure you combine all the ingredients. If the mix feels too wet you can add some more bread crumbs, if it feels too dry add a splash of milk. Once the mix is smooth you can start rolling it into small balls, size of a 10p coin. I tent to make them a bit small as it’s easier for the children to eat them all in one go!

Option 1: Heat some sunflower oil in a large pan (filling all the bottom of the pan )and place 6/8 meatballs at the time. Cook them for 4/5 minutes, keep stirring them until golden. Prepare a large dish with some kitchen roll on the side and once the meatballs are ready to come out the pan, drain them and place them on the  kitchen roll to rest and to lose some of the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Keep doing the same until you have cooked all the meatballs.
Option 2: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees, place the meatballs on a flat oven tray and put the in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.

For the Sugo-Sauce

Ingredients
Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped
800/900g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)
A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Olive oil, 2 tbs
Salt, a pinch
Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)
Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes untill golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.
PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before
Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.
Finally add your basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your Sugo is ready!
Place the meatballs into the sauce, make sure they are all covered, put the lid on and  keep cooking the sauce and the meatballs for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Enjoy your Polpette with some fresh bread or pasta. Buon Apettito!

Zucchine Fries

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This  is a great recipe for a healthy and tasty snack that the whole family would love!

In Italian we call them ZUCCHINE  /ZOO-KEY-NEH/ = Courgettes and they are the star of this simple dish. People often think that courgettes are plain and tasteless…. did you know that they are:

  • High Source of Antioxidants and Vitamin C. …
  • Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties that Can Improve Heart Health. …
  • High Source of Potassium. …
  • Help Improve Digestion. …
  • Low in Calories and Carbs. …
  • Helps Maintain Eye Health. …
  • Good Source of Energizing B Vitamins. …
  • Can Help Control Diabetes..

They are very popular in our Mediterranean Diet and you can cook them in so many different ways!

My Nonna used to bake (or fry) many other vegetables in bread crumbs (aubergine, pepper, cauliflower..), she even made her own version of mozzarella sticks! Today we are using courgettes. The best bit about it is that my little girl made them from scratch, she loves cooking and she is a very quick learner. Children love engaging with food most of all if they can get their hands dirty! 🙂

Serving 4 

Ingredients

2 large courgettes, cut in length ways

2 eggs

handful of Parmesan cheese, grated

handful of dried origano

200g homemade breadcrumbs

Pinch of salt

Olive oil, 3 tbs

Fresh Rosemary to decorate

Preparation 

Preheat the oven at 190 degrees. Whisk two eggs and add the courgettes in. Mix well. In a different bowl mix the parmesan, the oregano, the bread crumbs and salt. Put the courgettes into the bread crumbs and mix. Put the courgette sticks on a tray, add a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Pronto!

Please watch our video 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

My Break-Through-In-The-UK dish

This is the dish that made me realise how much I enjoy cooking for other people and putting a smile on their faces 🙂

I was 23  years old and full of dreams when I decided it was time to change my life. I moved to the UK in 1999 all by myself, leaving all my family and friends behind, without knowing where I would have stayed and whom I would have met ( my English at that time was ok-ish for me to get by, let alone for me to even start thinking that it would have become a second language for me!!!) …..I did not know I would have had the most amazing time with some special people who are now friends for life.

The passion for food has always been there but it really became visible during my years at Uni and my (Spanish) flatmates helped my passion to become a real “THING”……….. ……simple ingredients made a dish that still today is one of my fortes.

Gracias  Amigas! Merce, Virgi y todas las cumpañeras de piso de Greenstead! Eso es para vosotras 🙂

TAH-LLYA-TEH-LLEH (Tagliatelle) ai Funghi e Pancetta

Pancetta and Mushroom Tagliatelle

I would normally make my own tagliatelle but it’s just as tasty (and quicker) using the pre-packed one. Any local supermarket would sell it! Follow the cooking time on the packet and make sure you add some course salt in the water as it starts to boil. Instead of the pancetta you can use cooked ham (finely chopped). Or if you want to make this dish vegetarian you can completely miss out the pancetta and replace it with some asparagus……it’s still extremely tasty and simple.

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

350g fresh tagliatelle (roughly 2 nests per person)

150g closed up mushrooms, finely chopped

150ml double cream (single cream for less fat content)

1 glove of garlic, finely chopped

1 handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

130g smoked Italian pancetta (cubes)

olive oil 2tbsp

salt, a pinch

Preparation

In a large saucepan pour some water (1/1.5 l) and bring it to the boil. Add a large tablespoon of coarse salt and put the pasta in.

Put the olive oil on a pan, add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until the pancetta is crispy. Add the mushrooms and gently mix together. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the garlic and the parsley keep stirring and cook for a minute. Pour the cream and cook with the lid on for a couple of minutes.

The tagliatelle should be cooked by now! Drain the pasta, put it onto a large serving dish, pour the sauce and mix together. Add some parmesan cheese…..Pronto! 

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We love Gnocchi-di-Patate-Fatti-in-Casa

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People often ask me if it is possible to cook from scratch delicious and healthy dishes when time is an issue. My answer is very simple: Time Management.

Planning an healthy meal is very simple and it will save you lots of time for sure! Firstly I always  make sure I have the basic staples (such as pasta, rice, couscous, flour, semolina….) in my cupboard and pantry,  also fresh herbs and vegetables are a must in my kitchen.

Today I am making a classic, “Gnocchi di Patate” (Potato Gnocchi) the easiest and quickest pasta dish that everyone will love. I would always freeze half of the gnocchi and I would cook them on a school night when time is definitely tight. Just like my Mamma and Nonna would do I love planning my meals on a daily base, when you are busy with the children, work, school runs and all the sorts of things a Mum needs to do I can guarantee you being organised in the kitchen makes your life better.

So are you ready? Have you got all the ingredients for this delicious dish?

Serving 4-6 people 

Ingredients

4 large potatoes (1kg)

300g strong white flour

1 egg

salt

Preparation 

In a large pot with just enough water to cover the potatoes, boil them with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Try not to over boil them.

Remove potatoes and drain well. Peel boiled potatoes and use a potato ricer to mash them until all completely smooth (alternately you can use a potato masher)

Place the riced potatoes into a large mixing bowl (or you can place them straight  on a dry work top). Add the flour, the salt and the egg and start mixing with a fork.

Transfer the mix on a dry work top and pull together ingredients. Knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi. Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense. Shape dough into a long, wide cylinder for cutting.

Quarter dough. Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope.

Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 2cm pieces. To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen. Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook the gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes.

My children’s favourite Gnocchi dish is in a simple basil and tomato sauce but today I wanted to be more adventurous and I made a creamy mushroom sauce with garlic and thyme.

It was DELIZIOSO!!!!!!!

I hope I made Mamma and Nonna proud 🙂

 

Why #BringNonnaBack?

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What is #BringNonnaBack?🇮🇹
Nonna is the Italian word for grandmother.
In Italy, Nonna is the queen of the kitchen and her recipes are passed from generation to generation.
Nonna is in charge of the feeding for the whole family and they are trained to cook for a regiment of family, friends and guests from an early age.
They would start cooking at 7 o’clock in the morning and by the evening they would have already planned lunch and dinner for the next day! They would cook their traditional recipe (every Nonna has her own traditional recipe) and they are very proud of it. We learn from them not to waste any food and to keep recipes simple and fresh. They would encourage everyone (including their young grandchildren) to learn some basic cooking skills They would spend the weekend baking bread and making fresh pasta and they would always make sure everyone is fed….My Nonna is now 95 years old and Lilly’s Nonna is 70 years old..they are both very pleased we are keeping the family tradition alive ❤️Lilly and I love cooking together, we make recipes up, we cook from scratch and we use very simple and fresh ingredients. We are never too busy, too tired, too bored…we just love what we do ❤️Please can you help us spread #BringNonnaBack we are sure all the Nonnas out there would love to see how we can keep old traditions still fresh in the modern society 😊 GRAZIE NONNA xx

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La Pasta di Darren

Can you believe my husband’s favourite pasta ever is made with only 3 ingredients? The funny thing is that that MAIN ingredient is CARROTS and HE DOESN’T even LIKE CARROTS!!!!! In my household we like to try different recipes and despite our different tastebuds we end up discovering new flavours and loving new recipes.

I learnt from an early age that you don’t need to elaborate a dish to make it exceptional, you only need to use a few ingredients and everybody will love it….. Darren loves it too 🙂

Both my Mamma and Nonna can rely to this motto since they are the two people who taught me all I know about cooking. “IMPARA A CUCINARE USANDO POCHI, ANZI POCHISSIMI INGREDIENTIS!!!!” ( Learn to cook using the fewest ingredients) …. I can almost hear them saying it to me whilst kneading the dough for some fresh ravioli.

Carrots, onions, cream, a little bit of salt and a drizzle of olive oil…. you might be thinking  “how could it be possible for  a pasta dish to be so delicious and quick?”.

You will have to try !!! and please send all your feedback 🙂

#BringNonnaBack

 

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Serving 4 people

 

Ingredients

3 large carrots, peeled

1 red onion

150ml single or double cream

olive oil, 3 tablespoons

salt, 1 teaspoon

Penne Pasta, 350g

 

Preparation 

Bring 1 and a half litre of water to the boil. Add the pasta into the boiling water and cook following the cooking times on the packet.

Whilst you are waiting for the water to boil, get all the ingredients ready: place a non-stick pan on a medium heat with the olive oil, the carrots and the onions finally chopped (you can use a vegetable chopper ). Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on or until the onions and the carrots soften. Add a little water if the mix gets too dry. Stir and add a pinch of salt. Pour the cream and reduce the heat. Cook for 2/3 minutes.

Your past should be ready by now. Drain it and place it on a large dish.

Pour the sauce on your pasta, add a little Parmesan and enjoy….Pronto! 

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