Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tiramisu Veloce, Quick Tiramisu

I love an Italian classic dish. When I go to an Italian restaurant I usually order a dessert. Sometimes I'll order a tiramisu or a lovely sharp tart. The best tiramisu I ordered was in Milan, it had the perfect combination of alcohol, sponge fingers, mascarpone cheese and chocolate. As much as I love tiramisu, I've never actually made it at home. Until now, that was in part due to WH Smith selling a number of cookery books, including Jamie's Italian for £3. Flicking through the cookery book I was inspired by a number of desserts but I was eager to try this quick tiramisu. I fancied a quick dessert with minimal effort and this recipe certainly does the trick. The flavour of the coffee and orange zest was strong, but me being a lover of a strong hit, I added a couple of tablespoons of rum which I felt enhanced the flavour. 

15 sponge fingers
285ml pint good strong coffee, freshly brewed
4 tablespoons caster sugar
500g mascarpone
2 vanilla pods
140ml pint vin santo or sweet cherry
zest and juice of 1 orange
100g best-quality dark chocolate

Get yourself a medium deep bowl or dish about 20 to 25 cm/ 8 to 10 inches in diameter and arrange your sponge fingers snugly in layers on top of each other. Sweeten your coffee with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Pour the coffee over the sponge fingers, making sure the top later is completely covered - you'll see the coffee being sucked  up the sponge. Wile that's soaking, put your mascarpone into a bowl and whisk it up with the rest of the sugar.

Score the vanilla pods length ways and scrape the seeds out into the bowl of mascarpone keeping the pods for making vanilla sugar if you want to. Continue whisking and as you do so, drizzle in the vin santo or sherry. You want to get it to a loose, shiny consistency. If it's still too thick you can use a little of the orange juice to loosen it before you squeeze the rest of the juice over the sponge fingers. Smear the vanilla mascarpone over the sponges and either grate over all the chocolate or make shavings using a knife or a peeler. Sprinkle lightly with a little finely grated orange zest and keep in the fridge until you're ready to serve, as it's best serve chilled.


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

December 2017 Monthly Eatings

 December was another foodtastic month, I visited restaurants in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury and thoroughly enjoyed the culinary delights.

Bella Italia - Wolverhampton

Westacres - Wolverhampton

House of The Rising Sun - Shrewsbury

Natural Healthy Food - I wrote a review earlier in December 

D'arcys - Ironbridge

Thank you everyone who viewed my blog in 2017, I hope to share more foodlicious treats with you over 2018.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

November monthly eatings 2017

Where has the year gone, we are only a few weeks away from Christmas and I can't wait to share some of the Christmas baking I have been up to. But before that, I enjoyed a few meals in November, I hadn't planned to eat out much at all having just returned from Jamaica, but when meals out call ......

Verso Lounge, Stafford

Cedar Lebanese restaurant, Birmingham

Halfpenny Farm, Oldbury

Miller and Carter, Wolverhampton

The Shire Horse, Stafford

Frankies and Bennys 


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Review of Carluccio's Summer Menu Solihull

Carluccio's restaurant is the brainchild of the much loved Italian food chef, Antonio Carluccio. Better known as one half of the Two Greedy Italians, he also owns a number of Italian restaurants which are in many cities throughout the country. One of the latest addition to the Carluccio's restaurant family is a recent opening in Solihull, West Midlands. Perfectly located on Solihull high street, the restaurant offers a modern and sophisticated dining experience, with outdoor seating which is perfect for al fresco dining. What I really liked about this restaurant, is that there is an in-house shop selling a range of Italian delights. There is also an open plan kitchen where you can see chefs prepare your meals alongside a delicatessen whereby you can purchase olives, cure meats and even a slice of cake.

I attended with my cousin and our waitress was very friendly and attentive. We started with non-alcoholic cocktails, as we were driving with a fruity minty summer drink.

For our starters, I wanted to challenge myself and order something I would not normally try. I ordered the Prawns Marinara  (£6.75)- marinated prawns sautéed with white wine, baby plum tomatoes, chilli and fennel seeds in a tomato & basil sauce. This was served with grilled ciabatta. I found the prawns to be seasoned well, the tomato sauce was thick which was perfect for dunking the ciabatta bread in.

My cousin ordered the Crab Macaroni (£6.95) , white crab meat in a rich cheese sauce topped with garlic breadcrumbs. I sampled a portion of the crab macaroni, I found the the starter to be very hearty and rich.

For the main courses I chose the Lamb Alla Griglia (£15.95) - marinated tender lamb chops chargrilled and drizzled with mint pesto, served with couscous and mixed leaves. I normally order a pasta dish or chicken dish at Italian restaurants but as the Lamb Alla Griglia is a new dish on the Summer menu, I thought I would give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that I received 3 lamb chops - they weren't too big, they were the perfect size and slathered with mint pesto.

My cousin was going for another pasta dish for her main and ordered the Festoni with Smoked Salmon & Vodka £12.50 - pasta tossed in tomato, vodka and cream sauce finished with smoked salmon and basic. My cousin described the festoon with smoked salmon to be very generous in it's portion size, well seasoned and had enough smoked salmon pieces. My cousin shared that she couldn't really taste the vodka in the pasta. 

My cousin and I ordered a side dish each: Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Potatoes £3.50 and  Garlic Foccacia £3.95, both were superb.

The dessert menu had my taste buds jumping for joy, I was really spoilt for choice with the range of Italian delights which included: Panna Cota and Affogtoa. I chose the Italian classic Tiramisu £5.75 and Chocolate & Rum Fudge Cake £5.50. The Tiramisu was strong, but good; strongly flavoured with coffee liqueur, chocolate and biscuits. I would go so far to say, the tiramisu was my favourite course of the meal (I have a sweet tooth so I am slightly biased). I also was able to taste the Chocolate Rum Fudge Cake  £5.50 which I can describe as heaven on a plate: rich, gooey and chocolicious.

Our lovely waiter offered us a shot of limoncello. but we had to decline due to us driving back.
I think the new Summer menu is a great way of trying authentic, fresh Italian dishes and would recommend a visit to Carluccio's to sample these delights.

Many thanks to Carluccios for inviting me to review their new Summer menu.

Friday, 2 June 2017

A simple Italian salad with Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano

I'm always interest to learn about products that have been around for centuries,  including this wonderful Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano cheese which was sent to me. I love Italian ingredients and welcome any opportunity to in-coperate this into every day ingredients. I normally eat proscuitto, the seasoned cured Italian ham with figs, with creamy pasta and topped with a hearty soup. Italian cheese is normally shaved over a loaded bowl of pasta.

I sampled the Prosciutto di San Daniele, pretty to look at, I found it had a mild delicate and sweet flavour. There are lots of different brands of Prosciutto, but the Prosciutto di San Daniele is produced only in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy. It's has protected status. The Prosciutto does not have any additives or preservatives.

The Grana Padano cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world having been around for 900 years.  There are 3 ageing process which helps it achieve it's distinctive flavour:

  • Grana Padano (9 to 16 months): texture still creamy, only slightly grainy.
  • Grana Padano (over 16 months): crumblier texture, more pronounced taste.
  • Grana Padano Riserva (over 20 months): grainy, crumbly and full flavoured.

The Grana Padano cheese was very similar to Parmesan cheese, creamy and rich. I in-coperated the procuitto and grana padano cheese into a light and refreshing summer salad with additional ingredients of salad leaves, tomatoes and dates. 

Disclaimer: I received the samples for review purposes.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island

Before I share lots of seasonal and Christmas recipes, I want to transport you to the culinary delights Mediterranean island of Sicily. This cookery book, Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island with it's vibrant cover and stunning recipes give a comprehensive history of the largest island in the Mediterranean sea. With cookery books which focus on a specific cuisine, I like to be transported and be immersed in the recipes, stories and history and what not better way then seeing stunning on location photograph
 I learnt so much about Sicilian cuisine by reading this cookery book: their love for seasonal foods, the influence from East and West which makes this cuisine so different from the mainland and the love of keeping food simple. What I really liked about this cookery book, is that even in the depths of Winter, there are a number of accessible, seasonal and stunning recipes. Many of the recipes include accompanying beautiful photography alongside some quirky illustrations. Sicily rrp is £25 and is currently on sale at £20 on Amazon.

The cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • Introduction
  • Palermo & Its Street Food, recipes to try include: arancine, chickpea fritters and Sicilian pizza. 
  • Antipasti, stand out recipes include:sardine patties, Romano Peppers Stuffed with Pork Mince & Herbs.
  • Soups, recipes to try include: Broad Bean & Fennel Seed Soup. 
  • Contorini, stand out recipes include: Sicilian Chips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Spicy Almond Crunch. 
  • Pasta, Rice and Couscous, recipes to try include: Romanesco with Pasta, Slow-Cooked Beef & Sausage Ragu and Pasta with Aubergines & Tomato.
  • Meat and Poultry, stand out recipes include: Chicken Parmigiana and Rack of Lamb with Citrus Gremolata. 
  • Fish, recipes to try include: Tuna Steaks in a Quinoa Crust on Courgettes and Grilled Mackerel with Caponata. 
  • Dolci and Cocktails, stand out recipes to Clementine & Almond Slice and Coffee Chocolate & Walnut Cake,

Recipe for Sweet & Sour Aubergines

2 large aubergines
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for roasting
salt and ground white or black pepper
1 onion, cut in half from root to tip and thinly sliced into half- moons
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 celery heart and eaves rough cut in 1 cm cubes
50g stoned green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon capers in salt, rinsed
200g tinned whole tomatoes roughly chopped
2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
3-4 white wine vinegar

To Serve 
Cocoa power
toasted almonds or pine nuts
a few mint leaves.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Hardie Grant for sending me a review copy of Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island. 


Monday, 4 July 2016

As The Romans Do Cookbook Review

Italian food is one of the most recognised cuisines in the word: pasta, pizza and gelato are all associated with this culturally rich country. There has been a number of cookery books that have focused on regional Italian cooking, with a few also specialising in the cuisine of Rome. I am always intrigued with regional cooking and having been to Rome myself (I didn't have a great culinary experience) , I wanted to know more about the eternal city. Eleanora Galasso's debut cookery book introduces food lovers to the diverse and somewhat unknown cuisine of Rome. Eleanora has an impressive Instagram following of 45k, showing us the best of #foodhappiness and #romanity.
As soon as I flicked through the cookbook, I wanted to return to Rome and eat like the locals do. Eleanora's recipes are easy to follow and the photography is stunning. This is a very glamours Rome but the recipes aren't expensive to make or you end up foraging for some random ingredient.
There is a good combination of baking, vegetables, meat, fish and frugal dishes, so I think there is something for everyone. I've bookmarked quite a few recipes, especially from the breakfast chapter romantic dinners and cakes and co. I think what makes this cookery book stands out from other Italian cookery books is that there are only a handful of pasta dishes.

There are a whopping 11 chapters, all which showcases authentic dishes - also like that every recipe has a story and Eleanora's slight obsession with nuns. A nice little touch are that the names of the recipes are in Italian and English
As The Romans Do is split into the following chapters:
  • Breakfast: recipes to try include: Sticky Buns, Bricohe braid with chocolate flakes and sweet melba toast.
  • Merende: Bookmarked recipes include: Three bruchette of a kind, mini pizzas with tomato sauce and Polenta cake with pumpkin and apple.
  • Lunch on the run: Stand out recipes include: Rosetta load with mortadella, stracchino cheese & homemade mustard and Friday's salt cod with chickpeas.
  • Family Lunches: recipes to try include: Citrusy monkfish with fennel accompanied by runner beans in a walnut, mango & pomegranate dressing, filled beef too;s with argetti tart. 
  • Aperitvo: bookmarked recipes include: stuffed courgette flowers, polenta sandwich with baked sausage & cheese and fritter trio of Roman-style rice balls, potato croquettes and mini meat loaves. 
  • Romantic Dinners: stand out recipes include: crispy lamb cutlets with cauliflower and chestnuts accompanied by  potato and orange savoury cake, Roman-stye ravioli with broccoli, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes & ricotta. 
  • #FOODHAPPINESS Suppers: recipes to try include, pork chops with greased bread, aricca-style roast pork with "dragged" savouy cabbage and Lazio-style Ribollito soup.
  • Festivities: bookmarked recipes include: pineapple flavoured mimosa cake with candied flowers, Easter bread with egg and poached peaches in syrup with cream.
  • Cakes & CO: standout recipes include: Roman-style meringue with orange sauce, Chocolate, amaretti & tutti frutti cake and Apple, chestnut and hazelnut cake with candied oranges. 
  • Provisions: recipes to try include: Red Onion Preserve, Grape and Pecan jam and Negroni cocktail.
  • Midnight Munchies: bookmarked recipes include, Braised sausages with lentils, leeks and fennel, ice-cream drowned in coffee and frothy lemon sorbet.  

The recipe that I tried was the braised sausages, lentils & fennel. Quick, easy and most importantly it tasted amazing. I'm not one normally for lentils, but I loved the lentils in this dish and how it complimented the plump and crispy sausages. 

Recipe for Braised Sausages with Lentils, Leeks & Fennel
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, ceased and finely sliced lengthways
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into rough strips
400g pork sausages
250g puy lentils
350ml vegetable stock
10g fennel seeds
small handful of chives
salt and pepper

Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the leek and fry for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the fennel and sausages and cook for a further 5 minutes until the sausages are browned on all sides.
Add the lentils to the pan and pour the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for 25 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and the sausages are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the lentils and sausages between plates and scatter over the fennel seeds and chopped chives to finish. Serve. 

Many thanks to Octopus Publishing for my review copy. 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

What I ate in Milan

I promise this is the last time I'll share all my delights from Milan. As a foodie, one which plans my meals in my head anyway days in advance, I thought I would share what I ate in Milan. As you will probably see from my photos, there was not a diet inside. There's carbohydrates, gluten, fat and calories: I enjoyed it all.

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