A head of steam… For me!

This Sunday saw me making another treat for my family… Filetti di baccala’ fritti! The Italian response to fish and chips without chips of course! 🙂

The batter is simple… Flour, a couple spoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda, then enough water to make a smooth batter. set it aside for at least half hour before starting to fry the haddock fillets. Before dipping them in the batter (make sure the are all well and evenl coated!) it pays to lightly flouring them.

These are great as a starter or even as part of a buffet… But my folks and GrandMa and Hubble had them after a plate of spaghetti, pomodoro e basilico.

of course, should you want to try…

As for me, as the title suggests… Well, I am trying to keep up with some detox,hence, while frying, I used my Mum’s steamer to cook some  Calabrese, cavolo Nero and sliced carrots ad partook with broccoletti, also known in the US as rapini!,and a small globe artichoke… Oh well, better get going with this detox… Only reason to look forward to the normal routine… But really the only one, holidays are good!


And yes, in case you were wondering… My two favourite smoothie recipes have made it on the Guardian Witness!

Next up, New Year’s Eve and plans are in the cards…




… And the men are off to the country!

yes, sounds strange but this is what happened… My Dad and my hubby are off to the country for a few hours, which means that I get to make lunch with my Mum… 🙂 Grilled aubergines are in the cards plus some more minestrone for me as part of the detox!

this time the trip to the greengrocers’ saw me back with cavolo Nero and a head of calabrese, which will no doubt help the flavour! 😉 

before that though, I am shortly off to the shops as I saw a lovely dress in one of my favourite local shops, managed by a good friend, la Signora Antonella!
I am also jotting down ideas for my proper after holiday detox… yesterday it was my green fruit juice, made with Granny Smith apples, kiwi fruit, clementine juice and celery. 🙂 Today it is a savoury combination of beet roots, apple, white cabbage, infer and lime!!
who knows, I may make it to the Guardian Cook pages in a few days, but for now, I am just going to go out and enjoy the day!

Starting the detox…

I know, boxing day was yesterday, but I am already making an effort to detox!

A trip to the greengrocers’ today saw me back with fresh courgettes, endive and green onions, along with spinach and “bieta”, a kind of chard…Cue: vegetable broth, excellent, without any fat. Lunch was ready then, adding a freshsalads with tomatoes and round radicchio!

And if you like smoothies, my favourite is made with green apple, celery and kiwi, with either clementine juice or almond milk to dilute, brilliant!

Ok, back to the jobs…





caffe’ in Centro…

One of the good things about spending a few days in Rome is that I get to go and visit lots of nice spots where to hang about, browse books and also, yes, have coffee!

This morning hubby and I went to see the exhibition on Augusts at the Scuderie del Quirinale… Go see it if you can, it is on til 9 February and you can find more info here:

After the visit we thought we’d take a walk down, around Via del Corso and near Montecitorio, Italy’s lower House. That area is brilliant if you are after a caffe’, a little walk and some good people watching. Just a few steps from the Parlamento is the historic Giolitti, which also offers excellent pastries and gelato… And also San Crispino, for you ice cream lovers out there! In the Galleria Alberto Sordi on via del Corso is also a good Illy caffe’ spot, great if you are on the go! and then, of course… My favourite by the Pantheon, Caffe’ Tazza d’Oro! It is, on my humble opinion, the best espresso in town 😀 and you can also buy their own coffee to make at home… Yes, I admit to it… I stocked up for both my De Longhi Trieste and my French Press… Regina del Caffe’ for the former and Mayagogype for the latter. They are now sealed and ready to go In the suitcase whenever it is time to pack! 😉
And now, back to my book… And to my nephews and my sister’s dog, who is conveniently perched between me and hubby on the sofa!

Christmas in Rome…

Eventually we got away, yay! We are in  Rome enjoying some good family time… It was great making Christmas Eve “thin” dinner… Pasta al tonno (you will find the recipe on an earlier post!), sea bream fillets in potato crust, salad and, of course, il fritto di Natale! Once again I spend two good hours in front of big pots on e stove, frying away cauliflower florets, artichoke slices and apple wedges.

It all came put incredibly well, so I was able to leave for Midnight Mass really happy! So, how do you make the fritto?? First of all, just to give some context… In Rome it is a tradition to fry for the Eve, to counterbalance the fact that there is no meat on the menu, I think… In my family we fry the above plus ricotta cubes, but my Mum decided against it and who am I to question? 🙂

First, make the batter… In a bowl pour in about 800g plain 00 flour, the add pinch of salt and a couple of spoonfuls olive oil, mixing well. THen start pouring some warm water, keeping stirring and if needed helping yourselves with a whisk to eliminate lumps, til you get a smooth and runny, but not watery consistency–ideally if you lift the spoon it should run off slowly from it.

Cover and leave the batter to rest for at least 45 min. meanwhile, cut the cauliflower in florets and peel the apples and cut them in wedges. Separately trim the artichokes of the harder leaves, cut the top off and cut in slices, throwing them in a bowl filled with water and lemon juice as you go.

Heat abundant vegetable oil in a large frying pan, til boiling. drop the florets in the batter,then lift and fry til well golden. do the same with the apple wedges.  The artichokes instead should be dipped in beaten egg and then coated in flour and fried til golden.

If you decide to fry ricotta cubes, 2 tips: buy ricotta the day before, wrap in a clean linen cloth and leave in a plate in the fridge. Then, the day after, cut in cubes (about 2cm side) and fry in egg and flour.

Before going… Frying is hard work but rather rewarding… The only thing is, especially for the ladies out there… Wash and comb your hair for the evening after finishing, otherwise you’ll have all the cats of the neighbourhood behind you!

🙂 🙂

Early Christmassy offerings…

Yes, I know, it is more than a week away, but with my hubby we always have a wee Christmas lunch in advance.  It is an old habit from when we were going off to our respective families… evn though we’re both going to Roma I thought I’d do it this year! Yes, you heard me, I made Brussels Sprouts and broccoli, steamed and accompanied by special Grab Your Spoon Red, Red, Red chutney, roasted parsnips and for hubby, a supreme of chicken wrapped in pancetta and roasted in the oven with garlic, sage and parsley. For me, I had a baked aubergine stuffed with chopped pepper and tomato seasoned with garlic, parsley and chilli, really good! 🙂 For starters I made pinwheels of shortcrust pastry filled with onion and tomato relish and thinly cut green olives and for pudding apple and raisin parcels… It does not, granted, qualify as 100% tradition, but this is the nicest I could get within our eating preferences, believe me! I mean, have you ever found a turkey for one? 😀

So, if you ever fancy trying this…

For one

1 supreme of chicken

2 slices (about 40g) pancetta

1 tbsp olive oil,

1 tsp each, sage and parsley

1 pinch mild paprika

1 clove garlic

Preheat the oven at 200C; in a tin place the supreme of chicken and wrap the pancetta around it (I found it easier by starting from under the wing, it keeps them steady!), season with the herbs and roast for 45min til well cooked and tender.

For the pinwheels, nothing easier and yet tasty and scenic… I made shortcrust pastry by rubbing 1/3 of the weight of the flour into plain flour and adding enough cold water to bind to an elastic dough… remember to chill it for at least 15 min before using!  Roll out on a floured surface and stretch it a few times before rolling it out finally; spread chutney or relish or whatever filling you like in the pinwheels, then fold the edges carefully til you get a fat sausage shape.  Cut in thick slices, then place them lenghtwise on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 200C for 15 min.


Take a walk on the “wild side”… exploring the shelves!

The good thing about working in the Old Town, on the Bridges is that there are lovely shops around, where one can find all sorts of interesting ingredients, from saffron threads to khobz bread to Turkish apple tea 🙂 a real line of treasure troves! Jordan Valley on Nicolson Street is one of them!  On leaving work I stopped by with the aim of purchasing soy yoghurt, but hey hoo, left with a bagful of interesting things… arabic flat breads, 2 lovely vegemite savoury flapjacks (try them, folks, they’re great, even my non-Marmite/Vegemite hubby likes them!), nice herbal teas and, joy of the joys, 2 jars pf pickles… I know, nothing beats my friend Lucinda’s chutneys (look her up, Grab Your Spoon is the name!), but the Turkish imports one can find in JV are just the job.  So today I bought some pickled green tomatoes and some gherkins… now, you all know, you can have gherkins with your favourite beverages as an aperitif accompaniment… so, what about pickled tomatoes? They make the most interesting accompaniment to aubergine stew… added to chopped red onion, garlic and tomatoes, aubergines (best if previously roasted on the flame til charred) and chickpeas, a pinch of chilli pepper, one of paprika and some cinammon, they enrich the taste no end… and I promise you, they are also tasty if chopped in a salad.

So, herewith the method for the stew… and of course, see you at Jordan Valley if you choose to purchase these goodies from them–you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

For 2 people

2 medium aubergines

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chilli pepper

1/2 tsp cinammon

4 medium pickled green tomatoes, sliced

Roast the aubergines on a live flame or on a grill pan til charred (about 8/10 min), then chop in cubes.

Heat the tomatoes in a saucepan, then add the onion and garlic and simmer for 10 min; next, add the aubergines and chickpeas along with the pickled tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20min.  Add the spices and up the heat to let any extra liquid evaporate; simmer for another 5 min, then serve with rice or arabic bread.