Sun is out and so the flowers… and I exhale!

Ach, don’t I just love February? Spring seems to be getting closer, at least in days like today, when the sun is out!, and both hubby and I have our birthdays!
Last weekend saw us going to Rome: he’s started as visiting prof now, and enjoying himself tremendously, lodging at my folks 🙂 and working away… yesterday as a gift my folks took Alistair for lunch at the Riserva in Canale Monterano, which is near our home in Oriolo and what a little jewel for the food they offer… the menu is not very vast but the produce is local and the offerings tasty! They also bake pizza in their woodfire oven at dinner, but lunch is all about ribollita, lasagne and fettuccine and the much prized local lamb!
Last weekend, my Dad took us all to lunch to one of our favourite Roman haunt, i.e. Trattoria Perilli al Testaccio! My Mum, hubby, sister and kids all gathered to celebrate my 36th birthday (yes, I am an old bag! official!): veggie soup, carciofi and spring greens were had, along with Shiraz from Casale del Giglio… Hubby enjoyed tagliolini ai carciofi and veal cacciatora, whereas the kids got stuck in lamb roast with potatoes. My Mamma, instead, enjoyed trippa and a portion of cacio e pepe, shared with big sister. Perilli is just the place for good, not pretentious Roman food. I recommend it to any pal wishing to sample my city’s cuisine… several friends went and were treated really well, so I never fail to thank Mr Perilli and his family and employees for having looked after my friends every time I go!
Now that hubby is away, well… I am not saying I am bored but don’t I miss him?? 😦 Last Tuesday I really appreciated going to Hush Hour at Lucky Liquor, where I had a nice catch up beer or two with my pal Blythe (of LunchQuest fame!) and lovely friend Rose!! Much fun for us Total Food Geeks Edinburgh will be had, so watch this space!
And now, late lunch beckons… mushroom broth, quick and easy, I think. So before I go, herewith my recipe!
for one
300g mushrooms, any type you like, washed and chopped
350ml veggie stock
1/2 tbsp olive oil
a handful pearl spelt or barley, soaked for at least 3 hours
mixed greens, shredded (anything you like, sorrel, spinach, kale… even frozen spinach will do! :))
salt, pepper, parsley and chilli to taste
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, chopped

In a pan, heat the oil and sautee garlic and onion for a few minutes, then add the cereal. Mix well, then add the mushrooms and seasonings. Cover and let stew for 5/6 min. Pour over the stock, lower the hob and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.


Under pressure… in cooking, that is!

I am not a terrible kit-mad person, but this was a very good addition, once I moved in the new house… i.e. a pressure cooker. 🙂 Mine is not fancy at all (just £24 in a high street retailer, the one with the catalogue!! ;)) but works a treat.  So, since coming back I said to myself, how about trying it? Well, I can tell you, it works a treat and for a fraction of the time. OK, not everything comes out nice (I still love my aubergines and peppers roasted more than I do stewed) but for soups and casseroles, especially those involving cereals and legumes, it is ace!

So, with the help of an Italian recipe book (but hey, my local library here has quite a few that are easy and reliable so take a look on your shelves before you buy!) herewith some good solutions for the question ‘what do I eat when it is late and I am tired?’…

Spelt and puy lentil stew

for 1: 30g dry spelt, 25g puy lentils, soaked for at least 6 hours; 1 can chopped tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic, 300g of mixed chopped veg to your liking (I used celeriac, courgettes and leeks) and a small bunch of kale, shredded; 1 tsp parsley, 1 pinch chilli pepper, 1/2 tsp sage; 500 ml boiling water, 1 tsp bouillon (veg).

Combine the ingredients in the pan of the pressure cooker, then pour in the boiling water; close the lid and put on a high heat til the cooker starts whistling (check the instructions of your pan though!); when it does, lower the heat and start timing (about 20min). Once the time is up, use the quick method to release the pressure and open. You may need some extra time for a less watery consistency–in which case make the stew boil on high without the lid for 3/4 min.

Barley, cannellini and cauliflower soup;

For one: 25g barley, 35g dried cannellini beans, both soaked for at least 6 hours; 1 small cauliflower, washed and cut in florets; 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp garlic salt; 450ml boiling water and 1 tsp bouillon (veg).

Follow the method above; this time you will need 25 min from when the pan starts whistling.

And today, I charmed my hubby with the pressure cooker… by making spicy pumpkin and sweet potato soup.  It took only 12 min to cook and it was really delicious. The recipe was from the Metro (the free sheet you can get in most cities, you would be surprised at how good the recipes are sometimes! :)) and came from a famous company producing soup… I made it with a different type of squash but it worked alright all the same!

And now… back to the papers! 😀