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.


Easter time in Rome!

Once again, here goes… Apologies for the massive silence… Work has taken the better off me in the past few weeks and this is the first day that is clear enough for me to exhale… And blog!
Easter preparations are afoot, including in the kitchen and in the kitchen garden! Last Saturday we had a fab day in the country. The kitchen garden was in bloom with peas, broad beans and green with lettuce leaves… We’re also expecting plums and pears which is great! Potatoes are main crop, so no shoots yet but time is on our side!
Then, it was cake time! My Great Nan used to bake it, one for every child… And the recipe got to me via one of my Dad’s darling cousins who’s no longer with us, sadly… Gabriella, much missed. It is a lovely cake really, made from sourdough base with fine wheat flour, aniseed and cinnamon and nutmeg. Not savoury or sweet, just ideal for Easter breakfast, typical of my home town… We have hard boiled eggs, a special type of salami called corallina, a slice of cake and some Colomba (I don’t bake this, but plan on experimenting for next year… It is very similar to the panettone we have at Christmas, only different in shape! :D)… And also a glass of light white wine!
It takes a while to bake the cake, as it needs proving twice outside the oven and once inside, but hey… It has already been tasted by the great supreme judge, namely my Dad, 🙂 who approved it, so we are alright! today I am planning on baking another one and a small one with cheese… This is a recipe from Umbria, so I shall do some research! In the meantime, have a peep at the pics I had posted on twitter, documenting the cake baking process!

And now, it bein quarter to 1… Time to go check asparagus in the steamer!

Spring has sprung… well, almost!

Another week has gone and with it the start of Spring.  I must say that my shared garden looks more colourful and verdant every day.  Now, the Victoria Plum tree is full of blossom which is just fabulous! The first dwarf beans have started germinating and my cabbages are back in production–much to my surprise, I thought that would have been the end but no sign of the plants bolting, great!

Last night saw hubby and I meeting our pals Alessandra–baker extraordinaire and great friend–and Tony to watch the 4K restored version of Roberto Rossellini’s Roma Citta’ Aperta… what a wonderful movie, and the face of Annarella Magnani, unforgettable and unique, not to mention Aldo Fabrizi’s Don Pietro, well… wow!  for more info on showings (the film is doing the rounds in the UK these days) check: Don’t miss it!

On Friday, I took the opportunity to offer hubby a taste of cod cooked as we do in my family (well, one of the ways, but this is a favourite by far, or so my Dad says! :))… with onions, tomatoes and sultanas! I know it sounds odd but the sultanas’ sweetness cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and the onion and chilli pepper bring all to the perfect T! 🙂

So here we go… for 1

One 150 g piece of cod loin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

400g chopped tomatoes

50g sultanas

1 pinch chilli pepper

salt to taste (you won’t need much)

1 small dash white wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the onions til translucent; add the fish and fry on both sides a couple of minutes each side just to colour; add the sultanas and tomatoes, the chilli and leave to simmer for about 10/12 min on a medium heat, til the  fish is thoroughly cooked; add the vinegar and adjust seasonings; up the heat to allow the sauce to thicken (another 3/4 min will do).  Serve at once. 

This is lovely served with some steamed potatoes, sliced and dressed with olive oil and fresh herbs like oregano or parsley.

Have a good week all!


Dining adventures… lunch and dinner! :)

And so, the first week of Lent is over. We’re doing well, here, I am pleased to say… the soup-making skills are very handy when the order of the day is “light and penitential meals”! Barley is an exceptional ingredient, so I was only too pleased when the BBC Scotland Programme the Kitchen Cafe’ spoke about it… and even more when I saw that they re-tweeted my very unscientific recipe of barley minestrone!

It is a great way of consuming leftover veg… and most of all, an easy and nutritious, yet simple dinner idea!

Anyhow, this week also saw me going out for a meal not once but twice. Tuesday lunch was spent with my dear friend and fellow Geek Blythe, for an Indian meal. This is a novelty for me–Indian is food for the evening!–but proved to be a pleasant surprise. Blythe had been telling me great things about Bindi, the restaurant on St Patrick Square–which is a stone’s throw from my workplace.  Hence, we agreed to meet for a lunch bite and a wee chat… except that we found that the restaurant was closed 😦 … I should have known better, in hindsight, though–several Indian restaurants I know close on Tuesdays.  However, we were undeterred and we therefore crossed the road to Kalpna… which was open for business and most welcoming… especially to me, as it is 100% vegetarian! So, we were ushered to our table by a very attentive member of staff who explained to us that lunchtime was buffet fare… and what a good one it was.  Mixed salads galore, including my favourite, spicy cabbage and carrot with nigella seeds; a mix of aubergine and potato pakoras and then a dahl dish and two mixed vegetable dishes.  Rice and hot chapatis rounded off the offer.  The food was wholesome and good and freshly made–I could witness first hand trays being brought in and out twice in the short space of time we were there.  I enjoyed the plentiful salad mixed with dahl (proteins are important for a girl that works and runs like me! :D) and mopped up by the occasional chapati quarter.  Blythe seemed also pleased–the man is an expert so I am sure he’ll update you on the great website that is!

Wednesday, instead, was a completely different dinner… it was for work, and in very different surroundings.  I visited for the second time in a relatively short space of time, Timber Yard, just off Castle Terrace (more info here:  I know that the place has a great reputation for meat, game and fish… and my fellow diners seemed totally pleased by the offer.  However, I wish to spend a few words saying that they also cater exceptionally well for vegans like me!  Even without any notice, the chef was able to serve me a lovely “bite” of beetroot roasted and served with seasonal herbs and thereafter a main of wild ramps, root vegetables and mushrooms, which was absolutely delicious.  I shall go back again, this time with my hubby or my parents, because the place is really worth its reputation and made me feel, once in a while, not the odd one out! 🙂 Thank you all at Timber Yard!

And now, time for more paper reading… hubby is travelling for work so it has been a working afternoon for me, but never mind, good times all around!