Summery Italian feast

There’s something about Italian food that makes me (and probably a lot of other people, not to forget a whole nation) absurdly happy. My theory is it’s all in the tomatoes. Apparently they’re packed full of natural anti-depressants. So a feast of Italian dishes, coupled with long summer nights, is my idea of heaven!

Check out my Italian feast feature for Farmison below. Click each link to get the recipe.

Pizza Pilgrims pan-fried Margherita pizza 

You remember when I introduced my friends, the Pizza Pilgrims boys? You won’t believe how far they’ve come, having set up their street food stall, hosted their own TV show, penned a recipe book and opened pizzeria in Soho – all in the space of two years. Wow! This is a brilliant recipe I borrowed from their book and the pan-fried base is a great technique for getting your dough crispy on the bottom.

Italian one pot whole roast chicken 

A simple, shareable one pot solution for when you’d rather be chilling out with a glass of vino than slaving away in a hot kitchen. So, most of the time.

Summer asparagus risotto

Take advantage of summer’s glut of asparagus with this simple supper idea.

Summer rose veal meatballs

Serve these with a raw courgette ‘spaghetti’ salad and you’re still good for that bikini bod!

Balsamic strawberry tiramisu

I’ve only just discovered that you can roast summer fruits in balsamic vinegar. Try it served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or in this rather more decadent tiramisu. Just don’t look at the calories in mascarpone…

The art of the salad

Recently I’ve really come to appreciate a good salad. Salad is one of those things you pooh-pooh when you’re young, when you can chow down half a Domino’s pizza at lunch without any thought for the consequences, when a salad is considered boring rabbit food, when “why bother to make a salad when it’s easy to put ham and cheese in between two slices of bread and be done with it?”. But once you creep into your late 20’s, you start to worry about that day your metabolism starts going backwards. As part of my diet revamp I vowed to eat less bread at lunch (especially the sort where you don’t know what it was baked with), and more alternative high fibre, low GI carbs – cue the wild rice, sweet potato, quinoa and so on.

The key to a good salad, I’ve realised, is the yin yang thing. Contrast your flavours, textures and colours; juxtapose gooey with crunchy, cooked with raw, sweet with spicy. And of course, take an interest in nutrition and play the food doctor, mixing and matching ingredients to address your ailments. Here are four of my rejuvenating salads that I created for Farmison recently:

Mixed Beetroot Salad – try this if you’re anaemic and tired.

Kale and Cous Cous Salad – we all know kale is amazing – it has more iron gram for gram than beef – plus this salad is packed with all kinds of antioxidant goodness.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Rose Veal – if you need a protein fix, try veal which is naturally lower in fat than beef. Plus soba noodles are made from saintly buckwheat flour (low GI, high in protein, gluten free).

Grilled Radicchio, Apricot and Goat’s Cheese Salad – if you’re trying to eat less, try this salad. The full flavours of the bitter radicchio, caramelised apricot and creamy goat’s cheese will satisfy your appetite quickly.

 

Three smoothies + a lifestyle update

ABC-smoothie

With the fantastic weather in the UK, I must admit I haven’t been very keen to be stuck indoors, cooking in my tiny, sweltering flat. Plus, a transformation has been taking place over the last couple of months. Perhaps it’s because the prospect of my 30s really aren’t far off; so I’ve had a holistic revamp through a renewed attitude to exercise and what I eat. Continue reading

Slow cooked pork shoulder pancakes

You wouldn’t think that summer and slow cooking go together, but actually I think sticking a big hunk of meat into the oven for a few hours and forgetting about it is the nicest way to enjoy a sunny afternoon AND a delicious dinner!

I had some friends round for dinner on Monday, and I decided to slow cook a beautiful pork shoulder with a Chinese char siu marinade. Served with pancakes, cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce it was an homage to Peking duck pancakes – providing a fun DIY starter for a light and summery evening meal.

This recipe was created for Farmison.com – get the recipe for slow cooked pork shoulder pancakes.

Three ways with asparagus

Asparagus is in glorious abundance in May, so I was asked to create three asparagus recipes for Farmison the other week. Their asparagus is from the Wye Valley – thick stemmed, crunchy and 100% British.

Beef, asparagus and mango rolls

A super easy and fun finger food idea, inspired by Vietnamese summer rolls. You can experiment with different colourful fillings like prawn, tofu, red peppers and so on.

Asparagus, bacon and goat’s cheese tart

Asparagus and goat’s cheese tart is a classic combo which I spiced up with a caramelized apricot and balsamic glaze that really complimented the smoky bacon.

Miso chicken and asparagus salad

I wanted an easy idea for a low carb, protein packed lunch or light dinner. Asparagus works so well in a green salad, tossed with sesame seeds and courgette ribbons – I could just eat it by itself!

What are your favourite asparagus recipes?