Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Simple Pesto

This is a recipe that you can make quickly using a blender. It can added to pasta or to make a  pesto lasagna or even on toast!


3 cups chopped fresh basil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
half cup of pine nuts
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 cloves of crushed garlic

Place the basil in the blender, pour in about tablespoon of the oil and blend the basil into a paste. Gradually add the pine nuts,Parmesan cheese and garlic. Then add the remaining olive oil blend until smooth.

Keep in the fridge in a sealed container. Will keep for a few days.

Enjoy this versatile sauce!

I'm back! It's been a while but here we go again with some exciting new recipes!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Carnival Time !

Carnival is a celebration of the Christian tradition that precedes the period of Lent.It is celebrated with people dressing up in fancy dress costumes. The celebrations that characterise this period vary from country to country giving us very different traditions and cuisine. The Carnival period ends on Shrove Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

In Lucca Tuscany we are very lucky to have the famous Viareggio Carnival. So I have decided to make some carnival 'chatter' biscuits- chiacchiere. A very simple but tasty recipe.

Chiacchiere- Chatter or small talk biscuits!

500g  Self raising flour
120g  Sugar
3 eggs
pinch of salt
half a cup olive oil
30ml Limoncello liquor/sweet white wine

Icing sugar powder to decorate.
Oil to fry

In a bowl put all the ingredients and mix till you have a dough. Place the dough to rest in the fridge for half an hour.After the half an hour roll out the pastry dough trying to keep a rectangular shape.Heat up the oil in a frying pan.Make all biscuit shapes and when the oil is hot place the biscuits one by one into the frying pan, turning the biscuits every now and then until golden brown. Dry off excess oil on kitchen paper and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Pasta with Broccoli.

300g Broccoli which is high in vitamin C and also contains multiple nutrients with potent ant-cancer properties.

4 cloves of garlic rich in antioxidants.

Remember boiling vegetables reduces the nutritional value!

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Salt & Pepper.

160g Pasta.

50ml vegetable stock.

Clean the broccoli and steam for 5 mins. keeping them still quite firm. In a frying pan sauté the garlic until slightly brown, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock, add the broccoli to the stock, in the mean time boil the pasta to 'al dente'.When the pasta is cooked add to the broccoli mixture. Season with salt & Pepper.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara.

A very simple recipe for spaghetti carbonara, I love this recipe as it's quick and you usually have all these ingredients in the fridge!

Serves 4 portions.

250g spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices of bacon/pancetta (can be smoked)
1 onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 egg per person
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot of boiling water cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a large skullet cook the chopped bacon, diced onion and minced garlic on a medium heat until bacon is crispy and onion is translucent. A small amount of white wine can be added at this stage but is optional. If added cook for 1 minute.

Beat the eggs then add the grated cheese to the mixture add plenty of black pepper, salt can be added but make sure you taste as the bacon and Parmesan are quite salty. A small quantity of cream can be added an optional.

Drain the spaghetti and place in the skillet with the bacon,onion and garlic.Then add the egg mixture, tossing constantly until the heat of the spaghetti cooks the eggs.

Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top for garnish.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Zuppa alla Lucchese......Lucchese Soup.

January even in Lucca is cold and gelid, I know it's hard to believe but over the last few years the climate has become more like the British weather!

I have decide to look up some local recipes from the Tuscan area, so hope you enjoy them.
It's very typical that every Italian 'mamma' makes a good 'zuppa'. Today I have decided to publish a recipe for Lucchese Soup.It's an ancient recipe of Lucca very unique with different tastes. The two cereals are spelt (farro) and barley(orzo). This combination gives us a harmonious and tasy dish appreciated not only in Lucca but all around Italy.


500g cereal  spelt & barley
2 cloves of garlic
3 sage leaves
fresh rosemary (small twig)
150g tin chopped tomato
4-6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
150g smoked bacon
1/2 onion
salt & pepper

Wash the cereals under running water (no need to soak) then place in a large pot. Place all the ingredients in except the bacon and onion.Fill with 2  1/2 litres of water and simmer for 1 hr and 10 mins. Fry the chopped onion and bacon with a tablespoon of olive oil add to the soup for the last 10 mins of cooking time.Taste to see if any salt & pepper has to be added.( a vegetable cube can be added) Turn off the heat and let the soup rest for 30 mins.

An added option is to add Borlotti beans.

Spelt (farro) is the most ancient type of wheat, cultivated since the the time of the nomadic herders of Syria and Egypt, also used by the Greeks and Romans.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Easy Tiramisu.

A simple, delicious version of tiramisu that is very easy & quick to make...


6 people

  • 500g sponge finger biscuits.
  • 600ml thick cream.
  • 250g mascarpone cream cheese.
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar.
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence.
  • 500ml espresso/soluble coffee (sweetened with 6 teaspoons sugar)
  • 3 Flakes/Cocoa powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of Bailey's Irish Cream.
Add to a mixing bowl the thick cream,mascarpone,caster sugar,vanilla essence & Bailey's.Beat using an electric beater on high for 6-10 minutes.The mixture needs to form firm peaks.
Dip the biscuits into the coffee mixture, not too much as they will go soggy.
Make alternate layers of biscuits,cream mixture,biscuits cream mixture until the mixture is finished.Making sure the last layer is the cream mixture,
Top with crumbled flakes or cocoa powder.
Cover with foil and put in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.

This recipe can be make without the Bailey's or you can use Tia Maria or another favourite tipple!