Mega mac and cheese: Sammarinese nidi di rondine

It’s kind of ironic that we’re posting this recipe today, because it’s the total opposite of the way we’ve been eating lately. Last weekend, we returned from a holiday in Australia which was full of indulging in the nation’s finest seafood, wines and ice cream (to name a few delicacies). Since returning home, we’ve been rather more abstinent – which is definitely not a word you would use to describe San Marino’s national dish, nidi di rondine (swallows’ nests), which we made and ate before we went away. With a list of ingredients that mainly centres around cheese, meat and pasta, this is definitely an indulgence – but such a worthy one! We got our recipe from All That Cooking. Continue reading

When in Rome: A four-course Italian feast

Italy is, without a doubt, a country where good quality food is of paramount importance. The Italians are very proud of their local produce and regional speciality dishes, and any tourist willing to take the recommendation of a restaurateur is guaranteed a friendly and passionate introduction to the typical Italian four-course dinner menu (antipasti, primi, secondi e dessert).

Italian food is also widely exported. Many people consider pizza a traditional American dish (although the American deep dish base with lashings of cheese only vaguely resembles the Italian tradition!), and fresh pastas and sauces (again, of variable levels of Italian origin) are available in every high street supermarket across Britain. The Italians would indisputably be horrified at such bastardisations of their culinary heritage as Pizza Hut’s ‘hot dog bites’ and Chicago Town’s stuffed crust pizza. However, with basic flavours of tomato, cheese and a simple carbohydrate, it’s certainly a cuisine that is appealing to the masses.

So, with all that choice, what on earth were we to make as a ‘traditional’ Italian dish? In the past, we’ve made our own pasta, pizza, gnocchi and risotto. Between us, we’ve eaten gelato and salami in Venice, tagliatelle Bolognese and calzone in Bologna, gnocchi and pizza in Rome, and tiramisu in all three. We were lucky that today is a bank holiday in England, which meant we had an entire day to fritter away preparing the elements of all four Italian courses, which Ash in particular was very keen on. So with all that hard work ahead of us, we saw no other option but finally break into the monster panettone Ash won in a work raffle at Christmas at breakfast time. Insanely, it weighs 1.5kg, so in theory it should last forever, but now that we’ve discovered how wonderful it is when toasted, it may get devoured fairly quickly…

Panettone e espresso breakfast Continue reading

Meatballs Mark II

We’re big fans of leftovers but not so much of having the same meal two nights running, so we try to mix up the way we serve things. Yesterday’s meatballs were great with mashed potato but there was so much sauce that it occurred to us that it might also work with pasta. We used up the last of our peas last night but we did have half a courgette (or zucchini, depending on where you’re reading this from) in the fridge. So with the help of our pasta maker (because fresh is best) and a griddle pan (to chargrill the thinly sliced courgette), an Italian twist on the Swedish meatballs was born.

Chargrilling courgette Continue reading