Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Trip to Turin & Soft Hazelnut Biscuits

Earlier this summer I headed to Italy for a few days to visit a friend ending her year studying abroad in Turin. I completely fell in love with the place, from the delicious food and coffee to the glorious weather and architecture. Keen to take a piece of Italy home to the fam in (then) rainy England, I picked up a bag of authentic-looking biscuits called 'dolcetto morbido alla nocciola' from a delicatessen, however after trying them I soon realised I should have purchased multiple bags - they were seriously good. After a bit of googling it became clear that unless I wanted to pay a small fortune to order them direct from Italy, there was no way of getting them in the UK and so I would have to create my own recipe. The best way of describing them is like a soft amaretti biscuit, but with hazelnuts instead of almonds. The chewy nutty inside is reminiscent of Nutella without the chocolatey-ness - very fitting seeing as Turin is the home of the infamous spread. Anyway, if you are a biscuit or nut-lover, I suggest you give these a go as they are not only quick and easy but a totally delicious and morish teatime snack. I have included some of my touristy snaps of beautiful Turin, however for some more professional photography of the place be sure to check out my friend Mhairi's travel journal HERE - she's a lot more pro with a camera as you will see…

To make 24 small Dolcetto Morbido Alla Nocciola (Soft Hazelnut Biscuits) you will need…

- 100g ground hazelnuts (I blitzed whole hazelnuts, skin on, in a coffee grinder)
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- A pinch of salt
- 1 large egg white

You will need to…

- Sieve together the ground hazelnuts, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Whisk the egg white until almost soft peaks, then stir into the dry ingredients. Knead with your hands until a soft dough comes together.
- Break off small amounts and roll the dough into about 24 small balls - dust your gads with icing sugar if it is a bit sticky. Place the balls on a lined baking tray leaving a little space to spread, and press gently to slightly to flatten each one.
- Preheat your oven to 150 C, leaving the biscuits to sit and dry for about 15 minutes whilst the oven warms.
- Bake for about 22 minutes or until tops are firm and cracked and the bottoms are a little golden. Leave to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

 Enjoy! C x

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Smoked Mackerel and Quinoa Salad

This is a healthy salad which only takes about 20 minutes to make. The smoked mackerel gives a strong flavour to the quinoa, and no extra salt needs to be added as the mackerel provides a strong salty flavour. This recipe would also work with any other fish of your choice. I used the dressing from our Quinoa Superfood Salad to add a lemony flavour which ties the dish together nicely.

To serve 4 you will need...

- 4 smoked mackerel fillets
-2 red peppers
- 200g cherry tomatoes
-250g quinoa
-1 chicken stock cube
-1/2 a pint of water
-Chopped parsley to garnish

For the dressing...
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
You will need to...
-Preheat the oven to 180C
- Chop the peppers into strips and half the cherry tomatoes, place in a large baking tray season and drizzle with oil.
- Place the mackerel fillets onto a sheet of tinfoil, squeeze some lemon juice over them, season and wrap in tinfoil, if there is room in the baking tray then place them next to the chopped veg, if not place on a separate baking tray and place in the oven for 10-15 mins.
- Meanwhile place the quinoa in a dry sauce pan and toast on a fairly high heat for a few minutes until golden brown. Keep shaking it around the pan to stop it burning then add 1/2 a pint of chicken stock to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, then remove from heat and leave to steam with the lid on for approximately 5 minutes. Meanwhile remove the mackerel from the oven and check the peppers and tomatoes and cooked, if not turn up the heat and leave the veg in for 5 minutes longer.
-To make the dressing, combine the mustard, oil and lemon juice - season to taste.
- When the veg is done place quinoa in the middle of your serving dish surround with the roasted tomatoes and peppers, then peel the skin away from the mackerel, this should be easy when the fish is hot. Break the mackerel up removing any bones you come across and mix into the quinoa. Add the dressing and scatter with chopped parsley.

Enjoy! Z x

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lime and Mango Panna Cotta

Last night I cooked a dinner party for 20 people and this Lime and mango panna cotta was definitely the star of the show. It was the first time I had followed this Jane Lovett recipe,  I saw and tasted this panna cotta prepared by Jane at one of her cooking demonstrations last month. You can prepare this pudding up to 3 days in advance which is helpful when cooking for a large crowd! I used ramekins to serve the panna cotta however you can also use martini glasses or one big bowl for people to help themselves to. The subtle lime flavour contrasts well with the sweet mango pulp topping; you can either buy the mango pulp in a tin or make your own from fresh mangos which is what I did.
To serve 8 you will need...
One 400ml tin of coconut milk
400ml double cream
5 tbsps caster sugar
3 limes
4 leaves of gelatine
1 ripe mango or 400ml of tinned mango pulp
1 tbsp icing sugar
Raspberries or strawberries and mint leaves to decorate
You will need to...
-Put the gelatine leaves into a large flat dish for five minutes to soften.
- Put the coconut milk, cream and sugar into a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil stirring occasionally and simmer for a minute or two. Add the juice of 3 and zest of  1 lime and remove from the heat.
- Remove the gelatine from the water squeeze out any excess water and add to the cream mixture, (do not boil the gelatine or it wont set) pour into ramekins, glasses or a bowl. Cool cover and refrigerate until set- it is best to leave them over night.
- To make the mango puree peel and slice a mango into a food processor, add icing sugar to taste and process until smooth.
- Decorate with strawberries or raspberries or lime zest.  

 Enjoy Z x