Gorgonzola risotto

Gorgonzola risotto

One more recipe for the cookbook challenge. I had just one question about this: would it be as good as Rossella’s fabulous pear and gorgonzola risotto? Answer: not quite. It’s a plain risotto with gorgonzola and parmesan melted into it and a garnish of fried onions and apples. We felt there wasn’t really enough gorgonzola, but I liked the slight crunch of the apples in contrast to the creamy rice. Nicky managed to take a presentable photo of hers; I tried, but I can’t say the same. Well, I’ve already established that risotto is not photogenic!

Mushroom crostini

mushroom crostini

… aka mushrooms on toast.

Don’t let it be said that I’m a procrastinator! Here’s my first dish from Delicious Days, my cookbook challenge for this year. Supplies were low and dinner improvised, but I found some mushrooms in the fridge, so while the “real” dinner was cooking I opened a bottle of wine and made Nicky’s mushroom crostini: a 10-minute job.

We didn’t have any chives, which would have made them look prettier even with my poor photographic skills. We didn’t have any Marsala either, but we don’t do things by halves in this household, and Christmas comes but once a year — in went a glug of Warre’s excellent vintage port, bought at the airport last week. Well, it was only a couple of tablespoons. The completed sauce was poured over a few slices of my home-made 5-minute bread, and we enjoyed them with a glass of wine by a cosy log fire.

The mushrooms and sauce were delicious. Nicky says the bread should be fried, which I did, in olive oil, and then drained on kitchen paper, but some of it was a bit greasy. Next time I’ll toast or bake it.

Pasta with courgettes, lemon, and pine nuts

Summery pasta and vegetables

Serendipity rules! I’ve long liked Patricia Scarpin’s Technicolor Kitchen, but an incompatibility with my feed reader meant I didn’t follow it regularly (if a site isn’t in my reader, it doesn’t get read!). Then today I discovered the magic switch to make it work, and her last 25 posts whizzed into view. I spent a happy half hour browsing them while simultaneously wondering what I was going to cook tonight, because it’s the end of the week and I haven’t been shopping.

What luck! I had all the ingredients for this recipe to hand, and it took barely longer to make than the time needed to boil the pasta. It’s very adaptable, and I loved the fresh flavour imparted by the lemon zest and juice. A new default dinner to rival tagliatelle carbonara! Picture taken hastily just before we dived in.

Note:the original recipe is credited to the late Sher, who sadly died unexpectedly a month ago, and whose blog I didn’t know about till today.
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Pear and gorgonzola risotto

Thank you, Rossella of Ma che ti sei mangiato! I cooked Rossella’s leek risotto for Taste & Create, and she told me about this recipe. She said it was divine, and it is. Creamy, rich, with the perfect combination of pears and gorgonzola, and walnuts to add crunch. One of the best risotti I’ve ever had. Vegetarian too! No photo, because I already know risotto isn’t photogenic.

Even if you’ve never cooked risotto in your life, you owe it to yourself to try this. Don’t be scared — risotto is really easy. But you must use proper Italian risotto rice, otherwise it will be a travesty.

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Cottage Smallholder frittata

I have become a dedicated follower of Fi’s blog, which is about all sorts of domestic matters other than food, including keeping chickens, gardening, and domestic life in general. She is also very adventurous on the self-sufficiency front, making her own bacon and salami. She’s posted about frittata a couple of times, so when I was short of ingredients and time I turned to her.

This frittata recipe is now officially a default dinner. I made it with what I had: lardons, cantal cheese, diced artichoke hearts, and a sprinkling of basil, with a couple of new potatoes steamed, sliced, and laid on top. Steve thinks Spanish omelette is the work of the devil, and even he liked it!

Leek Risotto


Taste & Create has come round again already, and I haven’t even posted anything since last time! This time it’s a different kind of challenge: Nicole emailed me to say my partner’s blog is entirely in Italian! I should have guessed from the title … Ma che ti sei mangiato.

Still, since I know French, Latin, and a smidgin of Spanish, and I’ve been to Italy a couple of times, how difficult could it be? I love Italian food, so I have a pretty good vocabulary of food items, and I can usually understand the gist of what Italians are saying to me once I’m fortified with a couple of glasses of wine. So I set forth to explore.

Honestly, with the aid of the photos there were loads of recipes that appealed to me enough to make the effort to understand them (a little Babelfish was required here and there). But I decided to start with a really simple one for which I fortuitously had all the ingredients: leek risotto. It was simplicity itself to make, and I liked the result, even if Steve wasn’t so keen (he thought it was too sweet, but I think I reduced the wine a bit too much). Sorry about the photos, risotto just isn’t photogenic, but it tasted good! Look for at least a couple more recipes from Rosella soon, and thank you Nicole for the introduction!

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I love real Italian cooking and don’t do nearly enough of it. Many traditional Italian recipes not only taste good but have the benefit of being vegetarian or nearly so, and not too fattening.

I expect there are as many versions of the Tuscan soup ribollita (reheated soup) as there are cooks. This is based on Ursula Ferrigno’s recipe in Bringing Italy Home, and I like it because it’s vegetarian. If you are a confirmed carnivore, you could easily add a ham hock or some bacon. As the name suggests, it’s best reheated the day after you make it.

Vegetables can be varied according to taste and availability. I’m sure in Tuscany it always has cavolo nero in it, but you can’t get that here, so I always use dark green Savoy cabbage.

Oil: you must use the best you can get for drizzling over the top; you can get away with slightly less good for the cooking, but it should be extra-virgin.

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Pasta e fagioli

This classic Italian pasta dish is a good one for the pressure cooker, and substantial enough to serve as a balanced one-pot meal.

Tip: if you want to make a large quantity and freeze/reheat some, extract the part you are going to keep before you add the pasta. If you don’t, it will soak up too much liquid and go all stodgy.

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