Hello my friend, I am going to take you to my little island….

The day I asked my friend Anita to come with me to Sardinia for a short visit I did not realise that that trip would have meant so much for both of us. For me it meant that my beautiful country with its food, its history, its traditions and its way of living would have been such a source of inspiration. For my friend it meant that the way of eating and enjoying food would have changed for good for her and her family.

Here is how she experienced Sardinia:

Sunday

The first word that sprung to my mind as we drove up the winding road through the green mountains and along the coastline of turquoise waters: PARADISE!!

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The beautiful blue sky and temperature of 26 degrees at the end of the summer, 2 and a half hours flight from home, I instantly felt relaxed.

Sitting with Lara and her Mum Gina in the garden, drinking -Yes you’ve guessed it, coffee, very traditional when passing time with friends and family, they would pop by and have a good chat and a strong cup of coffee.

 

Surrounded by olive trees, cactus plants and fresh herbs, I was excited to experience the real Sardinia. What better way than to stay with my friend Lara and her Mum at their B&B Le Colline di Morimenta and live and eat as they do.

 

Whilst we relaxed Gina busied herself in the kitchen preparing lunch -here she is the Queen and the Boss of her kitchen. Sat around the table together we enjoyed goat stew, pasta in sauce and fried aubergines in breadcrumbs. I could instantly taste the freshness and the quality of the food.

We were also joined by Lara’s friend Thomas and his two children from Germany, who also have a passion for fresh healthy food and he has come to experience the Mediterranean diet and get some great ideas to share.

Later we dropped in on neighbours who welcomed us all into their home offering coffee, cakes, lots of conversations and laughter.

For our evening meal we all joined in preparing a lovely banquet of fresh prawns, aubergines, salad, pasta and lots of water and a few glasses of local wine. Even though I felt I’d eaten so much it was all very healthy and no need to snack in between meals. I am starting to realise why they have such a healthy diet and the highest level of centenarians.

 

Monday 

Today we all came together in the kitchen to make ravioli, one of their favourite dishes. It was absolutely delicious, all freshly made and another opportunity to chat and laugh together.

 

After lunch we headed to the beach. As I walked around the corner I was greeted by pure white sand and crystal clear aqua sea. It was absolutely stunning! Families would often go down to the beach and bring lunch, fresh fruit, pasta dishes and plenty of water.

 

Tuesday

After breakfast I joined Lara and Gina on their trip to the local supermarket for ingredients for today’s lunch and dinner. Straight away I noticed the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, all the colours and the quality was amazing, the meat and fish were so varied and so much choice. There seemed to be so many aisles of fresh produce and one aisle of treats. If only our supermarkets were like this I think there would not be so many people eating the wrong foods.

 

Lunch was pork steak and salad. I got to sample some ‘mortadella’ and gorgonzola which Lara says is her favourite food when she comes home. I tried fennel for the first time also, sliced and drizzled with a little olive oil, squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt. I didn’t know fennel was so good for your digestive system. I’ve always walked past this vegetable not really knowing what to do with it. You can also add to soups and stews.

Mediterranean food, lots of water, sun, family around the table taking time to talk to each other is such a good life recipe we should all be able to enjoy!

My time here is Sardinia is something I have thoroughly enjoyed and have gained some knowledge of how to cook fresh healthy dishes that are simple to prepare. Taking time to sit at the dinner table and talk to each about the days events without gadgets taking centerstage.

I hope to bring some of my experience to my family, unfortunately I cannot bring home the sun but if I can feed my family some heathy wholesome food with a touch of Italy they would feel the sun shining through.

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Risotto allo Zafferano e Asparagi

 

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This is a little different to my previous recipe 🙂

It’s my first cooking video and I wanted to share it with you.

I am cooking for my friends and I am Bringing Nonna to their home sharing with them all her precious advice.

I must say it was harder than I thought, being in front of the camera and trying to be as natural as possible….. Hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

 

Serving 3 people 

 

Ingredients 

250g Arborio rice

800ml Vegetable stock

pinch of salt,

knob of butter

tbs olive oil

half onion

handful of asparagus, sliced

a tsp saffron

 

Preparation 

Place the butter on a no-stick pan, the olive oil and melt in on a low heat, add the onion and simmer until golden. Add the rice and stir it. The rice will start roasting and it’s important that it doesn’t burn. Have your stock ready and make sure it’s hot, alternatively melt the gelatine cube in the hot water and mix it thoroughly. Gradually add the stock in the pan and keep stirring the rice, repeat this until you have used all the stock. Add the asparagus  Sprinkle the saffron and mix it throughly. Cook for another 2 minutes. The rice will look creamy and will taste “al dente” . Serve it with some fresh parmesan, shavings or grated. Pronto!

 

 

Pesce in Padella Facile-Facile

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Ahhhhh you are going to love this recipe!

It’s quick, easy, wholesome and full of the Mediterranean goodness that both my Mum and my Nonna always rave about, I can hear them say ” We are not on a diet, we eat a variety of foods and we make sure we use all the foods that are good for you: fruit, vegetables, fish, fats, proteins…… “.

My Nonna is 96 years old, her sisters are all between 80 and 85 years old, my Mamma is 70 years old, my great aunt is 98 years old and I even had a great uncle who lived till he was 104.

I can see now what they have been telling me all my life, it is definitely not a diet, it is a way of life that I am lucky enough to have experienced and I am going to treasure forever.

Thanks to what they taught me I am now teaching my children to enjoy food just like I did as a child, but not just my children need to know what type of food is good for their heart, what food prevent diabetes, obesity, dementia and other serious conditions.

So this recipe has got a little bit of everything, a subtle combination of white wine vinegar and tomatoes, garlic and bayleaf and a little bit of wine ( POCO VINO) …. all those flavours are going to make any fish dish extremely tasty.

It takes me back to my childhood in Sardinia, my beautiful island in the South of Italy, and somehow I hope with this dish I am taking you there too……

 

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

4 pieces of any type of white fish

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

handful of bayleaf

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

50ml of good quality white wine vinegar

50ml of red wine

50ml extra virgin olive oil

100ml tomato passata

pinch of salt

fresh basil

 

 

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Preparation

Put the oil, garlic and bayleaf in a large pan. Simmer and add the fish. Season the fish with salt. Cook on a medium heat for 3/4 minutes. Pour the wine in and let it blend in with the fish, add the passata and gently mix with a spoon. Pour in the white wine vinegar and cook on a low heat for another 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften up. Sprinkle some fresh basil and season with more salt if needed. Pronto!! 

Serve with some roast new potatoes and a mozzarella salad, your family will love it 🙂

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Insalata per Campioni

Starting 2018 with some freshness and what a great boost for those that are working out 💪🏻

I called this Salad “Salad for Champions” : Tuna, potatoes, eggs and green beans….carbs, proteins, vitamins and sunshine all in one ONE dish.

How can only a few ingredients make a dish so tasty? Well, this is exactly what Nonnas do, they only use what it’s going to be good for you and they cook it in the simplest way ❤️

 

This salad is truly delicious and my whole family love it. It’s also a great idea for pack lunches too 😊

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

2/3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)

300g fine green beans

4 eggs (1 egg per person)

1 tin of tuna ( in oil )

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil, 3 tbs

Salt, pinch

Preparation

Put the potatoes in a large pan, cover with water and bring it to the boil. Boil for 5 minuets and then add the green beans in with the potatoes. Boil for another 5 minuets ( or less if you like your beans “al dente”).

While the potatoes and green beans are cooking, place the eggs in a smaller pan, cover with water and bring it to the boil, cook for 8 minuets. Drain the vegetables and place them into a large serving dish, add the tuna (flake it with a fork). Peel the eggs and halve them. Prepare the dressing: mix the olive oil, the lemon juice and salt and pour it all over the salad. Pronta!

Pollo alla Cacciatora – Hunter Chicken

 

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When it’s cold outside you need a recipe to warm up the whole family, Hunter Chicken is just perfect! In italian we say Pollo all Cacciatora “Hunter Chicken”  /POH-LOH AH-LAH CAH-CHAH-TOH-RAH/ and it is another great recipe that will bring the family together. It reminds me of a winter’s day, about 27 years ago (I would have been 15 years “young” ) and like every teenager coming home from school it was the highlight of my day!! I was always looking forward to coming home, most of all after all those tests and long hours learning about what I though it was boring ( at that time I thought all teachers were evil, I wonder if it’s what my students think about me now!!) … as I walked in, the whole house smelt divine but I was far too tired to chat about my day. A huge pot of Hunter Chicken was ready on the table with some fresh bread to mop up the dishes ( SCARPETTA  /SCAR-PEH-TAH/ ) , the first bite and slowly I got my speech back. It was my kinda comfort food, when I say “Comfort” it means that not only did it bring the family to sit together but it also brought the comfort I needed as a teenager to speak up, to chat, to talk….

Now that I am a Mamma  I am on the other side of the table, preparing my Hunter Chicken for my family, hoping that it’ll help my teenage children to open up and talk about their day. Bringing families together is what my food is all about 🙂

Serving 6

Ingredients

1 kg Chicken (thighs and/or drumsticks)

3 carrots, diced

3 celery sticks, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, whole

handful of rosemary

2 tins of plum tomatoes

100g white wine

100g cappers

salt 1/2 tsp

olive oil, 3/4 tbs

Preparation

In a large saucepan heat the the olive oil and add the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes until the skin is golden. Add the carrots, celery, onion, salt, garlic and rosemary. Pour the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes , the cappers and cook on a low heat for 40 minutes. If needed add more salt. Pronto!!

Serve with a loaf of bread and steamed or panfried vegetables. Roast potatoes are great too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polpette al Sugo – Meatballs in Red Sauce

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Polpette = Meatballs = Italian Comfort Food 🙂

Nonna and Mamma used to make Meatballs all the time and I can still remember the excitement about dinner time!

In a cold day I used to love coming home from school to find one of my favourite dishes, Pasta and Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce…. awww it tasted amazing!!!

Today I am making this dish for my family and I hope I can inspire your family too!

#BringNonnaBack and Bring Families Together ❤️

Serves 4/6 people

 

Ingredients for the Polpette-Meatballs

250g beef Mince, good quality
250g pork mince
1 egg
100g bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
handful of parsley, finely chopped
l pinch of salt
sunflower oil for frying

Preparation
In a large bowl place the mince and add the egg, parsley, garlic, salt and bread crumbs. Mix all together with a fork or with your hand making sure you combine all the ingredients. If the mix feels too wet you can add some more bread crumbs, if it feels too dry add a splash of milk. Once the mix is smooth you can start rolling it into small balls, size of a 10p coin. I tent to make them a bit small as it’s easier for the children to eat them all in one go!

Option 1: Heat some sunflower oil in a large pan (filling all the bottom of the pan )and place 6/8 meatballs at the time. Cook them for 4/5 minutes, keep stirring them until golden. Prepare a large dish with some kitchen roll on the side and once the meatballs are ready to come out the pan, drain them and place them on the  kitchen roll to rest and to lose some of the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Keep doing the same until you have cooked all the meatballs.
Option 2: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees, place the meatballs on a flat oven tray and put the in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.

For the Sugo-Sauce

Ingredients
Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped
800/900g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)
A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Olive oil, 2 tbs
Salt, a pinch
Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)
Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes untill golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.
PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before
Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.
Finally add your basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your Sugo is ready!
Place the meatballs into the sauce, make sure they are all covered, put the lid on and  keep cooking the sauce and the meatballs for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Enjoy your Polpette with some fresh bread or pasta. Buon Apettito!

Zucchine Fries

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This  is a great recipe for a healthy and tasty snack that the whole family would love!

In Italian we call them ZUCCHINE  /ZOO-KEY-NEH/ = Courgettes and they are the star of this simple dish. People often think that courgettes are plain and tasteless…. did you know that they are:

  • High Source of Antioxidants and Vitamin C. …
  • Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties that Can Improve Heart Health. …
  • High Source of Potassium. …
  • Help Improve Digestion. …
  • Low in Calories and Carbs. …
  • Helps Maintain Eye Health. …
  • Good Source of Energizing B Vitamins. …
  • Can Help Control Diabetes..

They are very popular in our Mediterranean Diet and you can cook them in so many different ways!

My Nonna used to bake (or fry) many other vegetables in bread crumbs (aubergine, pepper, cauliflower..), she even made her own version of mozzarella sticks! Today we are using courgettes. The best bit about it is that my little girl made them from scratch, she loves cooking and she is a very quick learner. Children love engaging with food most of all if they can get their hands dirty! 🙂

Serving 4 

Ingredients

2 large courgettes, cut in length ways

2 eggs

handful of Parmesan cheese, grated

handful of dried origano

200g homemade breadcrumbs

Pinch of salt

Olive oil, 3 tbs

Fresh Rosemary to decorate

Preparation 

Preheat the oven at 190 degrees. Whisk two eggs and add the courgettes in. Mix well. In a different bowl mix the parmesan, the oregano, the bread crumbs and salt. Put the courgettes into the bread crumbs and mix. Put the courgette sticks on a tray, add a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Pronto!

Please watch our video 🙂