Europe

A selection of my favourite recipes mostly, but not exclusively, originating in Italy where I now live. Since the COVID-19 lockdown I’ve become very interested in foraging and cooking dishes made from ingredients found in the woods and hedgerows around my house. I’ve created a separate foraging page for some of my favourite recipes.

Leek, cheese and potato pie – Pies are something of a staple food in the UK and come in very many different forms with a huge variety of fillings. Whilst pies can be eaten all year round they really come into their own during the winter when they are generally served with roast vegetables or chips. This vegetarian version of a traditional British chicken and leek pie can be made with flaky or shortcrust pastry

Roasted sprouts with chestnuts and maple syrup – Never, ever boil Brussels sprouts, the trick is to roast them in butter adding chestnuts and maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness. Perfect for Christmas lunch but also delicious at any time they are in season

Roast stuffed pumpkin – I often make roasted pumpkin soup and my squash, red lentil and coconut dahl is a favourite with family and friends but this time I thought I’d try making a stuffed pumpkin as a centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner

Cabbage and mushroom pasties – A rich cabbage, mushroom and leek filling with Parmesan cheese and mustard inside a soft crumbly shortcrust pastry, adapted from my new recipe book which celebrates the very best of seasonal vegetable cooking

Italian lemon and ricotta cake – A moist Italian cake made with fresh lemons and handmade ricotta from the local farmers market, delicious with coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack between those relentless online Zoom meetings…

Leek and aduki bean stew with cheesy dumplings – A delicious and warming combination of firm beans and soft vegetables in a rich, smoky tomato sauce with deep flavours of paprika and soy. Oh, and fluffy cheesy dumplings which my teenage children used to fight over!

Roasted squash and chestnut soup – There is something completely addictive about foraging for chestnuts and these days I return from every walk with my pockets bursting at the seams. This recipe combines the rich flavours of roasted chestnuts with the sweet charred flesh of some beautiful golden squash picked from my garden

Tray-baked sea bream with lentils and salsa verde – There’s nothing like drizzling homemade salsa verde over a perfectly cooked piece of tray-baked fish that you have filleted yourself to make you feel ‘chefy’!

Apricot, plum and lavender cake – This year’s apricot harvest was very limited, most likely due to the unseasonally cold and wet conditions during May. So the only option was to make them into a cake! I added a handful of the the plums that were just starting to ripen on the tree next door and some beautifully scented lavender.

Baked green pea fritters – Peas are normally regarded as a side dish or end up in a pea and mint soup, of which I’m not a fan. So after a quick search online I found this recipe for green pea fritters and decided to give it a try.

Gorgonzola risotto with mushrooms and asparagus – People often assume that it’s complicated and time consuming to make Italian risotto but it really isn’t – at least not the way I do it!

Pizza ortolana con pesto – Two months into the Italian lockdown my need for pizza has taken over so this is my take on the ortolana, which in Italian means “from the vegetable patch”, with added pesto for extra flavour.

Cinzia’s tiramisu – This tiramisu with layers of sponge soaked in coffee and rum, chunks of dark chocolate and a rich marscapone cream is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever eaten.

Ravioli with zucchini and garlic sauce – Although I live in Italy and have eaten (and loved) Italian food almost all my adult life, I’ve never actually tried to make my own pasta. Today I put that right with thanks to an online cooking lesson with Cinzia in Florence…

Lockdown cauliflower cake – This is somewhere between a savoury cake and a quiche made with both eggs and flour, great for quick and easy (bread free) weekday lunches.

Cauliflower, leek and Gorgonzola cheese – More comfort food in these COVID-19 lockdown days…

Polenta with pumpkin, mushrooms and sage – A comforting dish made with fresh sage which has anti microbial properties, builds immunity and helps keeps viruses at bay.

Tagliatelle con trota e ricotta – A simple and quick pasta dish made with smoked trout sourced from a nature reserve in Piedmont.

Torta de mela – A delicious, moist Italian apple cake made with organic apples grown on the sloping hills of Piedmont.