Friday, April 16, 2010


Ossobucco, a northern dish, came to mind recently when I bought a new paperback by Stuart Woods the other day, as one of the main characters in his books, Stone Barrington, always asks for this dish when he visits his favorite Italian restaurant.

in Italian literally means "bone with a hole", and consists of slowly cooked veal shank which is cooked until tender. It is often served with risotto or pasta, but can also be served with fresh vegetables such as asparagus. This recipe includes carrots in the sauce, but these are optional.

Ossobucco Recipe
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 slices veal shank, each 1 1/2 inches thick, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups meat stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 small cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  1. Spread the flour on a plate and dust the veal, tapping off the excess. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the veal and cook on the first side until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Turn the meat and add the onion, carrot and 1 crushed garlic clove to the pan, scattering it around the pieces of veal. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on the second side about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, turning occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. (The dish can be prepared up to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. To continue, reheat gently over low heat for 20 minutes).
  4. Combine the parsley and remainder of the garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together. Transfer to a bowl, add the lemon zest, and toss together. Scatter the mixture of the veal. Baste the veal with the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer to a warmed serving dish or individual plates and serve at once with risotto, pasta or vegetables.

Pizzaiola Halibut

Pizzaiola is an Italian classic sauce which is often served with beef but works equally well with any firm such as, halibut, tuna or swordfish. La is made with tomatoes, garlic and oregano in olive oil, the same as a pizza sauce. The sauce is very easy to make and when served with fish makes a light and healthy summer meal. This recipe is from Antionio Carluccio's book, an Invitation to Italian Cooking.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 halibut steaks
  • 1 medium can tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pinches dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • flour for dusting
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Dip the fish into the flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over a high flame.
  3. Fry the fish in the oil turning once until cooked through.
  4. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  5. Slice the garlic and add it to the olive oil, reduce the heat a little and almost immediately, before the garlic starts to brown, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, then return the fish to the sauce.
  7. Heat through for a further minute or two to allow the fish to soak up the flavor of the tomatoes before serving.
  8. Serve the fish with the sauce with a green side salad and crusty bread.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


If you are looking for a tasty meal, and feel like making something more adventurous than Spaghetti Bolognese, is a great alternative. Braciole is stuffed beef rolls in a marinara sauce. It takes a little time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.

The recipe below serves four, and the rolls can be made several hours ahead of time, and kept in the refrigerator, so that you are not rushing around when your dinner guests arrive.

  • 4 thin slices of round steak
  • 4 slices prosciutto ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated romano
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons flat-leaved (Italian) parsley, minced
  1. If your supermarket has a butcher, ask him to pound the slices of steak, otherwise, you will need to do this yourself. They need to be quite thin in order to roll properly.
  2. Blend breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a slice of prossciutto on top of each steak, then spread one fourth of the breadcrumb mixture in the center of each slice, roll it up, tuck in the endss and tie with thread.
  4. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole, and brown the meat rolls on all sides.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and half a cup of stock, bring to the boil.
  6. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Add more stock if necessary.
  8. When the meat is tender, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and serve with pasta such as penne, or rigatoni.


This weekend I decided to make , as it is a dish I have not made for some time. Jambalaya is a Creole dish found in many different forms in the southern states of America and in Central America. The dish contains pepper and chillies which gives it its hotness, and often the fleshy oysters found in the Gulf of Mexico are included. These are shelled and arranged over the rice a few minutes before the dish is cooked, so that they solidify, but remain fleshy.

However, when I arrived at the supermarket for the ingredients, not everything was available, so some improvising was necessary. Stone crab claws could not be found anywhere (not even frozen), but here in California we had an abundance of Alaskan King Crab legs, so I used these instead, chopped into approximately 3-inch lengths, resulting in a slightly more sweet flavor which contrasted well with the pepper and tangy lime flavors. The recipe below gives the original recipe, but feel free to substitute seafood and pork flavors with whatever you have available locally.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 medium green peppers
  • 18 oz tomatoes
  • 4 oz boiled ham
  • 8 oz large shrimp, shelled
  • 4 crab claws (Stone or Common crab)
  • 4 rashers rindless smoked bacon
  • 3 oz onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 7 oz long grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balm
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • chicken stock to cover
  1. Dry fry the diced bacon, and then lightly fry the onions in the bacon fat, over a moderate heat. Add the crushed garlic and finally the diced peppers. Simmer the vegetable mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the onion transparent.
  2. Sprinkle in the rice, and stir until it is transparent and beginning to swell. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and lemon balm.
  3. Marinate the finely chopped chili in the lime juice for 10 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients in the pan. Make sure that the chili is well distributed throughout the dish.
  4. Stir in the ham and tomatoes. Pour on the chicken stock and cook oer a high heat for 5 minutes. Then fold in the prawns, crab claws. Set the oven at moderate (180 C, 350 F, gas 4). Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
This recipe was found in the book Shellfish by Anton Mosimann and Holger Hoffman.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Like most people, I am constantly looking for quick and easy meals to make in the evening, and this is ideal. It is great because most of the ingredients are things you can keep on hand in dried form or canned, so it can be made quickly without the need to go shopping.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 chopped anchovy fillets in olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon of the oil (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups canned whole plum tomatoes, chopped with juice
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 12 oz dried spaghetti or other strand pasta
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, minced
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a large frying pan over low heat, warm the oil and garlic until fragrant but not colored, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the and their oil, and cook, mashing them with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juice, and the olives, , oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt.
  7. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta to the boiling water.
  8. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package directions.
  9. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the parsley, tossing to combine.
  11. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  12. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors and serve.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I used to make this recipe in England, and now make it here in California with slightly different ingredients. If you do not know Paella, it is an everyday Spanish dish, and its ingredients vary greatly, but the nearer you are to the coast, the more seafood it will contain. As well as seafood, it also contains chicken and pork (even if in the form of sausage or ham).

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 lb clams (littlenecks are good)
1/2 lb shell on large shrimp
2 cooked boneless chicken breasts
2 mild italian or chorizo sausages
1 medium sized red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
12 oz bottled clam juice
1/2 glass dry white wine
10 oz long grain rice
Saffron threads (infused)
5 oz fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon & parsley garnish

You can vary the ingredients by adding mussels, langostinos, or lobster and you can use ham or pork instead of sausage.

1. Prepare the shellfish. Wash the shrimp under running water, and scrub the clams and leave to soak to remove any sand (if they are particularly sandy, leave them for 5-6 hours).

2. Pour boiling water on the saffron threads and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes.

3. Chop the onion into small pieces, and crush the garlic.

4. Remove the seeds from the pepper and cut into strips.

5. Part cook the sausage in a frying pan with a little cold water for about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and leave for a few minutes to cool. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess fat and remove the skin with scissors. Cut the sausage into small pieces.

6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the onion and crushed garlic until the onion is transparent. Add the part cooked sausage and fry over a high heat. Add the pepper to this mixture and cook for five minutes.

7. Add the cooked chicken and tomatoes. Cook gently for 2 minutes before adding the white wine, saffron liquid, and about half the clam juice. Stir well.

8. Stir in the rice, then bring the mixture to the boil.

9. Add the shrimp and the clams and stir well. Cook with the lid on for approx. 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Check frequently while cooking, as the rice absorbs the liquid quickly, so add more clam juice as needed.

10. Serve with lemon wedges and parsely garnish. Enjoy!


If you are trying to think of a different way to cook summer vegetables, why not take a leaf out of Disney's book, and make ratatouille? Ratatouille is a vegetable stew from Provence in Southern France. It makes a colorful and delicious vegetable dish when all of the summer are relatively inexpensive. It can be served hot with grilled or roasted lamb or pork, or chilled with garlic bread as an appetizer. You might even get the kids to try some if you tell them it's called !

  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced
  • 1 lb tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped, or 1 x 14 oz can tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper
(serves 4 to 6)
  1. Heat 2 spoons of oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry until golden.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables, season well with black pepper and stir in enough water to come about half way up the mixture.
  4. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. The vegetables should be broken down and soft, and the juices quite think.
  6. Adjust the seasoning and transfer to a hot serving dish, or cool and chill in the refrigerator.

Pasta with Simple Marinara Sauce

I have been asked many times what my favorite meal is, and despite the many elaborate, and sophisticated meals that I have eaten in restaurants, and painstakingly made myself, I always come back to basic Italian sauce and pasta.

I have sampled many different foods at the different food shows we attend but I am always reminded that the best food in the world is often the simplest. The beauty of this sauce is that it is quick and easy - anyone can make it, and it always tastes good. It is inexpensive, and you can make a huge batch and keep it in the refrigerator, or freeze it. You can use it in different ways - either use it as a simple sauce with , or add chicken, shrimp or other seafood, and serve it with a green salad, and crusty bread. So, in these difficult economic times, it is a nutritious and inexpensive meal to make - and kids love it, too!

Marinara Sauce (serves 6)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan, and saute onion and garlic until light golden.
  2. Add white wine.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, and all other ingredients.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with spaghetti, or pasta of choice.