Warm Potato and Haricot Vert Salad

Makes 8 servings
1/2 pound haricot vert or fresh green beans
1 red bell pepper
2 pounds small red potatoes

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 pinch dry mustard
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced oregano
1 teaspoon minced chives
1 1/2 teaspoons chiffonade basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut green beans or haricot vert into pieces approximately 1 inch long. Blanch beans in salted boiling water 1-2 minutes, shock in ice bath and set aside.
Roast red pepper in 450 degree oven until skin is charred. Wrap in foil to cool and loosen skin. Remove skin and seeds and dice pepper flesh.
Wash potatoes well and dice into large cubes, approximately 1- by 1-inch. Place potatoes in saucepan; add cold water to just cover. Bring to simmer, and cook until just tender.
While potatoes are cooking, prepare vinaigrette: Add vinegars, dry mustard and honey to bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. With processor running, slowly add oils to combine into emulsified dressing. After adding oils, process in herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Warm vinaigrette in small saucepan.
When potatoes are cooked, drain well and put in a mixing bowl. Add haricot verts and diced red pepper. While still warm, pour vinaigrette over potato mixture and toss all ingredients gently to combine. Check seasoning. Serve salad warm or at room temperature.

Smoked Porchetta Pork Loin Sandwich

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Pork rub:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil

Pork loin:
1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely minced
6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
12 ounces sliced bacon

For the aioli:
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted, or use prepared roasted pepper
3 egg yolks
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich:
6 to 8 ciabatta rolls
Sliced provolone cheese, sliced tomato and wilted spinach, for garnish

For the rub: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients well; set aside.
Lay pork loin on cutting board. With sharp knife, begin with shallow lengthwise cut in the meat, approximately 1/2 inch deep. Turn knife and work through the meat to butterfly the pork loin into a flat piece of meat, 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Trim edges as necessary to produce a rectangle.
Season both sides of pork loin with salt and pepper. Combine basil, oregano, garlic and olive oil, and spread evenly over one side of pork loin. Lay thin-sliced prosciutto over the herb mixture, covering evenly to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the meat. From one long edge, roll the meat tightly.
Generously rub the outside of the meat with the pork rub. Wrap bacon strips around the rolled roast, covering completely. Lay one strip over the edges of the bacon strips to cover. Sprinkle rub on the outside. Using kitchen twine, securely tie the roast. Wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Remove pork roast from refrigerator to bring up to room temperature for cooking.
Prepare your smoker. The roast may be cooked on any style smoker. I used a kamado-style smoker, using natural lump charcoal and apple wood smoking chunks. At 225 degree smoking temperature, smoke porchetta to internal temperature of 145 degrees, approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove from smoker and let rest 30 to 45 minutes, to allow juices to reabsorb. Cool roast completely, wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
To make the aioli: Roast red pepper on rack in 450-degree oven until skin is evenly charred. Wrap in foil to cool and loosen skin. Remove skin and seeds, rough chop flesh of the pepper.
Add pepper, egg yolks, garlic and vinegar to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until mixture is combined and smooth. With processor running continuously, slowly stream in olive oil and vegetable oil to produce smooth, emulsified mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the sandwich: Slice meat very cold for best results. Thinly shave slices of porchetta with a very sharp slicing knife or electric slicer (preferred), approximately 6 ounces of meat per sandwich.
Split fresh ciabatta rolls. Toast lightly. Spread both sides with red pepper aioli. For each sandwich, heat porchetta for several minutes in a lightly oiled sauté pan or on griddle, turning once. After turning, top meat with provolone cheese. After meat is heated through and cheese has begun to melt, transfer the meat/cheese to the ciabatta roll with spatula. In same pan, add spinach leaves and cook until just wilted. Garnish sandwiches with fresh sliced tomato and wilted spinach.

Italian Sausage & Gnocchi Soup

500g raw mild Italian sausage, casings removed and discarded
1 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 - 796ml can of diced tomatoes
1800ml chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
1 - 500g package of potato gnocchi pasta
1 packed cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Generous amounts of shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Add the sausage meat, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to a large pot. Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the sausage in cooked through, while breaking up the sausage meat with a spoon.
Add the can of tomatoes, chicken broth, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the gnocchi and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the spinach and basil, and portion out immediately; garnish with generous amounts of shaved Pecorino Romano cheese.
Makes approximately 13 cups

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

•           1 large onion (sliced)
•           4 garlic cloves
•           2 tbsp fresh rosemary (chopped)
•           2 lb beef chuck roast
•           1 tsp kosher salt
•           1 tsp black pepper
•           2 cups beef broth
•           ¼ cup red wine
•           1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
•           1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
•           12 ounces pappardelle pasta or polenta
•           ½ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1.         Add the onion and garlic cloves to the bottom of a slow cooker set to high. Sprinkle the fresh rosemary over the top.
2.         Season the beef with the salt and pepper, then add to the slow cooker.
3.         In a medium bowl, combine the beef broth, red wine and tomato paste. Pour the mixture over the beef.
4.         Add the can of diced tomatoes to the crock pot.
5.         Cook on high for 6-8 hours. It's done when you can reach a fork into the crock pot and the beef pulls right apart.
Serve it on top of creamy polenta or tossed with papparadelle pasta. Use a ladle to pour the sauce from the crock pot over the beef and polenta or pasta. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Slow cook Hunter's chicken recipe

This wonderful Pollo alla cacciatora recipe can be done in a slow cooker, filling your kitchen with mouthwatering smells


750g/1lb 10oz chicken thighs and drumsticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed and left whole
1 small red chilli, sliced
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
4 sage leaves
125ml/4fl oz dry white wine
1½ tbsp tomato purée (paste), dissolved in 3 tbsp lukewarm water
175g/6oz cherry tomatoes, halved

Rub the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the chicken and seal well all over.
Add the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs and cook for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add the wine, increase the heat and allow the wine to evaporate slightly. Add the diluted tomato purée, then stir in the cherry tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook gently for 1¼ hours, until the chicken is cooked through; the flesh should come away from the bone and there should be no sign of pink when you pierce the thickest part. Serve hot.
If you wish to use a slow cooker
Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and cook the chicken as above. Continue as above, add the tomatoes, plus 300ml/10fl oz chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then transfer to a large slow cooker pot. Cover and cook on low for seven to eight hours or until there are no pink juices when the chicken is pierced with a small knife.

Meringue with strawberries recipe

Meringa con zabaglione e fragole: a delicious Italian dessert recipe that is perfect for summer


3 egg whites
A pinch of salt
200g/7oz caster sugar
½ tsp lemon juice
10g/¼oz icing sugar, sifted
200g/7oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
For the zabaglione
4 egg yolks
100g/3½oz caster sugar
3 tbsp vin santo or marsala wine

Preheat the oven to 75C/165F/gas mark ¼ or as low as it will go. Line a 24cm/9½in-diameter round baking sheet with baking parchment.
Put the egg whites and salt in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, whisking all the time. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe a large nest onto the baking parchment. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large spoon. Sprinkle with icing sugar and immediately place in the oven for four hours.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before carefully removing from the baking sheet. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the zabaglione. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vin santo. Place over a saucepan of gently simmering water, whisking until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from the heat, whisk to get rid of any lumps, and leave to cool.

Put the meringue on a serving plate, fill the middle with the zabaglione and decorate with strawberries. 

Italian split pea soup recipe

Zuppa di piselli secchi con lattuga, or split pea soup with lettuce, is a delicious Italian dish

Split peas don’t normally need pre-soaking, but check the packet instructions.

For the vegetable broth
1 onion, peeled
1 courgette
1 carrot
1 celery stalk with leaves
1 leek
1 potato, peeled
2 cherry tomatoes
A handful of parsley, including stalks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
For the pea soup
1 onion, peeled
300g/10½oz dried split peas
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g/1¾oz butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 celery heart, sliced
85g/3oz pancetta, cubed
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 litre/1¾ pints hot vegetable broth (recipe below)
500ml/18fl oz hot water
250g/9oz lettuce
225ml/8fl oz milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
Grated Parmesan, to serve

Put all the ingredients for the broth in a large saucepan, add 1.5 litres/2½ pints water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1¼ hours. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Remove from the heat and strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing down on the vegetables with the back of a spoon.
Meanwhile, start making the soup. Rinse the split peas in cold water, discarding any small stones or other impurities; set aside.
Heat the olive oil and half of the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and pancetta and sweat for five minutes, until softened.
Stir in the potatoes and split peas, add the broth and hot water, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 1½ hours, stirring from time to time to prevent the peas from sticking.
About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, put the lettuce leaves in a pan of boiling water and simmer for six minutes. Drain, squeezing out excess water, and leave to cool, then slice thinly lengthways. Set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and transfer to a bowl with the milk and egg yolks, whisking well. Remove the pea soup from the heat, stir in the milk mixture and serve sprinkled with the sliced lettuce and Parmesan.

Saffron Rice

Yield: 6 servings
“Saffron is a luxurious addition to rice, infusing it with fragrance and color. I like to place the saffron threads in the pot along with the rice, lots of butter, and bay leaves. Doing it this way creates speckled shades of deep yellows and orange and makes the dish really stand out on your table. Saffron rice pairs perfectly with stews and braised meats.”

2 cups basmati rice, rinsed in cold water at least 5 times, until the water starts to run clear
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
2 pinches of saffron threads

1. Place the rinsed rice in a pot with 3 1/2 cups of cold water and add the remaining ingredients on top. Bring the water to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid that has been wrapped in a kitchen towel so that the towel is inside your pot on the bottom of the lid. (This will absorb the steam and make the rice fluffier.) Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Red Cabbage, Pistachio and Mint

Yield: 8 servings

“This is one of those salads that has very few ingredients but really stands up to the heat. The cabbage serves as a fresh and crunchy platform for the herbs and nuts. This salad pairs well with just about anything, but I especially like it with spicy stews such as the Persian chicken stew or the braised spiced lamb with yogurt and walnuts.”

1 medium head of red cabbage, outer leaves removed
1 cup raw pistachios, toasted and finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the cabbage into quarters. Laying each quarter flat side down, slice it as thinly as possible down to the core and discard the core. Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and dress it with just a little bit of olive oil and salt to taste. Then dress with lots of lemon juice.
2. Gently toss the cabbage with the toasted pistachios and mint and season to taste with pepper. Serve immediately.

Greek Fried Eggs

Yield: 1 serving.
“This is the only recipe for fried eggs that you will ever need. The trick is to spoon hot oil from the pan over the yolk until the top turns white. This makes for a perfectly cooked egg — the yellow is still runny, but the edges of the white are crispy and browned. Armed with this technique, you can channel your inner Greek mama, frying up eggs for a quick and easy dinner.”

2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Coat your frying pan (nonstick is best) with a good amount of olive oil — enough so that when you tilt your pan, you can easily dip your spoon to collect the oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat for a minute and crack the eggs into the pan.
2. Allow the eggs to cook for a bit, until the whites are almost done and the edges are getting a little browned. Then tilt the pan and start spooning the hot oil over the yolks until just cooked on the top. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Penne Alla Pappalina

1 package (5 links) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 (8-ounce) package white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, preferably in oil, roughly chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing around
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A good handful of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 package baby spinach, or as much as you like
1 pound penne rigate
1 cup reserved pasta water
A good handful of fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large, deep saute pan, cook the sausage, breaking apart as you go. Drain and set aside.
Saute garlic, shallot and mushrooms in the same pan in oil (a few turns of oil around the pan) 2 to 3 minutes, adding red pepper flakes.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes and beans. Add the sausage and the remaining olive oil, adding the shredded cheese as you go.
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add the chopped basil and spinach to wilt.
Cook the pasta as directions suggest. Remember to reserve some of the pasta water.
Add drained pasta to the pan of sauce and fold gently to combine, adding pasta water to loosen as necessary.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. Pass extra cheese around, use lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Braciole de Manzo (Braised Beef Rolls)

Makes 6 servings
1-1/2 cups milk
2 cups cubed day-old Italian or French bread, crust removed
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 12 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick, 4 to 5 inches square*
12 slices imported Italian prosciutto
1/4 pound imported provolone cheese, cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-inch sticks.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions (about 8 ounces), chopped
1 large (35-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Crushed red pepper flakes

To make the stuffing: Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the bread cubes, and soak until the bread is very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the bread, squeeze out the excess milk from the cubes with your hands, and return bread to the bowl. Stir in the chopped eggs, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, raisins, pine nuts and garlic. Mix well and set aside.
With the toothed side of a meat mallet, pound each slice of beef round to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Arrange one of the pounded meat slices in front of you with one of the short sides nearest you. Top each with a slice of prosciutto. Tap the prosciutto with the back side of a knife so it adheres to the beef.
Spread 2 tablespoons of the stuffing along the edge of the meat closest to you, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place a stick of the provolone over the stuffing. Fold the border of the provolone,
then fold the side borders in to overlap the edges of the stuffing. Roll into a compact roll about 4 inches long. Secure the end flap with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining beef and stuffing, then season the rolls with salt and pepper.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy casserole (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add as many of the beef rolls as well fit in a single layer and cook, turning the beef rolls as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. If necessary, repeat with the remaining beef rolls.
Adjust the heat under the pan as necessary to prevent the beef from scorching.
Meanwhile, put the tomatoes into a bowl and squeeze them with your hands until coarsely crushed, removing the cores as you do.
If necessary, return all the beef rolls to the pot. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the tomato paste and bay leaves and stir until the paste is dissolved. Season with salt and crushed red pepper. Adjust the heat to simmering, adding water as necessary to keep the beef rolls completely submerged, until the beef is tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the toothpicks before serving.  Pasta can be served with the beef rolls and the sauce.
*The slices of beef should measure 4 to 5 inches on each side before pounding.  To obtain pieces of the right size, you want to cut (or have your butcher do it for you) six 1/2 inch-thick slices from the widest part of the bottom round, then cut those slices crosswise into two pieces.