Tuesday 8 December 2015

Christmas Pudding Recipe

That time of year, again. The tree is in its place in the barn (but won't be decorated until Christmas week...we stick firmly to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of having the thing fully functioning not long before the 25th, but if we don't buy it and install it at the start of the month, we risk getting only the ratty remnants left unbought by the Italians, all of whom have to have their Christmas decorations up by December 8th, in time for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Which is today.)
The puddings are steaming away on the stove - one for us, and a larger one for the Paoli, who always have a rabbit's-friends-and-relations gathering for Christmas day.  As I've done for the past few years, the pudding more or less follows a very reliable recipe from Marguerite Patten, which includes not only apple and carrot, but also prunes and apricots...as well as all of the usual more run-of-the-mill dried fruit, and a healthy dollop of black treacle.
The recipe couldn't be simpler. So far, the puddings have had five and a half hours....so, they'll be about ready by the time I've finished writing this.

For two medium-sized, or one very large pudding:

Ingredients: 4 oz Suet; 1 lb 12 oz mixed dried fruit and peel; 4 oz dried apricots, chopped; 4 oz prunes, chopped; 4 oz slivered almonds; 4 oz muscovado sugar; 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced; 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely diced; 3 oz plain flour; 6 oz fresh breadcrumbs; 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; 1 tsp each of grated lemon and orange zest; 1 tbs each of lemon and orange juice; 1 generous tbs black treacle; 8 fl oz milk; 2 large or 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten.


1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir carefully to mix together very thoroughly. Leave, covered, overnight.

2. Grease two pudding bowls (or one large one, as you wish), and fill them with the mixture, levelling the top once done. Cover each bowl with a circle of greaseproof paper, with one pleat in, to allow it to expand as necessary, then cover the greaseproof paper in turn with aluminium foil. Tie round the neck of the pudding bowl with string.

3. Steam over a low heat for 5-6 hours; if the lid of the pan is not tight fitting, you might need to replenish the water as you go; always best to check, just in case.

4. Once steamed, remove from heat, and once they have sufficiently cooled,  replace the greaseproof and foil cover with fresh versions of the same. Store in a cool place, until Christmas Day.

5. To re-heat, steam again for 2 hours.

Always served in this house with brandy butter.

Monday 30 November 2015

Belforte for the weekend...

Looking over the rooftops, and out over the Etruscan landscape

Winter sunshine - deceptively warm, for the first few minutes!

A Siamese on a mission

Vines, tidied away for the winter

The view across the terrace of the Doctor's house

Kitchen 'the morning after', looking surprisingly organised

Tonight's Dinner:

Fettucine Alfredo

Boned Pheasant, roast with orange and juniper, served on a bed of green lentils

Vanilla Apple Tarts

Thursday 19 November 2015

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field 
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth, a richer dust concealed; 
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back those thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an  English heaven.

For my Father

10 June 1928 - 2 November 2015

Sunday 15 November 2015

Prune & 'Armagnac' Tart

I've lost track of the number of versions of this recipe that I've come across - all are good, some are better than others. The flavours work perfectly together, and the velvety creaminess of the texture, if cooked correctly at low heat, is luxury incarnate! On one occasion, I remember serving this as dessert to 120 diners, at a banquet at Trinity House, and being inundated on the following day with messages of congratulation...all of which with due humility I passed silently on to Marco Pierre White (whose recipe, in essence this is). I've played around to a degree with the quantities in MPW's original, which I took from the pages of his improbably named 'Wild Food from Land & Sea' ; MPW is in general lousy when it comes to specifying quantities, and a common-sense filter is always advisable when translating his recipes from the page to the kitchen -  more often than not, his stated quantity 'sufficient for ten servings' would in fact comfortably feed an entire squadron.
Ramsay has a version which works almost as well as the MPW one, except that in Ramsay's version the filling is blitzed in a food processor before being poured into the tart shell - which has the, to my mind, unfortunate consequence of giving it the worrying appearance of brown sludge.
I've put 'Armagnac' in inverted commas in the title here, since although the trad title for the dish refers always to armagnac,  it would be nuts to use good armagnac for cooking, and instead a perfectly serviceable bog-standard cognac does perfectly well. Armagnac is for drinking.

For one eight inch tart, with accompanying sauce.

1 x 8" shortcrust pastry tart shell; 140g stoneless prunes; 125g sugar; 75 ml French brandy;  6 egg yolks; 150ml milk; 350 ml cream; generous tsp of vanilla essence (or the scraping of half a vanilla pod, if feeling extravagent).


1.In a small pan, to 50g of the sugar add 75 ml water; bring to the boil, and simmer for one minute only over medium heat.

2. Dice the prunes into approx 1 cm dice and put in a small bowl. Add to these the sugar syrup and the brandy. Stir briefly, cover, and leave to macerate for at least four hours, and preferably overnight.

3. Blind-bake the tart shell at 180 degrees C, until the pastry has browned nicely. Reduce the oven temperature to 120 degrees C.

4. Mix together the egg yolks, cream, milk, remaining sugar, and vanilla.  Drain the prunes,  add the macerating liquid to the mixture in the bowl, and stir to ensure it is properly incorporated. Distribute the pieces of prune over the base of the pastry shell. Transfer the egg/cream mixture to a jug, and carefully pour into the tart shell as much of the mixture as you can manage to get in before it overflows - you should have about half of the mixture left over.

5. Bake the tart for an hour; the mixture will 'set' at this temperature, rather than bake.

6. While the tart is in the oven, pour the leftover mixture into a simmertopf or double boiler, and heat it gently, just sufficiently to cook the egg yolks.

Serve Tart and sauce while they are still warm (although served cold, they will still be pretty delicious!)

Saturday 31 October 2015

October Garden, late (Illustrated)

Glorious weather. No mists, but loads of mellow fruitfulness...largely in the form of gluts of quince and of sweet and succulent dark table grapes.
Carlo Fedeli, gazing benignly across the leaf-strewn surface of the lily pond

A chaotic mess of fallen leaves, most of which look far too pretty to be cleared away...
The palm-path, snaking beneath the pine trees
One of the ancient cypresses, garlanded with parthenocissus in its autumnal glory
The church spire, reflected in the pond
Hydrangea Quercifolia Alice, showing off
a late flowering Crinum Magowanii
Crisp, clear skies, and warm sunshine
Not all of it looks autumnal...some still looks positively green and lush...
Two members of the gardening crew

Tonight's dinner:

Asparagus Mousses

Boned Chicken, stuffed with prosciutto and fennel seed, spit-roast; braised broccoli stalks

Treacle tart, with Ginger ice-cream

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Prawn Curry

A re-working of an old standard. This version is the result in part of some lack of concentration on my part, which meant that ingredients got missed out along the way and so were added in a rush towards the end (and it was found to be better), and and in part through a sense of economy - specifically, the use of the heads and shells to make a bisque-light to use in the finished dish rather than just water, as the traditional method suggests. The end result has a creamy texture and is completely delicious.

For two generous servings.

Ingredients: 300g medium sized prawns, with shells, and preferably also heads (frozen and pre-blanched are just as good in this recipe as fresh and uncooked - fresh prawns merely require slightly longer cooking once they are added, at the end of the recipe); 1 medium onion; 2 medium tomatoes; 2 tbs oil (approx - it partly depends on the size of pan you're using as to how much oil is needed); 2 cardamom pods & 2 cloves, lightly ground in a pestle; half tsp cinnamon; 1 green chilli; 2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped; 1 large garlic clove, minced; half tsp each of red chilli powder and coriander powder; quarter tsp each of turmeric and of garam masala;  half tbs cumin; half tbs tomato paste; 1 cup white wine.


1. Shell the prawns and remove their heads; liquidize the shells and heads along with the white wine, and then filter the mixture through a sieve lined with kitchen paper.

2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan, and once hot add to it the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Stir for about thirty seconds, then add the finely chopped onion.

3. Once the onion has softened and started to colour, after about five minutes, add the finely chopped tomatoes, along with the ginger and the garlic, and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down.

4. Add the turmeric, garam masala, chilli and coriander powders, and cook for a further five minutes.

5. Add the tomato paste and cumin, along with the wine/shell mixture and the finely chopped green chilli, and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat to low, then cover the pan, and leave to cook for 10 minutes. If the mixture becomes too dry, add water as necessary.

6. Remove the lid and add the prawns. If they were raw, then cook them until they turn pink; if they were already pink, then it is merely necessary to heat them through. Add two generous pinches of salt - more if you wish.

Garnish with chopped fresh coriander, and serve with Basmati rice.

Monday 21 September 2015

Sensory overload....

Normandy by rain. For most of the week, at any rate. It tipped down as we drove across to Rouen from Beauvais, at the start of the trip, and carried on intermittently for much of the rest of our time there - with a

L'Etang de l'Aunay - wonderful theatre, and excellent planting
 few breaks, which allowed us to trudge soggily around a breathtaking multitude of mostly wonderful gardens. Rouen was beams, and 59 steps to our front door, and an impossible kitchen - within an otherwise charming apartment - and an hallucinogenic light-show each evening on the front of the cathedral....but, generally Rouen was viewed as we left town first thing in the morning, for distant parts of the département, and again at the end of the day, as we trudged wearily home again. Sunday was devoted to a natural history excursion, when we went to observe some of the wildlife of St Pierre Azif in their natural habitat...and after that it was gardens all the way!
Miromesnil - where the lawns were mown to resemble parquet de Versailles

 And, what gardens!

Nothing disappointed, although inevitably some things shone less brightly than others. From the theatrical creativity at L'Etang de l'Aunay, through the exquisite aristocratic charm of Brécy and the tranquil and breathtaking perfection of Boutemont, all was spectacular. So much so, that any more of it would have been too much to be able to assimilate in such a short period.

Vasterival - vistas, vistas, and yet more vistas
We got picky on detail: in its polished perfection, Reux (the Normandy home of the Rothschilds) was perhaps too manicured...in general, there were too many dahlias (everywhere, practically: Canon, Galleville, Miromesnil, Boutemont, Jardin Plumes...it must be a Normandy staple)....and although undoubtedly impressive, the garden at Champ de Bataille lacks charm. At Miromesnil, the chateau provided a handsome background for the huge kitchen garden, where, through banks of asters and gauras and delphiniums, rows of fat pumpkins could be seen, ranged alongside cabbages, and tomatoes and beans, not to mention apples and pears and quince.
Galleville - Ducal fox terriers, and brioches heaped up before the blazing fire
 At Galleville, as rain swept across the garden, we lunched inside the chateau before a huge blazing fire, surrounded by serried ranks of mounted hunting trophies....and as we entered the hallway, a spanish Duke rather inexplicably appeared, with two deeply charming fox terriers at his heels, who then (the Duke, not the dogs, although they happily joined in) proceeded to lead us into completely the wrong part of the  chateau, before we managed to get back on track again (he mentioned that he had fifteen such terriers, and it seemed a shame he hadn't brought all of them with him, to swarm around his ankles like the cats of the Countess of Groan).
Brécy - the exquisite charm of a frail and elderly Duchess
 The garden at Brécy is perfection in every way...although Boutemont runs it a very close second, despite being quite different in style...and to see both of them in the same day was almost too much to take in.
Canon - yet more dahlias!
Some interesting design suggestions, and innovative techniques - the effectivesness of such dense mixed planting at L'Etang, and Vasterival, and Reux, for instance, and the dramatic effects produced by the 'transparent' pruning developed by Princess Sturdza at Vasterival - and lengthy lists  of new plants to hunt down (many splendid and hitherto unknown hydrangeas...some groundcovers and hedging plants...a few interesting climbers).
The polished perfection of the Chateau de Reux
 Restraint and the limits of hand luggage on Ryanair meant that I bought only one thing to bring back to Italy- a Miscanthus Zebrinus, which will form the centrepiece of one of the pergola borders. That, along with a renewed zeal to get the garden into shape once we were back, so the time since we got home has been significantly devoted to mowing and trimming and weeding....and the place is now more or less under control.

Boutemont - paradise!

All four-footeds were delighted that we were back; this had been a longer absence for us than normal, and for the first hour or so after we arrived home, the cats made a point of jumping through windows and making forbidden dashes through the house, just to demonstrate that they could...and the canine four-footed has been periodically wrapping himself around my legs all weekend, generally at very unhelpful moments when I've been in the middle of mowing, or hacking at tree branches, or hefting bags of weeds in the direction of the compost heap (or compost mountain, as it currently is).
Champ de Bataille - impressive in its splendour

It's good to be home.

Tonight's dinner:


Boned Chicken and Fave.

Peach Sorbet (we have a peach glut - the latest fruiting of the white peach trees was stripped yesterday, and even after having made ten kilos of jam, a challenging quantity still remains...)

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Fettucine with raw broad beans

Ages ago, I was given copies of all of the River Cafe pocketbooks (Pasta, Vegetables, Fish, and Desserts)...and, having given them only a cursory glance, they were consigned to the bookshelves. I don't know why, but certain books of recipes seem to need to wait for 'their time', and until then they have no resonance for me. And that was how it was with these particular slim volumes, until earlier this summer, when I decided to have a proper look at the pasta volume. And I found within it a treasure trove of wonderful things. Of which, this is one...

For four servings.

Ingredients: fettucine for four (or, indeed any other pasta shape you might prefer to use - there are a few pasta sauces which definitely work better with particular shapes of pasta, but there aren't really very many which are like that, and I don't include this sauce within the very few which are); 1.5 kg broad beans - frozen is fine, and indeed arguably preferable, since these days vegetables are frozen almost as they come off the plant, and so are remarkably fresh in flavour (if using frozen beans, defrost them thoroughly several hours before you make this dish); 150g parmesan (you can use pecorino if you wish, but my preference is always for parmesan, which has a rounder flavour); 2 garlic cloves; 3 tbs basil leaves, chopped; juice of one lemon; 120 ml olive oil; salt.


1. In the food processor, blitz two-thirds of the parmesan, and then to this add two-thirds of the broad beans, along with the garlic, basil and 1 tsp salt. Process, until reduced to a rough puree.

2. Remove the mixture to a bowl, and slowly stir into it the olive oil and then the lemon juice.

3. Cook the pasta, and leave a few spoonfuls of cooking water in the pan when you drain the pasta. Add to this the bean mixture, along with the remaining whole beans, and mix quickly. Return the pasta to the pan, along with the sauce, and toss. Serve, and sprinkle with the remaining grated parmesan.

Sunday 6 September 2015

This week, in pictures...

Four-footed, hard at it, under the office table..

Boned quail, stuffed with celery and fennel and cream, with a dash of pernod, ready to go into the oven

Achingly-good....'Lila' by Marilynne Robinson; to have gone straight from this to 'This Little Life', by Hanya Yanagihara, which unfortunately  I did, was like going from 'King Lear' to 'Friends'.....the bookies who rate the latter as favourite for this year's Booker need their heads examined! 
Sunday morning, as viewed from the agrumi terrace

Four-footed, still hard at it...

Part of this year's crop...hazelnuts, almonds, and the apples from the Old Orchard...the newer apple trees haven't yet been picked, and the figs, peaches and raspberries go straight from the garden to the bowl. The kitchen currently looks like a dress rehearsal for harvest festival.

Four-footed. This bit came with sound effects of sonorous snoring....what my Grandfather would have called 'driving the pigs to market'.

Sunday morning, looking past the workshop and the Cycax. The searing heat has now definitely gone from the sun, as we enter the lovely mellow, golden period of autumn. Long may it last!
White peaches...small and succulent, and ready for picking. A peach, a handful of fresh raspberries, and a bowl of fatto-in-casa yoghurt, drizzled with honey....breakfast!
In fact, it is more comfortable this way round....and that bit of the table where a dog can rest his chin at just the right height is a very practical addition...

Tonight's dinner:

Tart of rocket and prawns.

Spit-roast guinea fowl, with lentils and guanciale.

Caramel apples, with caramel ice cream

Wednesday 26 August 2015

A miraculous discovery...

Little packets of silica gel - those things which one always finds apparently uselessly loitering inside the packaging for new computers, and phones, and associated kit. And sounding as though really they ought to be fruit-flavoured, and generally more interesting than they appear to be.

I've always inderstood that their purpose is to absorb moisture and thereby to prevent the sensitive equipment from becoming damaged while it sits inside its airtight packaging, at risk of sweating its way into rusty decrepitude. But I've never really thought the silica gel was actually doing anything very much. Well....Ha! In fact, these things are quite incredible.

Several weeks ago, Technical Dept thought to put a couple of them into a plastic box, in which were stored some chocolate 'crisps' - circles of chocolate tuile,  which were leftover from a napoleon-style dessert. As is their wont, these things were starting to become soggy, in our humid summer atmosphere (in which bowls of salt or sugar always turn claggy, after exposure to the air for only a short while...I presume it's from being so close to the sea) and TD thought to halt the process while it was still possible. Except that when I went to use them, several days later, I found them not only not to have got any worse in their descent into sogginess, but in fact to have become completely bone-dry crisp, and if anything, more so than they had been when they started out.

So, I thought I'd try with some meringues, which - if I'm lucky - might stay 'dry' here if kept in an airtight box for a day or so. And, lo and behold, after several weeks, out they emerged in perfect state.

But, there's more. Yesterday evening, dessert was to be vacherins with vanilla ice cream, creme chantilly, and raspberries from the garden (the crop this year is excellent). The (italian) meringue nests were piped in the morning, and although left to dry in the oven for four or five hours, they were still not entirely as I would have wished when I took them out of the oven an hour or so before dinner. Foolishly, I left them on a rack, thinking they might dry properly if left there - and, of course, when I came back to them half an hour later, they had kept their shape perfectly, but on touching them I realised that the texture had denatured to something akin to marshmallow. Necessity being the mother of invention, half of them were placed in a plastic box along with half a dozen little packets of silica gel, and a certain amount of hope, while the other half went back in the oven to continue drying in the traditional way. Well, in practice, I didn't even bother to check on the meringue nests in the oven, as I discovered that after only half an hour with the silica gel, those meringues were dry as dry, and exactly as the doctor ordered. After half an hour! I knew from experience that the process worked, but I'd had no idea it was quite so effective quite so quickly...an amazing discovery!

The packets of gel are readily available for twice-nothing online (ebay, for sure, if nowhere else) and the only maintenance they require is to be dried out for a few minutes in the microwave after they've been used a few times.

Tonight's Dinner:

Fennel sformato, with basil sauce.

Curry of Gamberi, with Basmati rice.

Tarte aux Pommes; Vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Olive Bread, with Onion filling

One from Ursula Ferrigno - a writer about whom I haven't yet come to a firm opinion. Her writing is on occasion tiresomely mannered (which I suppose is another way of saying 'silly'), but the recipes appear to be more-or-less sound...stuffed squid with potatoes was a little bland, but with some amendments to the stuffing (like adding some ingredients which actually have some flavour, like reconstituted porcini, or pancetta, or anchovies....rather than the deeply unremarkable combination of parsley and breadcrumbs which she proposed) the dish works well; her version of potato ravioli is good; and the combination for an aperitif of limoncello and chilled prosecco, with a couple of mint leaves in the bottom of the glass, is a complete winner!

This bread is easy to make and freezes well - although I think it is marginally better if eaten fresh - and the onon stuffing, I realised after having made it a couple of times, is nothing more nor less than a standard chutney... which is useful, since I have just inherited a large number of jars of the stuff, and it is not something which is normally served in this household.

Served recently in conjunction with chilled pea soup as the first course for a garden lunch, on a sweltering summer's day, this particular recipe was absolutely perfect...

For two loaves, each serving four.

Bread: 15g yeast; 275 ml tepid water; pinch sugar; 500g flour (for this, in Italy, I use 'Manitoba'; any high gliuten flour will work well); 5g salt; 2 tbs olive oil; 70g stoned black olives, sliced thinly.
Filling: 2 bs olive oil; 2 large onions, finely chopped; 2 bay leaves; 1 large sprig rosemary; 2 tbs red wine vinegar; 50g soft brown sugar.


1. Make the onion filling:  stirring constantly, sauté the chopped onion in oil, along with finely chopped rosemary and crumbled bay leaf, for five minutes or so until thoroughly browned; deglaze with the vinegar, then add the sugar, stir to incorporate, and cook over low heat for thirty minutes or so. The mixture should be dark brown and quite dense by the end of this process.

2. Crumble the yeast into the water and leave for five minutes or so, to prove. Add the pinch of sugar to the water to encourage the yeast to get to work.

3. In a large bowl, mix the salt with the flour; add to this the Olive Oil and the yeast/water mixture. Knead for 10 minutes, until smooth, and then add the olives, and continue kneading until thoroughly incorporated.

4. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes.

5. Knock back the dough, divide into two and shape each into a round ball; cover, once more, and leave to rise again for a further ten minutes.

6. On a floured surface, roll each ball into an oval shape about 15" x 12". Divide the onion filling betweeen these two, putting the mixture in the centre of the half of each oval nearest to you, leaving enough exposed edge for the bread oval to be folded over and sealed.  Once sealed, put the semi-oval breads onto a greased baking tray, cover them again with a damp cloth, and leave to rise for a further 40 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the bread oven to 200 degrees C; brush the bread with olive oil, and sprinkle with a small amount of finely chopped rosemary. Bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday 26 July 2015

After a day of downpours...

and gloriously dramatic thunderstorms, we're now back to the intense heat we've been having for the past month or so. Apparently, the hottest summer here sunce 2003....which makes up for the dreary and miserable non-summer we had last year (the worst since 1911). As the thunder grumbled and cracked and roared overhead, we threw open all of the windows as wide as they'd go, to allow the cool air to flush through the house and get rid of the increasingly sticky atmosphere that has built up as the temperature has built and built and built in the course of July....
The lane, from the door to the Cantina, after the rain
The mosquito population was decimated (temporarily, at least) and the dust was firmly settled (ditto).The Cats watched, with sanguine nonchalence, from the Barn, and the four-footed watched us watching the rising level of the water in the courtyard (it came up, it went down, it came up again, and went down again...but on this occasion, at least, it didn't come close to coming in). Then, once the rain had stopped, he ran around in the long grass, getting gloriously wet, and giving himself the equivalent of a much-needed blanket bath.
Four-footed, posing, while Grey Cat attempts ineffectually to flirt with him
And for a few hours, while the temperature was lower, and the air fresh and clear, there were sounds from around the place of people actually engaging in activity...voices, and far-off hammering, and the sorts of noises that suggest movement and things in-train. All of which has now stopped, and the more normal sense of exhausted silence has descended once more.
Which reminds me, that it's about time to retrieve a book and a glass and find an appropriately placed deck chair.

The agrumi garden, looking lush, as the sun comes out again
Tonight's dinner:

Pissaladière Nicoise

Pork chops, with wine & sage sauce; sautéed potatoes

Crème Brulée

Saturday 18 July 2015

Crab & Salmon Ravioli

This is a re-working of something the TD found and printed off for me, and which I then amended to be more user-friendly for a busy kitchen. The original used sea bass in the stuffing and had a rather complicated sauce, using diced squid and lemon grass, and it all seemed much more than a person wanted to be bothered with at this time of year, with temperatures every day somewhere in the mid thirties, and food something of no interest whatsoever before the sun has gone down at around 9.00 in the evening...

For four (makes around 25 or so ravioli)

Ingredients:  Black pasta, made with 1 cup '00' flour, 1 cup semolina, 3 medium eggs, 1 tsp olive oil, half a tsp salt, and 1 sachet of squid ink; 2 tbs diced carrot; 2 tbs diced onion; 1 garlic clove, minced; 2 tbs olive oil; half tsp chili powder; 1 small salmon fillet, skinned and diced; 3 crab sticks (approx 6-7 tbs, when diced); salt, to taste; fish broth (to serve); chopped parsley (for garnish).


1. Heat the oil in a small pan, and in it sauté the onion, carrot and garlic, until softened - about five minutes.

2. Add the chili powder, along with the diced salmon and crabmeat. Cook, stirring, for another three or four minutes, just until the salmon has lost its raw look.

3. Allow to cool, and then process briefly in the food processor. At this point, check the flavour and add salt, to taste.  (This can all be done much earlier in the day, and the stuffing then set aside until needed)

4. Roll out half of the pasta dough into sheets (reserve the other half for a different pasta dish on another night - it will be fine in the fridge for up to a week; it isn't practical to try and make only the right quantity of pasta dough for this recipe, and I always make up a full batch and then use it up over time). Using a coffee spoon, place small amounts of stuffing over one of the sheets of rolled pasta, and then carefully lay another, slightly larger sheet over the top; press the two sheets together, trying to leave as little air as possible between the sheets and around the stuffing, and then use a pasta cutter to cut the layered sheets of pasta into individual ravioli. Each pair of sheets should produce about 12 ravioli each - so, you need to repeat the entire operation twice, in order to make sufficient ravioli for four servings.

5. Heat the fish stock gently, while the water for the ravioli comes to the boil. Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water for three minutes exactly, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer each serving of ravioli to a heated soup plate; ladle about half a cup of stock into each plate, over the ravioli, and garnish with chopped parsley.  Serve.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Summer pictures

Arborescens Annabelle, in their 'enclosure', in the Old Orchard

The travellers palm, in flower in the courtyard - except, from the flower, we find it isn't a travellers palm after all, but is something called a Strelitzia Nicolai...
Nectarines, in the North Garden, about to be harvested...
White peaches, ditto, from the tree Sarah gave us that came from Wisley, via the garden in Via Fucini...
The pot, at the end of the lavender walk, in front of the romitorio
Hemerocallis, and Dietes Bicolore, in the West Border
The view behind the church, looking across the camellias
Tonight's dinner:

Chicken Foo Yung

Swordfish, with a parsley and pepper sauce; braised celery

Blueberry and almond clafoutis