Cicchetti are unique to Venice. Served in bars and eateries, they are the Venetian equivalent of tapas – irresistible little snacks of every imaginable combination. With Cicchetti: And Other Small Italian Dishes to Share, there are plenty of recipes that are doable at home: from devilishly moreish mussels with basil on crusty bread, ricotta and pancetta crostini, to simple stuffed courgette flowers. Divided in two, the first half celebrates the traditions of Venetian cicchetti, while the second extends the culinary journey to other Italian regions. With a glass of bellini to hand, this book will transport readers to the enchanting city of Venice and captures the spirit of Italian food.
Basic tomato sauce with garlic recipe (il sugo di pomodoro all’aglio)
Passata is simply fresh tomatoes pushed through a sieve to liquefy them, and to remove the seeds and skins. It can be bought at supermarkets, or ordered online. Or make your own if you grow tomatoes.
- 60 ml richly flavoured extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 500 ml passata
- Salt and black pepper
- Handful of fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley or oregano, chopped
- Fry the garlic very gently with the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or frying pan. Don’t let the garlic colour or it will give a bitter flavour to the whole sauce. If the garlic goes brown, discard at once, wipe out the pan and start again.
- When the garlic is pungent, remove it, pour in the passata and stir carefully. Simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is glossy and thick. Season to taste, and cover.
- Take off the heat and keep warm, adding the herbs as you prefer.
Cicchetti: And Other Small Italian Dishes to Share by Lindy Wildsmith and Valentina Harris (£20), published by Jacqui Small.
In The Abel & Cole Veg Box Companion, Keith Abel and team impart over two decades of veg box wisdom into a complete handbook of seasonal eating. With original tips for everyday veg and everyday uses for unusual veg, this book is a must for anyone who’s interested in cooking more than just potatoes and peas. These recipes are laid back, so you can use as much or as little of the ingredients as you like. Be bold. Break away from the broccoli and sauté that salsify.
Dried apple rings recipe
These make a lovely snack, they’re pretty on cakes and also, for the crafters out there, a contender for the best natural Christmas decoration.
- 3-4 apples
- 1 tsp sea salt
- A bowl of cold water
- A clean wooden stick
- Some box string
- Core your apple. Leave the skin on. Thinly slice.
- Mix the salt into a bowl of water. Dip the apple rings in the water.
- Shake dry. String them up on a stick. Make sure you leave a bit of space between each apple ring.
- Tie the ends of the stick with box string. Hang somewhere high and dry. Let the apple rings dry for 4-5 days.
- Store in an airtight container. Pretty if put on cakes, sweet loaves or fruit muffins before baking.
Raiders of the Lost Artichokes recipe
Whether you’re sitting at the top of one playing a guitar, or eating them, I think we all agree that artichokes have a heart of gold.
- 2-4 globe artichokes
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 50 g butter
- A pinch of sea salt
- Trim the artichoke stalk, leaving just 3-4 cm, and make a criss cross cut in the end. This helps it cook faster.
- Pour a couple of inches of water into a pot. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Pop a steamer basket or sieve on top. Add the artichokes. Cover.
- Steam for 15-30 mins. The time depends on the girth of your artichoke. You’ll know when it’s done when the base is tender; test it with the point of the knife.
- Remove from the steamer. Let them cool while you whip up the garlic butter.
- Melt the butter with the garlic and add a pinch of salt. That’s it.
- Strip off the leaves and dip the meaty bits at the end of each leaf (the pale bit) in your garlic butter. Use your teeth to scrape it off.
- Once you get into the centre, scrape out the fuzzy choke and discard. Quarter the heart. Dunk in butter and devour. See the video version of this recipe
The Abel & Cole Veg Box Companion by Keith Abel (£12.99), published by Abel & Cole. For more out of the box, seasonal recipes, see www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes.
Good Food on the Aga was originally published in 1933, four years after the Aga was first sold in Britain. The Aga was invented by a Swedish physicist, blinded during a pressure test, and awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics later that year. This book takes us back to a time when the techniques of riddling and fuelling the Aga were a vital part of every cook’s life and when knowledge of what food was in season was essential. As such, the book is divided in two: the Aga cooker, its management, and scope; and month-by-month recipes, accompanied with illustrations by British printmaker, Edward Bawden.
Extract from Good Food on the Aga by Ambrose Heath
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. In many of the recipes that follow, simmering will be mentioned. Remember that food will simmer just as well in the lower oven as on the simmering (right-hand) hot-plate. To use the lower oven for this purpose not only gives more space on the hot-plate, but, when the hot-plate is not in use, conserves the heat of the stove.
2. It is important to see that the hot-plate lids are always kept down when not in use. Do not keep boiling on the hot-plate. You will only be wasting heat. Remember that the water in the Aga tank is nearly boiling, and will boil up in a minute or two.
3. A wipe in time saves nine. Keep the Aga clear with a damp cloth as you use it.
THE FOOD OF THE MONTH
Food which is in season all the year round is given in the table on page 44.
Note. Newcomers are printed in italics.
Red Cabbage Celeriac
Doe Venison Teal
Widgeon Wild Duck
EMPIRE IMPORTED FRESH FRUIT
Grape Fruit Oranges
Many light-covered cookery books are impracticable for use in the kitchen. The Publishers of Good Food on the Aga desire to point out that the cover is both waterproof and washable.
Good Food on the Aga by Ambrose Heath (£14), published by Persephone Books.
For every serious home baker, perfecting patisserie represents the ultimate triumph. Now, guided by MasterChef finalist Tim Kinnaird, creative home bakers can capture the flavours from the award winning Macarons & More bakery, based in the heart of Norwich’s Royal Arcade. For each of the recipes here, from fanciful financiers to classic dark chocolate mousse, there are photographs that lead through every step of instruction. Whether used to improve skills or to refine technique, Perfecting Patisserie dispels the mysteries, so that everyone can make exceptional cakes at home.
60 seconds with … Tim Kinnaird
- If you only had £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? Vegetables from Norwich Market.
- What do you eat for comfort? Pickled things or sweetcorn straight from the tin.
- What is your desert island dish? (That is, the one dish you could not live without.) Steak and chips, with Béarnaise sauce, obviously.
- What is your favourite cookbook? It’s so hard to choose one. Maybe the first River Cafe Cook Book.
- Who taught you to cook? Ready, Steady, Cook.
- What is your favourite patisserie? Lemon tart.
- What is the most popular macaron flavour of at Macarons & More? Salt caramel.
- What is the single, most useful advice you would offer to readers baking macarons? Treat them mean, don’t spoilt them, and it’s all about the consistency of the batter.
- What is your favourite recipe from Perfecting Patisserie? The green tea, white chocolate and lemon delice.
- At the end of the working day, what is your favourite tipple? Gin and tonic.
Basic macaron shells recipe
There are three methods of making macaron shells. French, Italian or Swiss meringue is combined with ground almonds and icing sugar. Baking macarons can be a frustrating process, but using this technique offers a consistent method of preparing them.
- 200 g (7 oz) icing sugar
- 200 g (7 oz) ground almonds
- 150 g (5 oz) egg white (divided into 2 x 75 g (2½ oz) quantities)
- 200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
- 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) water
- Colouring paste, if required
- Combine the icing sugar, ground almonds, the first quantity of egg white and beat until well combined. Food colouring can also be added if desired.
- Place the second quantity of egg white in the bowl of a free-standing mixer or bowl resting on a damp cloth to hold it securely.
- Mix the caster sugar and water together in a small saucepan. The volume of the sugar and water combined needs to fill the saucepan at least a quarter full. If the saucepan is too large the temperature of the syrup will rise too quickly. The syrup is heated to 117°C (242°F) and this requires a good depth of syrup for a thermometer to accurately measure. If you don’t have a saucepan small enough, double or triple the sugar and water quantities then use only half or a third of the final syrup.
- As the temperature of the syrup gets close to 117°C (242°F), the egg whites should be whisked until a little frothy. While continuing to whisk, the sugar syrup should be poured onto the egg white. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Add the mix from Step 1 into the Italian meringue. Beat together slowly for 30 seconds then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat again for a further 30 seconds.
- The consistency of the mix at this stage is the most important factor in successful macaron shell baking. The batter needs to flow smoothly and when dropped back into the bowl should spread back into a flat, even surface.
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag with a 1 cm (½ in) plain round nozzle. Pipe small rounds of batter onto a baking sheet lined with silicone parchment paper. Using a template of 4 cm (1½ in) diameter circles approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) apart will produce a consistent-sized macaron.
- Hold the nozzle 1 cm (½ in) above the surface of the silicone paper. Pipe the batter until it almost fills the circular template. It will continue to spread out after piping. The tip of the nozzle should be swirled off by moving it around the edge of the piped shell; this will help the batter to flow into an even, flat surface. If the batter is under-mixed, tapping the tray of piped macaron shells will help the batter spread.
- Most macaron recipes recommend that piped shells are left for a period of time to allow a skin to form before baking. This is a rather inconsistent method as how well a skin forms is dependent on the kitchen’s temperature and humidity. A better technique is to place the trays immediately in the preheated oven but reduce the temperature to 0°C (32°F) and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat back up to 150°C (300°F) for 8 to 10 minutes. The macarons are baked when they have a smooth, dry top and have firmed up. They don’t need to be completely dry and stiff as they will continue to cook for a few minutes after.
- Remove the parchment paper and macarons from the baking tray, allowing the shells to cool on the work surface. This is important as if left on the baking tray the residual heat in the tray will over-cook the shells. Peel the shells from the parchment and pair up.
Perfecting Patisserie: Mastering Macarons, Madeleines, Meringues and More by Tim Kinnaird (£14.99), published by Apple Press.
First published in French as Barres de céréales: Muesli & granola maison, this bitesize collection of recipes is Rachel Khoo’s first book. Starting out as a miniature muesli-making factory, Rachel roasted, stirred, grinded and baked every possible muesli-related concoction from her little Paris kitchen. The muesli mission grew to muesli and granola parties, where friends would taste-test the latest creations and then vote for their favourite. Out of this muesli madness, Rachel Khoo’s Muesli & Granolawas born, redefining breakfast’s snap, crackle and pop.
Triple chocolate gluten-free granola recipe
What this granola lacks in gluten, it makes up for in chocolate. Makes about 1 kg.
Cereal flake granola base
- 300 g / 10 ½ oz buckwheat oats
- 120 g / 4 oz millet oats
- 150 g / 5 ½ oz buckwheat flakes
- 25 g / 1 oz puffed rice
- 25 g / 1 oz puffed quinoa
- 50 g / 1 ¾ oz cocoa nibs (cocoa beans roasted and shelled)
- 1 tsp salt
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 300 g / 10 ½ oz agave or maple syrup, honey or golden syrup
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50 g / 1 ¾ oz cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 312°F / Gas mark 2–3.
- First prepare the sweeteners. Heat the agave, maple syrup, honey or golden syrup with the sunflower oil and cocoa powder in a saucepan until the mixture becomes runny.
- Add all the dry ingredients, apart from the three kinds of chocolate, which are added at the end, and stir well.
- Spread the granola mixture over two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Stir the chocolate into the mixture.
- Store the granola in an airtight tin.
Rachel Khoo’s Muesli & Granolaby Rachel Khoo (£14.99), published by W&N.
Rekindling our affection for honest, home cooking, Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds shares the fare previous generations thrived on. The recipes are simple, unpretentious and comforting, honed by cooks spanning the breadth of Britain: from Bedfordshire clangers, to Yorkshire curd tart and Cumberland rum nicky. These are dishes for autumn and winter, when we all need a bit of extra central heating.
Queen of puddings recipe
This nursery pud is a classic, and a great way to turn a few leftover slices of bread and a few store cupboard staples into a real treat.
- Butter for greasing
- 600 ml whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 75 g slightly stale white breadcrumbs
- 100 g raspberry jam
For the meringue topping:
- 4 large egg whites
- 150 g caster sugar
- Heat your oven to 180°C / gas 4. Butter 6 ramekins or individual heatproof glass dishes, 10 cm in diameter. Divide the breadcrumbs between them, scattering them evenly.
- Put the milk in a saucepan. Split open the vanilla pod with a small, sharp knife and scrape out the seeds with the tip of the knife. Add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan. Slowly bring the milk just to the boil, then take off the heat.
- Whisk the sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a bowl. Pour on the hot milk and whisk well. Strain this into a jug.
- Pour the custard into the prepared dishes, dividing it equally.
- Stand the dishes in a large roasting dish and pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custards are set. Remove the dishes from the roasting tin and allow to cool.
- If your jam is very stiff, beat it to soften, or heat it slightly. When the custards are cool, spread the jam over them. Return the dishes to the emptied-out roasting tin.
- For the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk, or using a mixer with a whisk attachment, until they hold stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until you have a fluffy meringue that holds stiff peaks.
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle and pipe it on top of the jam-topped custards. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meringue is golden, then serve straight away.
Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds (£20), published by Bloomsbury. Photography by Peter Cassidy.