Thursday, 10 February 2022

Roman style recipes

 Here are some dishes I tasted in Italian restaurants last Christmas, others are from recipe magazines and are typical of the cuisine of Rome. They are based on simple ordinary ingredients and are very tasty. 

I love them all and when I came back to the UK in January, I prepared them at home for my family and for some friends who visited us. At the end of January, I had Covid. I felt very weak for a few days but luckily my temperature was normal and I had only a mild cold. My three vaccination doses certainly helped me though I experienced a terrible loss of taste. My mouth felt sour all the time and there was no food that could help me to improve the lack of appetite. So, I started to cook the best tasty food ever to improve my taste, especially cakes and biscuits. Chocolate and fruit were helpful too. Together with a loss of taste I experienced a lack of interest in food, probably due to my general feelings of weakness. I tried to rest a lot to improve my condition as soon as possible as I felt weird and slightly depressed. I can imagine how hard it must be for people who have severe symptoms. I hope my recipes will cheer you up in hard times as they did in my gloomy late January.

Potato peels

Peel five or six big potatoes leaving thick layers on the skin. Fry the peels in hot boiling oil for a few minutes. Drain the peels and let them cool in a bowl lined with kitchen paper. Transfer the potato peels on an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Add salt. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 180 C or till crispy. Before serving you can add pepper and grated pecorino. 

Chicken with lemon 

You need 4-6 chicken thighs, some lemon juice, salt, olive oil, rosemary.

Cut part of the chicken skin and soak the tights in the juice of two lemons in a bowl. Cover the bowl with film and chill in the fridge for 4-5 hours. Place the thighs on an oven tray and add salt, olive oil and rosemary. Roast the chicken in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 180 C or till the skin is crispy and slightly brown.

Dry lasagne

This is a kind of lasagne my mother-in-law usually makes. She uses homemade pasta but you can find good lasagne sheets at the supermarket too. I usually cook the sheets in boiling water before preparing the layers. I start with some ragù tomato sauce and then build up the layers of pasta sheet adding ragù, bechamel (white sauce) and grated mozzarella. In my mother-in-law’s recipe she doesn’t use bechamel, instead she has some grated ham. The ragù is rather dry so the result is a kind of lasagne with a strong taste. She usually makes 4-5 layers alternating pasta sheets, then spreading ragù, mozzarella and ham, ending with a thick layer of ragù and mozzarella.

How to make the ragù: grind one carrot, a stick of celery and one onion. Fry the mixture in a large saucepan with olive oil. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes then add some beef and pork mincemeat (about 500 g in all). Add salt and pepper and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Finally add some to the tomato passata (1000 ml or more), a tsp of sugar and more salt if necessary. Add also a pinch of ground cloves (optional). Let it simmer for 2-3 hours before using it. 

Fagioli con le cotiche (Roman style pork and borlotti beans)


You need: a tin of borlotti beans (about 300-400 g), an onion finely sliced, salt, pepper, olive oil, 3-4 tbsp of tomato passata, 300 g of pork cotica (the hard skin of prosciutto you can find in Italian supermarkets for free or online). 

Wash the cotica and boil it in water for about 30 minutes or till soft. Let it cool and cut it in thin stripes. Brown the onion in a saucepan with olive oil, add the tomato passata and some water, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for ten minutes then add the cotiche. Finally drain and add the borlotti beans and let it simmer for 15-30 minutes or till ready. 

Pandoro tiramisu

You need: some pandoro leftovers (about 250 g) thinly cut in slices, 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 eggs divided, some coffee or decaf coffee and liquor (optional), 250 g of mascarpone.

Beat the yolks of the eggs with the sugar and add mascarpone using an electric whisk. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold it into the mascarpone cream. Soak the pandoro slices in the coffee and line the bottom of a rectangular food container. Pour half of the cream on the pandoro and prepare another layer. End with the cream and finally dust with cocoa or sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Chill for 4-5 hours before serving.

Panettone leftovers with ricotta

You need: some panettone cut in thin slices (about 300 g), 500 g of ricotta, 200 g of sugar, 8 leaves of gelatine, 150 g of mixed peel, 3 tbsp of milk, icing sugar and chopped pistachio to decorate.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for ten minutes. Mix the ricotta with the sugar and the mixed peel. Squeeze the gelatine leaves and pour on it the boiling milk. Let it cool and then add it to the ricotta cream. Line a rectangular food container with film and place a layer of panettone slices on the bottom. Pour the ricotta mixture on the panettone and finish with a layer of panettone slices. Cover with film and chill in the fridge overnight. Finally unwrap the cake and turn it over on a plate. Dust with icing sugar and some chopped pistachio on top before serving. 

Panettone leftovers with white chocolate

You need: some panettone cut in pieces (about 250 g), 2 tbsp of sugar, 200 g of white chocolate, 200 ml of double cream or whipping cream, some red currant or other kind of berries to decorate.

Warm the cream in a saucepan and add the chocolate cut in pieces. Stir till the mixture is smooth and clear then let it cool. Place the panettone pieces in 4-6 bowls and pour the chocolate cream on top. Decorate with the berries and dust with icing sugar. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving. 

Pears with red wine

You need: 2-3 Bosc pears, 300 ml of red wine, 200 ml of water, 200 g of demerara sugar, one cinnamon stick, 2 cloves.

Cut the pears in halves. Peel and core them then place them in a saucepan and cook the pears in the water and wine adding all the other ingredients. When they are soft set them in a bowl and let the sauce simmer for ten more minutes. Serve the pears with the sauce and some cream. You can also have a white wine variant with star anise instead of cinnamon and cloves. 

Marshmallow cookies

You need: 250 g of self-raising flour, 150 g of golden caster sugar, 50 g of soft brown sugar, 100 g of melted butter, 2 eggs, 50 g of chocolate chunks, 50 g of mini marshmallows, 1 tbsp of rose water. 

Beat the eggs with the sugar and add the flour and the butter. Finally add the rest of the ingredients and let it chill in the fridge for one hour. Using a spoon add dollops of the mixture on a parchment paper or in muffin or cookie moulds and bake at 180 C for 15-20 minutes or till ready.

Italian style fruit cheesecake

I think this cake can be called a tart, but its taste and some of the ingredients remind me of a cheesecake.

For the base you need: 200 g of rich tea and digestive biscuits blended, and 70 g of melted butter.

For the Chantilly cream you need: 300 g of whipping cream, 2tbsp of sugar, 250 g of mascarpone, 5 leaves of gelatine. Some fruit (e.g., kiwis, grapes, bananas, mandarins, pears).

Mix the blended biscuits with the melted butter and line the base of a tart tin. Chill in the fridge for one hour. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for ten minutes then squeeze them and add some boiling water. In the meantime, prepare the Chantilly cream whipping the cream with the sugar and add the mascarpone. Pour the Chantilly cream on the base of the cake and decorate with the fruit. Finally pour the gelatine on top of the fruit and chill for 2-3 hours before serving. 


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