Italian Food and Flavours
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
This sweet cucumber and red onion pickle recipe is quick and easy to make and you can eat it the same day, just leave it for the flavours to mingle for a few hours, but it also lasts several weeks in a sealed jar in the fridge. The red from the onion will bleed into the vinegar after a few days which makes it look even more impressive though it doesn’t change the flavour much. Great for this time of year when you have cucumbers coming out of your ears – literally!
Ok well not literally then. This one of those times when it is worth getting the slicing gadget out of the cupboard to add to your food processor if you are not so good thinly and evenly slicing with a very sharp knife. Have a couple of smallish sterilised preserve jars ready.
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
- 1 kg cucumber
- 3 red onions
- fresh dill or fennel, to taste
- 250g white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 200ml vinegar, cider or white wine
- peel the cucumber and slice thinly, cut the onions in half and slice thinly, make sure onion rings all fall apart. Toss them together with the chopped dill or fennel. mix the rest of the ingredients in a jug and pour over. pack the pickle in the jars and turn them over a couple of times to make sure it is all mixed up. turn the jars again over the next few hours.
- This is a delicious pickle to serve with pecorino cheese, salami and good crusty bread for a perfect spring or summer lunch.
Italian meatballs recipe
“Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.”
It may not be exactly Clemenza’s Italian meatball recipe but the next time you have to “take to the mattresses” it might be you that has to cook for 20 guys so it is worth knowing how to make something like the great man’s. They take a bit of time to make but once you get into the swing you wont notice, the trick to the perfect meatball manufacture is to just keep humming .. do do do do do do do doooo, do do do do do do do do doooo …
You may have spotted that we on Italian Food and Flavours like our films. I think perhaps we should create a blog just on food and drink from films. What do you think?
- 500g minced pork and beef
- 1/2 egg
- 2 tbls grated parmesan
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbls fresh oregano finely chopped
- 3 tbls dry breadcrumbs
- salt and black pepper
- for the tomato sauce
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbls butter
- 1 tbls olive oil
- 700g passata
- salt and pepper
- 100 ml full fat milk
- oh and dont forget "a little sugar"
- put everything in a large bowl and get in there and squidge, when mixed up roll a small amount - about the size of meatball - between the palms of your hands.
- Place the meatballs on baking trays and put in the fridge
- whizz the onion, garlic and oregano in a food processor. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide pan, cook the onion mix over low heat until the oil seperates, 10 mins or so. pour in passata and cup of water. pinch in your sugar and salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes more. add the milk, and using a spoon add the meatballs. leave the pan, if you stir too soon the meatballs will break up, once the egg has done its stuff you can stir gently.
- Cook for about 20 minutes, partially covered.
- In Italy the butcher will always mince the meat while you watch so you know what you are getting. Try this yourself, it does make a difference.
- Serve with tagliatelle.
Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
The best thing about baking this bread is the aroma of rosemary and garlic which fills the kitchen. I use rosemary straight from my garden and at this time of year only the freshest new growth from the ends of the stems. Rosemary is so versatile and can be added to many dishes such as roast chicken, roast potatoes and vegetables. I add loads when making a stock and also add it to soups. It’s aromatic and beautiful and I wouldn’t be without this herb. Being blessed as I am with an Italian herb garden full of rosemary, I can pretty much rely on it to flavour my food all year round. At the moment it is a purple flowered bee heaven, but it is the fresh green sprigs I pick for culinary use.
Rosemary was the first herb that I wanted to plant in my Le Marche garden as it never thrived in my English garden. ‘Rosemary for remembrance’ they say and I do have a treasured memory linked to this herb about a lady who lived in my house many years ago. She sadly passed away last year but during our first weeks here, she would pass by, take my hands in her hands and kiss me on my cheek, then lead me around all the trees and plants she had planted twenty or so years before. On one such visit she openly scoffed at my small pot of rosemary I intended to plant somewhere. I needed no understanding of Italian as she led me a few paces down the road to a huge bush she had planted herself. The locals, she told me used to walk down here to pick sprigs to flavour their homemade proscuitto. Although I have indeed planted more rosemary I always use her plant in cooking as it grows in full sun and seems particularly aromatic.
- 350ml luke warm water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 650 g bread flour or Italian 0 flour
- 2tsp salt
- 2tsp sugar
- 2 7g sachets yeast
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 garlic cloves
- lots of rosemary sprigs
- sea salt
- Add to your bread machine in the above order and select dough function.
- Or mix by hand into smooth dough and allow to raise covered for an hour or so.
- Knead the dough until smooth, then roll out to fit a large baking tin. It is a very springy dough so needs some pulling and stretching to shape.
- Leave to rise for 40 minutes.
- With your knuckle make dents all over the surface.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Spread a few cloves of mashed garlic all over and then brush on lots of extra virgin olive oil
- Finally push the rosemary sprigs into the dough.
- Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for approx 25 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Slice into strips, triangles or simply tear and share with others. Add halved cherry tomatoes with the sprigs of rosemary if you wish.