Sgombro al cartoccio con padellata di piselli e asparagi- Baked mackerel with stewed peas and asparagus

This is a super easy dish, what can I do I am only now learning to cook!

-a mackerel or similar dish
-one lemon
-one small onion
-frozen pease
-asparagus chopped

1)fill the fish with lemon slices and parsley and season. Wrap it in foil and bake in the oven at 180 for 20 mins or until cooked
2)add oil in a small frying pan, add chopped onion, when soft add the asparagus then the peas, season cover with lead znd let it cook until soft.
3)serve with the fish and boiled potatoes or rigatoni pasta


Oven baked Chicken Cacciatora

We woke up to a frosty sunny morning. Car was really iced and the kids had so much fun while inside it….looking at mammy outside in the cold, trying to scrap ice off the windows…there were tears as well because the “igloo” was being destroyed. Late for school too…Anyhow the day really justifies having the oven on so I’ve decided to adapt my dad’s “pollo alla cacciatora”. It is quite a frugal meal as you can use cheaper cuts of meat if like me you don’t like chicken breasts.Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients for 4:
-800gr./1kg.chicken legs and wings
-red and green peppers
-a jar of passata
-handfull of red or black olives
-handfull of capers
-2 cloves of garlic
-salt and pepper
-splash of olive oil

1)cut the peppers

2)in a casserole add the peppers and the chicken.if you want a lighter dish remove the skin from the chicken

3)add the remaining ingredients

4)cook it in the oven at 220 for about 1 hour 1/2. 

Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

This is a ridicolously easy and fulfilling dish. All you need to do is make a simple tomato sauce, boil the beans, mix them together, serve them with crusty bread and voila’ a lovely starter or a side dish. My mum used to make it often. My sister Virginia suggests the use of cherry tomatoes for the sauce instead of passata…she is probably right…

- green beans
- passata
- garlic
- olive oil
- salt

1) clean and boil the beans

2) fry the garlic in a little oil then add the passata and salt and let it cook on moderate heat for 20 mins

3) mix the beans with the tomato sauce and serve with some crusty bread. Enjoy!

Learning to make: Roast Duck#

Not sure how I got myself into this….I went to the shop to buy milk and I left with a whole duck! Why? I am asking myself, why?? Anyway regardless on why I felt the urge to buy a whole duck, it was now in my fridge and I had no idea how to cook it.

So I thought the best way was to keep it simple. All I did was to season it with pepper and salt and roast it in the oven at 200 degrees until it was well coloured. It looked great! Then I used it for other receipees as the taste was a little bit too strong to eat on its own!

Tuna in the Sicilian way. Tonno al forno

So I receive a text from my niece tonight with photos. She bought some fresh tuna steaks and she decided to cook them and send me pictures….except she didn’t send me any details. Nevertheless they look so delicious that I’ve decided to show them here….and I will try to cook it as soon as I can put my hands on some fresh tuna.

Ingredients for 4:
- 4 tuna tranches or steaks
- a handfull of olives
- a handfull of capers
- oil
- salt
- pepper
- chopped garlic

1) Put the fish in an ovenproof dish

2)Mix all the ingredients in a bowl

3)Add the mixed ingredients to the fish

4)Cook in the oven at 180 degree for 15 mins. 
Enjoy with a glass of white wine or if you are my niece, red because she doesn't like white!!

Learning to make…Chicken Broth

Something I do well is simple chicken broth. I generally make it to use in risotto, or to make “pastina in brodo” (little pasta with broth). It is healthier, cheaper and tastier than the broth you buy. I was talking to my friend Amanda yesterday and I’ ve realised I’ ve never posted this recipe in the “Learning to make” section. So here it is, chicken broth – brodo di pollo.

- chicken bones and skins. I' ve roasted a chicken ate the meat and reserved the carcasse for the broth.
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 potato, peeled
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 courgette
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 sage leaves
- a bunch of parsley
- salt and pepper
- a good splash of Olive oil
- 1 1/2 lt cold water

1) wash and peel all the veggies

2) add all the ingredients to a big pot
3) bring to the boil, then let it simmer on a low heat for a full hour, more if you have the time.

4) filter the liquid and use it for your risotto or other need. I like to also use the veggies in the risotto, mashed, for added low fat creaminess. Enjoy


Summer Rice Salad – Insalata di Riso

When the days are warm and sunny like today, I dont feel like staying indoors, even less to be cooking (or attempting to, as many of you pointed out my Aubergine Pie looked a bit burned….), so I open the fridge and proceed to empty its content in my version of a rice salad. My sisters laugh at it, but we quite enjoy it, it is very healthy with 6 or 7 different veggies, it can be vegan or vegetarian, just add only veggies and use Olive oil to dress. And let’s face it, very little cooking, minimum washing up, what’s there not to like….anyway try my “all goes in rice salad” , don’ t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it’s really very quick to do.

Continue reading Summer Rice Salad – Insalata di Riso

Snack #3: Pasta Omelette – Frittatina di pasta

This frittata is great for lunch boxes. In Southern Italy you can be sure it’s packed away for picnics or “scampagnate”, or why not even school trips. It just needs to be wrapped in foil to keep it warm. Kids usually like spaghetti frittata because the loose spaghetti will become crunchy when fried. Soo simple and quick to make,  budget friendly AND a great way to use leftover pasta. Perfect combo, so without further ado, let me leave you with this beautiful recipe.

Ingredients, serve 1
- about 50g of leftover boiled pasta any shape
- 2 eggs
- 1 big tbsp of grated parmesan or more if you like it cheesy
- salt and pepper
- oil to fry

1) scramble the eggs with the cheese and the seasoning

2) add the boiled pasta

3) heat some oil in a small frying pan 

4) add the frittata mix: all of it for a big omelette or in little batches for smaller ones

4) cook until golden on both sides and serve warm or cold. I like to eat it with a fresh tomato salad

Continue reading Snack #3: Pasta Omelette – Frittatina di pasta

Learning….to make healthy snacks: beginners Mackerel Salad

So after last week’s flop, with my Aubergine pie (yes I know it wasn’t supposed to be burned….but it really didn’t taste that….burned…), I’ ve decided to go back to the beginning, and to try healthy snacks first. With summer almost here it’s good to reduce the calories intake. I am starting with a mackerel salad. Although ….I find it is rather challenging to write about a salad…what do you say: wash the leaves?…. Well it might be a good point actually, I knew somebody in Australia during my student days, who never washed their vegetables…actually everybody I knew wasn’t :-)). I know why not use prewashed salad in a bag….well if you are into healthy organic than bagged salad won’t do it for you. Anyhow this is my low calories budget friendly tinned mackerel salad. It’s delicious, it helps if you are hungry…I  leave you to it. Next I’ ll share bruschetta. Enjoy!

  • Ingredients serves 2:
    – a tin of mackerel or any other fish
    – Half a lettuce head ( or a bag of mixed salad)
    – a handful of cherry tomatoes halved
    – a third of cucumber, peeled
    – one carrot sliced
    – a few radishes
    – Olive oil
    – salt and pepper

  • Method:
    1) in a bowl add all the ingredients, season and mix well
    2) eat with crackers or bread.

Aubergine pie – Parmigiana di melanzane

I have to admit for someone who is learning to cook, an aubergine pie might sound very ambitious….but that’s the beauty of this dish, it is fairly simple, it uses basic ingredients: sliced aubergines, flour, eggs, tomato sauce, cheese. In the south of Italy they sprinkle salt on the slices of aubergines, which is supposed to help drain the water naturally present in this vegetable… need to say that I totally skip this step, I don’t have the time, and at least with the aubergines we find here, I can’t tell the difference.

I have already shared step 1 of this dish: toss the aubergines in flour then dip it in whisked egg and cheese and fry it (Golden fried Aubergines).

Step 2 is to prepare a quick tomato sauce and to then layer the fried slices with sauce and cheese: delicious!! It’s great for guests: you can fry the slices ahead and assemble it just before eating, serving it with a mixed salad or roast potatoes/ chips.

I leave you to this traditional Italian dish, let me know if you like it. I want to try a “diet” version, so I’ll keep you informed if I do (well, if it comes out nice that is)

- 3 sliced and fried aubergines
- tomato sauce
- olive oil
- grated parmesan enough to sprinkle on the layers
- 1 fresh mozzarella sliced or grated mozzarella
- fresh basil
- salt

1) make a quick tomato sauce by heating some olive oil and adding a jar of tomato sauce, season and  let it cook for approx. 20 mins on low heat.
2) take a large frying pan and start layering: olive oil, tomato sauce, salt, aubergines, sprinkle of parmesan cheese

3) I like to cover the last layer with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil
4) cover with a lid and let it simmer on low heat just until it is piping hot and the mozzarella is melted
5) slice it and serve with a green salad, chips or roast potatoes
Buon appetito!