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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Hellooo, how has your week been?

I was intending to post a Honey Mustard Chicken recipe, but I forgot my USB cable to get the photos off my phone (doh!  Next week, I promise).  No matter… I came across some pics of a Parmesan & Mushroom risotto I made a couple of months back.  How did that one manage to slip my bloggy grasp?

Risotto is one of my favourite things to make.  I don’t regard myself as a particularly excellent cook, but I can make a good risotto (so I’ve been told).  I think alot of people think it’s hard, when it’s not.  It requires effort, in the stirring, but it’s certainly not hard.  

As much as I love to cook, I’m notorious for overcooking pasta and undercooking rice; things that novice cooks are confident doing!  So I’m thrilled that I can at least get this right…

My friend Heather tried my Chicken & Chorizo and absolutely adored it… “De-fu**in-licious” were her exact words!  😛 so I hope this one creates a similar response!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

300g arborio rice

250g mushrooms, sliced

100g parmesan cheese, grated (plus an extra handful for sprinkling on top when it’s ready)

1 onion, diced

1 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 glass white wine

1 litre chicken stock

knob of butter, for frying

I fried the onions in the butter until they went translucent (around 5 mins), then added the mushrooms.  After a further 5 mins, I added the risotto.  I like to toast the risotto slightly, before adding liquid to it (only for a minute or two).

I added my herbs and vinegar, then the wine.  Next, I poured in my first ladle of stock.  Stirring continuously, I let it absorb into the rice, before adding my second ladle. 

I repeat this process until the rice is “al dente” (around 25 mins).  There was still a ladleful of stock left at this point.  But I’d rather have too much stock than not enough!  I turned the heat off and added my parmesan, then stirred it all in to create creamy, cheesy wonderment… mmmmm.

I sprinkled with some extra parmesan and served with garlic bread for Michelle and her friend David, before they went to watch Kylie perform in the SECC (two nights in a row, might I add!).  I’m sure this is a good meal for soaking up the alcohol haha 🙂

This is a fabulous mid-week meal, but wouldn’t look out of place in a more formal setting.  If people want to think risotto takes lots of craft and skill… then let them (and prepare to impress!) 😉

Of course, you can substitute the chicken stock for veg if you want to make it Vegetarian, but unless they’ve invented Vegan Parmesan, that’s as far as it stretches (ok, I’m sure you could substitute for a Vegan cheese too; I can’t vouch for the taste though!)

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week and I’ll see you next Wednesday! 😀 x

 

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Hiya 🙂

This recipe was discovered as a result of my penchant for those “Daily Recipe” emails I sign up to.  Honestly, I get about 20 emails a day from the many recipe sites I browse.  So many, in fact, that it’s somewhat overwhelming and I don’t make the time to look at them all.

But this one stood out for me. 

It’s from the Food Network website.  Is anyone else addicted to their TV channel?  I could watch Barefoot Contessa all day (although Colin now hates Ina, after I told him about her refusal to take part in the Make a Wish Foundation – say it aint true, Ina 😦 ). 

This recipe, however, is from another TV Chef, Giada De Laurentiis.  She’s sickeningly beautiful and an amazing cook.  Not fair!  But I’ll forgive her, since this recipe was just too delicious.  And after reading all the rave reviews, I just had to try it.

This is my first attempt at using the Americanized “cup” method of measuring ingredients.  It was very simple 🙂

The recipe can be found here, but here’s my step by step account:

Ingredients (Serves 4, but I made dinner for 3 and froze the rest in a tub)

3 chicken breasts

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 tomato ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

I preheated the oven to 180 degrees, then roasted my chicken for 25 mins.

Meanwhile, I combined all the ingredients in a pot, brought to the boil then simmered for 20 mins to reduce.

I brought the chicken out of the oven, covered it in the Balsamic BBQ mixture, and returned to the oven for a further 15 mins.

I served this up with some boulangère potatoes (which I will post about next time!), and green beans.  It was scrumptious 🙂

Next time, I will definitely marinade my meat in this mixture overnight!  I completely understand why there are so many excellent reviews and I’m sure this will be a regular feature in my Meal Planning 🙂
 
Give it a bash and let me know how you get on!
 
Enjoy 🙂 x 

 

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This is my Daddykin’s favourite dish 🙂

The real, true, proper version (of which mines completely isn’t) he first tried in a gorgeous little restaurant in St. Anne’s, called Margherita’s.  We’ve been there many times and he never deviates from his Pollo Vesuvio, no matter how many times he says he will.  I can’t blame him; it’s gorgeous!

So gorgeous, in fact, that I just had to try to recreate it myself.  Their description of Pollo Vesuvio is “chicken breast cooked in onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, wine, brandy, cherry tomatoes, Napoli sauce, tabasco and cream”.

I refuse to buy a bottle of brandy, just to use a splash of it in a dish.  I don’t drink brandy, so I know the remains will just fester away in the back of my cupboard.  Therefore, the brandy is gone from my adaptation.  I also use tinned tomatoes for ease of use.  Here are all the things you’ll need to create this stupendous dish (my way):

 

Ingredients (Serves 4):

4 chicken breasts, whole

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 red peppers, diced

500g mushrooms, sliced

2 tin chopped tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp sugar

1 glass of white wine

Chicken Stock (1 cube mixed into 100ml boiled water)

1 heaped tbsp dried oregano

1 heaped tbsp dried basil

Tabasco, a generous dash (as much as you can handle!)

50ml cream (room temperature)

Grated Parmesan (a big handful – room temperature)

Make sure everything is all prepared before you start 🙂

Brown the chicken all over, in olive oil, then take out and set aside on a plate.

Fry the onions and garlic for 5-10 mins.  Add your red peppers and mushrooms, stirring for a further 5 mins.

Put your chicken back into the pan.

Add your chopped tomatoes, then sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over it (this will get rid of that tangy-ness of the tomato that makes the eyeball twitch).

Add the white wine, chicken stock, basil, oregano and Tabasco, then give it all a good stir.

 Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Turn off the heat, put your chicken breasts on their plates, then add your cream and grated parmesan to the sauce.  After a good stir, pour it decadently over your chicken breasts.  Mmmm.

Best served with tasty roast totties!

One of the great things about this dish, is that there is sometimes leftover sauce (which freezes no bother yay!).  Add it to some pasta and smoked sausage.  Tastiest.  Lunch.  Ever.

Have you ever tried to recreate your favourite dish from a restaurant?  There’s a starter dish I fancy trying, from the ASK restaurant.  It’s crostini with beef tomato, goats cheese, caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar, served with rocket.  LLARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Enjoy 🙂 x

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Is there anything more frustrating than trying to figure out what your favourite type of food is? I find it difficult to answer this question (perhaps because I’m so obsessed with food) but I have managed to narrow it into two categories: Anything potato based, and anything Italian.

My boyfriend and I have started watching The Sopranos DVDs from the beginning and I’m always left DROOLING at all the Italian food in it. So I was thrilled to be invited to review The Italian Bistro 😀 I immediately scoured their website to salivate over their menus and asked Irene to join me. That’s what Twinnies are for, after all. She is forced to be my pal, ‘cos we shared a womb.

The website states that it is “Situated on Great Western road in Glasgow’s bustling West end… only 3 minutes from Byres Road”. 3 minutes, perhaps, if you’re driving there from Byres Road at 4am when there is no other traffic (Byres Road is ALWAYS busy)! If you change the directions settings to “on foot” on Google Maps, it changes to 23 mins. So please bear that in mind if you’re thinking of having a few pre-dinner drinks in the part of the West End that is truly “bustling”.

I happen to like the fact that it’s quite far from the “West End”. The West End of Glasgow makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable; it’s a Haven for students who splurge their entire bursaries on over-priced, second-hand clothing; giving them that ever-elusive shabby chic appearance (previously adorned only by tramps and hobos). Coupled with that awful, contemptible “Glasgow Uni” accent that has no singular origin, I always feel like a fish out of water when I find myself in the area.

Anyway, I digress. The Italian Bistro has big bonus points from me, to begin with, for its parking facilities. Irene and I were filled with sheer relief when we got parked, having spent an agonising 45 mins getting lost on what should have been a 15 min drive from her house (that was completely my fault though, I’m THE WORST for getting lost). I had to laugh when Irene said “We’ll be fine once we get onto the Great Western Road”. Correct me if this is wrong, but I was once told that the Great Western Road was 52 miles long and ended at Oban!

After a serious bout of road (and passenger) rage, we arrived for our 3pm booking on Saturday, to find ourselves in front of a stunning building.  The decor inside didn’t let it down either; everything was clean, spacious and filled with soft lighting. There was a Norah Jones CD playing and it really set a lovely, calming atmosphere.

We liked that the families with children were all sat near each other (and far enough away from us for any crying/shrieking not to get on our nerves!). The place wasn’t particularly busy, but that’s understandable, considering the weather was quite drab outside!

We were presented with a basket of lovely, crusty bread and some dipping oils and butter. Our waiter said that, as he is Italian, he likes to have his bread with his main meal. But we were ravenous and the bread was annihilated within minutes.

To start, I had the Bruschetta – Grilled bread with garlic, plum tomatoes and fresh basil.

It was so delicious, crunchy and fresh. I especially loved the melted mozzarella over the top. Mmmmmh.

Irene had the Crostata Di Formaggio – Goats cheese crostini, rocket & sun blushed tomatoes with beetroot dressing.

Although my Bruschetta was nice, I had serious plate-envy when I spotted Irene’s starter. I tried a bit and it was mouth-watering. I intend to have the Crostata Di Formaggio for my starter on my next visit.

For my main, I had Scallopine Di Pollo – Seared chicken escalope with penne and a rich tomato and basil cream sauce.

I was intrigued, as I usually only ever see tomato based sauces or cream based sauces. The combination of both… DIVINE!  It was so flavoursome and rich.  And the chicken was so tasty and moist. Irene was laughing at me trying to savour it for longer by cutting it into smaller pieces. The chicken portion wasn’t small by any means, but comparitively drowned in the mammoth pasta serving!

Irene opted for the Spaghetti Carbonara. This is the very same Carbonara recipe that I tested a while back, from The Partners Restaurant Magazine. They have the option on the menu of adding cream to your carbonara, but Irene and the Waiter agreed that the Italian way is best.

Obviously their one looks a lot better than my attempt *blush*, but mines tasted just as good, I promise! As you can see, it doesn’t need cream, as the egg & cheese added at the end make it spectacularly creamy.

We were given humungous portions. It was rude to leave food on the plate, so we persevered (oh the trials… hee hee) and managed to finish it, which surprised our Waiter (and hopefully pleased the Chef!). We were so full for the rest of the day; I would recommend a nap after eating one of these meals!

Overall, we had a wonderful time at The Italian Bistro. The best bits (apart from the food, which was fabulous), was the friendly service (it was that nice balance of attentiveness, and NOT coming over every two minutes to ask how the meal is – a pet hate of mines), the generous portions and the calming, peaceful atmosphere. I’m positive that even if every seat were filled, it would have still kept some kind of tranquillity about it, with the soft music and lighting.

The only thing to let the restaurant down, were the toilets; they could have been cleaner. But that’s our only grumble.

I would like to go back on a weekend evening, perhaps, as the website states that it has Live Jazz! I need that Crostata Di Formaggio in my life. And I have my eye on their Pollo Cacciatore!

The Partners Italian bistro opens daily from 11.00a.m for coffee, pastries and cakes. They have “Lunch for a Fiver” offers and a reasonably priced menu. I could waffle on, but you can find out more details about them here.

Thoroughly Recommended 🙂

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