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Minestrone – Healthy, warming and easy on the pocket

December 27, 2011 by Christine 2 Comments »

When it’s cold outside and Christmas is over, a good warming home-made minestrone will make you feel cosy. With the added bonus of being full of goodness what more could you want?

Ingredients (for 4 people):

      • Half an onion, finely chopped
      • 1 carrot, quartered lengthways and chopped into small cubes
      • 1 stick celery, quartered lengthways and finely sliced
      • 1 more vegetable of choice cut into small pieces
      • 1 tin cannellini beans (or 200gr dried cannellini beans soaked overnight in cold water)
      • 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
      • 500ml Chicken or vegetable stock
      • 4 tbsp olive oil
      • 200g small pasta shapes (or you can break up spaghetti into small lengths)
      • 500ml water
      • salt

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and then sauté the onions until soft. Add the bacon/pancetta if you are using it and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the carrots, celery and your extra vegetable (I often use a handful of green beans, a courgette or some broccoli but this is a great way to use up vegetables from the fridge). Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well and then add the beans and the chopped tomato. Pour the stock over the top, bring to the boil and let it simmer for about an hour and a half (you can do it in 30 minutes if you are using tinned beans).

In a second small saucepan, boil the water and salt to taste (dissolve the salt in the water, then taste the water to see if you like the taste and add more salt or water accordingly). Add the pasta and cook for the time stated on the packet.

Mix the pasta with the minestrone and serve hot with crusty bread, ground pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan.

We enjoyed ours with a glass of Barbera from Vinchio Vaglio Serra. How will you enjoy yours?

 

 

Nonna’s chocolate cheesecake

May 19, 2011 by Christine No Comments »

All of us here in A Taste of Italy wish the very best to Inez with all of her future plans. We do promise, though, to keep posting recipes, restaurants and ideas on the blog.

My recipes come from my experience in Italy so they will tend to be basic Italian country farmhouse cooking. Italians love cooking and always eat in company. I hope you enjoy them!

My mother in law was over from Italy last week and spent most of the week making her fabulous chocolate and ricotta cheesecakes. They are amazing and I finally managed to get her to part with her recipe so I can share it with you all. Here it is:

Ingredients

For the base

400gr Plain flour,  2 eggs,  1 egg yolk,  170gr butter (I use low fat margarine),  150gr castor sugar,  7g fast action yeast (1 sachet)

For the filling

500gr soft ricotta, 150gr grated chocolate

 

Heat the oven to 150°C

To make the base, mix together all of the ingredients, kneading the dough by hand for at least 5 minutes. Set aside a third of the dough to top the cake.

Grease a 25cm flan dish and then sprinkle flour onto the greased dish. Roll out the remaining dough to about 1.5cm thick on a floured surface and use it to line the bottom of the flan dish.

To make the filling, simply mix together the ricotta and the chocolate to make a soft paste. Spread this paste onto the centre of the base trying to leave half a centimetre free at the edges of the dish.

With the dough which you had set aside, roll out sausages, flatten them and then prick along their length with a fork (this is to stop the top from rising). Use them to create a criss cross pattern on the top of the cake, tucking the edges between the filling and the side of the dish.

Bake at 150°C for about 40 minutes and then leave to cool overnight. 

We enjoyed it with a glass of Masetto Dulcis – an amazing sweet dessert wine from Cantina Endrizzi. This is one of their “Masetto” wines – a range which comprises Masetto Bianco (white), Masetto Nero (red), Masetto Dulcis (sweet) and Gran Masetto (the Great Masetto). They use recipes which have been handed down through the Endricci family over the generations and make any meal a very special occasion.

Christine

 

Cocktail foods

May 5, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

Serving food with cocktails is essential, as we all know cocktails can go to the head very easily so serving food to compliment and keep the night in order is very important.  Here are some great food ideas to serve with the  Cocktails from last week’s post.

Fresh Smoked Salmon served with Guinness Bread, capers and fresh lemon.

Guinness Brown Bread

Grilled Halloumi

Simply take 1 packet of grilled Halloumi and slice into neat slices, put some oil in a pan and fry. Sprinkle with parsley.

Octopus Salad with Potato

  • 1Kg of Octopus
  • 4 potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Dry White wine
  • Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:
Clean the octopus, remove the eyes, the “mouth” and the little bladder. It is probably best if you ask the fishmonger to clean it for you, as we did. Bring enough water to completely cover the octopus to the boil in a deep pan and add one tablespoon of salt. Put the octopus in the pan and cover with the lid. Cook on low heat for at least forty minutes, or until tender. Switch off the heat and leave the octopus in the pan to cool.

In the meantime bring some water to the boil in another pan, add some salt and cook the potatoes. When they are ready cut them into small cubes and put them in a salad bowl.  Add  white wine, so they won’t absorb to much olive oil.

Take the octopus from the pan and remove the skin, it should be very easy. Chop it in small pieces and add them to the potatoes in the bowl. Season with black pepper, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and rosemary.

Fresh Avocado

Take 1 avocado  and slice in half, remove the stone.  Squeeze a small amount of lemon and add some salt and pepper, and serve with a teaspoon and a dash of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  

Enjoy!!

Inez O’Shea
“A Taste of Italy”

 

Cocktail Recipes

April 27, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

Here are some cool little white wine cocktail recipes to get you into the summer spirit!!!

 

  

 

Aloha Bubbly Recipe

2 glasses dry white wine 
2 glasses pineapple juice
2 glasses club soda 
1/2 tsp  sugarInstructions:
Pour the last 3 ingredients in a tall glass and stir well.  Add the crushed ice and the white wine.  Add some more club soda and stir again. Garnish with a strawberry.

Capri Cooler1 shot Schnapps, peach
1/2 glass (Pinot Grigio) Wine, white
1/2 glass Cranberry Juice

Instructions:
Pour 1 shot of peach schnapps into the bottom of your glass. Fill glass halfway with Pinot Grigio wine, then the rest with cranberry juice. Add a few ice cubes, stir and enjoy
!

CASABLANCA

1 oz white rum
1 oz fruity white wine
2 thin ginger slices
3-4 pineapple chunks
0.5 oz ginger syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
Top with a fruity sparkling white wine
crushed ice
Garnish pineapple stick and mint
Instructions
Muddle ginger, pineapple and ginger syrup in shaker. Add fresh lime juice and rum, shake. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and top with sparkling white wine. Garnish with pineapple stick and mint.

This drink is perfect on a warm sunny day before or after a hot meal.

WINE CAIPIRINHAwine-caipirinha

½ lime cut in quarters
1 tsp fine raw sugar
1 oz cachaca (i used Leblon)
1 oz white wine with citrus fruit notes
1 oz jamaica (or sub 0.5 oz hibiscus grenadine)
Top with sparkling rosè wine
Instructions:
Muddle lime and sugar, add cachaca, wine and 0.5 oz jamaica and shake over ice and pour into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Top with sparkiling rosè wine and remaining jamaica.  Garnish with a lime wheel spiral.

I enjoy serving an assortment of cheeses and nice fresh foods like Bruschetta, lightly fried octopus, octopus salad with a good olive oil or calamari. 

Enjoy!!

Inez O’Shea
“A Taste of Italy”

 

Barbecue Season

April 19, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

After the glorious weather of the weekend it is clear that summer is here and it’s officially time to embrace the new season.  Here are some receipe’s which go perfectly with barbecued foods.  I particularly enjoy sitting down to a barbecue with a range of lovely fresh salads rather then tubs of Coleslaw and potato salad from Tesco. Barbecue’s however can sometimes be looked down upon as a meal which is just slapped on the barbie often burger meat and poor quality sausages and steak, often served with little to no salad.  However being Australian and using our Weber for the majority of the year we have perfected the art of barbecueing and the foods we serve with it, and it certainly doesn’t involve poor quality meat and pre made salads from Tesco.


Thai Rice Salad 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, such as Thai jasmine rice
  • 1 cup fresh papaya or fresh/canned pineapple, cut into small pieces
  • 100g of fresh prawns 
  • 1/2 can of corn or 1 fresh corn with the corn taken off the cob
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted cashews, left whole or lightly chopped
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh coriander, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly chopped
  • 1 fresh red chili, deseeded and cut into thin strips, OR 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 handful of fresh mint diced

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 cup good quality coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar (to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. (or more) cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Preparation:

    Combine the salad dressing ingrediens into a bowl ensuring that you taste test, add lime or sugar depending on your taste. Cook the rice and place in a bowl and add the remaining salad ingredients and stir the dressing through. Serve warm or cold.

    Roasted Pumpkin and Feta Salad

    1.2kg pumpkin butternut or sweet potato is fine
    1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
    t tablespoon of sesame oil
    1 tablespoon honey
    about 5 loosely filled cups baby spinach leaves and Rocket
    1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
    100g feta cheese

    Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (190 degrees Celsius fan-forced). If you are not using a fan-forced oven, move the oven rack to the middle shelf position.
    Cut the pumpkin slices into small bite size pieces remove the seeds and skins
    Place pumpkin pieces on a large baking tray, drizzle with one tablespoon of oil and toss to coat. Spread pumpkin out in a single layer on the tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Cut a small amount off the end of each garlic clove (this helps prevent the garlic from bursting out of its skin when roasting) and put garlic on the tray with the pumpkin. 
    Bake pumpkin and garlic for 20 minutes. Remove tray from oven and set garlic aside to cool. Turn the pumpkin pieces over and return to oven. Continue cooking pumpkin for about 15-25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender when tested with the point of a knife. Allow pumpkin to cool to room temperature.
    Arrange spinach leaves, pumpkin and nuts on a serving platter. Shake the dressing and pour over the salad. Crumble feta over the salad and serve immediately.

    Dressing
    Dice the garlic. Place garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir so it’s combined

    Unfortunately finding a wine to pair with a barbeque is a little bit tricky, often barbecue’s are a mixure of meat, chicken, or fish etc. However in my oppinion a white wine would be the safest bet.  Both of the above recipe’s have a lot of ingredents with quite stong flavours  ie fresh herbs, fish sauce, pumpkin, balsamic so a wine with a bit of body would be ideal.  In this case the Anselmi Capitel Croce would be my choice. AnselmiAnselmi Capitel Croce 2004 is based in the Veneto region in Northern Italy.  The climate is quite cold however not quite as cold as Trentino Alto Adige which is just North of Veneto.   The Anselmi Capitel Croce is made 100% from the Garganega grape which is a local indigenous grape from this area.  The Capitel Croce is aged in barrique for 8 months, then further aged in the bottle for 9 months.  Not only this but it is also aged on it’s lees.  Ageing a wine on it’s lees gives it much more body and flavour and adds complexity.  
    The vinification methods of this wine are reflected in the flavours of the Capitel Croce with it having a good body with flavours of stone fruits, in particular lovely  notes of peach, apple and a certain creaminess.   It is dry and complex with a long finish.

    Enjoy!!

    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”

     

    Spring time!!

    April 11, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

    I must say Ireland is a completely different country when the sun is shining and the flowers are in bloom. It’s like when the weather warms up there is an energy about the place which is incredibile.  Everybody walks with a spring in their step and a smile on their face. It’s amazing the effect of warm sunny weather.  Apart from being perfect barbeque weather some nice fresh seafood is ideal on a day like this.  Here is a recipe which I have been making for years and I think it really expressess Summer. It’s Asian in style and uses lovely fresh summer ingredents.

     

    Thai Fish
    1 whole fish, or fillets whichever is your preference. The fish is of your choice preferable a white flesh fish thats quite delicate
    2 generous handfuls of fresh Basil
    2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil           
    2 Cloves of Garlic
    1 Tablespoon of mango chutney
    1 Tablespoon of Honey
    the juice of a small lime.  Perhaps you may need to add more honey if it is too tart.
    If you like chilli then add some fresh red chilli to your liking

    Method: Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and lay the fish in the tray.  Dice the garlic and rip the basil into small pieces. Combine all of the ingredients together and then pour over the fish. Wrap the fish with the aluminium foil so it’s nicely sealed and place in a pre heated oven of 180 degrees. Depending on the thickness of the fish, a normal fillet should take around 15-20mins to cook. 

    I like to serve this with some lightly fried potatoes and a garden salad with rocket, avacado, cherry tomatoes, feta, spring onion, and roasted sweet potato.  Dress the salad with some good quality extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon

    Due to the delicateness of the fish, this dish calls for a crisp, light white wine.  I would reommend the Pinot Bianco by Cantina Endrizzi.  Endrizzi is based in Trentino Alto Adige in Northern Italy. Due to their Northerly location, the climate from this area tends to be quite warm and sunny during the day and crisp in the evening, this variation in climate has a massive effect on the flavour of the grapes and undoubtedly improves the flavour in a positive way.  Not only this but the area is renowned for receiving cool Meditterranean breezes despite the fact that Cantina Endrizzi is high in the Alps and quite far from the Mediterranean. All of these environmental factors improve and gives the wine unique it’s flavour. 
    Because of the fairly cold climate and the shortness of the summer the sugar levels in the grapes are relatively low and as a result the wines remain quite acidic and crisp. With the fish it is perfect as both are light in body and neither is dominant or overpowering.

    Enjoy!!
    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”  

     

    Prowein

    March 31, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

    ProweinLast week was the annual Prowein Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany. This fair not only exhibits wines from Germany but in fact wines from all over the world, both Old World and New World.  Here importers get the opportunity to source new wines and wineries, while wine growers get the opportunity to exhibit and promote their wines. 

    After the fair most people head into Dusseldorf to the German beer houses for a feast of traditional German cuisine.  Schweinshaxe would be the dish of choice which is the knuckle of the pig which is either grilled or boiled, this is normally served with  fried potatoes, white asparagus and Hollondaise sauce, all washed down with the local  German beer.  All in all it’s a great atmosphere both at the fair and in Dusseldorf  and makes for a great trip.

    Here is a little German recipe which if your feeling adventerous you may tackle.  After getting through not even 1 quarter of my Schweinshaxe,  the following night I decided to opt for another typical German dish which may be on the “smaller” side and be a little more tender and easier to eat. So I opted for the lamb, which was soft, flavoursome and although still quite large (German portions aren’t for the faint hearted) it was thoroughly enjoyable!!

    Roast Lamb- German Style
    “Lammbraten”

    • 6 – 7 lb. leg of lamb
    • 2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
    • 1/4 cup salt
    • 1 tbsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 6 oz. Dijon mustard
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water

    Instructions:

     

    • Preheat oven to 350° F.
    • Trim fat from roast.
    • Cut slits (1 in. deep) on top and sides of roast and insert slivers of garlic.
    • Combine salt, pepper, sugar and cloves in small bowl. Spread mixture over roast, using hands to rub it in.
    • Spread mustard in a thin coat on sides and top of roast.
    • Put lamb on rack in roasting pan. Add broth or water. Cover.
    • Bake 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes with cooking liquid.
    • Remove cover and continue to bake and baste until lamb reaches internal temperature of 175° F. (takes about 30 to 60 minutes more). Add extra water if needed.
    • Strain cooking liquid and serve with roast.
    • Serves 10 to 12.

    Of course traditionally beer should be drunk with such a meal, however a lovely full bodied red would be just as nice.  I enjoyed a Montepuliciano d’ Abruzzo Coste delle Plai by Podere Castorani.   This wine is full of fruits and jam packed with flavour.   The wine is made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes   which generally gives quite a full bodied richly flavoured wine, Podere Castorani then on top of this use the “sur lie” method which involves ageing the wine on it’s lees for 5-6 months, this gives the wine even further body and flavour.  In the glass you will notice that the wine is a rich ruby red colour with aromas of cherries, prunes, and small forest fruits. On the palate is has rich strong flavours of stewed fruits.  Abruzzi is in Central Italy so it is quite a warm environment the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is local to this region and is known for not having a huge amount of tannins.  This is highly noticeable, in the Coste dell Plai, the tannins which it does have are elegant and soft.  It has a long finish and all in all goes very nicely with the German Lamb. 

    Enjoy!!
    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”

     

    The beginning of the Summer cuisine

    February 25, 2011 by Inez 1 Comment »

    With Spring in the air, it’s almost time that winter foods be replaced with lovely summer foods.  Stone fruits, avodacos, sugar snap peas, plump healthy red tomatoes, beetroot, corn and fresh herbs  are all some of my favourite summer ingredients and although at the moment most of the typical summer foods havn’t quite ripened in our vegie patches, or made it to our local fruit grocers shelves, with summer so close and the weather much warmer and brighter, it just doesn’t seem right to sit down to meal of Venison with Polenta or a lamb Caserole.   Here is a nice little recipe which will get you in the mood for Summer and all that Summer has to offer.  All of these ingredients are readily available through summer and winter and I chose this recipe because its a mixture of summer and winter.  The presence of steak, mushrooms and garlic give the dish a bit more weight yet the salad and green beens are light and fresh and Summery.

    Grilled Garlic Steak Salad

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless beef sirloin or Porterhouse steak
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • 3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
  • Preparation:

    Mix together salad dressing, garlic and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Prepare and heat grill.

    Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper and place beef on grill 4-5″ from medium coals. Cover and grill 12-17 minutes, turning once, until desired doneness.

    Meanwhile, toss bell pepper and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of the dressing mixture. Place in grill basket and grill 5 minutes, shaking grill basket occasionally, until bell pepper and mushrooms are crisp tender.

    Let beef stand for 10 minutes, then cut into 1/4″ slices across the grain. Toss beef and 1/4 cup dressing mixture. Place salad greens, grilled vegetables, and beef in large bowl and toss to coat. Serve with remaining dressing mixture. 6 servings

    Note: For extra depth to the salad I added some sweet potato, sunflower seeds, and tomoato. For added flavour I added a dash of Toasted Sesami Oil with a sprinkling of sesami seeds.

    Wine Pairing:
    Due to the combination of salad and meat it is very hard to find a wine to match. The average light to medium bodied White wine would be unable to match the steak yet a heavy red  would overpower the green beans and salad. So I tried a good full bodied white which could “take on” the red meat, mushrooms and garlic.  The Capitel Croce by Anselmi is a white wine with good body and undoubtedly needs food to compliment it. 
    Anselmi is a winery based in the heart of the Soave zone in Veneto,  however the owner of the winery Roberto Anselmi doesn’t agree with the Appelations as he believes that due to the appelatons there is a lack of ambition amongst the winemakers and so he has decided to produce only IGT wines.  The Capitel Croce is made of 100% Garganega which is the indigenious grape of this area.  Roberto Anselmi’s wines are top class wines for a very good reason, firstly the location of the Capitel Croce vinyard is on a South facing slope so it recieves the lovely warm morning sun.  Secondly the soil in the vinyard is composed of Limestone with grass underneath which is reputed for being an excellent soil composition.  The vines are then grown on horizontal spurred cordons which allow the grapes to recieve maximum sunlight throughout the day.  The grapes are hand picked with only the best and most mature grapes being selected, which are placed into small boxes to ensure they are not damaged once they are off the vine and arrive in the winery is perfect condition.  The grapes are then softly pressed using Pneumetic Pressing, and are aged for 8 months in Barrique.  Capitel Croce is also aged on it’s Lees with the “Battonade” method, (where the Lees are stirred) this gives the wine a certain creamy texture and more body.  It is then further aged in the bottle for 9 months.   As you can see the viticulture and vinification methods are of an extremely high standard and consequently he has produced a delicious medium to full bodied wine with round flavours of nuts, toast and vanilla, and a powerful aroma of citrus and herb. Anselmi Capitel Croce 2004

    Enjoy!!

    Inez O’Shea 
    “A Taste of Italy”

     

    Montepulicano d’Abbruzzo with Beef and Guinness Stew

    February 4, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

    The Marquess' Beef & Guinness StewDespite the fact that it’s still 5 degrees outside, summer is not far away. Already the days are getting slightly longer, and the sun is just that little bit warmer, in other words, there’s a ligh at the end of the tunnel.  Having not experienced many COLD winters, being from Brisbane,which is considered to be a “sub tropical” environment, I wondered to myself in November how on earth I would get through the long, cold, argious winter. However suprisingly I found that winter isn’t  all THAT bad! One things for sure sailing, and swimming goes out the window however there are many aspects that I DO enjoy about winter. The main aspect being the change in diet, to be honest our diet in Brisbane never really changes, simply because it’s not cold enough and winter doesn’t stretch long enough for things to change too dramatically, the temperature on everage  in winter is about 20 degrees during the day and perhaps in the dead of the night the temperature may drop below 8 degrees.  So as you can imagine there is no real need to eat wholesome warming meals, and drink rich full bodied reds.  So although we would crack out the soups and perhaps eat inside rather then on the verandah, nothing much changes for us during winter. 
    However as I’ve discovered this is not the case here, rack’s of lamb, stew’s, casserol’s, slow cooked meat, polenta, pudding,  and warm soufle’s are all wonderful winter dishes which I’ve come to know and love.  It really makes such a nice change to sit down to a good bowl of hot soup, or a hearty casserol with a little bread and butter to mop up the sauce.  Naturally with these types of dishes requires a good full bodied red. Which is why I chose to pair this dish with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  The
    Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Coste delle Plai by Jarno Trulli comes fromt the Abruzzi region, and this wine is usually medium to full bodied.  It is a wine renowned for being jam packed with flavour.  Because Abruzzi is in East/central Italy the climate is lovely and warm, which consequently increases the sugar and alcohol levels in the grape. The Montepulciano grape ripens quite late so it’s unsuitable  for the North of Italy,   however it thrives in the long warm summers of Central Italy.                                                                                                                                                                      
    Montepulciano d’Abbruzo has a lovely deep rich purple colour, with soft tannins.  The Coste dell Plai is medium bodied and has a strong aromas of prunes, black cherries and red fruits  On the palate it has flavours of red berries, plum,  and notes of mature fruit.  It is rich and balanced with a long finish. The strong fruit flavours went very well with the rich flavours of the beef, onions, and juices of the guinness and it is a wine that you can continue to enjoy well after your meal.

    Beef and Guinness Stew 

  • 2 large onions , diced
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 1 garlic clove , crushed
  • olive oil                                                                                                                                                             
  • 1kg braising steak , cut into chunks
  • 6 tbsp plain flour , well seasoned                                                                                                 
  • 500ml Guinness
  • beef stock fresh, cube or concentrate made up to 250ml                                                                                   
  • parsley chopped, to serve
  •  Method:

    1. Cook the onions, thyme and garlic with a little olive oil in a large casserole until the onion is softened and translucent. Dust the braising steak in the seasoned flour and brown in a hot pan with a little oil.
    2.
    When the beef has a good, even colour, add it to the pan with the onions and pour in the Guinness. Top up with the stock to just cover the beef.
    3.
    Cover and simmer over a very low heat or transfer to a 150C/fan 130C/gas 3 oven for 2-3 hours until the beef is meltingly tender (check after 2 hours). Season to taste and add some chopped parsley. Serves this with colcannon.

    Enjoy!!!

    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”

     

    Warm Chicken with a rich Vermentino

    January 25, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

    This recipe was given to me by a friend of mine Lesley Tummelty, who is a chef here in Dublin. These were her words exactly and as you will read, she is as passionate about food as I am!!

    First of all get your hands on a really nice free range chicken, from a butchers, I never buy my meat from a supermarket. You will also need a heavy duty casserole dish with a lid. Remove the wishbone from the chicken, you could ask your butcher to do that.

     Melt a good knob of butter in the casserole dish, medium heat, place bird breasts down to colour nicely, about 10 mins, then using tongs turn bird onto it’s back. Add a mirepoix(large dice) of root vegetables eg onions, carrots,parsnips, peeled potatoes ,whole cloves of garlic and some celery.

    A nice bunch of parsley and thyme,s&p and a generous glass of white wine. Pop the lid on, bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for about an hour or until cooked through. This is a very well behaved dish, it re heats well and tastes even better the next day! I usually serve this with some nice fine green beans and if the weather is absolutely lashing against the windows, some lovely buttery mashed potatoes. Even if this sounds like over kill , it’s like being hugged!

    I suggest a good bottle of Vermentino to go with this dish, as the chicken is quite rich along with the strong flavours of the herbs, vegetables and wine, therefore a good medium to Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino Argiolas (2008)full bodied white wine is ideal.  The Vermentino by Argiolas hails from Sardinia very near to the city of Caligari which is at the South Eastern tip of the island.  Argiolas is a family run winery who have been producing wine for generations, they are renown for their typical Sardinian wines as they use only indigenous Sardinian grapes ie Vermentino, Connonau, Nasco etc. Argiolas enlisted the help of the famed enologist Giacomo Tachis who also worked with Tenuta San Guido.

    Due to the very warm climate and high altitude the wines from here tend to be quite full bodied and strong in flavour. Vermentino grows very well on the island of Sardinia as it is highly resiliant grape, it resists heat and drought which is a very common occurance here.  Interestingly because Sardinia is an island it recieves a lot of strong wind, and these strong winds prevent some diseases from forming on the grape which means that the growers don’t need to use as many pestacides on the grapes. Typically wines from Sardinia have a strong heady floral aroma and are extremely aromatic.  The most striking flavour of Argiolas’s Vermentino is of citrus, followed by flavours of banana,pear, mango and slight flavours of almonds.  It’s lovely and crisp yet highly flavousome, with a straw yellow colour with green reflections.  It is more of a food wine rather then a wine you would drink for an aperitif, which is why it is perfect with the Chicken dish I have suggested.

    Enjoy!!

    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”