Friday, 3 April 2009

New dishes and La Dolce Vita exhibition

Sorry I have not been posting much lately, in between a cold that won’t shift and late nights it has not left much time for serious cooking!

Last weekend me and a girlfriend visited La Dolce Vita exhibition at London’s Olympia, as very luckily I had won the tickets in a competition! The smell that greeted you as you walked through the doors was delicious! I can home with a much lighter purse but lots of lovely cheeses, including a wedge of Pecorino and really tasty Parmesan that I found myself eating chunks of, something I never thought might happen as normally prefer it just grated over dishes! A new one on me too was eating it but drizzled with honey, as encouraged by a friendly stallholder, sounds a little odd but it really did work well together, and so of course I had to buy the honey too! The wine samples were very generous and we tried a wide variety from some dry, northern wines to soft and fruity southern wines. I also came away with some Italian brandy, though it tastes more like a oaky whisky but smooth like a cognac, either way its very nice!

After the show we were slightly peckish and in my erm slightly lighter state of mind, I thought it would be a great idea to order the Etna pizza, in Pizza Express. Which happens to be covered in hot roquito peppers, a delicious salami and speck ham. My taste buds had briefly learned their lesson until Wednesday of this week when again thought would be a good idea to cover my pizza in hot pepperoni and Jalepenos! Thankfully though they were a little less in the ‘help my mouth is burning’ category.

I made yesterday some new dishes, as we had my partners family over for dinner. First dish was a Sloppy Joe bake, inspired from last months Good Food magazine and decided to make after seeing positive comments over on Jam and Clotted Cream, and also a dish of Gnocchi with spinach in a creamy tomato sauce, from Olive magazine this month. With the Gnocchi dish I followed the recipe to the letter, except I doubled all the quantities, it was delicious if a little plain I thought but that’s probably more down to the part of me that wants to add chilli to everything! Our guests seemed to enjoy it so that’s the main thing!

For the Sloppy Joe bake I made quite a few amendments, as one guest dislikes Cumin and another chilli, so I left both out. Instead I added dried oregano and a little smoked paprika, which I seem to be adding to everything of late! For the ragu, I went further down the Italian route and made a base of finely chopped (in the food processor) red onion, carrots and celery, which I gently cooked in olive oil in a big Le Creuset casserole dish, then added the mince (1kg) to brown, a diced red pepper, in went 2 tins chopped tomatoes, a little s&p, then covered tightly with the lid and transferred to the oven and cooked on a low heat for approximately 1.5 hours. This is the first time I have made a ‘ragu’ in the oven and I was really pleased with the results, it was a very simple recipe but really soft, meaty and delicious. It also helped free up hob space for the other dishes! For the final stage, I removed the lid, cranked up the oven and topped it with slices of garlic bread, a little sprinkling of cheese and returned to the oven until the garlic bread was cooked. This is definitely going to be cooked again, is so simple but went down really well with our guests, we had none leftover!

For pudding I made an oven baked rice pudding, to which I had added grated eating apples, soft brown sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger, I decided to not take a picture as whilst it was really comforting and delicious, rice pudding seems to make a very ugly photo! This is the first rice pudding I have had a good result with, I cooked mine in a souffle dish and it worked really well compared to a much flatter, longer dish I have previously used, the grated apple makes a nice addition too.

No pictures with of the mains I am afraid, as I am not one to keep a table of hungry people between the hot food, however will make all of these again when its just me and the other half and re-post!
Hope everyone is well and promise lots more dishes soon!


  1. Hi Anne! Hope your cold is better! The Dolce Vita exhibition sounded interesting....Lucky you!Your Sloppy Joe,ragu and rice pudding(though I´m not usually a fan of rice pudding) sound delish too; )

  2. How lucky to win some tickets! The sloppy Joe bake sounds amazing!

  3. Rice pudding, oh yum!

    I will let you into a little secret, that must not reach Graham's ears, while we are on the subject of cheese! I was in a lovely deli in Perth and asked for a mature gouda, she didn't have one, but recommended a mature jarlsberg instead. Tried a bit, delicious! So she is cutting me a small slice and I get here to edge her wire over a bit for a slightly bigger piece, only to get home and realise it cost me nearly £7 for that small slice! Graham would have a fit it he realised! Needless to say, I am enjoying small slithers of it as a treat and not letting on :)

    ps go for zinc tablets and fizzy vitamin c tablets to hit your cold on the head!

  4. Tracey - the cold has gone but left the cough part, hoping that it will pack its bags and go sooner than later!

    Sam - its always worth entering competitions, have won a few things now but this definately beats the churchill dog ;-) It really is worth making the ragu in the oven if you have a snug fitting lidded pot, I didn't need any stock which is mentionned in the GF recipe and it was really moist,

    Holler - your secret is safe with me! I am a complete fiend for cheese too, if there is less than about 5 varieties in the fridge I get worried! The mature jarlsberg sounds worth a go, have not tried before, I did recently try a pesto gouda that my mother-in-law bought back from holiday, is luminous green but tastes good!

  5. At Locanda Locatelli they serve their cheeseboard with different honey. Delicious!

  6. That's great that you won the tickets! Lucky you, you had a fab time.


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