Pork Chops with Fennel Seeds and Allspice

Fragrant with savory spices, these pork chops are a jot to make and a joy to eat.

2 pork chops, not too lean
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. celery salt
punch ground cloves
freshly ground pepper
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
5 tbs. Marsala

Cut the rind and most of the fat off the pork chops. Mix the flour, fennel seeds, allspice, celery salt, cloves and a good grinding of pepper on a dinner plate. Dredge the pork chops in the mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet that the chops will fit snugly in and cook the pork chops for 5 minutes on each side. Tip in the Marsala and cook the pork chops for 5 more minutes. Remove to heated plates and bubble the sauce until thickened. Pour it over the chops and serve.

Serves 2

One-Step No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

This is the most brilliant ice cream ever! The addition of coffee liqueur insures that the mixture will not freeze completely, leaving you with a soft, instant-serve scoop of wonderment.

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 tbs. espresso liqueur
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Put the sweetened condensed milk in a bowl and stir in the espresso powder and liqueur. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it reaches soft peaks. Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture, then pour into an air-tight freezable container. Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

What makes this different from ordinary banana bread is the addition of instant espresso powder. The coffee does not overwhelm at all; it’s subtle bitterness, most elegantly, enhances the sweetness of the banana. The bread is best eaten the day after it is baked.

3 medium, very ripe bananas (1 1/3 cups)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbs. plain flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. instant espresso powder

Heat the oven to 325°F and grease a standard loaf tin. Slip a baking sheet into the oven.

Mash the bananas with the vanilla and salt, then beat in the oil. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the sugar. Mix the flour with the baking soda and the espresso powder, then beat into the banana mixture.

Pour into the tin, put it into the oven on the baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the edges are slightly coming away and the bread has risen. A cake tester should come out clean. Leave to cool, then wrap is foil and wait for at least a half day before slicing it.

 

 

 

 

 

Sicilian Cauliflower Salad

The mixture of sweet, Marsala-soaked raisins, salty olives and a delicate saffron-scented dressing gives ordinary cauliflower the star treatment. This is a fabulous make-ahead salad.

1 head cauliflower
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/4 cup water from a recently boiled kettle
1/2 cup golden raisins
5 tbs. Marsala
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup oil-brined black olives
3 tbs. toasted pine nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Break the cauliflower into florets and put these in a saucepan that has a lid. Cover with cold water, add the salt and bay leaves, put the lid on, set the pan on a high heat and bring to a boil. Drain immediately and run under cold water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, put the saffron threads in a small bowl and add the boiled water. Let steep.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the Marsala and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

Add the shallots and lemon juice to the saffron water. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.

Tip the still-warm cauliflower into a serving bowl and add the raisins and any Marsala, the dressing and the olives. Toss well and check the seasoning. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Toss in most of the pine nuts and parsley, then scatter the rest over the top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Romansco with Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon and Pecorino

Not only is this delicious, it’s most compelling characteristic is that the romanesco look like baby fir trees.

1 head romanesco
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary needles
1 garlic clove
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbs. grated Pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese

Fill a large pot with water and put on to boil. Remove the florets from the romanesco and sort by size. Once the water boils, salt it and add the large florets. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the medium sized florets and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the small florets and cook everything for 3-5 minutes, or until tender but still crisp. Drain well and place in a serving boil.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the rosemary and sizzle for a few minutes. Add the garlic and turn off the heat, Add the lemon zest and juice with salt to taste. Pour over the romanesco and top with the grated cheese. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Cod with Broccolini and Chili

Perfect for a kitchen supper for two, this lovely and light dish is ready in no time.

3 tbs. olive oil
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 oz. broccolini, trimmed
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 cod fillets (approx. 6 oz. each and no more than 1″ thick)
1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

Heat the olive oil over a low heat in a large skillet with a lid and add the anchovy fillets. Stir to melt the anchovies into the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for about 30 seconds before adding the broccolini. Tip in the wine or vermouth and let it bubble, then cover and let the broccolini steam for 7 minutes, until tender-crisp.

Season the cod, then add to the skillet and let it bubble for 3-4 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.

Serve in warmed bowls with the pan juices and topped with red chili.

Serves 2

Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Four ingredients for instant comfort food.

8 oz. trottole verde or any curly pasta of choice
4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. chopped, shelled pistachios

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot along with the gorgonzola and spinach. Put on the lid and leave to sit without heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, put the heat on low and stir everything together, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the sauce.

Take off the heat, toss in about two-thirds of the pistachios, then divide between 2 warmed bowls. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and a good grinding of black pepper to serve.

Serves 2

Chicken with Tarragon Salsa Verde

Let’s be honest here, the chicken is simply the vehicle by which one gets to eat this wonderful and fragrant sauce.

For the chicken:

2 tbs. olive oil
4 chicken breast cutlets or boneless chicken thighs
small bunch fresh tarragon

For the sauce:

leaves from a small bunch fresh parsley (about 1 cup)
leaves from a small bunch fresh tarragon (about 1/4 cup)
1 scallion, green and white part roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Heat the oven to 425°F. Pour 1 tbs. of the olive oil into a shallow ovenproof dish in which the chicken will all fit snuggly. Arrange them skin-side up. Tuck 2 sprigs of tarragon around them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, tarragon, scallion, zest, juice, salt and half the olive oil. Using a food processor or immersion blender, whizz into a paste. Slowly add the remaining olive oil and blend well. Taste for seasoning.

Once the chicken has cooked, pour any pan juices into the sauce and blend again. Serve the sauce drizzled over the chicken.

Serves 4

 

 

Pasta with Zucchini

This is homey and comforting pasta that tastes best when eaten out of a large bowl with a large spoon.

8 oz. caserecce or other small, tubular pasta
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb. zucchini, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle
2 tsp. butter

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Generously salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Put the olive oil and scallions in a heavy pan that comes with a lid and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the vermouth, 2 tbs. of the chopped parsley and season. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes by which time the zucchini should be tender.

Before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the cooking water.

Tip the drained pasta into the pan with the zucchini along with the 3 tbs. Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss thoroughly and taste for seasoning. Add more pasta cooking water if needed. Stir in the butter and serve with the remaining parsley sprinted on top and more Parmesan cheese on the side.

Serves 2

Shrimp Pasta Rosa

This subtle and simple pasta is a pleasure both to make and to eat.

1 tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 tbs. garlic-flavored olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 oz. raw, peeled shrimp
5 tbs. red vermouth
8 oz. taglierini

Boil a large pot of water, then add a good bit of salt.

Stir together the tomato paste, milk and mascarpone and set aside.

In a wok or large pan, warm the olive oil and add the red pepper flakes, giving a stir in the heat before adding the shrimp. Stir-fry for a minute or two by which time they should be almost cooked through.

Pour in the vermouth and let it bubble excitedly. When it has reduced a little, add the sauce and stir until everything is hot.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package instructions, drain and toss with the shrimp and sauce. Divide between two bowls and serve immediately.

Served 2