Parmesan Shortbreads

Absolutely divine with a glass of bubbly. These freeze really well, so keep a stash in the freezer for impromptu guests!

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 tbs. soft butter
1 egg yolk

Mix all the ingredients together – using a bowl and spoon, mixer or food processor, as wished – until a golden dough begins to form a clump. Turn it out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth. Divide in two and make each into a cylinder about 1 1/4″ in diameter. Make sure the ends are flat, so that the cylinder resembles a coin roll. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days or freeze.

Heat the oven to 350°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into thick 1/2″ rounds and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be just beginning to turn a pale gold at the edges. Leave to cool before serving.

Makes 35-40

Lamb Cutlets with Mint, Chili and Golden Potatoes

This is a proper meat and potato supper that will delight everyone. Both dried mint and fresh mint are used for just the right amount of warming spice.

1 lb. baby white potatoes, halved but not peeled
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. celery salt
8 lamb chops, frenched
4 cups arugula
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Put the baby potatoes on to steam until just tender.

In a large, shallow dish, into which the chops will all fit in an even layer, add the oil with the dried mint, chili flakes and celery salt. Use one of the chops to smooch in all together, then add all of the chops, turning in the oil. Leave to marinate for 10 minuets.

Heat a large, heavy skillet or the grill to medium heat. Cook the chops for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how well you like them done. Remove and let them rest. Tip the potatoes into the skillet and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. If grilling the chops, tip the oil from the marinade into a skillet and add the potatoes. Proceed as above.

Scatter the arugula onto a platter and top with the chops, potatoes, fresh mint and fresh parsley. Season to your liking.

Serves 3-4

Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta

Heavenly to make and to eat!

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
6 oz. cubed pancetta
1 1/4 cups frozen peas
8 oz. orso pasta
2 1/2 cups boiling water
salt, to taste
1 tbs. soft butter
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
grated black pepper, to taste

Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and bronze, then stir in the peas for a minute or two until the frozen look leaves them.

Add the pasta and stir for a bit, then add the boiling water and season with salt. Turn  down to a simmer and let it bubble for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender and the water absorbed.

To serve, toss with the soft butter, Parmesan and sprinkle with black pepper.

Serves 2

Fettuccini with Mushrooms, Marsala and Mascarpone

This pasta is quite elegant and sophisticated. The creamy marsala-laced sauce is just right with the husky and earthy porcini mushrooms.

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup marsala
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup mascarpone
freshly grated nutmeg
ground pepper
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley, plus more to serve
8 oz. egg fettuccini or taliatelle
1 tbs. unsalted butter
small clove of garlic, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Measure the porcini mushrooms into a small saucepan and add the marsala and water. Bring to a boil, then take it off the heat and let stand at least 10 minutes.

Put the mascarpone into a bowl and add a good grating of fresh nutmeg and pepper. Strain the marsala and water from the saucepan into the bowl and mix with a fork. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms over the bowl, then chop and add as well.

Boil water for the pasta and salt when it boils. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Keep a little pasta water aside, then drain the pasta and tip back into the pot. Stir in the mascarpone mixture and add a little of the pasta water if you need to loosen the sauce.

Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2