Thursday, October 07, 2010

Italian Week & guess who finally got a new camera

I finally made up my mind and bit the bullet & bought a new camera, went for a Canon 500D.  So far I am still on full auto and haven't had much of a chance to play yet the photos are amazing, especially compared to my old camera.  The soup photo here is old & the pasta & risotto are from the new camera, I am one very happy girl & cant wait to test it out in Cairns on our holiday next week!

When I saw that this week's theme for the Cookbook Challenge was Italian I was very happy, I mean what good Aussie didnt grow up eating spag bol & pizza?  Seriously there is a bit more to it than that and I cook a lot of Italian style food at home, it's almost pure Aussie tucker to us by now.  So I picked out 3 recipes from a book I rarely use even though everything looks and sounds delicious whenever I flick through it, Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italy.  The first was this hearty Ribollita, I cook a big pot of soup a week so am always trying out new ones.  Loved this, a good combination of beans, spices and veggies and the torn up bread gave it a lovely silky, thick texture as promised.  Also made up for the Grand Final weekend of excess and junk, think hot dogs & Macca's for breakfast in bed on Sunday morning - all 4 of us!

Notes - I used tinned beans as I am always too lazy to wait that hour for the dried ones to cook  and instead of cavolo nero I picked some fresh rainbow chard from my garden to throw in the pot.  I also added about 3 cups of chicken stock in place of the beans cooking water for flavour & to loosen it up.

My Favourite Ribollita - Jamie Oliver - Jamie's Italy

310g zolfini or cannellini beans, fresh, or dried and soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, squashed
1 small potato, peeled
2 small red onions, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
3 sticks celery, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil
a pinch of ground fennel seeds
a pinch of dried red chilli
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
310g cavolo nero, leaves and stalks finely sliced
2 large handfuls of good quality stale bread, torn into chunks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil to serve

Add your beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, tomato and potato.  Cook until tender, dried will take up to an hour, fresh about 25 minutes.  Drain and reserve about half a glass of the cooking water, discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato.

Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  heat a saucepan with a splash of olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan with the fennel and chilli.  Sweat very slowly on a low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until soft. but not brown.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.  Add the beans & a little of the reserved water and bring back to the boil.  Add the cavolo nero, stir it in and then stir in the bread too.  Add more cooking water if necessary.  Continue to cook for about 30 minutes, you want to achieve a silky, thick soup. 

Season with salt and pepper & stir in some extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Second up was spaghetti & meatballs with a difference.  Chloe loves her spag & meatballs which can get a bit boring so finding a nice variation is always good.  This is a Sicilian inspired dish of fresh tuna meatballs.  Really nice & the tuna was tender unlike some 'meat' balls which can be a bit tough if not cooked right.

Notes - I didnt bother to liquidize my sauce, I like it rustic.

The best tuna meatballs - Jamie Oliver - Jamie's Italy

For the tomato sauce:

olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

For the meatballs:

400g tuna
olive oil
55g pinenuts
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
100g stale breadcrumbs
55g freshly grated parmesan
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon

First make the sauce.  Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 minutes or so until soft.  Add the oregano, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, then liquidize until smooth.  Add red wine vinegar to taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

While the tomatoes are simmering, chop the tuna up into 2.5cm dice.  Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat.  Add the tuna to the pan with the nuts & cinnamon.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pinenuts.  Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl.  Allow to cool down for 5 minutes, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and juice.  Mix up with your hands & form into balls a touch smaller than a golf ball.  Place on an oiled tray in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil.  Add the meatballs and jiggle them around until they're golden brown all over.  Add to the tomato sauce, serve with spaghetti sprinkled with parsley.

Lastly I made a cauliflower risotto with a lovely crunchy anchovy pangrattato to top it off.  Nice and unusual though the actual risotto flavour was a bit bland so not sure I would make it again, I wont post the recipe for this one

Off to play with the camera now, bye...


Gourmet Getaway said...

It looks so yum!. I never bother to liquidise my pasta sauce either :) Love the images from the new camera, fantastic and sharp. I have always used canon as well. said...

Congratulations on your new toy Ange - I know you've been wanting one for awhile now!

I love the look and sound of the tuna meatballs - might have to give that one a whirl.

April @ My Food Trail said...

Yay for a new camera!! You can definitely notice the difference between an SLR and a compact camera, even on the auto mode! Hope you have lots of fun playing around with it and have a fab time on holiday!