Italian Potato and Ham Pie

Italian Potato and Ham Pie

I say this is an Italian Potato and Ham Pie, because I found the recipe on an Italian website – and I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese – but apart from that, I don’t think there’s anything specifically Italian about it. What it is about, is a recipe that is so easy, and ultimately so delicious, that you just have to try it.

INGREDIENTS

  • Potatoes
  • Two egg yolks
  • Cheese – the original recipe calls for caciocavallo cheese, but I couldn’t get this and so substituted it with mozzarella
  • Grana Padana cheese (or parmesan)
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Sliced ham
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rosemary – fresh is best, but dried will work, too

METHOD

  • Boil the potatoes until ready for mashing – drain, season with salt and pepper, add the grana padana (amount according to taste) and mash, the add the egg yolks, salt & pepper and rosemary and combine, then use of the mixture to line a dish or oven proof tin
  • Saute the spinach in the olive oil and garlic – when wilted, drain, so that all of the excess water is removed
  • Put a layer of the garlicky spinach over the potato, then a layer of the cheese you are using, then a layer of sliced ham
  • Add another layer of cheese and top with the remainder of the potato, pressing it down, so that it is compact
  • Brush a little oil over the surface, and bake for around 50 minutes in an oven, pre-heated to 190°C – it’ll then be ready to eat immediately or saved for later, and eaten cold

Photo credit : www.giallozafferano.com

Photo credit : www.giallozafferano.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filo Tart

Filo Tart

Winter is the season of comfort food. When the nights draw in very early and it’s dark and cold, we tend to cook comfort food. Hearty stews, thick soups, pasta dishes often loaded with a sauce, Sunday roasts. The kind of food that is often followed by a snooze on the sofa, under a furry blanket, in front of the wood burner. But, you can only eat this kind of food for so long, and as we have noticed spring bulbs beginning to emerge and days seeming to last a little longer before it gets dark, our evening meals are starting to change, too. Marinaded tuna, salmon, chicken fillets, lighter pasta dishes. And this weekend, a very spring-like filo tart, filled with punchy colours and flavours. It was the simplest and quickest tart to make, made up as we went along. The filo pastry was shop-bought – there is no way I’m standing in a kitchen making it, when it can just be unrolled from a packet. Sorry to pastry purists and serious cooks, but I’m not messing around with filo. And, within 10 minutes, everything had been chopped and prepared and it was in the oven.

The pastry was rolled out into rectangular baking tray and smothered in green pesto. Lightly roasted peppers and chopped cherry tomatoes were added, with back olives squished down into the veggie mix. Feta cheese was crumbled across the tart and chilli flakes sprinkled on top, then baked for about 25 minutes. It was served with a fresh spring salad and potato rosti. The pesto made a real difference as it during the cooking, it soaked into the base, giving it a creamy texture. A lovely, light and fresh dinner dish – which reminded us that spring is not too far off…

Thai Chicken Soup

Thai Chicken Soup

I’ve not made Thai Chicken Soup before. I think I just assumed because of its flavoursome quality and spiciness that it would be a real faff. Plus, we don’t tend to eat a lot of meat at home, so chucking in the chicken element, just complicated things. Well, we’ve now got over ourselves and made a big batch of it last night. Utterly delicious and wildly simple to cook, in a relatively short time. Plus, the added bonus of not too much washing up.

I chose this when we were staying in Veli Losinj, and chose to eat in one night at the hotel. The menu was very eclectic – definitely much more global than is usual in Croatian restaurants, and I couldn’t resist the spice factor. The soup was so gorgeous that we needed to recreate it at home – and the recipe below is one we cobbled together from what thought might go into it, the fusion of ingredients from recipes found online and what we had in the cupboard/fridge. If you make it, hope you enjoy it as much as we do…

INGREDIENTS

  • Sweet potatoes (four, peeled and chopped into cubes)
  • Large clove of garlic, sliced thinly
  • About a 2cm piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • One stem of lemongrass, peeled and bashed up to release the flavour
  • Red Thai curry paste
  • Two or three fresh chillies, de-seeded and chopped
  • Veggie (or fish) stock
  • Coconut milk (one can)
  • Very lean chicken fillets, cut up quite small
  • Brown sugar (about a teaspoon)
  • Splash of lime juice
  • Fresh coriander (leaves for garnish & stalks for flavour)
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to season

METHOD

It really couldn’t be simpler. Heat the coconut oil gently and saute the garlic, ginger, chillies, coriander stalks and a handful of leaves and lemon grass for about 10 minutes, over a low heat. Add the cubes sweet potatoes, the stock, the Thai red curry paste, sugar, lime juice and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, slowly, and then simmer until the potatoes have softened. Whizz the mixture with a hand blender and when smooth, add the chicken pieces and heat through for no more than 5-6 minutes. Check that the meat is white – if it is, your soup is ready. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves. We served ours with the most amazing toasted brown bread, with carrot, from Lidl (in Istria, so may not be available in the UK), but I suppose any kind of bread (toasted or not, depending on your taste) would work as well. Or pitta bread, or naan or flat bread. I think the next time we do this, I’ll add rice noodles, cooked separately and then when the soup is ready, poured over the top.

A perfect supper dish, for a late summer’s evening. And, I imagine, for a cold winter’s night. Perfect, therefore, at any time.