Category Archives: Shows

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta and Chilli

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta from Takes 5 (7556)Before I write anything else I have this to say: to all those working in bakeries and kitchens, hats off to you! You are my heroes! Now, I would be lying if I told you we didn’t bake anything in the last two weeks (I baked once in the past 14 days)! I did promise myself not to, until it cools down a bit. I kinda like this weather though (I hate the heat – there I said it, but please don’t hate *me*) because my fridge is stocked with as many fruit and veggies as it can hold. And after running errands all morning I bought a seasoned roast chicken because I just couldn’t face the stove. I have plenty of leftovers and will make some salad wraps for dinner later today. Nice and easy. But…

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7557)The reality is I cannot avoid cooking a hot meal for too long and I don’t think I can handle eating cold salads everyday for however long this heatwave is going to last. So I came across this recipe which I really really like: something new from Takes 5 by James Tanner. It’s a book I have liked ever since it was published three years ago I believe, well worth the money. I have cooked from it time and time again, and some of the recipes have become part of my off-the-cuff list of dishes. Not to mention what a lovely person James is: apart from being a great chef (we all know that), his heart is in the right place. James’ new book is finally out now, and here at C&T we are very happy about it. Until our copy arrives and we will wait eagerly by the door just in case the doorbell is not working properly and we miss it, we made this recipe with minor changes* which we had with grilled steak.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7547)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7548)

  • 4 leeks, washed and cut into 1cm pieces* (James uses baby leeks)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
  • 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar*
  • 450ml water
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 200g ricotta
  • pinch of salt*
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil*

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7550)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7551)

In a large pan, pour in the vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped leeks. Bring to the boil once more, then cover the pan and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the leeks turn soft. Remove the leeks from the pan and drain (you don’t need the liquid).

Turn the grill on to high. Using the sharpest knife you have (taking care it doesn’t go on your fingers) cut the already chopped pieces of leeks in half and place them on a baking tray or tin. Top them with the dried chilli and chunks of ricotta. Grill for 5 minutes until the ricotta turns a little golden.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7558)

I will try this with some glazed ham, when the weather’s cooler. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Adapted from Takes 5 by James Tanner, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2010.)

Reviews and Recipes: Nigellissima.

Italian-Banana-Breakfast-Cake-(6334)

Writing a review about a book I really love is one thing, but doing so for one I have mixed feelings about is another. There is no need to say how much I like Nigella Lawson and her style of cooking. There are reviews out there saying something like: What is this? Another BBC series to accompany the book? I, on the other hand can say that I am enjoying the show. And yet, I still have my doubts. (This is *such* a hard thing to say!)

Tiramisu-(6327)

I have purchased Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration myself, for various reasons; one, because I like her, and two, for the sake of completing the set (until the publication of the next book, of course.) Nigellissima is very different than all the others; this is not a bad thing in itself. I like the toned-down appearance of it, including the fact that there are more photos of the food than of Nigella herself. Though, to be honest, I miss her encyclopaedic style of writing. I miss the chunky in-your-face book, but there again, there can be only one How to Eat, Feast or book number eight, Kitchen. I always try to read cookbooks from cover to cover whenever I can, especially for reviews. I read this too. In a day. We don’t need a book as big as the Bible to convey the beauty and the simplicity of Italian food. Do we? Anna Del Conte has done it; so has Giorgio Locatelli. Perhaps I am totally missing the point. Nigellissima is the lovely lady’s take on Italian fare and that’s that. (Mentioning Anna Del Conte, the classic must-have is *not* Cooking with Coco as Nigella insists – perhaps a bit too much – but Gastronomy of Italy. More like it.) As far as ingredients go, I don’t understand the continuing emphasis on the so-called banana shallot. My Maltese readers are definitely familiar with the kind of onion we use for pickling. It is also found all over the south of France.

Tiramisu-(6329)

Please allow me to say something negative, and then I promise you it’s all positive from then on. I am not convinced of the savoury recipes – they left me a bit wanting. (And there endeth the negative ranting.) But hey, the sweet things are fantastically easy and tasty. I have been trying some of the recipes all week and boy, have they been a hit! The Tiramisini (page 162), a scaled-down version of the Tiramisù, is to die for. Please note that I am not a fan of Tiramisù. During a recent visit to Frascati (by all means not the home of this dessert) I had no choice but to have a taste. It was good of course, but nothing to write home about. However Nigella’s version is something else. Individual portions made it all the more easier to serve. Just get a glass or ramekin out and you’re done. It just needed an extra Savoiardi though to absorb more of the coffee mixture. But it is fine, even as is. You can find the recipe on Nigella’s website here. Try it and you will be a convert.

Yesterday, while the house was one big mess and J was working from home, I wanted to take a break: I needed a moment for baking. I decided to try the Italian Breakfast Banana Bread (on page 188). Good decision. In 10 minutes flat the cake was in the oven. There isn’t much Italian to be found in a banana bread, let’s face it, even if coffee is added to the mixture, and I like the recipe more for it’s fast preparation than for anything else, but it worked. And it was what I needed at that moment. This weekend it’s all about Nutella cheesecake. (I also made the Instant Chocolate Orange Mousse. The one from Express was quick and gloriously rich, but this one is better.)

Even though I would give Nigellissima a 3.5 on 5, there’s still a significant space for it in my bookshelf and in my kitchen. Taking baby steps for now, but it’s getting there.

Rob x

Heston and The Fabulous Baker Brothers.

Yesterday, after cooking dinner and washing those dreaded dishes, I almost forgot all about How to Cook like Heston. Well let’s say that I forgot all about it full-stop. I shouldn’t have I know, but I watched the final few minutes. Not that I got what he was doing mind you…mea culpa. I should have remembered that he was on tv. He’s a scientist in the kitchen. The kitchen is his lab. Heston’s a very responsible chap but I cannot help closing my eyes and waiting for something to explode! It never happens thank goodness; he knows what he’s doing, but there’s my imagination for you. So this afternoon I’ll be browsing the Channel 4 website to see what he was up to.

I didn’t miss The Fabulous Baker Brothers though. Boys will be boys! They are mad (in a good way), they don’t waste time but they don’t skimp either. They do things almost by the book but with little twists here and there. I read about their upcoming show last year but I wasn’t really convinced. Now I am. Last night they cooked on a budget. The result – two perfect pies, some delicious sliders (mini burgers) and a tweak on beans on toast…and a bit of eye candy…

Rob x