It's fairly straightforward making a risotto but there are a few things you can do to take your risotto-making skills to the next level. Your choice of rice is key: Arborio is an obvious choice but in Italy, Carnaroli rice is the king for risotto. It has a higher starch content than Arborio which gives your risotto a creamier finish.
Leafy green vegetables are fantastic on pizza. Italians love 'Friarielli' but it's hard to find in the UK so I've used purple sprouting broccoli instead. Use creamy ricotta, salty olives, a good grating of Grana Padano, liberal use of some Calabrian spicy peperoncini and a fantastic pizza awaits.
I have eaten lots of different gnocchi dishes, some stuffed, some fried and some baked, I love them, just avoid the gnocchi sold in supermarkets! A wonderful Italian friend of mine - Anna has been telling me that I should try Gnocchi alla Romana - it's made with semolina rather than potato...
There are times when a comforting bowl of pasta is all that's needed and I cook this regularly because it's so simple and tasty.It's almost a complete 'store cupboard' meal that you can throw together with minimal fuss. Fusilli pasta is my shape of choice for this dish, using a great quality pasta such as our Armando range, makes a noticeable difference.
One of the things I love about pasta is that you can pair up seasonal produce at any time of year to create a delicious meal - simply and quickly. We've been getting a fair amount of swiss chard in our veg box recently. The leaves wilt down very quickly so I cook the stalks first, creating a flavour bomb with garlic and anchovies. To contrast the sweetness of the chard, I use some fresh cherry tomatoes and capers before finishing the dish luxuriously with some torn up burrata, a grating of Grana Padano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I'm a massive fan of 'pizza bianca', they really show off the quality of the pizza base and the flavours that you choose to put on top. There is a summery freshness to this recipe, perfect for al fresco dining and sharing with friends - something chilled to go alongside finishes this picture perfectly.
As Spring is upon us with longer days, this lamb dish helps bring out the tastes of a sunny Mediterranean summer - sun dried tomatoes, olives, herbs and olive oil all are reminiscent of lazy summer holidays, heady aromas and with it, amazing flavours...
Growing up, cauliflower was generally presented to me smothered in cheese sauce and baked in the oven. It's delicious and still is a real family favourite. However, the wonderful nutty flavour that a simple cauliflower develops when roasted is a joy that I didn't discover until a few years ago. Cauliflower is widely available all year round, although they are at their peak in spring and autumn, they are a real workhorse during those drab months when not much seems to be in season.
Orecchiette is a pasta shape that hails from the Southern Italian region of Apulia and is perfect for this beautiful pasta dish. Pangratatto is effectively just fried breadcrumbs but it's a great addition to this dish as it adds a brilliant texture. There are lots of different squashes now widely available from good green grocers. We got ours from a fantastic local organisation called Root Connections www.rootconnections.co.uk - a charity that helps homeless people. They have a small farm where volunteers and residents grow fabulous produce to supply homes and restaurants with the fruits of their labour, check it out, it's amazing.
I can remember in one of the first jobs I had as a chef I was given the task of making potato gnocchi. I'd not actually eaten gnocchi before, but I followed the instructions given to me and a little mentoring by the chef. I remember the process of scooping out the flesh from a mountain of baked potatoes, trying not to burn my hands in the process. The dish on the menu was a classic - gnocchi with sage butter and lots of parmesan cheese. Wow, the gnocchi were so light and soft, the dish was so simple.
Christmas in my family is all about traditions, I think we all like to recreate a little bit of our own childhood memories. Here's a good old recipe given to me by my mother who makes these every year. They taste of Christmas and are so delicious they rarely make it through to Boxing day. I've given them a little twist by substituting golden syrup for agave syrup which gives the florentines a slightly chewy texture.
There is something primal about making your own pasta, a bit like making your own bread. I don’t always have time to do this (or the organisational ability), but when I do, it's deeply rewarding and tastes just SO GOOD. You need just two ingredients for this recipe...00 Pasta flour and fresh eggs.
Tired of supermarket 'Frisbee style' pizzas? It’s true that in the last few years, the standard of shop-bought pizza has improved, let's face it, we've all eaten some really truly terrible ones in our lifetime...