I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Italian Feast

Life has kind of gone back to normal now.

The long weekend is now a distant memory, the pupil free day is over, and they are all back at school again (breathe a big sigh of relief!!!)  Of course there was my birthday in there this week as well - so things have been quite topsy turvey here to say the least.  While I have been cooking as usual over the last few weeks, I just haven't had the time (or the concentration with everyone around) to blog.  So I guess I have lots to catch up on.  I take the photos, and file them away in a file, meaning to write about them, but the enthusiasm seems to wane, and well, before you know it I never wrote about them at all - and they become little lost "orphans" sitting in a file feeling very unloved.

This is the time of the month is when the new editions of several magazines hit the newsstands. The current edition of Good Taste Magazine features food from all over the world.  This meal is a trip to Italy.  (I always wanted to spend my 50th birthday in Italy, but somehow it never happend - a trip via food will have to do!)

While this looks like quite a lot to do, if you break it down it becomes quite simple.  The stew takes a couple of hours to cook - so you need to start that early.  The sides really don't take too long at all, just coordination.  Make sure that you start the bread once you have the stew under way, and you will have it all covered!

Spezzatino di Manzo (Italian Beef Stew)
From Good Taste Magazine May edition

Serves 6
1/2 cup plain flour
1.5kg beef chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
100g pancetta, coarsely chopped *
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped *
2 celery sticks, finely chopped *
1 brown onion, finely chopped *
2 cloves garlic, crushed *
1 cup dry white wine
400g diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbs chopped fresh sage
2tbs capers, rinsed, drained, chopped

Place the flour in a large plastic bag.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the beef and shake to coat.  Heat 1 tbs of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add 1/3 of the beef and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat until all beef is cooked.

Add the pancetta, carrot, celery and garlic to the pan and cook stirring for 5 minutes or until browned.  Stir in the wine, and using a flat edged wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the beef, tomato, stock, rosemary and sage.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the sauce is thick. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan regularly so that you don't get the sauce "stuck" on the bottom!

Stir in the capers and season to taste.  It is quite salty with the pancetta - so taste it before adding any more salt!!!

Serve with polenta and spinach on the side, and topped with the reserved pepperoni.

* I blitzed these items separately in the TM - put on closed lid position and pulsed the turbo button 2-3 times - this will ensure it is roughly chopped - not pureed!!!

Polenta con pepperoni (Polenta with Pepperoni)

Adapted From Good Taste Magazine May edition

Serves 6

4 cups chicken stock
1 cup polenta
30g butter
150g peperoni

Chop the pepperoni by placing in the TM bowl - put on closed lid position and press the turbo button 2-3 times.  This will give you nice and uneven chopping.   Remove from the bowl and place in a small frypan.  Pan fry the chopped pepperoni until crispy.  Remove and drain on a paper towel until needed.

Place the chicken stock in the TM bowl and cook for 10 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Add the polenta to the bowl and cook for 25-30 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 2.  Add the butter and half of the cooked pepperoni, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until well combined and the butter has melted through.

Spinach all Romana (Spinach with Raisins)
Adapted From Good Taste Magazine May edition

Serves 6

500g English Spinach
40g butter
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbs pine nuts
2 cloves grushed garlic

Heat the butter in a frypan over medium high heat.  Add the raisins, pine nuts, and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden.

Add the spinach, and toss for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted and hot.

We love our bread here - and recently while reading Not Quite Nigella she talked about visiting the Noosa Farmers Markets and showed an image of Stromboli Bread - says it was named after a volcano in Italy - and had a pocket of mozzarella cheese and garlic in the middle.  Sounds good to me!!

Here is my attempt - be warned it is not for the faint hearted - it contains serious garlic

Serious Garlic Bread

1-2 heads of fresh garlic
30g mozzarella cheese
520g bakers flour
2 tsp yeast
300ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Place the garlic heads on piece of foil.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until lovely and soft.  Allow to cool.  Once cool, gently squeeze the garlic from the skins.  Reserve.

Place the flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar, and 3/4 of the roasted garlic into the TM bowl.  Knead on interval setting for 4 minutes.  Remove from the bowl and place in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled.  Cover with cling wrap that has also been lightly oiled.  Place in a warm place and allow to rise for approximately 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and roughly shape into a large rectangle.  Down the centre of the dough place the reserved garlic (that has been roughly pureed) and the mozzarella cheese.  Fold the dough over to cover the cheese and garlic.

Lightly grease a tin and place the bread into the tin.  (At this stage I lightly sprinkled the top of the bread with a small amount of salt flakes).  Allow to rise again, in a warm place for approximately 30 minutes.

Cook in an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and sounding hollow when tapped.

After removing from the oven I sprayed lightly with olive oil spray just to give it a bit of a glisten!!!  This was serious garlic bread - if you love garlic - then you will love this!!!!  Be warned though - serious garlic breath!!!!

So while I didn't actually get to Italy for my birthday - I am still enjoying the food!!!


  1. Happy belated birthday. Your recipes here all look fantastic, will try the stew tonight. Thanks Diane

  2. Happy Birthday Cate! And that bread looks absolutely amazing, I'm so glad you were inspired to make it (and yes I'm a garlic lover too!) :)

  3. Haha, i love serious garlic. Great idea to eat an Italian feast at your special birthday,

  4. Wow what a feast! The food looks amazing and I love garlic, so I would definitely love that bread.