I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Osso Buco Milanese

During a cooking class on my recent trip to Italy, Chef Raffaele gave us some sound advice.  "if you don't have access to fresh, vine ripened tomatoes, use canned!". Looking at the insipid, flavourless offerings that are available at the  moment, I heeded his advice when making this meal!

On my recent shopping spree in Haberfield I picked up some lovely looking veal osso  buco, and some lamb shanks (amongst many other wonderful offers!).  After a cold, wet time at the rugby yesterday, where we watched the game from the protection of an overhanging rock cliff, I gave DH the choice, of either Osso Buco with Parmesan Polenta, or Tunisian Style Lamb Shanks for dinner.  Osso Buco won!

In the current edition of Good Taste Magazine, Tobie Puttock shows us his version of this famous Milanese dish.  Everyone tweaks it just a little, and calls it their own version, but the base ingredients pretty much stay the same.  Although Wikipedia does state that Osso Buco comes in two varieties - the  modern version which is based on a tomato sauce, with the obligatory soffritto as it's base, or the old version which is bianco or "white", with no tomatoes and is flavored with cinnamon, bay leaves and gremolata.

Tonight's version is the modern take.

Osso Buco Milanese 
Adapted from recipe found  in Good Taste Magazine, by Tobie Puttock 

Serves 4-6 

3/4 cup plain flour
8 pieces veal osso buco
Extra virgin olive oil
2 small brown onions, finely chopped
2 small carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 large sticks celery, finely chopped 
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes 
100g pancetta, chopped
12 fresh sage leaves
3 springs fresh rosemary
2-3 dried bay leaves (depending on size)
2/3 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable stock


Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt to taste
1 clove garlic, finely grated

Parmesan Polenta 

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup polenta
40g butter
60g grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees.  

 Place the flour on a large flat plate, season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add the veal, and turn to coat, shaking off the excess.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish over high heat. Cook the veal,  in batches, for 2-3 minutes each side, or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic for 5-10 minutes, or until soft.  Stir in the pancetta, tomatoes, sage, rosemary, and bay leaves.  Stir for 5 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the veal, and the wine. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to the boil.  Cover, and bake for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, check.  At this stage if there is a lot of liquid, you may want to cook for the next 30 minutes uncovered, make sure it doesn't burn on top though!

To make the gremolata, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Reserve.

To make the polenta, bring the water and chicken stock to the boil in a medium sized saucepan.  While stirring the liquid, add the polenta to the pan in a thin stream, while continuously stirring.

Stir the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened and the grains are soft.

Quickly add the butter and Parmesan cheese.  Stir to incorporate well.

To serve place a small amount of polenta on a serving plate.  Top with a piece of osso buco, some sauce, and then a sprinkling of gremolata.

Nothing warms soul more that a beautiful, flavourful casserole!

This meal certainly had us slurping at the bones to get out that rich marrow!

Good choice DH!  Guess that means lamb shanks next week!  That's something to look forward to!

So Dear Readers what is the best piece of cooking advice you have been given? Chef Raffaele also told us that when basil is bountiful, place it, unwashed in a large glass jar, and keep in the fridge.  I have had great success with this one - it lasts for at least 2 weeks!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Little Bowl of Tuscany!

On a cold wet, winter night is there anything better than having dinner in front of a log fire?  I think not!!!

I was feeling a little homesick for Italy the other day, so I took myself off for a shopping trip to Haberfield.  Now, it's not quite like shopping at the market place in Italy, but it was the best I was going to get here in Australia!

I wandered up one side of Ramsay Street, and back down the other, peering into all the shops, and making a mental shopping list as I travelled form shop to shop - menu plans were formulating!

One thing that I have been craving since getting back, is Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella), so a trip to Paesanella Cheese Shop was a prerequisite on this trip!  There they were - my beautiful little lovelies, sitting in their milky looking brine!!  There were two varieties on offer - the true Italian one, and the ones that they make themselves.  After being told in Italy, that they should never be refrigerated, I decided to go for the local ones, who knows how long the imported ones have been refrigerated on their trip here!

There were so many lovely looking things on display in the cabinet, it was very hard to choose.  I limited myself with what I though we would consume in the next few days.  Some speck, provolone, and pecorino, but the carciofi (artichokes) looked tempting too, and also the caramelised tomatoes.  A tasting plate was forming in my mind.

Onwards I travelled, some beautiful proscuitto was procured, along with a lot of beautiful looking meats (osso bucco, lamb shanks, Italian sausage, lamb kebabs).  Next some pasta, and then various other vegetables, including some tuscan cabbage were added to the growing mountain of food in my boot!!!

It was very tiring work, all this shopping, so a rest was required - lunch stop was at  Pasticceria Papa for a cappuccino and a panini.

A few more stops, and I had enough food to feed the family for the week!!!

What fun it was, so much better that going to the local iridescently lit shopping mall,  and offending supermarket!!!  Sure it wasn't a market place, but it was different to how I usually shop. The only thing I wasn't able to get were those beautiful Italian tomatoes, but then it is the wrong season!!!  Me thinks a return visit in summer is in order!!!

So what were we going to have for our meal in front of the fire?

Our tasting plate consisted of some rustic bread, which we topped with the Buffalo Mozzarella, Artichokes, Bruscetta, caramelised tomatoes, and dolmades (yes, I know they are not Italian, but we do like them!!).

After being at a night game of rugby we really needed to warm ourselves up - so some soup was in order.  Remember the Tuscan Cabbage?

I just had to make the recipe for Ribollita  from The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, that I recently won from the lovely Not Quite Nigella.  Thank you Lorraine!!!  There's a bowl waiting here for you in front of the fire!

From The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes & Edward Mayes

Serves 15!

500g dried cannellini beans *
1 tsp salt
2 brown onions, diced
6 carrots, diced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 celery stalks, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp pepper
1 bunch tuscan cabbage, finely chopped
8-10 tomatoes, or 1 x 800g can whole tomatoes, chopped
the heel of a wedge of parmigiano reggiano
2 litres of vegetable, chicken, or meat stock
2 cups cubed, day old bread
generous handful of combined flat leaf parsley,  torn basil and thyme leaves

grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and olive oil to serve

* you can use dried cannellini beans if you have the time, but you will need to soak them for 5 hours though! I used 2 x 400g cans of cannellini beans, drained.

In a large stockpot over low heat, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil. After 3-4 minutes, add the celery, garlic and the salt, pepper and the Tuscan Cabbage. Add more olive oil if needed. Cook,
for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted, then add the tomatoes, and the heel of the Parmesan. Add enough stock to cover. Bring to the boil, and then simmer, covered for 1 hour to blend the flavours.

Make sure you stir now and then.

After about 50 minutes add the drained cannellini beans. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the bread cubes and herbs. Heat through.

Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese.


This soup was sooooo good. The best part is that I now have a huge container left for lunches, and easy meals for the rest if the week!

This meal took me back to the night we arrived in Florence. My traveling buddy, Barb, had this as her starters (no we didn't follow protocol that night by having antipasti, primi, secondi and contorni!) We introduced ourselves to Florence that night, by eating at a little trattoria just off the Ponte Vecchio!

I don't know what her's was like that night, but mine last night really hit the spot!

 Ahhh.... Food memories... Don't you love them! So Dear Readers do you make meals to remind you of places you have visited?

Me, I'm on a bit of Italy revisited at the moment.... Osso Bucco tonight!!!!