Friday, November 14, 2008

I’ve finally done it!!

I’VE MOVED!!!!

I couldn’t take it anymore, my time with blog.com has come to an end. I wish I could say there have been good times but it’s been so much hassle and I’ve contacted them numerous times and nadda!! I’ve moved over to www.italianfoodies.wordpress.com , nothing fancy but it actually works. You can comment, search, get to the bottom of the page, it’s everything a blog should be. I haven’t moved over everything yet as it has to be done manually but it will be done in time. See you over there:)

Ciao blog.com!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 14:34:10 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

linguine with tuna and tomato!

          
The princess is sick with a throat infection so I’ve been house bound for the last 3 days. I haven’t even been to the shop so needless to say my fridge and cupboards are empty. I always have the basics so there is always a pasta dish that can be made from the few bits I do have. This is my survival list:

 - olive oil
 - tinned tuna
 - capers
 - tins of Italian tomatoes
 - sea salt and black pepper
 - lots of dried pasta
 - dried chilli
 - parmesan cheese in the fridge
 - butter
 - fresh basil on the window sill
 - garlic
 - anchovies
 - onions
 - cherry tomatoes
 - dried oregano
 - lemons (dried out most of the time)

Today I decided to give this simple pasta a try and it was really delicious. People often ask me about cooking pasta without it sticking together etc so I took a few photos to show you how I cook mine. 

what you need:

 -  tin of Italian tuna in olive oil, the difference in quality really is amazing with tuna in brine but you can use this if you can’t get Italian.

 -  400g tin of Italian tomatoes, once again an Italian brand is so much better and I don’t mean Roma:) De Cecco pomodorini are excellent, they are so sweet and full of flavour.

 - 1/2 an onion finely diced

 - 1 garlic clove finely chopped

 - olive oil

 - sea salt and black pepper

 - 350g linguine or spaghetti

what to do:

 - bring a pot of water to the boil and add salt. Fill the base of your frying pan with olive oil , add your onion and garlic and cook until softened.

once your onions and garlic have softened add your tomatoes and simmer for about 10-15 mins:

once your water is boiling add your pasta and make sure you stir it with a pasta fork or slotted spoon for tubular pasta:

the key to cooking pasta right is to continue to stir it, you do not need to use oil:

cook until al dente, I check mine by taking a piece out and biting it, no pic of me biting it I’m afraid;)

drain and return to the pan:

season your sauce, add your tuna and cook for a couple of minutes and add some of your sauce to your linguine:

serve with the remaining sauce on top and enjoy:)

                

buon appetito!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 15:16:38 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

new focaccia at la cucina!

Bruno has recently started doing new filled rosemary focaccia and they are really popular. We do 3 types:

 - chicken, rocket and roast pepper.
 - parma ham, rocket and Parmesan shavings.
 - parma ham, gorgonzola and red onion.

A pizza ball is hand stretched:

The focaccia is drizzled with olive oil and the rosemary is finely chopped:

The focaccia is sprinkled with the rosemary and sea salt:

It is then cooked at about 380 degrees until golden brown:

They are then cut open and filled:

The chicken is the most popular but my favourite is the parma ham and gorgonzola.

buon appetito!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 18:48:02 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

roast tomato soup!!

Not much to offer this week but this little gem of a soup recipe as I’ve been working my “little” (I wish) a– off!;) Our pizza chef had to return home due to a death in family so I was drafted into the kitchen for the last 2 weeks. I normally tend to work on the counter in La Cucina but it was nice to work in the kitchen for a change. I’ve decided to spend more time in there as I do really enjoy it but it’s pretty hard work, when we change the place around I’ll probably be in there anyway so I might aswell get used to it. The only thing I find is that after cooking all day, the last thing you want to do is cook when you come home so the recipes might be a bit lacking over the next couple of weeks. I have been taking pictures of the daily grind in La Cucina so I’ll probably do a couple of posts on behind the scenes.

Soup is really popular in La Cucina and we can’t keep up with the demand at the moment. During the last week we had, roast pumpkin, potato and Italian sausage, cannellini bean and parma ham and today I made this roasted tomato recipe. I often make this at home and have to say it’s absolutely delicious.

 

what you need:

 - 500g cherry tomatoes cut in half.

 - 1 red onion cut into large chunks

 - 2 cloves of garlic

 - 500ml chicken/veg stock

 - 10 basil leaves

 - sea salt and black pepper

 - 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 - olive oil

what to do:

 - pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees.

 - place your tomatoes, garlic and onion in an oven dish, season and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 - cook for about an hour and a half until the tomatoes are nice and soft. Add your basil leaves about 5 mins towards the end.

 - add your stock and liquidize.

 - serve with some crusty bread and a drizzle of chilli oil if you like.

buon appetito!!

p.s. we’ve been listed in this great new comprehensive list of food blogs from around the world, check it out here

Posted by LOR&BRU in 22:08:51 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

spritz!

      

When we were in Italy this summer this was our new drink of choice, I love it as an aperitif as it’s so light and refreshing. We had friends over for dinner last week so we decided to try it at home, we couldn’t get any Aperol so we used Campari instead which was a perfect substitute. I don’t like Campari on it’s own but it really works in this cocktail but I do think you have to like bitter drinks so all you G&T lovers will probably love it. I haven’t seen it in Ireland before but I read recently that a new restaurant in Dublin called Juniors has it on it’s menu and are using Aperol so times are changing.

what you need:

  • 1 part Aperol or Campari
  • 2 parts Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
  • Sparkling mineral water or club soda
  • ice
  • Lemon or orange slice


Fill a glass dipped in sugar with one part Aperol or Campari, add 2 parts Prosecco and top with soda water. Add some ice and a slice of lemon or orange!

here’s one we had in Rome:

 

Ours turned out pretty well I think, pity we didn’t have the free nibbles though;)

Salute!!!:)

Posted by LOR&BRU in 23:31:43 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, October 27, 2008

orecchiette with courgette, garlic and chilli!

   

I’m in a really good mood today as the sun is shining, we’re just back from Killaloe where we had lunch and brought the princess to feed the ducks. This week the builder has also come back with a rough price for changing La Cucina around and putting in seating for 26 people and surprise, surprise it’s actually affordable – I LOVE THE RECESSION:)! We just have to sort out a few things with the landlord and the bank of course and then it’s all systems go, I can’t wait as we have wanted to do this for ages but couldn’t as everything was too expensive in relation to building work but with the downturn it is now possible. 

My sister also had her baby this morning by c-section as he was completely breached and everything went perfect, he was 8lb 1 oz, big babies run in this family, it must be our love of pasta:) I’m so relieved as she had a really rough pregnancy and they didn’t think she would make it at 21 weeks, she threatened miscarriage about 3 times so he is a little angel in disguise. They are both doing great and I hope to get over to see them both next week as they live in Canterbury.

I love pasta dishes without an actual sauce and I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite pastas is spaghetti alio olio which is one of the most simple pastas you can make. This one is quite similar and just as easy and as tasty, I think the difference without the sauce is that you can taste the actual ingredients. I find this recipe great for using leftover courgette and garlic, you could also replace it with spinach for a change.

            

what you need for 2:

 - 1 large courgette

 - 1 garlic clove

 - olive oil

 - 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes

 - 350g pasta – I use orecchiette but you could also use linguine, fettucine, tagliatelle.

 - sea salt and black pepper

 - grated Parmesan

what to do:

 - bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and your pasta and cook until al dente.

 - grate your courgettes with a cheese grater and chop your garlic.

 - fill the base of your frying pan with olive oil, heat and add your garlic and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes until golden but not too brown.

 - add your courgettes and cook until soft, make sure you stir them constantly.

 - season with salt and pepper, drain your pasta reserving some of the water.

 - add your drained pasta and Parmesan to your pan with courgettes, toss well and add water as needed.

 - serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

         

buon appetito!!

p.s. I’m having terrible problems answering your comments, I reply to all your comments, then press submit and everything dissapears, so annoying. Please don’t think I’m ignoring you because that’s not the case so keep commenting as I am reading all of them and do appreciate every comment)

Posted by LOR&BRU in 14:35:25 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

fish goujons!

    

I have never been so interested in politics or the news as I have been this week which would account for why I have abandoned the blog over the last few days but the “budget” took precedence. It’s anxious times for everybody as we really are venturing into the unknown, it’s a strange place for us to be as business owners as up until now our focus was always on how to grow the business, what our next business venture would be etc etc but now it’s just focusing on what we have and try to keep costs to a minimum and basically “hold our own”. We have had to cut back all of our staff and are basically running on skeleton staff which means doing the work of 4 people ourselves with a couple of others. To be honest we don’t mind as we did the enjoy the “celtic tiger” years so it’s back to normality now I suppose, all work and no play!!

It’s interesting though as we’ve obviously put opening a second place on hold for the moment and are talking with a builder to change La Cucina around and put in seating for about 25 but the big question now is “will the bank give us the money”???, this would never have been an issue before but now everything has changed. The strange thing is we have wanted to go into the city centre for the last 3 years but could never find the right place with affordable rent and now  2 different developers contacted us(unheard of) this week with fabulous developments that are scheduled to be finished in 2010 and wanting us to take units in both, before we would have jumped at the chance but we’re not deciding on anything now until we see what happens with the economy.

The one thing I do hope that comes out of this recession is the growth of small local business, hopefully commercial rents will become more affordable (our rent review has been postponed), the number of franchises will probably slow down as the volume won’t be there anymore and people might become more frugal with their spending and support local businesses and producers, fingers crossed!!

The princess still won’t eat fish so I tell her these are chicken nuggets and it works every time:) I don’t have exact  measurements but they are simple to make so I’m sure you will manage without.

what you need:

 - cod fillets cut into goujons

 - breadcrumbs ( I buy the fresh 200g bag in Superquinn)

 - 1 tbsp chopped flat parsley

 - zest of 1 lemon

 - plain flour

 - 100g grated Parmesan

 - oil

 - sea salt and black pepper(for mammy and daddy)

 - 2 beaten eggs

what to do:

 - season your goujons and  roll in flour.

 - mix together your breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and Parmesan in a bowl.

 - fill a frying pan with lots of oil and heat.

 - dip your goujons into the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs mix and cook until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

 - serve with Parmesan mash and fried eggs – YUM!!!! Fast food at it’s best!

    

buon appetito!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 17:31:54 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

abbacchio alla romana!!

      

I was driving past my local butchers Jim Flavin last week and spotted his sign for leg of spring lamb for just €20. I would never notice anything like this but I really have become more aware of my spending since this recession went into overdrive. I don’t think anyone expected it to get this bad so fast! La Cucina is still doing fine but is definitely down a bit but we are lucky in that we can just work a little bit more ourselves – about time I hear some people say;) To be honest we’re probably lucky that the new restaurant didn’t work out as this is not the time to be opening something new. I know we would have still done well but we would have needed to be packed out every night just to cover the bills and the cost of setting it up but that’s not guaranteed in this climate.

           

After seeing the sign for the lamb I went home and had a look through the Silver Spoon and found this recipe which sounded delicious, I had all the herbs required in the garden(best thing ever) so I popped back down and picked up my lamb and some potatoes. The recipe called for the lamb to be cut up into pieces which I would never be able to do myself so I asked the butcher to do it and he even carried my bags to the car – now that’s service. I also picked up 2 free range chickens as we had friends coming over for dinner the next day and they were only €8.95 each! I do go to my local butcher regularly but sometimes I do take the easy option and just buy meat and chicken in the supermarket but there is no comparison in those prices, I’ve paid up to €30 for a leg of lamb and €15+ for chickens so I know where I will be going every time now regardless of convenience or not.

       

what you need:

 - leg of lamb cut up into pieces. I only used half of it and have the rest in the freezer.

 - plain flour for dusting

 - olive oil

 - 3 fresh rosemary sprigs – you won’t get fresher than my garden.

 - 4 sage leaves

 -1 garlic clove finely chopped.

 - 175ml white wine

 - 5 tbsp white wine vinegar

 - 4 potatoes sliced as thin as you can.(note to self)

 - salt and pepper

       

what to do:

 - pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

 - dust the pieces of lamb with flour and season.

 - heat the oil in a roasting tin, add the lamb and cook over a high heat until browned all over. Keep turning the pieces.

 - season again and add the garlic, sage and rosemary and cook for about 5 mins.

 - add your wine and vinegar and cook until evaporated.

 - add 150ml boiling water and put the potatoes on top.

 - cover and roast for 30 – 40 mins or until tender.

 - if the gravy dries out just add a little more water.

 - when cooked transfer the lamb to a serving dish and EAT!!!

I loved this recipe, the dish was bursting with flavour and so tasty, I think I prefer to eat the leg cut up rather than whole so this will be on the italian foodie table a lot this winter:)

           

buon appetito!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 17:16:13 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

chickpea and spinach soup!!

    

My little sis, I have 3, is pregnant and due her baby in a few weeks. She’s had the toughest time but has been so strong and positive, we’re all really proud of her. She’s in the nesting period and pottering around the house cooking and cleaning like a little housewife and I’m getting texts everyday about what she’s cooked off the blog and how her ”chicken eating simpsons and cops loving hubby” has loved everything she’s cooked. I got a request for this recipe to be posted today as she is craving it since I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and another regular reader bigtree asked for it too so here it is:

          

what you need:

 - 1 litre meat stock, I used Kallo stock cubes. Meat stock does make a big difference to the taste of this soup but veg is fine too.

 - 1 onion chopped finely

 - 1 carrot chopped finely

 - 1 celery stick chopped finely

 - 250g spinach washed and chopped

 - 1 400g can chickpeas

 - 100g soup pasta (fine without if you can’t get any but it really makes the soup lovely and filling)

 - salt and pepper

 - olive oil

what to do:

 - heat some olive oil in a pot and cook your celery, carrot and onion over a low heat until softened for about 10 mins. Do not let them colour so stir regularly.

 - add the spinach, season generously and cook until softened for about 5 mins.

 - add the chickpeas and stock and let simmer for about 30 mins.

 - add the pasta and cook until al dente.

 - serve with Parmesan cheese.

         

I have to say this was one of the nicest soups I’ve made and I’ve made a lot:) It was bursting with flavour and really comforting,  perfect for the wintry day that is out there today.

buon appetito!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 11:36:29 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

a simple lemon cake!!

       

I’ve mentioned before that our breakfast isn’t the healthiest in the Italian foodie house. It always consists of a creamy cappuccino and something sweet on the side, hey we’re “ee- tal -ien”, well everyone else is except the one writing the blog:) We’re getting a bit sick of the croissants from the local shop and I’m even beginning to tire of my favourite Italian biscuits so I’m making a big effort to bake a bit more. Nothing fancy just something simple to have with coffee in the morning. I’ve made this lemon cake a few times and everyone loves it so it’s a keeper, I made choc chip cookies the other day and they were nice but not Italian foodie standard so I’m looking for the best choc chip recipe there is so let me know if you have one.

              

what you need:

 - 200g unsalted butter

 - 150g golden caster sugar

 - zest and juice of 1 lemon

 - 3 eggs beaten

 - 200g plain flour

 - 2 tsp baking powder

 - 50g ground almonds

 - 2 tbsp milk

              

what to do:

 - heat the oven to 180 degrees

 - line the base of a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment

 - cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.

 - add the lemon zest.

 - gradually add the beaten egg and mix between each addition.

 - sift the flour and baking powder together and then fold into the cake mixture with the ground almonds.

 - add the milk and lemon juice and mix with a spatula until smooth.

 - spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour or until golden brown, stick a skewer or knife into the centre and if it comes out clean it is done.

 - serve with coffee, tea or cappuccino:)

              

The SIL makes a really good panettone but she adds vegetable oil to the mix which makes it really moist, I’m going to replace the milk with oil the next time and see how it comes out, I didn’t have any this time so it’s in my press now ready for duty. Up this week is a simple apple cake so stay tuned:)

              

Every morning myself and Bru disagree on how we like our cappuccinos, Bru is the official “cappuccino maker” as I make latte so I’m told so I’ve been fired(the cheek). He does make a great coffee but it’s always too cold for me and I have to put it into the microwave to heat it up, he drinks it a lot cooler like they do in Italy and I know this is the way it’s supposed to be drank but I prefer it hot. I think this is an Irish thing after all those years of drinking tea so just wondering how do you drink yours?? 

buon appetito!!

Posted by LOR&BRU in 17:08:36 | Permalink | Comments (6)