Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Ultimate Comfort Food - Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Cooking a classic lasagna can be a real labour of love – making a ragu, making béchamel, boiling lasagna sheets and then layering everything together can take a lot of time and effort. Sure it’s delicious but due to the amount of time it takes it’s not something I cook very often. When I crave lasagna but don’t want to spend a day in the kitchen preparing it this is the recipe I like to make. The meatballs are made using Italian sausages so there’s not meat mixture to prepare and I use a mixture of ricotta and parmesan to replace the béchamel sauce. I also use fresh lasagna sheets so there’s no pre boiling. The sausages are braised in a very simple tomato sauce which doesn’t need to be simmered for hours to develop great flavour. This lasagna has a slightly different flavour profile to a classic Bolognese lasagna but it’s just as flavourful and quite substantial with those cute little meatballs really packing a punch.

Ingredients –  Serves 4 generously

1kg Italian sausages, or any well flavoured sausage (beef or pork)
Olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 x 400g tins Italian diced tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, pepper
½ cup roughly chopped basil leaves, as well as 1 cup of whole basil leaves
300g ricotta
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
250g grated mozzarella
1 egg
Fresh Lasagna sheets

Method

Remove the sausages from their casings and roll the meat into small meatballs. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy based saucepan. Add the meatballs in one layer and cook turning until they are slightly golden. Remove and repeat with remaining meatballs, adding more oil as necessary, until they are all browned.

      Sausage Meatballs  Sausage Meatball Sauce

To the same pan add the onions and cook until they are soft, about 8 minutes. If you find the onions are catching add a little water. Add the garlic and cook for a another minute. Add the tomato paste and stir it through the onions well then add the diced tomatoes, plus one can of water, the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the simmer and add the sausages back to the pan along with any accumulated juices.  Bring to a simmer again and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes on low heat. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

       Sausage Meatball Lasagna Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Preheat oven to 180C. Whilst the tomato sauce is cooking place the ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan, the egg and the chopped basil into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. To assemble the lasagna, pour a few spoons of the tomato sauce, without any meatballs, onto the base of a rectangular oven proof dish and spread it out. Add a layer of the fresh lasagna sheets, cutting them if need be to fit and cover the pan snuggly. Add a small amount of the ricotta mixture and spread to cover the pasta. On top of the ricotta mixture add a layer of meatballs with some sauce, a few basil leaves and a handful of the grated mozzarella. Repeat the process until the pan is filled, pressing down lightly after each layer. I like to finish with the ricotta on top followed with just a small smear of tomato sauce and then cover the top with a scattering of grated mozzarella and the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Ultimate Comfort Food - Sausage Meatball Lasagna

Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey

Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey If they sold I heart Ottolenghi t-shirts I’d be queuing up for one. Israeli born Yottam Ottolenghi is one of the hottest chefs at the moment and it’s no wonder as his recipes and approach to food and flavours is like a breath of fresh air. There hasn’t been a dish I’ve tried out of Ottolenghi’s numerous cook books that hasn’t been spectacular. This is the first one of his recipes I’m posting as I normally make his dishes for our weekly family nights and there’s just too much chaos in my small kitchen to try and capture any worthwhile photos. I loved how easy this dish was to throw together, perfect for a mid week meal but special enough for company. This dish has a wonderful balance of flavours and in classic Ottolenghi style the hazelnut, honey and rosewater paste, which is added to towards the end of the cooking time, gives a wonderful and unexpected texture and flavour hit that transforms the whole dish.

Ingredients Serves 4  Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into quarters, or chicken pieces – I used legs and thighs
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A generous pinch of saffron threads
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Scant ¾ cup (100 g) un-skinned hazelnuts
3 ½ tablespoons  honey
2 tablespoons rose water
2 green onions, coarsely chopped

Method

In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces with the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Chop coarsely and set aside. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate everything comfortably. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up and put the pan in the oven. Ottolenghi says to cook the chicken for abut 35 minutes but I didn’t find that to be enough time and preferred to keep my chicken in for about 45 minutes until it was a nice golden brown.


While the chicken is roasting, mix the honey, rose water, and nuts together to make a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven, spoon a generous amount of nuts paste onto each piece, and spread it to cover. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped green onions.

 Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey

Chocolate Angel Food Cake – A Fat Free Cake

A Fat Free Cake - Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Yes, that’s right, fat free! I’ve made Ina Garten’s black and white angel food cake before and just love the idea of a cake that doesn’t incorporate any fat – no butter, no oil, no egg yolks. In fact you shouldn’t even grease the baking tin. In this version even the chocolate is fat free as it’s made using cocoa powder. Of course if you wish to ice your cake with some ganache as I’ve done then a small amount of fat is going to creep into the equation, but to be quite honest this cake is so incredibly moist it doesn’t need it. This is a great recipe if you’re looking for ways to use up a lot of leftover egg whites, and I mean a lot – 14 of them! I always have a lot of leftover egg whites in my freezer from making ice cream and I hate throwing them away and there’s only so much pavlova and egg white omelettes we can eat. So I was thrilled to find angel food cakes which clear up my freezer of all the little bags of egg whites in one hit. The other bonus if you’re an egg white hoarder is that stale egg whites whip up much better and retain more air than fresh ones.

Ingredients  Adapted from Serious Eats

14-16 large egg whites (2 cups)
4 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups white sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour – you can use plain flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace with corn flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Method
Pre-heat oven to 180C (not fan forced) and place rack in centre of oven. Have ready a 10-inch two piece angel food cake (tube) pan. Don’t grease it as it will stop the cake from rising. Bring the egg whites to room temperature.

In a small measuring cup or bowl combine the cocoa powder and boiling water and stir until smooth. Stir or whisk in the vanilla extract. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together ¾ cup of the sugar, the sifted cake flour, and the salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.

Remove 1 cup of the beaten egg whites and whisk it into the cocoa powder mixture to lighten it. To the remaining egg whites, gradually sift the flour mixture over the egg whites (about ¼ cup at a time) and gently but quickly fold the flour into the egg whites. I find a large metal spoon works best. Once you have incorporated the flour mixture into the egg whites fold in the cocoa powder mixture. (It is important not to over mix the batter or it will deflate.)


Pour the batter into the pan (it will be almost full) and run a metal spatula or knife through the batter to get rid of any air pockets. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes. It is done when a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed. The top of the cake will have cracks.

Immediately upon removing from the oven invert the pan. Suspend the pan by placing the inner tube on the top of a soda or wine bottle or onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for about 1½ hours.

When completely cool, run a metal spatula or knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and then remove the cake from the pan. Next, run a metal spatula or knife along the bottom and center core of the pan and remove. Place onto a serving plate. Serve plain with some fruit or ice with chocolate ganache.

A Fat Free Cake - Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Miso Creamed Kale with Shiitake Mushrooms – A Great Side Dish for the Festive Season

A Fantastic Thanksgiving Side Dish - Miso Creamed Kale with Shiitake Mushrooms
If you’re looking for a new side dish to grace your Christmas table, or a great side dish for any meal for that matter,  then this is a recipe you’re going to want to try. Ten years ago the word umami was something only the Japanese were familiar with but now it’s become part of our common food language and is basically used to describe food that has a moreish savoury taste, with some people referring to it as the fifth taste after salt, sweet, sour and bitter.  This dish is packed full of umami  thanks to the inclusion of miso, soy and mushrooms. I was expecting the kale to have a slightly Asian slant to it but it actually didn’t at all – the miso just comes across in the same way as, say anchovies would in a sauce, you can’t pick they’re in there but you just know something very tasty is going on. The cream mellows things up a bit and the shiitake mushrooms add a nice meatiness to the kale. You could pair this with anything from steak to roast turkey or chicken and it would also work well with salmon. Next time I might serve it on it’s own with a fried egg on top for a meat free main course.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish   Adapted from Food 52

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
large shallot, thinly sliced
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large bunch kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
250g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced thickly
tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup dry vermouth, you can substitute with white wine
½ cup cream
tablespoon white (shiro) miso, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat without letting the garlic and shallots colour, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes until wilted. If it won’t all fit in the pan, just add what’s left after it’s cooked down a bit.

Meanwhile, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms become too dry, add another tablespoon of butter. Stir in the soy sauce, cook another minute and turn off the heat.

        OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  

Once the kale is wilted and soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the vermouth or wine and cook until it’s just evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and miso, stirring until completely incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 more minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and tightens up the around the kale. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if you like (but don’t forget the mushrooms have soy sauce). Gently stir through the mushrooms and serve hot.

A Great Thanksgiving Side Dish - Miso Creamed Kale

Veal Cutlet Parmigiana

Ultimate Veal ParmigianaParmigiana here in Australia is a bit of an iconic dish. There isn’t a pub bistro worth it’s salt that doesn’t have this retro classic on its menu. I can totally understand the allure – what’s not to like about a breaded piece of meat covered in an Italian style tomato sauce and lots of cheese! But like all such dishes there are the great, the good and the very mediocre. There aren’t too many ingredients in a Parmigiana so it’s important to use the best quality items you can. In this recipe I’ve used a veal cutlet which makes it a little more “fancy” but I also find the meat to crumb ratio is more satisfying on a thicker piece of meat. The tomato sauce also plays a starring role, so the extra step of making your own is worthwhile. Now onto the cheese. I like to use a mixture of fresh mozzarella, buffalo if I’m feeling flush, and parmesan. If you want to make this ahead of time you could have the meat breaded, the sauce made and the cheese sliced but I would only assemble it just before baking. As far as side dishes go I like to continue down the retro route with some spaghetti. You can serve it plain, with some extra tomato sauce stirred through it or as I’ve done here, make a fonduta of butter, cheese and some cream – hey, I never said this was going to be a lean meal!

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 veal cutlets
1 cup bread crumbs – I like to use half fresh and half panko
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½ cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten with a little milk
Olive oil
1 medium size ball fresh mozzarella, or about 10 bocconcini, sliced thinly

Tomato Sauce – makes more than you need but freezes well
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
¼ cup diced pancetta or speck
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of chilli flakes
2-3 medium size, ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup tomato passata
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon sugar
A pinch of dried oregano
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

To make the sauce, place a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot add the onions and pancetta along with a pinch of salt and cook until lightly golden. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook stirring for a few minutes until they start to break down a little. Add the passata, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and a good pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook on low heat for at least 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside to cool.

Parmigiana Sauce

To make the veal, place the breadcrumbs on a large plate with the pinch of salt, chilli flakes, half of the parmesan cheese and the parsley and mix well to combine. Place the beaten egg and milk in a large shallow bowl and the flour on another plate. Season the veal well with salt and pepper. Place the cutlets first into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the milk mixture and finally into the bread crumbs, making sure to press down well and cover both sides generously. Place a large non stick skillet or frypan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the base. When the oil is hot add the veal cutlets and cook until each side is golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Veal Cutlet for Parmigiana Veal Parmigiana
Veal ParmigianaBest Ever Veal Parmigiana

To assemble the dish: preheat the oven to 180C. Place the fried cutlets onto a baking sheet and top each one generously with the tomato sauce. Then lay the sliced mozzarella over each cutlet making sure to cover the entire area. Finally sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbling.

Veal Cutlet Parmigiana

Nigel Slater’s Roasted Eggplant with Cream & Thyme

Nigel Slater's Roasted Eggplant with Cream & ThymeCombining eggplants (or aubergines) with cream shouldn’t really work, it’s not one of those natural food pairings and if anyone other than Mr Slater had suggested otherwise I would never have tried it. I’m so glad I did though because this is one of the best eggplant dishes I’ve made and it’s such a nice change to pair eggplant with something other than the usual tomatoes!. The eggplant is finely sliced and gently fried until it is just soft and ever so slightly golden. A sliced onion and some garlic are also softened and the two are layered in a baking dish with thyme before being doused with cream and Parmesan. The dish is then baked until it’s golden and bubbling. The result is a wonderfully savoury and flavourful dish which still manages to be quite subtle and mellow. This would be amazing with roast lamb but to be quite honest it’s so good that I could eat it as a meal on its own with just some crusty bread and salad.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish  Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender 

1 large or 2 medium eggplants/aubergines
2 medium onions
olive oil
2 good-sized cloves of garlic
Thyme – a few bushy sprigs
300ml cream
½ a cup of freshly grated Parmesan

Method

Wipe the eggplant and slice it in half lengthways. Now cut each half widthways into slices about the thickness of a pound coin (any thicker and the elegance of the dish will be lost). Put the slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt, leaving them for about 30 minutes. Don’t miss this step out – it is to stop them drinking too much olive oil.

When the eggplant has relaxed (each piece will go a bit floppy) peel and thinly slice the onion and cook it in a little olive oil over a medium heat till it has softened, but stop before it colours. Peel and slice the garlic and add it as the onion cooks. Lift out the onion and garlic and set aside.

Put more olive oil into the pan and add the rinsed eggplant. You will have to do this in batches. As each slice starts to colour, turn it over, then when all are lightly golden – though far from brown – drain them thoroughly on kitchen roll (essential if there is not to be too much oil in the finished dish).

Nigel Slater's Roasted Eggplant with Cream & Thyme

Layer the eggplant and onions in a shallow baking dish, scattering salt, black pepper and thyme as you go. Pour the cream over the eggplant. Evenly sprinkle over the Parmesan and bake at 180C  for 40-45 minutes until bubbling and lightly browned here and there.

Best lamb Side Dish - Nigel Slater's Roasted Eggplant with Cream & Thyme

Crab Carbonara

Ultimate Carbonara - Crab CarbonaraThe Roman dish of spaghetti carbonara is one of the most adored pasta dishes in the world and rightly so. It has all the elements that make for perfect comfort food – a silky cheese laced sauce, salty pancetta and of course pasta. This version whilst not really traditional in that it incorporates crab meat, is still authentic in its execution i.e. it is made with pancetta, eggs and cheese – no cream please! The inclusion of crab meat makes this carbonara a little more special which is great if you’re entertaining and want to take things up a notch. Carbonara is normally served with spaghetti but in this instance I used linguine which I think works well with the crab. Whilst I love a traditional carbonara this crab meat version gives a nice little twist to a much loved classic without ruining its integrity.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
2 shallots, very finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole eggs, lightly beaten, if you would like to make it slightly richer add an extra egg yolk
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g crabmeat
½ a large lemon, zest and juice
500g linguine or spaghetti
A generous knob of butter

Method

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and sauté just until beginning to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pancetta for Carbonara Pancetta for Carbonara

Whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper (be generous with the pepper) in a large bowl. Add the crab meat, the lemon zest and juice and stir to combine.

Crab Carbonara Mixture Crab Carbonara

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan. Immediately add the sautéed pancetta and the egg mixture. Add the butter, then toss the pasta quickly and thoroughly to make sure all of the strands are coated and that the ingredients are well combined. Serve immediately

Best Ever Carbonara

Lidia Bastianich’s Veal Scaloppine Bolognese

Lidia Bastianich's Veal Scaloppine BologneseFor me one of the most exciting things about cooking is finding a recipe or a technique that I haven’t encountered before. Who would have thought there’s an Italian veal recipe out there that is executed so differently from the usual scaloppine style dishes. The title would have you believe that the veal is accompanied by some sort of meat ragu but the reference to Bolognese is not about the world-famous sauce but the capital city of Emilia Romagna where this dish hails from. The veal in this recipe is lightly coated in flour and egg (no breadcrumbs) before being quickly flash fried. The veal slices are then laid out in a shallow baking tray and topped with a few spoonfuls of a rich prosciutto and Marsala based sauce. Now this is where it gets interesting – the whole tray is generously covered with thin shavings of parmesan, which gratinates over the top while it bakes in the oven, creating a lovely crispy coating on the veal. It’s vital for the cheese to be shaved and not grated as it won’t melt in the same manner and you won’t achieve the same crispy finish. As you can imagine the final result of tender veal and crispy cheese is delicious. This is a great recipe for feeding a large crowd as you can fit quite a few pieces of veal on a large baking tray and of course make more than one tray if you need to. All the elements can also be prepared in advanced then quickly assembled and baked just before serving which makes it ideal for entertaining.

Ingredients – Serves 6   Adapted from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich

12 very thinly sliced small veal scallops, or 6 larger size ones cut in half. Make sure the veal is pounded well
Plain flour for dredging
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
150g prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut in ¼ inch strips
½ cup dry Marsala – imported Italian Marsala is best
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup hot chicken stock
150g piece of parmesan cheese

Method

Heat the oven to 200C and arrange a rack in the middle. Spread the flour on a plate and dredge each piece of veal in the flour, coating both sides. Shake off the excess and set aside. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a wide shallow bowl.  Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of butter into a large skillet or fry pan (I like to use non-stick), and set over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to bubble, quickly dip the veal pieces, one by one, in the eggs, let the excess drip off, then lay them in the skillet. Fit in as many scallops as you can in one layer.

   

Brown the scallops on one side for about a minute, then flip and brown the second side for a minute, then transfer them to a plate. Repeat with remaining veal pieces, adding a little more of the olive oil for each batch. When all the scaloppine are browned, arrange them in a baking pan – a shallow baking sheet is perfect, overlapping them if you need to so they fill the dish in an even layer.

To make the Marsala sauce: Wipe out the skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in it, and set over medium heat. Scatter in the prosciutto strips, and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes or longer, until crisped on the edges. Pour in the Marsala and white wine at the same time, raise the heat, and bring to a rapid boil. Cook until the wines are reduced by half, then pour in the stock, heat to the boil, and cook for a couple of minutes more, stirring, until the sauce has amalgamated and thickened slightly.

   

Remove the pan from the heat, scoop out the prosciutto strips, and scatter them over the scaloppini in the baking dish, then pour the sauce all over the meat, moistening the scaloppine evenly.

To make the gratinato: shave the chunk of Parmesan with a vegetable peeler – don’t grate the parmesan (see note above), dropping thin wide flakes of cheese over the scaloppine, making sure that all the veal is evenly covered. Set the baking dish in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the gratinato is nicely browned and very crisp (rotate the dish in the oven to ensure even colouring).

Remove the dish from the oven and, with a sharp knife or a spatula, cut around the scaloppine and lift them out, one or two at a time, with the topping intact, onto a platter or dinner plates. Drizzle the pan sauce around the scaloppine – not on top-and serve immediately.

Lidia Bastianich's Veal Scaloppine Bolognese

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

Muffin Tin Deep Dish Pizzas
When I first purchased my muffin tins I naively thought that I would use them to, well make muffins but as it turns out I’ve used them for everything but. I’ve whipped up mini quiches using won ton wrappers and cinnamon rolls using puff pastry and I’ve even used them for roasted potato stacks. So just when I thought there surely couldn’t be any more inventive uses for this humble tin I stumbled across these mini deep dish pizzas, made in, you guessed it – a muffin tin! These would be great for a drinks party or as a substantial canapé for when you’re going to head straight from drinks to the main course. They’re totally delicious and can obviously be made with a whole array of different fillings, one of our favourites being this pepperoni one. If you can purchase ready made pizza dough these are super easy to throw together but they’re so good it would be worthwhile making your own dough.

Ingredients – Makes 12

200g fresh pizza dough – store bought or home made
1 cup pizza sauce, I like to make my own but you can use a good quality ready made one
12-14 baby boccancini cut into thin slices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Handful of black pitted olives, sliced
100g pepperoni sliced thinly and if large cut into quarters

Method

Pre-heat oven to 220C. Oil the cavities of the muffin tin with some olive oil. Roll out the pizza dough until it’s quite thin then using the bottom of a can or a cookie cutter cut out 12 circles. Take one circle and using your hands stretch the dough out as much as you can without getting any holes. Place it into the cavity of the muffin tin and spread it out so as it covers the base and at least a third of the sides. Repeat with remaining dough.


 Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

To assemble the pizzas place a few slices of boccancini on the dough (putting the cheese down first will prevent the dough getting soggy). Add 1-2 tablespoons of pizza sauce then top the sauce with a few slices of olives and pepperoni. Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

Italian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes or Posh Chicken & Chips

          Italian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes Italian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes

It never ceases to amaze me how many different methods there are for roasting a simple chook. Fast, slow, stuffed, marinated – the list goes on and on, and just to add to that list here is my new favourite. Italians have a way of roasting a chicken which is pretty simple and basic but what sets it apart is the way the potatoes are roasted in the same pan, soaking up all the chicken juices and fat and becoming not only wonderfully crisp but really flavourful. The chicken is stuffed with a lemon and some sprigs of rosemary and anointed with a good slathering of olive oil. It’s left to roast on its own for a while before the potatoes are introduced. They get a little more oil and a good stir around in all the lovely juices in the pan. It’s then back into the oven to finish roasting by which time the potatoes will be lovely and golden as will the bird. Simple but oh so good or as they say in Italy, bellissimo!

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 whole chicken, about 1.8kg, preferably organic or free range
1 lemon cut in half
6 sprigs rosemary – 3 kept whole and the leaves from the remainder roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
6 – 8 good-sized roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks – I used desiree
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Method

Pat the chicken dry and bring to room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 200C (fan forced). Wash the peeled potatoes well and leave to soak in cold water – this will drain the excess starch from the potatoes making them extra crispy when they’re roasted. Stuff the chicken with the lemon halves and the three whole rosemary sprigs. Drizzle some olive oil onto the chicken and massage it all over the skin. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place the chicken into a roasting tray that is large enough to accommodate both the chicken and the potatoes, which will be added later on. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Italian Style Roast Chicken & PotatoesItalian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes Italian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes

Just before the 30 minutes is over, drain the potatoes and dry them throughly with kitchen paper. At the 30 minute mark remove the roasting tray from the oven and take out the chicken, tilting the chicken slightly so the juices in the cavity drip back into the  pan. Add the potatoes to the roasting tray along with the remaining chopped rosemary and garlic. Season the potatoes with salt and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Toss the potatoes in the pan ensuring they are well coated with the pan juices and oil. Shove the potatoes to the sides of the tray and return the chicken to the centre. Place the roasting tray back in the oven and cook for a further 30 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through. Halfway through the cooking time give the potatoes a little toss around. When the chicken is done remove it from the pan and set it aside to rest, again tipping the juices in the cavity back into the pan. Give the potatoes another good toss and spread them out in the tray. Return to the oven and continue to roast while the chicken rests. I found that another 15 minutes was enough for the potatoes to be lovely and crisp but you can cook them for longer as the chicken can safely rest for up to 30 minutes.

Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and some steamed greens or salad.

Italian Style Roast Chicken & Potatoes