Aubergine, Gorgonzola, Sage and Balsamic Glaze Pizza Bianca

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White Pizza, I still don’t think I’d have it all by itself, but a couple of slices between traditional sauced pizzas is a refreshing change

With this post, I pop two proverbial cherries, the first is making pizza at home and the second, trying out a white pizza. Making pizzas at home, I’ve discovered, could possibly be the highest effort to enjoyment rates of return in any cooking process. The dough is quite is straightforward and fun to make, and then the fabrication of the pizza involves a really imaginative and simple process that all the family can get in on. I made this pizza as an interlude between 3 other regular sauced pizzas, it was great; hearty, sharp and sweet, I really truly loved it. The only question is, would I ever order just a white pizza if I craved pizza? Probably not, a pizza for me remains one with sauce, but this one here, with its funky Gorgonzola, the umami-full aubergines, the fragrant sweet sage and the sharp sweet balsamic hit is a home run on any pizza night! Recipe after the jump.

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Asparagus and Broad Bean Risotto, Superfresh

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Fresh, bright and definitely not light but very tasty

Risottos (risotti) are usually hearty and rich affairs, and recently I’ve been in the mood for one, but was tired of the expected over-richness of the usual suspects; mushroom risottos, saffron risottos etc. I’ve been looking for a risotto that offered the same comfort and homeyness that’s expected of the dish but with a bright freshness to it as well. Enter this dish, a zesty and light tasting plate of food that seems nice and fresh, but make no mistake is just as decadent and guilty as the richest of risottos. The brightness of the asparagus and the lemon zest provide the perfect counterpoint to the creamy richness of the Parmesan and butter laden rice. As with any risotto, its success is founded on the quality of the stock, and no store bought stock (no matter how fancy) can compare with home prepared stock, so invest a few hours in preparing the stock yourself. Click here if you don’t have a preferred method for making chicken stock. Recipe after the jump.

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Seafood Trio. Seabass Mousse, Butter Poached Prawns and Calamari Rings with a Fish Veloute.

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Missing here are the Calamari rings, that aside, this dish was fantastic!

I finally got round to trying out one of those multi-component dishes some time ago, but the ordeal of writing up the recipe for this seven component monstrosity put me off writing it for a while. Like many such dishes, it can be a treat trying them out and figuring different flavor pairings that go best together in the plate. I wanted to make a dish that was delicate, very seafood forward and also filling. I opted for the butter poached prawns because other than gilling, there’s absolutely no better way to enjoy them. The calamari rings were on the plate for texture while the sea-bass mousse was the fish component. I could’ve easily opted for some straightforward and fried fish, but figured the mousse would still retain the fishiness, and add a dimension of complexity in both how the plate looks and feels.

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Chocolate Custard with Salt Flakes and Olive Oil

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An unusual, delicious and decadent combo

This is not a normal dessert. It is highly unusual and surprising and really might quite possibly be one of the most remarkable things you’ll ever try. My wife and I were strongly encouraged to give it a try at a lovely tapas place called Tapas 24 in Barcelona a couple of years ago, and since then we’ve been blown away by the taste and I’ve almost obsessively tried to recreate it at home since. I don’t quite remember exactly how the original tasted but this here is a worthy imitation. Since the dish is so simple, it’s all about the ingredients here; excellent quality chocolate and milk, but most importantly, the olive oil needs to be amazing. This is a simple dessert that can definitely wow, so have a look at the recipe after the jump.

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The Greatest Chimichurri Sauce Ever.

Green Delight. Photo by Naila Fateen (Inst @nailafateen)
Green Delight. Photo by Naila Fateen (Inst @nailafateen)

Chimichurri is a sauce that will probably change your relationship with all grilled meats. I don’t know which South American gods the great people of that continent got the recipe from, but the off the hook brightness and zest of that sauce will transform any grilled protein into a carnival of color and flavor. Really really insane. It’s easy as hell to make and drown all your grilled meats in it. I can’t talk it up enough.

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Beef Short Ribs as Osso Bucco with Gremolata. Devastating.

I might've said death by tasty before, but this time, it really is death by tasty!
I might’ve said death by tasty before, but this time, it really is death by tasty!

Some dishes are just good. Fact. Osso Bucco is of those dishes; the melt in your mouth beef, the decadence of the chopped vegetables that have been cooked to a point where they fuse with the braising liquid and juices to create the most guilty of sauces, and the sharp freshness of the gremolata, without which, the dish my be far to rich for a person to survive. Using any cut other than a veal shank is akin to heresy (also factually wrong because Osso Bucco literally means hole in bone in Italian), but the reason I used the short ribs here is because my guests weren’t keen on big pieces of bone and marrow (shock, horror) and I figured that the short ribs were a good replacement. The short ribs did indeed work out great, I generally think short rib meat tastes a bit better than the shank, which kind of compensates for the lack of delicious marrow to scoop out of the bone. All in all, this was a spectacular and easy dish.

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Choux balls with a Cheesy Bechamel and Onion Jam

Soft and crispy balls of cheesy goodness topped with the sharp sweetness of the onions. Delightful!
Soft and crispy balls of cheesy goodness topped with the sharp sweetness of the onions. Delightful!

An appetizer or an amuse bouche are generally the teasers, the opening act, the anticipation enhancers that lure you into the main event and make sure you, as a diner, are primed to enjoy the meal in the best way possible. As such, there are generally two types of appetizer: A sharp fresh one, that cleanses the palate and wakes up the taste buds and the sinful parcel of deliciousness that attacks the pleasure center full on and leaves you wanting more. This recipe without a doubt falls under the latter category. When cooked correctly, choux buns are a soft buttery and lightly crispy vessel to carry almost any flavor with it, these ones here were filled with the most decadent of bechamels incorporating some creamy cheddar and Parmesan cheese within it, making it the most sinful of bechamels to ever grace the planet. The topping of the jam provides the sharpness and sweetness as a counterpoint to the cheesy decadence, without which, these little bites become monotone. The most important thing about this recipe is to ensure that everything is quite small, in order not to become overbearing and infringe upon the main course’s territory. The recipe after the jump,

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Tuscan Lamb Stew, More One Pot Decadence.

Perfect for: Cold winter's dinner or any hungover day
Perfect for: Cold winter’s dinner or any hungover day

Still along the Nonna trajectory comes this behemoth of a one-pot-wonder; bags of flavour, decadent slow cooking and quintessentially hearty. I think what I like best about slow cook braises is the anticipation. As the house fills with the smell of the stew, it takes more and more resistance to wait for the meat to become irresistibly tender, and the flavours of the “juice” to truly come together in a way that is more akin to a symphony than simply eating. Although quite similar to many wine based braises, what sets this truly apart is the addidtion of the beans, which add that richness to the dish as well as the use of actual tomatoes instead of passata or tomato paste which definitely ads something in terms of texture and alters the flavour profile somewhat. You’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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Sicilian Prawns. Quick, Easy, Healthy and Absolutely Delicious!

An orgy of seafood and freshness in your mouth!
An orgy of seafood and freshness in your mouth!

I’ve never been to Sicily, but all I’ve heard and tasted are great things. I have, however been all over the Mediterranean and come to terms with the fact that there is probably no better cuisine in the world. Freshness, respect for the ingredients, natural flavors and pure tastiness are just some of the common traits one can find in dishes whether dining in Beirut, Alexandria, Barcelona or Amalfi. This dish here is an embodiment of these qualities. The sweetness of the prawns, tomatoes and toasted almonds offset the saltiness of the olives and capers, while the acidity and freshness of the tomatoes and lemon zest make the whole plate sing. This dish can be easily enjoyed alone, but will make a perfect accompaniment to some crusty bread as well. Best thing about it, takes no more than 10min to cook.

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Duo of Beef with Fondant Potatoes

A departure from the Nonna phase
A departure from the Nonna phase

So I decided to give another one of those multi-component, multi technique dishes a crack, and this here was quite tasty. The idea behind the dish was to convey the flavours found in a traditional Beef Bourgougnion but in a novel and more diverse manner. The beef on the right is a very tasty ribeye steak sitting on a bed of mushroom duxelle, while on the left is basically a bit of beef shank braised in wine with some quickly pickled carrots, together they both highlight the different flavours and textures achieved in cooking beef differently, while a sauce made out of the shanks’ braising liquid tries everything together. In the center rests a fondant potato on a bed of carrot puree. While everything tasted fantastically, I would probably scrap the pickled carrots, and sit the braised beef on the carrot puree instead. Recipe after the jump.

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