Facing Up to Food


120g Italian rice (Arborio/Vialone)
120g small peas
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
600ml strong chicken Stock, hot
75ml dry white wine
3 bay leaves
20ml olive oil
20g good quality margarine
20g unsalted butter
70g parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and peppermill

1. Heat the oil with the margarine in a non-stick pan. Once it starts to sizzle, add the onions and celery
2. Once the ingredients in the pan start to colour, add the rice, stirring to prevent sticking
3. Add the wine, stirring until it has evaporated
4. Add half the stock, waiting until it has evaporated before adding the remaining half. Approx. 10 minutes
5. Add the peas, stirring until all the stock has evaporated and the rice is “Al dente”
6. Place the saucepan on a trivet or chopping board and taste for seasoning.
7. Add one third of the Parmesan and all the unsalted butter to the mixture, beating with a wooden spoon until it has combined.
8. Return the pan to the stove, adjust consistency and seasoning and check the temperature
9. Serve with crusty rolls and plenty of grated Parmesan

Many years ago, I ran a restaurant. A regular customer came to ask me if I could reproduce a dish he had in Venice. He explained that it was a fish dish with a variety of products not readily available in the UK at the time (60’s). Now, 50 years on I will try to do what I could not do then as you can find most ingredients in stores today.

STUFATO DI PESCE ADRIA (Stewed Fish casserole)

200g Squid, cleaned and cut into strips 2 cm wide
200g monkfish, diced
16 mussels, cleaned & ready for cooking
16 langoustines, as above
24 clams
80g uncooked prawns, shells on
1 medium sized onion, chopped small
50ml olive oil
As much garlic as you wish, crushed and chopped
75g tomato paste
20g saffron or 50g of substitute
600ml strong fish stock
120ml dry white wine
25g arrowroot or 40 g of cornflour
6 bay leaves
Sea salt and pepper mill

1. Soak all fish together in clean water overnight and when ready to begin, drain it thoroughly
2. Using a large non-stick sauté pan, heat the oil and roughly sauté all shell fish, transferring into a large pan with the stock. Do the same with the monkfish and the squid. Keep the sauté pan to hand.
3. Bring the stock and fish to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, before adding the bay leaves.
4. Re-heat the oil in the sauté pan and add the onion and the garlic, fry gently. Once it starts to colour, add the tomato paste and the saffron (or substitute).
5. Mix well, then add the wine, rapidly evaporating ¾ of its volume.
6. Add the wine to the boiling stock with the fish, and thicken lightly with the Arrowroot diluted in a little cold water.
7. Check that all fish is cooked without being overcooked, then adjust the seasoning and serve in large soup plates with soft brown rolls.

CRESPELLE DI CILIEGE FLAMBÉS (Pancakes with cherries)

4 large pancakes
1 tin of morello cherries, pitted and drained. Save the juice.
50ml each of maraschino and kirsch
100ml sweet wine
100g cherry preserve
25g arrowroot or 30g cornflour.
Sugar to adjust sweetness

1. In a non-stick pan, mix together the preserve, the drained cherry juice, and the wine
2. Stir until it has been brought to the boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add the cherries and the maraschino
4. Adjust thickness and sweetness. Let the mixture cool down
5. Place a heaped tbsp. of the mixture in the centre of each pancake
6. Fold the pancakes in four and place them in a frying pan with a little sugared water at the bottom
7. Dilute the remainder of the cherry mix with sugared water to the consistency of a sauce and pour over the pancakes.
8. Quickly bring to the boil. Add the kirsch and set it alight.
9. Serve with thick cream.

BUON APPETITO – Giovanni Fontebasso

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