Going Greener

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Crispy Lamb Breast – Serves 4

This amazing dish is very typical in Tuscany and it comes straight from Renaissance time. The Gnudi are basically a naked ravioli and the history behind this dish is interesting. In the 16th century Tuscany was one of the wealthiest places in Europe, the merchants and the nobles were enjoying all the best things from art to wines and specially food. One of the most favourite dishes at the time was fresh egg pasta, so the farmers were selling all the eggs to satisfy this request. But the ricotta cheese was seen at the time as a lower-class food and nobody wanted to buy it. At one point the farmers found themselves with no eggs but a lot of ricotta cheese and so, out of a necessity, that’s how the Gnudi were born. The Gnudi is a great light dish, full of taste, easy to prepare and a great vegetarian and gluten free (because instead of 00 flour you can use any GF flour) option!

200g ricotta cheese
100g of cooked spinach, drained and chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
70g grated parmesan cheese
Salt pepper and nutmeg to taste
50g of 00 flour Italian flour, or strong flour
75g unsalted butter
Few springs of sage
100g of lamb breast
Juice of 1/2 lemon
20ml of olive oil

1. In a large mixing bowl start adding the ricotta cheese, spinach, lemon zest and 50g of parmesan cheese. Let’s season our mix with salt, pepper and nutmeg, now we will mix all the ingredients together with the help of a wooden spoon.
2. Once well mixed together start to form small balls, size as desired. Submerge them all in the flour and leave, covered, for a minimum of 4 hours.
3. Add the lamb to a pre-heated non stick pan over a high heat and fry for 5 minutes. Drain the fat and leave the lamb to cool for 5 minutes.
4. Chop through the lamb again with a sharp knife and then return to the pan and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes for final crispness.
5. After 4 hours add the ricotta balls to a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, melt down the butter in a separate pan adding the sage and the lemon juice.
6. After 2 minutes add the ricotta balls to the melted butter mixture, add the lamb and cook for a further minute.
7. Place on to a serving bowl, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some grated parmesan cheese, Enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Chianti Classico (Italy)

Braised Belly of Pork served with Caramelised Apples and Cider Sauce – Serves 4

I love pork belly, it is such a great example of comfort food. In this recipe we are going to mix a variety of flavours and play with different textures. I prefer the main ingredients to be locally sourced, because there are some amazing ciders around our area, as well as Granny Smith apples. In Cranleigh we also have a great butcher from where to source top quality pork belly. So, let’s stay local to support the local business and reduce our food footprints!

1kg pork belly, skinned and boned
rapeseed oil, as needed
250g root vegetables, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp of honey
50ml of balsamic vinegar
500ml of cider
2 star anise
Salt and black pepper
8 baby leeks
12 baby onions
100 baby spinach
Caramelised Apples
8 granny smith apple rings, cut to around 0.5cm thick
20g demerara sugar
10g butter

1. Trim any excess fat from the pork belly, season with salt and pepper and roll into a cylinder, then gently tie with a butcher string to retain the shape.
2. In a hot pan add a little oil and then brown the meat on all side. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside, then add the root vegetable and the garlic, and cook until golden brown.
3. Remove any excess fat from the pan, add the honey and cook until lightly caramelised. Add the vinegar and cider and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil and add the seared pork back into the pan together with the star anise.
4. Cover and cook in the oven for 4 hours at 130c until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the stock and allow to cool slightly, then cut the string. Roll in cling film and refrigerate. Pass the leftover sauce through a fine sieve and reduce a little to focus its flavour.
5. Now we will get our caramelised apple ready, melt the sugar and butter together and then add the apple rings. Cook until lightly caramelised, this should be done just before we are ready to serve.
6. Cut the pork into four even medallions. Pan fry until golden brown and then heat in the oven at 180c, ensure it is hot in the middle. Place 2 apple rings on top of each pork medallion. Cook the vegetable accompaniment separately and arrange in serving bowls, place the pork in the centre of the bowls and spoon over the sauce.

Recommended Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)

Pistachio Soufflé – Serves 4

The Soufflé is one of the scariest dishes to prepare but fear not, this recipe is very easy and fairly safe to prepare! We will need 4 soufflé dishes, but if you don’t have any soufflé dishes then four medium size ramekins will do, just make sure they are ovenproof.

500ml milk
100g caster sugar
4 Egg yolks
50g plain flour
25g butter, softened
25g dark chocolate
4 eggs white
1 tbsp of caster sugar
40g Pistachio paste
1/2 Vanilla pod (or few drops vanilla extract)

1. Preheat the oven to 240c. Boil together the milk and the vanilla pod. Simultaneously whisk together the egg yolks and 100g caster sugar, whisk until the mixture slightly thickens and turns light colour.
2. Sieve the flour and add into the mixture, then whisk until smooth. Add half of the milk to the base and whisk until there are no lumps. Sieve through a fine strainer, remove the vanilla pod, return the mixture back to the pan and add the remaining milk.
3. Using a whisk stir the mixture. When it comes to the boil, bring the heat down to a simmer. Continue to stir and cook for further 8-10 minutes. Pour the pistachio paste onto a shallow tray and cool.
4. Generously butter the soufflé/ ramekins dishes, this is an important detail to make sure our soufflé will rise. Put the grated chocolate inside the dish/ramekin and rotate them to make sure that the chocolate completely covers the inside, sticking to the softened butter.
5. Beat the egg whites until firm, add the tbsp of caster sugar and whisk until stiff. Add a small quantity of the whites to the pistachio paste to soften it, then fold in the rest of the egg whites and pour into the soufflé/ramekin dishes. Bake for 15 minutes or until well risen. Make sure the mixture goes in first and then the whites and pistachio mixture after. Done!

Recommended Wine: Sauterne (France)

Simone Conti

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