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The Landscape of Cooking – Simone Conti

Cooking this soup is delicious and easy to prepare and perfect on a hot day. You can use it as a starter for a family dinner, or as some quick and healthy meals for lunch. If you are vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and vegetarian parmesan.

Chilled Courgette Soup – Serves 4

Ingredients
1kg courgettes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
1lt chicken stock
200ml double cream
salt and black pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

Preparation
1. Cut the courgettes into 5mm slices using a mandolin or a sharp knife. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Fry the courgettes with the garlic and half of the basil on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes until the courgettes start to be light gold.
2. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the double cream. Add the remaining basil with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the soup into a bowl and set in another bowl of iced water to cool (serve the soup as chilled as you like).
5. Serve with grated parmesan to sprinkle over, enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Pinot Grigio (Italy)

I love chicken legs! For me are the best part of the chicken. They are full of flavour because they are the part that does most of the work. The crisp skin on the leg is my favourite bit! When cooking this dish you will notice that all the lovely juice from the chicken legs is absorbed by the potatoes and the fennel, giving them a burst in flavour: simply delicious!

Roast Chicken Legs – Serves 4

Ingredients
2 fennel bulbs
300g charlotte potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm slices
5 garlic cloves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large chicken legs
2 thyme spring
100g datterini or cherry tomatoes cut in half
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Trim the fennel bulbs. Cut each lengthways in half and then into 8 wedges. Start cooking the fennel in a pan of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes until tender. Use a slotted spoon to take the fennel out of the pan and put to one side in a bowl. Keep the water in the pan boiling.
2. Add the sliced potatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves to the boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes until tender. Drain and add in the bowl.
3. Heat a shallow flameproof casserole or ovenproof frying pan and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper, then place them, skin side down, in the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes until there is a little colour on the skin.
4. Turn the chicken legs over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and take the chicken legs out of the pan. Add the thyme and tomatoes to the fennel, garlic and potatoes with the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Tip the mixture into the hot casserole or frying pan and spread out evenly, then leave on a low heat for about 5 minutes so the potatoes start to go slightly crispy.
6. Place the chicken legs on top of the potato mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan, then transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve hot in the cooking pan and tuck in!

Recommended Wine: Pinot Noir (France)

This summer recipe is so simple and delicious, once you have tried it, you will make it over and over again. It’s the season for the sweet and tangy raspberries. While the mascarpone cream will bring a sweet creaminess, the almond croquante will bring texture and favour. Once you mix all of them together you have the perfect summer pudding. I love to serve this dessert on a large serving dish in the middle of the table to share (or fight over) it!

Raspberries with Mascarpone Cream and Almond Croquante – Serves 4

Ingredients
3 Punnets fresh raspberries

For the mascarpone cream
200g mascarpone cheese
seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
50g icing sugar, sifted
150ml of double cream

For the Almond Croquante
200g whole blanched (skinned) almonds
200g caster sugar

Preparation
1. Start by preparing the almond croquante. Preheat the oven 180c, spread the almonds on a small baking tray and roast for 5 minutes until they are a light golden colour. Leave to one side.
2. Put the sugar in a saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of water. Cook, without stirring, on a medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a light golden colour. Add the almond and continue cooking for 1 minute. Pour on an oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and set.
3. Roughly break up the croquante and put into a food bag. Bash with a rolling pin to break up into pieces of whatever size and shape you like.
4. To make the mascarpone cream, beat the mascarpone with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
5. Now we are ready to serve, spoon the mascarpone cream on to a serving dish. Scatter over the raspberries and sprinkle with the almond croquante. Enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Prosecco (Italy)

Simone Conti

Enjoying these recipes? You can read more of Simone’s meals HERE.

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