Spring Into Food

These traditional recipes are really dear to me. Originally from the central Italian farmer community, prepared in the Lent period. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

NETTLES AND POTATO SOUP – Starter (Serves 4)

150grams Fresh nettles
3 medium size potatoes
1 large white onion
1 litre vegetable stock
1 table spoon of Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and Black pepper

Stock Ingredients
2 carrots
1 celery stick
1 large onion
1 tomato (optional)
2 litres of water

Always remember when dealing with Nettles to wear a pair of kitchen or latex gloves to avoid any skin irritation!
1. First, wash the nettles in cold water and then leave them to dry either in some kitchen roll or in a dry cloth
2. Prepare the vegetable stock. NB: If you’re really busy or don’t have much time, you can use gelatine stock that’s now available in most supermarkets. To do this put 2 litres of cold water in a large sauce pan. Add all the ingredients when the water is cold, to better extract all the nutrients from the vegetables
3. Start to peel and roughly chop the carrots, onion and celery stick. I also love to add a large tomato cut in half for a bit of extra flavour, but I leave this up to you
4. Put all the chopped vegetables in the cold water pan and move the pan to the stove on medium heat. Once the water starts boiling turn the heat down to moderate, leave it to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes. After that we will remove the vegetables from our stock. NB: You can use these vegetables as a side dish with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar. From the original 2 litres of water we should be left with around 1 litre of stock. It’s now ready
5. Peel the potatoes and cut them in small cubes, then cut the onion as finely as possible
6. Pour the olive oil in a large sauce pan and when it is hot add the finely chopped onion and let it cook for 2 minutes. After that add a ladle of the stock and continue to cook until all the stock has been absorbed from the onion. Now add the potatoes and 2 more ladle of stock and let it cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are nicely cooked and soft
7. Finally, add the nettles together with one more ladle of stock and let it cook for 10 minutes. It’s now ready to serve. If you prefer a more creamy texture just use an immersion blender before serving

Recommended Wine: Margaret River

© MON FOOD BLOG 2012-2015

LAMB WITH EGG & CHEESE SAUCE – Main Course (Serves 4)

1kg diced lamb
7 eggs
150grams extra mature cheddar (grated)
1 small stick of rosemary
100mls of dry white wine
1 table spoon of Olive Oil
4 juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 large onion
Thyme, Salt and Black pepper

1. Before you start the recipe, check the lamb cubes. With a sharp knife, remove any small nerves and any excess fat. You’ll need a bit of fat to keep the meat tender and give it that extra flavour. But if it’s too much, especially in the lamb, it will overpower all the ingredients
2. Pour the olive oil in a large frying pan, once it’s hot add the onion finely chopped and juniper berries. Cook for 5 minutes on a low heat
3. Next, add the lamb, the rosemary stick, the bay leaf and the thyme. We bring the heat up to moderate and we let it cook for 5 minutes until the lamb is nicely seared
4. Now add the white wine and let it evaporate, which will take around 5 minutes. Once the wine has evaporated, add enough water to cover the lamb. Next put a lid on the pan and let it cook on a moderate heat for 35 minutes. Keep turning the lamb every 10 minutes to prevent it from drying up. After 35 minutes the lamb should be nice and moist. Turn the heat down from moderate to low. NB: If you notice the lamb drying while cooking, add more water
5. Place the eggs and the grated cheddar cheese in a large mixing bowl and with a whisk or a spatula, mix it all together. With the lamb heat still low, add the mix into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. Serve when the texture of the eggs are nice and creamy.

Recommended Wine: Tempranillo Rioja Reserve

CREAM CHARLOTTE – Dessert (Serves 4)

4 egg yolks
200grams of butter unsalted
100grams of granulated sugar
75mls small glass of rum
30 sponge fingers
1 pirex baking dish or glass roaster dish (it has to be a clear container to show the layers of the Cream Charlotte)

1. Place the egg yolks, the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With a whisk, start mixing them. NB: Remember to take the butter out of the fridge 20 minutes before you start cooking, so it will be easy to work
2. Once the cream starts to come together, slowly add half a glass of rum. You’ll use the rest of the rum to dip 15 of the sponge fingers in
3. Get the pirex baking dish and grease the base and sides with butter. Place the dipped sponge fingers on the base of the baking dish, then add a layer of cream on top. Add another layer of sponge fingers (without rum) and another layer of cream on top of it. NOTE: depending on the size of your pirex baking dish you can add more layers to the pudding. Also if you share it with your kids, you can replace the rum with maple or golden syrup
4. Place it in the fridge for 1 hour to settle before serving. Feel free to decorate it to your own taste

Recommended Wine: Asti Martini

Quote of the month
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw


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