Warm, Welcome Dining

The peperonata is a very classical dish form the south of Italy. In this recipe I will give it a twist adding eggs for a clean source of protein and a bit of ham to add some extra flavour. If you like a bit of spice add a red chilli. In the cold November evenings this recipe will warm you up. You can use this recipe for a nice brunch in the weekend and replace the ham with bacon to add even more flavour. Make sure you cut the peppers finely and most important cook them slowly.

Eggs Peperonata – Serves 4

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 slices smoked ham, roughly torn
4 free range eggs
For the Peperonata
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and sliced (optional)
1 garlic clove, sliced
1x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp small capers in vinegar, drained
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. First let’s make the peperonata. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry gently for 3-4 minutes until translucent, then stir in the peppers, chilli and garlic. Cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.
2. Put in the tomatoes. increase the heat to medium and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the capers.
3. While the peperonata is simmering prepare the ham and eggs. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the ham and fry until lightly browned in places. Turn the heat down to medium-low and crack the eggs on top of the ham. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
4. Spoon the eggs and ham on top of the peperonata. Add a grinding of pepper and serve straight from the pan with some crusty bread.

Recommended Wine: Merlot (France)

The minestrone is one of my favourite winter dishes, easy to prepare and full of goodness. I’ve had many conversations in the past with guests about minestrone. I don’t know why but a lot of people believe a minestrone should have some kind of pasta in it. Let’s clear this myth up, minestrone doesn’t have any pasta in it.

Green Minestrone – Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil, 3 celery stick finely chopped, 1 red onion, chopped, 2 carrots, chopped, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 2x 400g of chopped tomatoes, 1kg of swiss chard, 1x 400g can of borlotti beans, drained, 5 basil leaves, Salt and black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the celery, onion, carrots and garlic and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Tip in the tomatoes and stir, then cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
3. Meanwhile, remove the Swiss chard leaves from the stalks. Finely chop the stalks; keep the leaves whole. Blanch the leaves in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes until tender. Remove with tongs to a colander to drain, then roughly chop and set aside.
4. Add the borlotti beans to the tomato mixture and cook for a further 10 minutes before pouring in 400ml of the chard blanching water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add the chard leaves and stalks along with the basil. Season with salt and pepper. If you want a smoother soup blitz it for 10 seconds using a hand blender- this will give you a creamy but still chunky consistency. Serve the soup hot, with a good dash of extra virgin olive oil added to each bowl. Tuck in!

Recommended Wine: Primitivo (Italy)

This is another amazing recipe by my dear friend Miss Lisa Brown. Lisa’s an amazing pastry chef with a creative mind when it comes to cakes. This recipe is a clear example of how to combine two amazing flavours – chocolate and Baileys. Once you try it you will make it over and over again.

Baileys Chocolate Tart – Serves 8

Biscuit Shell
300g digestive
35g cocoa powder
150g unsalted butter
Baileys Chocolate filling
175g dark chocolate
175g milk chocolate
300ml double cream
150ml Baileys
50g unsalted butter
125ml double cream
25ml Baileys
2 tbsp icing sugar
Grated chocolate

For the biscuits base
1. Blitz your biscuits in a food processor, or bash them up to a very fine crumbs in a bowl.
2. Add the cocoa powder, and mix.
3. Add in the melted butter, and mix to a wet sand texture.
4. Press into the bottom and sides of a 23cm(9-10inch) loose bottomed tart tin for best results.
For the biscuits base
1. Chop your chocolate up finely, and cube your butter as small as you can. Add to a large bowl.
2. Add your double cream and Baileys to a pan and heat till just before boiling.
3. Pour the mixture over the chocolate/baileys and whisk or stir until smooth. If there are any lumps that haven’t quite melted, whack the mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until melted fully.
4. Once melted – pour the mixture into the tart tin. Sometimes I find this easier to do in the fridge to save me having to carry the full shell of runny liquid.
5. Leave the tart to set in the fridge till solid it will take at least 3 hours!
For the decoration
1. Whip together the double cream, baileys and icing sugar until hard enough to go in a piping bag, I will leave the pattern to your imagination.
2. Decorate by grating some chocolate over the top, and enjoy.

Recommended Wine: Prosecco (Italy)

Simone Conti

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

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