Avocado on toast

A good breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated. With the right herbs and spices, a simple avocado smash with some fried mushrooms can be a cheap alternative to going out for breakfast. Here I’ve fried the mushrooms in olive oil, garlic, Italian spices, oregano and a good sprinkle of salt/pepper. Add a little water if the mushrooms are burning. For the avocado, add a little olive oil and salt/pepper for extra flavour.

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Fettuccine with pesto, potato & green beans

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The start of summer means the start of homemade basil pesto. Homemade pesto is a million times better than anything you will buy in the stores and is not very hard. I always make pesto with a mortar and pestle. It allows me to control the consistency and I like being able to see it all come together right in front of your eyes rather than whizzing everything in a blender. This recipe, like many others, is straight Italian Food Safari (Lucio Galletto) and adding potatoes and green beans is a nice variation to traditional basil pesto dishes.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu, meaning ‘pick me up’ is one my favourite Italian desserts. When made well, the combination of coffee-soaked savoiardi and sweet mascarpone is unlike anything else and it simply melts in your mouth. The beauty of tiramisu is that it gets better the longer it sits in the fridge, however, you may find it hard to resist after day one.

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Chocolate cake with brandy raisins and orange zest

This cake is from an old Maggie Beer cook book I came across. It is super rich and full of chocolate, inside and on top! It uses almond meal with a bit of a flour which could be substituted out to make it gluten free. It’s best to serve this cake the day you make it as I put it in the fridge overnight and it dried out a little unfortunately. Still a great recipe if you like rich, dense chocolate cakes!

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Minestrone

The classic Italian soup and perfect for the winter months. I like to fry some pancetta first with an onion and garlic before adding the diced vegetables. Mix up your vegetables for variations. I always add cabbage towards the end for a few minutes along with a little bit of pasta. Be careful and don’t add too much pasta as it will expand and ruin the soup. If you have some parmesan cheese rind, throw that in whilst cooking. Italian’s don’t like to waste anything.

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Seafood paella

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Paella is something I have been meaning to try for a while. You simple fry an onion with some capsicum, add the rice and then all the seafood together with the stock and let it simmer for 45 minutes until cooked. Make sure you push the seafood into the rice so it cooks evenly. It couldn’t be easier. This one has a prawns, pippies, mussels, blue-eye cod and calamari. We substituted paprika for saffron. This goes against traditional recipes however it still gave the dish a slight red glow.

Butter chicken with mint yoghurt

Butter chicken has to be my favourite Indian cuisine. Rarely I make pastes from scratch but did on this occasion and it was surprisingly easy. For the tandoori paste, place all the spices in a bowl… add yoghurt and lime juice and you’re done. There is not much to make this. Coat the chicken with the paste, brown for 5 minutes each side, and then simmer with yoghurt and chicken stock (not coconut milk).

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Mixed mushroom risotto

I love cooking risotto because there are so many variations. This mix includes button, swiss and porcini mushrooms. Take your time with risotto, the slower it simmers, the better it tastes. Place your dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water to bring them back to life and use the liquid to cook the risotto along with your stock. Be careful with how much porcini liquid you use as it be quite over powering.

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Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.

Cannelloni with braised meat

This dish was inspired by an Italian cooking show, Made in Italy, I came across the other day.

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The photo doesn’t really show the dish however behind the crusted layer of sauce are rows of homemade cannelloni filled with mozzarella and veal mince. Making the pasta from scratch is time consuming but well worth the time. Practice makes perfect. Putting the cannelloni together was a lot harder than on the show! (funny that). Anyway, still delicious, and I am still amazed at how only a few simple ingredients make such incredible meals.

Veal osso buco

Osso buco is one of my favourite slow cooked dishes. This time I used veal shanks instead of beef. This is slow cooked in diced tomaotes and chicken stock for about 2 hours. The base of the sauce is onion, garlic, anchovies, celery, carrots and white wine. The longer you simmer the dish the better it will be. Don’t be impatient.

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Served with mash potatoes, garnished with chives.