Back to basics – Italian style

It’s been a quieter week on the food front compared with the last couple. No supper clubs, no cookery classes, but plenty of recipe reading and planning for the Italian night I am hoping to do in September. Despite owning a LOT of cookery books, it seems there’s a dearth in the Italian department, so good old Amazon had to come to the rescue along with my local library.

I picked up a Gino and a Gennaro at the library and then Amazon sent me a Jamie and another Gino. Turns out you can’t have too many Ginos when you’re learning Italian cookery! I’m working my way through each of them, but also getting distracted by this month’s Delicious magazine which is a special Italian issue (it’s a sign!) and from which I have shamelessly stolen and reproduced here a recipe for a very moist and tasty Orange, Rosemary and Honey Polenta Cake. Think of it as a ‘Tried and Tested’ feature rather than simple theft if you will.

The cake isn’t likely to feature on the menu for the next Supper Club – whilst delicious, I’m aiming for a little more decadence with my desserts. It will however, feature at home from time to time, because of its simplicity and gorgeousness – particularly served with a dollop of greek yoghurt on top.

Pasta is a big hit in this house. One of my kids would eat it every night of the week given the chance, so I tend to make large batches of sauce when I can – mainly ragu bolognese or a spicy tomato sauce. These are great to have on standby and always far far superior to any shop bought jars, though you’ll always find a few of Lloyd Grossman’s in the cupboard for emergencies.

I’m researching real Italian food a little and already desperately want to book a trip to see and taste it for myself. I’ve never been, though it’s high on my wishlist – Tuscany in particular, though other places are endearing themselves as I read about the different regions. Italian food is about simple, robust flavours and lacks pretension, which suits me down to the ground. I’m taking a ‘back to basics’ approach so I can learn to do a few dishes really well, so over the coming weeks I’ll share some of my learnings with you and we can build up a good repertoire of Italian dishes together.

I’m starting with a good tomato sauce for pasta, as this is the basis for a number of dishes, such as a Chicken or Aubergine Parmigiana, which I’ll come back to in a future post, a range of different cannelloni or lasagne dishes and of course a simple bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce – comfort food at its best. No doubt I’ll work my way through to more complex dishes in the coming weeks and hopefully you’ll join me on my beautiful journey, or should I say bellissimo viaggio!

Recipes in this post:

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