Earlier this month, Flea and I spent a few days in Florence, and we were lucky enough to attend some cooking classes where some rather lovely Italian chefs taught us how to make lots of yummy Italian food.
We’ve been home long enough to try these recipes again and I am delighted to report we have managed NOT to poison anyone in the family. On that basis, we’re now sharing with you a simple, Italian menu that can be prepared in just a couple of hours by kitchen-idiots like me.
All recipes serve 6 people, so just adjust accordingly if cooking for more/less people.
- White, Italian bread
- 4 large, ripe tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pepper (freshly ground)
- Oregano leaves
To make bruschetta, slice the bread into chunky slices, around 1cm deep and toast lightly. Next, rub the garlic cloves on both sides of the bread, and top with thin (0.5cm thick) slices of tomato.
Season with salt, pepper, oregano and the olive oil.
- 500g of 00 wheat flour
- 350ml water (at room temperature)
- 7.5g yeast
- 0.5 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Add the yeast to the room temperature water, stir until it’s dissolved. Put to one side.
On a clean granite counter-top or wooden board, pile the flour, and use your fingers to make a ‘well’ in the middle. Into the well add the salt, oil, and the water/yeast
Using the back of a fork, gradually mix the flour into the wet ingredients. Mashing the fork up and down will get rid of lumps in your dough.
When the mixture gets sticky and gloopy, use a dough scraper to continue mixing and then use your hands to knead the dough for the last 5 minutes
If your dough starts to stick to your hands, dust your hand with flour and spread over the dough rather than flouring the dough itself.
Using the scraper, cut your dough into balls – this recipe will make 4 pizzas each serving 2 people – and leave to rest for 2 hours, under a damp tea towel.
After the dough has rested, dust the work surface with flour, and use your fingers to lightly tap on the dough and flatten it into a rough circle shape – once your dough is less than an inch thick, use a rolling pin to roll it out to around 15cm diameter (or the size of your pizza dish/stone). If you’d like to make foccaccia, simply skip the rolling out stage, and top your dimpled dough with salt, olive oil and garlic before cooking.
Dust any excess flour off the dough with your hands, and top each disk with around 4 tablespoons of fresh, crushed tomatoes. For a marinara pizza, add garlic, oregano and olive oil. For a margarita pizza add mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. Anything else is simply NOT acceptable to an Italian chef – but you might want to sneak on some spicy salami and chilli flakes. Just a recommendation…
Cook in a very hot oven for 4-5 minutes.
- 4 large eggs
- 1lb marscapone cheese
- 24 small lady fingers
- 12 level tablespoons of sugar
- 6-7 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 1 small cup espresso coffee
Start out with two large bowls. In one, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. In the other stir together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy. It’s REALLY important the eggs are at room temperature.
Stir the cheese (also at room temperature) into the yolks and sugar, and then gently fold the egg whites into this mixture.
Take a shallow glass serving dish and sift a thin layer of cocoa powder into the bottom – just enough to coat the glass
On top of this, put two generous spoonfuls of the cheese mixture, and top with a thin dusting of cocoa
Next, dip 2 of the biscuits into espresso coffee and put on top of the cocoa – don’t pour the coffee over the biscuits, it makes them too soggy
Layer again with cream and cocoa. Keep going until you have used the ingredients up. Top with a dusting of cocoa powder and crumbled biscuit and/or chocolate chips
Chill for 2 hours in the fridge before serving