Saturday, 30 June 2012

Technicolor Tomatoes!

Insalata di Pomodori Colorati Siciliani
Sicilian Heirloom Tomato Salad

There seems to be no end to the talk of "organic this" or "heirloom that" and being rather pragmatic about these things, I often wonder how much merit there is in going out of your way to buy these beautifully colored tomatoes- unless it is purely for the optics.

Obviously (I would hope!), an organic, sun-ripened tomato is going to taste better. But how much better can one variety taste than another? In my opinion, I KNOW what the flavor of a wonderful tomato is, even if I don't always end up having it... but can't really claim to have had any one particular kind that really was any more outstanding than another. And I still maintain that- if it's good: it's good! Period!

So here is the low-down on this lovely little selection of tomatoes from Sicily. These were small tomatoes- you can see the scale of them pretty clearly when you consider them next to those basil leaves. I cut each one of them into 3 horizontal slices- just because they looked prettier that way. The red ones were as you might expect, deliciously sweet and rich, the green a little milder and the yellow, surprisingly enough, tangier and more robust. So to be honest, if it were to be flavor I was to be looking for- I would just to stick to my plain old red tomatoes- there, I've said it!

At the time, having said that, I HAD now sliced up the tomatoes and layered them with basil leaves. What I needed was a dressing. For this, I mixed 1 part white balsamic vinegar, to 2 parts orange juice, to 3 parts olive oil. I shook this together well, then added a little honey and then shook it again until it was well mixed.

I poured the dressing over the tomatoes and basil, then sprinkled it with coarse sea salt, a little pepper and a scattering of fresh thyme- pretty simple but very delicious! It is not always about re-inventing the wheel- much more just enjoying the ride!

A Pear of Tortillas

Tortilla con Formaggio Blu, Pera e Peperoncino
Blue Cheese, Pear and Chili Tortilla Rolls

A little late-lunchtime snack was the order of the day today- I got off to a slow start, breakfast came late and then lunch got postponed whilst I got down to other more important things- like getting myself out to the market! But hey- it happens to the best of us! And what can you do when you find yourself in that kind of predicament? That's right... improvise!

So basically this is just a cheese on toast really. It also takes precisely as little time to make as a regular cheese on toast- but is much more yummy and fun! There really isn't much to tell about putting these together... but the little bit that there is goesn a little something like this...

Take the tortillas and fold over each outside edge towards the middle to form a triple-layered strip. I have made these tortilla snacks many times before, but to be honest, I have always ended up rolling them when it came to eating them because they are so thin and delicate to handle. So this way I had a more substantial base to work from.

First of all, I spread the tortillas with a little sweet, coarse-grained mustard. I then sliced my pear thinly and laid down the slices evenly along the length. Next, I simply crumbled blue cheese over the top- not too much mind you, as it does melt very quickly and will become liquid and spill out everywhere if you are not careful!

I popped it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the pears had softened and the cheese had melted, then took it back out and drizzled it lightly with honey, before returning it for a further 2-3 minutes until it was golden and brown and delicious!

I sprinkled it with finely chopped chives and a good sprinkle of chili flakes and then patted myself on the back for making such a tasty snack and waited no time in eating it up whilst it was still way too hot! That's how good it was! Mmmm!

Plenty of Polenty

Polenta con Pancetta, Zucchine & Pomodorini
Polenta with Bacon, Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

I love how versatile polenta is- you can do almost anything with it, especially once it has been cooked, poured out, cooled down, has set and become firm- that's when the real fun begins! You can slice it, dice it, fry it, bake it and flavor it in any number of ways! And I had already made two dishes from it so far this week, but you know me- I was definitely not going to let the last 2 slices go to waste!

And I know it is always the same litany of leftovers from me on a Friday night- but there it was: one lone zucchini, a handfull of cherry tomatoes and a last rasher of bacon. Hmmm... sounds like a nice little supper to me!

Very easy of course this- but simply a good combination of flavors: sweet and tangy tomatoes, salty bacon, juicy zucchini and flavorful garlic and rosemary infused polenta... feeling hungry? Well good! The especially good part is that you will be done in 10-15 minutes at the most!

Turn on your broiler to have it ready and hot in a few minutes time and get your frying pan on the stove top and hot, hot, hot as well. Add the bacon, polenta and zucchini first. I simply cut a thin slice off each side of the zucchini, topped and tailed it and split it down the middle into 2 nice, thick slices.

Once the bacon has begun to give off its fat and the zucchini and polenta are nicely coated in it, add plenty of rosemary, some finely diced garlic, salt and coarsely ground pepper.  After 2-3 minutes, push all of these ingredients to one side and add the cherry tomatoes, a sliced Spring onion and a little garlic. Give everything a light dusting of nutmeg and fry for 2-3 minutes, (no longer!), then add a little oregano, salt and pepper, and flip so that the cut surface is facing up (if possible).

Drizzle everything lightly with honey and brown for 1-2 minutes under the broiler... finito!
Adda few fresh, green rosmary leaves and enjoy your speedy supper! Cooking can be so easy- and eating can be such fun!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Mio Piatto Azzurro!

Mezze Maniche con Sugo di Pepe, Pollo & Pomodoro
Mezze Maniche with Peppers, Chicken and Tomato Sauce

I may not be the biggest soccer fan in the world- but when it comes to Italy playing against Germany of course- we all know who's side I am going to be on ;-)  And it also doesn't come as much of a  surprise that I had to come up with a pasta dish to honor the occasion. 

This hot and spicy, tangy and refreshing chicken and pepper sauce was improvised in just a few minutes... it had to go fast as I needed to get it done, the pics taken... and then warm it up for myself to eat whilst I watched the match... which we won of course as every one now knows!

I love this pasta- and especially the funny name, which translates into English as "half sleeves"- lol! Pretty funny way to describe a macaroni that is only half the length! Pretty adorable, no?
I brought my water to the boil, salted it well, and started them cooking. They are rather thick little noodles and will take 8-9 minutes to cook... which gives us time to get that sauce ready! Get that frying pan on the stove and get it hot fast!

The first thing that needs to go into the pan is the chicken, along with a few drops of olive oil to get it going... season simply with salt and pepper for the time being and get it lightly browned on all sides. This will take 3-4 minutes only- but it will also give you time to dice a red pointy pepper finely, along with a clove of garlic, and a handfull of parsley. 

Once the chicken is lightly brown, remove it from the pan and add the peppers, garlic, some diced onion and a tablespoon of tomato paste... this is how much I needed to make my single serving. After sautéeing everything for 2-3 minutes, deglaze with a little red wine, add a good pinch of oregano and a good splash of tabasco. Grate with nutmeg, add a bayleaf and add a little water until it becomes a nice consistency. Now reduce the heat to a slow simmer, return the chicken to the sauce... and get that pasta out of the water and drained and drizzled with olive oil!

After another 3-4 minutes of simmering, to bring the chicken back up to temperature and to reduce the sauce down a little, add the finely chopped parsley and a light drizzle of olive oil... and serve it on top of your yummy "half sleeves"! Sprinkle with grated salted ricotta cheese, sprinkle with coarsely ground fresh black pepper and garnish with basil... just delicious! A simple dish that not only made the Italian soccer team winners- but it will also make a winner out of you in the kitchen if you try it!

Three Colors- One Heart

Pasta Sfoglia Tricolore
Puff-Pastry Tricolore

Yes my friends- I may have been born in England, but my heart beats for Italy through and through! Which is why I made this cute little puff-pastry flag here this evening- for the occasion of the Gemany-Italy soccer match in the 2012 European cup this evening... and I am not even a soccer fan!

Living in Germany though, there has been no way to avoid the drama and expectations of this match- which is why I came up with this idea- just good and healthy fun in preparation for a fun evening of soccer. And wouldn't ya know it... Italy won! And I was a winner too with this little edible flag!

There really isn't much of a recipe to share- just a fun and cool idea and a few very simple ingredients. The base is simply puff pastry, which I baked "blind" in a preheated oven, at 350°F for 5-6 minutes until it began to brown slightly on top and puff up a little. That is no problem- just pat it down with a wooden spoon! By giving the padtry a head-start without the toppings, you give it a chance to bake down below a little better, so that it doesn't end up getting soggy from the toppings. 

The cherry tomatoes were sliced thinly and spread out on the right hand third of the pastry... I sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper and a hint of nutmeg. The middle section I spreaded with frsh ricotta cheese that I whipped-up with a little honey, a little olive oil and some white pepper. There is no need to add salt, as I wouls be adding salted ricotta to the topping as soon as it was baked. So back into the oven it went for a further 3 minutes!

During those 5 minutes, I plucked some basil leaves and drizzled a little oil on them. I then added a little salt and rubbed them together until they changed color and darkened and began to develop their aroma. I fetched the pastry back out, patted the remaining end section down again and laid out the basil leaves... and after a final minute or two of the broiler, out it came for the last time... ready to be enjoyed!

I rolled mine up when I ate it- that way I got to enjoy all 3 flavors at the same! A real treat- and one that I am sure that you will enjoy too!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Swallow the Yellow Brick Food!

Pomodorini, Okra e Fagioli Neri con Polenta Gratinata
Tomato, Okra and Black Bean Cobbler with Polenta

Nope, this ain't Kansas- and those cobble-stones are not dumplings either- they are yummy polenta! I made this little dish of stewed okra, cherry tomatoes and black beans with the remainder from the dishes of the last couple of days... typical for me I know! But you know what? I just love to "wizard-up" something delicious out of nothing- to me, that is what real cooking is all about!

So don't go clicking you heels together and disappearing just yet! Although, this is almost as easy to make as that! Come along then my little munchkins and I will show you how to make this hearty little meal- probably more suited to the fall... but then again- maybe you havent heard how dreadful our Summer is turning out to be...

I started this dish off by frying some chopped bacon rashers in a dry pan... you know my methods by now! Once the bacon is well done, but not yet crispy and brown, set it to one side and add your cubed polenta to the pan and sautée it gently with a little chopped garlic and a twig of rosemary to give the polenta plenty of flavor. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg and then set this also to one side.

Now add the okra and cherry tomatoes, plenty of finely chopped parsley, some sage powder and a little more chopped garlic. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes and then add a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir-in the paste, fry gently for a minute or two and then deglaze with 1 cupful water.

Once you have added the water, you can go ahead and add the black beans too. Season with basil, rosemary, chili flakes, oregano, salt, pepper and a little nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish and then spread some polenta around on top. Into a hot oven it went for 10 minutes to bake and an additional 4-5 minutes under the broiler to brown. This is just simple, hearty, good-time food! I sure hope you like it!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Fly Robin Fly!

Uccellini Scappati - Piccoli Involtini di Pollo, Datteri, Mandorla, Salvia & Basilico
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Rolls with Dates, Almonds, Sage & Basil

I suppose this is the one that goes down in history as being my "signature dish". It has been the hands-down favorite any time I have ever prepared it... even though I made up the name "Uccellini Scappati" for it- which means "escaped birds" in Italian. You see, I used to love telling people that these were tiny little songbirds on skewers. There is the urban legend that Italians catch and eat teeny-tiny birdies. And no doubt, a strange few probably do! Me? I personally prefer these little bacon-wrapped bites of chicken myself!

The idea came to me many moons ago, when I first tried that Spanish favorite "tapa" of crispy-bacon-wrapped dates. Very tasty, but ultimately a little boring. But it led me to create this slightly more elaborate snack- which is almost substantial enough to become a full meal. Take a look and see!

To make my 6 little birdies here, I needed 1 chicken breast, 12 Almonds, 6 dates, 6 leaves of both sage and basil and a little rosemary, garlic and lemon zest. These were great fun to make- if you have kids- grab 'em and get them to do all the hard work for you!

Cut the chicken breast into reasonable thin strips- as I said, I managed to cut 6 decent strips from one small breast. I did flatten them down a little, but I just used the ball of my hand to do so- no need for a hammer or anything excessive like that here! Once you have the strips of chicken ready, the fun can begin. Press 2 almonds into each date and then take your first strip of chicken and lay a sage leaf on top. Next comes the chicken roll and then around the outside, a half-rasher of bacon, for a little smokey and salty yumminess! Either secure with individual wooden picks as I did in the photos, or thread 2 or 3 of them onto a a skewer and away we go!

These taste wonderful straight from the grill, or you can alternatively fry them in a hot, dry frying pan- no need for any oil at all with the outer layer of bacon. Fry until golden lightly brown and then add a clove of crushed garlic and some chopped rosemary for flavor. Don't add these right at the beginning as they tend to burn otherwise and taste bitter. Season with pepper and just a hint of salt- do remember that the bacon will already have plenty of salt of its own.

After frying for 3-4 minutes and as soon as the bacon begins to brown, add a squeeze of honey and a light splash of vinegar. Toss the rolls gently so that they become coated on all sides and after another minute or two, the rolls will be ready to serve!

I enjoyed mine with a simple salad of portulac greens with a honey, mustard and yogurt dressing. I added a little lemon zest to the rolls for a little freshness and a splash of color- and a final drizzle of whatever juices were left in the pan... and you can bet that I dipped my bread into whichever juices were left on my plate too! This was simply delicious and these are little birds you will not want to escape! Enjoy!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Square-Root of a Round Pie

Torta Salata con Finnochio, Ravanello, Formaggio Blu & Miele
Fennel, Radish, Honey & Blue Cheese Tart

Indeed, this evenings creation was made by crossing one root vegetable with another!  I wanted to have a "Meatless Monday" today and had been toying with the idea of making a fennel tart... but I was not sure which other flavor to combine it with... especially as I wasn't able to use bacon (darn!).

So I decided to try my luck with radish- crispy, peppery and refreshing- I figured it would be a good combination with the sweet, anise-flavor of the fennel and the tangy, savory flavor of the Bavaria Blue cheese... and amazingly enough I was right!

I started out by cutting the fennel in half and then taking off semi-circular slices, but making sure that the center of the fennel bulb was still intact, so that the slices wouldn't fall apart. I boiled the slices in just enough water to cover them and seasoned the water with both a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. I boiled the fennel slices for 4-5 minutes, then drained them and set them to one side to cool.

Next, I topped and tailed the radishes and then cut them into slices. I also cooked these slightly before beginning to assemble the pie- just for 1-2 minutes in boiling water.

Next step... pastry! Obviously this is a store-bought puff pastry- life is too short to be fussing over making dough! I cut the dough into a circular base shape, then cut thin strips, which I folded into a decorative border. I then arranged the fennel slices on top, which I sprinkled with a little white pepper and a hint more salt. I added the radish slices and a few finely chopped Spring onion greens and popped them into the oven, which I had pre- heated, for 10-15 minutes at 350°F, until the edges had puffed-up nicely and begun to brown gently.

I took the tart out of the oven, crumbled a little blue cheese over it and drizzled it all over with honey... then popped it back under the broiler to become lovely and golden brown... delicious! I added some fennel greens as a garnish and then cut into it and enjoyed it while it was hot... although it would have tasted wonderful as a cold dish too! Only thing was... that I was too impatient!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sticky Fingers!

Costolette "BBQ", Fagioli Neri, Okra e Riso
BBQ Ribs, Black Beans & Okra and Rice

There is something really wonderful about eating ribs- because you just can't go and start being pretentious about it- you just have to pick them up and use your fingers... and lick your fingers clean after doing so- it's just FUN! Like being allowed to eat like a 5 year old again ;-) and know that everyone else at the table is doing the same!

The important thing about ribs of course, is the marinade that you flavor them with. And the way that your go ahead and cook them. If you have a grill, then of course you are ahead of the game... but if like me, in my little 2 room city apartment, you don't... then you need to do things a little differently...

I decided to do rice as my side dish tonight, as I was also going to prepare okra and black beans with tomato and epazote, which is a Mexican herb that harmonizes really well with beans. So I decided to do some multi-tasking and multi-cooking!

The first thing I did, was to start my rice steaming in my rice cooker. This mix of regular and wild rice does take a little longer to cook- around 20 minutes or so, so that is great for sharing the rice cooker with other ingredients. Once the rice was bubbling away, I set down a steam rack into the rice cooker and laid the ribs on there to steam too. After 3-4 minutes, I added some flavor to the meat... a good sprinkle of Herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and a little finely chopped garlic.

Whilst the meat and rice were steaming, I went about preparing the other ingredients. The black beans came out of a jar but the okra was lovely and tender and fresh. I popped the okra in with the rice to steam for the last 5 minutes, but started the beans simmering slowly.  I added a handful of fresh epazote leaves to them, chopped nicely and finely and some chopped chives and sliced shallotd, along with salt and pepper.

Once the rice is done, remove the ribs, set the cooker to "warm" and make yourself a nice, tangy sauce for that meat!

I made my dressing out of ketchup, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy-sauce and then poured it over the already steaming meat. Once they were nicely coated, I popped the ribs into a pre-heated oven for around 15 minutes at a temperature of 350°F.

I flipped the ribs over and added a drizzle of honey and a little oregano. It is best to not do this too early as they will burn or turn bitter- so do it for the last 3-5 minutes, whilst you assemble the okra and beans.

I added some cherry tomatoes for a little extra juiciness, a little more epazote,but simply layered up the okra and beans to make a nice mixture and seasoned with salt, pepper, a little lime juice and some olive oil.

I served the ribs on a bed of rice, with a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives and got busy picking up those ribs with my hands and getting stuck in! What a pretty wonderful dinner! The steaming made the meat both juicy and flavorful as you can see from these last couple of pictures- but as usual- you will need to make some yourself to be sure you like them... but somehow I think you will!! ;-)

Going Bananas at Breakfast!

Piccolo Pane con Banane, Avena, Ciliege & Mandorle 
Individual Banana Bread with Oatmeal, Ground Almond & Cherry

Yes, yes... I know... yet another of my little Sunday morning "breakfast in a stone pot" creations. Well- get used to it! Breakfasts don't need to be complicated, you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to drive the car to the same place after all and it is just about having something yummy to get your day going. Am I right, or am I right?

This time, I thought of another way to use up that last over-ripe banana I had, that I was feeling too guilty about to just throw it away- because I KNEW I could manage to do something with it. Banana loaves are a much loved way to do just that- but I only had the one banana and I didn't particularly want to have to deal with having a whole loaf to consume by myself... that would have been the next left-over dilemma! So I made myself a little, individual loaf in a baking dish and added fresh cherries into the mix to make it a little more special... and ended up making it a lot more special! And I made it like this...

I mashed the banana and added 2 tablespoons of ground almonds and 3 of oatmeal to it. Next came a small splash of milk, a teaspoon of Stevia, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of baking powder. I beat this together, simply using the fork I had mashed the banana up with and set it to one side whilst I pitted and quartered the cherries.
It only took 5-6 cherries for this individual serving.

I spooned half of the mixture into my little baking dish and covered it with cherries, then spooned the other half on top and covered it in cherries again... only this time a little bit more decoratively being as there would be visible! I then popped it into a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 15 minutes, after which time it had puffed-up about a quarter of its size again and was beginning to form a crust.

At that point, I took it out of the oven, gave it a drizzle of honey and then returned it for 2-3 minutes under the broiler to brown and become crispy... yum! Obviously, I could have waited for it to cool and removed it from the dish to enjoy... but being as impatient as I am, I just spooned it straight out of there whilst it was still warm! Chances are you will do the same! And chances are, you will enjoy the moist, nutty and fruity flavor- just mildly sweet and low in fat, it is also as healthy as it is yummy! So go ahead and give it a try... and enjoy!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Beautiful Fruitiful!

Zabaione di Cointreau, Ciliege e Nocepesca
Cointreau Zabaione with Cherry & Nectarine

I admit, I was on a bit of a roll this evening... so I did the unusual thing of making myself a dessert, even though I had just enjoyed a really yummy and substantial main course! I do, definitely think, that delicious as desserts are, we should not be eating them after every meal. No, they should be a treat, to be enjoyed with friends and something to look forward to rather than a standard. We are all trying to eat more healthily and to stay fit and trim... so it is good to enjoy these things in moderation. End of sermon!

At the same time, I also think that is is possible to make delicious and light sweet dishes, low on fat and sugar and high on taste and flavor. Like this one for example! This consisted of 1 nectarine, 5-6 fresh cherries, an egg and a shot of Cointreau. Well maybe 2 shots... but  it was worth it!

This was not quite a classic zabaione, but it was easy, fast and delicious, so I am going to share with you how I did it. I started off by separating the egg yolk from the egg white. Into the egg yolk I added the Cointreau, a teaspoon of Stevia, a little vanilla essence, a tiny pinch of salt and a pinch of cinnamon. I whisked this over a "bain Marie"- a metal bowl placed above boiling water, until it became light and fluffy and frothy. And yes, I used my electric whisk! 

I then set this to one side to cool off and whisked the egg white, also with a little Stevia and a pinch of salt, until it was nice and creamy. 

I then pitted the cherries and sliced the nectarine, turned on the oven to a high heat to prepare it, and went about putting my dessert together. I gently stirred the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and poured this into my baking dish. I then added the fruit, making sure it was spread out nicely and evenly. 

Into the oven it went- at 350°F for 10-15 minutes and then for an additional 2-3 minutes under the broiler to brown... it was that simple! It is pretty amazing how much volume develops when beating one little egg! This would have probably been enough for 2... but sadly I was on my own and had to sacrifice myself and eat the whole lot! Oh well! So much for my theory about not over-indulging in dessert! On the other hand... this was so ultra harmless that I enjoyed it without any pangs of conscience... lucky me!

Liver Little Better!

Fegato di Tacchino con Salvia, Cippoletti e Polenta
Turkey Liver with Sage & Onion on Polenta

It had just been too, too long since I last enjoyed a nice meal with liver... and don't go rolling your eyes at me! If you don't think it is as delicious as I do- of course it is all a matter of taste... but you are missing out on something wonderful! Especially if it is my favorite- turkey liver, which is in my opinion the tastiest, mildest and has the best consistency of any liver I have tried.

The flavors are also pretty classic... sage and onion, with bacon, rosemary and garlic and then a sprinkle of oregano at the end to show my Sicilian roots again! And to make this dish just as wonderful and delicious as can be!

The first thing to do with the liver, is to cut away any sinews on the bottom side of it and then to lightly lift off the gossamer-thin membrane that covers it... if you can! It is a little tricky, but if you slide a sharp knife below the edge of your cut, you can lift it and gently pull it away. You should at least give this a go as it WILL make the liver more tender later if you can manage it.

I then trimmed it into shape and laid a sage leaf on top. The sage I got today just so happened to have HUGE leaves! If your sage is not quite as large, go ahead and use 2 or 3 leaves- you want to get plenty of flavor in there! Lay a 2-3" piece of Spring onion on top of the sage leaf and wrap the whole thing together with a thin rasher of bacon. Finished!

Start frying your bacon-wrapped liver parcels in a hot frying pan from the rear side first. As soon as it begins to sizzle, reduce the heat and add your slices of polenta into the frying pan too. I admittedly used a pre-cooked polenta and recommend you do the same thing if you are preparing this dish for yourself or just for 2 people. Life is too short to go to all the trouble otherwise for something so simple!

Pop a crushed clove of garlic into the pan and a pat of butter and continue frying, flipping the polenta and the liver occasionally until they begin to brown. When the polenta is nice and golden, add a few leaves of rosemary and some coarsely ground black pepper. I hope you know that liver should not be seasoned with salt until it is fully cooked as it otherwise becomes tough as shoe leather... if not- well you do now!

Once the polenta is nice and golden, remove it from the pan and add a nice sprinkle of oregano to the liver. Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of honey and now, finally your salt- and stir the liver around until it gets a wonderful golden glaze... delicious!

Serve with some fresh arugula and enjoy with a glass of Corvo (of course!). And I am pretty sure even a non-lover-lover will love this! Of course... I happen to be slightly biased there ;-)... but you will!

Bready, Steady, Go!

Insalata di Straccetti di Pane, Pera, Miele & Formaggiu Blu
Pizza Bread, Rocket, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad with Honey

I love managing to come up with meals, using basically the scraps that I have left over in my fridge- it is just very, very cool as well as being sensible, to use the produce that you have responsibly. And it is fun! This main part of this salad dish is indeed made of scraps of pizza dough from the other day- and the word "straccetti", literally means "rags" or "scraps" in Italian... how very fitting indeed!

Together with blue cheese and pear of course, this makes for a classic combination but in a fun, new way. The best thing is that the dough can be "baked" in your frying pan and that this can be made wonderfully fresh in just 15 minutes! So... what are you waiting for? Let's get started!

So- it really couldn't be easier... all that you need to do, is to tear the pizza dough into small, bite-sized chunks and to flatten it out with the ball of your thumb. Squash it down and then simply place it into a dry frying pan... it will soon begin to bake and change color. Flip the pieces of dough over as soon as they have become firm enough and brown both sides gently. Don't add any oil at this point... first let them "bake"- and then as soon as they are lightly brown, add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, a crushed clove of garlic and a little rosemary... just to perfume it nicely- and add a sprinkle of sea salt and a little pepper.

The rest is pretty easy- it is just assembly work! Layer up your salad with rocket leaves, the bread pieces (as soon as they are cool!), slices of pear and thinly sliced Spring onion. I put the onion slices into the pan as soon as I removed the bread and let them take-in the residual heat... this makes the onion soften a little, but also lose its harshness... a clever trick! It just makes for a "smoother" combination alongside the blue cheese, which is already very strong flavored.

I seasoned the salad further with some smoked paprika flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, a little squeezed lemon zest and a drizzle of honey. A little balsamic glaze will give it that extra kick and you can be sure that the combination of sweet, savory and crunchy will be terrific! Give it a go... or you will never know ;-) !