Italian Specialties

pulled pork in red wine sauce

Pulled Pork in Red wine sauce: slow-cooked and juicy

This pulled pork in red wine sauce is my favourite sauce to serve with polenta. It also makes a juicy filling for wraps and sloppy burgers. Made with pork shoulder, red wine, tomato concentrate, herbs and spices. How to make the Pulled Pork in Red wine sauce Step 1- Sear the pork shoulder Step 2 – Make the seasoning mix Step 3 – Making the red wine sauce Step 4 – Slow-cook the pork in the red wine sauce

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Polenta Taragna

Polenta Taragna – a northern Italian delicacy. Using a thermal food processor or instant mix.

Polenta Taragna is a dish, consisting of Polenta flour mix, butter and cheese. Polenta is a typical dish from the Valleys in the Italian northern regions (i.e. Bergamo, Brescia and Valtellina). Unlike the typical Polenta, Polenta Taragna is made with a mixture of corn flour and buckwheat flour. The dish is also commonly called Taragna. Walking through Valtellina, you can’t help but eat one of the local culinary traditions’ signature dishes: polenta taragna! I’m sharing my version of this hearty dish to prepare for the impending winter weather! A sprinkle of corn and buckwheat flour adds a typical dark colour and rustic flavour, while the cheeses add a particular smoothness. The traditional Valtelina family zealously keeps its secret for a flawless Taragna, and the cheeses used can vary depending on the areas or the custom passed down by their ancestors, thus utilising Branzi, Casera, or Fontina! This rich dish can be enjoyed alone, as a single dish, or with sausages or grilled meats or stews. I especially love it served with slow-cooked pulled pork. Polenta Taragna is an engaging meal capable of carrying all of the area’s rich flavours. How to make Polenta Taragna using a Thermal food processor Thermal food processors are a great investment for professional cooks, chefs and/or anyone who does heavy cooking. Polenta is a dish that requires many minutes of stirring over heat, hence making it in a food processor saves both time and energy. How to make instant mix Polenta Taragna in 5 minutes If you prefer to make it by hand or if you don’t have a Thermomix; this 5-minute instant recipe is for you.

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Pumpkin Risotto

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto (Without butter)

Pumpkin risotto is one of my favourite dishes for the autumn(fall)/winter months. It’s pumpkin season and pretty much everything made with pumpkin and squashes is delicious. Risotto especially is loved by many because of its creaminess, balance of sweet and salty, and the hearty feeling it gives. As delicious as a pumpkin risotto is, making the dish seems difficult for many people specifically the thought of carving a pumpkin. You can familiarise yourself with some of my other risotto recipes such as Banga Risotto and Jollof Risotto. Then continue reading below to see how to easily prepare a pumpkin. How to prepare a whole pumpkin (Kabocha Squash) Many people struggle with preparing whole pumpkins, especially kabocha squash because of its hard and rough exterior. As tempting as it is to buy already packaged chopped pumpkin, nothing beats making a meal from a fresh whole pumpkin. It’s easier than it seems. Cut the pumpkin in half, and discard the seeds by scooping them out with a spoon. Then drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil and place each half, cut sides down, on a lined oven tray. Place in the oven and bake at 200° Celsius for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and let stand for 10 minutes. The skin and the pulp would have naturally separated and you can pull the skin off with your hands. You could also easily just scoop the pulp with a spoon. Voila! You have a toasted freshly made pumpkin flesh with a depth of caramelised flavour. You can now make a delicious Pumpkin Risotto using the pulp you just made. Here are the other ingredients you’ll need: Step 1 – Toast the rice with onions and olive oil In a large pan with olive oil, saute the onions until slightly brown, then add the Carnaroli rice, stir and toast the rice until translucent. Step 2 – Splash some wine on the rice and simmer with hot stock/broth Pour in the white wine, stir and let it evaporate. Start pouring in the hot stock/broth one ladle at a time while stirring continually for about 15 minutes. It is important that the vegetable stock/broth is hot to maintain the cooking temperature. Step 3 – Bring the pumpkin risotto to life. Add the previously made pumpkin paste and continue stirring until the rice is cooked (you can add some more stock/broth if it looks dry). Then add the parmesan cheese and give it one last vigorous mixture to boost the creaminess. Serve hot! Topping it with an optional sour cream or plain yoghurt and pumpkin seeds. Enjoy.

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Zesty Watermelon Granita in a glass cup

Easy Refreshing Watermelon Granita made with 3 ingredients

This Watermelon Granita is the perfect cold refreshment for the summer. Granita is the next best thing to a gelato or ice cream. Although similar to a sorbet and a slushy their textures are different. Sorbet is softer and smoother and can be scooped like gelato/ice cream. A granita is crunchy with bits just like shaved ice. Hence the name granita, which sounds like ‘granite’, granite which is coarse and grainy just like a granita. Granita originates in the south of Italy, in the region of Sicily. These shave-like ice crystals are served all year round but are most popular in the summer. As the granita is a perfect icy refreshment for hot weather, especially in July and August. One of my favourites for the summer months is a zesty watermelon granita. On the itinerary of most travellers to the region of Sicily is to try the granita. Delicious when served with a freshly baked soft brioche or on its own. One of the most popular Italian franchises that serve delicious granita is GROM. They offer a variety of gelato and granita flavours. What makes a granita? Granita is typically made with water, flavourings, and colouring. However, when I make a granita, I like to use the actual fruit instead of artificial flavours. In addition, using the fruit itself gives a natural colour. Some of my favourite fruits to use are blueberries, watermelon and oranges. Sometimes a layer of all three or a mixture of two. I had a large piece of leftover watermelon. Hence why I opted to make this zesty watermelon granita. Watermelons are very refreshing, sweet, colourful and perfect for the summertime. Only three ingredients were used in making this zesty watermelon granita. It could easily be two ingredients (fruit and sugar)depending on the blender/food processor’s power. Watermelon – Any fruit of your choice will work also. You can start with this zesty watermelon granita recipe. Then experiment with other fruits. Sugar – The addition of sugar in a granita is important because it aids the crystallization effect. If you take out the sugar you will most likely end up with a sorbet or a slushy. Orange – The natural sweetness of the watermelon with the addition of sugar can be a little much. I choose to add both the orange juice and zest to add a little zestiness. This creates a richer dual-toned flavour. The liquid also aids in blending the frozen fruit into a smoother paste. Another zesty recipe you might be interested in is: Orange Upside-Down Cake with Italian Apéritif and another cold choice of beverages you might like are Dalgona Coffee Whipped 3 Ways

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Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto: a Southern Nigerian fusion

Banga Risotto: a Southern Nigerian palm-fruit and Italian seafood fusion

Rice dishes are a staple across the world. From Italian Risotto, Spanish Paella, Chinese Fried, Nigerian Jollof Rice; it is rare to meet a group of people that don’t have their own native rice dish. As a Nigerian who loves Jollof amongst other rice dishes, I am here to introduce you to Banga rice. A dish that I am tempted to call the southern Nigerian cousin to Jollof rice. However, that will be like comparing apples to oranges. Banga a.k.a palm fruit is a staple in southern Nigeria also known as the Niger Delta region. Produce of Banga includes palm oil, palm kernel nut (and its oil) and medicinal charcoal (from the dried palm shell). Additionally, dishes made from pure unrefined extract (palm fruit extract) include Banga soup, Banga rice and “Kwahkah” (a sweet/savoury pudding made with plantains and corn, similar to cornbread). Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto is my addition to this list of delicious dishes. Aside from Banga, the Niger Delta region is also known for its rich source of seafood. The region hosts some of the largest seafood markets in Nigeria, with several rivers and lakes running through states that make up the region. This region also sits on the Atlantic Ocean. For this recipe, I decided to use locally sourced fresh seafood in Italy. Such as mussels, calamari and shrimp. In summary, this Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto is a fusion of a traditional Nigerian flavour with the classic Italian seafood risotto using Carnaroli rice. How to clean and cook mussels: If you want to learn more about Nigerian food, check out my list of 10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen.

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Eggs, Parmesan cheese & asparagus

Easy Egg Penne Pasta Bake with Asparagus

Pasta bake is a comfort food that everyone loves. It’s easy, delicious and hearty. This is exactly what I had in mind when created this egg penne pasta bake with asparagus. Pasta like Penne, Conchiglie (shells), macaroni and fusilli are great for one-pan oven dishes. These kinds of pasta are dense enough to not get easily overcooked (or mushy) but still small enough to soak in the flavour and richness of the sauce. Their shapes also help to hold within them the sauce. So upon each bite, there is a burst of flavourful sauce within the pasta. For this egg penne pasta bake with asparagus, I opted for some classic ingredients. Such as tomato sauce, cheese (grana Padano) and basil. Plus everyday ingredients that we all have in the kitchen, eggs. A usual addition to pasta bakes, especially with the way I’ve used it in this dish. Instead of the typical egg sauce (that is mixed with cheese etc.), I wanted the eggs to shine as a whole. Not just as a binder in the dish but for its own unique flavour and beauty that balances the dish out. Then my final addition was finger-snapping asparagus. A perfect addition to any dish made during springtime. Perfect to eat when in season, bringing more freshness and vibrancy to this dish. From cooking the pasta in a pot, to mixing it in with the cheese and sauce. Then layered in a baking dish topped with eggs and asparagus. All that was needed was some light seasoning, a few minutes in the oven and a delicious dinner (or lunch) is served!

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