New Year, New Recipes – from Giancarlo …

Why not start your year with trying to recreate some more recipes devised by our friend and celebrity chef Giancarlo Caldesi?  Below we have detailed a few more dishes that he has shared with us and you – buon appetito!

Sugo Finto (Roman tomato sauce and soup)
This is so called as originally it was (and can still be) made with pork fat and meat stock so it is a false or “finto” meat sauce. It is delicious but as I don’t usually have small amounts of fat and stock lying around I tend to make it without. This does make a rough textured sauce but you might like it like that or you can put it through a passatutto (food mill) or blend with a stick blender to make it smooth and velvety. If you do blend it, it will turn quite bright orange in colour so don’t be alarmed. It’s very pretty on pasta or as a soup like this decorated with basil leaves and Parmesan shavings.  For a soup simply add more water or stock to dilute it.
Serves 6

1 celery stick
1 medium white or red onion
1 carrot
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Large sprig basil and parsley, if you have them
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
3 400g tins of whole plum or cherry tomatoes

Finely chop the celery, onion and carrot by hand or in a food processor taking care that the pieces are small, even tiny, but not pureed. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the soffritto. Fry over a medium heat until soft, this should take around 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and fry for a couple of minutes more so that the garlic softens. Add the tomatoes and use a potato masher to mash them down. Wash the tins out each with half a tin of water and add this to the saucepan. Heat the tomatoes until they start to bubble then turn the heat down to simmer and leave the sauce to cook for around 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the herbs. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if necessary. The sauce should be sweet from the carrots and balanced well with the salt and pepper.

Carciofi alla Romana (Roman Artichokes with Mint)
The Romans use mentuccia, a mint with small furry leaves that we call lesser calamint, but other types of mint will work equally well. This recipe first appeared in my book The Italian Cookery Course and was given to me by Gino Borella who worked as a chef in Rome for many years. Gino’s cooking is always rich and full of flavour so I see no reason to alter his recipe now.
Serves 6 as a starter

12 small artichokes
1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
15 large mint leaves, finely chopped
small handful of parsley (approx. 7 g/1/4 oz), finely chopped
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
100 ml (31/2 fl oz) water
salt and freshly ground black pepper

First clean and prepare the artichokes. Begin by pulling off the tough outer leaves; be brutal when removing them as tough leaves won’t break down during cooking and you want the artichokes to be soft throughout. Trim the remaining leaves with a sharp knife, cutting roughly a third off the top. You can do this with a sharp paring knife. Cut the end off the stalk leaving approximately 5 cm (2 in) of stalk still on the artichoke. Cut away the dark tough outer parts of the remaining bit of stalk, exposing the paler inner stalk, and slice off the base scales of the artichoke with a knife. If the artichokes are young, and they should be, there shouldn’t be a fluffy choke inside, but if there is remove it with a spoon.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, mint and parsley, and stuff the mixture into the artichoke centres.

Get a lidded saucepan just big enough to snugly hold all the artichokes in when they’re stood up in the pan with the heads down and stalks sticking up. You want the artichokes to be quite closely packed together when you add them to the pan, so that they won’t fall over while cooking. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Gently place the artichokes in the pan, heads down and stalks up.

Pour in the water and if you have any leftover herbs you can add these too. Cover with a lid and leave to cook at a simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Shake the pan frequently to make sure they don’t stick and add a little hot water if they look dry. Serve warm with any juices from the pan.

Buon Appetito!


Soft sienese biscuits
This recipe calls for a mixture of sweet and bitter almonds, which are available in Italy. If you are unable to locate either of these, you can use plain almonds instead.

75g plain flour, sifted
300g ground sweet almonds
50g bitter almonds
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
40g caster sugar
6 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Cover the baking sheet with greaseproof paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the caster sugar, flour, almonds, half the icing sugar and baking powder.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff adding the caster sugar as you go. Fold into the almond-sugar mixture.
Take 2 spoons and form quenelles (raised oval shapes) bu pushing the mixture between two spoons and then dropping them gently into a bowl of the remaining icing sugar to coat them.
Remove each quenelle and place on the baking sheet, spaced apart.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack before serving. They can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.

Salsa ai Formaggi Dimenticati
Sauce with forgotten cheeses
Generous pinch of salt
200g of cheeses such as Fontina, Gorgonzola, Pecorino, Asiago, Taleggio
150ml double cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, to garnish
Dried pasta
Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the salt and bring to boil over a medium-high heat.
Place the pasta in the water and boil until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, slice the cheese into small pieces and place in a large saucepan.
Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Add pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring often until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Drain the pasta. Stir in the cheese mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with Parmesan and, if desired, more pepper to taste.


Venice by Katie and Giancarlo (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography: Helen Cathcart

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