Affogato: a dessert with classic Italian simplicity, sent from heaven

Picture from BBC Good Food

Picture from BBC Good Food

It’s no exaggeration to say that Affogato is my latest addiction; I won’t say ‘guilty pleasure’, because if you make it with low fat ice cream (which really doesn’t affect the taste all that much) its not actually that bad. And because of the caffeine content, it’s an energy boost and tasty treat in one (and we all need an energy boost these days).

It’s no secret that I’m largely obsessed with all things Italian (it’s a crying shame that I wasn’t born there) and Affogato is a traditionally Italian desert. It’s also one of the simplest things on the planet to make (‘make’ is actually a bit of a stretch); I almost feel like its too simple to blog as a recipe, but hey, this place is about sharing my food loves and this is certainly one of them.

So, what do you need to make it? Well, for each portion you’ll need:

  • One double espresso
  • One scoop of vanilla ice cream

And to make it?

  • Place one scoop of ice cream into a nice bowl, pour over the espresso.

Yes, it really is as simple as that!

I tend to add a squeeze of agave syrup (a natural alternative to processed sugar) to my espresso before pouring it onto the ice cream; you can even melt a piece of dark chocolate in there (but then it’s not technically Affogato in the strictest sense of the word) but as in life, do whatever makes you happy. I sometimes crumble a dark chocolate digestive into mine which adds a lovely texture as it starts to dissolve. Yum! I’ve also seen a Jamie Oliver recipe with dark cherries, but I tend to keep my fruit and my desserts as far apart as possible (unless we’re talking apple cake).

Eating Affogato is a bit like eating an iced coffee with a spoon, and as iced coffees have potentially overtaken pizza as my favourite thing on the planet, you can see why this simple dessert is such a big hit with me.

If you like espresso, simplicity, and feeling Italian, I’d stake my favourite espresso spoon* on it being a big hit with you too.

Enjoy!

Love Dolly xx

*if you don’t like it, you can’t actually have my espresso spoon. I love it far, far too much.

Easy tortilla pizza

Mouth-wateringly good!

Mouth-wateringly good!

It’s no secret that I love pizza. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, pizza would be it. Now I know that’s not particularly adventurous, but I never, ever get bored of it. I do however recognise that it’s not the healthiest of foods, so with spring on the horizon, I decided to have a go of making my own sort-of-healthy-because-it’s-not-doughy pizza.

Instead of baking up a batch of dough, I used tortilla wraps which become incredibly crispy in the oven; and because they’re so thin, the topping is centre of attention ― the way nature (and the Italian gods) intended. I am thin crust all the way, and this is about as thin as it gets.

I’m not giving you exact quantities because it depends how many you’re making and how much topping you like (and also because I made it up as I went along without measuring), so use your common sense to adjust accordingly.

To recreate the magic, you’ll need:

  • Tortilla wraps or flat breads
  • Tomato purée
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Red wine
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Chorizo (or whatever meat/veggie option you prefer)
  • Freshly torn basil leaves

Making the magic happen:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Chop a clove of garlic with one red chilli (or some dried chilli flakes). Fry in a pan with a little olive oil
  3. Add a squeeze of tomato puree (about 1-2 tbsp), followed by a glug of red wine and a little water
  4. Mix well then spread across your tortillas
  5. Cover them with a grating of cheddar cheese (or some torn mozzarella) and whatever meat or veg you’ve plumped for. If using chorizo (like me), fry it before adding to the pizza
  6. Pop in the oven for a few minutes, keeping an eye on your tortilla pizzas so they don’t burn
  7. Take them out and put the tray on a hot hob to make sure the bottom is nice and crisp; then finish off with a few torn basil leaves

Enjoy with a cold glass of Prosecco – the Italian way.

(Told you it was easy).

Love Emma xx

Italian sausage and fennel penne pasta

After a hectic weekend in Leeds, followed by this week’s mystery illness, I haven’t had the time/ physical capacity to bake (sob); so instead, I’m cheating and bringing you one of my dad’s top pasta dishes.

This is, without doubt, one of my all time favourites, owing to the richness of the meat and sauce mixture, and the unusual taste that the fennel seeds deliver. It’s hearty, it’s warming, and it’s more than a little bit satisfying.

You’ll need:

  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1–2 fresh red chillies (stalks removed)
  • 6 quality sausages (we used finest Italian fennel and herb sausages)
  • 1 heaped tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh basil
  • 500g dried penne
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for a generous sprinkling over the finished dish

 Make the magic happen:

  1. Trim your spring onions, carrot and celery, then roughly chop and throw into a food processor with the chillies
  2. Blitz before adding the sausages, followed by 1 heaped tsp of fennel seeds and 1 tsp of oregano
  3. Pulse the mixture until well mixed, then spoon into a hot frying pan with a good glug of olive oil, stirring it to break up the mixture

    It'll get tastier

    It’ll get tastier

  4. Cook your pasta in a large saucepan on a low heat with salted boiling water
  5. Whilst that’s cooking, crush 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic into your sausage mixture

    Glorious garlic

    Glorious garlic

  6. Pour in 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

    The vinegar really packs a punch

    The vinegar really packs a punch

  7. Followed by the tinned tomatoes

    Toms: my most hated ingredient; but luckily the flavour is taken over

    Toms: my most hated ingredient; but luckily the flavour is taken over

  8. When your pasta is cooked, drain (saving a wineglass full of the cooking water). Add the pasta to the sauce and meat mix, along with some of the cooking water (you’re looking for a silky consistency)
  9. Tip into a large serving bowl, cover with a generous grating of Parmesan, and sprinkle over a few freshly torn basil leaves

    Perfecto!

    Perfecto!

Enjoy with a large glass of full bodied red, and a few slices of garlic flatbread.

Love Emma xx

Chicken, lemon and chive risotto

It’s a close call between this and Chinese crispy shredded duck, but risotto has to take the top spot as my all time favourite food — but only when it’s made properly.

Because my dad is such a great Italian cook (he’s not actually Italian, he just cooks like he is), he knocks up the best risotto I’ve ever, ever tasted. As a result, I can rarely order it in restaurants as invariably, I end up disappointed.

So, this is my gift to you: my dad’s chicken, lemon and chive risotto. It’s like a big ol’ hug in a bowl. The sort of hug you need on a really cold winter’s night after a really bad day at work. But you have to make it with love, else it just won’t taste the same, ok?

You’ll need:

Hats off to Italy

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 10oz risotto rice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Half a bunch of fresh chives (chopped), with extra for sprinkling
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1.5oz butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 150ml white wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • The grated rind and juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 3oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper

Make the magic happen

  1. Cut the chicken into small pieces and fry on a medium heat in olive oil
  2. Take a large, heavy based saucepan and bring your stock to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer
  3. In another pan, heat olive oil and a knob of butter over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring regularly

    Action stations!

  4. Add the uncooked rice and mix so that it’s coated with the oil and butter, stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes until the grains have become translucent in appearance
  5. Add the wine and cook until reduced, stirring constantly
  6. Add a ladleful of the hot chicken stock, stirring constantly until absorbed. Repeat this until all of the stock has been added, then pour in the fresh lemon juice. You don’t want it to be dry as risotto is meant to be oozy and creamy, so cook for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the consistency. The rice should be creamy but firm to the bite (‘al dente’ as the Italians say)

    Lovingly ladled

  7. Add in the chicken and lemon rind, then stir well

    All coming together

  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, mixing well until melted. Pop in your chopped chives and parmesan, along with the salt and pepper and stir

    Creamy goodness

  9. Transfer into a large bowl and sprinkle the rest of the chopped chives and parmesan over the top

    Buon appetito

Enjoy with a glass of your favourite wine and a piece of foccacia bread.

Love Emma xx