Category Archives: Antipasti

Parmesan Whorls


In the world of quick nibbles, antipasti and finger food, they don’t come much quicker or as fulfilling as these, and like a lot of good recipes it is possible to chop and change the ingredients to suit the occasion. Leave out the paprika and add curry powder and they would make a good intro to an Indian meal. Not strictly traditional but then again, being British, I have grown up in a culture where anything worth having, from any other culture,  was used, hence the existence of Chinese, Indian and kebab restaurants in every British city, town and village. A nice strong cheddar cheese would go well here as a substitute.

DSCN5808Preparation 10 Minutes. Cooking 20 minutes


1 packet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg beaten

150 gm/ 5 oz parmesan cheese, coarsely grated

a little flour for rolling


salt and pepper


On a floured surface, unroll the puff pastry


Brush generously with the beaten egg

Sprinkle on the grated parmesan

Roll the cheese into the pastry


Generously sprinkle with the paprika

Give a good grind with the salt and pepper


Starting from a short end, roll up the pastry


Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool it down and firm up


Using a very sharp knife, slice of rounds at 10 mm/ 3/8 ths inch thick


Transfer onto a baking sheet


Bake in a pre set oven at 200 C/400 F/ Gas 6/Moderate Hot for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown


Cool on a wire rack and then eat . They won’t last too long so get ready to make some more!













Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Antipasti, Cheese, Pastry, Spicy

Deep Fried Stuffed Queen Olives


I just love olives. Any sort. I also cure raw olives bought from a local market in the autumn, and that means I can add all the garlic and herbs I want.

This, however is an antipasto or ordeauve that can be put together in about 10 minutes, using the large or queen olives. You can buy them with stuffing, but it would be a matter of a few minutes to stuff them yourself with red or yellow pepper, garlic or anchovy.



5 or 6 queen olives per person

oil for deep frying


egg, beaten



Drain the olives on kitchen paper

Bring the frying oil up to temperature. If using a deep frying machine then set the temperature to 185 C/360 -370 F. If using a normal saucepan then you want to have the oil deep enough to just cover the olives. If you haven’t got an oil thermometer then the oil is hot enough when a small cube of bread browns in about 2 minutes.

Working quickly dip each olive in turn into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs, repeating the process so as to double dip each olive.

Put each olive into the hot oil for about 2 minutes, turning the olive over at least once.

Remove, when golden, with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve as soon as the last olive is out of the oil. Yummee!


Leave a comment

Filed under All Year, Antipasti, Spicy, Student Food, Student Food

Pear and Gorgonzola Antipasto


We park our car on a piece of land owned by the ‘Torino’ club, of which we are members. The Torino club exists to celebrate the successes of a football club in the premier Italian league,Serie A, and also to allow local men to go of an afternoon to play cards and drink cheap red wine. For our 10 Euros per year we can park and men only can enjoy the relative calm of the club. Now 2 years ago the organisers at the club, invited me, and other members out for lunch at a local restaurant. As is the way of things around here, lunch turned out to be a 15 course blowout that took about 4 1/2 hours. Of those 15 courses, 10 were antipasti. Antipasti are not meant to fill you up, but more to whet your appetite for things to come. Of course some antipasti are so tasty that you really want more.

Pear and Gorgonzola is such an antipasto. When I first had this many years ago, I was unfamiliar with the taste combination, and until I had my first mouthful I was skeptical that it would work. But it is like other taste combinations, that seem to be heaven sent. You want more, but it is quite rich and in the final analysis, a little is just the right amount. Interestingly this taste combination is available locally as a pizza topping.

It is simplicity itself, using just those 2 ingredients, apart from a little butter to grease the dish, and takes no time at all to produce. If you are hosting a dinner party you must include this as one of the courses.

This recipe is for 2 people, but is easily scaled up for any number.


1 large firm pear

100 gm Gorgonzola (dolce rather than piccante)(sweet rather than sharp), which has been in the FREEZER for 2 hours. It needs to be hard enough to grate.

a little butter


Grease a 25 cm/10 inches dia baking dish or similar size rectangular dish.

Cut the pear lengthwise in to 4 equal pieces. Cut out the core from each section.


If the pear is hard or firm then cut slice 3 mm/ 1/8th inch thick. If it is ripe then increase the thickness and use perhaps 2 pears.

Arrange the slices, close together in the baking dish.


Coarsely grate the Gorgonzola, and spread it equally over the pear slices.


Bake for 15 minutes at 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas 4/ Moderate in a pre set oven or for a similar time under a moderate grill.


Serve immediately on hot plates.









Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Cheese, Fruit

Real Grissini or Breadsticks


Let’s talk about grissini, or bread-sticks, and I do not mean the anemic pencils that come in a sealed bag that one is offered in an Italian restaurant. How can anything that has a use-by date 1 year down the line, be called food.

In Italy there are many independent supermarkets, and in these one can happen upon amazing food. So it was several years ago that we went to such a supermarket and there on the deli counter was this basket of proper grissini that had been baked that morning. There were 2 types on offer, green olive and walnut. We bought some to go with our lunch, and they were a revelation. Absolutely no comparison with the industrial stuff offered in a restaurant. They were lumpy and miss-shapen and they had been crafted by hand.

They are simplicity to make and they do not dissolve in your mouth and clog up your teeth either. The beauty of it is that once you make some it is very easy to make more with different flavours and textures. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed

This recipe makes between 15 and 20 depending how thick you make them, and the instructions are for the full kneading method, however if you have a bread making machine, as I have then just put everything in the bowl and select a dough programme, and do something else while it is working.

Preparation time about 2 hours (but most of that is waiting for the dough to rise) and cooking time 20 to 25 minutes


225 gm/8 oz/2 cups bread flour (all white or 1/3rd wholemeal:2/3rds white)

2.5 ml/1/2 teaspoon salt

15 gm/ 1/2 oz yeast or half sachet dried yeast

135 ml/4 1/2 fl oz/scant 2/3 rds cup warm water

30 ml/2 tablespoons olive oil

shelled walnuts

green olives roughly chopped


In a jug, cream the yeast with the water.

Sift the flour and salt together. Pour the water and yeast in to the middle of the flour, add the oil and mix to a soft dough.

Knead on a floured surface for about 5 or 6 minutes and then put it into a bowl, lightly oiling the surface, cover and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.

While the dough is rising chop the olives.




Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in 2, and then roll each out into a rectangular shape about 12 mm/ half inch thick.


Cut into lengths 12 mm/half inch wide.  Roll each piece with a rolling pin so that it is about 30 cm/12 inches long and about 3 mm/ 1/8 inch thick.


Taking each rolled piece, drizzle pieces of walnut or olive pieces along the length




and then carefully roll up the pastry across the width enclosing the filling, and sealing the gap.


Place seam side down on a baking tray that has either been oiled or has parchment on it. Do the rest and then lightly brush them with oil and leave them covered in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a pre-warmed oven set at 200 C/400 F/Gas 6/Moderate to moderate hot oven. They need to be baked until they have a crust but not crisp all the way through. When they are baked cool them on a rack.


These can also be made plain, or with seeds of your choice (sesame,  caraway or whatever takes your fancy)

Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Bread, Season

Sage, Parmesan and Onion Rolls


These are a vegetarian alternative to traditional sausage rolls which are a very common feature of British Christmasses and other important social events. They are very easy to make, and take no time at all. They also freeze well, either before or after baking.

I am indebted to Delia Smith for this recipe, although I have adapted it to suit my own purposes. For instance it is almost impossible to buy cheddar cheese where I live in Italy, and I also use ready made puff pastry.

I find that how ever many I make, it is always too few. They get eaten very quickly.


1  rectangle of ready puff pastry

275 gm/9 oz/ 2 cups   breadcrumbs

225 gm/8 oz/1 1/2 cups  grated parmesan cheese

1 large onion grated

3 tablespoons thick cream

3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

salt and pepper


Unroll the puff pastry

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Take a large spoonfuls in your hand and roll it into a ‘sausage’ of about 2 cm/ 1 inch diameter and lay it along the short edge of the puff pastry.

Carefully roll up and seal with the beaten egg. Cut to release the long roll from the rest of the pastry.

With a sharp knife cut the long roll into 2 cm/1 inch long rolls. Place on a tray covered in baking paper.

Brush with beaten egg.

Place in a pre heated oven set to 220 C/425 F /Gas 7/Hot for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Put them on a cooling rack.

Serve warm or cold or freeze them.










Leave a comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Cheese, Christmas, Spicy

Soy Bean Pate


I do like to spread a pate on sandwiches at teatime, but shop bought pates do seem to me to be expensive, and it is so easy to make your own. Of course making your own means that you can adjust ingredients and or quantities to suit your taste.

What follows is a basic recipe that you can tinker with, adding chili, spices, mushrooms, or vegetables such as red and yellow peppers, as it takes your fancy.


1 tin/can 454 gm/1 lb of cooked soy beans or any other beans to hand (in fact I used a tin of kidney beans as I did not have soy beans).

1 small onion sliced finely

25 gm/1 oz/ 1/4 cup butter or oil

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons of chopped olives, green or black

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

2 or 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs for thickening.

1 dessert spoon of dried parsley

1 dessert spoon dried oregano

salt and pepper


In a small pan soften the onion in the butter or oil for 5 minutes or so.

Drain the beans and put them in a small mixing basin. add the onions, tomato puree, olives, sesame seeds and herbs and using a processor or stick blender reduce to a smooth paste.


Taste and adjust the seasoning to your requirements.

Now add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, blending them into the mixture, adding more to reach a desired consistency.

Put into small jars pushing well down into the corners.

Keep one jar in the fridge and this should be eaten within a week. The other jars should be put into the freezer where they will keep for 6 months or so.

1 Comment

Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Christmas, Pulses, Beans and Nuts, Spicy

Red and Green Pesto



Red  and Green pesto is so easy and quick to make and so full of flavour, you will never want to buy another jar of the factory made stuff again. Either pesto can of course be combined with pasta, rice and as a topping for polenta cubes or other types of finger food.

In the Red, equal quantities of cheese, nuts and sun dried tomatoes go together with garlic, oil, salt and pepper and in the Green, it is equal quantities of cheese, nuts and either basil, sage or even carrot tops go together with garlic,oil,salt and pepper. As easy as that.

In most shop bought pesto, pine nuts are used, however I use walnuts and to my mind they are perfectly acceptable and also much cheaper.


50 gm/2 oz/ 1/4 cup parmesan

50 gm/2 oz/  1/4 cup walnuts shelled

50 gm/2 oz/  1/4 cup (Red) sun dried tomatoes or (Green) fresh basil, fresh sage or fresh green carrot tops

50 ml/2 fl oz / 1/4 cup or so of olive oil

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

a good grind of salt and pepper


Using a stick blender mince up the ingredients with the oil until you have a homogeneous mixture, adding more oil if it is needed.

In the photo I used sage for my green pesto so it does not have the bright green appearance of basil or carrot tops.

Put into a clean jar and keep in the fridge. If you are not going to use it within a week or so then add extra oil to cover the surface to exclude air and then it will keep a couple of months. It is not worth making anymore than this amount at a time as it is so easy to make a fresh batch.


Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Antipasti, Cheese, Main Meal