Ham, cheese and potato pie

Want to try this easy ham and potato pie recipe? You need only a few ingredients and about an hour. You can serve it as is or add a green salad for a more complete meal.

prep time 15 min     cook time 5 min + 50 min
  • 370g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 100g ham, diced
  • 3+1 medium size potatoes
  • 200g mozzarella (or provola), diced
  • sprig of rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C

2. Peel and dice 3 potatoes. Fry them with a sprig of rosemary in a pan with a little bit of oil for about 5-6 min. Season with just a dash of salt. Don’t worry if the potatoes are not cooked through, they will cook in the oven.

3. Unroll the puff pastry with its baking parchment onto a baking tray. A spring pan will work too. Layer the potatoes, then ham and mozzarella.

4. Slice the last potato into thin slices with a mandolin or a knife. Layer the slices  on top of the pie slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle some salt and pepper, a few fresh rosemary needles and a little bit of oil on top.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden.


Classic tomato bruschetta

Ah bruschetta, one of the best ways to enjoy the bounty of summer. Pronounced “brusketta”, this classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and good olive oil. Use any flavorful, ripe tomato for this recipe. The key to good bruschetta are ripe sweet tomatoes which do not need to be blanched or peeled, good rustic bread and good extra virgin olive oil.

There’s usually no exact quantity of oil mentioned in any Italian bruschetta recipe, I checked 🙂 But let’s say 2 dl of good extra virgin olive oil to start with. Then about the bread. You get the best results with a good rustic bread, better yet if it’s from the day before. Baguette or toast are too soft even after grilling them, they just get soggy.

prep time 10 min + 30 min to marinate
  • 500g ripe sweet tomatoes
  • 8-10 slices of rustic bread
  • handful of fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • clove of garlic (optional)

1. Prepare first the tomatoes. Dice them, I prefer mine relatively big, but you can dice them very small if you like and put them in a bowl. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl. When chopped, the leaves turn dark, sometimes they even take on a black quality that’s not very pretty. Add salt, remember that tomatoes love salt, and then the oil. Stir well and let marinate at least 30 minutes. Taste.

2. Grill the slices of bread on both sides on the grill or in the oven. If you are in a pinch, you can toast them. Gasp! No oil needed to coat the bread before grilling them.

3. When the bread is ready, you can swipe the top side with a peeled garlic clove and sprinkle some salt and olive oil on it. That’s the simplest way to enjoy  bruschetta. You can also swipe the bread with garlic before adding the tomatoes.

4. Spoon the tomatoes on the grilled bread a few minutes before serving. I prefer letting the tomatoes sit on the bread for at least 10 minutes. I don’t mind if they get soaked a little. I think it’s more flavourful.

Tip: you can substitute rucola for basil


Savoury muffins

Make a batch of savoury muffins for a snack or an appetiser. They are also great for a light lunch or dinner with a bowl of salad. They are easy to make and you can use a plethora of vegetables and cheese or a combination of these.

prep time 10 min     cook time 25 min
ingredients for 12 muffins
  • 125 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • dash of salt
  • 200 g plain yogurt ( or ricotta)
  • 150 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 50 g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 spring onion or a small onion
  • 100 g feta (or blue cheese)
  • 1 Tbls fresh thyme
  • 75 g grated cheese

1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and grease a muffin tin.

2. Melt the butter and let cool. Beat the eggs, salt and the yogurt lightly into the butter.

3. Mix the flour and baking powder and then add this to the batter with a spoon just until combined. Do not beat.

4. Drip the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and mince them. Dice also the onion, crumble the feta and add all this to the batter.

5. Add the thyme (you can also use dried thyme) and half of the grated cheese.

6. Fill the muffin tin and add the remaining cheese.

7. Bake at 200C for 15-20 min until the muffins have a nice golden crust. Serve lightly cooled.

Tip: try chives, celery, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, leek,  button mushrooms, baby spinach ( I had a few zucchini flowers that I tossed into the mix), different kinds of cheese, bacon, sausage or ham, fresh (or dried) herbs like oregano, basil, lemon thyme, marjoram.

Tip: these freeze well.


Pomodorini confit (slow cooked cherry tomatoes)

These pomodorini confit, the slow cooked cherry tomatoes are used to accompany pasta dishes or to garnish many main courses. They can be offered also as an appetiser or a side dish or in panini or on bruschetta. You can also store them in the fridge in a glass jar, totally covered with extra virgin olive oil for about 2 weeks. Pomodorini confit are deliciously caramelized cherry tomatoes. The secret is to evaporate the water out of the tomatoes, without making them too dry. So you need to cook them at low temperature for 2 hrs.

prep time 10 min    cook time 90-120 min
ingredients for 1 normal size oven tray
  • 1 kg cherry tomatoes, or date or piccadilly or any kind of baby tomatoes as ripe as possible
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbls sugar
  • fresh herbs like thyme, marjoram
  • oregano fresh or dried
  • 2-3 garlic cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (280°F). Set baking rack to middle position.

2. Wash the tomatoes,  pat dry and cut in half.

3. Place them cut side up onto a large baking tray, on top of parchment paper.

4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the herbs and a little bit of sugar on top of each one. Add the garlic cloves here and there, no need to peel them.

5. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. (don’t mind the glass jars underneath the tray, I was sterilising them)

6. Bake for 2 hrs. The time depends on your oven and the size of the tomatoes.

This is after 90 minutes in my oven.

This is how they look after 2 hrs in the oven. NOW they are ready.


Ricotta rustic pie

Spinach ricotta rustic pie makes a yummy light dinner or a fantastic appetiser.  If you are looking for something light and meatless, this pie is perfect.

prep time 10 min     cook time 30-40 min
  • 1 pre-made puff pastry
  • 300g spinach, cooked to wilt
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 250g ricotta
  • 60g Parmigiano, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 yolk + a dash of milk

1. Preheat oven to 180 C

2. Roll out the pastry dough and place it in a lightly greased round pan.

3. Cook the spinach in oil for 10 min to wilt. Add some salt. Then drain well.

4. Mix in a bowl ricotta and Parmigiano and add the well drained spinach, a dash of salt and some pepper.

5. Place the filling onto the pie crust and brush the dough with a beaten yolk and milk mixture.

6. Bake in a 180 C oven for 30-40 min until the crust is golden.


Baked Crispy Chicken Wings

These easy crispy chicken wings go well with fries, veggies or a salad but they are even more fabulous as an appetizer .

prep time 10 min     cook time 45 min
ingredients for 4
  • 1 kg chicken wings
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

2. Sprinkle salt on the wings.

3. Whisk the eggs, add a little salt and pepper, then the zest of the lemon and the juice of half the lemon.

4. Chop parsley and add it to the bread crumbs.

5. Dip the wings in the egg mixture, then coat them in breadcrumbs and place in an ovenproof dish previously covered with parchment paper.

6. Cook for about 45 min or until the wings are cooked through, flipping them once halfway through.

You can serve them with a sauce of your choice but at my house no sauce is needed. They are gone in a blink of an eye!


Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant or aubergine is a fabulous dish, serve it warm as a side dish, cold as an antipasto or chopped in a salad. Eggplants are in season in summer but you can find them all year round in most places. Eggplants can be tricky, using too much oil they become slimey, leaving them too thick gives them an unpleasant texture. The key is salting which draws out the bitterness and leaves them less “spongy” hence they absorb less oil.

prep time 5 min + salting time     cook time 20 min
  • 2 medium size eggplants
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley

1. Cut the eggplants crosswise into about 0,5cm thick slices, place them in a colander and sprinkle some salt on them. Put a plate and a weigh on top and let sweat/degorge for 20-30 minutes. Rinse them quickly and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

2. In the meantime prepare a mix of oil and parsley in a serving dish.

3.  Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and grill eggplant slices until tender and slightly charred, about 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Grill a small patch at a time and place the grilled slices directly in the dish with the oil and parsley mix or you can brush the slices with the mix.

Tip: you can add thinly sliced garlic into the mix


Fried zucchini rounds

Fried zucchini rounds are almost as good as fried zucchini blossoms 🙂 The batter I make with flour and cold sparkling water gives the fried zucchini a very light and crispy coating almost like tempura.

prep time 15 min     cooking time  10 min total
  • 1-2 zucchini
  • 3-5dl peanut oil
  • 1dl flour
  • 2 dl COLD sparkling water/mineral water
  • pinch of salt

Disclaimer: the quantities are very approximative.

1. Wash and cut the zucchini into thin even slices with a mandoline slicer  or a knife and pat them dry.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot or pan over medium high until the oil is hot but not smoking.

3. In the meantime make the batter: Take the water out of the fridge just before using it. Blend the batter to the consistency of a heavy cream.  Add a pinch of salt.

4. Dip or soak the zucchini rounds in the batter and fry them in batches for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.

5. Drain on paper towels or better yet on brown paper sheets for fried food, season with salt and serve hot.


Italian frisella

Italian frisella is a quick and light lunch option, or a light dinner option too for that matter, if you are not in a mood to cook anything.  There are many options for the topping: tomatoes, tuna, anchovy, feta or other cheese or even grilled vegetables. My favorite ones are with tomatoes and tuna or tomatoes and feta with olives and capers thrown here and there.

prep time 10 minutes
ingredients for 1 frisella
  • 1 frisella
  • 80g tuna, broken into bits
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 artichoke hearts in oil, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of capers
  • salt
  • dried oregano

1. Soak the frisella under a running cold water for 15 seconds and put in on a plate.

2. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the toppings with some salt, a little more olive oil and oregano.


Fried zucchini flowers Roman style

I love fried zucchini flowers. There are many ways to prepare zucchini flowers depending on the cook and the region. My favourites are Roman style deep fried flowers. There are also different ways to prepare the batter. Mine is prepared with flour and cold sparkling water to obtain a very light and crispy coating.

Fry up a batch, enjoy them fresh, then do more. That way they stay crisp and light. You want male flowers which have stems. Females are attached to the squash. Ask for flowers at farmers’ markets and in specialty food shops. Be sure the blossoms are from zucchini as other squash flowers often have strong, unpleasant flavors.

If you need to wash the flowers, do it very gently and dry them suspended upside down. I never wash them, gasp! Use a cold-pressed vegetable oil (peanut or grape seed oil are best), if possible.

prep time 10 min     cook time 15 min
ingredients for 12 flowers
  • 12 male zucchini flowers
  • 3-5dl peanut oil
  • 1dl flour
  • 2 dl COLD sparkling water/mineral water
  • 12 pieces, about 1 cm, of anchovy
  • 12 pieces, about 1 cm, of mozzarella
  • salt

It is very hard to give exact quantities because I make the batter without measurements so bear with me. I’ll illustrate with photos.

Take the water out of the fridge just before using it. Blend the batter to the consistency of a heavy cream.  Add a pinch of salt.

Gently remove the pistil from each flower. Here it is removed.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot or pan over medium high until the oil is hot but not smoking.

Place one piece of anchovy and mozzarella in each blossom.

Dip the blossoms in the batter

Fry two to three blossoms at a time on both sides for a few minutes until crispy and golden brown.

Drain on paper towels or better yet on brown paper sheets for fried food, season with salt and serve hot.