I often wear my heart on my sleeve…
At least I wear high heels with it!
I want to win a week in a Tuscany Villa! Wouldn’t you?
Italy will always have a special place in my heart after living in Perugia, Umbria in my early twenties. It was a year that taught me a lot about life, myself and la dolce vita – how to enjoy life and appreciate the things you do and people you meet.
Please vote for my recipe here!
The love for all things Italian has been with me ever since I set sights on London nine years ago and to this date my favourite cuisine is that of my second adopted country.
So when a little birdy told me about To Tuscany’s blogger competition; create a Tuscan-inspired recipe that includes three key Toscana ingredients: olive oil, tomatoes and Parmesan; I knew I had to put my cooking skills to the test.
I have only been back to Italy once since living there – this was in 2005 on a romantic weekend to the Eternal City – but sadly I have yet to return to my beloved Perugia.
During my time in Umbria (known as Tuscany’s lesser known sister) I spent many hours travelling around the sunflower-covered rolling hills of Tuscany and the marvellous Renaissance city of Florence – or Firenze, eating and drinking my way through the region.
My favourite thing about Italian food is that it can be quite simple, yet taste ever so delicious – something which the region of Tuscany is particularly known for. The use of local, fresh produce combined with golden olive oil and the most gorgeous of sun kissed tomatoes. Yum…
The recipe I’ve created is Polpette Piccanti – or Spicy Italian Meatballs – which incorporates ingredients which I find to be very ‘Tuscan’. Hope you like it!
1.5 dl olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
100 g pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 red chilies
1 tbls fresh basil
50 g fresh bread crumbs
250 g ricotta
30 g Parmesan, grated
100 g Pancetta
400 g mince (pork or beef)
Salt and pepper to taste
100 g Vittoria tomatoes
Heat 1 dl of the olive oil in a saucepan. Simmer the onion and pine nuts in the oil until the onion softens and the pine nuts are golden brown. Add garlic and chili and let simmer for a couple of more minutes. Let cool.
Fry the pancetta and let cool.
Mix basil (nothing like the scent of fresh basil filling the kitchen while cooking), bread crumbs, ricotta, parmesan and egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion and pine nut mix, the pancetta and the mince. Add salt and pepper according to taste. Mix everything together then place in the fridge for at least one hour – preferably longer to allow the flavours to blend.
Shape the meatballs using your hands (one to two tablespoons at a time) so that they look like mini-burgers.
Fry them using the remaining 0.5 dl olive oil on medium heat until golden. Be careful so that they don’t burn!
Chop the Vittoria tomatoes into pieces and place on a serving plate before adding the meatballs (2-3 each). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, green pesto and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan before serving.
What started out as a wonderful day with the sun having finally returned to London after weeks of heavy, sorrowful rain, quickly turned into sadness when news broke that central Oslo had been rocked by a bomb blast.
As Norwegian police and emergency rescue personnel fought to help those injured in the attack, the world media and social media erupted with reports from Oslo. Horrified by the sights and stories, I felt an utter sadness that the peaceful country I have grown up in have now had its innocence taken away.
However, no-one knew the tragedy that was to come…
Waking up this sunny Saturday morning to the news that over 90 people have died because of one man is almost impossible to understand. What appears to be the actions of a political extremist who is still alive – is it just me or doesn’t this show off his sadistic self? – will take a while to digest: for those directly affected; for Oslo; for Norway; and for the world.
Like London and the 7/7 bombings this, the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II, will now forever be part of Oslo’s story.
My thoughts go out to all families and friends directly affected, the people of Oslo and all Norwegians.
“Oslo is a small, small town…”