Polpette Piccanti – Spicy Italian meatballs (recipe)

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!

Ingredients (serves 4)

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
1 egg
100 g Pancetta
400 g mince (pork or beef)
Salt and pepper to taste

100 g Vittoria tomatoes
Green pesto

Method

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.

Buon appetito!

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Scrumptious cake

This weekend for my flatmate’s Birthday, I decided to make her a Norwegian Birthday cake – bløtkake – to celebrate. It’s really a quick and easy cake that most people will enjoy, just don’t think of the calories!

Full of cream and delicious berries, I thought it would be wrong not to share the recipe, so here goes.

Sponge cake:
5 eggs
150g sugar
150g flour
1ts baking powder

Filling/Topping:
7,5dl double cream
1-2tbls icing sugar
Jam (I used strawberry)
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

Method:
In a medium sized bowl add eggs and sugar, and beat until you get a fluffy, thick texture. Sift flour and baking powder together and gently fold into the egg mixture. Place baking paper into the bottom of the tin (20-24cm), and pour the mixture into it. Place the tin on bottom shelf in a pre-heated oven (160°C) for 45mins.

When the 45mins are up, take out and let the cake cool completely. Once cool, remove the tin and cut the sponge cake horizontally into three parts – this is where the yummy filling will go! Now take 1dl of milk and pour evenly over the three parts, to ensure the cake doesn’t become too dry.

For the filling and topping, pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and add the icing sugar. Whisk until you’ve got a lovely, creamy consistency – having an electrical whisk helps, believe me!

Divide the cream into two bowls, one for the filling and one for the topping. Add jam (3-4tbls) and cut berries of your choice, and fold into the whipped cream. Divide evenly across the bottom and mid sponge cake. Complete by spreading the rest of the whipped cream on the top sponge and side of the cake, and decorate to your hearts desire with fresh berries. If you look at my bløtkake I obviously channeled my Norwegian heritage with red, white and blue.

Happy baking!

Recipe: Det Søte Liv