An absolutely stunningly simple and delicious snack that can be had anytime, from breakfast with bacon or pan fried pancetta strips to a light lunch with salad which is what we did today. I came across it whilst thumbing through my well worn copy of the Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. It is a dish common south of Rome and simply means mozzarella in a carriage.
If you have never read any of her books, you must – she is so honest in her observations and clearly did not suffer fools lightly. Her recipes still stand the test of time and have influenced many of our modern chefs today from Jamie Oliver to Gordon Ramsay.
Anyway – here we go with the recipe.
8 slices of white sandwich bread with crusts removed.
About 8 slices of mozzarella.
Salt and black pepper
Put 2 slices of mozzarella on each of 4 slices of bread, then pop the other slices on top to make 4 sandwiches. Press the top slice down with your hand.
Beat the eggs in a large flat dish and season. Pop each of the sandwiches into the egg mixture and let them soak it up for a minute or so, then gently turn over make sure the edges are coated too.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and place the sandwiches in for around a minute a side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, allow to cool on the serving plates for a few seconds, then demolish with gusto!
You could add a little dried or fresh oregano if you wished inside the sandwich or some fresh basil.
Oh…and they are filling! One is enough….probably!
This is one of those dishes that is simply a sensory delight. It transforms a dull clichéd pasta and cheese dish into a veritable dish of the Gods. It looks good, it smells unbelievable and the texture is phenomenal. It is a dish to leave home for, to marry for, to fight for. I cannot tell you how good it is – but, and I know I wax lyrical rather too often at times – this dish is really worth waxing about – it is fabulous in every sense of the word. Please – please – please make it – and make it soon. Throw all other macaroni recipes in the bin.
500 gms pasta – use macaroni – I used a mix from my odds and sods tin – very home should have one
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large teaspoons of oregano
75 gms Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus a little extra for grating
100 gms Taleggio cheese, roughly chopped – my favourite …mmmm
100 gms mascarpone cheese
1 ball of mozzarella cheese
75 gms of lardons pan fired and put to one side
A sprinkle of dried chilli seeds
Preheat the oven to 200ºc. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander and keep back a little of the cooking water.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, add the oregano and fry gently for a minute, then turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the oregano oil (this is a vital part of the process and adds immensely to the sensory experience of this dish- I promise), along with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water and the parmesan, taleggio and mascarpone.
Return to a medium heat and toss and stir around until most of the cheese has melted and you have a seriously goo style sauce – you may need to add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Add a short sharp shock of sea salt and two or three grinds of black pepper, then tip it all into an earthenware dish. Add the lardons. Add the mozzarella sliced into slivers and sprinkle over the extra parmesan. Then add the sprinkle of chilli seeds. Bake the macaroni cheese in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and stick the dish under a preheated grill until golden brown.
I served it with a rocket salad and a fine bottle of Primitivo from Puglia – a favourite wine of mine.
My Monday is now complete. I can face the rest of the week- all because of this dish.
Ok…I have been rather nastily unwell the last few days – am presently sitting up in bed with a cough that could cut rocks in two. At least my temperature seems to be almost back to normal – but I am plum tuckered! This blog however needs me…sorry..I need this blog to keep me sane…so apologies that this is only brief – tis a starter I did last Wednesday and was well received. I wanted to do something different with my friend mozzarella and so on a bed of spinach, beetroot, lambs lettuce and rocket I tore up some moz and draped it over the greenery on each plate. I then pan fried some chorizo cut into small cubes and spooned it over – I also drizzled on some of that wonderful reddish oil it creates. I then swirled some balsamic sauce around the leaves. The flavours were sublime. You could also, I reckon, add some shavings of parmesan… but that maybe gilding the lily. Enjoy your weekend everyone – hopefully I will be up and cooking soon! I miss my kitchen!
Saturday was a bit of a stinker of a day at work so on returning at 6pm it was a case of cranking up something easy and tasty and social – so I turned to seranno ham and spinach! They were the first things to wave at me when I opened the fridge door so they got lucky. I must put out a big thank you to Peter Lane of icookyoueat for the inspiration for the spinach dish. I had them at his house recently, though I have to say I could not remember the recipe -blame his generosity with the vino! – so I gave it my own spin – hope they sound ok, Peter! They certainly tasted very good. I took a large bag of spinach and steamed it til it just wilted. Then it went into a sieve – well I used a fine colander – and pressed out all the liquid. I left it to cool. Then in a bowl I mixed some bread crumbs with a good handful of grated parmesan – please never buy the ready grated stuff. I added the spinach and mixed it together with black pepper and a little rock salt and some dried chilli flakes. I used a little beaten egg to bind it then rolled it into balls – then I pan fried them in olive oil until a little crispy on the outside but meltingly soft inside.
I served them as a grand sort of tapas with an aubergine tray bake. I’ve mentioned this before but this is how I do it. Slice up
an aubergine (eggplant to my friends across the pond!), drizzle (that is such a sexy word) olive oil on a baking tray, then add the aubergine slices. Pop in the oven – 200c-for about 10 minutes til beginning to turn golden. Remove – flip them over – drizzle more olive oil over them – scatter some sweet baby plum toms around (or you could halve some normal toms – as long as they are tasty!) Back in oven for another 10 minutes or so- toms should be softening now. Top the aubergine with chunks of mozzarella. Back in oven for 5 mins – then out and top with slices of serrano ham – or of course parma if you wish – then back in the oven for final 3 minutes. Out – scatter over some basil leaves and some grated parmesan and a tad ore olive oil and black pepper and bob’s your uncle. Apparently. Serve with crusty bread. Delicious. And simple. You could add other bits and pieces – eg slices of oiled mushrooms to this too. Play around! And the spinach balls go really well with it! Though, you could, as my friend Peter did, serve them on a bed of spaghetti or linguini. Popeye would probably smoke them!