What puts the X into X-Factor, the missing ingredient that makes something X-tra special? Of course, we all like to believe we have the X-Factor, that we can belt out a tune like Whitney (I regularly try in the shower) and dance like Fred Astaire (I am showing my age here. OK, like Justin Timberlake for younger readers.)
I realise I may not have the X-factor when it comes to singing and dancing, as no one comes near my bathroom when I am taking a shower. And when I watch myself dance on bar/batmitzvah videos, I immediately reach for the fast forward button.
Polenta, made from boiled cornmeal, is a staple of northern Italy and it can be as versatile as southern Italian pasta.
It is often served hot like mash, with various toppings such as a good stew or a Bolognese sauce. However, it can also be moulded, then cut into squares and fried or grilled. The latter is the version I propose here, a recipe for polenta crostini served with wild mushrooms — a tasty seasonal delicacy.
Preparation time 30 min. Serves 4-6 as starter or canapés
With half-term coming up, why not spend some time cooking with your child? When children cook they learn lots of skills like weighing, measuring, understanding time, mixing and kneading. You could also invite some of your child’s friends over for a cooking party. Here’s a yummy chocolate cupcake which is fun to bake and decorate. You might ignite a passion for cooking that goes beyond licking a spoon.
Makes eight teddy bear cupcakes
Ingredients For the cake
● 55g plain chocolate
● 55g butter
● 65g dark brown sugar
● 1 egg beaten
Its easy to get stuck in a rut and make the same meals over and over again for the family, so here is something new for you to try. A “blue plate” is the daily special menu item in an American-style diner, and meat loaf is usually a popular choice — it is certainly a favourite in my house. I like mine with a BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes, but you could also serve it with chips or rice. It is lovely and moist, quick and easy to prepare and really tasty.
My children live on a diet of BlackBerry. Every day they exercise their fingers, tap, tap, tap, so they can indulge in this fruity fascination. I am sure they have become addicted. Even in the car, their heads are down as they gorge themselves on news and views from the Princess Pals, who they have just left behind at the school gates.
This dish is traditionally Roman and it is very common in Roman Jewish cooking. A small restaurant or osteria in Rome is the best place to eat chicken with peppers. Otherwise, try cooking it yourself, as this is an everyday dish that is sure to become a favourite. It is easy, full of flavour and healthy. The traditional recipe calls for green peppers, which have a sharp and sometimes bitter taste. I prefer to use sweeter peppers, such as red, yellow or orange, and sometimes I add a green one just to give an extra kick to the flavour.
Risottos are really quite simple to make and this one is delicious with butternut squash puree, mascarpone and Parmesan. The traditional method for making risotto is to add the stock a ladle full at a time and then add more stock once the stock has been absorbed. In my version I add the stock in larger amounts so its even simpler.
Its important to use a large saucepan or a frying pan as this speeds up the absorption of the stock. You can make the butternut squash or pumpkin puree in advance.
When it comes to the High Holy Days, don’t you feel like Batman needing your very own Robin to help you out in the kitchen? There are so many meals and so many unexpected guests for dinner — “Holy chutzpah, how did they manage to get invited?” So here I am, your very own superhero, with a few tips on how to solve this riddle.
I spent part of the summer holiday at the seaside in Italy. My parents have a lovely house by the sea close to Rome and they adore growing their own vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and pumpkins. They also have a number of fruit trees. Every morning we would pick vegetables and fruit for the day, in particular tomatoes, which grow in four to five different varieties and were abundant.
Let’s face it, when it comes to kosher classics — be it cholent or dafina, chicken soup or shurba — most of us are convinced that the best and most authentic version is the one our mother used to make.