Steak Burgers with Blue Cheese

When you can`t choose between a steak or a great hamburger choose this! This is a perfect combination of beef with blue cheese and horseradish. I have purchased 2 steaks and ground them fresh to create 4 perfect patties. I used 350 grams of sirloin steak and the same of a rib eye. You do need some fat so you can create a juicy burger. I have sauteed some gorgeous Chanterelles mushrooms to top but, you add the toppings of your dreams too make yours perfect!

You will need:

  • 350 grams of sirloin steak
  • 350 grams of rib eye or something with some fat on it.
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated horseradish
  • 3 oz of Roquefort or Gorgonzola or your favourite Blue Cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian dry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze
  • lots of salt and pepper – only used when on the grill
  • Chanterelles are sliced & cooked in Olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • more blue crumbles for the top
  • Dijon mustard & your favourite toppings
  • nice soft buns

Step 1: start with some good quality meat and it should be cold to grind.

Step 2: slice the cold meat and keep the fat. Grate horseradish, chop garlic, crumble some blue cheese.

Step 3: I have a meat grinding attachment on my kitchenaid stand mixer or you can use a hand crank model. I used the largest hole attachment.

Step 4: add your filling and mix gently with your hands. Then grind once more.

Step 5: form into 4 equal patties being gentle not to over work the meat which will cause a tough burger. Let the meat come to room temperature before grilling or pan searing which ever you prefer.

Step 6: cook maybe a few minutes on each side and top as you like.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

When I was a kid I remember having this Lemon Pudding Cake. It came in a box and when you baked it there was a cake on top and a pudding layer underneath. It was the weirdest cake. I have made one here using Meyer lemons. It is more of a kind of Souffle than a cake but, still lovely with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.  You have it eat it warm and you can make it in 4 small ramekins instead of an 8 x 8 baking dish for everyone to their own.

You will need:

  • 3 small Meyer Lemons – zested  finely and juiced (pits removed!)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs – separated at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp mild fruity olive oil (or butter melted and cooled if you like) – I used a Mild and fruity Lorenzo Biancolilla Olive oil from Sicily.

Step 1: heat oven to 300 degrees F and generously butter an 8×8 inch glass baking dish or 4 small ramekins if you want individual little cakes.

Step 2: finely grate just the outer zest of the lemons to make 1 tbsp of zest.

Step 3: squeeze the 3 lemons to get  1/3 cup of Meyer lemon juice (watch out for the pits!) I just squeeze over a sieve to catch any.

Step 4: In a large bowl add the dry ingredients: sugar, salt and flour. Mix and set aside.

Step 5: Separate egg whites from yolks. In another bowl add egg yolks, milk, olive oil (or butter) lemon zest and juice. Whisk to combine.

Step 6: Add liquid to flour mixture and combine to mix.

Step 7: Whisk egg whites until you get soft peaks.

Step 8: add 1/2 of the egg whites to start to incorporate, mix and then add the rest of the whipped egg whites and fold until mixed. Do not deflate. The mix will thin.

Step 9: pour into pan and bake until lightly golden 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm – you can also sprinkle top with powdered sugar to make it prettier. Not particularly pretty but, it is delicious.


Gennaro Contaldo’s Fried Stuffed Gnocchi

This is one of the nicest decadent treats I have had in a long time!! These are gorgeous little puffy pillows that have the perfect contrasting spicy Arrabbiata sauce and some Parmesan shavings on top. This recipe is Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe from You Tube for Stuffed Fried Gnocci, with Arrabbiata Sauce  If you have never seen Gennaro you simply much watch his You Tube videos, he is my favorite. I love his passion and love of good food. I think one of my favorite shows was on BBC Two Greedy Italians with Gennaro and Antonio Carluccio

This recipe is Gennaro’s recipe for the perfect Christmas starter. I think the recipe is just perfect. It takes a bit of time but, so so so worth it!! I promise you. You can also freeze the gnocchi (I tried it last night) and let them come to room temperature before frying them. I do not recommend boiling them because they are stuffed and get heavy. If you make them as he does they are puffy and gorgeous!!

COME ON!! It’s for Christmas, you don’t eat this everyday!! 

You will need:

Gnocchi Dough

  • 1.5 kg (4-5) Baking Potatoes – I used Russet you want dry not waxy potatoes.
  • 2 large egg yolks (save 1 of the egg whites)
  • 15-20 scrapes of whole nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 150 grams 00 flour
  • rice flour for dusting and rolling


  • 150 grams ricotta cheese
  • 50 grams finely grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese
  • 50 grams breadcrumbs
  • 100 smoked mozzarella – torn (I will show you how to make some if you can’t find it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 10 scrapes of whole nutmeg

Arrabbiata Sauce – ( this is my modified from original recipe for a smaller batch)

  • 85 grams sun dried tomatoes dry (not in oil)
  • 2 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1 tbsp (yes that much!) chili flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil – I used Pruneti Frantoio from Italy
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 150 ml water -added to blender – to thin out

Gennaro’s original recipe 

  • 300 grams sun dried tomatoes dry (not packed in oil)
  • 1 handful of chili flakes (yes he used that much!!)
  • 1 handful dry oregano
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 ml of olive oil
  • fresh parsley
  • salt to taste

To finish

  • chopped parsley
  • fried sage leaves
  • more grated Parmesan Cheese
  • bit of salt

Step 1: roast 1.5 kg. (4-5 large) russet potatoes in a 400 degree F oven for at least 1 hour to get potatoes very soft (I rub a bit of olive oil on potatoes)

Step 2: once potatoes are cool enough to handle (don’t wait until they are cold they should still be hot for ricing) peel skins and rice in a potato ricer or food mill. This tool is really the secret to the best mashed potatoes too..It’s like a giant garlic press. You place cooked potatoes in it and squeeze out the little squished pieces that look like rice!

Step 3: add egg yolks (keep 1 egg white for brushing on dough – food glue!), nutmeg, salt and pepper (it takes lots) and flour. Mix lightly with a spatula. I like to fold it like I am incorporating whipped egg whites into something. Just a few turns and then you can mix lightly with your hands before turning out everything from the bowl onto counter. You want to just gather all the flour and create a dough. You do not want to overwork or the gnocchi will become tough. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.

Step 4: if you cannot find smoked mozzarella you can make your own! Add some food safe wood chips to a smoker box for the barbecue and light the wood on fire in your outdoor grill. Once the smoke starts going I place the ball of mozzarella on a plate/bowl next to the smoker box. Close the grill lid and let the wood smoke permeate the cheese. It will not melt the cheese if it is just a handful of chips you are burning. I remove the mozzarella after 5 minutes and it is smoky. Gennaro had a really nice charred one in his video!

Step 5: make filling in another bowl. Add ricotta, finely grated Parmesan, smoked mozzarella torn/squished into pieces with your hands, Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and egg yolks. Mix well. It should be on the drier side (like a paste) not runny. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.  You can place in a piping bag or Ziploc bag with one end cut to pipe filling onto potato dough.

Step 6: Divide potato dough into 4. Roll one section into a thick rope (approx 24 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide) using plenty of rice flour to avoid sticking.

Step 7: press log with heal of your palm to flatten or use a rolling pin.

Step 8: brush with egg white.

Step 9: add a row of filling. My filling was dry enough that I could roll it out with my hands.

Step 10: roll the potato dough over the filling and gently seal and roll to encase with more rice flour.

Step 11: chop into 1 inch pieces or the size you like. Place finished gnocchi on a cookie sheet with lots of rice flour to avoid sticking.

Repeat for the other 3 rolls – this recipe is perfect for 4 rolls of dough and 4 equal rolls of filling.

Making the Sauce

Step 1: in a food processor add sun dried tomatoes and pulse to mince.

Step 2: add minced tomatoes to a saucepan along with chili flakes, oregano, salt, parsley and olive oil. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes to soften.

This is my addition Gennaro did not add water. 

Step 3: remove from heat and add to a blender. Add water and blend until becomes a thick chunky sauce. If you need to add a bit more water to get it to the consistency you like feel free. Taste and adjust salt. It will taste spicy but, it will mellow over time and the fried gnocchi go so well with the contrasting spicy sauce.

Fry the gnocchi in hot oil at 350 degrees F if you have a deep fryer this works well.  I  shallow pan fried (oil goes halfway up the gnocchi. I cooked them in good olive oil (cause it is a delicious unrefined oil and yes you can fry with it ) If you have a deep fryer this method is easier because you don’t have to fiddle and turn but, both work fine.

Quickly fry some sage leaves in a bit olive oil.

Serve on a pretty plate or cutting board. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, add some shaved Parmesan and decorate with some fried sage leaves. Dip or top the gnocchi with the sauce and prepare to be amazed!

Big Pete went out of his mind!! told me I could make those anytime I liked!!

Thank you Gennaro!!I love it.

I ate some and froze the rest. If you are cooking from frozen. Take out gnocchi and let come to room temperature making sure they are separated to avoid sticking together before frying.

Do not boil these they get heavy and are not gorgeous and fluffy.

Farro with Goat Cheese and a Medley of Vegetables

This is a delicious nutty salad with roasted or sauteed vegetables, farro, (also called wheat berries) some dried cranberries and some lovely fresh goat cheese. While the farro is cooking on the stove you can roast some veggies in the oven. Toss with some beautiful Olive Oil like the Viola Sincero oil I used. Makes a great lunch or dinner.

You will need:

  • 4-5 tbsp best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Viola Sincero from Italy
  • 1 1/2 cups farro
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries – chopped
  • 1 leek – sliced finely
  • 10 cremini mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 small fennel – shaved thinly on a mandolin
  • 4-6 small tomatoes – cut in half \
  • 1 garlic clove – minced finely
  • 3-4 oz of best quality fresh soft goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

I always like to gather all my ingredients together so I don’t forget something!

Step 1: in a large pot add 2-3 tbsp of great extra virgin olive oil like this Viola Sincero which is a Moraiolo from Umbria, Italy. You want something that is medium or robust to match this hearty salad.

Step 2: turn on heat to medium and add the farro and the chopped cranberries. Saute for 5 minutes to toast farro, stirring to avoid burning.

Step 3: add the water and let come to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 50 minutes until tender.

Step 4: shave fennel, slice leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic.

Step 5:  place sliced tomatoes on a plate with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and roast in a 425 degree F oven for 20-30 minutes or until partially dried and slightly browned. You could roast all the vegetables if you like in the oven. I would suggest making the pieces larger to ensure they all cook evenly in that case.

Step 6: in a hot saute pan with the remaining 2-3 tbsp olive oil saute leeks, fennel, mushrooms and garlic for a few minutes on medium-high heat until browned and cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 7: drain farro and add to a large bowl.

Step 8: toss vegetables with farro. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add a few more chopped cranberries for a chewier taste.

Serve on two plates dividing roasted tomatoes and adding some globs of fresh goat cheese and a final drizzle of fresh oil for an addition level of raw olive oil.


Vanilla Buttermilk Biscuits

These are simple, slightly sweet buttermilk biscuits that take just a few minutes to prepare and they can be cut and baked or frozen for another weekend. This is also a great way to use up that large container of buttermilk you bought when you needed a half a cup! (seriously why don’t they make small containers of buttermilk??)

I just love them with honey or jam and some double cream.

You will need:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter -cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Step 1: in a large bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Mix with a whisk and set aside.

Step 2: chop very cold butter into small cubes and add to flour mix.

Step 3: with a pastry cutter or using a food processor pulsing a few times. Cut butter into flour until butter pieces are pea sized.

Step 4: make a well in the center of the flour mix and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork to start to just incorporate the buttermilk. It will look like a shaggy mess.

Step 5: turn out mix onto counter and gather to start to create a dough. You don’t want to overwork this dough, you just kind of gather the mess, pat, fold and press to form a dough.

Step 6: Press the flour in to incorporate and to form a square. Then fold one side to the center and then the other side into the center and again, press to shape and add all the flour on your board. You can flip the dough over and scrape up any flour and use a rolling pin to form a square dough. When you gather the contents and fold you are adding lots of layers of butter and flour (like when making puff pastry) which doesn’t overwork the dough and makes these biscuits flaky.

Step 7: when you have your dough complete you can roll out to 3/4 inch thickness and you can cut with a cookie cutter for a traditional round biscuit or do the lazy method (which leaves no mess)

I just cut into 12 squares, bake what I want and freeze the rest.

see those nice flaky layers, they will puff nicely!

freeze some.

Brush tops with buttermilk and sprinkle some vanilla sugar on tops for a nice sweet top.

Bake 13 -15 minutes (they should have a nice brown bottom but don’t over-bake)

Break open

add some double cream (which is like butter!) and your favorite jam or honey.