This rich braise was brought to Naples by sailors from Genoa, and provides both a sauce for pasta and a meat course to follow
In the middle of Benedetta Gargano’s flat in Naples is a white, oval table. The table once lived three streets away in the dining room of Benedetta’s maternal grandmother, Elisa, where the extended family would sit at least three times a week when they all gathered to eat. And eat they did: Elisa was, by all accounts, a fine Neapolitan cook, her polpette al pane (meatballs baked on bread), sartù di riso (moulded and stuffed rice), panzerotti fritti (filled, folded and deep-fried dough) were all particularly loved. Loved, too, were her two alternating Sunday dishes – ragù napoletano and la genovese – both of which provide a sauce for the pasta course and the meat for the second course.
It is la genovese I smell as I reach Elisa’s house on Via Tasso, a snake-like road that curves its way through the boisterous city, then rises with the hill of Posillipo to give spine-tingling views of the bay of Naples. The scent of beef and onions cooking slowly leaves no room for doubt as to which door is about to open.
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A smoothly sweet dessert spiked with spiced grapefruit to round off the perfect dinner
I’ve often pondered whether or not cheesecake really is a cake. Other than being sweet and round, it bears little resemblance to the golden sponges we’re more used to seeing. Perhaps, as a mix of dairy, sugar and eggs, it’s really just a very firmly set custard. Paired with the sharp sweetness of grapefruit in a spiced syrup, this would make the perfect end to a dinner party.
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Not just for dessert, the just-sweet, slightly tart character of rhubarb works well with savoury dishes too
Forced rhubarb shows up exactly when we need it. These neon-pink stems, the colour of Brighton rock, are forced from the ground in dark sheds in Yorkshire and cheer me on in the kitchen until the first greens of spring. Rhubarb’s spiritual home is under a sweet rubble of brown sugar crumble, but it also has enough acidity to stand up to the richness of cheese or a crisp-edged roast potato, so today I’m putting it to work in a savoury tray bake. Recently, I’ve eaten this piquant pickle with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think pink.
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For those who resolved to eat more vegetables in 2018, the British chef’s new vegetarian cookbook has plenty of tasty options
There might be a lot of chopping here, but this recipe is child’s play and the result is special enough to warrant the extra effort. The cream adds a certain silky richness but can be left out if you prefer. This is lovely served cool the next day.
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Classic surf and turf – each flavour boosts the power of the other
I have always liked what cured meat does to seafood. The fish seems to appreciate the saltiness of the bacon, as if pining for the sea. This week, my local fishmonger had a rather handsome hake. Well, handsome compared to, say, a monkfish. I bought four fine hake steaks. The Spanish eat a lot of hake – in fact half of all the hake consumed in Europe. Back in the kitchen I looked to them for inspiration and found it.
Fish seems to appreciate the saltiness of the bacon, as if pining for the sea
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The chef’s chains are facing a crisis on the high street. Where did it all go wrong?
Jools Oliver, wife of the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, set social media abuzz in December when she posted pictures of the couple’s £9m home. The seven-bedroom, Grade II-listed property in London’s rarefied Hampstead was as sumptuous as might be expected for a chef who has built a £150m fortune from a business spanning books, TV, endorsements and restaurants.
But as Jools’s followers admired the fruits of Oliver’s success, he was battling to save Jamie’s Italian, the centrepiece of his restaurant division. In December, Oliver pumped £3m of his own money into the business, and in January the chain said it would close 12 of its 37 UK branches, as part of a rescue deal with its creditors to keep trading.
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Beautify your brownies with these grown-up blondies spiced up with citrus and cherries
Usually I like to take a recipe straight to its basest form: opera cake? Make that a chocolate sponge. Towering croquembouche? Serve ‘em a nice eclair instead. These blondies are unusual for me, then, because for once I’ve taken something a bit saccharine and naff and made it classier. Brought to life with citrussy cardamom and plump cherries, these avoid the cloying sweetness of traditional blondies, while the bay-infused cream adds a subtle aniseed warmth. They might only be brownies with a wig on, but they taste a million bucks.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 30-35 mins
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The salty, garlicky dressing on a crunchy seasonal salad makes a great foil for grilled lamb
While it’s tempting to eat only warm food in cold weather, sometimes something fresh and crunchy is called for, even if there’s a gale blowing. Add some warmth with spices or garlic, say, and you have a proper winter salad. The word salad, incidentally, means ‘salted herbs or vegetables’, so salad is named after its dressing, not the veg in the bowl; in other words, a salad without a dressing isn’t a salad at all. That also applies to these lamb leg steaks (a much cheaper alternative to chops), which just wouldn’t be the same without their garlicky, rosemary-scented marinade.
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A quick noodle dish laced with smoky chilli oil and tingly Sichuan pepper is the ideal choice for Chinese new year
If you’re not familiar with dan dan noodles, or if you’ve had this fiery, aromatic and addictively savoury snack in a restaurant but never made it yourself, this column will change your life. Named for the cry of the itinerant vendors who once roamed the streets of Chengdu with the tools of their trade slung on a bamboo pole – or dan – across their shoulders, dan dan noodles, as Fuchsia Dunlop explains, are traditionally served in small portions, “just enough to ease the hunger of scholars working late or mahjong players gambling into the night”, and should be eaten quickly, while the noodles are still hot and the fried topping crisp.
Liberally laced with the smoky chilli oil and numbing pepper for which Sichuan province is famous, they’re a fabulous winter warmer, and the ideal supplement to your Chinese New Year feast, should you be celebrating, noodles being a traditional symbol of longevity. Polish off a couple of tangerines for luck afterwards, and the Year of the Dog is sure to be a good one.
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Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food – we’d never dream of such evils in the west … would we?
Would you eat rabbit? Even those who regularly consume meat from chickens, sheep and pigs will often balk at the thought of eating a cuddly little bunny rabbit. But what’s the difference? Why do we see some animals as furry friends and others as fair game to chop up and eat? With the Winter Olympics turning attention towards South Korea, dog meat has been put on the media menu. The west has gone into shock mode. They eat dogs? They must be mad!
Dogs are smart and friendly – but so are pigs
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