Brilliant Peperonata

Peperonata is brilliantly multi-functional-you can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature, as part of a mixed meal or as a vegetable side dish with meat, poultry or fish. Or you can use it as a cooking sauce for the above. It also makes a very nice pasta sauce, just stir it into hot cooked pasta, and sprinkle some parmesan on top.

Peperonata is brilliantly multi-functional-you can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature, as part of a mixed meal or as a vegetable side dish with meat, poultry or fish. Or you can use it as a cooking sauce for the above. It also makes a very nice pasta sauce, just stir it into hot cooked pasta, and sprinkle some parmesan on top.

I like it spread on thick slices of toasted bread which has been rubbed with garlic, then topped with anchovies or mozzarella cheese and a twist of Parma ham.

My other favorite thing is Risotto, on its own or as a base for fried breast of chicken or fish. It’s so easy to make, you just have to take your time and have a good measure of patience.

There are four black bananas in my fruit bowl at the moment, screaming what are you going to do with us; I could just cut them up and put them at the base of the roses in the garden, but I think I will turn them into banana brownies.

Peperonata

4 Red peppers de-seed and cut into long strips

1 Sliced onion

1 Red chilli, de-seed and chopped

3 Cloves of crushed garlic

2tbsp Tomato paste

1 Tin of chopped tomatoes or 1lb of chopped fresh tomatoes

1tsp Sugar

6tbsp Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Sauté the onions in the olive oil until lightly browned. Add the peppers, chilli and garlic and cook for a further few minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and let them cook down in there own juices for about 12 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients, bring up to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered stirring all the time. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve on toasted thick slices of bread which has been rubbed with garlic. Top with a curl of Parma ham, mozzarella and some fresh basil.

Risotto

3pts Chicken or vegetable stock

1 Onion finely chopped

3tbsp Olive oil

2oz Butter

3oz Parmesan cheese

100ml White wine

10oz Arborio rice

Salt and pepper

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring up to a boil. In a heavy bottomed pot heat the olive oil. Add in the onion and cook until soft but not brown. Add in the rice and stir till it’s all coated in the oil, a wooden spoon is best for this. Add in the wine and stir till it’s all absorbed. Using a ladle, add the stock to the pot allowing it to absorb into the rice before you add in the next ladle full. Once you have added nearly all the stock, check to see if the rice is al dente, i.e. not chalky but still with a bit of a bite. If it is still hard, add in more stock. To finish add in the butter along with the cheese, check the seasoning, it may not need any salt or pepper. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. I like it on its own, with more parmesan on top, or sliced grilled chicken.

Banana Brownies

6oz Butter

8oz Light brown sugar

6oz Dark chocolate

3 Free range eggs

3 Ripe bananas, mashed

4oz Self raising flour

2tbsp Cocoa

1tsp Baking powder

3oz Chopped nuts of your choice, I use pecans or what ever I have in the larder.

Pre heat the oven to 190c/gas mark 5. Grease and line the base of an 20cm/8inch square tin with baking parchment. Place the butter, chocolate and sugar in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and remove from the heat. Let it cool a little, then add in the eggs, nuts and mashed bananas, give a good mix up. Then very gently fold in the sieved flour, cocoa and baking powder. Turn into the prepared tin and bake for about 40/ 50 minutes, until firm to touch.

If your oven is very hot you might need to turn it down to 170c. Serve the brownies with ice cream and fresh strawberries.