The Italian Academy of Cooking slams Italian restaurants in the UK

The Italian Academy of Cooking has launched a scathing attack on the standard of Italian restaurants abroad.

It says two-thirds of the restaurants they reviewed mistook the ingredients or the preparations.

Italians are very proud of their cooking and their recipes, rooted in many different regions and traditions.

But when they travel, most stay well away from Italian food and with good reason: some 60% of Italian restaurants abroad are awful, the academy says.

Read more

Southern Fried Chicken Goujons

Are you worried about the additives in the fast food you buy?

Are you concerned about the ingredients used in the snacks you eat?

Do you care about the welfare of the animals used for the foods you love?

I really like southern fried chicken, but wherever possible try and avoid buying it from those fast food places as:

a)    I am worried about the salt content.

b)    I am worried about the additives used.

c)    I prefer to use organic free range chicken where possible.

So I now make my own southern fried chicken.

Take some skinless boneless organic chicken thighs, some supermarkets sell them like this, others you will need to skin and bone them. I prefer the thigh meat as it has a lot more flavour than the breast meat (and is cheaper).

Slice into strips.

Coat in flour.

Coat in beaten egg (free range and organic).

Coat again in seasoned flour, I use a mix of cajun spices usually.

Deep fry for a minute or so, until brown.

Drain and put onto kitchen towel on a plate to drain any excess oil.

Serve with dips and stuff.

Quick and easy.

Coleslaw, do you buy it or make it?

Do you buy coleslaw?

Do you  make coleslaw?

Generally I always try and make my own coleslaw. Not only is it very easy to do, it also tastes fresher and so much better.

I use cabbage, usually organic pointed cabbage or white cabbage. I shred this, ensuring I cut the core out first.

I then skin an onion, cut it in half and then cut very fine slices, before adding them to the coleslaw mix.

I grate my carrots.

For the dressing, I add a small spoon of wholegrain mustard, a couple of spoons of creme frache, a couple spoons of mayonnaise and a few grinds from my pepper mill.

Using  two spoons I mix the lot together.



After you have made your own coleslaw you will wonder why you ever bought it in the past! Make some today.

Prawn, Langoustine and Scallop Salad

Last night I cooked a very nice prawn, langoustine and scallop salad.

I used raw tiger prawns and (not the best I know) frozen scallops!


The langoustine I normally cook whole, this time I took the head off and cut the body in half before grilling for a few minutes.

This I served with a salad of Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and red pepper, alongside homemade coleslaw and fresh crusty bread.

To drink a glass of chilled Italian white wine.

Chicken, Red Pepper and Mushrooms in a Cream and Saffron sauce with Gnocchi

This is a dish I made.

Chicken, Red Pepper and Mushrooms in a Cream and Saffron sauce with Gnocchi

Take some chicken thighs, add olive oil to a hot pan.

Brown the chicken in the pan, then remove.

Add chopped onion and red pepper to the pan.

Cook on a low heat until soft.

Add chopped mushrooms.

Meanwhile soak some saffron in a little hot water.

Once the mushrooms, onions and red pepper are cooked, add the chicken.

Add some freshly chopped parsley.

Add the saffron.

Add a couple of large spoonfuls of creme frache, you could use double cream, but I prefer creme frache.

Serve with some freshly cooked gnocchi.


Rante Restaurant, Radisson SAS Hotel, Espoo, Finland

Last July I was in Finland and I went to the Rante Restaurant in the Radisson SAS Hotel in Espoo in Finland is an Italian restaurant which also serves some Finnish dishes.

I had originally walked into Haguland (Tapiola) to see if I could get a meal there (as I am generally not a great fan of hotel restaurants) and couldn’t find anything open or the only other choice was McDonalds.

So after quite a nice walk, I went back to the hotel and went into the restaurant. I sat down at a table and looked over the menu.

I decided that an antipasto would be nice, followed by carpaccio and then the reindeer.

For the antipasto I asked for prawns in pesto, and thought this would arrive quickly.

Fifty minutes later it did!

A small bowl of small prawns in pesto arrived, I don’t know why I thought they would be grilled prawns, but they were not.

I did not have to wait as long for my next course, beef carpaccio.

This was superb, coming with some weird leaves (more like grass) and some what I think were very large pickled capers!

I then thought ah not too long to my main course, couldn’t have been more wrong, forty minutes later it eventually arrived.

Well the reindeer was certainly worth the wait and certainly not what I expected. On the way to the Hotel from the airport I used a Yellow Line taxi, these are communal shared taxis, one of the occupants, a shipping consultant for the Silja Line, had mentioned in passing conversation that when he had reindeer he had found it very strongly flavoured akin to venison. So I was expecting the reindeer fillet to be very strongly flavoured, but it wasn’t it was very delicate, tender, almost melt in the mouth. It came with a fantastic sauce, a few vegtables. I had asked for the chive mash to be replaced with french fries (as that was what I fancied.

I decided against a desert as the neighbouring table had to wait an age for theirs and it was getting late.

Overall I was pleased with the quality of the food, the only real disappointment was the prawns.

The carpaccio and the reindeer were excellent.


A variety of bruschetta with cheese, tomatoes (fresh and sun-dried), artichokes and mushrooms.


Start off with a ciabatta, though in theory you could use a baguette or french stick (and I have done so).


Butter one side only.

Add topping.

Dribble olive oil over.

Bake in a hot oven for less than ten minutes.



Trofie Pasta with fresh basil pesto, pine nuts and grated parmesan

Trofie Pasta with fresh basil pesto, pine nuts and grated parmesan.

Trofie Pasta with fresh basil pesto, pine nuts and grated parmesan

Fresh Trofie pasta.

Into a pan of boiling water (no salt, no oil).

Cook for ten minutes.

In a blender/grinder, handful of basil leaves, olive oil, blitz and blend. Add more basil leaves and more oil, blitz.

Drain pasta.

Dribble olive oil in.

Toss and coat pasta.

Add basil pesto, handful of pine nuts, handful of grated parmesan.




Red Pepper and Tomato Salad

A salad I made which included red pepper, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. It was dressed with some white wine vinegar, olive oil and a dash of freshly ground black pepper.

I do make variations, this just so happens to be one I remembered to photograph!

Red Pepper and Tomato Salad

Additions in the past included:

Fresh Mozzarella Pearls



Homemade croutons