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On the menu: dishes from an Italian supper club
Her apartment in Rome may be small, but that’s no obstacle for Elisabetta, who combines her love of good food and great company to host a regular supper club. She shares four of her recipes that guests have recently enjoyed – pea soup with ricotta, asparagus flan with Parmesan cream, homemade fettucine with tomatoes, vanilla and caperberries, and salted chocolate crumble with caramelised pears and ricotta cream. Click here to see how Elisabetta makes her home welcoming for supper-club guests.
Pea soup with ricotta and spicy croutons
1.7kg fresh peas or 750g frozen peas • Extra virgin olive oil, as required • 300g ricotta • 4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed • Paprika • 100g pecorino romano, grated • Few leaves of curly parsley
1. Shell the peas and cook for about 10 minutes in boiling salted water; if using frozen peas, cook following packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Plunge the cooked peas into the bowl – this will help maintain their bright green colour.
3. Place the peas in a food processor. Add a little water and oil and blend until you have a smooth and creamy consistency that’s free of any lumps, adding a little more oil and water if necessary.
4. Mix the ricotta with a drizzle of olive oil until it reaches a mousse-like consistency. Season with pepper and keep in the fridge.
5. For the spicy croutons: cut the bread into cubes. Toss in a pan with a little olive oil and fry. Add a pinch of paprika and continue cooking until the croutons are crisp and colourful.
6. Remove the ricotta from the fridge. Ladle the velvety pea mixture into bowls. Place a scoop of the ricotta in the centre, add the croutons and some pecorino cheese. Garnish with freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and parsley.
Asparagus flan with Parmesan cream
For the mousse 400g asparagus, woody ends removed • Extra virgin olive oil, as required • ¼ onion, chopped • 2 medium eggs • 50g Parmesan, grated • 2 tbsp cream • Flour, for dusting
For the Parmesan cream 250ml milk • 25g butter • 25g flour • 100g Parmesan, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Chop the asparagus into bitesize pieces and blanch in boiling salted water for about a minute. Drain and add to a bowl of cold water. Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until softened. Add the asparagus and cook for about 10 minutes. Keep some asparagus tips aside.
2. Put the asparagus in a blender with the eggs, Parmesan and cream. Season with salt and pepper and mix together until smooth and evenly blended.
3. Grease four ramekins with a little olive oil, then dust lightly with flour. Divide the asparagus mixture between the ramekins.
4. Fill a roasting tin with water so it comes three-quarters of the way up the side of the tin. Gently place the ramekins in the tin and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
5. For the Parmesan cream: heat the milk in a small saucepan, ensuring it doesn’t boil. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and add the flour. Whisk together, then add the warm milk. Whisk continuously over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan, stirring quickly to combine.
6. When ready, remove flans from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes.
7. Pour the Parmesan cream over four plates. Remove the mousse from the ramekins and place on each plate. Decorate with the reserved asparagus tips.
I enjoy the whole process of cooking. It’s fun to refine dishes over time and try out new ideas
Homemade fettucine with tomatoes, vanilla and caperberries
For the fettucine 400g pasta flour • 4 eggs • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • Pinch of salt
For the sauce 1 handful pickled caperberries • Vegetable oil • Dehydrated garlic • Extra virgin olive oil • 250g tomato passata • 1 vanilla pod • Paprika • Pinch of sugar • 250g cherry tomatoes • Lemon thyme • Honey
1. Make a well in the flour and add the salt, eggs and oil into the centre. With a fork, start mixing the eggs and oil into the flour, then use your hands to combine the ingredients to form a dough. Knead the dough until smooth, then cover it with clingfilm and leave overnight in the fridge, or set aside for at least half an hour.
2. Divide the dough into four, lay each piece on a work surface, sprinkle with a little flour and flatten with your hands until it is 1-2cm thick.
3. Sprinkle your pasta maker with flour, then pass a piece of your dough through the roller on the widest setting. Fold the dough into three parts and feed through the roller again. Repeat the process until all your pieces of dough are smooth and elastic.
4. Roll each piece of dough through the roller on a narrower setting each time, until you get the desired thickness. Then cover with a tea towel.
5. Run each piece through the pasta maker to cut into strips, then spread them evenly in a large tray so they don’t stick to each other, sprinkle with flour and cover with a tea towel.
6. For the sauce: rinse the caperberries in cold water to remove vinegar and set to dry on some paper towels.
7. In a pan, heat the vegetable oil and fry the caperberries. Then remove and set on fresh paper towels.
8. Heat a non-stick frying pan, rub with the garlic and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the passata, split the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the sauce. Add pepper, a pinch of paprika and sugar and let it simmer.
9. Halve the cherry tomatoes and place a layer of them in a microwaveable bowl, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon thyme. Repeat the layers until you’ve used all the tomatoes. Cover with cling film and cook in a microwave for four minutes.
1. Cook the fettucine in salted boiling water and drain, then add to the sauce and cook for another two to three minutes.
2. Dish up the fettucine, adding the tomatoes and fried caperberries on top.
Salted chocolate crumble with caramelised pears and ricotta cream
For the crumble 300g 70% dark chocolate • 450g butter • 550g pasta flour 140g sugar • 300g brown sugar • 8g Camargue salt • 14g soda • 90g cocoa powder • ½ vanilla pod
For the pears Dash of extra virgin olive oil • 50g light brown sugar • Juice of half a lemon • 1 pear, peeled and cubed • 4g potato starch • 10ml rum
For the ricotta cream 1 sheet gelatin • 250g ricotta cheese • A few tbsps cream • 75g fine brown sugar • ½ vanilla pod
1. For the crumble, mix the chocolate, butter and all other ingredients in a food processor. Then take the mixture and spread on to baking paper. Put in the fridge for half an hour, then cook in the oven at 150°C. When it’s cooked, remove to cool and then break up into a crumble.
2. For the pears, add a little oil, the sugar and lemon juice to a pan, then add the pear and cook gently until it has liquefied. Add the potato starch and mix. When the liquid begins to congeal, add the rum, stir, and remove from heat.
3. For the ricotta cream, put the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix the ricotta and cream in a bowl. Then take a saucepan and add two tablespoons of the cream, squeeze in the softened gelatin and heat to dissolve, making sure the pan doesn’t get too hot. Add the remaining ricotta, the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla pod. Mix well.
4. To serve, take a jar and layer the crumble and ricotta, then place in the fridge to chill. Add the pears just before serving.
Styling: Polly Wreford
Photography: Abigail Edwards
Follow Elisabetta at Appartamento9.it