Relocating the restaurant from Edinburgh’s Broughton Street to Dalry Road last year was like a breath of fresh air for me. It’s just the right size and I’m able to do so much more of what I enjoy in this smaller space. I change my menu regularly, sometimes daily, according to what I find fresh at the markets. I mainly source here in Scotland, but once a week I get a fantastic delivery of artisanal fruit ice cream, DOP cured meats and cheeses, and wine from Italy.
I’m in the kitchen on my own doing all the prep and cooking, apart from at weekends when I have the help of my young son, Santo. He is keen to learn this tough trade. But I grew up surrounded by women. My mother’s, aunties’ and sisters’ food was (and still is) a serious affair. This was instilled into me without me realising.
Going with them to the wonderful markets was the first step in the process – and perhaps the most important. The smells there were truly amazing. I watched as they touched and smelled the fresh fruit and vegetables to make sure they were getting the best. And of course, they bought fish caught right there in the Bay of Naples by local fishermen. I was a lucky boy.
They also taught me that quality, not quantity, was important. As long as you have all the right ingredients in the kitchen, you had a perfect breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favourite memories are when the whole family would get together at Easter and Christmas, and we ate traditional foods (often prepared days in advance). After our visit to church, the feast would commence – often lasting until very late in the evening. The best way to enjoy food.
PASTA AND FAGIOLI
The pasta and fagioli is quick and easy to make and a real tummy-filler. Omit the pasta if you like, for a lovely bean soup. We never use tinned cannellini beans in the restaurant, but the dried variety that you soak overnight in water. It’s worth that little bit of extra effort. This will keep in the fridge for second helpings – it actually tastes better the next day. If you don’t want to make your own pasta, use 250g of the dried durum wheat variety.
300g cannellini beans
100g cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
250g durum wheat flour
a couple of pinches of salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 To make your own pasta, make it in advance by combining the flour, water, a pinch of salt and vegetable oil in a bowl, and once you have a soft dough, knead and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Roll out and cut to any shape you prefer with a pasta-roller, or a knife will do. Leave to rest for at least half an hour or put into the fridge before cooking.
2 Heat the olive oil and garlic in a pot, then add the beans and cherry tomatoes and let them simmer for about eight minutes. Add some water and season with a pinch of salt. Let it cook for a further 10 minutes.
3 Bring to a boil and add the pasta for just two minutes, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn’t stick. Stir in the parsley once the pasta has cooked.
This recipe for linguine pescatora is a real delight, and also quick and easy to make. It reminds me of the sea back home in Naples, and the freshness of buying fish directly from the fishermen at the port. Eat it as soon as it’s ready to enjoy it at its best.
2 whole cloves of garlic, crushed
small handful of flat leaf parlsey, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh langoustines
4 fresh king prawns
250g fresh squid
250g fresh mussels
250g Venus clams
small glass of dry white wine
small glass of fish stock
250g cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the linguine.
2 Next, in a very large pan, heat the olive oil and gently cook the garlic, being careful not to burn it.
3 Then add the seafood, the larger pieces (langoustine and king prawns) first. Let them cook for a few minutes before adding the squid, mussels and clams. Then stir in the white wine and stock and add the cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and let cook until all the shells have opened. Discard any that haven’t.
4 Once your linguine is ready, add it to the pan and give it a good stir before dividing between four bowls. Finally, add the parsley and serve immediately.
Tiramisu reminds me of the family being all together. Sunday is “cake time” after dinner, maybe with a cheeky homemade liqueur too. Make it the day before you plan to eat it, so all the flavours infuse overnight. It tastes best if you take it out of the fridge five minutes before serving.
100g plain flour
40g icing sugar (and a little extra for dusting)
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk
250g mascarpone cheese
350ml sweet Marsala wine
1 vanilla pod
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 pint of espresso
coffee cocoa powder for dusting
coffee beans to garnish (optional)
1 Make your ladyfinger biscuits in advance as they will need to cool. Add the flour, butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk to a bowl and mix well. Once a dough is formed, knead until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.
2 Once rested, roll out the dough and cut into ladyfinger shapes with a biscuit cutter and place on a lined baking tray. Cook in a medium oven – 180C/Gas Mark 4 – for about 12 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool then dust with icing sugar. (Alternatively, you could just buy these).
3 Combine the mascarpone, Marsala wine, vanilla pod and 1 tbsp of the sugar in a bowl, mixing well. Set aside.
4 Add the other tablespoon of caster sugar to the coffee (sweeten to your taste).
5 You can serve in individual glasses, or use one medium-sized dish. Soak the biscuits in the coffee and begin a layer in each glass. Once done, pour in some of the mascarpone mixture covering the layer of biscuits, and repeat with a biscuit layer, and so on.
6 Once ready, dust with cocoa powder and put into fridge to set. Decorate with coffee beans before serving.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS