Follow the recipes for Anna Del Conte's mouth-watering Risotto With Sausage (Risotto con la salsiccia) and Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake (Torta di Cioccolato) and whip up a treat for tonight's supper. Anna is the Milanese cook that Nigella Lawson refers to as 'the cook who changed my life' and I'm sure you'll love making these two great Italian recipes over and over again. Cake up first of course - it 'serves 8-10' apparently, but feel free to change that to 'serves 1'.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake recipe (Torta di Cioccolato)
'This is a simpler version of the celebrated torta gianduja from Turin,' says Anna Del Conte. 'It's an ideal cake for any occasion and can even be eaten as a pudding, served with some pouring cream.'
250 g (8 oz) plain dark chocolate, chopped
500 g (1lb) hazelnuts
5 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons full-fat milk
225 g ( 7 1/2 oz) caster sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tablespoons grated unwaxed, organic orange rind
unsalted butter, for greasing
dried breadcrumbs, for the tin
1 Put the chocolate in a food processor, add the hazelnuts and process until the mixture has a grainy consistency but is not finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the brandy, cinnamon, milk and sugar. Mix together thoroughly.
2 Lightly beat the egg yolks and mix them into the chocolate mixture together with the orange rind.
3 Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but not too dry. Fold them into the chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon, incorporating as much air as possible into the mixture.
4 Generously butter a 23cm (8inch) springform cake tin. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, then turn the tin upside down and tap off any excess breadcrumbs.
5 Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and cook in a preheated oven, 200 degrees C (400 degrees F), Gas Mark 6, for 45 minutes. The cake is ready when a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out dry. Turn out the cake on a metal rack, remove the base of the cake tin and leave to cool.
Risotto with sausage recipe (Risotto con la salsiccia)
'Allegedly this delicious recipe originates from Monza, a suburb of Milan, where the best sausage - luganega - used to be made,' says Anna Del Conte. 'Luganega is often still made as a long sausage and sold by the length.'
350 g luganega sausage or another pure pork, coarse-grained continental sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 sage leaves, torn in half
300 ml (1/2 pint) full-bodied red wine, such as Barbera
1.2 litres (2 pints) light meat stock
40g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
2-3 shallots, depending on size, finely chopped
350 g (11 1/2 oz) Italian rice, preferably Carnaroli
sea salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Skin the sausage and crumble the meat. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick frying pan and add the sage. Add the sausage and fry briskly, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
2. Pour over half the wine, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sausage meat has just lost its raw colour. Remove the sage.
3. Meanwhile, put the stock in a saucepan, heat it to simmering point and keep it just simmering all through the cooking of the rice.
4. Put the butter and remaining oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the shallots and fry gently for about 7 minutes or until soft and translucent.
5. Add the rice to the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains are partly translucent. Add the remaining wine and boil briskly until it has nearly all evaporated.
6. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, adding another ladleful only when the previous one has nearly all been absorbed. About 10 minutes after you started to add the stock, add the sausage and its juices to the rice. Stir well and continue cooking for about 18 minutes or until the rice is al dente. If you use up all the stock before the rice is properly cooked add a little boiling water.
7. Check the seasoning and serve immediately, with the Parmesan in a separate bowl.
Risotto With Sausage and Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake recipes taken from Anna Del Conte's Classic Italian Recipes (Octopus)
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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor