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For as long as she can remember, food and cooking have been integral parts of her life.
“Growing up in a Italian family meant that the kitchen was not just the place you cooked or washed dishes,” says Gabriella, “but rather the beating heart of the home, where family comes together to laugh, cry, compete, love – and everything in between.
“Food was at the forefront of my upbringing as a child, and I think one of the greatest pleasures in life is to be able to enjoy cooking and eating with the people you love.”
Gabriella goes on: “Whether it’s trying out 100-year-old Italian classics, modern fine dining recipes with unique ingredients, or just making an amazing sandwich, I have always loved learning about the different cultural diversities, cooking techniques and flavours from around the world, and using them in my own recipes.”
And she says: “I honestly believe that taking the time to cook with fresh ingredients, and trying out new cooking skills and new dishes is great for us, not just physically, but mentally too, and can be a great way to relieve stress after a hard day.
“Cooking can be as easy – or as hard – as you want it to be, and I love the fact that you can use as few as three ingredients or as many as 30, and have amazing, great tasting results.”
So what are you waiting for? Perhaps a few tips from Gabriella before you start…
1. Read the recipe twice before you start! Even after 10 years in the kitchen I will still read the recipe twice! It’s so important to know what you’re about to do and be prepared!
2. Buy fresh herbs. Using fresh herbs can lift a dish from average to epic! They can add freshness to a dish as well as depth! I try to avoid dried herbs as they can often be overpowering and if you’ve added to much by mistake it’s not easily corrected!
3. Enjoy it and have fun! Cooking should never be a chore, it’s something to be enjoyed – put the music on, get the kids involved, do a Zoom cookalong with families and friends. There are so many ways to make it fun. I live to eat, not eat to live!
4. TASTE,TASTE AND TASTE! Cooking is a journey and has so many different stages, so don’t be afraid to keep a spoon on hand and taste throughout. Check for seasoning. Does it need salt? Is it sour? Does it need a pinch of sugar? Does it need longer in the oven? You can correct during the cooking process rather than being let down or underwhelmed after spending a lot of time in the kitchen!
5. Master and experiment. You may have a recipe you have been making for years, or perhaps you’ve made a recipe a few times and are confident with it. Start to experiment! Get creative. For example bolognese… you know it we all love it, how about adding some cumin, chilli and paprika when you’re browning your meat and make a chilli! Or take that bolognese and make some Parmesan mash and make an Italian cottage pie!
1 pack of gnocchi
2 garlic gloves finely chopped
1 white onion finely chopped
100g dolcelatte cheese or Gorgonzola
250ml double cream
50g grated Parmesan
100g chopped pistachios
Method: Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the gnocchi.
Add some olive oil to a pan, on a medium heat saute the garlic and onion. Pour in the cream and season with salt and pepper, then crumble in the cheese and reduce the heat to low.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, as soon as it floats its ready! Toss the gnocchi in the sauce and finish with some parsley.
If the sauce looks too loose, increase the heat to thicken it up or, if it’s too thick, add a splash of the cooking water!
Serve into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios, and enjoy!
200g caster sugar
500g plain flour
200g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
350g Nutella (this is a guideline if you want to add more, go crazy! It is Nutella after all!)
Preheat the oven to 180.c. Grease and line a 9” cake tin with butter.
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Start to work the cold butter into the flour by using your fingers, you’re looking to create a consistency that’s like breadcrumbs.
Add the eggs and vanilla and use your hands to combine, you want to form big nuggets of dough, but don’t overwork it into a ball.
Spread 3/4 of the mix into the base of your tin. Add the Nutella, making sure to leave a small border around the edge (feel free to add some chopped nuts here if you like!).
Add the remaining mix on top and loosely pat it down. Bake in an oven for 30-35 minutes until the top takes on a lovely golden colour!
This recipe works so well with different flavoured jams too!
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