Hello readers. May is one of the nicest months of the year. We get two bank holidays to enjoy and my favourite thing to do with a long weekend is to entertain friends at the Zilli house and cook pizza.
My friend Edin Basic has opened what might well be the best pizzeria outside of Napoli in Soho, where I opened my first restaurant in London. Firezza on Dean Street is a new social pizza experience where they make pizza by the metre in an enormous oven.
But on to this week’s book, The Cook’s Table by Stephanie Alexander – a collection of menus to make any dinner party special. I’ve chosen a two course menu for you, which should take less than half an hour to prepare. Now, who would you have at your dream dinner party?
Let me know on Twitter @AldoZilli.
FISH BAKED ON LEMON LEAVES WITH A CRUMB & LEMON ZEST CRUST
★ 125ml extra virgin olive oil
★ 6 waxy potatoes, such as kipflers or Dutch creams, washed and cut on the diagonal into 1cm-thick slices
★ 12 unsprayed lemon leaves, washed and dried (avoid the oldest and most leathery)
★ 12 lemon slices
★ 6 x 180g thick white fish cutlets
★ 2 fresh small red chillies
★ A green salad, to serve
For the crumb and lemon zest crust:
★ 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
★ Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
★ 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
★ 3 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
★ Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
★ Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
SERVES: 6 PREPARATION: 10 MINUTES
COOKING TIME: 25 MINUTES
Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F/Gas Mark 4. Brush a baking dish (oval, around 32cmx26cm) with a little of the olive oil.
Cook the potato in a pan of simmering water for 5-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Brush the lemon leaves and lemon slices with olive oil and place in the dish. Place the fish cutlets on top, leaving gaps between them. Tuck the potato slices in between the fish, then poke in the chillies. Drizzle the fish and potatoes with most of the olive oil and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Place the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine. Moisten with the remaining olive oil.
Remove the fish from the oven and remove the foil; it will not be fully cooked. Turn the fish over, lift the lemon slices from underneath and place them over the potato; they will caramelise during the next cooking stage. Scatter the crust evenly over the fish and spoon the pan juices over the crust.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/392°F/Gas Mark 6. Return the fish and potato to the oven for a further 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden and the fish is cooked through. Meanwhile, warm 6 serving places.
Serve at once, with a green salad to the side.
DARK CHOCOLATE & ALMOND CAKE
★ 125g bittersweet/dark chocolate (around 70 per cent cocoa solids), roughly chopped
★ 1 tbsp brandy
★ 1 tbsp strong black espresso
★ 100g unsalted butter, softened
★ 110g caster sugar
★ 90g ground almonds
★ 3 free-range eggs, separated
★ Pure icing sugar, for dusting
★ Double cream and raspberries
SERVES: 6 PREPARATION: 15 MINUTES
COOKING TIME: 40-45 MINUTES
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3. Butter an 18cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
Combine the chocolate, brandy and coffee in a heatproof bowl that fits snuggly over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, then heat without stirring until melted. Stir when melted and add the butter and sugar. Mix well. Add the ground almonds and stir very well. Remove from the heat.
Lightly beat the egg yolks and stir into the chocolate mixture. Beat the egg whites until firm but not dry. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a spoonful of egg white, then fold in the rest of the white and spoon the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. The cake will still test a little gooey in the centre. It will have developed a crust and be very fragile. Cool completely in the tin, then carefully turn out onto a flat plate and invert onto a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar.
Cut into slices and serve with cream and berries, if desired, to the side.
Source : EXPRESS