FOOD & DRINK
This week, week I’ve teamed up with tal- tal ented food stylist Georgie Socratous to talk to you about the wonderful world of Italian cheese. Whether it’s pecorino, Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, fontina or Gorgonzola ( I could go on), cheese is arguably one of the most important ingredients in Italian cooking. It’s used in so many different ways and in all types of dishes, savoury and sweet, that it seemed only right to give you a bunch of recipes that celebrate Italian cheeses in all their diversity.
First off, give these beautifully sweet and salty Pears & Pecorino a go. Hailing from the central and southern regions of Italy, pecorino is made from sheep’s milk and is typically a hard, tangy cheese. Shaved and melted onto soft griddled pears, this is a great idea for a savoury starter which will literally melt in your mouth.
Next up, this lovely, soft Baked Ricotta can be served either as a savoury or a sweet dish – the recipe has been kept as easy-going as possible so you can adjust the flavours to make it exactly how you want it. Choose between sprinkling with chilli, oregano and marjoram and serving with a lovely hunk of bread, or drizzling on honey and zesting citrus fruits on top for an oh-so-tasty dessert.
Finally, for a slightly lighter version of classic Italian tiramisu, this recipe swaps mascarpone for a mix of ricotta and reduced-fat cream cheese. I’m not sure how the Italians would feel about us bending the rules, but the ricotta gives it a delicious tang. Serve in cute mismatched glasses or teacups, and top with chocolate shavings and chocolate-covered coffee beans for an impressive finish. Enjoy!
Supermarkets stock a great selection of Italian cheeses these days – make an effort to check out the deli counters for more choice and don’t be afraid to ask for a little taster or advice if you’re unsure.
Whenever you’re buying cheese, steer clear of the pre-grated stuff – it’s generally the poor- quality odds and ends that get scraped up and then lumped into a packet.