Frittata di Borragine e Cacciatore (Frittata with Borage and pork sausages)

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This morning’s breakfast was a feast put together by Mrs BYF (I knew it was breakfast, because I did not have wine with the meal). Borage (Borago officinalis) is one of the plants that actually thrives in Dunedin’s whether, so one has to make the most of it. The flowers and young leaves are delightful in a salad and the older leaves can be cooked like spinach as a side vegetable. Making a frittata with home made Cacciatore sausages was not only very pretty, but also exquisite.


Fry some onions and garlic in butter and olive oil in a heavy pan, ad the sausage and fry until it starts to color, then ad the borage leaves and cook until almost done. In the mean time, lightly beat 24 quail eggs (6 chicken eggs) with six tablespoons of water. Ad a bit of grated parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper and pour into the pan with the other ingredients. Turn the temperature down to medium and leave, without stirring, for a few minutes until it just starts to set on the top. Now put in in the oven under the grill until lightly brown. ENJOY !!! (If after 10H00 a good red wine is permitted)

Quail Giblet Risotto (works for chicken giblets too)

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We are used to this dish made with chicken giblets, but, as you know we also have quail! I make stock with the quail  bones, and this risotto, every time when I have to cull. Risotto involves standing and stirring the pot all the time – no  answering the phone, getting the door or visiting the bathroom! 😉 The consistency of the dish must be just right, not too wet, not too dry and al dente. It takes some work but is worth the trouble. My smallest grandchild is particularly fond of this dish, to the  point where his grandmother once told me to stop shoveling it in after the 3 rd bowl – she was afraid he may pop.

Quail Risotto 

2 liters of good chicken or quail stock stock. I make my own, it is simple and easy and makes all the difference to the taste

2 cups of Arborio or Carnaroli rice. Yes, it has to be Arborio or Carnaroli, the normal rice does not have enough starch

10 quail giblets  (or 400 g Chicken giblets). One can save quail giblets by freezing them until enough has been collected

1 medium sized onion finely chopped

1 Large clove Garlic (more if you like) finely chopped

1 tablespoon rosemary or sage finely chopped

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive Oil

3 tablepoon butter

pinch of dried chili flakes

1 cup of good white wine

salt andpPepper

Half a cup of grated parmigiano cheese ( stir it in at the end, or serve with cheese on top)

one bottle Sangiovese wine (to go in to the cook and the cook’s friends 😉 )


Heat the stock and keep it hot. Ad one table spoon of olive oil and one table spoon of butter, a quarter of the onions and a quarter of the garlic to a pan and saute until soft. Ad the giblets and brown slightly. Pour half a cup of white wine in and evaporate.  Turn the temperature down, ad the Chili, Sage or Rosemary, and braise in a drop of stock for about 30 minutes until tender. Use a pot big enough to hold everything with ample room for lots of stirring. Put the rest of the olive oil and one table spoon of butter in the pot and add the rest of the onion and garlic and saute over a gentle heat until the onion is soft but not coloured.  Add the rice to the onion mixture in the pot and stir a few minutes to heat through. Toast the rice and cover every grain in oil. Add a half a cup of good white wine and cook until the rice have absorbed all the wine. Turn the heat medium low and start adding a few ladles of stock, and stir constantly. Every time the rice becomes dry, ad a ladle of hot stock and keep stirring. When half cooked (ten minutes) add the warm giblets to the rice. Keep adding hot stock a ladle at a time and keep stirring until the rice is almost al dente.   The consistency should be very moist as the rice will still absorb moisture and dry out for some time. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper while cooking. Immediately take off the heat and stir in one tablespoon of cold butter and half a cup of grated Parmigiano (optional). Stir quite aggressively to make it creamy and smooth. Let it rest for about three minutes while the rice finisesh cooking in the residual heat and serve immediately. Top with grated Parmiginao cheese if not stirred in at the end. The rice must never be dry but must also never float in the stock. If you add the stock all at once you will end up with boiled rice, not risotto.  Each grain of rice should have its own glistening coating of stock, and should be chewy, not soft and soggy. In Veneto they serve risotto “all’onda” which means like the waves of the sea – very soft and they give  you only a fork to eat it – no spoon. This is also the way I like it, even though I am from Lombardy.

We often eat risotto as a main meal but it makes a great primi piatti if the main meal is  meat. I would serve a great Sangiovese red with this if there is any left after tasting the good wine while cooking.


2014-0318 - Stock Pot

Good stock is the one ingredient a kitchen should never be without.


Chicken bones or (quail back bone, neck, wing tips and excessive skin) – About half a Kg in total or more if you want to make a stronger stock.

2 onions (No need to skin) – Washed and roughly cut up. Could be replaced with Leeks

2 large carrots leaves and all) – Washed and roughly cut up

half a bunch of Celery (Leaves and all) – Washed and roughly cut up. You could add celeriac leaves if you have any

salt lightly to taste

8 Liters of water

I often buy chicken frames from the supermarket (sorry, but sometimes I have to go there) or use the back bones and necks of the quails, when I slaughter, which are both good for stock even though different. Quails make a much stronger stock than chicken. You can also do a fish stock, by replacing the meat with fish heads and frames. I keep the stocks separate so I have different flavours for different dishes.  Put all the ingredients, including the water (cold) into a meat stock pot and boil over a low heat for at least two hours, but preferably more. Let the liquid reduced by about one third and keep topping it up with more cold water to keep it at this level. Stir every so often to prevent it from burning and sticking to the bottom.

Strain the liquid from the solids using a colander and return the liquid to the stock pot and heat until boiling again. Immediately pour into clean containers and seal immediately (I use 2 liter plastic buckets). Should the lids fit properly, the reduction in product temperature will form a very effective vacuum seal. If you have maintained a high level of cleanliness and your containers were  clean, the stock will remain good for months in the pantry, even though I normally keep mine in the fridge. Once opened it should be kept in the fridge and used within a couple of days. The vegetables  are good to feed to your Chickens and Quails.

With home made stock, soups are delicious and easy, pasta sauces and stews shine and you cannot make risotto without it. Braising meat and keeping it moist with the correct stock also ad complexity and additional flovour.

Pappardelle Verde al ragu d’Anatra – Green hand made pasta with Duck sauce

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We had a couple of friends over for dinner and decided to make Green Pappardelle wit Duck Ragu.


Pasta is one of those wonderful products where with just two or three ingredients many different products can be created, and it should always be the pasta that is the prominent component of the dish and not so much the sauce. The sauce and the type of paste needs to match in such a way that they both compliment each other. In this case Pappardelle and Duck Ragu is the ideal match

When making fresh pasta you need about 100 g of flour per serving, if you are not having a dish to follow after the pasta as many people do. We however always have the pasta as a first coarse (Primi Piatti) after the Antipasto and before the second coarse (Secondi Piatti), finishing off with a salad, and in this case 60 g flour per serving should suffice.

500 G Plain Flour

5 Eggs lightly beaten

15 – 20 Fresh Spinach leaves

Mix the flour and eggs and knead until smooth. This should be a hard dough, but should it be too difficult to work, add a small bit of water. Leave it covered to rest in the fridge for one hour. Take small quantities (about 50 g) at a time, flatten it out by hand and then roll it out with a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Fold it over, turn it 90 degrees and put through the machine again. Do this a couple of times until the pasta is smooth and homogeneous. Use enough dry flour during this process to avoid stickiness. Lay the pasta sheets out on a floured surface and repeat with the rest until all the dough has been used. On half of each sheet of pasta, lay out the fresh spinach leaves and fold the sheet over to make a sandwich. Now repeat the process of putting it through the pasta machine, folding over, turning 90 degrees and putting it through again, until the pasta and spinach are well mixed and smooth. Once all his is done, put every sheet gradually through a thinner setting of the pasta machine, until the finest setting ( 7 ?) is achieved for each sheet. Remember to use flour to make it all run smoothly.  Cut the pasta sheets with a knife or pizza cutter in about 20 mm strips. The pasta is now ready to cook or dry, for later use. I normally make this in the morning , or day before, and let it dry for use when required. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly (about 5 minutes) and it is very important not to over cook it (Pasta al dente) otherwise it will be soggy.

Make the sauce of choice to suite Pappardelle and once cooked, drain and mix with the sauce in the sauce pan, heat through while mixing gently and serve immediately.


Smoked Eggs for Brekky = Kruger National Park

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I bought some Manuka Smoked Eggs (scroll down in the link for contact details ) at the Stadium Market on Sunday. I was very eager to taste them but managed to save them for breakfast this morning. The eggs look stunning, one side is dark chocolate and the other almost caramel, much too lovely to break! The vendor, Rachel told me that the best way to eat them was scrambled.

The taste was lovely and smoky and lingered long after the last bite, a taste that took me back 45 years to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Now breakfast is cooked on gas there but in those days big communal fires were made and my father would happily trot off with his blackened pan and eggs,  and bring back delicious scrambled eggs from the  cooking kitchens. Every one would fetch a few burning logs from the big fire to put in the fire place in front of their hut at night and after barbecuing the family dinner we settled down to listen to the night noises of the animals! You have to admit that that is quite a remote flashback – in time and distance – just because of a bit of scramble egg eaten on a very chilly. wet,  Dunedin morning.