GINO'S recipes use ingredients sourced from his hometown of Napoli, in Campania - one of my favourite regions in Italy even though I come from Abbruzzo.
Regional food is what Italy is all about as recipes vary so much from one place to another. Italians take their food and drink seriously and are happy to travel to get the right espresso. My favourite comes from a coffee shop called Tazza D'Oro, in Rome, and my favourite restaurant is in the capital, too. Ambasciata D'Abruzzo is a place where there is no menu and the food just keeps on coming. If you think you've tasted carbonara sauce you must visit this place. It's delicious!
Speaking of delicious food, let's look at this week's recipes. The tray-baked chicken is great. Roasting is my favourite way to cook chicken, and roasting on the bone keeps the meat succulent. I remember my mother's roast chicken, which was from our farm. She always quartered it and roasted it with water and sea salt.
Italians don't eat a lot of desserts as we tend to enjoy fruit or cheese instead, but the tiramisu bites, opposite, look so good I want to make some and so should you.
TRAY-BAKED CHICKEN WITH OLIVES
4 chicken breasts, skin on
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine, cut into small bunches
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
2-3 tbsp olive oil
8 slices of pancetta
100g pitted black olives
Salt and black pepper, to taste
A few fresh basil leaves, to garnish
PREPARATION: 5 MINUTES, PLUS 5 MINUTES RESTING TIME
COOKING TIME: 25 MINUTES
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Place the chicken breasts in a roasting tray and add the bunches of cherry tomatoes. Bash the garlic cloves in their skin and place in the tray along with the rosemary. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pop everything into the oven for 10 minutes, then drape the pancetta slices over the chicken and scatter in the pitted black olives. Bake for another 15 minutes, then set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Put each chicken breast on a plate with some tomatoes, olives, garlic and juices. Sprinkle with the basil leaves and serve. Aldo's tip: "You can substitute the pancetta for bacon if you prefer, though in the Zilli household we love to have pancetta with eggs for breakfast. It's also great to wrap around skinless fish before cooking with sage."
400g cherries, pitted and halved
50g caster sugar
4 tbsp cherry or amaretto liqueur
8 small madeleine cakes or sponge finger biscuits
2 tbsp chopped toasted nuts
For the mascarpone cream:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp cherry or amaretto liqueur
You will also need:
4 serving glasses
PREPARATION: 10 MINUTES, PLUS 2 HOURS CHILLING TIME
COOKING TIME: 5 MINUTES
Heat the cherries, caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of the liqueur in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the cherries are slightly softened and their skin starts to burst. Set aside to cool.
For the mascarpone cream, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale. Beat in the mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of the liqueur.
Place a layer of cake in the bottom of 4 individual glasses.
Spoon over a little of the remaining liqueur, then add a layer of the cooked cherries and their juices. Top with a layer of the mascarpone cream. Repeat the layering until you are nearly at the top of the glass, finishing with the cream.
Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts and chill for 2 hours before serving.
Extracts taken from Gino's Italian Escape, by Gino D'Acampo, photographs by Matt Russell, published by Hodder and Stoughton, priced £20. To order your copy with free UK delivery, call the Express Bookshop on 0871 471 3469* or visit expressbookshop.com