Monday 15 June 2015

19–Gino D’Acampo, Fantastico - Cooking the Books


Starter:   Spaghetti rolled in Aubergine with Melted Cheese

Main:      Chicken Breasts in Lemon & Sage Sauce

Dessert:  Sticky Banana & Chocolate Tart

Gino Fantastico

We’re getting ridiculously close to ending up with 6 or 7 Jamie books as the last few in the series, so I’m trying to alternate one Jamie with one other for the next few week so we don’t all become bored! I also seem to have rather a lot of Italian influenced books, so needed to get one of those done quickly! It’s another Gino this week (didn’t know I had two!) I’ve cooked a few from here before, they’re usually simple but tasty, and classically Italian, and most of the ingredients were already in the veg box this week.

Starter: Spaghetti rolled in Aubergine with Melted Cheese

Easiness: 6/10

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 6/10

Cheats & Changes: Used brie and cheddar instead of mozzarella and pecorino


2 aubergines

5tbs olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

500g tinned tomatoes

10 basil leaves

350g spaghetti

butter for greasing

mozzarella balls, drained (2)

100g grated pecorino

Extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Slice the aubergines lengthways and sprinkle with salt – leave for 30 mins and allow the extra water to drain away. Dry each slice, then griddle for about 3 mins a side. Set aside

Heat the olive oil, fry the garlic then add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Season and leave to simmer for 15 mins. Remove form the heat, mix in the basil leaves and leave.

Cook the spaghetti, drain, and mix into the tomato sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200 o c. Place a slice of aubergine on a greased baking tray, pop a spoonful of spaghetti mixture in the middle, add a slice of mozzarella and roll up. Secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle each roll with pecorino and bake for 10 mins. Once cooked, drizzle with the extra virgin, remove toothpicks and serve.


Now, this seems like a lot of ingredients, and rather a phaffy method, and it is. There are quite a few pots and pans in use, but it’s worth the effort, especially if you wanted a nice starter or some quick and tasty bites. We actually had them as a pre-main, and I cooked extra pasta and added a few more tomatoes to the remaining sauce, then mixed, topped with cheese and baked as a main.

Main: Chicken Breasts in Lemon & Sage Sauce

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 8/10

Cheats & Changes: I used leftover cooked chicken and just added to the sauce later, before putting into the oven, only cooking until it was hot all the way through.


2tbsp plain flour

zest and juice 1 unwaxed lemon

2 crushed garlic cloves

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds

300ml chicken stock

3tbsp freshly chopped sage

2 medium egg yolks

springs of sage and slices of lemon

salt and pepper


Mix the flour, lemon zest and garlic into a paste. Coat the chicken breasts with this. Preheat the oven to 180 o c. Take the chicken out of the paste and fry off in the olive oil with the fennel seeds until lightly browned, turning a few times. Stir in any leftover paste.

Add the stock, sage and seasoning. Mix and bring to the boil and pop into the oven until cooked through. Take out and stir through the egg yolk, with 2tbs of the lemon juice, mixing until thickened over a medium heat. Do not allow to boil – you don’t want scrambled eggs! Adjust the seasoning once ready, serve garnished with sage sprigs and lemon slices.


This was really nice, although a little gloopy once thickened – maybe next time I’d just use one egg yolk rather than two, but better than using the usual flour. Very tasty, and different from the usual. I’ll definitely make it again, and it was a great way to use up the leftovers.


Dessert: Sticky Banana & Chocolate Tart

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 7/10

Make again: 2/10

Cheats & Changes: none

I struggled with this one. So much, in fact, I made the caramel twice, and it still crystallised. But, not one to give up, I persevered anyway. The taste was great – sticky and chocolatey with a hint of banana but this has been renamed ‘poo pie’ in our house! You can see why from the picture. I have no idea what really went wrong, just a combination of things I suppose. It should be simple: Melt 50g salted butter with 120g caster sugar until it turns caramelly. Place whole bananas in the pan and sprinkle with 100g chocolate chips. Press over ready made puff pastry and ‘tuck in’ the bananas. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and serve – or not in my case. Just give to your husband. I would not recommend serving this to guests!


So, I’ll be looking through these recipes a few more times yet I think – just got to remember not to do the poo pie. If you’re looking for a similar recipe, I suggest you try Jamie’s Tarte Tatin as it works every time, but replace apples with bananas instead!

Anyone know when I need to finish this #recipeasy #cookingthebooks challenge by? Don’t think I’ll even be close to completing it on time!

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