Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta Recipe

Pasta con Cavolfiori

Cauliflower is the star of this cucina povera dish

pasta con il cavolfiore pasta with cauliflower

Recipe – Serves 4

  • 1 medium cauliflower – Romanesco or white
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 400g bucatini pasta
  • 50g raisins
  • 30g pine nuts
  • Few strands saffron
  • 50g anchovy fillets in extra virgin olive oil

Wash the cauliflower and cut into florets, blanch in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.  Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Sauté the chopped onion in a pan with plenty of oil, add the drained anchovy fillets, sliced ​​into pieces and melt them in the sauce. Then add the raisins, pine nuts and cauliflower and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Dissolve the saffron with salt and pepper to taste into a cup of the reserved cooking liquid add to the pan and cook the florets for 15 minutes Boil the pasta in the rest of the reserved cooking water until it is al dente, drain and add to the pan with the sauce.  Mix the pasta and sauce, let it rest for 1 minute and serve.

Greek Strapatsada – Recipe

Greek eggs and tomatoes – Strapatsada

The perfect brunch for a Summer Sunday

Okay, the weather’s not so great but I’ve just got back from Corfu where it was 38C and I think this freshness is quite nice.

The Greeks have a lovely dish that uses the best quality ingredients to transform something relatively simple into a fantastic feast.  It’s called Strapatsada and is similar to Shakshouka,  My favourite things are tomatoes, eggs and oregano so you can see why this is a winner for me.

Enough for 2 or 1 very hungry, egg lover:

Olive oil – approx 3 tablespoons for cooking
1 tablespoon extra virgin oil for drizzling
2 large beef tomatoes diced into 1cm cubes – get good, ones full of flavour or use an Italian brand of tinned like Mutti if not available
A medium thinly-sliced onion
1 garlic clove – peeled and halved
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
salt & pepper
4 free range eggs
Feta (optional) to garnish

Use a deep frying pan.  Gently sweat the onion slices and garlic halves in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil (not extra virgin) until the onions are translucent but not brown,  Discard the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Season to taste and add the paprika. Cook for 5-10min, until the sauce thickens a bit.

Sprinkle with oregano and taste – add more salt and pepper if required.  If you’re finishing with feta, go easy on the salt.  Use the back of the spoon to make 4 holes in the tomatoes and crack an egg into each hole.  If you’re adding feta, spinkle it around the edges of the eggs, place a lid on the pan for a few minutes. Check to see egg whites are cooked but yolks still runny and serve with crusty bread to mop up the lovely juices.

The Hairy Bikers are coming to Longleat for my balls!

Longleat Food and Drink Festival – 24th June

I’m at Longleat Food and Drink Festival on 24th June where I will be selling my arancini and other delicious Sicilian street food.

Hairy Bikers are coming to Longleat for my balls
The Hairy Bikers are coming to Longleat for my balls

Join us for a great day out at the second Longleat Food and Drink Festival.  We will be selling our street food on Sunday 24th June.  So if you fancy a great day out with all the trimmings of a foodie festival, buy your tickets now!

Don’t miss two of my favourite chefs, Si King and Dave Myers, doing live cooking demonstrations.  After all that cooking, they’ll need some good, Sicilian risotto balls to help keep them energised.

We’ll also be selling some great pasta dishes with fresh, home made pasta and gnocchi. The event will be a good opportunity to introduce the British public to some great Southern Italian food. I’m putting together the menu now.

This is a very exciting time for Sicilian Donkey. My private chef work is really taking off.  I’m booked every Saturday in June and July and starting to take bookings for August. Now, we can also attend your party and serve arancini, cannoli and salads to guests for a great price per head.

I’m also working on a great bowl-food menu. Canapes are as popular as ever but bowl food is very on trend right now. I’m playing with Middle Eastern dishes and exploring Thai cuisine with some great results.  This weekend I’ve done a fantastic Middle Eastern feast with mezze for 15 hens on a coastal Hen Night.  Tonight I’m doing another hen party with a Thai theme. The fresh and zesty flavours of the Thai food are so delicious, I can’t wait to see how my pad thai goes down this evening.

Arancini Boss

Forgot Arancini Bros – I’m the Arancini Boss!

Cannoli: Rhubarb and custard, White chocolate and pistachio, local sheeps ricotta with choc chips

On Saturday 26 May, Sicilian Donkey Street Food made its debut Festival appearance.  I was lucky enough to win a bursary from Thatcher’s Cider.  I set up stall to sell my artisan arancini and cannoli. The event was the Burnham-On-Sea Eat Festival and the feedback from all my customers was amazing.

Cannoli King

I have been perfecting my gourmet cannoli over the past months.  I was amazed with how well they went down.  Many attendees knew them from watching Cake Boss make them.

In Sicily, we fill the fried pastry sheels with a sweetened sheep ricotta with choc chips and candied peel.  I managed to find a local producer, Homewood Cheeses, to supply with the fantastically fresh ewes’ cheese.  This gave them a real, authentic taste of my homeland.

Many were less familiar with my award-winning Arancini but, as soon as they sampled them, they were hooked. One customer, who originally came to me for cannoli was such a fan of the ham hock Arancini, she came back for a second and brought her whole family for a round too.

Loving the arancini
One happy customer

“You are the Arancini Boss” she told me. It’s a great compliment that I’m proud to accept.

I was so happy to receive such great feedback and I’m really looking forwards to my next confirmed event at the Longleat Food and Drink Festival on 24 June.

So get a date in your diary if you want to meet the Arancini Boss at Longleat where I’ll be selling my risotto balls and lots of other delicious Sicilian Street Food.  The Festival is expecting thousands of people to come and James Martin and the Hairy Bikers will be the big name chefs in attendance.

I ‘cannoli’ hope I’ll see you there.  If you can’t make it, why not call Claire to make a booking and treat your guests to a taste of Sicily, Somerset-style.

Arancini Boss makes great risotto balls
Arancini Ragu

Spring Menu 2018

Sicilian Donkey Private Chef

Why is a private chef called “Sicilian Donkey”?

Sicilian donkey
Boy with Sicilian donkey

Sicilian Donkey (equus africanus asinus)

Our name – Sicilian Donkey – is a tribute to a rare breed miniature donkey. It used to thrive in Sicily and Sardinia but is now, nearly extinct in its native land. The Sicilian Donkey is a popular pet in North America and here in the UK.

Continue reading “Why is a private chef called “Sicilian Donkey”?”

Hen Party Chef

Hen Party Chef

Hen party chef Arancini
Arancini are great hen party Canapés

I work regularly as a Hen Party Chef. Hen Party groups contact me regularly to cater for hen nights or weekends. The bride to be and her friends come to the South West, where there are a lot of beautiful holiday lets in Bristol, Bath and Devon for a classy celebration.

You can book my services directly here, call Claire on 0756 555 2748 or via HungryChefs

Celebrate in style with a hen party chef

More and more hen party groups want to have a memorable occasion that allows them to celebrate in style. Often hen parties book luxury holiday apartments in Bath and Bristol and ask me to cater for them.  Groups are often multi-generational so a good meal and a hen party chef experience appeals to young and old.

Hen party canapés
Beetroot canapés

Good value

The cost of a hen party chef is great value for hen parties. By the time you have found a restaurant that will take a large party, booked the taxis, paid for your meal and drinks you will be spending a lot of money. As a  hen party chef , I consult with you on a bespoke menu to suit your dietary preferences and budget.  You can provide your own wine and cocktails and relax as I cook and clean up afterwards.

Sample Hen Party Chef’s Menu (£55 per head min. 6 covers)

Chef choices of 3 fish canapés per person
Sicilian style stuffed squid braised in a tomato and black olives sauce served with split peas purée and crispy courgettes
Salt cod mousse red pepper grilled polenta and chives oil

Sea bass and prawns ravioli in a mussels broth with sea beet
N’duia (Calabrian sausage) crusted monkfish, cannellini beans stew and tempura monkfish cheek.

Coffee and chocolate Mille-feuille hazelnut ice cream
Lemon and mascarpone cannoli with raspberry ice cream


Recipe: Salt Cod Crostini

Mantecato di baccalà Mantecato di baccalà

Mantecato di Baccalà

Serves 6 as a starter/12 – 18 cicchetti

Baccalà is dried salt cod soaked and infused until it becomes soft and flaky before being whisked into a cream with a slow trickle of olive oil.

Prep begins 2 days before you want to serve the crostini. Put your salt cod in a large container of cold water. Leave it to soak for at least 48 hours, changing the water as often as possible to remove the majority of the salt.


1kg salt cod
– soaked in frequently-changed water for 48 hours before preparation.

150 ml full fat milk
350 ml water
2 bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
4 whole black peppercorns
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small white onion quartered
200ml of extra virgin olive oil.

Crostini – 2 – 3 per person.
To make uour own crostini, bake thin rounds of baguette (regular or sourdough) in the oven until crispy.


Put the water, milk, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and rehydrated cod in a deep can. Ensure the cod is completely covered by the liquid.

Bring to boil over a moderate heat, simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.  Drain the cod reserving 2-4 tablespoons of the liquid for later use.

Clean the cod removing skin and any bones – the cod should flake and be nice and soft.

Put the cleaned cod in large bowl with the juice of half a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of the poaching liquid to loosen it up and add the chopped parsley.

Using an electric handwhisk (do not blend as the misture will lose texture and become like a paste) slowly add the oil as you would with mayonnaise. The fish will increase in size and become creamy and fluffy.

Season to taste with black pepper and salt if needed. Spread the Baccalà on warm crostini and serve with a thin wedge of lemon.

Salt Cod Heaven