Since his arrival in London in 2010, Danilo Cortellini has been developing a huge following amongst the Italian food fraternity, whilst at same time gathering plaudits from the likes of Monica Galletti, Francesco Mazzei and the great Carluccio himself. By reaching the Masterchef finals in 2015, Danilo showed the UK that he was ready to bring his own particular brand of Italian cooking to a much larger audience.
Now, as Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Danilo has captured his modern interpretation on Italian regional cooking in a book aptly titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“4 Grosvenor Square Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Menu of the Italian Embassy in LondonÃ¢â‚¬Â.
But please don’t let the title lead you to believe that this is rarefied food for the masters of the universe/political elite. Danilo has created complex, but accessible recipes for dishes that traverse the Italian countryside. Whether you want to prepare great Italian food for a simple drinks party or for a formal dinner, this is the only book you will need.
The layout of this artistically photographed book neatly leads you through recipes appropriate for family table lunches, drinks parties, buffets and fantastic dinners, as well as the basics behind breads and sauces.
In the Lunches and Dinners section you will find Danilo’s homely twists on seafood pasta dishes, tasty items such as Artichoke ValoutÃƒÂ¨ with Langoustines and delicious desserts Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. none more appealing than the Coconut Bavarois with Chocolate Ganache.
Roast Squid, Meatballs, OreccieteÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ along with a fabulous Sweet Pizza Dolce, are some of the fabulous looking dishes that can be found in the Sunday Family section.
The Party section has some unusual but simple to make options such as an Aubergine Burger, a Spicy Beef Tartare and Venetian Caramelised Fruit. Whether it needs a section or not of its own, the Buffet items such as Veal with Tuna Sauce, Chickpea Focaccia and an inventive Chocolate and Almond Caprese Cake make wonderful dishes for any mixed group of friends.
Finally, the Gala Dinners grouping of dishes shows us how to make sumptuous dishes such as Sicilian Prawns and Smoked Artichoke Broth, Risotto with Mackerel and Burrata and a sublime Chocolate and Chestnut Meringue.
There can be no doubt that Danilo’s style combines a homely simplicity with the sophistication of a top tier Michelin restaurant. His flavours are not for the faint hearted, but you can be assured that these dishes will impress friends and family alike.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for 4 people
280g risotto rice (carnaroli)
1 large bunch of green asparagus
20g shallot chopped
20g of white onion
2 glasses of Prosecco
1l vegetable stock
30g Grana Padano cheese, freshly grated,
Salt, pepper, olive oil to taste
To prepare the asparagus sauce, sweat the shallot in a casserole with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt until caramelised.
Trim off the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks, the woody part. Peel the asparagus with a potato peeler and boil in salted water for one minute. Cool them down in iced water to retain the green colour. Cut off the tips and set aside to use as garnish. Chop the asparagus left and stir in the shallot. Blend the sauce until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the rice in a saucepan on a low heat without adding any oil. The heat reaches the core of the rice grains faster and the rice roasts better.
Don’t let the rice catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it moving. Quickly pour in one glass of Prosecco and add a good pinch of salt. Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring for 12 minutes (the cooking time depends on the size of the rice grain). Do not turn down or turn off the heat while you are cooking. At half stage add the onion braised in the olive oil, and the asparagus sauce.
Once the time is up remove from the heat and add the other glass of Prosecco, butter and cheese. Stir well until it’s creamy and oozy. Be sure that you stir vigorously as it helps the rice to absorb air and become creamy.
Serve it hot and garnish with asparagus tips and fresh herbs.