The Italian job
Catherine Fulvio shares her deep passion for authentic, seasonal dishes and brings a taste of Italy to our local produce, with a simple roast pheasant and a tiramisu with a twist
The day I bumped into Claudio Fulvio in O'Dwyers Pub on Dublin's Mount Street was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Meeting a fellow passionate foodie who delights in sharing his authentic family favourites was a joy.
I'm no stranger to authentic food myself -- I was brought up on a farm in Co Wicklow -- so I really appreciate the labour of love that is farming and the rewards that it brings when the family sits around the table enjoying their garden harvest.
Claudio and I spent long periods of time in Sicily and Tuscany savouring and learning, then opened Ballyknocken Cookery School at my family farm in Glenealy.
After the success of the school, I wrote 'Catherine's Italian Kitchen' and found myself whizzing around Rome on my little Vespa, filming my new RTE series, 'Catherine's Roman Holiday'.
The key to Italy's culinary success involves using ingredients in season and not complicating the cooking process. I once complimented one of Claudio's cousins on the simplicity of his food -- he didn't take too kindly to this and has since been on a (fun) mission to teach me the most intricate of Sicilian dishes.
Many of the recipes in my book come from my in-laws in Sicily, but they were carefully selected to reflect ingredients that are available to every Irish family. They are easy to prepare, will be appreciated by family and guests alike and give a taste of what my Italian kitchen is all about.
Pasta is a firm family favourite -- my children Charlotte and Rowan would have (and have had) it for breakfast if allowed. What I like about this particular penne dish is the blend of flavours and colours, and the asparagus, pistachio and olives lift the plate for a delicious result.
Now that we can easily get '00' flour in our local supermarkets, making homemade focaccia and pasta is very manageable. Guests of my cookery school are always amazed at the wonderful flavour of homemade ravioli. It is time-consuming to shape the ravioli, so I always advise making big ones.
With the game season about to begin, the roast pheasant is well worth making. Italians are very fond of hunting, so there is no shortage of game recipes in the Fulvio family.
Tiramisu is another favourite and I like to add an Irish touch to this with raspberries or strawberries in season. It is truly moreish. The lemon granite, meanwhile, is something that Sicilians have for breakfast on a hot summer's day. I still like to sip my coffee for breakfast, but my children enjoy it as an afternoon treat.