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La dolce vita in your own kitchen

CATHERINE FULVIO is the new cooking sensation on our screens, taking us on a tour of Italy through our taste buds with her hit RTE show, Catherine’s Roman Holiday

A TV chef, food writer and cookery tutor, Catherine runs Ballyknocken Cookery School and Ballyknocken House in Ashford, Co Wicklow. Her love of all things Italian includes being married to Claudio, who hails from Palermo, Sicily. And being hitched to a native has guaranteed chef Catherine access to the family homes and great restaurants of Rome and Italy.

Her book, Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, has many of the recipes she cooks on her RTE1 show on Fridays at 8.30pm, including these delicious dishes.

Braised beef with garlic, lemon and chilli

Serves 4 to 5

Catherine says: “A good beef stew is always a winner, and this recipe has an added interest in the form of a buttato, which is additional chopped ingredients added in at the end of a dish to further enliven the taste buds. I like to make this dish for entertaining and leave the buttato in the centre of the table for guests to add to their plates themselves.

“The idea for a buttato was given to me by chef Marino Monterisi who, along with his business partner, Alvaro Herran, runs the ever-popular Irish–Italian restaurant, Bates, in our local town of Rathdrum.”


Extra virgin olive oil

4 onions, chopped

1kg round steak, trimmed and cut into cubes

1½ tbsp flour seasoned with salt and pepper

350ml medium-bodied red wine

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sugar

Sauteed broccoli, to serve

For the buttato:

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large red chilli (or to taste), finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Heat some oil in a large saucepan. Fry the onions on a low heat until soft.

Meanwhile, toss the beef in the seasoned flour. Heat some oil in a separate frying pan and brown the meat, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, as the meat will stew rather than brown. Add the meat to the saucepan containing the onions. Deglaze the frying pan with a splash of the red wine. Pour the juices over the meat and onions and mix in the remaining wine. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add in the chopped tomatoes along with the bay leaves, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring the sauce back to the boil, cover with a lid and allow to simmer gently for about two hours, until the meat is nice and tender. Stir the meat occasionally to check that it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan and add a little hot water if needed.

When the beef is ready, add the buttato seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with sauteed broccoli.

Adjust the buttato to your taste. You could replace the lemon with orange zest or add some sun-dried tomatoes or chopped parsley.

Amaretto and almon truffle torte

Serves 12

Catherine says: “As chocolate is one of the loves of my life, this cake is regularly rustled up at home. It’s incredibly easy to make - although you do need an electric whisk to get the volume with the eggs — but it is so rich and yet so light.

“If, by some chance, there happens to be leftovers, keep this cake at room temperature and enjoy it within three days. Refrigeration will cause the chocolate and butter to harden.”


1 tbsp flour

6 large eggs, at room temperature

6 tbsp caster sugar

150g butter

2 tbsp amaretto

350g bittersweet chocolate, chopped

60g ground almonds, lightly toasted

Icing sugar, to decorate

Mascarpone or whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Generously butter a 23cm springform cake tin and lightly dust with the flour. Turn the pan upside down and shake out the excess flour.

Wrap two layers of aluminium foil around the outside of the bottom of the cake tin.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer at top speed for eight to 10 minutes, until they are light and cream-coloured, with lots of volume.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the amaretto. Set aside.

Pour about 5cm hot water in a large saucepan and keep it at a simmer. Place a mixing bowl (preferably ceramic) on top of the saucepan, ensuring that the base of the bowl does not touch the water.

Add the melted butter mixture and the chocolate to the bowl and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl immediately and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, toast the ground almonds, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the nuts and stir until they are golden.

Set aside.

Fold one-third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then pour this mix back in with the remaining two-thirds of the egg. Add the almonds and fold very gently until the chocolate and egg are incorporated. It’s important not to overmix in order to keep as much air as possible in the batter.

Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin.

Sit the tin into a deep baking tray to form a bain marie and place in the preheated oven. Pour in enough hot water to come about one-third up the sides of the cake tin.

Bake for 25–30 minutes. When ready, the top of the cake will lose its glossiness, will be slightly wobbly in the centre and an inserted skewer should come out gooey. It should not bake so long that it cracks.

Let the cake cool completely in its tin on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to remove the outer ring.

Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and serve with mascarpone.

Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, by Catherine Fulvio, published by Gill and Macmillan, price €19.99