3 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

3 tsp dried basil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 dried chilli peppers

400g tin of cherry tomatoes in sauce

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh basil

handful of grated parmesan cheese

pinch of salt and black pepper to taste

olive oil

300g penne or other short pasta


Heat 2 or 3 tbsp of olive oil in a tall pan, add the dried oregano and thyme, chopped garlic and crushed chilli peppers. Fry for few minutes. Don't let the garlic turn brown.

Add the tin of cherry tomatoes into the pan. Simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes and let the excess water evaporate.

Reduce the heat, cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes into the sauce.

Add pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Add both dried and fresh basil; 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir.

In the meantime, cook the penne according to the packet instructions.

Mix the pasta with sauce and garnish with fresh basil leaves and handful of grated parmesan cheese.



For The Dough

1 kg Plain White Flour (around 9 - 12 % protein)

260 ml milk (lukewarm)

260 ml water (lukewarm)

80 g Butter (unsalted)

1 tbsp malt extract (liquid or dried, or brown sugar)

2 tsp fast action dried yeast (or 42g fresh if using)

2 tbsp Salt (unrefined)

For The Finishing Solution

1 L Water

3 tbsp Baking Soda (or lye if your using it)


For Topping

Unrefined salt (Rock/ sea salt) or cheese & ham cubes


Add 100g of flour flour, all the yeast and the water into a bowl. Mix, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 5 hours + to create the yeast flavour. After that, add the rest of the flour, salt, milk, malt extract and melted butter. Mix and kneed the mixture to make a firm dough (around 10 minutes) and leave for approx 1 and a half hours or until a point pushed in gentle springs back. When ready, knock the dough back and start forming shapes. The easiest is to make batons around 2cm thick. If feeling adventurous, try the traditional shape. Roll the dough out to be a long (40 cm) rope with the middle 5cm bulged to a diameter of around 3 cm, tapering to the ends being around 0.75 cm thick. Bring the two ends together about 5 cm in, overlap them, twist, and bring back to go over the main body. Almost like tying a knot. Leave for 30 minutes uncovered in a warm room to rise and develop.


In the meantime bring the 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large pot (around 20cm diameter) and add the baking soda. If you can find food grade sodium hydroxide (lye) use that at 3-4 tbs per litre, but be VERY careful and DO NOT let children near it. ALWAYS wear gloves and eye protection, or do as I do and go nowhere near it!

Once the dough has risen, place the trays next to a cold window with some wind blowing. A fan can be used if there is no breeze. This develops a skin on the pretzels which gives that special chewy texture. Once done drop the shaped dough into the boiling solution (one at a time) until they float (about 5 second), fish out with a fish slice (or similar) and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt (lightly at first, you find your own taste preference later) and slash the dough to a depth of around 1cm in the thick part at the top-back. If you want to top with cheese, leave off the salt, and add the cheese once the pretzel is baked, so 5 to 10 minutes extra in the oven later.

Add the baking sheets to the 200C oven for around 16 minutes, until a nice deep bready brown is seen on the pretzels. Don't go for gold or chestnut, go for brown, the flavour goes with it! Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. They taste good warm, but better when cooled and crisped. Great for eating with beer, on the go, with friends, or cut open and used as the base for cheese on toast.




One 2-pound fish, such as branzino, black bass or striped bass, cleaned and scaled

2 pounds fine sea salt (about 3 1/2 cups)

3 large egg whites

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling

4 parsley stems

1 crushed garlic clove

2 halved lemon slices

Get Ingredients



Preheat the oven to 425. Let the fish stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the salt with the egg whites until it is the texture of moist sand.

Brush a baking sheet with oil. Set the fish on parchment paper and outline it; cut out the template, set it on the baking sheet and brush with oil. Sprinkle some of the salt mixture onto the parchment. Brush the fish all over with oil and set it on the salted paper. Stuff the fish with the parsley, garlic and lemon. Mound the remaining salt over the fish, lightly packing it. Using a skewer, poke a hole through the salt at the thickest part of the fish near the head.


Bake the fish for 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the fish through the hole registers 135°. Let stand for 10 minutes. Crack the salt and discard it. Brush off any excess salt. Remove the skin and fillet the fish. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with olive oil and serve.


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