Exposure Eats: Nicole’s stay-at-home summer holiday recipes

July 15, 2020

Nicole’s recipe ideas from around Europe

Nicole Colucci takes us on a culinary trip round Europe, from the safety of the kitchen

With tight travel restrictions in place this summer due to the pandemic, it is difficult for us to visit our favourite holiday destinations to experience the beautiful sights, culture and – most importantly – food so many countries have to offer.

However, in this article I will provide you with five simple recipes from popular European locations to take you on an imaginary walk through the cobbled streets of Sardinia, sink your toes into the sizzling sands of Cyprus and admire the breathtaking architecture of Madrid.

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Bruschetta

Image by Nicole Colucci

Being half Italian, I have enjoyed countless portions of bruschetta over the years. However it always tastes better when prepared with the fresh, organic ingredients found in Italy. I have always been overwhelmed by the simplicity of this dish as it looks and tastes amazing despite requiring very little skill and ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 punnet (200g) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A few leaves of fresh basil (torn)
  • Ciabatta bread, a baguette, flatbread or any other bread of your choosing

Method
1. Chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters and place in a medium sized mixing bowl along with diced garlic, olive oil, salt and basil.
2. Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes at 200˚C.
3. Serve the tomato topping on the toasted bread and add some extra basil for decoration (I used flatbread and rocket leaves to serve in the photograph above).

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Paella

There are many things I love about this Spanish dish, including the fact it is fully customisable to your tastes and preferences as long as the base recipe below is used. Furthermore, the beautiful bright colours of the different ingredients make the dish look like an exotic painting.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Optional

  • bell peppers
  • chorizo
  • cooken chicken

Method
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped onion for 3-4 minutes. If using bell peppers or any other vegetables, fry these also.
2. Add the rice, paprika and thyme to the pan before stirring in the tomatoes and chicken stock gradually. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid the rice sticking together and becoming too dry.
4. Add in any additional ingredients before cooking for a further 3-5 mins. Squeeze the lemon juice over the paella before serving.

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Scones

Image by Nicole Colucci

I have followed this recipe on numerous occasions during lockdown and it has always provided me with perfect, traditional British scones to enjoy as a quick breakfast, snack or with afternoon tea. I usually double the recipe to make enough scones to share with my family and last for a week.

Ingredients

  • 50g cold unsalted butter
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 3tbs caster sugar
  • 120ml milk

Method
1. Cut the butter into cubes and mix with the self-raising flour until you get a crumbly mix.
2. Add the sugar and any other ingredients (chocolate chips, dried fruit etc.) to the mixture and distribute evenly.
3. Pour the milk into the bowl and stir the mixture with a blunt knife, before combining it into a ball.
4. Flour your work surface and roll out the ball of dough to approximately 3cm.
5. Use a circle cutter or the rim of a glass dipped in flour to plunge into the dough, repeating until there is no dough remaining. (Try not to re-roll the dough too many times or these scones will not rise as much).
6. Brush the scones with a beaten egg or some cold milk before baking them at 220˚C (fan) for 13 minutes.

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Palmier biscuits

Image by Nicole Colucci

The first time I made these biscuits was with my French aunty. She taught me the simple method to make these attractive sugary biscuits and I have enjoyed purchasing giant versions from my local bakery ever since. During lockdown, this was no longer possible so I decided to start making my own version once again. I was not disappointed with the results!

Ingredients

  • 1 regular pack of puff pastry (375g)
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 3tbs caster sugar
  • 200g cane, brown or demerara sugar

Method
1. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin and cut it into a large, even rectangle if necessary.
2. Brush the melted butter over the pastry and spread 100g of the sugar evenly on top. Roll over the pastry lightly with a rolling pin to press the sugar into it.
3. Turn the pastry over and repeat step 2 on the other side, using the remaining butter and sugar.
4. Use your fingers to roll the bottom section of the pastry to the centre and repeat this with the top section so that they both meet in the middle.
5. Wrap the roll in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes. Once cool, use a sharp knife to slice 1 cm sections across the roll and create single heart-like biscuits.
6. Transfer these onto a greased baking tray and bake for 7 minutes at 220˚C. Use a spatula to turn them over and bake for a further 7-8 minutes.

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Watermelon with halloumi cheese

Collage by Exposure with original watermelon image by Omi Sido from Pixabay

One of my earliest memories is spending time with my family in Cyprus during the summer of 2007 and enjoying watermelon and halloumi cheese by the swimming pool for the very first time. Being half Greek, I have never had a summer without this traditional snack to replace the water and salt my body has lost in the hot weather.

Ingredients

  • ¼ watermelon
  • 1 packet of halloumi

Method
The following method is pretty self-explanatory:
1. Prepare and cut the watermelon into slices or cubes
2. Slice the halloumi cheese into thick slices and serve

Serving suggestions could include skewers with pieces of the fruit and cheese or a watermelon basket filled with the melon and halloumi.

See below for a tutorial on how to make a popular watermelon basket.

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